Cato June is a Super Bowl winner with the Indianapolis Colts and a former NFL Pro Bowler.
He played his college football at the University of Michigan, but his path to athletic excellence began in Washington D.C. at Anacostia High School, where he helped lead them to a league title in the District of Columbia Interscholastic Athletic Association (DCIAA) as a sophomore, and consecutive appearances in the championship game as a junior and senior.
After retiring from football, June caught the coaching bug. He had a stint as the defensive coordinator at Anacostia, his alma mater, before becoming their head coach in 2012. He then became the head coach at C. H. Flowers High School in Prince George’s County in 2015.
This past April, he was named the running backs coach and assistant recruiting director at Howard University.
On September 17, the Howard Bison and the Hampton Pirates will square off at the AT&T Nations Football Classic at RFK Stadium.
Last year was an abysmal season for Howard, as they finished with a 1-10 record. June joins sixth-year head coach Gary Harrell and a stronger class of returning players against a Hampton team that is coming off a 6-5 season.
(Photo Credit: Washington Post)
June’s winning pedigree, professional career and coaching experience make him an invaluable resource for any football organization. Luckily for Howard University, he’s now on their sideline.
The football enmity between Hampton and Howard, which has existed for 108 years, will bring alumni from around the nation to watch the rivalry renewed. For many of them, the teams’ records don’t matter. It’s about tradition.
Last week June appeared on our Shadow League Sports Talk Radio with Mark Gray to discuss the upcoming season, as well as the values he tries to instill in his players.
“I think running backs and linebackers physically have a lot in common,” said June. “It’s really just flipping the script and saying ‘This is a different vantage point.’ I think being a running back comes naturally. Either you can run the football or you can’t. You can’t teach vision and you can’t teach instinct. It’s the same on the other side from a linebacker’s perspective. There’s a lot of similarities when you talk about the two positions. Those guys are one in the same, just doing it from two different vantage points.”
(Photo Credit: Washington Post)
When asked what led him to now working on the sidelines, June said, “A lot of players have a passion, not just for playing but for the game. It ultimately turns into a passion for coaching. A teaching piece comes into play. I really have a passion for giving back to kids and that’s kind of what started the high school (coaching career).”
Howard University has won six Black College Football National Championships throughout their history. But the Bison are coming off their worst season in six years.
“You try not to harp on the negative,” said June, when asked how he plans to motivate players. “Anytime you come into a rebuilding situation, and I’ve done that a couple times in high school, you really want to teach football, as well as the ins and outs of whatever offense or defense you’re trying to utilize.”
“But more so, it’s getting people to realize that championship football has a different mindset,” June continued. “When you think of teams and programs that have a history of winning tradition, in doing things the right way, I think there’s a lot of similarity.”
The AT&T Nation’s Football Classic is a black college football game held annually at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Now in its sixth year, the 2016 game features Howard University against Hampton University and will be played on Saturday, September 17.