New coach provides new spark at Clark Atlanta

Clark Atlanta offensive tackle Donald McIver Jr. will start his fourth season Sept. 7 against West Alabama and wants to see one thing change: He wants the team “to come out as winners.”

The Panthers finished last season 2-8, but McIver said that after Kevin Weston was hired in January as coach, the staff and players settled into a positive mindset and are focused on improvement.

“I feel like the guys that we brought in are really going to trust each other and me as a leader,” McIver said. “I feel like I need to build trust first, but then once I start doing that, we can believe and succeed against West Alabama.”

McIver said the coaches didn’t take anything lightly in spring practice and pushed the players to compete with a high effort. “I feel like we worked hard, and it showed in the people who are dedicated,” McIver said.

Although McIver is starting his final season, it was during the homecoming game last season when he knew his dedication to football was making a difference.

Weston was hired from Tusculum, where he had eight years of coaching experience. He was defensive coordinator for a unit that finished second in the country in pass defense, allowing only 140.6 passing yards per game. Also, Weston introduced the deceptive Wing-T offense at Clark Atlanta.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Weston said. “Coming in and being aggressive up front, running the football and just being a physical football team.

“We’re trying to re-establish a culture of success and re-establish a culture of winning. … A lot of people see people being successful, but don’t understand the work behind the scenes, the effort and the time the players and coaches have to put in to make that possible.”

Weston has focused on recruiting in Metro Atlanta and believes that local talent will be a continual emphasis.

“I know we’re over 25 guys that are signed from the Atlanta area,” Weston said. “We wanted to get as many of the local-area guys as possible that we felt like fit us.”

McIver said that Weston has the program headed in the right direction.

“I know in the past Clark Atlanta hasn’t been the best, but I feel like the guys our coaching staff are bringing in and the guys who are returning are going to do the right things to be successful,” McIver said.