FAMU DRS football coach pushes athletes to succeed on and off playing field

High school football in Tallahassee has had important personalities on and off the field. One personality is Florida A& M University’s Developmental Research School coach and athletic director Ira Reynolds.

He has been coaching for more than 20 years in Tallahassee for FAMU DRS and Lincoln High School.

Reynolds said he attributes his success as a coach to his playing days at Florida A&M University where he played for legendary coach Rudy Hubbard.

Hubbard always emphasized academics with on the field talents,” said Reynolds. “He would tell players that football after the collegiate level is not always guaranteed so they needed to get a degree to fall back on.”

“Coach Hubbard made the team read poetry after games to help us become better speakers,” Reynolds said with a slight chuckle. “He wanted us to be student athletes who spoke intelligently.”

Reynolds chose to become a coach to help young people find the positive side of life. He wanted to become a mentor just like Hubbard was to him.

“It’s about being part of the students’ lives and saying that I helped this young man develop into something great,” Reynolds said. “That’s the drive for me.”

Many current and former DRS players said they have high praise for Reynolds. Many of them also said he has been a guiding force behind them making positive choices in life.

Reynolds assumed the role of a second father figure for senior defensive end/tight end Alex Watson.

“He makes sure we show him our grades whenever progress reports and report cards are given,” Watson said. “If we are having trouble he will set up tutoring even if we have to be late for practice.”

Reynolds requires his juniors and seniors to enroll in a Kaplan Scholastic Aptitude Test/American College Testing preparatory class. This class takes precedence over football for one day a week.

“On Mondays while the freshmen and sophomores are watching film, the juniors and seniors are in an SAT prep class,” Watson said.

Reynolds said he wants his players to achieve success in one form or another, whether it’s on the field or in an office.

One former player who has had success is Lincoln High School coach Yusuf Shakir, who played for two years under Reynolds.

“He always cared about us as players and made sure we were ready to play,” Shakir said. “He was always a great motivator.”

Shakir and Reynolds still keep in touch, even though Shakir no longer plays for Reynolds. Reynolds gives advice since he still views Shakir as one of his student athletes, according to Shakir.

“When I first got this job as head coach he was one of the first people to call and congratulate me,” Shakir said.

In addition to Reynolds coaching on the field, he is in the process of writing a proposal to have the graduation requirement of a 2.0 grade point average changed to a 2.3.

“My reasoning for this change is because it is very hard for students to go to college with a 2.0 GPA,” Reynolds said. “This move would give the kids a better chance to attend college.”

For now, Reynolds is just savoring his time as a coach and a mentor of great students.

“I would not change my life for anything,” he said.