Jonathan Sanks first paid close attention to Gwinnett County high school football back in 2001 when his alma mater, Northside-Warner Robins, lost to Parkview in the Class AAAAA championship game.
"I've kind of kept my eye on (Gwinnett) ever since," Sanks said.
Now the 34-year-old is a direct part of it.
Sanks was announced Monday as the new head football coach at Berkmar, moving over from DeKalb County where he had spent the bulk of his young coaching career. He has been the head coach at Towers the past two seasons.
He replaces John Thompson, who stepped down after two years with the Patriots.
"I liked the diversity (at Berkmar), I noticed that every school in Gwinnett has their own facility (unlike DeKalb) and I liked the overall atmosphere of Gwinnett County," Sanks said of his new job. "It's more of a melting pot here than where I was in DeKalb County. It's more like where I'm from in Warner Robins. We have the big military base there so you get a wide variety of kids."
Sanks was a four-year starter at linebacker for Northside, where he graduated in 1995, under his coaching role model, Conrad Nix. He focused on baseball in college, playing at Southern University (La.), but a love for football led him into his current coaching path.
He started in DeKalb as a teacher and football coach at Mary McLeod Bethune Middle School, and after two seasons he was promoted to Towers as defensive coordinator. That led to his first head coaching job in 2008, a 1-9 season that turned around to 7-4 last year.
He takes over a Berkmar program that hasn't seen much consistent success since it opened in 1964, aside from back-to-back playoff berths in 2004 and 2005.
"The weight room is big to me, but the main thing I hang my hat on is the fundamentals of football," Sanks said. "No matter what else happens, fundamentals will see you through. Fundamentals and discipline. And you can't have fundamentals without discipline. Those are the things I'm really stressing here, conditioning, discipline and fundamentals."