The Union Recorder

Local Sports

May 9, 2014

Former UGA, NFL player hired as Trojan defensive coach

MILLEDGEVILLE — Two former University of Georgia football teammates are reunited at John Milledge Academy.

This week JMA head football coach J.T. Wall announced Tony Gilbert as the Trojans’ new defensive coordinator.

“We’ve known each other a long time. We ran in the same circles in high school as far as summer camps,” Wall said. “We ended up playing together at Georgia for three years and just stayed in touch the whole time. He’s just been playing, and I’ve been coaching. We’ve always had a mutual respect for each other. I’m glad to have him on board.”

The two Trojan coaches met back in 1996. Even with successful high school careers, neither was highly recruited.

Both worked hard and wanted to prove coaches wrong.

“That’s what pushed us to be better football players and better men too,” JMA’s newest defensive coordinator said.

Gilbert, a three-year starter at linebacker and captain of Georgia’s 2002 SEC Championship team, played eight seasons in the National Football League, six with the Jacksonville Jaguars and two for the Atlanta Falcons.

Gilbert earned his bachelor’s degree in Special Education from UGA in 2011.

The Macon native spent single graduate assistant years as a strength and conditioning coach at UGA and a defensive line and linebackers’ coach at Auburn University.

Georgia Military College hired Gilbert in July 2013 to coach defensive backs.

“Of course I want to thank Bert Williams and the GMC family for giving me an opportunity to coach and learn more under him and Rob Manchester and Brian Hill,” Gilbert said. “They did a great job showing me another side of coaching. I learned a lot about how to deal with kids and football in general.”

The new JMA coach enjoys the teaching aspect of the game.

“I can mentor and help mold young men to where they want to be in life,” he said. “I want to be a good impact in these guys’ lives.”

He will replace JMA athletic director Dwight Danuser, who will take a different role focusing on special teams and the defensive line.

“(Gilbert) is a very energetic guy that I think our kids can rally around,” Wall said. “He’s excited to get into high school football too. It’s something new for him. Being able to coordinate the defense was an attractive quality we were able to offer him.”

JMA’s defense hasn’t lacked for much the last two seasons with the team losing just three out of 26 games.

“Nothing is going to change from our expectations,” Wall said. “We feel like having Tony on board strengthens our staff and school as a whole. A guy of his caliber, character and talents is only going to boost our football program.”

Gilbert said the Trojan defense will be a passionate, fundamentally sound group.

“We are going to give great effort and love what we do,” he said. “I spoke to the team the other day and said I’m excited to be here. I’m not a ‘me’ guy. It’s about what the John Milledge Academy Trojans are going to do together. If love what you do, it’s going to be easy.”

The new hire joins the school’s growing learning support program. Gilbert will also coach the middle school boys basketball team, as well as assisting with varsity and middle school track.

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