On Sunday night, the entire country will watch Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame University Football team take on Mike Norvell and his Florida State University team. The game will be aired on ABC, and will feature two of the most storied college football programs going toe-to-toe for four quarters.
While Kelly and Norvell will be the ones who are interviewed before the game, at halftime and of course at the end of the game, there's going to be a pair of former Tewksbury High School players, who will be each side of the field, as part of the respective coaching staffs.
Adam Fuller, a 1994 TMHS Graduate, is serving as the Defensive Coordinator for FSU. This is his second season with the Seminoles, after previously coaching at such places as Memphis and Marshall. Fuller's No. 1 job of the entire night will be trying to stop the Fighting Irish's offense, led by transfer QB Jack Coan, who last year while at Wisconsin tossed 18 touchdowns and threw for over 2,700 yards. Part of that ND offensive coaching staff is Johnny Aylward — who was the quarterback on the 2013 TMHS team, leading the Redmen to the greatest season in program history with a 13-0 record and a Super Bowl victory — is an “Offensive Analyst” with ND.
It's pretty incredible that two former TMHS Football players are now lining up as coaches for two of the most elite collegiate programs in the country, and will face off against one another in a primetime TV game this Sunday.
“You don't think about it too much when you're in the moment, but when you think about it, it's pretty cool to be going up against another guy from Tewksbury,” said Aylward.
Aylward admitted that he's never met Fuller, who played under then head coach Joe DelGrosso, while Johnny's father Brian was an assistant coach at the time. Fuller was a two-way player at TMHS, excelling more so as a linebacker. He went on to play at Sacred Heart University, earning Football Gazette All-American honors as a linebacker in 1996 and led the team in defensive tackles for two straight years. As a senior, he was named the team's captain, and also served the same role at the National All-Star Bowl held in Cleveland, Ohio.
Two years later, he was coaching and has been at seven different places including WPI, Assumption, Wagner, Richmond and then Marshall, Memphis and now FSU.
Throughout those different stops, Aylward has followed Fuller's progress.
“I personally don't know (Adam) but my dad knows him really well. I have heard a lot of great things and I have followed his career being a Tewksbury guy and seeing his career path from Marshall to Memphis and now at Florida State. It's a small world and obviously he has a much bigger role in the game on (September) the fifth, but it's really cool to see,” said Aylward.
Fuller was asked the same question of looking over to the other sideline knowing there is another coach, who years ago, played the game of football with a Red and Blue uniform on.
“I talked to Brian when (Johnny got the position at ND) so I'm happy for Johnny and I think that's a real good place for him,” said Fuller. “He's gotten this far so I'm sure he'll be fine. I have great respect for the Aylward Family. I try to continue to stay involved with that program. I try to get back there as much as possible being so far away, but we follow them and will always do. Hopefully I'll have a chance to say hello.”