Steele head football coach Mike Jinks always said he wouldn't leave the Knights for another high school job.
After leading Steele to a state championship in 2010 and going 43-4 the past three seasons, Jinks had his sights set higher.
"I've already got a great high school job," he said just last week. "If I ever left, it would be to go to a major college. And even then, it would have to be the right offer."
That "right offer" came over the weekend when new Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury asked Jinks to join his staff as running backs coach. Jinks, 40, flew to Lubbock on Wednesday to meet with Kingsbury and took the job before flying back to San Antonio later in the day.
On Thursday morning, Jinks met with his players to tell them what he already had confirmed to the media Wednesday night: He's a Red Raider now.
"What I wanted to do was thank them for all they've done and for how they've touched my life, on and off the field," Jinks said. "Not only the players, but their families as well. This couldn't have happened without them."
Jinks went 76-18 in seven varsity seasons at Steele, which opened in 2005. The Knights have won 42 of their last 44 games.
"Coach Jinks is a great coach and it's a good feeling to know that he's moving up and doing big things," said Breylann McCollum, a senior who was the starting quarterback on the 2012 team. "At the same time, it's kind of emotional because I was with him for four years."
Jinks starts his new job Monday and will start recruiting in the San Antonio-Austin area sometime next week.
Lehnhoff interim coach, front-runner to succeed Jinks
Kingsbury resigned as offensive coordinator at Texas A&M last month to succeed Tommy Tuberville at Tech, where he was a record-setting quarterback under Mike Leach. Kingsbury, 33, is one of the youngest head coaches in college football.
"This is an unbelievable opportunity," Jinks said. "I am very excited about being part of the Texas Tech football program. I could feel the energy when I was up there."
Tech spokesman Blayne Beal said Thursday morning that neither Tech nor Kingsbury would have a comment on Jinks until his hiring becomes official "probably next week sometime."
Scott Lehnhoff, the Knights' offensive coordinator the past six seasons, has been named interim head coach and athletic coordinator and is the front-runner to succeed Jinks, sources said. Lehnhoff, 32, has been at Steele since it opened.
Jinks, a 1990 Judson graduate, has a 79-25 career record. He was head coach at Burbank for one year before moving to Steele.
While Jinks expressed pride in what the Knights accomplished on the field, he said he'll cherish the experience of helping his players develop into young men.
"It's the moments, the memories," Jinks said. "It's the way you carry yourself. It's the core of who you are. I want the kids who have come through here to have that same never-die attitude in anything they approach, whether it's football or crackerjacks or whatever they do in life.
"I think that's what coaches instilled in me and a lot of my teammates when I played. As coaches, we're realistic. We understand you're not going to touch everybody in that way. But out of the 45 seniors we've got this year, if that seed we planted took hold in 20 of them, those are 20 men who are going to make a hell of a difference in this world."
Jinks made history during Steele's title run
Steele won the Class 5A Division II state title in 2010, finishing 14-2 after losing two of its first three games.
Jinks made history as the first African American coach to lead a team from the San Antonio area to a University Interscholastic League football state championship.
The Knights went 15-0 in 2011 before losing to Spring Dekaney in the 5A Division II state final. The loss snapped Steele's 28-game winning streak.
Steele lost to Katy in the 5A Division II state semifinals this past season, finishing 14-1.
Jinks was head coach of the West team in last week's U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which has been played in San Antonio since 2002. Jinks said after the game that he was looking forward to preparing for another season at Steele, but in the end, he got the job offer he simply couldn't refuse.
Jinks has coached two outstanding running backs at Steele, Malcolm Brown and Justin Stockton. Brown earned U.S. Army All-American honors after helping lead the Knights to the state title as a senior, and Stockton has played on the varsity since his freshman season in 2010. He will be among the top returning high school players in the state next season.
Brown, who completed his sophomore season at Texas in 2012, has maintained a strong bond with Jinks.
"Coach Jinks shoots me a text every once in a while," Brown said before last month's Alamo Bowl. "He is a guy who is repetitive about the things he says, and he works his way inside your head. Coach Jinks is really a great guy.
"He is easy to understand and makes it real simple for you. He's a smart guy who can develop players. He's a great coach."
Jinks played quarterback at Judson
Jinks considered applying for the head coaching job at Judson last year when Jim Rackley retired. In the end, he decided to stay at Steele. Kerrville Tivy coach Mark Smith was hired as the Rockets' coach.
Jinks also turned down an offer in 2010 to become head coach at Division II Angelo State, where he started at quarterback as a junior and senior.
The son of an Army sergeant, Jinks was born at Fort Hood in Killeen. He attended Cole Junior-Senior High School at Fort Sam Houston until he transferred to Judson before his freshman year. He made the varsity as a sophomore quarterback and played on teams that went 37-4-1.
Jinks began his coaching career in 1995 at Killeen Ellison under current East Central coach Robert Walker, who he met while waiting tables at a Mexican restaurant in San Angelo. Jinks coached at Ellison for two years before moving to Judson in 1997.
Jinks coached at Judson for only one season before moving on to stints as an assistant at Austin Crockett, Houston Galena Park and Lee, and taking his first-head coaching job at Burbank in 2004.
Before Judson played Denton Guyer in the 2010 state final, Jinks talked about being the first black football coach at a San Antonio-area UIL school to lead a team to the title game.
"I am here because someone gave me the opportunity," Jinks said. "There are a lot of other guys out there right now, coaching in the inner city, who could do what I've done.