Highschool soccer: Former NFL sprinter Jahvid Greatest takes over the California program

Jahvid Best, whose promising NFL career was interrupted by head injuries, will return to the field to coach high school football. The ex-Cal and Detroit Lions who ran back were named head coach at Saint Mary’s, Albany, Calif., The rival of the prep school he attended Monday.

The 32-year-old Best is known for his rapid speed and skill. He’s taking on a program that hasn’t had a successful season since 2015. Since then, the Panthers have lived to be between 18 and 28 years old.

But winning championships or training at the next level is not an issue for Best. He said he just wants to share his knowledge of the game, the value of hard work and more life lessons.

“It’s all about the culture,” he said. “I want to create an environment where it’s about learning and growing, about the value of work ethic and commitment. A lot of people have written about all the talent I had as a player, but all I really deserved was tough Work. Football is no different from life. What you put in, you will get out. ”

Best rushed for a Bay Area prep record of 3,325 yards and 48 touchdowns in his senior year at Salesian College Preparatory (Richmond), leading the Pride to a title in the North Coast Section. He left the region as a career rushing leader with 6,379, which was later shaken by the most recent first-round pick by Steelers, Najee Harris of Antioch.

Best, also a track star, won the 100 meter finals in 2007 in wind-assisted 10.31 seconds and came second in the 200 (20.65). After three outstanding seasons in Cal, in which he totaled more than 3,200 yards and 35 touchdowns, he was a 2010 Detroit Lions first round selection.

File photo by Dennis Lee

Jahvid Best rushed over 3,300 yards and 48 touchdowns as a senior at Salesian (Richmond, Calif.) High School.

He started 15 of 16 games as a rookie but suffered a concussion in the preseason of his sophomore season. In the middle of that 2011 campaign, he suffered another concussion that ended a more than promising NFL career.

Best returned to the track and eventually set a personal best of 10.16 in the 100 and competed in the 2016 Summer Olympics for St. Lucia. He plans to help Jay Lawson and the St. Mary’s track and field program as well.

Saint Mary’s sporting director Casey Filson is thrilled to have Best on the team, but admitted some alums were concerned about having a former athlete from a competing high school to lead the program.

“Given his experience and who Jahvid Best is, those concerns were quickly addressed,” said Filson. “We are very excited that Jahvid has joined the Panther community.”

Said Best: “I heard it from the other direction (laughs). It’s all good. I was just looking for a way to find my own way to influence young people by using the knowledge I got from the I have won football and passed it on to the next generation. I am so grateful that Saint Mary’s has granted it to me. ”

Best was a Salesian assistant coach under his old coach Chad Nightingale for three seasons that ended in 2019. With Nightingale going nowhere and former Panthers head coach Connor Banks taking on an administrative position at Justin-Siena (Napa), this was a perfect fit for Best.

Filson often saw the former soccer and track star on the sidelines of the Saint Mary soccer games, where his wife Rachel Armstrong coached the girls’ team. She recently went on maternity leave and had her and Best’s first child, daughter Kamiyah, three months ago.

As Banks left, Best’s interest in the position grew and communicated his desire to be responsible for all phases of a program.

“I take it all step by step,” said Best. “I don’t want to move up to anything else. It could take 15 years to build, I really don’t know, but I’ll enjoy the process of building this Panther soccer program.”

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