Cal offensive coordinator Jake Spavital has been full-speed ahead since well before he arrived in Berkeley

With Cal's spring game set for 11 a.m. on Saturday, we give you an in-depth look at new offensive coordinator Jake Spavital, one of the youngest offensive coordinators in the Power 5 conferences.

Jake Spavital has always been in the fast lane. He’s always been ahead of the curve. He got his first Power Five offensive coordinator job at 28. 

Recently, five-star recruit Najee Harris told BearTerritory about the addition of virtual reality to practices, something he said Spavital “loves.”

“It’s hella futuristic,” Harris said.

Spavital – the head of Cal’s offense at just 30 – follows the path of his father Steve, who became a high school head coach at just 26. Steve Spavital recalls sitting down with Jake and his brother, Zac, the linebackers coach at Texas Tech, and diagramming plays when the two were just boys. “Back then, before we had Power Point, we used to use these little stencils, and we’d draw the circles and stuff, and that’s how we used to do them, and I used to have a whole thing full of stencils, and they would draw them out,” Steve Spavital says. “I would teach them on the line, off the line, all this stuff, and they became really good at it. They would create their own playbooks, and really be creative with what they were doing.”

Jake Spavital is still creative with his offenses. Zac Spavital coached defensive backs at Houston from 2008 to 2014, and last season started on as the linebackers coach for the Red Raiders.

“My kids are a lot sharper than I am,” Steve Spavital laughed.

“You have to establish the run game, just based off of the style of defense that they play [in the SEC]. Over the last couple of years, we’ve gotten creative with unique ways to run the ball in a spread system, adding certain guys into the box and making it a little bit harder on the defense in run fits,” he says. “When it comes down to it, you’ve got to score points. The red zone is an area of the field we’re going to have high importance on, and it’s something that we’re going to critique daily.”

That creativity and youthful enthusiasm is part of what makes Spavital such an effective recruiter. 

“It certainly wasn’t a negative,” head coach Sonny Dykes said when asked about Spavital’s youth. “The thing with us, if you look at the last two hires I’ve made, I’ve hired John Lovett, who’s 140, and I hired Jake, who’s 25, so you just find the right people. That’s the key, is to find the right people. Good coaches identify with players, whether they’re young or old or whatever. I do think that, from talking to everybody, Jake’s got a zest for recruiting. I think that’s what makes someone a good recruiter, is that they enjoy doing it. I think he definitely enjoys doing it. For us to get where we want to go and take that next step as a program, we’ve got to continue to recruit better, and I think we have, every year. That trend has to stay in that direction, and I think he’ll do a good job of that and of identifying kids.” For Cal to get to where it wants to go as a program, the Bears need to go fast. It’s something that former offensive coordinator Tony Franklin wanted to do, but as the offense turned more and more into Jared Goff's show – as he made more and more checks, tagged more and more routes and took more responsibility as the field general – the Bear Raid slowed, but it did get more effective.

In 2013, the first year in the new system, Cal ran 87.2 plays per game, and averaged 5.2 yards per play. In 2014, the Bears ran 81.3 plays per game, and averaged 6.1 yards per play. Last season, Cal ran 76.1 plays per game, and averaged 7.0 yards per play.

"Tony did a great job here, obviously," Spavital said. "He’s been a guy that I’ve been following over the years. I actually spoke at a couple of his clinics. He’s done a great job, and a lot of his concepts are very similar to what we do. I think that was one of the things that I thought was so intriguing about this place, was about how smooth a transition it should be, because all the concepts are very similar to what I’ve done, in the past.” It may be similar to the Bear Raid, but, Dykes said, "“Jake’s going to put his own spin on it.”

The new offense will be nimble enough to adjust to feature certain players, and will adjust to the quarterback. But, first, Spavital has to find that quarterback, so, he's hit the gas pedal this spring, hard.

"We run about 600 plays a day," said redshirt freshman quarterback Ross Bowers. "It's awesome. This is on hyperdrive. With coach Franklin, we would always look to the sideline, act like we were going to snap it, then look to the sideline for the play, and that takes a really long time, and when you have Jared, who's a veteran, he changes a lot of plays, so that takes time. Now, we're just focusing on, 'Let's get the play call in and let's go go go.' Watching all their film, from the past, with Texas A&M, West Virginia and Houston [Spavital's previous stops], half their plays, the defense is all not in a stance. It's snapping it when no one's even ready ... Coach Spav has really put an emphasis on let's go fast, fast, fast."

