A Friend, Confidant and a Damn Great Coach

A few years back I wrote a very detailed three article piece on high school football recruiting and how it works behind the scenes – things that casual fans never really saw or knew about. With those articles and other writings on recruiting I got some blow back along the lines of “How would you know those details if you weren’t in the business?

Well, the way I did know the backstory on the ins and outs of HS to college football recruiting was through my friendship, and many, many conversations, with Coach Roger Wrenn. We knew each other since 2009 and he was a pleasure to talk with – but mostly to just listen to and learn:

T. Roger Wrenn, a legendary football and baseball coach in Baltimore City at both Patterson High School and Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, who retired in 2011, passed away Monday at the age of 76 after a two year battle with cancer.

Wrenn spent the bulk of his career at Patterson High School, from 1974-2005 before moving to Poly for his final six seasons. During that time he posted a career record of 284-113-2 on the football field and won eight Baltimore City championships and three Maryland Scholastic Association (MSA) titles.

He also spent 29 years as the head coach of the Patterson baseball team where he posted an incredible record of 431-69-2. That was good for the second most wins in Maryland high school baseball history at the time of his retirement.

During his tenure he produced one of the most accomplished coaching trees in the Baltimore area. At one point as many as nine former assistants of Wrenn had coaching jobs in the Baltimore area at the same time.

In April, Wrenn was presented with the John Harvill Lifetime Achievement Award by the Maryland State Football Coaches Association (MSFCA), becoming only the eighth individual to be given the honor. He is also a member of the MSFCA Hall of Fame and the Maryland State Baseball Hall of Fame.

Current Fallston head coach Keith Robison, who began his coaching career under Wrenn at Patterson, before stints as head coach at Overlea and Perry Hall, said Wrenn was tough on young coaches for a reason.

We are all saddened by the loss of our coach, our mentor and the single greatest influence on our careers as teachers and coaches,” said Robinson. “I say we, because Roger’s coaching tree is vast, and it includes those who once played for him and those who were fortunate enough to teach and coach alongside him.

As you can see Roger was like a football god here in Maryland (an over 70% win rate and 11 championships will do that) and his players had many visits from college head coaches and recruiters over the years. He told me some interesting stories about Pitt’s trying to recruit his players from the early 1970s on to the end of the Wannstedt regime.

Most of his players went to Maryland and other ACC schools, some to WVU with others going to universities across the country. He was a real pleasure to know and I respected his humble approach to his describing, really downplaying, his influence on both HS and college athletics. I will miss him.

But, boy, some of those stories…