Marcus Wood named Holmes’ new head football coach

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*Story from Steve Diffey with HolmesAtheltics.com.

Holmes Community College has named Marcus Wood as the new head football coach effective Nov. 5.

Wood spent nine seasons on the East Mississippi football coaching staff. During this time, the Lions compiled a nine-year overall record of 87-12 (.879) and 51-3 (.944) division mark during his time on staff and claimed three NJCAA national championships, five MACJC state titles, eight North Division crowns and participated in five NJCAA bowl games winning all of those.

While serving as the Lions’ Offensive Coordinator, Wide Receivers Coach, and Head Coach In Waiting, Wood was instrumental in directing EMCC’s talent-laden offensive teams that annually rated among the NJCAA’s highest-scoring units with an average of 50+ points per game.

Wood comes to Holmes after serving as Executive Director of College Advancement and Athletics at East Mississippi Community College since January 2017. In this role, he worked with EMCC’s alumni and foundation efforts and also worked directly with the athletic programs at EMCC.

Wood is no stranger to Holmes football serving as a volunteer coach during the 1996 season when the Bulldogs finished as state runners-up after winning the North Division.

“I had a chance to see how to run a program and how to help kids achieve their dreams of playing at a high level,” Wood said during his time at Holmes. “I knew it was a special place. To get the chance to return and have the opportunity to rebuild a storied program is such an awesome opportunity.

Holmes President Jim Haffey is excited about the hire. “We expect Holmes Community College to be a state and national leader in everything we do. I am confident that Marcus Wood is the coach that is going to accomplish that in football. I think he is one of the most experienced and talented community college coaches in the nation, and I am fired up that he is joining the Holmes family. Football is a big part of a college environment, and our students and community deserve a team we can all be proud of. Holmes is committed to ensuring that we do all things in the classroom and on the athletic field at the highest level.”

“To get the chance to work with young people and help them excel on and off the field is also something that I felt like was too great to pass up,” Wood said. “As far as pluses go, it is a great opportunity to coach and teach kids in a place that is passionate about the game. I feel like the commitment from the administration to bring this program back to prominence far exceeds any minuses that anyone could throw our way. You cannot help but be excited when you think about the possibilities of us building this program back where it should be. I have a strong desire to work with young people and watch them succeed. I want to bring a passion and a high energy level with me. We want to chase lofty goals and strive to make these guys better. I feel very passionate about the opportunity that’s in front of us.”

Wood comes to Holmes after serving as executive director of college advancement and athletics at East Mississippi Community College since January 2017. In this role, he worked with EMCC’s alumni and foundation efforts and also worked directly with the athletic programs at EMCC.

At EMCC, he worked with seven NJCAA All-America quarterbacks, including 2011 NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year and former Ole Miss starter Bo Wallace and seven All-Region 23 wide receivers.

Wood is known for his offensive scheme at East Mississippi, but being a head coach is nothing new to Wood after serving as a head coach in the high school ranks for 10 years.

“I have been heavy as an offensive guy at the collegiate level, but I played safety in college and started out as a defensive coordinator and special teams coach at Meridian High School,” Wood said. “I switched over to the head coaching role for seven years in high school and of course had to assume that role in MACJC competition for a couple of games (Holmes and Jones) during the 2015 season when our head coach was suspended. I feel like surrounding myself with a quality support staff is a huge key and I’m excited to assemble that group which should allow me to maintain an emphasis on offense and help in paying attention to the overall program.

“Strengths that I’ve tried to have in the past are usually dealing with the care that you have for others,” he said. “I’ve been very blessed individually for a long time, but if it’s just about you as an individual then that is a hollow form of success. Again, people are the key to great organizations….how you treat them, how you care for them and how you help them. I believe as a person, we should all help others and I want to be part of this opportunity and help kids obtain their goals. I hope that the student-athletes that I coach and that I have coached always know that I care about them first.”

