Jeffery Michael Traylor came to the Alamo City guns ablaze. With mottoes and lingo and East Texas swagger, he was introduced to the Roadrunner faithful in a typical way. There was a press conference, players, big donors, and media were in attendance, SOSA played, the whole nine. It was an awesome day, full of hope and good times ahead.
Before we knew it though, the news started to tell us to wash our hands often, to not touch our nose, eyes, or, mouths, and to be wary of door handles and public bathrooms. Before we knew it the Ivy League canceled all athletic events, the Thunder game was evacuated, and March Madness was canceled. On that fateful Friday afternoon, Spring Football was a thing of dreams, that had no chance of happening. And it didn’t happen. Nothing happened for a very long time.
But Jeffery Michael Traylor is not a man who can be beaten by “nothing happening for a very long time.” In his one of a kind East Texas way, he got to work. He sat in front of a computer screen and got men, most of which he didn’t recruit, to buy into him. He instilled the principles of the Triangle of Toughness over Zoom calls and FaceTime. He hammered in the concept of Pound the Fist over the phone. He didn’t see his boys for a very long time.
Come what we have to refer to as “summer ball” he got to see his guys a little more. On the field, he coached them like a high school coach does, in the best possible way. Gone were the days of tension and fear on the practice field, and here are the days of Friday Night Lights. In a way, only a seasoned Texas High School Football coach can do Jeffery Michael Traylor showed his men time and time again in those Zoom calls and Practice sessions that life was bigger than football. That love and togetherness are what wins ballgames and builds championship culture.
September 12th, 2020. The Roadrunners drive up I35 to face their traditional rival, the Texas State Bobcats, and boy was that a game. A bare-knuckle brawl between heated foes took place that fall afternoon and by the grace of God, and the Sure-Foot of Hunter Duplessis, Jeffery Michael Traylor got his first-ever program win, and the legend of Coach Traylor is born.
I can recall telling my friends that we wouldn’t have won this game with the other guy. Coach Traylor and his crew kept the boys in the game. At halftime, they made adjustments, something we hadn’t seen in our time at UTSA, and he never said die. That day, the Roadrunners proved how far a fresh perspective can take you.
A three-game win streak, then three hard weeks of losses (to mighty fine teams mind you), and the Runners were looking at a mediocre season at best. We lived and died with each play but every week for that three-game skid, it felt like the sun just couldn’t shine on us. We told each other, “it’s a culture year”, “it’s all about building trust and confidence with the guys” “five wins is more than enough in his first year.” Then came the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs.
Sincere McCormick had, at the time, one of his best games. Carrying the ball over 30 times, averaging 4.3 YPC, and scoring three touchdowns, Sincere led the Roadrunners to a victory over CUSA foe LaTech, something the Birds haven’t done since 2014. All of a sudden we fans looked at each other and said, “wait a minute, we might have something really brewing here.”
Then something weird happened. The bottom seemed to have fallen out, to the tune of a 24-3 beat down at the hands of Florida Atlantic. We as fans were shocked, confused, a little angry even, but hey football is a weird game. The Runners played a bad game that day, and I was nervous. But Coach Traylor doesn’t get nervous.
He gets even. Coach Traylor led the boys to run over the UTEP Miners. The Roadrunners beat them up and down the field as Brenden Brady ran the ball for 124 yards, Zakhari Franklin caught for 118, and 20 different UTSA defenders recorded tackles on the day.
He took the Runners to Hattiesburg, home of the CUSA Constant Southern Mississippi, and went toe to toe with the Golden Eagles. In a slugfest where Sincere McCormick rushed for 173 yards, and recorded two touchdowns, the Roadrunners left Mississippi with their first win against USM since 2016.
Then North Texas made the trip down to San Antonio. The last time these two teams played each other, North Texas beat UTSA 45-3. Frank Harris went down before the game even really started. It was a dark day in UTSA Football history, I had the misfortune of witnessing it in person. So when the Mean Green came to town to play the new Roadrunners, I was excited, and I was nervous as always.
But like I said, Coach Traylor doesn’t get nervous.
He beats you on the ground, he beats you in the air, he beats you on extra-point attempts, he beats you on kickoffs, he beats you at the line of scrimmage, and he beats you in the secondary. 49 points scored by the Roadrunners off of 7 touchdowns as a team and more yards from Sincere in a single game than any Roadrunner ever. The defense recorded two interceptions and over 70 tackles in a beat down of Biblical proportions.
Coach Traylor took a season, where nothing was guaranteed, where everything was constantly on the verge of blowing up into a million little pieces, to the best record these eyes have seen as a Roadrunner fan. He fought off Covid, social distancing, and the might of the CUSA Western division, and if the chips fall our way, he might lead the Roadrunners to their first-ever CUSA title game.
In one season Coach Traylor took a 4 win team and made them a conference juggernaut. With East Texas Swagger, High School Football Coach Energy, and the best running back in the country, Coach Jeffery Micheal Traylor changed the way we play football in San Antonio.
So Coach, If you’re reading this, Thank you. Thank you for changing the way my favorite team looks at itself. Thank you for giving me something to believe in in this God-forsaken year. Thank you for modern play-calling, and texts with Professor Ron Ellis simply saying “DUDE” every time we scored. Thank you for showing us what resilience in the face of uncertainty looks like. Thank you for making my final year as a student unforgettable. Thank you for everything you have done, and everything I know you can accomplish. If it was up to me, there would be a statue of you in front of the Dome by kickoff next fall. Thank you for everything Coach. Here’s to the future, lets win some more ballgames.