Temple football coach Stan Drayton is ready to make the most of his first head coaching opportunity.

PHILADELPHIA — After 14 jobs in 10 states, two decades of moving trucks and three years living away from his family, Stan Drayton finally got the call he’s been chasing his entire career.

In December, Temple athletic director Arthur Johnson offered Drayton the job of the school’s next head coach. Months later, while sitting in his office, 51-year-old Stan Drayton couldn’t quantify how she felt the moment his life’s work finally gave her the chance of a lifetime.

Instead, Drayton’s emotions welled up inside him as he searched for the right words.

“It wasn’t like we were jumping around, it was like we finished running a marathon, and you’re happy you won the marathon, but you’re not jumping around after running 20-something miles, you You know what I mean? You’re a little, you’re satisfied…”

Drayton stops here to recover. Tears stream down his face as he continues.

“For someone to sit there and say you’re the new head football coach at Temple, it was a little emotional, but the emotions just didn’t come out. It was just… I don’t know, man.”

When Drayton debuts as Temple’s coach on Friday at Duke (7:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network and ESPN app), it marks the culmination of a winding road through the NFL (Green Bay and Chicago) and throughout the university, from Penn and Villanova. to Florida and Tennessee. Drayton has been around so long that Urban Meyer hired him four different times, at Bowling Green, Florida (twice) and kept him at Ohio State.

Drayton, who was an associate head coach at Texas for the past five years, said he hopes his journey and fight to land a head coach can inspire other coaches making their way in the profession.

“I think he’s going to be successful,” former Texas coach Tom Herman said. “After all those years of hard work, it’s great to see him get such a great job with great people like Arthur Johnson. I know what a great program Temple can be in the AAC, and I know it will be under Stan.”

Drayton’s path to becoming head coach has come full circle. He recalls his first interview as head coach for the Temple job when Matt Rhule landed it in 2013. He recites the other interviews over the years: FAU, ODU, Northern Illinois, Akron, and finally Temple again.

There were times when Drayton felt discouraged. Moments when he felt like it was a symbolic interview. And all those accumulated scars helped him realize that he ended up in the perfect job for him. Drayton said he would advise young black coaches to “stay in the fight” and be diligent about working behind the scenes for when the opportunity arises.

“I wasn’t going to try to be something that wasn’t to try to get a job,” he said. “I just wasn’t. And maybe that’s why it took me so long, and I don’t know if that’s going to be the end result of winning football games or not, but I feel comfortable being able to walk into this place, walk around the Temple campus every day and say that I haven’t wavered, not even an inch, from who I am as a person and what I believe in as a man.

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Drayton’s career has been built on connections, motivation and a style that is always demanding but never demeaning. He coached everyone from Brian Westbrook at Villanova to Bijan Robinson at Texas, Ezekiel Elliott at Ohio State and Jerious Norwood at Mississippi State. He has won national titles as an assistant coach at both Florida and Ohio State, and won another as a player at Division III Allegheny in 1990, where he is in the school’s Hall of Fame.

Where Drayton has trained, the results and recruits have followed. So has loyalty, as Elliott immediately got on the phone, “anything for the coach,” to discuss the position coach who drafted him at Ohio State. As Elliott reflects on his career, he considers himself lucky to have had a coach so soon that he demanded the details of the position.

“I’m happy for him, but I’m also happy for those guys at Temple,” Elliott told ESPN. “They’re getting a great coach and leader that they can relate to and will keep them at a high level.”

The final job of the 14 stops in Drayton’s career may have been the toughest for him personally. Nearly two years after accepting the Texas job in 2017, he, too, went through a difficult time for his family.

Both of Drayton’s daughters are elite gymnasts. Amari, a senior in high school, is committed to competing at LSU and has participated in the Olympic trials. The younger sister, Anaya, a sophomore, projects as a gymnast of similar caliber. Drayton obtained a NIL education through the opportunities of her daughters.

