The Journal Gazette
Thursday, January 30, 2020 1:00 am

Ex-high school coaching foes on same sideline at IU

CAMERON DRUMMOND | For The Journal Gazette

BLOOMINGTON – Kevin Wright remembers his high school battles against Tom Allen.

They came in the early 2000s when Wright was the head coach at Warren Central High School and Allen led Ben Davis High School, both in Indianapolis.

There was an ongoing joke on the Warren Central sideline during those games. With all the jumping and screaming that Allen did for Ben Davis, the Warren Central coaches and players thought Allen would hurt someone.

Now, Wright will be a part of Allen's joyous sideline celebrations.

Indiana's coaching staff for the 2020 season was completed this month with the additions of Wright as the tight ends coach and Jason Jones as the safeties coach. Both men were formally introduced Sunday before the Indiana men's basketball game against Maryland.

These appointments came on the heels of offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer and special teams coordinator William Inge leaving for Fresno State.

The resulting coaching shuffle saw Nick Sheridan promoted from tight ends coach to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, while former safeties coach Kasey Teegardin moved to special teams coordinator in Inge's place.

For Wright, who arrives at Indiana after spending five years as the head coach at IMG Academy in Florida, the move back home to Indiana (he also coached at Carmel High School and Noblesville High School) had everything to do with the environment Allen has fostered within the IU program.

“Coach Allen is one of the good guys in college football right now,” Wright said. “Having known him for so long, you know what a guy's about.”

Jones also crossed paths with Allen in the coaching world before, having spent two seasons with Allen on the defensive staff at Ole Miss in 2013 and 2014.

“I think the world of him, ... he's never changed,” Jones said of Allen. “He's the same guy today; ... that's what you appreciate as a coach.”

While Jones and Wright both praised Allen's continuity as a coach and leader, Indiana's head coach has also championed continuity in his recent coaching appointments.

Aside from luring DeBoer away from Fresno State for his lone season running the Indiana offense in 2019, it's quickly become a pattern for Allen to either hire internal candidates for open jobs or to seek out coaches from the outside that he's already worked with in the past.

“I've learned every single day I've been here from coach Allen,” Sheridan said when he was formally introduced as offensive coordinator this month.

“The work ethic, integrity, passion he has for our players, it's motivating. It makes it easy to come to the office every day.”

For Indiana's most recent hires in Jones and Wright, continuity will also be maintained in their designated recruiting areas.

Jones, who arrives at Indiana after spending the 2019 season as the cornerbacks coach at Florida Atlantic University, will focus on the Orlando, Florida, and Nashville, Tennessee, areas.

Wright is tasked with recruiting the Interstate 75 corridor from Tampa, Florida, to Naples, Florida, as well as within the triangle connecting Cincinnati, Louisville and Indianapolis.

Shortly after they officially joined the Indiana staff this month, Jones and Wright hit the recruiting trail in Florida. Wright didn't even spend two full days in Bloomington before departing to help find future collegiate talent.

In this respect, their jobs have been made easier thanks to Indiana's 8-5 record last season, which culminated with an appearance in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville.

It built momentum that both men hope to continue through their first seasons in Bloomington.

“When you go through the state of Florida, every high school player and coach knows about Indiana,” Jones said.

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