After serving as quarterbacks coach and more recently offensive coordinator for Albany State, Uyl Joyner left the team to join his brother Corey — head coach at Dougherty — as a Trojans assistant.
ALBANY — Albany State football coach Mike White is back where he was two years ago: in need of an offensive coordinator.
The job became vacant Wednesday when Uyl Joyner officially submitted his letter of resignation and accepted the offensive coordinator position at Dougherty High to coach alongside his brother, Corey, who is the head coach of the Trojans.
Joyner, a former star quarterback at both Dougherty and Albany State, coached at ASU for the past four years — his first two as the QBs coach and his last two as both the QBs coach and the offensive coordinator.
“I knew it was coming,” White told The Herald on Thursday. “I can’t say I didn’t expect it.”
White, who is entering his 14th season as head coach at ASU and is sitting on 99 career wins, had talked with Joyner several times in the past month about a possible move to the high school ranks, but White didn’t get official word of the resignation until Wednesday afternoon.
“This was just the move he wanted to do, and you have to respect that,” White said. “I want what is best for him. It happens, and it’s coaching. And that’s just the way it is.”
Joyner, when reached Thursday by The Herald, said he made the move to not only be able to coach with his brother, but to be closer to Dougherty assistant coaches Ronnye Nelson and Mario Nazien, who he was close to as a child.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal,” Joyner said. “You really can’t get a chance like this at your old high school. I had the opportunity, so I jumped at it.”
With four months before the beginning of training camp, the Rams are now without an offensive coordinator or a starting quarterback after the team wasn’t able to bring a QB recruit in to compete for the starting job with Rodney Castlin, last year’s third-stringer.
White, however, doesn’t believe his offense is in shambles.
“Right now, we will just find an offensive coordinator and move along,” White said. “Right now, we are without a coach, and we will find one and get it going. I have two (quarterbacks) I have in mind and am really close to making a decision as to who I will bring in, but we don’t have that kid on the dotted line yet.”
White said Thursday that he isn’t sure how long the search for an offensive coordinator will take, but he has already started the process of looking for Joyner’s replacement.
“We are definitely looking for a good teacher, a good recruiter and a guy who is already well-established and has himself together,” White said.
Joyner’s departure puts the Rams in a similar position they were in two years ago when offensive coordinator Steve Smith resigned after two years on the job to become the offensive line coach and running game coordinator at Division I Tennessee State, a position he held for one year before accepting an assistant coaching job with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Joyner understands that many will see his career going the other way as he takes over the offense of a Dougherty team that is 4-26 in its last three seasons.
“People go from college to high school all the time, so I don’t see it as a step down,” Joyner said. “It’s the same job. The first job in coaching is to impact the kids’ lives. The second thing is to teach football. It’s a lateral move for me.”
Joyner’s new job does come with a significant pay cut, an issue that prevented him from making the move to Dougherty sooner.
“It was always in the back of my mind that I wanted to get over there with him,” Joyner said about joining Corey, who accepted the Dougherty job last offseason. “Last season, (Corey’s hiring process) was strung out so long though, and I needed to work everything out financially at the house before I made a move like this.”
Joyner entertained the idea of accepting the offensive coordinator job at Americus-Sumter nearly a month ago but told The Herald early in April that he turned the job down.
“It wasn’t better than what I had,” he said last month.
On Thursday, he called the Dougherty job the perfect fit.
“Being able to work with those three guys (Corey, Ronnye and Mario) is like a dream come true,” Joyner said. “One of them I grew up with. One of them I watched grow up. And one of them watched me grow up. I don’t know any coach who has a job like that. You can’t get any better than this.”
In Joyner’s first year as offensive coordinator at Albany State, quarterback Stanley Jennings was named the Offensive Player of the Year in the conference after throwing for 2,662 yards and 24 TDs and guiding the Rams to an East Division title and an appearance in the Division II playoffs.
With the graduation of Jennings, Joyner’s offense stalled last season under QBs David Kooi and Keenan Grissett. The Rams ranked seventh in the conference in passing (154 yards per game), seventh in scoring (20 points per game) and fifth in rushing (133 yards per game) and failed to make the Division II playoffs for the first time since an NCAA postseason ban was lifted in 2004.
Despite the regression of the “Gold Rush” offense, White said Joyner was a talented offensive coordinator.
“He did a lot with what we had,” White said. “Uyl is a very sharp coach who can make adjustments. That’s his strength. He can counter what a defense is doing and figure out what he can do to a defense. He did a good job for us.”
Joyner said he relished the chance he got to coach alongside White.
“I don’t regret anything about the years I spent at Albany State,” Joyner said. “I just wish the last year could have been better offensively. That’s my alma mater, and I was glad to have the opportunity to be there.”
Joyner said the offensive struggles of 2012 had nothing to do with his decision to leave.
“That’s the reason I would have wanted to stay,” he said. “I’m not running from a challenge. That makes it hard to leave. You don’t want to leave on a sour note.”
And Joyner also didn’t rule out a return to the college ranks one day.
“Right now, I am happy with high school,” he said. “The days aren’t as long, and the weeks aren’t as (busy). But I never say never. So, who knows?”