Chat with Tim Bowens for a few minutes, and you'll feel like he's the kind of man who takes on a challenge and knows how to handle it.
Just days after accepting his first college football coaching job, Clark Atlanta University's leading Division II, Bowens was asked what the first game would be this fall.
Bowens warned against looking so far forward and used a line he often tells his children.
"How do you eat an elephant?" He asked. "One bite at a time."
The Florence-born and Brooks High graduate was a head coach at Tanner High and worked as a college-level assistant, most recently in the state of Georgia and previously in South Alabama, Samford and the UAB.
41-year-old Bowens is now taking over a Division II program that has not had a winning season in the last decade. He believes he offers the leadership qualities to make the Panthers a factor in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Bowens referred to his time at Tanner and said he always felt he wanted to be a head coach for a college team.
Bowens worked for several years as a trainer for the back or broad side of the recipients, but without hesitation he acknowledged that his lack of experience as a coordinator is sometimes seen as a gap in his CV.
Although Bowens feels comfortable with the football strategy, he is more interested in talking about leadership and teaching.
"I think it's about being a good leader, someone who can motivate and influence," said Bowens. "It's about getting a young man to have a certain belief that he can be the best."
Woody McCorvey and Dabo Swinney are two of Bowen's primary mentors and developed this belief in him when he was an Alabama recipient in the late 1990s.
McCorvey was Alabama's offensive coordinator in 1996 and co-coach in 1997, and Swinney spent Bowen's years in Tuscaloosa training with great receivers.
Of course, Swinney has upgraded Clemson into a national powerhouse, and McCorvey is acting as an administrator for Clemson. Both men told Bowens, after accepting the Clark Atlanta job, how proud they are of him.
Bowens likes to travel to Clemson to see Swinney and the staff perform the program.
"I would always go there and be a sponge," he said.
Bowens takes a lot of notes, but after a recent visit, he had only a page of notes related to games and strategy.
"Everything else was about leadership and people development," he said. "It's not always about the plays."
Bowens will observe the tigers practicing, but also hang around in the football building and even talk to lower-level workers like the assistant.
"There was a true unity in the building," he said.
Bowens recognizes that Clark Atlanta is not Clemson, but he would like to specify the type of program unit he feels there.
He met the Panthers after taking the job and let them know who he is and what he expects of them. Like most new coaches taking on a fighting team, he told them he would do some things differently than the Panthers in the past.
"I actually worked a bit with the team," he said. "They worked hard and are hungry. You can see on film that they are not far away. "
A short drive from Georgia Tech and Georgia State and just blocks from Morehouse, Spelman and the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, it's easy to overshadow Clark Atlanta.
Because of the size and variety of entertainment options in the city, Bowens believes that there is a base of people who want to do a good job for the CAU.
"My door went bad and people are coming to say they want to be involved," he said. "We think there is excitement now that there is a head coach."
The recruitment of Atlanta is a challenge, Bowens said, because so many trainers are aware of the talent. He said that whenever he recruits the city, he meets other coaches who do the same.
He said he has good relationships with high school coaches in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Florida – most of the states of Clark Atlanta, who are not from Georgia, will come – and he is confident that Clark Atlanta is made up of many talented players Georgia gets.
"We do not have to go far," he said.
Bowens divides a football team's calendar into five parts. First, there is the spiritual discipline phase in January and February, which the Panthers have to push as much as possible into spring due to his recent arrival.
Then there is the basic phase of March and April. May stands for rejuvenation, and in the fourth and second sessions, June and July are held.
Finally, there is the "championship" phase when the season starts.
Clark Atlanta is not ready for the championship phase yet. So Bowen's priorities are hiring people and preparing the players for the way they want to prepare them.
"We have a great plan, I think," said Bowens.
Building Clark Atlanta football will be a difficult task. Bowens will not try to eat the whole elephant tomorrow.
"We only bite one blow after the other," he said.