Jeff Herron, who won his fifth state title as a head football coach at Grayson in 2016, is moving on after just one season at the Gwinnett County high school.
Herron will become the head coach at T.L. Hanna in Anderson, S.C. He told his Grayson players Tuesday morning.
‘’It’s a new and different challenge being in a different state,’’ Herron told ajc.com on Tuesday. “I really didn’t consider anything in Georgia this year. But when this opportunity came up, they’ve got great facilities and a great commitment, and it’s a whole lot better situation financially.’’
Herron is a retired Georgia school teacher and can be paid only 49 percent as a head football coach while collecting retirement. In another state, Herron can make a full coaching salary. He also will be the school’s assistant athletics director.
‘’It’s hard to leave Grayson,’’ Herron said. ‘’They are poised to have a really good long run with a lot of good young talent. The staff and administration are great. If I were 20 years younger, I wouldn’t be leaving, but at this point, it makes sense.’’
Herron’s record in 27 seasons as a Georgia head coach is 287-52. He won state titles at Oconee County (1999), Camden County (2003, 2008, 2009) and Grayson (2016). He is the only coach to win titles at three Georgia schools.
Herron was known in his early years as a well-traveled coach as he had stops at Walton (1989), Cedar Shoals (1990-93), Wheeler (1995-96) and Oconee County (1997-99) before taking the Camden job in 2000. He has never had a losing season anywhere.
Herron then found a home in coastal Camden, where he thrived for 14 seasons. He surprised many when he left in 2013 for Class A private-school Prince Avenue Christian, where he was 31-6 in three seasons.
Saying he wanted another shot at a big-school power, Herron took the Grayson job, inheriting a strong team that became controversial for its transfers. Several big-name senior recruits, including Georgia- signee DeAngelo Gibbs and South Carolina-signee Jamyest Williams, moved into the Grayson district, some before and some after Herron’s hiring. Grayson went 14-1 and won its first state title since 2011.
“There was so much noise, so many distractions, so much stuff going on outside of trying to build a team,” Herron said after the Class AAAAAAA championship-game victory over Roswell. “I couldn’t be prouder of a team. Honestly, in my whole career, this is probably the hardest coaching job I’ve ever had.”
But Herron said Tuesday that those stressors had passed and were not part of his decision to move to T.L. Hanna.
‘’If you’d asked me that in December, I might’ve said yes,’’ Herron said. “Since December, we’ve come back and gotten the young kids in the weight room, and they’ve been great, and their parents have been great. This has been my first winter here, and I have loved being there since coming back from Christmas. It’s a really special place right now.’’
T.L. Hanna was 5-6 last season and has had one winning season in the past six years.