“You just rep it. There are a lot more reps than we practiced in the past. I’m excited," said quarterback Chase Forrest, part of a now-four-man quarterback competition that includes Bowers, Zach Kline and Max Gilliam. “It's way quicker. More periods where we’re just repping plays. It was cool. It’s this whole different dynamic. There’s literally nothing better than reps ... The big thing, for quarterbacks, is that it’s on us, and we’re signaling, the whole nine yards. We tell everyone what they’re doing, and that’s fun, but at the same time, it’s a challenge. Shoot, you’ve got to make sure you’re on top of it. You can’t mess up the play call. It’s a lot on us, and I think it’s going to be different.”

Start Your Engines

Both Spavital and Dykes are sons of coaches. Dykes's father, the legendary Spike Dykes, helmed Texas Tech from 1987-1999. Spavital's coaching roots go even deeper. His father Steve started at Seminole High School in Oklahoma, then coached at East Tennessee State for two years, then returned to the prep ranks at Edmond (Okla.). His first head coaching came at Sepulpa, when he was 26, and a young father.

“I started in high school, then went to college, but then I got out because I was starting to be like my dad, and, I don’t mean that in a negative way, but it’s just that my dad never saw me play, because he was a professional coach," Steve Spavital said. "When I went to do college, I’m in the office by 6:30, and on a good night, I may be home by 10:30. My kids were in bed when I left, and my kids were in bed when I got home.” Before Spavital was an offensive prodigy, before he and his father and brother sat at home diagramming plays, came the patriarch of the family: Jim Spavital.

Jim was a professional football player who played in the NFL, the All-America Football Conference, and the Canadian Footbal League, and then went on to coach in college (at Oklahoma State for 10 years), the CCFL (with Saskatchewan as an assistant, and then Winnipeg for four years as a head coach) and the World Football League (head coach of the Chicago Fire in 1974).

Despite being a fullback, by trade, Jim wound up as a defensive-minded coach, although it would be hard to see that by his resume, which included a stint as Joe Namath's quarterbacks coach with the New York Jets in 1975, and as an offensive backfield coach for the San Francisco 49ers in 1976.

"His roots were basically defense," said his son Steve. "He was known for his defense. When he comes to the pros and the NFL, he was more of the running back, quarterback coach for San Francisco and for the New York Jets, so he does have that overall scheme, but he was more of a defensive-minded coach.”

Steve grew up in locker rooms, and so did his sons.

“My kids are a lot sharper than I am." -- Steve Spavital

"Ever since I was born, I was in a locker room, or something," Steve said. "That’s the same thing with my boys. That’s when they say they’re coaches’ kids. Mine were. Mine, when they were little, they could see what the other players, just their work habits, the older players, they would work out with the, they could see what shoes they were wearing, what their haircut was.

Jake soaked everything in, and not just the way players dressed or did their hair.

"They were always a step ahead from their own class, because they had those opportunities to be in those locker rooms and stuff," Steve said of his two sons. “It’s really funny, my boys, just being around it, I’ve had coaches say, when they were in college, saying that Zac and Jake, when they first started on the scout team when they were freshmen, they would tell the coaches, ‘This play’s not going to work, because of this, so run this play, because it’s going to work.’

"They understood the game so well, and that’s what makes them good. When they were younger, we would make play books and stuff, and I would teach them football. They just absorbed it, and kept going from there. They were so sharp in the game, even when they were playing in college, that the coaches would actually listen to them and their opinions.”

A Coach's Son

Steve wouldn't let his sons play football until they reached sixth and seventh grade, respectively. "He calls it redshirting," Jake said.

In the seventh grade, the Spavital boys were finally allowed to play, and go full-contact. Steve was always there, watching, making sure they didn't develop any bad habits. Zac went the way of the rest of the family -- defense. Jake thought a little differently. "I ended up being the adopted one in the family, going on the offensive side, but he was the defensive coordinator when I was going through high school," said Jake, who wound up not just on the offensive side of the ball, but as a quarterback. His grandfather, though, was not around to give him the same tips he gave to Namath. He had passed away in 1993 from a heart attack.

"Jake, we call him the orphan, because he’s on the offensive side of the ball," Steve laughed. "It started with my dad. My dad was a defensive-minded coach. He was very tough. He was very focused and very detailed guy. That’s where I basically started my coaching, is from him. Of course, my first son, Zac, he was a defensive player, and he was very intense, very focused, and just a little different type of a guy. Then, Jake came along, and he was that laid back, but a very physical young man. He’s very tough. He was just a more laid back little cookie than the rest of us, so he basically took the other side. My philosophy, and my other son’s, basically came from my father.”

