Former NFL outside linebacker Cato June knew he wanted to remain in football in some capacity following his retirement in 2010. Less than a year later, he found his calling as a high school coach.
June, who played seven seasons in the NFL, returned to his high school alma mater, Anacostia, in Washington, D.C., in 2011 to become the team's defensive coordinator. He then took the reins as the team's head coach a year later, compiling a 12-23 record during the last three seasons.
"Once you leave the [NFL], a lot of guys fall into this abyss of doing nothing," said June, who recorded a career-high 142 tackles in 2006 for the Super Bowl XLI-winning Indianapolis Colts. "For me, being able to jump right into [coaching], and still being around the game, it was therapeutic."
But June, 35, said he had been seeking an opportunity to continue his progression through the coaching ranks after his fourth season with the Indians wrapped up. So when June was offered the head coaching position at Charles Herbert Flowers High School in Prince George's County Feb. 23, he said he accepted the offer without hesitation.
"I looked at it as a chance to compete at the highest level that we have to offer in this area of the country," June said of his decision to become Flowers' head coach. "If I was going to continue coaching, especially high school football … [I] wanted to coach against what is considered to be the best. I wanted to be a part of one of the biggest and best programs in the area."
June, the 1997 Washington Post All-Met Defensive Player of the Year, inherits a Flowers program that made the postseason nine times during the last 12 seasons under former head coach Mike Mayo. The Jaguars missed the playoffs twice during the last three years and have yet to reach the state championship game.
Still, June said he welcomes the challenge of building off the strong foundation Mayo put in place and elevating Flowers into a perennial Maryland Class 4A state championship contender.
"[I] want to be around people who expect to win," June said. "People kept telling me, 'Oh, you have big shoes to fill, and the expectation is to win.' But I think it's even more difficult to be in a situation where the expectations are lower, because now you're really dealing with people that haven't won and don't necessarily know how to win.
"When you're dealing with people who have won and expect to win, I think you have an easier role since you don't have to change the mindset. You just have to implement your mentality, your system and execute it."
June said he will implement the same offensive and defensive scheme that helped him finish his first season as Anacostia's head coach with a record of 7-5 -- matching the team's win total from the previous four seasons combined.
"It will be a completely different look for Flowers," June said. "They were more of a wing-T offense, and I'm more of a pro-style offense type of guy. I'm also a 4-3 defensive guy, so it's going to look a completely different on both sides of the ball than in years past."
Among the coaches from Anacostia's football staff who will follow June to Flowers include former University of Maryland standout and Philadelphia Eagles running back Bruce Perry and ex-Baltimore Ravens undrafted rookie free-agent strong safety Cyhl Quarles.
One of the new additions to June's staff is 1997 Oxon Hill High School graduate Walter Cross, who will serve as offensive coordinator. Cross is 11th on the state's all-time career rushing yards list (5,227 yards) and was June's roommate during their time together at the University of Michigan.
"I think we probably have the best coaching staff around," June said. "The guys that have been with me the last couple years -- and some of the new guys we'll bring on -- not only have had success teaching, but they've had success in their own individual playing careers."
June praised former Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr for taking him under his wing and preparing him for his transformation from player to coach.
"I talk to Lloyd Carr a lot," June said. "With him being able to just help me out in my quest, it's been great. [I didn't] really get to say much when [I was] playing for him, but when I left [Michigan], we had regular conversations that have helped me get to where I'm at now."