Ozark’s coaching change over the off-season not only brought Jeremy Cordell to the Tigers’ sideline, but also his sons, JT and Anthony.
JT is a junior lineman who figures to be an anchor along Ozark’s defensive line, while Anthony is a freshman wide receiver who impressed mightily during 7-on-7 sessions last month.
They are also avid wrestlers, with JT being a heavyweight and Anthony a 138-pounder.
The brothers may play the same sports, but obviously make different contributions at different levels. It’s been a while since they’ve been mistaken for each other and their new Ozark teammates have had an easy time distinguishing them.
“I’ve had some people say to me that we look alike,” JT said. “But with our different body types, I don't get that much anymore.”
“JT is not going to like me saying this, but his nickname has been 'Bubba' since the time he was a little kid,” Jeremy said. “He’s always been a big, strong kid, while Anthony has been quick and athletic. He's a quick-twitch guy.”
The brothers may not be alike physically and JT is a bit more outgoing than Anthony, but their base is very much the same. They’re all-business on the gridiron and the weight room.
“As different as they are, they are also the same in how they compete and have good work ethic,” Jeremy said. “Of course, I’m Dad first and there are certain rules in place. My wife and I would like to think we run a pretty tight ship. We expect them to be great kids, great students, great teammates and great friends. Everything else falls in place after that.
"We're not big into video games and technology for our teenagers,” he added. “We expect them to be engaged with people. That's how we've raised them.”
The personable nature of the Cordells, who came from the Chicago area, has no doubt helped make their intro to Ozark go swimmingly well.
They’re quick to relate their appreciation for the reception they have received.
“The community is great,” Anthony said. “When my Dad first told me about (Ozark), I looked it up on-line. I had never heard about it before. But I was excited for a different lifestyle here. I was kind of nervous about it at first. But you've got to adapt to change.”
“The first time I ever heard about southwest Missouri was when my Dad told me about Ozark,” JT said. “I thought it sounded like a cool place and that I could see myself and family living here. I feel like everyone has been welcoming to my family with open arms. They’ve been supportive and ready for a change around here.”
Naturally, the Cordells left behind many friends in Chicago.
“It was challenging,” JT said about switching schools. “We’re going to be resilient and take any new challenge and do the best we can with it.”
JT has quickly befriended fellow linemen Logan Smith and Landon Baldwin and linebacker Parker Elliott, while Anthony counts fellow freshmen Jett Easley and Tristen Coon among his new friends.
“When they have said, 'Hey, do you want to do this,' and if I can, I will say yes and we always have a good time," JT said.
JT has proven to be a good go-to guy for his teammates in regard to questions about Ozark’s new defensive schemes that Jeremy has implemented.
“He's played in this defense before, that helps him,” Jeremy said. “He’s got a good grasp of his position. He does a good job of trying to be a leader.”
Anthony’s impact on Friday nights will be sooner than later. His athleticism has already stood out and a one-handed catch he made arguably was Ozark’s top 7-on-7 highlight.
“The pass was kind of overthrown, so I stuck my glove out and snagged it,” Anthony said. “You’ve always got to give effort, whether it's a diving catch or one-handed catch, You've got to go for the ball.”