ASU Sports: From Angelo State quarterback to state championship coach

Posted: June 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

Mike Jinks walked through the hallway towards the stage greeting everyone like he had just been elected to political office.

His walk was confident, his eyes engaging and his personality energetic. There were probably people who didn’t know who Jinks was last year waiting along the walls of the Junell Center’s first floor for their opportunity. They wanted to shake his hand, tell him congratulations and try to make an impression that he would remember. Coaches want to know other coaches, but just as important, they want successful coaches to know them.

Jinks, an Angelo State University graduate and former football player, returned to San Angelo last week as a featured speaker at the Angelo Football Clinic.
He returned as the head coach of Cibilo Steele.
He returned a state champion.
He returned proud.
He returned humble.

“The main thing that I want to say to them is thank you,” he said moments before delivering a lecture called “Zone Runs / Play Action Pass Off It” at the clinic which brought in coaches from the high school, college and professional ranks. “There are coaches that are here that helped put me on the right path, others that took an interest in me and gave me opportunities and others that I have watched from a distance and drew inspiration. I’m honored, more than anything, to be asked to give our presentation.”

In only its fifth year of varsity football, all with Jinks as head coach, Cibolo Steele claimed the Class 5A, Division II championship last season with a 24-21 win over Denton Guyer at Cowboys Stadium. The Knights finished the season with a 14-2 record and amassed 4,656 yards rushing and 1,503 passing in those games. Malcolm Brown, the heralded running back who will play for the Texas Longhorns this fall, led the team with 2,596 yards rushing and 30 touchdowns. Marquis Anderson, who is headed to Oklahoma to play for the Sooners, anchored Steele’s defense which won its final 13 games of the season. The Knights, whose school is located in the northern section of the San Antonio metro near the Randolph Air Force Base, are 45-16 under Jinks.

“We are really trying to build our program around the idea of not being afraid to take a chance,” Jinks said. “That’s something I learned while I was atAngeloState. We want a foundation of not being afraid to fail. We want our players to believe in themselves.”

From player to coach

Jinks, 38, enrolled at Angelo State University after a successful high school playing career at state powerhouse, Converse Judson. Jinks led the Rockets to a 37-4-1 record as the team’s quarterback in three seasons, including a state championship appearance in 1988. Judson lost the game to Dallas Carter, but was named state champions after the UIL ruled Carter used an ineligible player. Jinks has told the San Antonio Express-News that Carter clearly won the game on the field and he doesn’t claim the championship.

Angelo State head coach Jerry Vandergriff and assistant Mike Martin saw the potential in Jinks and recruited him to play for the Rams in 1990. As a starter his junior and senior seasons at ASU, Jinks led his team to a 13-8 record and to the playoffs in 1994. The Rams went 4-1 in Lone Star Conference play his senior season. He threw for 1,897 yards and 15 touchdowns his senior season after throwing for 13 touchdowns and 1,320 yards as a junior.

“The college years were incredible for me and have shaped my life,” Jinks said. “I learned so much about the game and built great friendships at Angelo State that are still very important parts to my life.”

A job offer wasn’t waiting for Jinks after graduation, but as the San Angelo Standard-Times and Express-News have recounted, an encounter with then-Killeen Ellison coach Robert Walker turned into a job offer. Jinks, who was working as a waiter in 1995, served the Ellison coaches drinks in San Angelo while they were in town for the coaches clinic. They struck up a conversation about who Jinks was as a person and where he wanted his career to go. Walker, now at San Antonio East Central, made some calls and offered Jinks a job.

Jinks took advantage of the opportunity and now has a resume with assistant coaching jobs at Ellison, Judson, Austin Crockett and San Antonio Lee on it. He accepted his first head coaching position at Burbank which was 0-50 before he took the job. One season at Burbank, which brought the school three victories, set up the challenge of starting Steele’s football program.

Sixteen years after getting his first coaching job, Jinks stood on stage at theJunellCenter teaching football to coaches and showing clips from the state championship.

Cultural impact

Jinks played his way to a successful high school and college career at the quarterback position. He started his coaching career as a quarterbacks coach and worked hard everyday to become one of the rising stars in Texas high school coaching. As David Flores, a former Express-News columnist who has covered Jinks since high school wrote about for KENS5.com, Jinks has become a role model for black athletes and coaches with his accomplishments. The state championship Jinks led Steele to was the first for a black head coach in the San Antonio area.

“It is significant because it’s never happened before, but I’ve had a lot of help from people,” Jinks toldFlores. “If what we’ve done this season can inspire more black kids to go into education and work as coaches and teachers, it makes me feel that much better about the whole experience.”

Coaching philosophy

Jinks has always been a team player. He knows his career at AngeloStatewouldn’t have been as successful or fulfilling without his teammates. He always acknowledges the coaches who helped him start his career and who have continued to give him advice and encouragement. Even last Wednesday during his speech at the Angelo Coaches Clinic, Jinks stepped aside and let an assistant coach from Steele take over part of the presentation. The clinic’s program simply had Jinks as the speaker, but Jinks made the decision to put his coach in the spotlight.

“Coaching isn’t just about X’s and O’s,” Jinks said. “There are a lot of coaches and people who get hung up on the execution part of the game and neglect how they treat their players and other coaches. This is a relationship-driven profession where you are successful when you treat people the right way.”

Jinks jokes that people want to shake his hand a lot more and talk longer now that he has won a state championship. He knows his life will probably never be the same after winning a Texas high school championship and that he’ll always be introduced as a state title winner from now on. That doesn’t mean he can’t be that same energetic, engaging and humble person he was while attending school and playing football at Angelo State.

“I don’t think winning the championship has changed who I am as a person,” he said. “What is it going to take to stay on the same level in 2011 has been the only thing on my mind ever since we won the state championship game. We’re not going to let any of our success go to our heads.”

 

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