NFL to Cavs coach

Compton reflects on professional, college career

Michael Compton, offensive line coach at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, lived out every football player’s dream as a third-round draft pick in the 1993 NFL draft.

A native of southwest Virginia, Compton graduated from Richlands High School and then went on to play starting center at West Virginia University on a full-ride scholarship from 1989 to 1992.  In 1993, Compton was picked 68th overall in the third round of the NFL draft by the Detroit Lions.

“I didn’t even think about the NFL until the NFL Combine,” Compton said. “I just wanted to be the first in my family to graduate college.”

After eight years with the Lions, Compton furthered his football career with the New England Patriots before finally landing himself with the Jacksonville Jaguars to end his 12-year NFL career.  Compton also notably won two Super Bowls with the Patriots in 2002 and 2004.

Compton had a young daughter at the time he was drafted to the NFL and he said that providing for his family was his top priority. Compton said that when his time with the Jaguars came to an end, he decided to move back to southwest Virginia to be a part of his three kids’ lives, as well as to start his teaching and coaching career.

“While in the NFL, I kept my teaching license renewed because that was important to me,” Compton said.

Compton got his start as a substitute teacher at Tazewell High School in January of 2007, which is when he was asked to be an assistant football coach at the school.

After spending two years coaching under Bobby White with the Tazewell Bulldogs, Compton decided to move on in order to build his resume. Compton took a head coach position with Patrick Henry High School in Glade Springs, Va where he coached three seasons before moving on to coach at the collegiate level.

Compton coached for two seasons at Fairmont State University, and for two seasons at Bluefield College. He then moved on to coach for Concord University before finding his home at UVa-Wise.

Compton said after leaving Concord, he was unsure of whether he wanted to take a year off, or to continue coaching. But Compton got the opportunity to interview with Cavaliers head coach Dane Damron and is now in his third season here at UVa-Wise.

“The biggest advice I could give at any level of football whether it is Division I or Division III, what you put on film, what you do in practice, and how you perform at a game is what matters,” Compton said. “Once they [NFL scouts] get your name, if you get lucky enough to have a scout come watch you practice, you have to have a great practice because people come to compete, and there is always someone out there trying to replace you.”

Compton said that the NFL never seemed realistic to him. He said “a lot of kids have a blurred perspective, but the NFL is an elite group of athletes.” Compton said that academics are of the upmost importance to him.

“The only way to compete [in the NFL] is to outwork, out study, and perform.” He said to, “focus on the little things because the big things will take care of itself.”

Compton worked for everything he’s had in life; his mother was a nurse and his father was a coal miner. He said that his mother kept him grounded and he set goals to get him where he is. Compton said, “with good luck, grace in the Lord, good things happened.”

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