Jeremy Maclin named next KHS head football coach, pending board approval

Just over 15 years after taking off his Kirkwood football uniform for the last time, Jeremy Maclin will now don the headset and head coaching attire as the KHS varsity football head coach. Maclin, 2006 KHS graduate, has accumulated extensive football experience beyond KHS, excelling at the University of Missouri and throughout a 10-year NFL career. Maclin will succeed Farrell Shelton, who announced his retirement after the 2020 football season. Shelton served six years as head coach at KHS, including the 2016 Missouri Class 6 state championship season. 

KHS Athletics Director Corey Nesslage will recommend Maclin be named the next head coach at the Feb. 22 KSD Board of Education meeting, as announced in a KSD press release Feb. 8. Maclin has been a wide receiver coach and offensive coordinator for Kirkwood football for the past two seasons, as he was hired as an assistant coach in 2019 about five months after his retirement from the NFL. Maclin said that even while he was playing football, the thought of coaching at KHS in the future was always in the back of his mind — and once he retired, the urge to get back to the game as a coach intensified.

“As I got older, that [coaching] dream of mine became more and more in the forefront,” Maclin said. “And after I retired from playing football, that was the only thing I could think about — getting back home, getting back in my community, getting back in the place it started and helping these kids.”

Jeremy Maclin directs the offense in his first game as an assistant coach Aug. 31, 2019. (Hayden Davidson)

Nesslage said the first thing he noticed about Maclin as an assistant coach was how natural coaching was for him. After two years at assistant coach, Maclin felt ready to take the next step, saying that going for the head coach position was something he wanted to do and felt like he was supposed to do. The hiring process was thorough, though; according to Nesslage, there were just over 20 applicants initially, which was first narrowed down to seven, then further narrowed down to three. Among the three final candidates, Nesslage said, Maclin rose to the top.

“The thing that was [most] impressive to me throughout the [hiring] process was the sincerity in which he spoke about the job,” Nesslage said. “It’s extremely important to him. He understands how big of a job it is, and if you look at what he has done in his life, it’s those work ethics and the characteristics that he’s learned that he is going to put into this program.”

The program Maclin will take over achieved a 2-1 record in the shortened 2020 season, which ended for the Pioneers with a forfeit of their first round district playoff game Oct. 30 due to a positive COVID-19 test. Heading into next season, Maclin intends to establish a certain culture, both on and off the football field. 

“[I’m looking forward to] creating this culture, this gritty, hard-working, selfless culture that holds each other accountable, a culture that gets it done in the classroom,” Maclin said. “I think that’s what I’m most excited for because when you create that culture, not only do you produce good football players, but you produce and develop fine people, and I think that’s what’s important.”

While speaking with TKC, Maclin repeatedly emphasized multiple characteristics he said he will focus on with his student-athletes, including education, selflessness and accountability. Football teaches great fundamental life skills and ways to succeed beyond the football field, said Maclin. This is the best part, he said, about the opportunity he is about to have.

“More importantly [than football], I’m helping these kids develop and grow and understand how important education is, how important communication is, how important honesty is and respect is and being a selfless individual and being accountable,” Maclin said. “I think it’s important that these kids and these student-athletes and our youth understand that and know that. I’m just so excited and so ready to start helping that come to reality.”