The ‘quiet UT fan’ comes to the Fighting Irish after a successful head-coaching career in Georgia
By Dan McWilliams
After Knoxville Catholic High School introduced Korey Mobbs as its head football coach at a press conference April 28, the new coach said he is looking forward to starting the 2021 season.
The first game is Aug. 20 at home against Chuckey-Doak.
“It’s so good to be here. I’d like to say it often, and today I will say it for the first time: it’s a great day to be Irish,” Mr. Mobbs said.
KCHS athletics director Jason Surlas gave introductory remarks at the press conference. Father Chris Michelson led an opening prayer, and school president Dickie Sompayrac thanked the search committee and introduced Mr. Mobbs.
Mr. Mobbs succeeds Steve Matthews, who resigned in the spring after an arrest on DUI and drug charges. Mr. Matthews coached eight seasons at KCHS and won two state championships, in 2015 and 2017.
The youngest of three brothers, Mr. Mobbs was born in Chattanooga and at an early age moved to Atlanta with his family. He attended Parkview High School, played safety on the football team there, and won a state championship in 1997. He then attended Samford University, where he received a bachelor of arts in history. He earned his master of arts in teaching from Piedmont College and a specialist degree in coaching from Valdosta State University.
Mr. Mobbs began his coaching career at Collins Hill High School in Georgia in 2005, and in 2010 he accepted the position of offensive coordinator at the newly formed Lanier High School in Atlanta. In 2014 he became the head coach of Lanier in only the second varsity season for the school. During his seven seasons at the helm, he led Lanier to two region championships, three Sweet 16 appearances, the state semifinals, and six consecutive playoff appearances at the 6A level. His career record is 58-22.
Mr. Mobbs had more than 70 college signees in his short history at Lanier and three All-Americans in 2015, 2019, and 2020: Derrick Brown, the No. 7 overall pick in the NFL Draft, who is with the Carolina Panthers and played at Auburn; quarterback Zach Calzada, who is at Texas A&M; and defensive end Phillip Webb, who is at LSU.
Coach Mobbs was a region coach of the year two times. He has represented Lanier in the UnderArmour All-America football game in 2019 and 2020.
“We are excited to welcome Korey Mobbs to Catholic High School,” Mr. Sompayrac said. “Coach Mobbs builds programs that personify class and excellence, and his teams compete with relentless energy. He has compiled an impressive record in his seven seasons, and his passion and enthusiasm for the game of football are contagious. We look forward to Coach Mobbs leading the Fighting Irish on and off the field. Our student-athletes are fortunate to have him as their head coach.
“I also want to mention that Coach Mobbs has been married to his wife, Mary, for 16 years, and they are the proud parents of three children: Ruby, who is 11; Knox is 8; and Eliza is 3.”
The Mobbses “are quiet UT fans who live down in Atlanta. They bleed orange. They love the Vols,” Mr. Sompayrac said. “Korey grew up going to UT games. His grandfather, Royce, was the biggest UT fan there ever was. When they found out they were having a boy, they really wanted to name him after their grandfather. They decided Royce was not a name they wanted their new son to have, so because he loved UT football so much they named him Knox.”
Mr. Mobbs said he met with the Fighting Irish players just a few minutes before the press conference.
“What I was so impressed with, and this is something as a football coach when you go into a program, you can tell right away how they’ve been coached and what kind of homes they come from by their body language,” he said. “I saw eyes, and I saw their heads moving as I nervously paced the locker room, and that tells me all I need to know about this football team. It validates the choice that we made as a family to call this home, and we couldn’t be prouder to be in Knoxville, Tenn. God has opened so many doors over the last week.”
Coming “from a great program” at Lanier, “a lot of success, I would be crazy to tell you that if it weren’t for the young men in the program that I am coming from, this type of opportunity would not have presented itself,” Mr. Mobbs said.
“Yesterday, about 24 hours ago as a matter of fact, I had a lot tougher conversation in another locker room, and the reason it was tough was because of the relationships that go far beyond football, go far beyond just a game that we play and plays that we call and a helmet we put on. It’s about a deep relationship that the game can bring us all. I’m so excited about developing those relationships with the young men in our program, with our administration, and with the faculty here at Knoxville Catholic, and I could not be prouder to be here today,” he added.
Mr. Mobbs led a round of applause for his wife, Mary.
“The first quality of being a good football coach is being married to the right person, and for 16 years I’ve never doubted the choice that I made when I married my high school sweetheart,” he said. “I may be the head coach here in this building, but the head football coach at home is my wife.”
Mr. Mobbs asked “who am I?”
“I’m just a football coach who’s been very blessed to work with young men, work with great families, work in a great community, and now have an opportunity to come to a community that is absolutely one of the best,” he said. “I told the young men in the locker room that as they leave Catholic after four years I want them to do two things. First of all, I want them to be proud of who they are, and I know many of them already are, and secondly, proud of where they’re from. We will wear the Green and Gold with pride.
“My thing has always been we’re going to do things with character, we’re going to do things with class, and we’re going to do things with commitment. It’s so special to now be able to pair those ‘c’ words with Knoxville Catholic, and I’m excited about doing that. Everybody wants to talk about winning football games; we’re going to talk about championship habits in everything that we do, because I truly believe when our championship habits reflect who we are and what we want to be as a program, those things will certainly take care of themselves.”
Everyone wants to know one thing about the new coach, Mr. Mobbs said.
“The big question: ‘Coach, what are you going to do on offense.’ Right? That’s what everybody wants to know,” he said. “I told the young men in the locker room that we want to score now, and that looks many different ways, depending on what kind of personnel you have. We will vary tempo to create mismatches and distribute the ball to the athletes in space. On defense we will be relentless pursuers of the football. All 11 hats arriving in a bad humor with something to prove and competing in everything.”
Before he took questions from the media, Mr. Mobbs had one final statement to make.
“Once again, it’s a great day to be Irish,” he said. “Thank you so much for allowing me the humble honor to be your head football coach.”