WILBERFORCE — One of the first stops on Kevin Porter’s itinerary Thursday was to be Xenia High School.
The new head football coach at Central State University wants it to be known his program is a good option for local athletes.
“The first thing that we need to do is branch out,” Porter said. “I don’t know if previous staffs spent a whole lot of time meeting local people face-to-face and as a recruiter it’s important to get to know our high school coaches and to have a relationship with them to where they can be honest about their student athletes.”
It’s part of the larger vision Porter has for the program which he spoke about during his official introduction on Thursday as the sixth head coach for the Marauders since the program was reinstated in 2005. He is taking the place of interim coach George Ragsdale, who coached the final four games of the 2021 season after Bobby Rome II resigned.
“Xenia is a stop on my list of places to go and we need to get out to the Dayton area too,” Porter said. “We have something to offer their kids that will help them further their academic and athletic career.”
Porter last was a head coach for Fort Valley State University, where he ran the program for four seasons through 2019. He was named SIAC Coach of the Year once whlie compiling an 18-23 record.
He had other stops at Avila University and Point University, where he was also the athletic director for the latter. He began his head coaching career in 2000 within the Arena Football League for three different teams in seven years.
CSU finished 1-9 in 2021 after cancelling the 2020 season. Porter said he choose to come back to coaching and chose the Marauders after speaking with university president Dr. Jack Thomas and athletic director Tara A. Owens, who both stressed the importance of wanting the school’s football program to gain success.
He said the upgrades in facilities were attractive to him and should be for potential recruits as well to help find success for a program which has recently struggled to win games.
“I’ve met with our football student athletes,” Porter said. “I think they understand my background as a student athlete, as a professional athlete and as a coach, and I think they understand what that means for the two things that I talk about: Winning games and graduating student athletes.”
During and after his introductory speech, Porter stressed academic success multiple times and repeatedly spoke about the importance of it for his program.
“We’ve got some work to do in the classroom, we’ve got some work to do strength and conditioning wise, but I welcome the work and I think our kids do too,” he said.
Porter played collegiately at Auburn University where twice he was an All-American. He was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the third-round of the 1988 NFL Draft and made the NFL’s All-Rookie Team. He ended up playing for six seasons and finished his career as a member of the New York Jets.
Porter joked during his press conference the on-field ideals of his old NFL coach, the late Marty Schottenheimer, may not work on this day of football. He does like to take prinicipals learned from his numerous playing and coaching stops and does not expect to do things differently in his return to coaching after his brief absense.
“I just expect similar stuff here. I think there will be ups and downs, but there are opportunities to win right now,” he said. “We just need to get all the right people running in the same direction.”
Winning national championships was mentioned, but Porter made sure to describe the steps needed to be taken first, including getting his players on the same page with the same goals in mind, and said it will require a great deal of work to reach that point.
Dreaming big is one thing Porter says he likes to do, because his dreams can be instilled to the kids he will be coaching and believes that’s when goals are accomplished.
And getting that message to local athletes and coaches is one of the first things on his mind to do.
“We’ve only been on the ground for a week or so and behind the eight ball in regards to recruiting,” Porter said. “There’s a lot of variables right now and we think there’s going to be a lot of really good kids and great student athletes who are still available up through signing day and possibly even afterward. We just need to work and try and get the best kids track them to campus and see if we can show them what we are all about.”
Central State will play its first game of the 2022 season against Winston Salem State University in Canton as a part of the Black College Football Hall of Fame Classic.