Helow Climbs Coaching Ladder

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM Former Ole Miss player George Helow seeks his second straight national championship as a coach.
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Former Ole Miss player George Helow seeks his second straight national championship as a coach.
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

Jan. 6, 2014

By Austin Miller, OleMissSports.com

OXFORD, Miss. — From Ole Miss walk-on, to Florida State defensive graduate assistant, it’s been a long road in a relatively short time for George Helow. And when Florida State and Auburn play in the BCS Championship on Monday in Pasadena, Calif., Helow will seek his second straight national championship as a coach, having served as a defensive intern for Alabama last year.

“It has been another incredible experience that I can’t really explain,” Helow said. “From the day we got here, I can’t speak highly enough about (Florida State defensive coordinator) Jeremy Pruitt putting in this new defense. From where we were in the spring, to how we have gotten better and improved every week, it’s been awesome to see the improvement and progression. He has been such a good teacher and coach.”

“Right now, I’m doing everything I can to help our team get ready to play Auburn. At the same time, it is exciting knowing that I’m going to another national championship game. That’s been our expectation and goal for the whole season. Our goal was not to get there but to win it. It’s great that we’re going to Pasadena. We’re excited about the opportunity, but we want to finish.”

The Jacksonville, Fla., native redshirted at Ole Miss in 2006 and saw his first career action against Louisiana Tech in 2007, before playing all 38 games for the Rebels from 2008 to 2010, which included back-to-back Cotton Bowls in 2008 and 2009.

Helow, who played mostly on special teams, earned a scholarship before his senior season in 2010 and graduated in December 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing.

“As long as I can remember, I always had a passion for football,” Helow said. “Ole Miss gave me an opportunity to play on the big stage, and I’m very thankful for that experience. I went to Ole Miss as a preferred walk-on, and that’s where I established a good work ethic. As a walk-on, you always have to work hard and earn your stripes, and it’s the same way climbing the ladder in coaching.”

He participated in the Ole Miss pro day after his senior season, and while he waited for his shot at playing in the NFL, he continued working out and went back to his high school alma mater, Bishop Kenny, in Jacksonville, Fla., where he coached his younger brother Peter, a senior captain on the team who now plays at Marshall.

“I played for Mark Thorson in high school, and there’s not a better man or role model than him,” Helow said. “He’s one of the high school coaches who does it the right way. He knew I was in Jacksonville and asked me to come back and coach with him. At the same time, if one of the defensive backs for the Jacksonville Jaguars was to go down during camp, I was hoping to be their replacement guy, so I had to stay in shape. That never happened.”

After one season at Bishop Kenny, Helow applied for a position on Nick Saban’s staff at Alabama. Another former Ole Miss player, Jon Desler, put Helow in contact with former Ole Miss assistant coach Joe Pannunzio, who now serves as director of football operations at Alabama.

Helow went to Alabama and met with the coaching staff when they had their junior day in 2012, and they invited him to serve as an intern in the weight room that spring and summer and then serve as a defensive intern in the fall, where he worked with the Crimson Tide defensive staff.

From Alabama, Helow followed Pruitt to Florida State, the latter having spent the previous three seasons as the secondary coach at Alabama, before joining Jimbo Fisher’s staff. Helow also credited Fisher for the opportunity and the job he has done with coaching the Seminoles this season.

“It was a difficult decision to leave Alabama, but Jeremy Pruitt gave me an opportunity to come to Florida State as a graduate assistant and have coaching duties in the secondary and recruiting. If you want to be a college coach, you have to know how to recruit, and as a GA, you can recruit.”

As Helow looks ahead and continues to climb the coaching ladder, he also looks back on his playing career at Ole Miss. For him, it has been and will continue to be about the process, taking it one day at a time and controlling what he can control.

“Building on my experience playing at Ole Miss, I want to do my job the best I can and have fun doing it. I want to attack every day with the mindset of getting better and making everyone around me better.  I want to share my enthusiasm, intensity and passion for the game and life with those around me.

“I have been blessed by the experiences I have had as a player and a coach.  I want to continue to learn as much as I can and share that knowledge with those around me.  The players we work with come from many different backgrounds.  I want to help them become great football players and great men.”

