River’s Potts excited for fresh start with Akron
Quite simply, the University of Akron football program has been one of the worst FBS programs in the United States the last few seasons.
River High product Dylan Potts has lived through back-to-back 1-11 seasons since he arrived in the Zips’ program.
“Losing is never fun,” Potts said during a phone interview. “Only winning two games combined in two years isn’t a pleasant time, but we certainly learned a lot about ourselves.”
In major college football, back-to-back one-win seasons usually results in a coaching change and that was the case for the Zips who relieved Rob Ianello of his duties and proceeded to hire Terry Bowden as their new head coach after a lengthy process because Akron officials wanted to make sure they got it right.
“We, as players, had faith in the administration that they would make the correct hire,” Potts said. “Our A.D. told us they were going to make the correct hire and take as long as needed, and we trusted them and I really think they did a great job.”
Bowden, who is the son of legendary college football coach Bobby Bowden, had been serving as the head coach at North Alabama, a Division II school before accepting the Akron job on Dec. 22.
“You just hear the Bowden name and you get excited,” Potts said.
With a new coach comes new ideas, philosophies and change. None of which has been an issue for Potts.
“Everyone on the team is buying into everything Coach Bowden and the coaches have been telling us since they arrived,” Potts said. “We’re looking to get this turned around and do good things this year.”
Much like today’s culture doesn’t permit back-to-back struggling seasons, it also doesn’t give coaches a four or five year window to turn things around.
“Coach Bowden made it clear in his first meeting with us that he wasn’t here to win in two or three years,” Potts said. “He came to Akron with the idea of winning now and that’s what we all want. The players are tired of losing, and we want to see success, and I really believe it can happen this year.”
Bowden’s hiring – along with the hiring of former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel for an academic position – has caused a renewed excitement around the Summit County campus, according to Potts.
Bowden hired a top-shelf coaching staff, including his brother Jeff, former N.C. State head coach Chuck Amato and former Florida State Seminole Terrell Buckley.
“The staff is just great,” Potts said. “They’re all really great guys and very high quality coaches. I really feel like we have a great staff in place.”
Potts indicated spring ball went well for himself and the Zips. After bouncing around between quarterback and kick returner the last two years en route to lettering both seasons, Potts has found a home at inside receiver in the Bowden system, which will look a lot like West Virginia’s pass-happy attack.
“I’ve played a lot of positions since I’ve been here,” Potts admitted. “I think I’ve found a good home though at wide receiver. I’ve been focused on learning the new offense, which isn’t as complexed as our last offense.”
Bowden’s system calls for the ball to get into the playmakers’ hands.
“The coaches don’t want us to have to think much,” Potts said. “They just want us to play fast. We’ve done well in getting the timing down.”
In the Zips’ spring game, Potts caught seven balls for some 60 yards and a touchdown.
“The spring game went well,” Potts said. “We’ve got three solid quarterbacks and we feel like we can win with all three of them.”
Potts is home in the Ohio Valley for a little more than two weeks before returning to Akron to begin summer classes. During the summer, the Zips will have conditioning, 7-on-7 drills and then head right into fall camp in early August.
“We’re all anxious to get back on campus and get back to work,” Potts said. “Our off-season conditioning was tough and prepared us well for spring ball and into the season. We’ve got some guys coming in who could really help us right now.”
While he’s home, Potts has been making trips to Steubenville to work out with former Big Red quarterback Marcus Prather, who will be joining the Zips’ program in the fall.
The Zips officially begin the Bowden era on Thursday, Aug. 30 against Central Florida. They also have non-conference games at Florida International, home against Morgan State and at Tennessee before opening Mid-American Conference play.
“We’re ready to get the ball rolling,” Potts said. “I am happy with how everything has gone and looking forward to the season.”
Dylan is majoring in pre-physical therapy and reports his academics are going quite well.
Chase DeLande, who’s parents are Ohio Valley natives, has signed his National Letter of Intent to continue his wrestling career. DeLande, who won the 2011 145-pound state title for Hilliard Davidson High School in suburban Columbus, has signed to attend Edinboro University.
DeLande’s quest for a repeat title was denied this past winter. He battled injuries much of the season, but still qualified for the Division I state semifinals before falling. He settled for fourth place at 152 pounds.
Chase is the son of St. Clairsville High graduate Dave DeLande and Shadyside High graduate Stephanie (Miller) DeLande.
- THE OHSAA is expected to announce the voting results of its referendums, including competitive balance, on Wednesday at 3 p.m.
- LAST WEEK, the National Federation announced that it had rejected the idea of implementing a shot clock in boys and girls’ high school basketball.
Staskey can be reached via email at email@example.com