Kordell Looney didn’t play football his two first years of school. But early in 2014 he met Maurice Douglass, who was about to be named Springfield’s head football coach.
Douglass, who was leaving Trotwood-Madison, was watching the 6-foot-3, 285-pound Looney at basketball practice. Douglass knew he was looking at a football player. But when Douglass was told Looney wasn’t on the football team, he knew it was time to start recruiting. He told Looney he was going to be the Wildcats’ next coach.
“I said, ‘If you’ll play, I’ll come,’” Douglass said. “He said, “If you come, I’ll think about it.’”
Looney got in the weight room and Douglass told him he had the potential to become a Division I football player.
“I said, ‘If you’ll just work and do everything you’re supposed to, you can go anywhere you want to,’” Douglass said. “‘And you can play on Sundays,’ because you’re not going to find many 285-pound kids that can run a 4.9.”
So that summer before Looney’s junior year and before his first high school game he went to some camps with Douglass. Before he left camps at Bowling Green and Toledo he had scholarship offers.
“I thought I would have to play football first,” Looney said. “It was just crazy. I’m blessed.”
Looney stayed in the weight room and became a force at defensive tackle during his junior season. More offers came and he committed to Kentucky, Douglass’ alma mater, in March. On Wednesday, he made it official and signed his letter of intent with Kentucky.
“I’ve never dreamed about this,” Looney said.
It was a dream day for the program, which was 3-7 in Douglass’ second season and lost four games by a total of nine points. Looney was one of 14 Wildcats to sign to play college football.
“If you work hard, he’ll help you out,” Looney said.
Douglass introduced each of his players to a large gathering in the school library and had each of them addressed the crowd. They thanked parents, coaches, friends, mentors and God. Jeremiah Ward, who is going to Garden City Community College in Kansas, got choked up as he thanked everyone. Saalih Muhammad, who will play at Marietta, fought back tears when he talked about how he had played so many of the others since pee wee.
The other Wildcats who signed were Kalus Arnold, Marietta; Isaiah Averhart, Ohio Dominican; Xavier Garland, Malone; Aaron House, Wittenberg; Nick McCaughey, Marietta; Elijah McGee, Marietta; Mykell Moore, Wilmington; Derrick Roberts, Central State; Tion Seldon, Wilmington; Harlan Singleton, Hocking Community College and Brayden Underwood, Urbana.
“It not only affects them,” Douglass said. “It affects their children’s children. That means more to me than all the state titles in the world.”
Douglass said he expects at least 10 signings every year. Next year’s top recruit is wide receiver Danny Davis. He has at least 17 offers, many from Big Ten schools. Sophomores Leonard Taylor and Antwaun Johnson already have a handful of offers, and freshman Moses Douglass already has one.