Austin Miller is a writer and blogger for OleMissSports.com. He joined the staff in June 2013 after serving as sports editor of the Daily Mississippian. Follow him on Twitter @austinkmiller

Ole Miss Gear
    Facebook
    Twitter
    • Loading Tweets...
      1 second ago
    Blog
    • Wallace Looks to Make More History

      Thursday, December 18, 2014 - Football

      Senior quarterback Bo Wallace, like his head coach, stepped into a program that had won just two games in 2011 and had lost 14 straight games.  Three years later, Wallace helped lead the ninth-ranked Rebels to their first nine-win regular... read more

    • Rebels Ink Nation's Top JUCO Quarterback

      Wednesday, December 17, 2014 - Football

      Official welcome to Chad Kelly, the No. 1 JUCO QB in the country from national champion East Mississippi CC. #HottyToddy-- Ole Miss Football (@OleMissFB) December 17, 2014 Just Sent My LOI In To The University Of Mississippi!!! Feel's Good To... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Dec. 8-14, 2014)

      Monday, December 15, 2014 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewDec. 8-14, 2014Women's Basketball- The Ole Miss women's basketball team rebounded with a 88-48 win over South Alabama on Sunday. The win was the first after back-to-back losses for the Rebels for the first time... read more

    • Recapping Monday's Media Opportunities

      Monday, December 15, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss Details Stadium Expansion Plans Ole Miss unveiled the master plan for Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, which includes two phases of renovation and expansion. Scheduled for completion by the start of the 2016 season, the expansion will bring the seating capacity... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Dec. 14

      Sunday, December 14, 2014 - Athletics

      With final exam week on the Ole Miss campus, there was not much game action, but there's still plenty to talk about, as Ole Miss finalized salary increases for head football coach Hugh Freeze and his staff, and the football... read more

    • VIDEO: Ole Miss Volleyball Season Highlight

      Friday, December 12, 2014 - Volleyball

      read more

    • VIDEO: Ole Miss Football 2014 Season Highlight

      Tuesday, December 9, 2014 - Football

      Ole Miss Football 2014 Season Highlight from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Dec. 1-7, 2014)

      Monday, December 8, 2014 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in ReviewDec. 1-7, 2014Football- No. 9 Ole Miss accepted an invitation to play in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, where they will face No. 6 TCU on Dec. 31 in Atlanta's Georgia Dime.- Ole Miss is making... read more

    • Testing One, Two, Three

      Monday, December 8, 2014 - Academics

      While the Rebels have enjoyed a solid fall on the fields and courts and look forward to the upcoming Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and more basketball games, all student-athletes are busy this week proving they are champions in the classroom... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Dec. 7

      Sunday, December 7, 2014 - Athletics

      In the early part of the week, Athletics Director Ross Bjork and head football coach Hugh Freeze reached an agreement on a new contract. In the late part of the week, the Rebels learned their postseason bowl destination. Here are... read more

    • The Season: Ole Miss Football Episode 13

      Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - Men's Basketball

      The Season: Ole Miss Football - Episode 13 - MSU (2014) from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.... read more

    • Rebels Finding a Rhythm after Trip to Florida

      Tuesday, December 2, 2014 -

      Ole Miss continued its strong bounce-back from a season-opening loss to Charleston Southern, improving to 5-1 on the season and knocking off two previously unbeaten opponents in No. 23 Creighton and Cincinnati to capture the inaugural Emerald Coast Classic. "We... read more

    • Bjork, Freeze Reach Agreement on New Contract

      Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - Football

      Athletics Director Ross Bjork and head football coach Hugh Freeze reached an agreement on a new contract, they both announced on Twitter early Tuesday morning. Terms will be released as they are finalized and are expected in the coming days.... read more

    • Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (No. 24-30, 2014)

      Monday, December 1, 2014 - Athletics

      Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review Nov. 24-30, 2014Football- No. 18 Ole Miss won the annual "Egg Bowl" rivalry 31-17 over No. 4 Mississippi State in front of another sold-out crowd at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Saturday afternoon.- The Rebels finish the... read more

    • Observations from the Best Seat in the House -- Nov. 30

      Sunday, November 30, 2014 - Athletics

      Ole Miss collected a lot of hardware over the weekend, as the football team reclaimed the Egg Bowl trophy and the men's and women's basketball returned home with regular-season tournament championship. Here are some thoughts and opinions on the week... read more