"I ended up wanting to be a coach so bad, because when you’re a coach’s kid, you want to be like your father." -- Jake Spavital

After three shoulder surgeries, being a quarterback at a high level was a dream that just evaporated for Spavital. But, because he'd had such a keen eye for offense, the coaches kept him close. It didn't hurt that he brushed off an old skill set, too. Much like Jared Goff last season, there were quarterback punting packages for the quarterback at Tulsa (Okla.) Union. While he was making his way towards being a consensus first-team all-state quarterback, he was working on his kicks, as well as his arm.

"I just wanted to be able to travel," he said. "They’re not going to travel a guy that’s had three shoulder surgeries. I got it where I could be a punter ... I worked my way into it, and I got enough reps where I was OK at it. I wouldn’t say I was very good, but enough to be a solid backup. They asked for a holder, and I was like, ‘I’ll do it,’ and became the holder, just so I could be a part of it. It’s I-AA ball, so you travel, and you’re playing in front of maybe five people to 10,000 people. I’m just a coach’s kid.”

Instead of getting a medical redshirt or a medical retirement before his senior year, he served as the backup punter, but Spavital also played a part on offense, though not in the way he'd planned.

“After the shoulder surgery, the coaches relied on me to help with quarterbacks and talk with them, and be another set of eyes in the game," Jake Spavital said. "I think, from there, it kind of took off.”

He would signal in plays, he wore a headset, and, he said, "coaching, in a way." Being a coach's kid, all he wanted to do was be a part of the team, to be around football.

“He was a coach’s kid, and I was a coach’s kid, obviously, and my dad told me to get into a different profession," Jake Spavital said of Dykes. "I ended up wanting to be a coach so bad, because when you’re a coach’s kid, you want to be like your father ... You grow up around a locker room your whole life, and you grow up wanting to be like your father. What else do you do? It’s a fun profession, but you’ve got to be able to pack your stuff up and move.”

Rising Through the Ranks

Moving is just what Jake Spavital did. It's what his father didn't want to do anymore. It's why his father, Steve, decided, in 2013, to settle into a semi-retirement as an athletic director of Broken Arrow (Okla.) High School. He's now been there for eight years, as head football coach and assistant athletic director. “I wanted to see my kids, and grandkids," Steve said. "Coaching just really took my time on the weekends, and I was never able to see my kids really play, and do things, and I just got to the point where I don’t want to be like my dad, and I don’t mean anything negative about that, but I want to be able to see these kids succeed and coach and be a part of their lives."

It was the traveling that introduced Jake to his new wife Meghan (neé Morris). The two met while Spavital was the quarterbacks coach at Virginia, and Meghan was a highly-decorated gymnast for the Mountaineers.

“She’s from West Virginia, so she’s fired up to go anywhere," Spavital said.

Before the two met, though, Spavital had some moving to do. His first shot was as an offensive quality control coach at Tulsa, in 2008.

“When you leave college, I had all this furniture that was accumulated over the years, and you cut it in half when you move, and when you move again, you have about 25 percent of it, so finally, I’ve been living out of a suitcase forever," he laughed.

At Tulsa is where he met Gus Malzahn. It's where he first learned about the spread. It's where he went to his first bowl game -- the GMAC Bowl. "We had some pretty good success with Gus, and Gus ended up becoming the offensive coordinator at Auburn," Spavital said. "I had an opportunity to go – my brother was like, ‘You’ve got to come work for these guys, Dana Holgorsen and Kliff Kingsbury. I think what they do offensively is really good,’ so I took the older brother advice, and I came down there and he was like, ‘I put my name on you. You’d better bust your ass for these guys,’ and that’s what I did."

Though Spavital said that he's studied his predecessor at Cal -- Franklin -- and his Tony Franklin System, it was Holgorsen, Kevin Sumlin and Kingsbury who he hitched his wagon to, first as a graduate assistant on offense with the Cougars in 2009, and they pulled him along, as fast as he wanted. Houston went 10-4 and led the nation in total offense (563.4 ypg), passing offense (433.7 ypg) and scoring offense (42.2 ppg).

