Devon Gales

Devon Gales (bottom) will be be honored before at Tiger Stadium Saturday before kickoff between LSU and Georgia. The former Southern University wide receiver suffered a spine injury in 2015 against Georgia, which has since embraced him and his family. His family in order, from left to right: father, Donny; sister, Teah; brother, Dalen; mother, Tanisha.

Devon Gales is thinking of buying a wig.

He wants to feel as much like Denzel Washington's character in the blockbuster movie "Remember the Titans," T.C. Williams High football coach Herman Boone, as possible.

Gales even wants a hat like coach Boone's, so he can throw it down whenever he gets angry.

The former Southern University player is returning to football, nearly four years after he suffered a devastating hit during a 2015 game at the University of Georgia that paralyzed him from the neck down.

Gales, 25, is going to be an assistant coach at Jefferson High in Jefferson, Georgia, where he will help coach wide receivers and special teams 20 miles away from the stadium where his injury happened.

The Baton Rouge native was formally introduced as a new coach a few weeks ago at a Jefferson High assembly, where coaches handed Gales some Jefferson Dragons gear in front of a student crowd that gave him a standing ovation.

"I'm ready to be a coach," Gales said in a phone interview with The Advocate on Tuesday. "To be able to inspire kids and just give them something to live for. Basically to help them. Use my life experience and be a blessing to another student, another child."

Gales' return to football is the latest chapter in an inspirational story that began after his injury, which occurred when he collided with a Georgia player while Southern was returning a kickoff.

Gales became part of the Georgia community.

University officials helped enroll Gales into a rehabilitation program at the Shepherd Center, where most of his family now lives. His recovery has been gradual: he can now climb into and out of a car.

Two years ago, Marshall Morgan, the kicker with whom Gales collided, invited Gales to his wedding. Morgan's wife gave to their first child on Saturday, and they've asked Gales to be their son's godfather.

When LSU hosted Georgia last October, Gales and the sports medicine staffs that assisted him were honored before kickoff at Tiger Stadium — where Gales attends an annual emergency-care seminar every summer.

A University of Georgia campaign to build the Gales family a new disability-accessible home raised more than $250,000, and Bulldogs football coach Kirby Smart and his wife, Mary Beth, donated $10,000 from their family foundation.

Ground broke on the home last August on a one-acre plot near Jefferson, which was donated by former Georgia linebacker Whit Marshall, and the home is expected to be completed in June.

Gales' pathway back to football began at that ceremonial groundbreaking. A Georgia alum invited his friend, Jefferson High football coach Gene Cathcart, telling him how Gales had talked about how much he missed the game.

Cathcart brought Gales a Dragons hat and some other sports apparel and said: "When you get moved up here, we'd like you to be involved. Come to whatever you want to come to."

"Sounds like you're offering me a job," Gales said.

Cathcart laughed.

"Yeah, I guess we are," Cathcart said.

"I'll take it," Gales said.

The details were sorted out over the months that followed, and Cathcart said Gales will start coaching with the team when the Dragons begin spring practice in May.

"He's got an incredible mission field," Cathcart said. "Our kids are excited. He's a living testimony to positivity."

Gales' family has all moved from Baton Rouge to Georgia. His mother, Tanisha, moved first with his brother Dalen, 14, and sister Teah, 10, and in January, his father, Donny, was able to get a work transfer to join the family.

Tanisha takes Gales to his rehab program, and she said she will be taking Gales to Jefferson High until a personal care worker will be trained enough to help out.

"It'll help get him back to being as independent as possible," Tanisha said. "It's just been exciting for us. He's getting back to his lifestyle."

Gales said he's already set up his Hudl account — an online program in which high school coaches across the nation upload game film — and spent nearly all of Monday night studying the returning players on Jefferson's roster.

Gales said the Jefferson coaching staff is going to set up a meeting in a few weeks, where he'll get to meet the players and their parents.

He isn't really quite sure what his first actions as assistant coach will be that day.

"I really don't know yet," Gales said. "I guess I'll just tell the parents and players that I'm here; I'm the coach. I'm going to be here for your student, and I'm there if they ever need to talk."