Faculty Spotlight: Cougar Football’s Running Back Coach

By: Christian Wroble

 

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Zander poses at the bus loop in his updated Cougar gear.

Cougar to Dawg and back to Cougar…just to remember he never left the Cougar Family.

The new running back coach, Alexander “Zander” Ogletree, came back to Newnan High School after college to help his high school team. Ogletree was born and raised in Newnan along with his twin brother, Alec, who also plays professionally for the St. Louis Rams.

Growing up in Newnan, Alexander would play football, basketball and baseball. At the age of six, he started playing football on an organized team.

During his days as a student at NHS, he continued to play football. He would play on offense, defense and special teams. His main positions were linebacker, slot receiver and fullback.

Even though football was a big part of Alexander’s life, he participated in SGA his senior year and served as his class’ vice president.

“When I was in school here at Newnan, I was apart of SGA my senior year,” Alexander commented. “I ran for president and ended in a tie. We had no one to run for vice president, so I decided to just accept that position.”

When high school was over, he attended the University of Georgia with his brother; both received athletic scholarships to play football.

Alexander played three years on the team, playing mostly on the offense with some defense and special teams action sprinkled in for the Dawgs.

While at UGA, he received honors and scholarships for his work on and off the field.

Freshman year, he was the recipient of the I.V. Chandler Memorial Football Scholarship. Also, for the summer semester, he earned the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll.

In 2011, Ogletree was named UGA’s Most Improved Player on Offense at the conclusion of the spring. Later that year, he was a recipient of the Brad K. and Anissa H. Johnson Family Trust Football Scholarship.

In the 2012 preseason, Alexander was named to the SEC Coaches’ and Phil Steele Preseason All- SEC Third Teams. By the end of the year, he was the recipient of the team’s Most Improved Player award.

After three years of football, Alexander did not play his 2013 season, and his career eventually ended due to medical reasons. Even with doctors keeping him off the field and out of pads, he remained on the athletic scholarship to finish school and get his degree.

Out of all of the experiences of college, he said playing “between the hedges” for Georgia was what he enjoyed the most.  “It felt awesome and it was a humbling experience. It was very exciting,” Alexander explained.

Playing on Georgia’s team with his brother was a “blessing.” He said it was even better attending college with him because he did not need to find a roommate, or room with a stranger.

Ogletree graduated from UGA in 2014 with a degree in Human Development and Family Science.

This past year, Alexander came back to NHS to coach the running backs on the Cougar football team.

Even in high school, Alexander knew he wanted to be a coach.

“I always wanted to be a coach after I finished football,” he explained.  “The one thing I told Coach [Mike] McDonald was I wanted to come back and help coach for Newnan.  I also wanted to be a positive role model in kids lives.”

Having only graduating five years ago from NHS, there are coaches that Alexander played for who he now works alongside, and he loves it. When coaching, he has been able to “see the things I did not see as a player.”

As the running back coach, he coaches players to make good cuts, run the ball with power and block for other positions.

As stated in the 2015 Football Program, the quote “Cougar born, Cougar bred, I’ll be a winning Cougar till I’m dead” has stayed with Alexander through many years.

“Former Coach [Robert] Herring told us that quote during a pregame meal one Friday,” Alexander reminisced. “That quote gives me strength, and it allows me to feel like no matter what happens in life, I will be a winning Cougar.”

Alexander has already impacted many players and students throughout Newnan High School. On and off the field, he has had an influence few Cougars have managed to achieve.

While Alexander may be on the other side of the classroom now, he never quit being a Newnan Cougar and looks forward to being involved again on campus.

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