"When you get an opportunity, you’d better hit it running, and you’d better take advantage of it." -- Jake Spavital

“I’ve been fortunate," he said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to be around some pretty good players and some really good coaches, with Kliff Kingsbury and Dana Holgorsen and Kevin Sumlin and Gus Malzahn and Todd Graham, there’s been a lot of guys that have had a lot of success in this profession, and I was just there at the right time. When you get an opportunity, you’d better hit it running, and you’d better take advantage of it, and that’s the advice I’ve gotten from all of them. I’ve been fortunate enough to be around a lot of good people.”

Whatever Holgorsen and Kingsbury wanted or needed, Spavital was always there. He did more than his fair share of the work, and eventually, he crept into the running backs meetings, then receivers, and then the quarterbacks. "I gradually got into the quarterback room where I could start messing with the quarterbacks," Spavital said. "We had success, and we kept moving, which put more responsibility on me, to the point where I was most comfortable with his system.”

During his season in Houston, he coached future NFL quarterback Case Keenum. By the time Spavital was done with him, Keenum was the all-time leader in college football history in passing yards (19,217) and passing touchdowns (155). He signed with the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent in 2013 and is now a member of the Los Angeles Rams.

In 2010, when Holgorsen went to Oklahoma State, he brought Spavital with him, as his graduate assistant on offense.

The Cowboys, under head coach Mike Gundy, ranked second nationally in passing offense (387.2 ypg) and scoring offense (48.7 ppg) as well as third in total offense (545.9 ypg). Oklahoma State also led the country in red zone efficiency by scoring on 95 percent of its red zone trips. The Cowboys went 11-2.

While with Oklahoma State, Spavital coached a quarterback -- Brandon Weeden -- who was actually older than him, thanks to Weeden's four years in minor league baseball.

“Weeden was awesome. The thing was, he was a professional," Spavital said. "He’d spent all this time playing Major League Baseball, so he knew how it worked. The thing about mature kids, and the good ones, is that they’re constantly trying to get better. If you can help them get better, and their end goal is to play in the NFL, so they’re going to listen and take coaching, take criticism. The way I coach quarterbacks, I’m very laid-back with them, because they have so much pressure on them, and to me, it’s more about working through it together, because everybody’s different. Everybody handles situations differently, and I think the better relationship you have, if they have that respect, if they’re going to give me respect, then I’m going to give them respect, as well. It works both ways.” After the stop in Stillwater, Holgorsen and Spavital moved on to West Virginia, where Holgorsen earned his first head coaching gig in 2011. Spavital became the quarterbacks coach.

Holgorsen had served under Hal Mumme and Mike Leach, just like Dykes. That was eventually what led Dykes to Spavital.

“Basically, it’s the Texas Tech fraternity, there," Steve Spavital said. "He knows Jake because of his Texas Tech background. We call it Dana Ball, because he’s learned more from Dana Holgerson. We call it Dana Ball, and of course, Kliff is like his best friend. It’s just in that fraternity, and I think that’s what coach Dykes wanted to get back to, the old school way – and I say that with a young coach -- of running an offense, the way that Leach and all those guys used to basically do it.”

The old defensive coach's son -- and grandson -- began to learn about the future, and he liked it. He wanted more. While Mumme and Leach were all about passing the ball 60, 70 times a game, Spavital saw the potential in adding a dynamic run game to the spread. He learned that from Holgorsen. Kingsbury splintered off and took over as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Texas A&M in 2012, before heading to Texas Tech in 2013 to take over as the head coach. Spavital stayed with Holgorsen, and learned to run.

“That’s Dana Ball. Jake’s the same way," Steve Spavital said. "He loves to run the football, too. Kliff is more, ‘I’m going to throw it first, and I may run if I have to.’ Dana is, ‘We’re going to run, until you force me to throw.’ That’s more of Jake. Jake’s more of the Dana Ball.”

Climbing the Mountain As the full-fledged quarterbacks coach at West Virginia, Spavital came on with an under-utilized talent: Geno Smith. In his career, Spavital has coached Keenum, Weeden, Smith and Johnny Manziel -- four different quarterbacks with different strengths and weaknesses, but Smith presented an interesting challenge. He was already a very solid passer, but he needed some refinement.

"From Johnny to Geno Smith to Case Keenum to Brandon Weeden, they’re all four different guys, four different talents, some had real quick releases, some could run very well, some had unbelievable arm strength, so you just kind of play to their advantage, what they can do well," Spavital said.

