High school football: Former NFL running back, Olympic track sprinter Jahvid Best takes over California program - HIGHSCORE


High school football: Former NFL running back, Olympic track sprinter Jahvid Best takes over California program

Saint Mary's of Albany in San Francisco Bay Area hires former big-play back.

2021-June-10
Jahvid Best, whose promising NFL career was cut short by head injuries, will return to the field to coach high school football. The former Cal and Detroit Lions running back was named head coach Monday at Saint Mary's (Albany, Calif.), the rival of the school he attended as a prep.

Known for his blazing speed and big-play prowess, the 32-year-old Best takes over a program that hasn't had a winning season since 2015. Since that time, the Panthers have gone 18-28.

But winning championships or coaching at the next level is not on the mind of Best. He said he just wants to pass on his knowledge of the game, the value of hard work and more life lessons. 

"It's all about the culture," he said. "I want to create an environment that is about learning and growing, about the value of work ethic and dedication. A lot of people wrote about all the talent I had as a player, but everything I truly earned was through hard work. Football is no different than life. What you put into it, you'll get out of it."

Best rushed for a Bay Area prep record 3,325 yards and 48 touchdowns his senior year at Salesian College Preparatory (Richmond), leading the Pride to a North Coast Section title. He left as the region's career rushing leader at 6,379, which was later shattered by recent Steelers first-round selection Najee Harris of Antioch.

Also a track star, Best won the 2007 state track meet 100-meter finals in a wind-aided 10.31 seconds and was second in the 200 (20.65). After a stellar three seasons at Cal, where he accounted for more than 3,200 total yards and 35 touchdowns, he was a first-round pick of the Detroit Lions in 2010.
Jahvid Best rushed for more than 3,300 yards and 48 touchdowns as a senior at Salesian (Richmond, Calif.) high school.
File photo by Dennis Lee
Jahvid Best rushed for more than 3,300 yards and 48 touchdowns as a senior at Salesian (Richmond, Calif.) high school.
He started 15 of 16 games as a rookie, but suffered a concussion in the preseason of his second season. Midway through that 2011 campaign, he suffered another concussion, which ended a more than promising NFL career.

Best went back to track and eventually ran a personal best of 10.16 in the 100 and competed in the 2016 Summer Olympics for Saint Lucia. He plans to help out Jay Lawson and the St. Mary's track and field program as well.

Saint Mary's athletic director Casey Filson is thrilled to have Best on staff, but admitted a few alum were concerned to have a former athlete from a rival high school leading the program.

"Given his experience and who Jahvid Best is, those concerns were quickly put to rest," Filson said. "We're very excited to have Jahvid join the Panther community."

Said Best: "I've been hearing it from the other direction (laughing). It's all good. I was just looking for an opportunity to make my own path to influence young people by passing on the knowledge I gained from football to the next generation. I'm so thankful Saint Mary's has afforded it to me."

Best was a Salesian assistant coach under his old coach Chad Nightingale for three seasons, ending in 2019. Since Nightingale isn't going anywhere and former Panthers' head coach Connor Banks took an administrative position at Justin-Siena (Napa), this was a perfect fit for Best. 
 
Filson saw the former football and track star often on the sideline of Saint Mary's soccer games, where his wife Rachel Armstrong coached the girls team. She recently left on maternity leave, having her and Best's first child, daughter Kamiyah three months ago.

When Banks left, Best's interest grew in the position, communicating his desire to be in charge of all phases of a program.

"I'm taking this all step-by-step," Best said. "I'm not looking to advance to something else. It could take 15 years to build, I really don't know, but I'm going to enjoy the process of building this Panther football program."