New Coach Kurt Traylor Plans To Utilize Gilmer’s Structure At Tyler Lee
TYLER -- Monday's Tyler Independent School District board meeting was all about Tyler Lee football.
The governing body unanimously accepted Clayton George's resignation, turned around and immediately hired Gilmer offensive line coach and run game coordinator Kurt Traylor. The positive spin, the school now has an East Texas native back in charge.
That's a big deal to the district because Lee is the largest high school within the region. It also gives Lee one of the area's own, a benefit chief rival John Tyler is succeeding with under Ricklan Holmes.
Then, there's the Gilmer aspect. Traylor was a positional coach and coordinator for the area's most successful program in at least the current three-year stretch. He had been there 16 seasons for other peaks.
"When me and my brother (Jeff Traylor) got to Gilmer, it had the same little feel," Kurt Traylor said. "We knew it could have been a successful place. We got there and worked. It wasn't easy. What I like about this, it's a recharge. It brings back great memories of when we started the program at Gilmer. This is the fun part about it. The hard part at Gilmer right now is maintaining it. It's a machine and it's rolling, and that's where I want to get this program."
Jeff Traylor may have launched Gilmer into noteworthy recognition with Kurt Traylor in tow, but the program didn't wilt when he left for Texas and subsequently SMU after winning the Class 4A Division II title in 2014 with other titles in 2004 and 2009. Kurt Traylor oversaw a line and running game that continued paving and grinding toward semifinal appearances in 2015 and 2016.
Kurt Traylor has collegiate coaching experience in his own right. He left Gilmer for the 2002 season to serve as a Texas A&M graduate assistant under R.C. Slocum.
Current Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin, Syracuse head coach Dino Babers and notable Texas high school coach Tam Hollingshead were other members of the staff. All of them were fired with Slocum at the end of the season to make way for Dennis Franchione, so Kurt Traylor landed back at Gilmer.
Kurt Traylor coached at Jacksonville and spent his first season at West Rusk Middle School prior to his Gilmer and Texas A&M chapters.
But elation at the Dr. Jack L. Davidson Conference Center was a two-way street. While the board was happy with its selection, Kurt Traylor was happy imagining life in Tyler.
His family, including five school-aged children, will shortly be moving from the only home they've known together to the Tyler district.
"This job came open, it's Tyler, Texas," the coach said. "Who would not want to live in Tyler, Texas? It's one of the greatest cities to raise kids in, in East Texas, if not the state. I love Tyler, Texas. It's a great place to live. It's a great place where I'll raise my family. We're looking forward to moving here and being a part of this community."
Kurt Traylor will inherit a Tyler Lee squad which went 2-8 last season and missed the postseason for the second straight year.
"Kurt is one of the most loyal hard working coaches I have ever worked with," Jeff Traylor wrote in a statement from the SMU campus. "He is ready for this next step in his career. His teams will not only be prepared on the field but also prepared for life. I can't wait for the city of Tyler to get to know Kurt, Katie, Allie, Rylie, Will, and Kole."
The 2017 Red Raiders team has a bit of star power.
Senior quarterback Chance Amie currently owns 18 scholarship opportunities from the highest level of college ball. Junior running back Ladarius Wickware is coming off a strong sophomore campaign.
Defensively, senior lineman Nathan Niedrauer will be fighting for a chance to advance to the next level.
Lee won its only state championship in 2004 with Mike Owens, who remained in charge through the 2010 season.
Kurt Traylor will be the senior class' third varsity head coach. Lee hasn't been able to get a grip on stability since Owens retired, and the turnover cycle has been accelerating.
George, although not induced, resigned after one season.
"I think consistency right now in showing up, working every day and having a little fun while you're doing it," Kurt Traylor said when asked what it will take to right Lee's ship. "Coaching is not hard. It's just hard work. It's showing up and producing. Be a man of integrity. Say what you're going to do and do it. We have an acronym, P.R.I.D.E.
"We're going to be positive, we're going to be respectful, we're going to have integrity, we're doing to be disciplined, and we're going to do it every day and every play in life. That's our acronym. When you'll hear us break at Tyler Lee, it's going to be on Lee Pride. I think, as a coach, you've got to get in there and demonstrate that. Teach them what it means. You work hard, it reaps benefits. We're going to work hard."