Fuller says he left Godby to motivate others
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Corey Fuller sees so much of his life as a young boy growing up on Tallahassee’s Southside in the football players at East Gadsden High School.
That, said Fuller, is one of the main reasons that he left the Godby football program that he turned around in two seasons as head coach. Fuller had two previous stints as coach at East Gadsden.
“I’m like one of them,” Fuller said the day after he returned to run the Panthers’ program. “My dream is not to be a teacher. My dream is to help people. Period. Point blank.”
What he is doing is giving back for all the help he received from his coaches when he played at Rickards High School and FSU, Fuller said.
Fuller was raised by a single parent in Orange Avenue Apartments. At age 18, his brother was killed by gunfire.
What his players experience is a mirror of his childhood days, Fuller said. He escaped the tough Southside neighborhood and went on to a successful career in the NFL after leaving FSU.
Keith Gardell, athletic director at East Gadsden, said Fuller was an easy choice when his predecessor Joey Striplin was forced to retire following a massive heart attack.
Fuller’s life story will have an impact on the players, Gardell said.
“That is the same dream that these kids have,” he said. “Our kids in Gadsden need role models. He is a perfect fit.”
Fuller’s first coaching job on the high school level was at his alma mater, Rickards. He became head coach at East Gadsden in 2012 and stayed there for three seasons.
After taking the Jaguars to winning season, 10-3 and 8-3 in his final two years, Fuller left for an assistant coaching position at FAMU.
He returned to East Gadsden in 2015, after finishing out the 2014 season at FAMU as interim coach following the firing of Earl Holmes. Fuller’s success in his second tenure at East Gadsden led to him being hired at Godby.
He took the Cougars deep into the post season each of his two years at Godby before leaving. His assistant Brandon McCray was named interim coach of the Cougars.
Although Fuller seemingly left on good terms, according to athletic director, Jackie Burkett, Fuller said a failed attempt to get a salary increase figured into his decision. In spite of the relationship he built with the Godby players, moving on was difficult but something he had to do, Fuller said.
“I’ve worked and I feel like I deserved something,” he said. “I didn’t get it and opportunity came calling. They always say what somebody won’t do somebody else will do.”
In addition to being head coach at East Gadsden, Fuller will work as a liaison between the Gadsden school board and recreation department.
Gardell said he is anticipating the motivation that Fuller will bring to the Panthers as well as returning the program to being a championship contender.
“We all know that he knows the X’s and O’s, but the thing is getting these kids to execute,” Gardell said. “When he tells them to do something, they’re going to do it. They know this man knows what he is talking about.”