If it wasn't for his former high school teammate, Ronnie Letson might be stuck in the daily grind of a Monday-to-Friday, 9-to-5 job.
Instead, the former Norcross wide receiver is having the time of his life coaching football as the offensive coordinator for Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Ala.
"I could probably be making a lot more money than I am now, but I wouldn't be having as much fun," Letson joked.
When Letson graduated from Ole Miss in 1999 with degrees in general business and risk management, he started selling loans for a local financial firm in Oxford, Miss.
He realized the profession wasn't for him, so he got in touch with former Norcross quarterback Jon England. England, who backed up Mike Bobo at the University of Georgia, still kept in touch with Bobo, then an assistant coach at Jacksonville State.
England put Letson in touch with Bobo, which led to Letson's first coaching job as wide receivers coach at Jacksonville State.
"That first practice you realize pretty fast if you want to be a coach or not," Letson said. "All the hours you put in, you realize if it's something you want to do or not."
Letson quickly found out coaching was his calling. He spent the next few years bouncing around from Presbyterian College to Ole Miss and back to Jacksonville State in 2004. He officially took over the title of offensive coordinator in 2005, when the Gamecocks led the Ohio Valley Conference in rushing for the third straight year.
"I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world except for being a professional golfer," Letson said.
Letson's commute to work is less than six minutes, which is good since he works an estimated 12 to 16 hours a day. By mid-June he's already scripted practices for two-a-days, which are two months away. He'd like to be a head coach one day, but right now at age 30 he's happy at Jacksonville State.
As a wide receiver at Ole Miss, Letson didn't play much although he did earn three varsity letters.
"I was mainly on special teams, but I got to play under some great coaches like Tommy Tuberville and David Cutcliffe," Letson said. "I learned a lot about the game from them."
As a college coach he still keeps up with Norcross football from a recruiting standpoint. Gwinnett County is one of several counties in Georgia he recruits, so Letson usually makes it to at least one Blue Devils' game a season.
Letson still has plenty of fond memories from his playing days.
"Wow, there's plenty of moments that stand out," Letson said.
Like the time Norcross went 10-0 during the regular season and met Parkview in the first round of the playoffs.
The Blue Devils didn't play well in the first half and tried to make a comeback in the second half. Norcross ran a middle screen to star back Leon White, but Parkview defensive lineman Matt Stinchcomb was throwing up in the middle of the field before the play. Needless to say the play didn't work.
"We knew it wasn't going to be our night after that," Letson said.
Or the time England hit Letson on fourth-and-13 from the 23 for a touchdown pass as Norcross beat Shiloh 7-6.
And the game against Central Gwinnett when the stadium was overflowing to see two of the best teams in the county play that night. Norcross held Central standout running back Timmy Smith to less than 100 yards for the first time.
"I still say he's the best football player I've played against at the high school level," Letson said.
Letson's 763 yards receiving in 1994 is amongst the top totals in county history. The 1995 Norcross grad still keeps in touch with some of his former teammates and coaches to this day and reminisces about when the school used to be at the corner of Beaver Ruin and Buford Highway.
"Norcross is a great home and a great place," Letson said.
Catching up with....
is a series that profiles former Gwinnett County athletes and their lives beyond high school competition.
SideBar: THE LETSON FILE
Name: Ronnie Letson
Education: Graduated from Norcross in 1995; graduated from Ole Miss in 1999 with a degrees in general business and risk management
Background: Is the offensive coordinator for the Jacksonville State University football team; helped the 1994 Norcross football team to a 10-1 record; had 763 yards receiving as a senior at Norcross; three-year letterman at Ole Miss and made SEC academic honor roll; played in three bowl games at Ole Miss