Q&A: Assistant Coach Darrin Chiaverini

RaiderPower.com caught up with Texas Tech special teams coach Darrin Chiaverini to talk spring football and recruiting on the West Coast. Texas Tech hired Chiaverini in January from California JUCO power Riverside C.C. He also coached at UCLA and Mt. San Antonio (CA). Chiaverini caught 97 passes as a receiver at Colorado and played four seasons in the NFL for Cleveland, Dallas and Atlanta.

How has it going for you so far? How has the welcoming been?

Chiaverini: It's going good. The one thing, right when I got here, coach Kingsbury did was make an emphasis with the team on special teams and that everybody was kind of going to have their part in it. So from Day 1 with coach making that statement it has been good. You know we have had some NFL players come through here too. Wes Welker came back through and let them know about special teams, the emphasis of playing special teams and so far I can't complain about the effort. There's some things scheme wise we are still working on in spring football, but effort wise I have been pleased with what they are doing.

You mentioned coach putting the emphasis on special teams. Last season they were sub-par. What can you bring in from your expertise and your experience to really help?

Chiaverini: The one thing I am always big on and you are going to hear me say it over and over is greatness is in the details. That's what I bring to this. It's not overly complicated, but we are sound in what we do. We will be technically sound, fundamentally sound and we are going to work the drills over and over and over. The guy that I learned underneath was one of the best special teams coaches in the country, Frank Ganz, Jr., and his dad was a legend in the NFL.
It comes down to want-to. I am big on that. Do you want to do it? The kids have been really committed to the coaching. I don't ask them to buy in to anything, because I'm not selling nothing. I ask them to commit to the coaching and if you guys do that you'll have a chance to be successful on Saturdays.

Who has stood out on special teams? Anybody specifically?

Chiaverini: Yeah, Micah Awe has been really good. Keenon Ward has been giving great effort. Kenny Williams, there is no question, he's a core guy. I saw what he did last year on film--he's a really, really good football player and not only special teams, but football in general. You know Slugg (Sam Eguavoen) our Mike linebacker has been doing an awesome job--physical. Branden Jackson. You have to look at a guy like B-Jack who is a big defensive end playing guard on punt and he's athletic, showing what he can do.
(Taylor) Symmank has been hitting the ball really well in the scrimmages and punting the ball really well. We have a lot of confidence in him right now. And Bustin is a proven guy, there is no question. He's been through it all through last year.He's been in the big games, he's kicked well, so I have confidence he's going to do a great job this year. Overall, I think we have a great group of core guys and then also bringing in the freshman is going to be really dynamic for us.

That was my next question. How much, and you may not know the answer to this yet, but how much do you feel the freshmen are going to be playing on special teams this year?

Chiaverini: I think in college football today freshmen have to play. I mean just the way the scholarships are, the numbers are and the depth freshmen have to play. It's a little bit different then when I played and you expected to redshirt your first year. I see the freshmen coming in and having a chance to make an impact. Ian Sadler in the return game, Cameron Batson in the return game; those guys are dynamic on film. Some of those young safeties and corners, we're going to see where they fit in. They are going to get a chance from Day 1, that is why we signed them, so I'm looking forward to working with them in fall camp and they are going to be playing on game day as well.

Tech had a long streak of converting extra points and then missed a couple late in the season. And then in the scrimmage Friday night a couple were missed. Is there something specifically wrong or just what is going on?

Chiaverini: That's all timing. Extra points are something that nowadays are seen as routine, you don't see them missed too often and I have all the confidence in the world that Ryan will be fine. We have a new holder as well in (Bradley) Marquez. He's only been working with him for a couple weeks, so I don't see that being a problem going forward.

What went into your decision to come here to Texas Tech, because I talked to a couple of guys who cover college football on the West Coast who were somewhat surprised you took the job, saying you were on a fast track to land a big job out there?

Chiaverini: I had a chance to come out here to meet coach Kingsbury and the staff last summer. I was really impressed with the energy of the staff and I had other chances to go other places being at Riverside; we've had a really good run. But, there was something special about coach Kingsbury and this group of guys. i wanted to be a part of it. I knew I could bring something to it as well from a special teams aspect and a recruiting aspect in terms of junior colleges and high schools on the West Coast.
I always told myself if it felt right and it was a good fit than I would do it, because I had turned some things in the past. When coach Kingsbury called me and interviewed me for the job, I knew this was the place I was supposed to be. I'm excited about the opportunity, I am grateful for the chance and I am going to work hard for it.

So you knew pretty immediately after talking with coach that you were going to take the job?

Chiaverini: I knew after coming out last summer and sitting down with him for 10 minutes. Just his vibe and the way he runs things, is just very... what I wanted to be around, because I have been around both. I have been around programs where it is very strict, almost uncomfortable at times and the vibe that he brings to the players and coaches is great. He lets you do your job and I'm grateful for the opportunity.

You mentioned recruiting earlier, (2014 offensive tackle signee) Dominique (Robertson), obviously you saw him a lot at Riverside. What kind of player is Tech getting in him?

Chiaverini: I am a big believer anytime you can upgrade your roster you're doing something positive. I think Dominique Robertson is going to upgrade our roster. He's not here to take anybody's job, he is here to help us win. Dominique is long, he's athletic, he can play left or right tackle. I think he is someone who is going to bring some energy to our offensive line and he is also going to bring some athleticism. He's going to fit in well with the guys we have. I think you guys are going to like Dominique.

Without getting into specifics, West Coast prospects. When you talk with them, what is their impression of Texas Tech and how familiar are they with Tech?

Chiaverini: You know the bowl game was huge for us, going out there and playing in the Holiday Bowl and having national exposure and having coach Kingsbury on television brought a lot of notoriety. All the kids that I have talked to mentioned that they have watched the bowl game and that's huge. Not only that, but we had a good showing and won the game. I think there is something special going on here and I think those kids, when we talk to them they feel it as well. It's going to be a really good run going forward.

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