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HAMMOCK: Honors build for Wofford

Central Gwinnett head football coach Todd Wofford is the only Georgian at this week’s NFL Foundation-USA Football Youth Summit in Canton, Ohio. (File Photo)

Central Gwinnett head football coach Todd Wofford is the only Georgian at this week’s NFL Foundation-USA Football Youth Summit in Canton, Ohio. (File Photo)

As a kid, Todd Wofford couldn’t grasp how far football could take him. The assumption: not too far out of his hometown.

But as one of Georgia’s top young head coaches, the Central Gwinnett leader keeps climbing to new heights.

The latest happens this week for Wofford, the only Georgian selected for the 2013 NFL Foundation-USA Football Youth Summit at the National Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The select group of coaches, league commissioners and athletic directors will discuss a number of topics with one of the major issues being player safety.

The honor came as a surprise to Wofford, who was notified of his selection with a phone call earlier this year. The summit began Wednesday and concludes with a celebration dinner tonight.

“I’m from Cartersville,” Wofford said. “I never would have thought football would take me where every coach wants to go to, the National Football Hall of Fame. I’m super excited to be a part of this.”

A former wide receiver at Presbyterian College, Wofford has excelled in the high school coaching ranks, including stops at Peachtree Ridge and Gainesville, where he was the offensive coordinator before his hiring at Central.

His up-tempo offense and energy have infused a new level of excitement into the Black Knights’ program during his three years as head coach. Central went 6-4 last season for its first winning record since 2006.

Coaches around the county speak highly of Wofford and his coaching acumen, but his interaction and relationships with his players are just as important. Last year, he was one of 32 coaches nominated for the 2012 Don Shula NFL High School Coach of the Year Award. Kansas City Chiefs safety Kendrick Lewis nominated Wofford because of how much Wofford helped Lewis when he was displaced to Gainesville by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

The NFL called on Wofford again this year in the form of this week’s summit, which is funded by the NFL Foundation.

All of this year’s attendees will be trained in USA Football’s Heads Up Football initiative, while concussion treatment and prevention will come from Stan Herring, the director of sports, spine and orthopaedic health for the University of Washington School of Medicine as well as the team physician for the Seattle Seahawks and Mariners. Other experts will lead sessions on sports psychology, heat and hydration, performance training, education and character and life skills development.

Wofford and his fellow coaches are expected to be active participants in the discussion, sharing their opinions and ideas with the larger group.

“Anything I can get and learn from other coaches is something that will help me,” Wofford said. “Something I can use with my own staff or anything I can use to put us ahead working with kids or helping us off the field or scheme-wise. And just being around NFL guys and NFL coaches is a great opportunity.”

It’s an opportunity he never envisioned, even as a young coach.

“It’s unbelievable to have this happen,” Wofford said. “To be where I am now, it’s unbelievable.”

Will Hammock can be reached via email at will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock.