NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - After being gone for 10 years, JaMarkus McFarland is back in East Texas.
“It is explainable,” McFarland said. “My family is very important to me. Now I am right down the road and can be here for them.”
Coming out of Lufkin High School in 2009, McFarland was one of the top recruits in the entire nation. McFarland went on to a Canadian Football League career after a successful four years at the University of Oklahoma, where he was awarded several all-conference awards. After his playing career ended he became a grad assistant coach at Oklahoma.
“Between my phases of playing; my short stint in the NFL and then my career in the Canadian Football League I volunteered with some nine year-olds as well as a high school there. When the ball went to kick off with the nine-year-olds I got chills. just like I did when I played.”
Earlier this spring, he was named a defensive tackles coach at Stephen F. Austin State University under newly hired head coach Colby Carthel. He has spent his spring going around the East Texas region recruiting the next generation of Lumberjacks.
“Nothing he does is a surprise,” Lufkin Head Coach Todd Quick said. “As polished as he was as a freshman we knew he would continue on."
McFarland has visited with players at many of the schools that he once considered a disliked rival. Now as a coach he puts his love for Lufkin in his back pocket and goes in with respect for the quality of players at all East Texas schools.
“If you are from here you know what it is like here,” McFarland said. “You are not afraid to go drive those curvy roads at night and you don’t get scared seeing a few deer on the side of the road as you turn over those stones to find those players that have been overlooked.”
One of the early visits for McFarland was to the Longview Lobos.
“There are teams we respect,” McFarland said. “There was that rivalry but you respected them for the way they played. My first step on the field at Longview, me and coach King chuckled about my last game at Longview; a three overtime game where I had to get an IV for cramps. It is all about respect. You have to take it from a different eye. You have to take that helmet off and look at it from a coach. There are great players that compete all the way from Texarkana all the way down to Lufkin.”
In East Texas that respect from coaches goes a long way.
“When he walks in their room, they played against him and coached against him as a player," Quick said. “There is that respect and it carries over from player to coach.”