Eddie George made an immediate impact as an NFL player.
He is doing the same as a college football coach.
The Tennessee Titans’ all-time leading rusher has been the head man at Tennessee State University for fewer than three months and has yet to coach a game, but he already has had a noticeable – and positive – effect on that program, according to the school’s athletics director.
“We’ve seen an immediate impact in terms of high-level recruits,” Mikki Allen told Sportico.com. “Since the hiring of coach George, our [recruiting] inbox has definitely been full. And that goes for prospective student athletes and guys in the transfer portal. We have someone that is magnetic and someone we know young people will gravitate to and someone that can instantly get buy-in.”
At the start of the month, defensive back Derrick Tucker announced he would transfer to TSU, an HBCU institution, for his final season of college eligibility. Tucker was a four-start recruit out of high school who spent four seasons with the Aggies.
George and the Tigers also have brought on board two transfer quarterbacks, Geremy Hickbottom from Grambling and this week Caylin Newton out of Auburn. Like Tucker, Newton was a four-star recruit out of high school, only he was a 2020 recruit, and the vast majority of his college career is still ahead of him.
George was the 14th overall pick in the 1996 NFL Draft by the then-Houston Oilers after he won the Heisman Trophy at Ohio State. He was the Offensive Rookie of Year and finished fifth in the league that year with 1,368 rushing yards. He ultimately rushed for more than 1,200 yards in each of his first five seasons capped by an All-Pro performance in 2000.
It remains to be seen what he and his staff, which includes former Titans head coach Jeff Fisher, can do with high school recruits, but expectations are high.
“At the end of the day, we needed someone to come in with energy and someone that has been in the shoes of a student athlete,” Allen said.
TSU will open the 2021 season in the Black College Hall of Fame Classic against Grambling, Sept. 5 at Canton, Ohio. Then comes the Southern Heritage Classic, Sept. 11 at Memphis against Jackson State, another HBCU institution led by an NFL legend, Deion Sanders.