Spavital was the quarterbacks coach for Smith's final two seasons at West Virginia. Smith finished hi career with 11,662 passing yards and 98 touchdowns, with a national-best 42 TD strikes in 2012, and 31 in 2011. Of Smith's career yards, 8,590 came while he was being coached by Spavital. His yards per attempt jumped from 7.9 pre-Spavital to 8.9 and then 9.2 as a junior and a senior. His completion percentage also jumped, from 64.8 as a sophomore starter, to 65.8 as a junior and 71.2 as a senior.

“What makes the good quarterbacks, and the good players, is that they know their limitations," Spavital said. "As coaches, you know their limitations, too. You put them in good positions to have success, in the offseason, and the time that you can try to develop the other side of their game, and you try to make them a complete package, but when you get thrown into the fire, you’ve got to go and call things that they’re comfortable doing.”

After his work with Smith, Spavital became a hot commodity, and in short order, his old head coach, Sumlin, after losing offensive coordinator Kingsbury to his own head coaching gig across the state at Texas Tech, went looking for a replacement. Spavital's next pupil would be one who'd already been to the top of the mountain -- Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. Manziel had taken home the coveted prize in 2012, and despite being at West Virginia at the time, Spavital had sat in on a practice with the Aggies, and Kingsbury.

"When Kliff Kingsbury picked Johnny Manziel, I went out there and watched a spring practice, when I was at West Virginia and came in to Texas A&M, and I thought the other kid was going to win it, based off of one practice. His name was Jamile Chowers," Spavital remembered. "Kliff was like, ‘I’m telling you, when you put him in live situations, the kid just plays.’ He thought Johnny was a winner. He based the offense around him, no what he could do successfully, and then, the rest is history. He ended up winning the Heisman."

So what did newly-minted co-offensive coordinator Jake Spavital do with Manziel? He made him better. His yards per attempt passing jumped from 8.5 to 9.6. His passing yards took a huge leap from 3,706 to 4,114 -- that's the equivalent of another whole game -- and his completion percentage went from 68.0% to 69.9%. All told, Manziel's quarterback ranking went up from 155.3 to 172.9, and he wound up a first-round draft pick by the Cleveland Browns.

Not a bad opening act for Spavital as a co-offensive coordinator. In 2014, he was given the position outright, and a big hole back of center. He's facing the same thing in Berkeley, this season, with the departure of potential first-overall pick Goff.

He brought in five-star quarterback Kyle Allen to compete with Kenny Hill, a 2013 signee, and a consensus four-star.

“Two years ago at Texas A&M, we had an open quarterback competition with Kenny Hill and Kyle Allen, and it’s something that you give every kid an opportunity to compete," he said. "At the end of the day it’ll be a group decision on the best guy who will put us in position to win.” Here's where Spavital's story, for the first time, becomes anything less than crystal clear. In 2014, the Aggies went 8-5, but 3-5 in their first year in the SEC. While he continued to pull in stars on the recruiting trail -- adding five-star quarterback Kyler Murray on May 28, 2014 -- Texas A&M struggled.

While Hill broke Manziel's single-game passing yard record with 511 in the opener against No. 9 South Carolina, and the Aggies started 5-0, they dropped three straight against No. 12 Mississippi State, No. 3 Ole Miss and No. 7 Alabama, and after a too-close 21-16 win over Louisiana-Monroe and a 41-38 win over then-No. 3 Auburn, they ended up losing their last two regular season games to unranked Missouri and LSU.

2015 was equally mediocre, by Texas A&M standards, as the starting quarterback shuffled between Murray and Allen. The Aggies again went 8-5, and again lost the final two games of the season to unranked opponents. Sumlin, it was said, failed to manage expectations of his two ace quarterbacks. Spavital -- the fourth youngest offensive coordinator in the Power Five (behind Thomas Brown at Miami, Sean Lewis of Syracuse and Eric Morris of Texas Tech) -- was coaching with demoted former OC/running backs coach Clarence McKinney and former FBS head coach-turned-offensive line coach Dave Christensen. It was a difficult situation.

Neither quarterback -- each  top-five gun coming out of high school -- completed  over 60% of their passes, and posting a combined TD-to-INT ratio of 22 to 14, both Allen and Murray decided to transfer in the span of two weeks. Sumlin, according to reports, was the main culprit, with trust issues percolating between both quarterbacks and the coaching staff.

