Eric Stephens’ football resume is pretty impressive by itself.
The former Texas Tech running back owns the school record for kickoff returns and kickoff return yards and is top-10 on the Red Raiders’ career yardage list.
The fact that Stephens played under current Ellison head coach Trent Gregory at Mansfield Timberview — where Gregory was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach — only makes him a better fit for his new position as running backs coach at Ellison.
But there is a part of Stephens’ experience that makes him an even better fit, perhaps the best fit, to join the Eagles’ staff as the team searches for its first win since 2010.
“When I was a freshman and a sophomore, I went to (Arlington) Sam Houston before I transferred to Timberview,” Stephens said. “My freshman year at Sam Houston, everyone from freshman B team all the way up to varsity went 0-10.
Thus, Stephens can relate to the current Ellison players as they look to return the program to prominence.
And having seen the flip side of that coin — leading Timberview to the playoffs as a junior and playing in a bowl game in all but one year of his career at Tech — Stephens knows exactly what it will take for Ellison players to rewrite history as well.
“A lot of that is just having positive coaches like coach Gregory, like myself and a lot of other guys that we brought in,” Stephens said, “having positive coaches around them that’s going to love on them and coach them at the same time and demand that perfection and just really turn the expectation.”
Gregory said that Stephens was already a student of the game as a four-star recruit at Timberview — the type of player you can see coaching even while he was still playing.
Now, Gregory has finally been able to give Stephens that chance, and Gregory said Stephens has already had a positive impact, bringing his high-energy coaching style to the Eagles’ summer workouts.
“Our hallmarks are discipline, effort, toughness and honor and all about trust, and that’s exactly what he is,” Gregory said. “He’s a man of honor that loves kids and cares about kids and the best interests of what’s going on in their lives.”
Stephens is equally excited for his first coaching gig and, of course, said he can’t wait to learn from his former coach in Gregory.
“I just want to pick his mind, learn everything I can from him … and not only him, the rest of the coaching staff as well,” Stephens said.
But now, Stephens will be doing as much teaching as he is learning as a coach at Ellison.
And given his experience, Gregory said he was ecstatic to have someone who not only will make a great coach but can teach from personal experience.
“I think it’s huge. He’s experienced that as a player and knows what it takes,” Gregory said. “Nothing’s going to be given to us. Nothing’s free and nothing’s cheap and nothing’s easy. You’ve got to go out and earn your stripes every day and he knows that.
“He knows that as a player and he’s going to know that as being a young coach on our staff.”
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