After four seasons as the head football coach at Oak Ridge, Elijah Williams has stepped down to become the recruiting coordinator and running backs coach at Florida A&M.
"Oak Ridge has been my home," Williams said. "I have great relationships and have been a father figure to the kids. Deciding to leave was really tough."
A running back-defensive back at Florida, Williams played four seasons with the NFL's Atlanta Falcons and made a smooth transition into coaching. After serving three years as an assistant at Titusville Astronaut and one at Oak Ridge, he went 30-14 and has the best winning percentage in the Pioneers program's history.
Oak Ridge was 7-4 in 2012.
"It's something I never sought out," Williams, 37, said about taking a college position. "I have turned down lots of opportunities, including jobs at South Carolina and Oklahoma. But if you keep saying no, they'll stop asking."
He said he looks forward to being closer to family but still close enough to come back to Oak Ridge to watch his former players.
"I know his heart was at Oak Ridge, but it was an opportunity he could not pass up,'' athletic director Janet Rasmussen said. "We're going to miss him greatly."
Matt Coleman, an offensive line coach all four years under Williams, has been chosen the interim head coach through spring practice. The Oak Ridge administration will seek a permanent replacement.
"It's perfect timing for me to leave because the cupboard isn't bare," Williams said. "There is no doubt that Oak Ridge has a more talented senior class than they have ever had, and the kids are familiar with Matt."
The Pioneers will play at Melbourne Palm Bay on May 22 in the spring game.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times