Is college ball next for Propst? Colquitt County coach would jump at the right chance

Colquitt County coach Rush Propst said he couldn’t sleep two nights this week after two polls declared his Packers the national champions of high school football. He’s never coached a national champion, even during his famous run at Hoover High in Alabama.

Now, Propst is hoping for news that will make his holiday season even greater – a call from the Univeristy of Georgia, Auburn or South Carolina, anybody in college football, willing to discuss a spot on their coaching staff.

‘’I would jump off the back of my pool tonight if some of these universities would give me that chance,’’ Propst said. “I’d relish that opportunity. I’ve been a head coach for a long time. I would love to go back and be a good assistant coach. I’m as ready as I’ve ever been.’’

Propst still loves his current job, make no mistake. On Tuesday, he held a press conference to tout his idea for a two-game national playoff in high school football. Several national writers were on the call, a testament to his skills as a salesman. Propst, who gained notoriety a decade ago from MTV’s ‘’Two-a-Days’’ reality series, has been called the most famous high school football coach in America, a reputation he's only polished since his move to Georgia in 2008.

Colquitt County has just finished back-to-back 15-0 seasons, the first Georgia school since Parkview (2000-02) to accomplish that in the highest classification. Colquitt is ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in six national polls, finishing on top of two – Prep Force and High School Football America. Colquitt is Georgia’s first team to claim a national title since Valdosta in 1992.

‘’It’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever had,’’ Propst said. “I haven’t slept much since. To win 30 games in a row in this state, that’s the greatest accomplishment I’ve had in my career. If you look at the NFL draft board last year, didn’t Georgia have more players than any other state? I won four in a row at Hoover (2002-05). That’s still a record. I feel like winning two here is like winning four or five there.’’

But one can't blame Propst for thinking: What is there left for him to accomplish in the high school game?

The plan was to jump from Hoover to college football in 2008. Propst interviewed with Nick Saban at Alabama and thought he had the job, but rumors of personal scandal – Propst admitted to Saban his marital infidelities – ruined his chance. Propst, who lives with a wife and children in Moultrie, says he came to Georgia a changed man. A serious bout with throat cancer in 2010 also lent him new perspective and appreciation.

Meanwhile, almost 20 of Propst’s former high school assistants have gone on to coach in college. The most notable locally is Jeremy Pruitt, the former Georgia defensive coordinator, newly hired to replace Kirby Smart at Alabama. Others include John Ross (head coach at UAB), Kevin Sherrer (UGA linebackers coach), Todd Watson (Troy assistant) and Chip Lindsey (Arizona State offensive coordinator).

None has had the success on the high school level as Propst, who has built winners at four schools.  He's 262-86 in 27 seasons. It’s been said that Propst changed football in Alabama. In 1998 and 1999, he was running the only spread offense in the state, he says. Everybody else was running a power I or wishbone or Wing T. Hoover dominated the next decade with an offense-first approach that set scoring records.

Propst didn’t introduce the spread to Georgia, but he  helped popularize it along with coaches such as Bob Sphire at North Gwinnett and his former Hoover assistant Lindsay, whose offenses set records with Hutson Mason. As impressive as are the back-to-back titles is Colquitt’s run of seven straight semifinal finishes. Not even Valdosta in the glory years came close to doing that.

His 2014 and 2015 teams are the third- and fourth-highest scoring teams in state history, first and second in the highest classification. Colquitt threw six TD passes and put up 52 points in the semifinals against Mill Creek, a team that had allowed only 88 points in its previous 13 games. In the final against Roswell, a team with five Division I recruits on defense, Colquitt won 30-13. Quarterback Chase Parrish, who has no scholarship offers, was 28-of-39 passing for 306 yards.

‘’It’s about selling your kids on overachieving,’’ Propst said. “That’s been my ticket anywhere I’ve been. It’s one thing that I’ve been able to sell that people have bought – overachieve, overachieve. I teach it, I preach it, every day in every single thing we do. You’ve got to make our players better than they really are.’’

Now, 57, Propst wants to see if he can do that on the next level. He’s waiting on the call.