Houston Lamar defensive backs coach Theadis Reagins has certainly enjoyed a wealth of talent to oversee during his tenure with the Texans. Reagins came on board four years ago with a talent by the name of Holton Hill patrolling Lamar's secondary. Today, he's guiding arguably the most talented group of defensive backs in the nation, headlined by five-star cornerback Anthony Cook and four-star cornerback D'shawn Jamison.
Burnt Orange Nation recently caught up with Coach Reagins, who went in-depth about the two Texas priority prospects and much more.
Burnt Orange Nation: Lamar as a whole in unbelievably talented entering the 2017 season. What are the expectations from yourself and the coaching staff?
Coach Reagins: To be honest with you, the last three years we’ve been put out the playoffs in the third round, so this year we’re obviously looking to go farther. Some of the coaches are looking for us to make a run for the state championship; most definitely going past the third round.
Burnt Orange Nation: You’ve seen all the recruiting attention and how much hype Lamar is or will be getting closer to the season. How does the coaching staff help funnel out all of the extra media attention and hype and focus on your own personal goals?
Coach Reagins: Actually the kids do a great job of managing it themselves so some of the time, the coaches are not even involved with that aspect of it. I am because I’ve got a pretty good relationship with the kids, but most of the coaches let the kids handle it and the kids do a great job of managing that stuff.
Burnt Orange Nation: Most schools and coaches would be lucky to have just one of these guys [Cook and Jamison]. What’s it like having a future Division I talent on each side of the field at once?
Coach Reagins: I wouldn’t say it’s easy, but those guys are so competitive and they want to continue to be the best so as a coach, you have to find a way to motivate those guys for them to exceed expectations. It’s kind of challenging at times because they have to lead their league, but those guys constant want to learn. Cook is a dang bookworm. He wants to learn everything, he wants to be the best technician; same thing with Jamison. Those guys constantly want to learn different techniques and different drills so you have to be able to be on your game as a coach.
Burnt Orange Nation: How have you seen their progression from just talented freshman to the point where they’ve blossomed into legitimate Division I talent level guys?
Coach Reagins: My first year I had Holton Hill. He ended up being the defensive player of the year and had 13 picks that year, so I think that year kind of inspired those guys. Jamison and Cook, they’re trying to exceed expectations. They both came in after not playing defensive back in junior high school and — I think Anthony played a little bit but Jamison was a running back — so I think they look at Holton Hill and we had another guy named Logan Latin that went Division I , so those guys were always expected to be Division I prospects. They have progressed a lot. Jamison has progressed more these last 12 months. Cook has always been starting since his sophomore year; Jamison split some time his sophomore year.
Burnt Orange Nation: Have you learned anything about yourself by coaching a team that’s basically going to be more talented than anyone?
Coach Reagins: I played defensive back at Central State University and we were very talented so I kind of know the ins and outs of playing the position because I’ve played it in college, I played in some in the Canadian Football League and the Arena Football League. So I take some of the stuff I’ve learned from those different arenas and kind of teach them the different techniques and skill set that’s required to play that position. But I’m constantly learning myself so I try to teach these guys whatever I learn from different camps, I talk to several defensive backs and college coaches — learn different techniques and different drills and I take that and put it together to help these guys out.
Burnt Orange Nation: Do you think having such high-level talent to coach makes your job easier?
Coach Reagins: I actually think that it’s harder because these guys are talented but they came in and had never played defensive back before. It’s harder because you still have to teach them the techniques, the skill. There’s a lot of talented guys in the state of Texas and as a defensive back, it takes a different skill set. You have to make sure those guys understand the different techniques.
Burnt Orange Nation: How do you think going up against Al’vonte Woodard in practice has benefited and helped prepare Cook and Jamison for the next level?
Coach Reagins: If you talk to Cook and talk to Jamison and Woodard, they always say that iron sharpens iron and every rep counts. Those guys are very highly competitive, even Ta’Zhawn Henry, so every rep, they want to make sure it’s a quality rep. They don’t just want to go out there and compete, they want to go against the best so going out there and and playing against a regular guy is not the effective to them.
