"In 17 years of coaching, I've never had the opportunity to be around my family," the Cleveland native said. "My kids are born and raised in Florida, so they've never had an opportunity to be around their grandparents."
That is in the process of being rectified as Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel hired Drayton, formerly the running backs coach and recruiting coordinator at Florida, in late January to as receivers coach.
Speaking to reporters on National Signing Day, Drayton – who once worked in Columbus during summers as a youth – couldn't hide how excited he was to return to the Buckeye State. The family atmosphere has already started for Drayton, who told the media he had been living with his father in Westerville since taking the OSU job.
"I'm a Buckeye by heart," Drayton said. "I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. I used to go to Coach Tressel's camps as a high school football player at Youngstown State. I had always admired his career, always tried to model myself on some of the principles that he holds his program to.
"I followed his career and always had a dream of coming back to Ohio State, I just didn't know when."
Drayton went to college at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania, earning three All-America honors, before starting his coaching career there in 1993. A nomad through the coaching ranks, Drayton coached in Ohio only once – in 2001 when he was the RBs coach and a special teams assistant at Bowling Green.
After spending six of the last seven years in the Southeastern Conference, Drayton had put together a résumé built on solid coaching credentials and excellent recruiting prowess. And with an opening on his staff after Darrell Hazell took the job as head coach at Kent State, Tressel made the hire of Drayton in late January.
"The thing that I've been impressed with is everyone I've talked to talks about what kind of person Coach Drayton is, and that's where it starts," Tressel said. "He's from Ohio. He's excited to be here. He's got family right here. It makes it even more special. Coaches spend a lot of hours (working), and if your family is right nearby, that sure makes it a little bit easier to take care of things. I know he's excited about the transition."
The transition will entail more than acclimating himself to Ohio once again. He'll also have to get used to a full-time job coaching receivers after spending much of his career as a running backs coach.
However, Drayton doesn't feel unprepared for the job. He spent two years as an offensive quality control assistant with the Packers working under longtime NFL coordinator and wideouts coach Ray Sherman, and last year's job with Florida included teaching some elements of receiver play because the Gators' spread offense utilized backs as inside receivers.
"It's going to be a transition," Drayton said, "but I have coached wide receivers at some point in my career with the Green Bay Packers. Ray Sherman has been coaching receivers for about 36 years, so he was a very good mentor and tutor for me.
"Coaching in the spread offense, I had some frustrations as a running backs coach because I was putting (backs) Percy Harvin, Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey out in slot positions, so in the spread offense you have to coach wide receiver play. I have that experience as well."
Tressel said, "He worked with receivers in the pros and he worked with inside receivers throughout his whole career coaching down in the SEC. But now he's going to work with receivers all over the place. I know he looks at that professionally as a heck of an advancement. I think it's all good, and we're excited that he's here."
Ohio State should also reap the benefits of Drayton's recruiting prowess. With his SEC ties, Drayton has contacts throughout that talent-rich area, and he was in charge of Florida's recruiting a season ago as the Gators built one of the top classes in the country before Urban Meyer's shock retirement.
Early enrollee Ryan Shazier, a Florida commit for much of the year before changing his pledge to OSU in December, knew of Drayton's prowess on the recruiting trail both as a Gator verbal and a resident of South Florida.
"I thought he was a great person (when I was a Florida commit)," Shazier said. "He has a great personality and he's a great recruiter. He got a few of my friends from down south to go to Florida. I wish he could have come a little bit earlier and he could have gotten some of those guys to Ohio State, but it's great. He's a great person and I like his personality."
Drayton is the first hire Ohio State has made since adding Taver Johnson as cornerbacks coach when Tim Beckman left following the 2006 season.
"It's just an unbelievable opportunity for me, and I feel so privileged to have this opportunity," Drayton said. "I plan on taking full advantage of it."