NEW YORK – Three excelling football coaches from the Sunshine State are among the 32 nominees for the 2023 Don Shula High School Coach of the Year Award with each of Florida’s three NFL franchises – the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Miami Dolphins, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers making their respective nominations.
Representing the best in coaching at the high school level, Claybo Varnum from Durant (Plant City), Daryle Heidelberg from Miami Norland, and Brian Braddock from St. Augustine were nominated among the plethora of coaches that could have been nominated for the prestigious award.
The award which is named after after Pro Football Hall of Famer Don Shula, the winningest coach in NFL history each of the coaches selected were judged based on areas in which Coach Shula excelled most during his career – character, integrity, leadership, dedication to the community, commitment to player health and safety and on-field success.
“It is exciting to celebrate the nominees from each NFL club; all 32 represent the integrity, commitment and character of Coach Don Shula,” said Roman Oben, vice president of football development for the NFL. “High school football coaches help mold the lives of young high school players both on and off the field. They serve as leaders and role models, and this group represents the very best every year.”
The NFL will recognize one winner from the region near an NFL Club in each conference, AFC and NFC. These two winners will be invited to the 2024 Pro Bowl Games in Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 4 and will be recognized in special ways during the NFL’s week-long celebration of football. Throughout the week, coaches will receive VIP access and accommodations to attend the Pro Bowl Games practices for both conferences, on-field access on Sunday for the culmination of the Pro Bowl Games, and a chance to interact and engage with various members of the football community.
The NFL Foundation and Nike have teamed up to provide the two winners a $15,000 award for their high school football programs and a $10,000 cash award. The other 30 club nominees will all receive a $1,000 cash award. The two winners will also attend Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas as special guests of the NFL. The Don Shula Award winners will be announced in the week prior to the 2024 Pro Bowl Games, televised on Sunday, Feb. 4, from 3-6 p.m. ET on ESPN, ABC, Disney XD, ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes. The winners will also be recognized and walk the red carpet at NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special to air nationally on Thursday, Feb. 8, at 9 p.m. ET on CBS.
ABOUT THE NOMINEES
CLAYBO VARNUM, DURANT (PLANT CITY)
Varnum, who just completed his third season as the head coach at Durant, is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers nominee for the 2023 Don Shula High School Coach of the Year Award.
Leading the Cougars to the second consecutive district championship in 2023, Durant finished the season with a 9-3 overall record.
In the three years as a head coach, Varnum is 25-9 overall as a head coach in his three seasons.
DARYLE HEIDELBERG, MIAMI NORLAND
Heidelberg who just finished his 17 season as the head coach for the Vikings, is the Miami Dolphins nominee for the 2023 Don Shula High School Coach of the Year Award.
In 2023, Heidelberg led the Vikings to their first state championship game appearance since winning the Class 5A state championship in 2011. In the Class 2M state championship, the Vikings fell short of the state championship, falling to Berkeley Prep (Tampa) 28-20.
Heidelberg is 115-78 as a head coach which was capped off with a 14-1 overall record in 2023. Heidelberg is also an alum of Miami Norland.
BRIAN BRADDOCK, ST. AUGUSTINE
In his 11th season as a head football coach and his eighth season as the head coach at St. Augustine, Braddock will represent the Jacksonville Jaguars as their nominee for the 2023 Don Shula High School Coach of the Year Award.
The Yellow Jackets, who finished the 2023 season with a 13-1 overall record, saw Braddock help guide the team to their first state championship appearance since 2007. St. Augustine lost in a heart-breaker of a finish in the Class 3S state championship game in a 21-19 loss to Mainland (Daytona Beach).
Braddock is 90-35 overall as a head coach between his time at St. Augustine and Mandarin (Jacksonville).
We teamed up with @ActionSportsJax and @Whataburger to present the Whataburger High School Coach of the Year, recognizing Brian Braddock of St. Augustine High School for his achievements during the 2023 season! pic.twitter.com/1Df9vmkbE6
— Jacksonville Jaguars (@Jaguars) December 28, 2023
EDITOR’S NOTE: Information from a press release from the NFL was used in this story.