Canadian Football League

Friday, February 24, 2006

Palmer looks forward to coaching career in Canadian Football League

Palmer leaving Lobos with respectChavez coach steps down after building tradition
By JEFF JENKINSChronicle Correspondent

PALMER REPORT • New opportunity: Chavez' Danny Palmer was recently hired as a regional scout, special teams coordinator and running backs coach for the Ottawa Renegades of the Canadian Football League.
• Playoff foundation: Palmer enjoyed two stints at Chavez. During his first season (2001), he led the Lobos to a 5-6 record and the school's only Class 5A playoff appearance.
• Back together: Palmer will be reunited with Renegades head coach John Jenkins, who was also Palmer's boss at the University of Houston in 1992.
Chavez's Danny Palmer has enjoyed coaching success in both high school and college football. Now he's giving the professional ranks a try.
Palmer, the Lobos' head football coach and athletic coordinator four of the past five years, recently announced that he is leaving Chavez to accept a position as a scout and special teams and running backs coach with the Canadian Football League's Ottawa Renegades.
"As a coach, you don't get many opportunities like this in your career," Palmer said. "I thought it was the right thing to do for me and my family. I really couldn't say no."
But loyalty also played a factor in Palmer's decision. Palmer, 56, is a close friend of new Renegades coach John Jenkins, who hired Palmer as his linebackers coach back in 1992 when Jenkins was head coach at the University of Houston.
"John Jenkins and I go way back," Palmer said. "We actually coached against each other when I was at Texarkana and he was an assistant coach at Nacogdoches. We've stayed in touch, and John actually gave me my first Division I (college) coaching job at UH."
When Jenkins asked Palmer, who lists stops at Texas Southern, the University of Texas-Arlington, Eastern Oklahoma State University, Austin Peay University and Northwest Mississippi Junior College on his coaching resume, to join his staff in Ottawa, he couldn't refuse. In his new role, he will serve as a regional scout, special teams coordinator and running backs coach.
"It's all about loyalty," Palmer said. "John Jenkins has been very good to me and my family. I enjoyed my one season with him at UH. He's one of the brightest offensive coaches in the game. I learned a great deal from him."
Palmer, a Tyler native and former quarterback at the University of Southern Mississippi, said he relished the challenge of building a football franchise that has struggled in the CFL.
"Ottawa was a good organization back in the 1960s and 1970s and won several Grey Cup championships (as the Rough Riders), but the Renegades haven't had a winning season in a few years," Palmer said. "Ottawa is a beautiful city. It's the capital of Canada. The fans are great. If we give them a winner, they will support us."
Palmer said Jenkins has proven he can win in the CFL. After being fired from the University of Houston, he has been an offensive coordinator for five different CFL teams. Jenkins coached the Toronto Argonauts, led by quarterback Doug Flutie, to the Grey Cup title in 1997.
"I'm really looking forward to coaching in the CFL," Palmer said. "It's a 12-man game and they play on a bigger field. It's a wide-open type of game. It should be fun."
Palmer brings plenty of experience with him. After many years as a successful high school and college coach, Palmer coached from 1992 to 1999 at the University of Houston, where his duties ranged from linebackers and running backs coach to recruiting coordinator. In fact, several of Palmer's former UH recruits are now starring in the CFL, including Calgary's Geoffery Reynolds.

Palmer was hired as head football coach at Chavez prior to the 2001 season. In only the school's second year, Palmer led the Lobos to a 5-6 record and their first — and only — trip to the Class 5A playoffs.
"That has to be one of my most special coaching memories," Palmer said. "Nobody gave Chavez much of a chance, and we made the playoffs in our second year. That was pretty exciting."
Palmer left Chavez after only one season when Texas Southern University coach Bill Thomas, then the Tigers coach, hired Palmer as defensive coordinator and special teams coach during the 2002 season.
But Palmer returned to Chavez for the last three seasons. Although the Lobos didn't advance to the playoffs, they improved every year, posting respective seasons of 2-8, 3-7 and 4-6.
"It's obvious that we got better every year," Palmer said. "We worked with the junior high programs in our area and started getting the better athletes to come to Chavez. Whoever Chavez gets as their next coach will have a great team the next few years."
Palmer, who also coached the Chavez girls track and field squad to a district championship during his tenure, said he will miss his athletes at Chavez, especially the football players.
"I got very attached to kids like Erik Martin, Robert Bargas, Harold Turnage, Frederick Blue, Justin Bell, Travis Fortson and Brian Eurysthee, who has become one of the best running backs in the Houston area," Palmer said. "We have some great, young men at Chavez. It will be difficult saying good-bye."
Palmer, whose last day at Chavez is Feb. 28, said he isn't leaving the area. He and his wife, Sharon, have two daughters, Stacie and Bethany, and a 6-year-old grandson, Miles, in Houston.
"We plan to keep our home in Houston," Palmer said. "I can do some of my scouting here in Houston, and I'll go to Ottawa for training camp in June, and the regular season is in June, July and August, followed by the Grey Cup in early September. But I'll be back in the fall."
Palmer has been a football coach for 35 years, and he's never been more excited.
"I don't think I've ever been more enthused about a job in my coaching career," Palmer said. "I'm ready for a new challenge."


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