“They love Jake, and they still communicate with each other," Steve said of the two quarterback transfers. Heads needed to roll in Aggieland, where two consecutive 8-5 finishes were untenable. So, Spavital and A&M parted ways.

"Coach Sumlin and him are still great friends," Steve Spavital said. "It’s part of the business. Jake was the fall guy, which is OK. That’s part of the business."

Head West, Young Man

With four quarterbacks he's coached having started games in the NFL, it was no wonder that the pro ranks came calling for Spavital after his departure from College Station. In the NFL, where positions can be created, there were several spots that were being carved out for Spavital, sources say.

“There was a lot of them," Spavital confirmed. "There really was, just because of the situation I was in. The thing about the NFL is that they can make positions for you.”

He was certainly interested.

“I looked at it as a way where I wanted to be challenged as a person," said Spavital. "I either wanted to call it, or I wanted to go learn something different, that I’d never learned before, and the NFL was the most intriguing thing to me. Once you go through the whole process of interviewing with NFL teams, you realize how hard it is to actually get into that league. It’s such a small fraternity of people. I just wanted to challenge myself as a person and as a coach, to see if I could learn a different way of doing things.” Destiny is equal parts chemistry and timing, and thanks to Spavital's spread and Air Raid connections, the chemistry part of the equation was a cinch. With Franklin deciding to leave to coach closer to his daughters and grandchildren, the timing element fell into place.

Franklin and Dykes has discussions “on and off for a year” about Franklin leaving.

“Jake’s name was a name that popped into my head in the very beginning," Dykes said. "We’d never worked together, but we’d worked with so many people, the two of us have, through the years, people that I know well and respect.”

In 1997, Dykes coached at Kentucky as a graduate assistant and a tight ends coach under Mumme, and after a year at Northeast Louisiana, Dykes went back to Kentucky coach special teams and receivers.

Dykes had coached with Holgorsen from 2000-06 at Texas Tech, where Kingsbury played from 1998-2002. He called on all of those connections while doing his homework. “I basically talked to everybody that Jake had ever worked for and worked with and got the same from everybody: Good guy, high-energy coach, really good quarterback coach, excellent play caller, guy that knows how to win," Dykes said. “You go back to 1997, me as an assistant coach and learning this offense, the key to our success, all the guys that split off, we work with like-minded people, and so we’re not trying to be all-star coaches. There’s not any competition in the room about who knows the most football and who’s the smartest guy. We’re all raised in the same school of thought. Everybody’s kind of done their own thing.”

When Franklin did resign, within 15 minutes, Dykes was on the phone with Spavital.

“It’s the worst-kept secret in football," Dykes said upon hiring Spavital. “I called about 10 guys that I know and respect, and asked, ‘If you could hire anybody, who’d you hire?’ Every one of them told me, ‘Jake.’ Dana wasn’t the only one. It was a bunch of guys I’ve worked with through the years. Kevin was great. I called Kevin Sumlin, talked to Kevin about it, and Kevin gave him a big endorsement. We’d been in the same circles. I’m a little kind of out of touch, old and boring, but we’ve moved around with the same people.”

Now, the coach who runs a hyperdrive offense, who utilizes virtual reality, is in the middle of the tech cradle that is the Bay Area, and he's a perfect fit. After, he said, going 0-for-20 finding a place to live, he and his wife finally did find a spot in Orinda. Real estate in the Bay Area is a little tougher to come by than on the plains of College Station. "They’re so hard to get, and I found a place, agreed to it, and was like, ‘Let’s take it!’" Spavital said. "I was thinking I may not get a spot, the way it’s going.”

“He’s so excited. I haven’t seen him this excited in a long time," his father said. “Not only working with a great institute, but working with coach Dykes, he’s so excited about that. He’s an amazing coach, and people would die to be able to work for him.”

With the finale of spring ball on the horizon -- at 11 a.m. at Memorial Stadium on Saturday -- and the quarterback competition not anywhere near over, with the potential transfer of former Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb still looming, the man who has the task of replacing Jared Goff is smiling, because he knows he can find the next big thing. He's always been an innovator, after all.

“I know. I think it’s kind of fun, though," he said. "It was like I told the team, I think this is great for everybody, in terms of, you’ve got a clean slate. Everybody starts all over. I don’t have any opinions of what may have happened in the past, so it’s a fresh start for anybody.”

“He’s fired up to get coaching and build back a reputation that was ruined a little bit when he was at A&M," Steve said of his son. "He loves coach Dykes. He’s going to do everything he can to get this offense going.”

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