Randy Sallis informed me earlier this week his son, Daley, had accepted a position as graduate-assistant football coach for Northwestern State in Natchitoches, La.
Daley spent last season as an assistant coach under Sam Harp at Lebanon High, where he played quarterback for Bobby Brown’s Blue Devils in the 2000s. In between, he played [mostly practiced, actually] for Rhodes College and Cumberland.
My biggest memories of Daley, who began his high school career opposing future Oakland A’s pitcher Sonny Gray in the very first game of their freshman football season, were as a virtual one-arm quarterback on the varsity as a separated shoulder, on his throwing side, kept him from passing the ball.
He kept playing and, though he virtually never threw the ball while playing with the injury, was able to move the ball via the running game. After several games I thought surely the opposition knows he’s not throwing the ball and will put eight men, nine, heck, make it all 11, in the box to cut off the running game.
But with him in shotgun or under center, the one-dimensional Blue Devils moved the ball anyway.
I overheard Brown telling another coach how smart Sallis is. His Cumberland coach Dewayne Alexander, said the same thing.
Daley had the IT factor, whatever IT is, whether it’s intelligence, charisma, leadership. His team believed in him and did whatever it took to succeed.
Randy said Daley sent out 150 resumes and, through sheer coincidence [Randy said] hit the jackpot with Northwestern State, which so happens to be near where the Sallis family comes from and is the alma mater of mom, Gail.
For such a small Division I-AA school [I refuse to call it FCS] that competes in the Southland Conference, it has several ties to Lebanon other than the Sallis family.
Longtime Friendship Christian coach Ron Welch is an alum. Lester Elie, father of the Elie clan [London, Icelyn, Ireland, etc.] which has dotted LHS rosters for the last decade or so, led the Demons’ basketball team in scoring in 1977-78, ranks 11th on the career scoring list and seventh in rebounding. He led them in blocked shots three times and field-goal percentage all four years he played in Natchitoches [Nak-o-chis].
As a GA, Daley will be doing a lot of grunt work – breaking down film, chasing balls in practice, getting coffee for the head coach. But that’s how Nick Saban started.
Daley was once able to move the Blue Devil offense seemingly through force of will. It will be interesting if his talents can take him toward Saban-like heights.