FORT WORTH — Joe Prud’homme is intrigued about building a college football program from scratch.
And to do so in the midst of such fertile recruiting grounds is icing on the cake.
Prud’homme was introduced Thursday as the new head coach at Texas Wesleyan University. TWU recently announced its intention to resurrect football, which was suspended since 1941 because of World War II and not reinstated until this year.
TWU intends to play in the NAIA’s Central States Football League beginning in 2017.
That leaves Prud’homme, who coached 23 seasons at Nolan Catholic and won seven TAPPS state championships, about 18 months to start a program.
“Recruiting starts today,” Prud’homme said. “We’re targeting 75 kids to bring in to start with.”
Prud’homme said Texas Wesleyan offers a number of positives to prospective recruits. He mentioned the recent increase in enrollment, a revitalized campus and neighborhood on the city’s east side and the school’s tradition of athletic excellence –its men’s basketball team is ranked No. 3 in the country in the NAIA Division I coaches’ poll.
Prud’homme said he intends to utilize his network of contacts throughout the state – including Houston, San Antonio and East Texas. But he also mentioned nearby communities such as Mansfield, Keller, Southlake and, of course, Fort Worth.
“Some of the best athletes in the state are within a drive of Texas Wesleyan and I plan to bring some of them here,” Prud’homme said.
Prud’homme prefers athletes, “maybe an inch too short or a step too slow. Those are the ones with a chip on their shoulder.”
Prud’homme will host open tryouts for current students – “Hopefully find some good surprises,” he said.
TWU athletic director Steve Trachier said NAIA rules allow for a maximum of 24 scholarships for its football programs. Trachier said the majority of programs on Texas Wesleyan’s level offer about one-half that amount and Trachier anticipated TWU would be in that range to start his program.
Prud’homme’s tenure at Nolan was highlighted by a remarkable seven TAPPS state championships over a 10-year period from 2004-2013.
Prud’homme coached at Nolan from 1991-1996, compiling a 37-25-3 record before leaving the profession for two years. He returned to Nolan for the 1999 season and has compiled a 152-65 record over the last 17 seasons.