First-year McNeese head football coach Frank Wilson was put in charge with the hope of taking his new team to the next level on the field.
But Wilson doesn't just want his players to be good in between the white lines, he wants to make sure they are put in place for success and knowledge off the field.
With all of the social unrest that has occurred in the last couple of months, Wilson wants his players to realize that they can make a huge difference impacting the country's future. That's why he has done what some other collegiate athletic programs have and gotten the players on his team registered to vote. In addition to that, he wants to teach them why it's important to vote as well.
"The guys who are here, but live in Texas, we got them situated and ready to go for absentee voting," Wilson said in a June 25 interview (the last day for Texas citizens to vote via that method was June 19). "We got those guys that are in (Louisiana) to know when the voting is going to happen. Not just the presidential election, but all that happens and how important local government is. How a bill becomes a law, how do you register to vote. All of those things, we have discussed in an open team meeting forum to our kids."
Besides voting, Wilson says that he devotes time for the team to discuss various societal issues and has the players speak out and express their feelings if they choose to. He taught the team about Juneteenth, the annual holiday on June 19 which celebrates the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States.
"It's a constant conversation with us," Wilson said. "We deal with what we call current event issues, social issues, global issues. And there is no elephant in the room where we let it go by and just don't say anything. We have open discussion, ranging from an array of things for how guys want to express themselves."
Wilson said that he doesn't mind his players' expression, whether through social media, peaceful protesting, or walking rallies.
"We embrace all of the above," Wilson said.
On the field, the expectations are still high for Wilson and the Cowboys. He and his coaching staff have made every attempt to solidify the roster with FBS talent transferring in. Among those new to the Cowboy roster for the 2020 season are quarterback Walker Wood (Kentucky), defensive end Isaiah Chambers (Houston), defensive back Chris Joyce (Tulane), and wide receiver Joshua Matthews (Louisiana Tech). There are also a few junior college transfers in addition to the incoming freshman class to reinvigorate the McNeese roster.
Despite the Cowboys being ineligible for the 2020 postseason due to low APR scores over a rolling four-year period, Wilson feels good about what this team can accomplish with the talent on the roster.
"We continue to add to and plug in for (the incoming class of 2020)," Wilson said. "On National Signing Day, we said we're not going to sign an entire class now. We'll do it the right way, and we'll plug guys in that we think our program fits for us. We've done so diligently, taking our time, identified the right guys that fit us, and we couldn't be more pleased."