To get the best training, that meant Drayton’s wife, Monique, and their daughters moved to the Houston area to train at the renowned World Champions Center in Spring, Texas, owned by the Simone Biles family. The Drayton daughters are homeschooled while they train.

“It was a difficult decision for our family.” Monique said. “It was a business decision made by our daughters at a young age. It was difficult for our family. Lots of tears and prayer.”

That made Drayton a “passenger coach,” as of 2019, as he and his family came and went to be together when the schedule allowed. Drayton’s main recruiting area was Houston, so he would live there during recruiting periods and fly in and out. But there were plenty of miles logged on the highway: a few flat tires and broken windshields as scars from the journey.

There has been satisfaction in seeing their daughters prosper and a greater appreciation for the time they have been able to spend together. Now that he’s in Philly, Monique said the girls train during the week in Houston and then the three of them travel to Philly almost every weekend. Drayton jokes that being a gym dad isn’t that different from being a football coach, as there’s a helplessness to watching.

“It’s agitating, to be honest with you,” he said. “It’s hard to watch, you know what I mean? But I’m extremely proud of my girls, man, I understand the work they put in. The discipline, the structure that needs to be in place to be good, as good as they are. That piece that I am extremely proud of. I know there are some life skills that they are learning that they will carry with them forever.”

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And even when apart, the Drayton family prioritizes time together. Even now that he’s in Temple, there’s a family FaceTime every morning at 7. He said part of the reward for the family’s sacrifice is when he sees them in the morning in their Temple hoodies, getting ready to go to the gym to work out. What they want. love.

“And we just refocus our focus on what we’re doing and why we’re doing it,” Drayton said. “I just try to pray that they understand. And we just pray that we can inspire others who are experiencing the same thing, because this can tear a family apart if you’re weak. You had to find something to keep us tied.” strong together, so for us, it was the power in prayer, man.”

The best window into Drayton’s vision of what Temple can become comes from his sincere respect for Temple’s past.

Drayton takes over for Temple after the show went from Rhule’s conference champion in 2016 to a punching bag that went 4-15 in Rod Carey’s last two seasons. After Al Golden resurrected Temple from his Big East banishment days into a respected show, Drayton is in charge of the latest resurrection.

Drayton’s vision channeling that past includes wisely upholding the tradition Golden started in 2009, where Temple’s toughest players wear single-digit uniform numbers. For a long time, that epitomized the type of player who has allowed Temple to thrive in recent years: Rock Ya-Sin, Haason Reddick and Muhammad Wilkerson.

“NFL scouts, man, they know what it’s like to be in the single digits,” Drayton said. “I mean, if you’re single digits around here, they’ve been in the NFL. That’s what it’s been. They’re tough-minded guys, they’re picked by their teammates, they’re living and doing everything right both on and off the field. field. And they’re just holding people accountable. It’s a gritty mentality… That has to stay within the show, for sure.”

Early on, Drayton’s biggest task was connectivity and motivation after a 3-9 season. Drayton brought in a veteran staff that includes veteran offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf (Oregon State and Nebraska), defensive coordinator DJ Eliot (Colorado, Kentucky and Kansas) and special teams coach Adam Scheier (Rutgers, Texas). Tech and Wake Forest).

It also emphasizes giving players a voice, allowing their coaches to be family-driven and motivated through connection. That helped create its own unique culture, which will fit in with Temple’s history of toughness.

“We’re working, but they can be real fathers, real husbands, real people,” he said of his staff. “I’m forcing them, as best I can, to have balance, and that now comes from the top down. That’s Arthur telling me, here at Temple, make sure your coaches are well taken care of and your families are well taken care of and that they have Balance.’ That was ordered.”

All those moves, all those systems and all the coaches have prepared Drayton for this moment. And his style will reflect it.

“What I think of the greats I’ve been with is that they care deeply about the player, not just the helmet,” Meyer said. “His energy from him on the field is contagious. He is a leader of men.”

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