Getting to Know ... Todd Wofford

Todd Wofford is a first year head coach at Central Gwinnett.

Todd Wofford is a first year head coach at Central Gwinnett.

Todd Wofford is the new head coach at Central Gwinnett. The Cass High School graduate comes to Lawrenceville after previously serving as the offensive coordinator at Gainesville.

A former Presbyterian College wide receiver, Wofford has been an assistant coach at Presbyterian as well as at Woodland, Hiram and Peachtree Ridge high schools before moving to Gainesville and then accepting his first head coaching position at Central Gwinnett.

In this installment of "Getting to Know ..." staff writer Ben Beitzel talks with Wofford about his love of Georgia, college recruiting, building and rebuilding football programs and his favorite places to eat.

BB: As a Cartersville native, you are really a Georgia guy, not a transplant like me and many others.

TW: Cartersville is traditionally one of the best football teams and football areas, historically in the state. We put out some great football players. (NFL running back) Ronnie Brown, he's actually my cousin, he played at Cartersville. Keith Henderson played at Georgia and was a 49er. Robert Lavette was one of Georgia Tech's all-time greats. A guy from my high school, Eddie Wilkins, he played for the Knicks and was a backup to Patrick Ewing forever, and backup to Hakeem Olajuwon. It's a typical southern football town. Football is a part of it. Football has always been in the town, in my blood since the beginning.

BB: Did you focus just on football?

TW: I played everything. I played basketball, ran track. I would have played baseball, but it was during track season and I couldn't do both.

BB: Did you get a lot out of that?

TW: I loved it. I encourage all our guys to do more. To stay in shape, to keep coaches and teachers on your grades and these days colleges don't want to see a one-sport guy. Regardless of what people may say, as far as football goes, they want to come to a basketball game to see how athletic you are. I had a guy I coached at Hiram High School, he got his offer to Georgia at a basketball game. If you remember Thomas Davis that played at Georgia, he got his offer at a basketball game. They want to see how good your feet are, how explosive you are jumping and track-wise it's evident, they want to see what kind of speed you've got.

The more you do the more marketable you are, whether you are predominantly a basketball player or a baseball player. Look at the kids from Parkview (Jeff Francoeur, Clint Sammons, Tim Gustafson), they did it all. They want to see you be a well-rounded athlete. I would too. If I am investing a scholarship, I want somebody that I know wants to compete. Those that don't and just do the personal trainer thing, if I am a college guy, to me it's hard to evaluate how competitive that kid is if he doesn't want to compete. All the great ones do other sports. Competitors want to compete. That's what I wanted to do. I wanted to be the best at everything I did. Some kids these days say, 'I want to be this, I don't want to do that.' I don't understand it. Some parents are in that same boat. Colleges think different. My thing is, if I am trying to get a free education I want to do what they want.

BB: You coached college for a while. Do you like high school better or is it just different?

TW: Both sides have good things. I love the recruiting part of it. Now that sounds bad being a high school coach now. PC, at the time was D-II, to go against a I-AA or a D-I school for a kid, I liked that competition. I liked selling your school. It's not like high school because everybody that you have has talent. Everybody is good, so you just have to coach them up. High school, you have to groom them. You have to play with what you have. College you get to pick. That is the major difference. It's hard to say which one has more stress. You travel a lot doing the college thing. High school-wise, I like the development. That is more of a challenge as a coach. College is strictly Xs and Os. There are pros and cons to both as far as a coach.

BB: What was your sell?

TW: At Presbyterian? It's different angles. It depends on which kid you are recruiting. We signed a quarterback that I was recruiting that was being recruited at the time by Valdosta State and others. For him it was about playing time. A kid from Jupiter, Fla., that I got, it was more the campus, the school. You have to push the right button. The No. 1 thing you have to sell for any of these kids is mom. If you can sell the mom, you can pretty much get the kid.

BB: You've done it all in high school coaching. You've coached at new schools and ones with longtime tradition ...

TW: I think that has actually helped me out. There is not a whole lot that I haven't seen. I am familiar with building a program and then coming from a place like Gainesville where it's not just a tradition, but there is so much pressure to win there. Not just win, but there are certain ways that you have to win. I love that pressure of having to win every week. Some people don't like that. Fans, they are on you. A couple of seasons we were like 8-3 and your job was on the line the next year. Eight-and-three, you have teams that would kill for 8-3, once. I like that. That's my goal, to get Central to a place where the kids, the fans, the community, everybody expects to win.

BB: With the exception of maybe Peachtree Ridge, your prior coaching stops and here, too, are all insulated communities where football can be what the town does. Do you like that atmosphere, where the town and the football team are one?

TW: I love it. Hiram was like that, but nothing was like Gainesville. It was like a "Friday Night Lights" situation. The whole town shut down. People were parking at the Dairy Queen to come to the games. When I came to visit Central, a lot of that setup reminded me of this. If we can get to a point where downtown Lawrenceville has those signs in the window, "Gone to the game." Lawrenceville is a town that I can see being like that. Once they have something to support I think they'll come out and we'll be liked. And it doesn't just benefit the team and the school, but the whole town.

BB: This is your first go-round as the head guy with the nameplate and the big desk. What is the first thing you learned about being a head coach?

TW: It is so much more than just coaching. It's the parents, the boosters, the PR part of it is just as important and possibly more time-consuming as the coaching part. Being a part of five different programs, you know that stuff is going on but you don't see it as much as you do when you are in this position. It's a lot. There are a lot of things you have to cover that have nothing to do with football.

BB: It's a lot of management.

TW: It is. And in my mind I want to take care of that stuff, but the bottom line is, I have to win. We have to play. I could take care of all that stuff great, but if we lose, then I am cheating the kids. My biggest thing is not cheating the kids and getting them as good as they can possibly be.

BB: How'd you meet your wife, Aja?

TW: (Laughs) That's a funny story. When I was at Peachtree Ridge, a friend of my wife's set it up. It was a blind date and here we are. I actually missed the first date because I had a football meeting that ran too long and I missed it. She was there and I wasn't there. But she stuck around for the next one.

BB: Well, she learned from the start about coaching.

TW: She learned, this is how this is. There are certain times when she'll say, "You're late." And I'll say, "You know this is how it is. This is how it was when we first met."

BB: What keeps you in Georgia?

TW: I like the feel of the South. I like the food. I love to eat. I think I am a laid-back country boy. I have family up in New Jersey and New York and I visit there, but I couldn't imagine living there all the time. This is just me. And football goes hand-in-hand with that.

BB: When your northern family visits where do you take them to eat?

TW: There are so many places. Seafood-wise, the Lobster Bar down in Buckhead is the best. For steak, we'll go to Stoney River. For country-type food, you have to go to Paula Deen's down in Savannah. You'll sleep for a while after that one. When people come down from New Jersey, I can take them to Chick-fil-A or Waffle House and that's a new experience for them.