The Holmes Community College Board of Trustees has named Raymond Gross as the Bulldogs’ next head football coach.
Gross replaces Jeff Koonz, who retired in January 2020. Koonz worked 15 years at Holmes, serving the last nine as head coach. The 2019 season was Gross’ sixth at Holmes Community College. The last two years, the Midway, Georgia native served as co-offensive coordinator working with the quarterbacks and B-backs. Prior to those seasons, he served as offensive assistant under former offensive coordinator.
The 2019 Bulldogs led the National Junior College Athletic Association in rushing yards per game with a 312.4 per game average. Holmes were ranked No. 2 in total rushing yards with 2,812, No. 3 in yards per carry (6.3 yards per carry) and No. 5 in rushing touchdowns (30).
The 2018 Bulldogs offense was the No. 3 nationally-ranked team in rushing with 261.1 yards per game. The Bulldogs in 2017 led the country in rushing yards per game at 368.3 yards per game and 446.4 total yards per game. The Bulldogs have been the No. 1 ranked Mississippi Association of Community & Junior Colleges rushing team for the last six consecutive years.
Coaching stops for Gross include two stints at Bethune-Cookman (quarterback coach, 1999-2001 and running back/quarterback coach, 2005-09) and Clark Atlanta (offensive coordinator, 2001-04). Before he began coaching, Gross was a four-year letterman at Georgia Southern, where he led the Eagles to back-toback NCAA I-AA National Championships during the 1989 and 1990 seasons. He posted a career record of 44-8 as a starting quarterback and held the school record for rushing attempts in a season at 695. After Georgia Southern, he played professionally in Italy.
“I’m extremely excited to be the new head football coach at Holmes Community College,” Gross said. “It’s a culmination of many years of working hard and doing what I’m supposed to do and being where I’m supposed to be. I want to thank Dr. Haffey, the search committee and Mr. Wood for this opportunity. It’s greatly appreciated. I’m looking forward to keeping the program going in the right direction, which is something that Coach (Jeff) Koonz has done, and I want to thank him also.”
Gross said he’s proud of the steps made in the program and wants it to continue. “I think the key to continue the winning and the success we’ve had is ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’,” Gross said. “Coach Koonz has done a great job changing the direction of the program. I want to build upon what we’ve accomplished as a coaching staff and what Coach Koonz helped to establish by bringing us in and transforming the program with the offense we are running. I have to build upon that. I want to make the program my program and represent Holmes in a way that will make the Holmes Community College and the community not only proud but Holmes proud.”
He said Holmes made a name for itself last season by knocking off East Mississippi and Northwest to finish 4-2 in the North Division and also finishing No. 1 in rushing yards per game in the NJCAA. “I think it’s all important,” Gross said. “When it’s all said and done, you want to beat the best teams in the league. We’ve accomplished things in the last two years that we didn’t in the previous four. We beat East, we beat Northwest, we beat Jones and Co-Lin, and they were ranked in the top 10, maybe the top five.”
“They are consistently at the top of the league every year and Holmes is one of those teams nobody expects anything out of,” he said. “Those perceptions and those beliefs about Holmes football are changing. That’s a credit to the players who have been here and everybody who has worked hard. It is also a credit to all the coaches who have been here. Our athletes are guys who are overachievers and guys who other teams wouldn’t recruit, but they fit what we do. We are going to welcome them and continue to go out and get those guys who want to be at Holmes Community College because it’s a great school and program. We strive for greatness. I’m not going to allow anything else. I’m a winner, I want the program to continue to be a winner and I want these young men to be winners in life after they leave here.”
Gross said he’ll be looking at the coaching staff and filling some gaps. “You’ve got to have the right people on your staff and quality people who are on the same page that I’m on,” Gross said. “We are going to do things a certain way. We are going to have to be a disciplined team on both sides of the ball. We are going to have to be a focused team on both sides of the ball. We are a big play, ball control offense which will complement a dominant defense. This combination would get us a few more wins a year.”
“There are people in mind,” he said of the positions. “We’ve got to work that out and see what happens. It’s something I don’t want to rush into. It might hamper us in spring preparation but the last thing I want to do is not get the right personnel.”
The Bulldogs had a good signing class as well. “I think that was a focal point in continuing the program going in the right direction,” he said. “We did that without knowing who the staff was going to be. That says a lot about the program itself. No matter what, we had to go out and find guys who wanted to be a member of the Bulldog family. That’s what we are trying to do is be a successful program.”
“We want to win ballgames, we want to graduate our athletes and put a product out on the field that is representative of Holmes Community College and what we are trying to accomplish here,” he said. “For those young men to trust us by signing on the dotted line means a lot. We’ve got some good student athletes coming in.”
Gross described himself as a genuine person. “When it’s crunch time and you need somebody to have your back, I’m going to have your back,” he said. “I’m hard but fair. I’m going to do it the right way, and I’m going to represent my family, myself and the institution that I’m working for to the best of my ability. When it’s all said and done, what you do and how you conduct and carry yourself is what makes your legacy. I’ll always want my legacy to be representative of the family from which I come from.”
He said he’s excited to get started and with the multipurpose facility with a large weight room and indoor turf beginning construction soon, “that’s going to help the program tremendously.”
Gross holds a bachelor’s degree in commercial recreation from Georgia Southern and a master’s degree in education from Cambridge College.
He attended the Bradwell Institute in Hinesville, Georgia where he was a three-sport athlete (football, basketball and baseball). Gross has one son, Adam “A.J.”, 10.