BLADENSBURG – After coaching football for three years at Bladensburg High School, Lester Overtons' head coaching position was relinquished after compiling a 3-7 record last year.
On Jan. 16 former Washington Redskin Byron Westbrook decided to take over as the head coach. Bladensburg Athletic Director Michael Silverman and Westbrook played together at Salisbury University, and Westbrook impressed him and the interview committee with his vision for the Mustangs moving forward.
“I received a call from the Bladensburg AD and was very ecstatic,” Westbrook said. “Mr. Silverman reached back to me and inquired if I had any interest in coaching at all.
“I replied that I did and he explained to me that as with any coach that has an interest in the position, I would have to follow all guidelines and procedures that any other potential candidates would go through to make it a very just process, which I totally understood.”
Although it will be Westbrook’s first year at Bladensburg, he has had some experience training and mentoring high school and college kids at the Future of Fitness Gym in Crofton.
He also has tremendous experience from playing the game. He played professionally for the Redskins from 2007-2011 and was an All-American, a three-time First-Team cornerback and a two-time All-Conference First-Team return specialist at Salisbury.
Westbrook grew up in Fort Washington and attended one of the biggest powerhouse football programs in the nation in DeMatha. He graduated in 2002, but not before helping lead the Stags to a No. 1 ranking in the state and No. 19 in the country.
Westbrook believes that a negative public perception of Bladensburg has troubled the program over the years and explained that he wants the school and the team to regain the respect and allure it once had.
“I took this job because I felt that with all the experience and success I've had in high school, college and even professionally, that it would be right to give all that I learned back to the community,” Westbrook said. “With me coming into coaching, it gives the community the belief that there are people in (Prince George’s) County who still believe in this school and take great pride in being a part of the school, which I do as well in my limited time being the head coach We all want the neighborhood school to achieve success academically and athletically, and the community is willing and ready to help make sure Bladensburg High School does attain that success.”
A winning culture is what Westbrook wants to achieve at Bladensburg, but academics will come first. He makes no exceptions for any student athlete, who must make the grades to be eligible to play.
“My kids must maintain good grades in school. I will not allow any player to play without getting good grades,” he said. “My kids will work hard in practices and show determination and effort and will be very disciplined, but ultimately we are here to win games.”
Junior wide receiver and defensive back Trevon Coleman believes Westbrook will turn the program around.
“Well, I play basketball right now, but I talked to Coach Westbrook and he is just cool. I feel as though he will help us and is exactly the type of coach we need to help us turn this program around,” Coleman said.