As an applicant to a head football coaching position in Hillsborough County, D.J. Mayo said he did his homework and understood the challenges of taking over a program in one of Florida's largest school districts in one of the state's most competitive football regions.
He also knew that if he won the job at Chamberlain, he would be going to a school that had won just four games the past three seasons. Mayo says he embraces all of that -- as well as the relatively low teaching supplement of just $3,736 -- and is ready to lead the Chiefs.
"None of those obstacles deterred me (from applying)," said Mayo, offensive coordinator for Port Orange Atlantic High the past two seasons. "We're going to take care of the off-the-field issues first because I believe the classroom comes first. And once we have good character I believe on-the-field stuff will take of itself.
"I think you will see the program transform because they're going to be committed and dedicated and the more the kids have invested, the harder it will be for them to lose on Friday night."
Mayo, 30, replaces Joe Severino, who is retiring from teaching at the end school
year. Mayo was also a finalist for the job at Lennard, which filled its head coaching vacancy Tuesday with Georgia native and Gainesville Buchholz assistant Keith Chattin. Mayo said he also expressed interest in the Strawberry Crest position by e-mail to the school but did not formally apply.
The Chamberlain job, however, is one Mayo considered one of the best openings in Florida. Yes, the Chiefs went 1-9 last fall and were 2-8 and 1-9 before that. But the school's potential has been proven in the past. Under longtime coach Billy Turner, the Chiefs went to the playoffs every year from 2001-2008, reached the state finals in 2001 and were also regional finalists in 2007 and 2008.
Mayo, who says he will join the Chamberlain staff as a substitute in two weeks until a permanent spot is found at the school, is also excited about the Chiefs players expected back for the 2012 campaign. Among them is all-county running back Xavier Johnson, a junior who rushed for 1,736 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Mayo knows that Hillsborough County has been known for talented players leaving struggling programs and transferring to more successful ones, but he's prepared for those challenges, too.
"I only want the kids who are supposed to be at Chamberlain," Mayo said. "Give me mine, and I'll win with that. Our kids are going to graduate and be prepared for life after football. If I only teach them to play football, I haven't done my job."
Mayo and his wife, Tracy, have one child, an 18-month old daughter, Madison Haley Anita. He played his high school football at Atlantic and South Daytona Warner Christian, where he graduated from in 1999. Prior to his three years as an assistant at Atlantic, Mayo was an assistant coach at his two colleges, Florida A&M and Johnson C. Smith, Warner Christian (2002 and 2006-07) and DeLand (2008).
Mayo says he has plans to bring some of the coaches he is already familiar with on staff at Chamberlain but will also interview current Chiefs assistants for coaching positions. Mayo said Chamberlain received about 30 applicants for the job he won and conducted more than a dozen interviews.