After about two weeks of offseason workouts, all his fears had disappeared. And he's seen nothing but movement forward since.
The Yellow Jackets slipped to 5-6 a year ago after three seasons of at least nine victories. It might have been the start of downward spiral had the players had allowed, but Ozmint saw signs of them wanting to turn it around in almost every aspect of the team.
"I'm happy with what this team has done in the offseason," Ozmint said. "I know it sounds clichŽd, but the offseason proves to me a whole lot, and it did this year.
"You can tell early on what kind of team you're going to have by how they motivate themselves. The thing I like about this team that I hadn't had in recent years is competitiveness. We've got basketball courts out here in front of the fieldhouse and after workouts they'd play pickup basketball and I'd have to be out there because there will be fisticuffs within 15 minutes. They love to compete."
He's seen in it so many areas. He gave the players a week off during the summer, then reported he saw everybody at least twice because no one wanted to fall behind. During the first day of practice he put his players through a series of sprints. To a man, when they got to the back of the line, instead of heaving in distress, they started talking trash about how they were going to beat the next man.
Ozmint has a habit of looking out of the corner of his eye in the weight room to catch somebody invariably slacking on their reps. After a couple weeks into this offseason, it dawned on him nobody was missing.
"One day I turned to (defensive end) Taylor Daugherty and said, 'Nobody's missing reps,'" Ozmint recalled. "He said nobody was because, 'They know if they do one of us will jump on them.' I've seen it."
Tyler Johnson is expected to be one of the Jackets' top players this season. He's a 6-foot-6, 320-pound guard already getting some strong looks from Jacksonville State, Troy and UAB.
The Jackets' other returning starters on offense include linemen Sam Swann and Andrew Pentecost, running backs Hunter Nunnally and Thomas Ozmint, and receiver Logan Guest. Nunnally played quarterback last year despite never having run it before and accounted for 1,600 yards and 10 touchdowns, but junior Dylan Stone impressed in the spring game with 104 rushing yards on five carries.
Defensively, they return active junior middle linebacker Mason Brown, junior defensive tackle Luke Mackey, senior safety Houston Word and sophomores Will Parker (linebacker) and Pace Ozmint (safety). Brown led the area in tackles last season (148) and Word is the only senior on defense.
"All those guys have another year under their belt and will better understand what's expected," Ozmint said. "We have a lot of asphalt to cover before we can get to be a good football team, but I'm excited about the potential.
"Two years ago, they were scout teamers ... but now they understand and remember what things were like and they're tyring to bring that to the culture. They don't have to play in the shadows of some of the great players we had in the past. They're casting their own shadows now. They want to be back in the hunt, be legitimately back in the hunt. They don't want to be a spoiler. They want the target back on their chest."
Al Muskewitz is a sports writer for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3577. Glencoe at a glance<.b> Head coach: Lee Ozmint (47-30 in seven years at Glencoe).
Last year's record: 5-6, including 4-3 and a fourth-place finish in Class 3A, Region 5. The Yellow Jackets lost in the first round of the playoffs.
Outlook: The Yellow Jackets are determined to bounce back from a losing season, and Ozmint has seen plenty of examples they're serious about it. There is some experience and playmaking ability on the roster, but the key, particularly in the tough region they play, is to make a play when the chance arises. Last year, they lost three games by six points or fewer and were shut out in their playoff loss.
Aug. 30, vs. Westbrook Christian
Sept. 6, at Weaver
Sept. 13, vs. Piedmont
Sept. 20, at White Plains
Sept. 27, vs. Hokes Bluff
Oct. 4, at Saks
Oct. 11, vs. Cleveland
Oct. 18, at Susan Moore
Oct. 25, vs. Ashville
Oct. 31, at Etowah