Todd Wright is trying to absorb it all.
When Ellison’s spring football schedule opened last week, the players encountered a whole new world of terminology, philosophies and expectations with Wright taking over the program following former head coach Trent Gregory’s retirement.
But the Eagles are not the only ones adjusting.
Wright, who is still early in his transition from Houston Waltrip, admits the players are not the only ones facing a steep learning curve.
“It’s been a whirlwind trying to get moved in, learn everyone’s names and hiring coaches,” he said. “I’m just trying to develop some identities here on offense and defense, but I’ve still got to build that identity with the coaches.
“Then, we have to make that identity translate over to the players.”
Wright conducted his fourth day of spring practices Tuesday, beginning the morning with a video session before players spent an hour working on position-related skills. The team also holds 90-minute practices after school Monday through Thursday.
Despite being just days into the process, Eagles junior Isiah Brown believes Wright immediately bonded with the players.
“It already feels like he is one of us,” the defensive end said. “It feels like he has been here with us all along.
“It’s like he just made his way home.”
Wright is spending approximately the first week of his spring schedule studying individual personalities and abilities with the hopes of discovering starters on the field and leaders in the huddle. Then, he intends to begin molding players into cohesive units and creating depth at every position.
Entering the summer, Wright expects to have a basic team identity formed, but perhaps more importantly, he wants to establish expectations.
In 2012, Gregory inherited the Eagles in the midst of a 20-game losing streak before reviving the program, culminating with Ellison’s first postseason appearance since 2007 last year.
“Coach Gregory did a great job of developing the mindset needed to turn things around,” Wright said. “Now, my job is to take his efforts to the next level.
“We want to be where we don’t just get into the playoffs, but we are finding ways to win in the first round. It’s all about believing we can do it.”
Ellison produced a 5-5 overall record last season, including a 3-3 showing in District 8-6A, before falling to Duncanville 62-0 in the bi-district round.
But this is not the same team.
Along with their head coach retiring, the Eagles are losing 29 seniors from last year’s roster highlighted by seven all-district selections — linebacker Aubrey Kelly, cornerback Kipshawn Washington, kicker/punter Morgan Button, quarterback Ta’von Gwynn, receiver Jyaire Shorter, offensive guard Zarek Roberts and safety Sullivan Sanders.
Although there is still a lot of work to do before the Eagles can hope to make a repeat trip to the playoffs, considering the amount of offseason turnover within the team, Ellison left tackle Kaleb Luna believes chemistry is one of the most important components to a successful season.
“Spring ball is a really good experience for us,” he said. “Some teams don’t come together until August, but by working together and grinding together now, we are finding out each other’s skills and weaknesses.
“We are figuring all of this out together, and we have all summer to improve, so when the fall comes, we’re ready.”