Whitson getting acclimated at Denison

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat

After being on the job for a couple of weeks, Brent Whitson is settling in at Denison.

There are the personal touches being added to his office. He still is learning which keys correspond to certain doors. But the new Yellow Jacket head football coach and athletic director is getting up to speed as quickly as possible.

“Getting to know the kids is the most important thing at the start. The emphasis the first two weeks has been to get to know the kids and meet with the staff and take care of that,” Whitson said. “The most impressive thing to me is how hard these kids work and how well they’re coached. Across the board it’s a talented group.”

There have been some changes on the football coaching staff that had been mostly intact under the near-decade long run of Chad Rogers, most notably at one of the coordinator spots.

Bryan Wilson has followed Whitson from South Grand Prairie, where he was the offensive coordinator this past season and been the wide receivers coach since 2017.

“That was an easy and comfortable decision for me,” Whitson said. “We mesh pretty well. He started calling plays this year and was hired when I was calling plays so we’re on the same page.”

He is replacing Charlie Means, who had been the Jackets OC since 2012, was the passing coordinator for the four years before that and had been on the staff for his alma mater since 2000.

Means will be stepping away from football duties for the time being and serve as the head golf coach.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Charlie Means isn’t coaching football here again one of these days,” Whitson said.

Wilson graduated from Texas Tech in 2010 and became as the wide receivers coach at Eastern New Mexico University for the 2011 season. He then was a graduate assistant at TCU for two years.

Wilson started his high school career as an assistant at Corpus Christi Flour Bluff for three seasons before Whitson hired him at South Grand Prairie.

Both Means and defensive coordinator Todd Wallis were among the eight to interview for the opening following Rogers’ departure to lead the program at Tioga in late January.

Wallis will remain in the defensive coordinator role he has held at DHS since 2015.

“It was a good hire by Chad Rogers and a great decision by me,” Whitson said with a smile.

There are going to be some other changes to the football staff, which is expected to be finalized on Thursday. There will be four new coaches for the upper levels and another position to fill at the ninth-grade level. Not all of the additions are coming from South Grand Prairie but Whitson expects at least one more of his assistants to be among the hires.

"Nobody's been fired," Whitson said. "There were changes made regarding personal reasons and family reasons. Even though there's change at Denison, that change can lead to good things."

The staff for the freshmen will be focusing solely on that level.

“We’re eliminating coaches doubling up with the ninth grade,” Whitson said. “The ninth-grade staff will concentrate on those kids.”

Denison has not held spring practice for the past couple of seasons, opting instead to have a full compliment of workouts in August and the extra scrimmage to go with it.

Whitson said when he was hired that his teams normally participate in spring practice and that he planned for the Jackets to do so if he could make sure there would be a timely transition since his first official day came in the middle of March.

“Offensively we’ll have all new terminology. We’re meeting quite a bit to get ready for that,” Whitson said.

There is no set dates for spring practice — only that a maximum of 18 practices be held during a period of 34 consecutive days.

Denison will have its first spring workout on April 26 and will hold practices on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays with the total number of practices reaching 11 and culminating with a scrimmage/spring game event that is scheduled for May 20.

The 2021 football schedule will have the slight tweak expected from 2020. During the last realignment, Denison was set to play Forth Worth Brewer — which is coached by former Jacket assistant Todd Peterman — for its second and final non-district game after opening with the Battle of the Ax against Sherman.

But COVID-19 protocols for school districts and counties varied during the first couple months of this school year and initially Brewer was not going to be able to play Denison during Week 2. The Jackets found a replacement with a trip to Texas High, a match-up expected to be a one-off due to the circumstances.

Whitson confirmed Brewer is going to visiting Munson Stadium after Denison plays at Sherman to kick off the season and before its bye week, which sees the first slate of games in District 7-5A (II) play.

In his role as athletic director, Whitson has been also evaluating the rest of the department. He did not have any immediate changes to announce in regards to any other sports other than Means taking over the golf program.

“There’s long days around here because you want to give everybody their due,” Whitson said. “The evaluation stage is so critical.”