This week is NCAA Division III Week and member institutions across the country are celebrating the seventh-year event.
As part of Huntingdon College's participation in Division III Week, five student-athletes were featured this week.
In addition to the student-athletes' accomplishments, today we recognize former Huntingdon assistant football coach and current Jacksonville State University assistant football coach Landius Wilkerson.
Wilkerson is the latest Huntingdon football coach to get a start in collegiate coaching at the Division III level before moving to the Division I level. A total of nine former Huntingdon assistant coaches have moved on to coach at the Division I level.
Landius Wilkerson admits he wasn't sure what to expect when he joined the Huntingdon College football staff as a defensive line coach in 2010.
Having played at the Division I-AA level (now known as the FCS) at Alabama State University and coached at the high school level in Tennessee, Wilkerson was unfamiliar with Division III.
But he was a fast learner.
In eight seasons as the Hawks' defensive line coach, he helped produce two All-Americans, two All-Region selections, one USA South Defensive Rookie of the Year and six All-Conference performers as well as 17 Academic All-Conference selections and six NFF Hampshire Honor Society members.
Prior to accepting an opportunity in March to become the defensive ends coach at Jacksonville State University, Wilkerson was the longest serving defensive line coach in the 15-year history of Huntingdon football. He was a part of 60 of the 98 wins in Huntingdon history, three consecutive USA South championships, three straight NCAA playoff berths and the first playoff win in program history.
Wilkerson took time this week to reflect on his years at Huntingdon and how much his experience there helped him develop into the coach and person he is today.
Looking back on your time at Huntingdon, how did those eight seasons help you develop as a coach and prepare you for the future?
"Huntingdon was a very special place. I loved everything about Huntingdon and I am thankful for my eight seasons in the Huntingdon football family.
"I had the chance to work with one of the best coaches in the business. It was a blessing for me to work under Coach Mike Turk and his staff. I am a better person and football coach because of my time at Huntingdon.
"We had a lot of good coaches in my eight seasons and I think I learned from all of them. I just hope I had half the impact on them as they had on me. I couldn't have asked for a better coaching staff to work with on my first college coaching job.
"During my time there, I grew as a person, father and coach. For that, I will forever be thankful."
Huntingdon was your first experience with Division III football. What kind of adjustment was that for you and how did your perception of Division III change from your first season to your last?
"I had no experience at all and I had no idea what I was getting myself into. But after being at Huntingdon, I can honestly say that I look at Division III totally different now. I had no idea of how competitive the D-III level was. I had no idea how good the coaching was or anything.
"I don't know that all of Division III is the same, but the way Coach Turk ran the football program was a lot like what I have seen at the Division I level. I loved my D-III experience and could see myself going back to be a small college head coach one day.
"It was a great experience working with great people and coaching kids that truly loved the game. I looked forward to going to Huntingdon every day. Division III is a great quality of life for coaches and a great experience for student athletes."
It's probably difficult to point to just one highlight at Huntingdon, but what are a couple of moments that really stand out?
"I will always remember the win at Louisiana College in 2010. That was one of my first college football games as a coach. It was an exciting overtime win and I can still remember celebrating with coach Charlie Goodyear when Courtney Moss crossed the goal line to win it.
"I'll always remember the defensive line meetings. I was blessed to coach some really special kids. We would meet about way more then football. I still talk and text with those kids. I sit back and laugh at night when I think about some of the stories we use to share in our meetings.
"Weekly staff Bible studies were a great experience for me. I am far from perfect but I can honestly say that I am a better person because of my time in the football coaches' Bible study.
"Of course, being able to coach a couple of guys that were named All-Americans and winning three conference championships in-a-row will never be forgotten.
"And I will never forget the day Coach Turk named me Recruiting Coordinator. It felt good to know that he believed in me and my abilities. I hope I lived up to his expectations. That was like a dream come true moment. It may not have meant much to others, but I was excited to be in charge of recruiting."
You met with your players before going to Jacksonville State. But for Huntingdon in general, are there any thoughts you would like to share?
"Huntingdon meant a lot to me. I didn't realize how much it meant until it was time to say goodbye. I have always tried to be nice to people and be friends with everyone and I felt like I had a personal relationship with everybody on campus.
"I cried a lot of tears when I cleaned out my office and told my defensive linemen goodbye. I can't say enough good things about Huntingdon. I have so much love for the people there that I thought I was making a mistake when I was telling people goodbye. I didn't know it would be so hard to leave.
"But that goes to show how special that place is and how special the people are. I can go on for days about how great my time there was. I wish I could name everybody and thank them but I know I would forget some. I tried to walk around to every office and say goodbye before I left. If I missed anybody on my way out, charge it to my head and not my heart.
"I am super thankful to Huntingdon for allowing me to grow as a person, coach and allowing me to live my dream."
Huntingdon head coach Mike Turk on seeing former assistants move on to success at the Division I level.
"I knew when I took this job that, for the most part, I would be hiring guys who would be moving on in a couple of years. Honestly, most of the guys have stayed longer than I ever thought they would. My hope is that each coach and each player that comes through our program is exposed to the right way of doing things. When they get opportunities to move on, I hope they carry that way of doing things with them."
Huntingdon assistants in the Division I and Professional ranks
Oakland Raiders (2018), University of Alabama (2010-11, 2016-17), University of Kentucky (2013-15), University of Tennessee (2012)
Temple University (2017-present)
Troy University (2018), Austin Peay (2017), Murray State (2010-13, 2015-16), University of Tennessee-Chattanooga (2014)
Head coach Monash Warriors in Australian Gridiron Victoria League (2018), Temple University (2017), University of Florida (2016), University of Central Florida (2015)
Alabama State University (2016-present)
East Tennessee State (2015-present)
Jacksonville State University (2018)
University of Tennessee-Chattanooga (2018), Jacksonville State University (2009-12)
University of Tennessee-Chattanooga (2018)