He said that Holmes’ family atmosphere was important in his decision.

“Holmes is a family that cares about each other,” Wood said. “I have had the blessing of raising my three sons and my family played a vital role in that. I think you can see when a family or a group cares and pulls for each other. It is truly an awesome sight. That sense of unity is unique and powerful. That sense of unity and togetherness is what we want others to see in us.”

Having the right people is the key to a successful program, and he plans to do just that.

“Great recruiters, strong support from the top to the bottom and a passionate fan base (is key),” Wood said. “So much attributed to our success in Scooba. No one person did it alone; we had so many passionate supporters who made it possible. The culture was built by a desire to excel and whether you are in Goodman, Scooba or any small town, you need to realize that your drive and desire can open doors for you.

“Your passion can help you climb to new heights,” he said. “We need great support, great focus and great effort, and we know that. Again surrounding yourself with great people that are like-minded in their pursuit of excellence will usually shift a culture and help you to establish a bright future.”

What can Holmes players and fans expect from Bulldog football?

“Offenses, defenses and specialty groups are only as good as the people that wear those uniforms,” he said. “I won’t score a point or make a tackle but we will recruit hard, put together close knit groups who are excited about being there. We don’t want to simply compete, we want to excel. Our style of play will be fast and aggressive. We will expect that if you play here.”

Wood has 10 years in the Mississippi high school ranks where he served two years (2006-07) as head football coach at Gulfport High School. Prior to Gulfport, he coached three seasons at Columbia High School having three straight (2003-05) Class 3A state playoff appearances and Philadelphia High School, where he went to back-to-back (2001-02) state playoff berths. He was an assistant at Meridian for three years making the 5A playoffs each season and claimed a share of the 2000 Region 3-5A championship. At Columbia, he also served as the assistant powerlifting coach. At Philadelphia and Meridian, he was the assistant track coach.

A 1996 summa cum laude graduate in elementary education from Mississippi State University, Wood returned to his alma mater to complete his master’s degree in sports administration while serving as a graduate assistant on Jackie Sherrill’s MSU football coaching staff.

After volunteering at Holmes, he got his first full-time football coaching job on Hall of Famer Tom Goode’s 1997 EMCC coaching staff as the Lions’ running backs coach.

Wood’s initial stay on the Scooba Campus came as a two-year strong safety for Coach Goode’s EMCC Lions. As a sophomore in 1993, he garnered MACJC All-State/North Division honors on the gridiron and NJCAA All-Academic accolades in the classroom. He was inducted into the EMCC Sports Hall of Fame in 2017.

After initially signing with Pennsylvania-based Bucknell University, out of the Patriot League, Wood concluded his collegiate playing career at Georgetown College in Kentucky.

Wood said being a head coach in the MACCC is special to him.

“I had a great opportunity to play for Tom Goode in the early 90’s at EMCC,” Wood said. “It is truly a special league because the focus is as Coach Goode always said, ‘Books and Ball.’ We have a chance to work with young people in a challenging game environment and we have a chance to better them from a classroom standpoint.

“Whether you are a traditional or a technical student this league opens doors where other places fail,” he said. “It is highly competitive league and it allows these young men to grow. Getting to come back to Holmes where I started out as a volunteer and now have an opportunity as the head football coach is a great example of the American dream. I can truly say, like the sign that used to hang in the end zone said, ‘There’s no place like Holmes."”

He is a member of the Mississippi Association of Coaches, American Football Coaches Association, National Education Association and the Mississippi Association of Educators. Honors include: National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame, President’s List, member of Phi Theta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and Golden Key National Honor Society, summa cum laude graduate and MSU Student Teacher of the Year.

Wood has three sons – Marc, Parker and Will. Marc is an insurance agent with Farm Bureau in Desoto County. Parker played both soccer and baseball at Holmes but now is a member of the East Mississippi baseball team. Will is a senior at Southeast Lauderdale.

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