Burlington native will head down East to join Barton College coaching staff
By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
Landing a job on a college football coaching staff didn’t come easy for Jasmine Vinson.
Leaving his role as offensive coordinator at Cummings wasn’t easy either.
“My dream was always to coach college football,” said Vinson, who has taken an assistant coach position at Barton College. “The hardest thing is leaving here. Knowing I have (players) here I like to help out. It’s the hardest part, and it should be.”
Vinson is a Cummings alum, so his ties to the school run deep. He also has been tightly tied to standout running back Jonathan Paylor, a rising senior at Cummings and high on national recruiting lists.
In some ways, it was through Paylor that Vinson’s connection to the Barton position developed.
“I took Jonathan Paylor to a football camp at N.C. State,” Vinson said. “I met (Barton coach) Chip Hester, he had just got the head coaching position. We talked, exchanged numbers and stayed in contact. Then three years later, a position was open.”
Barton, a Division II school, is entering its fourth season since reinstating football.
Vinson’s role will be overseeing running backs, so that’s a smaller group than with Cummings.
“I think it will help me out adjusting,” he said. “I can focus just on that group and really spend time developing those guys. Then taking on bigger roles as they come along. The main thing is going there and doing the best I can there.”
It’s a positive move in Cummings coach David Grimm’s eyes.
“He has always wanted to get to that level and be a college coach,” Grimm said. “I think he’ll go on to do great things in college. … I want (assistant coaches) to go on and I don’t want to hold anyone back. I hope I’m grooming them.”
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Grimm and others are on Vinson’s list of coaches who’ve helped him along the way. That includes Steve Johnson, who was the Cummings coach when he played in high school.
“I’m proud of what he has done,” Johnson said. “To go from player and student and continue to live his dreams with coaching and teaching.”
Vinson has coached a youth team in Southeast Guilford along with serving as defensive coordinator at Woodlawn Middle School. There, he connected with Eastern Alamance coach John Kirby. Eastern assistant Danny McCawley, a Cummings assistant coach during Vinson’s playing days, also made an impact.
Vinson, 30, is a 2012 Cummings graduate. Johnson said moving into a college role should be a good fit for his former middle linebacker.
“You could see it was in his blood,” Johnson said of Vinson’s passion. “You can’t turn down an opportunity like this. He had done his homework to learn more about running an offense.”
Kirby said it’s no surprise that Vinson has another opportunity.
“We should have hired him up here,” he said. “He went to Cummings and good things happened to him. He has been one of those self-made guys.”
Vinson, who left for the new position at the beginning of June, had been the primary contact for much of the recruiting associated with Paylor, though Grimm also has been highly involved. Vinson took the running back to dozens of camps and college visits, stretching all the way to the University of Alabama.
“That’s my dog,” Paylor said, noting their countless travels. “Every single one. Everywhere. Even when we went down to Alabama, he was there. Tennessee, everywhere. He was like, ‘Yeah, Jon I’ll pick you up. Anything you need.’ ”
Read previous Sunday Sports Special on Cummings’ Jonathan Paylor: https://alamancenews.com/cummings-jonathan-paylor-cherishes-track-competition-even-as-interest-in-his-college-football-future-intensifies/
Vinson, a history teacher at Cummings, was the football team’s offensive coordinator the past three seasons.
“He took it better than I thought he would,” Vinson said of Paylor’s reaction to his departure. “He’s a great kid, so he’s going to be able to make that adjustment. He was always hard working. His talent is great.”
Paylor gave his endorsement even though it will be a bit of a transition for his senior season.
“I told him off the get-go, you should go,” Paylor said. “It’s an opportunity you probably never get again. Getting that type of experience as a coach will be excellent for him. Knowing what he wanted to do with his career. Just to see that he’s doing better in his life is really uplifting for me.”
The time Vinson and Paylor spent together worked well in terms of the coordinator-player aspect. It seems to have paid off for both of them.
“It went hand-in-hand with what we had going on,” Paylor said. “He helped me, and I helped him in return. It was always a mutual thing. Him putting me up and getting what I needed to get out of football, I got what I got.”
The Cavaliers have clicked on offense, scoring at least 40 points in 16 of their 31 games the past three seasons. Cummings was part of the highest-scoring football game in North Carolina High School Athletic Association history in the spring of 2021 (88-74 vs. Greensboro Smith).
Vinson said the relationship between Paylor and Grimm bodes well for the Cavaliers in the upcoming season. Grimm will shift into a play-calling role for the Cummings offense.
Meanwhile, moving to down East to Wilson marks Vinson’s first extended time away from his native Burlington other than – as a recent Cummings graduate – a season at Mesabi Range College, a junior college in Minnesota.
Johnson has known Hester, who for almost two decades was Catawba’s head coach, for years, so he likes how Vinson will have an experienced mentor leading the Barton staff. He said Vinson will do his part.
“He has been a hard worker ever since I’ve known him,” Johnson said. “He has had to grind all his life. This just shows you don’t have to have everything handed to you.”
And while Paylor has been wooed by major colleges, he’ll be paying attention to a certain in-state college for another reason.
“It was a great experience the three years I was with him here,” Paylor said. “I wish I had him for a fourth year. He’s going to do his thing at Barton.”