A year ago this week, Jon Montgomery and his family were making a trip from their home in Ruston, La., to Oklahoma City to visit family and friends.
During their stay, Montgomery wanted to find a place where his son could lift weights. Mildren Montgomery was slated to be the starting left tackle at Ruston High School for his upcoming junior year, and he wanted to keep up his workout regimen.
So Jon called an old friend — Douglass coach Willis Alexander, who gladly opened his weight room.
But when the Montgomerys met up with Alexander, Jon felt something stronger at work.
“I call it my ‘ears from heaven,' and they were going off — ding, ding, ding, ding!” Jon said. “Ruston was a good school, a 5A football program, but I wasn't sure Mildren was getting everything he needed to accomplish his dream of playing Division I football.
“After we talked to Willis that day, I felt like Douglass was the place where Mildren needed to be. I told my wife, Andrea, that day that we needed to step out on faith and do what we needed to do to give him the best chance to reach that dream.”
A couple weeks later, Jon and Mildren were living in Oklahoma City, with Andrea to join them later.
Jon was never afraid of moving. A longtime college football coach, he held jobs at places such as Cincinnati and Grambling and a dozen other schools, and his family moved all over the country with him.
One of those jobs was as an assistant at Langston University in the 1980s. One of his players there? Willis Alexander.
Now, Jon is out of coaching, so he can sit back and watch one of his former pupils prepare his son for Division I football.
“At one point, Willis told me, ‘I want to do for your boy what you did for me,'” Jon said. “We just praise God and thank God for putting us in this situation.”
At 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds with an 84-inch wingspan, Mildren Montgomery has been widely recruited and verbally committed to Texas Tech in June.
After attending three schools the last three years, Mildren is glad to be back at the same place for his senior season.
“Douglass, by far, is the happiest I've been at a school,” he said. “I enjoy it, with my friends here and the coaching staff here. A lot of my family is here. I really love it.”
Long and athletic, Mildren has the talent to play other positions, like tight end or defensive end. But he was built to be a left tackle.
“I was sitting in my dad's O-line meetings since I was old enough to crawl into a chair,” Mildren said. “He always kept me right there with him, always told me I had a body made for left tackle. I've always dreamed for myself to be the next great left tackle in college football, or maybe one day, even in the NFL.
“But my dad always tells me you've just got to keep your head in the foxhole and keep digging, so that's what I'm doing.”