Coordinator brings defensive roots

Amanda Wilkinson and Aldo Soto

Aldo Soto, Sports Editor

Kane Wommack and his wife Melissa were driving their recently born baby boy home from the hospital when Kim Dameron called to give the Ole Miss graduate assistant a job offer.

Unfortunately the call went to voicemail, but after bringing his son home, Wommack headed back to work and noticed a missed call on his phone.

“On my way back, I call him and he says, ‘hey look, I think things are moving in this direction and I haven’t quite gotten the job yet, but this is something I’m doing, would you be interested?’” Wommack said.

Dameron was still only a finalist for Eastern’s head coaching position, but he wanted to make sure if he was hired that he had his guy. Dameron never doubted Wommack, even though the 27-year old hadn’t coached for that long. After all, Dameron has known Wommack since he was born.

“I was working with Kane’s father since he was born,” Dameron said. “I know how he was raised. I know how he was trained defensively because our philosophies are very similar.”

Before initially calling Wommack to offer the defensive coordinator position, Dameron made a call to Dave Wommack, Kane’s father. Dave gave as honest of an answer as he could – Kane was ready.

“He basically said that Kane was ready and that even though he hadn’t coached a long time that he was intelligent and he has a great work ethic and he was ready and knew the package,” Dameron said.

Dameron and Dave Wommack first met at Missouri State, formally known as Southwest Missouri State, where Dameron was the secondary coach and Wommack was the defensive coordinator. They coached together in Missouri from 1986 to 1991 and then worked together for one year at UNLV in 1992.

The two coaches had similar defensive philosophies, disrupting the offense and throwing several different coverages throughout the game.

Kane grew up with football all his life, enjoying it from day one but one of his father’s teams shaped him into the man he is now.

From 1994 to 2000, Dave Wommack served as the assistant head coach, defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at Southern Mississippi. During that time the Golden Eagles had one of the best defenses in the entire country. Kane was in awe.

“I grow up idolizing those players that I thought were so great and they played so hard and they were so physical and tough and to be raised up in that mentality it really shaped a lot of the ways and the philosophy that I want to do things today because of those players back then,” he said.

Kane’s defensive philosophy was essentially his father’s, which was perfect for what Dameron wanted to bring to Eastern.

“I knew that his style of the pressure package, with odd-man fronts and the different types of fronts and different coverages was what I wanted as far as our philosophy defensively, so it was a good fit,” Dameron said.

But the Panthers still had not hired Dameron.

A couple of days later Dameron interviewed at Eastern and then on Jan. 10, it was announced that he was hired. Wommack started to receive calls that were congratulating him on his new job. There was one problem: Dameron still had not called Wommack to officially ask if he wanted the defensive coordinator position.

“My phone starts blowing up, people calling me and I’m saying, ‘I don’t have a job yet, I don’t know anything,’” Wommack said.

Dameron finally called Wommack later that day, sealing the deal and making the former graduate assistant from Ole Miss into Eastern’s newest defensive coordinator.

At 27, Wommack said he was not scared of coming into a program at a young age, being a coordinator for the first time.

“I’ve known Kim since the day I was born, as a matter of fact Kim was at the hospital the day I was born, so I’ve known him all my life,” Wommack said. “I trust him and knew that if he got the opportunity and wanted me to come that I was absolutely going to do it.”

Wommack’s road to Eastern began at Arkansas, where he played from 2005 to 2006 as a fullback. Then he transferred to Southern Mississippi, where he eventually started his coaching career as a graduate assistant on the offensive line.

In 2010, he headed to Tennessee-Martin, where he was the quarterbacks coach. The next year he went south to Jacksonville State and coached the defensive line. Before coming to Eastern he spent the last two years coaching the Ole Miss defensive backs.

Wommack said the experience coaching on the offensive side of the ball has guided him now as a defensive coordinator.

“It helped me tremendously to learn from an offensive stand point, particularly from the offensive line and understand how offenses want to get schemes blocked, so now as a defensive guy I can understand what they’re trying to do so I know how to better attack it,” he said.

For Dameron, Wommack was always the right choice for him, although when he saw Wommack as a child running around in a bumblebee costume at the age of two Dameron did not envision him getting into this career path.

“I never knew he would grow up to be a coach,” Dameron said with a grin.


Aldo Soto (@AldoSoto21) can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]