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Interview: NFL Legend Willie Ponder Talks About Coaching High School Football in Oklahoma

After six seasons as the head coach at McClain, former NFL wide receiver and special teams player Willie Ponder is now an assistant coach at Jenks High School in Oklahoma. Last year, McClain finished 6-4, the school’s first winning season since current Green Bay Packers running back Josh Jacobs played for the Titans.

Last season, Jenks finished runner-up in Oklahoma’s 6A-I. The Trojans finished No. 253 in the High School Football America 300 national rankings, powered by NFL Play Football.

During his scholastic days, Ponder played at Tulsa Central High School. He was All-Metro at wide receiver and defensive back. As a senior, he was selected as the top defensive back in District 5A-3 and caught 45 passes for 695 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also returned three kickoffs and two punts for touchdowns.

The New York Giants selected Ponder in the sixth round of the 2003 NFL Draft. In 2004, he averaged 26.9 yards per kickoff return, the best in the NFL.

In addition to the Giants, Ponder also played for the St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks.

Below, Ponder talks with HSFA’s Jeff Fisher about getting into coaching, because he missed the game so much after his retirement. Ponder also discusses how much the NFL’s Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship helped him in the profession in 2018.


  • Coaching
  • NFL Players and Legends