Burnt Orange Nation: They've each told me that they feed off of each other's energy on the field. How have you seen that play out in practices and games?
Coach Reagins: Lsat year the defensive backs had a challenge so I think they challenge each other. They challenge to see whose going to have the most interceptions, the most pass break ups. So if Jamison makes a play one drive, Cook is looking to make a play the next drive so it keeps a competitive edge going and a challenge going within themselves to keep their game up to par.
Burnt Orange Nation: Take me through the upside you see from Cook and Jamison and what they can become by the time they’re juniors or seniors in college.
Coach Reagins: I think both of those guys have the skill set to have a high impact at whichever school they decide to go to. The upside is high. Jamison played three or four positions — played corner, played safety, played nickleback — and with Cook’s size, it’s allowed him to play corner and I think he can also play some safety as well. The versatility that they have gives them a great upside and the good thing about those guys is they study the game, so they have tremendous upside.
Burnt Orange Nation: Everybody can see how special they are on film, but is there anything about them off the field that lets you know they'll be successful in life in general?
Coach Reagins: I’m going to start with Cook. As highly as he’s been rated, he’s probably the most humble guy and his work ethic is second to none. He doesn’t get focused on the Hollywood stuff and things like that. He continues to work on his craft to be the best technician and to be the best defensive back he can possibly be. Plus he also has his own clothing line now. He’s thinking more than just football, but he’s just a great kid and he’s just a great competitor. I think if he takes that competitive edge and puts it to other arenas outside of just football, it lets me know he’ll be successful outside of just football.
Jamison is the same way. They’ve got good grades, they take care of their business inside the classroom so that’s lets you know they take education just as importantly as they do their athletic ability.
Burnt Orange Nation: How have their roles within the team and in the locker room changed now that they're seniors?
Coach Reagins: Yeah, they’re becoming more of leaders. Last year we had some seniors in the secondary. We had Jordan Stevens, Trevon Lewis, who’s going to Baylor, so this those guys are gone, these guys have a really good role as far as leadership. They’re a real tight-knit group — Ta’Zhawn Henry, Joshua Landry, Woodard, Jamison, Cook, all those guys. They all came in together and they realize they’ve been falling short as far as getting kicked out in the third round, so those guys are all trying to be leaders and take this team to the next level.
Burnt Orange Nation: At what point did you realize Cook and Jamison could be this talented and this highly recruited?
Coach Reagins: After their sophomore year, I seen glimpses of it. The first three games, Cook was out there rotating positions with another guy. After the first three games, I said this guy is going to be really good and also, Jamison, we used him as a blitz guy from the outside, we used him on stunts, so then we realized this guy had a special skill set playing that inside nickel spot for us, and safety.
Burnt Orange Nation: Lastly, for the casual fan that may not know much about these guys, how would you describe what Cook and Jamison bring to the table?
Coach Reagins: Cook has the size, he has the length, he has the competitive side of it. He’s a student of the game. He’s going to be a playmaker. I think he can take a guy out of the game, the top receiver, I believe he can take that out of some games. And Jamison, he excelled last year in the kick game. He’s a punt returner, he’s a kick returner. Of course he can stunt from the outside, he can blitz, he can cover. Jamison can bring a whole lot of abstract skill to the defensive side of a football team. I think they’re both game-changers.
Burnt Orange Nation: If you were sitting down in front of Tom Herman or Urban Meyer or Ed Orgeron or just any college coach in general, what would you tell them about the kind of person and player they're getting in Cook and Jamison, respectively?
Coach Reagins: Those guys are really really great kids. They’re not going to give you any off the field problem, you’re not going to have to worry about that. They won’t be the guys that are hanging out after curfew or getting into any other trouble. They’ll go to class, they’ll do the right thing on the football field and outside of the football field. They’re really great kids but the good thing about them is they have great parent support. The parents go to every trip with them, every camp. The parents are there as well with us. They have a really, really strong parent support system.