LUBBOCK, Texas — Sonny Cumbie has always been the local boy who made it big.
Growing up in Snyder — a stone's throw from Texas Tech — Cumbie knew what it meant to be a Red Raider and more importantly, be a leader.
Now, just six years after leading the Red Raider offense and team to a historic win over Cal in the 2004 Pacific Life Holiday Bowl, Cumbie roams the sidelines as one of the newest assistant coaches in a place he always called home.
"This is home," Cumbie said. "Football has taken me to a lot of places. Of course, here as a student and to Los Angeles with the Arena League team. Seen a lot of places on a bus traveling. But it's good to still be here where it's been home for my wife and I for the last 10 years."
After a four-year stint with the Los Angeles Avengers in the Arena Football League and time as an Indoor Football League head coach and director of player personnel for the San Angelo Stampede, Cumbie returned to the Red Raiders last season as a student-assistant coach on the offensive side.
Then Cumbie was retained as a full-time assistant coach after Tommy Tuberville was introduced as head coach of the Red Raiders in January and will coach the inside receivers.
Cumbie said he's learned a lot of things on the road and in the different leagues — and much more than just the similarities and differences in high-powered passing games.
"There are so many things (in the Arena League) that I learned along the way that are helping me here," he said. "You are kind of limited in so many ways in that league and you have to make do with what you've got.
"Handling people is the number one thing that I learned. You have so many different people with different cultures and different backgrounds coming through and that's really helped me here."
Cumbie is well aware of what it is like to where many different hats in the sports world. He spent several years as a color analyst for the Red Raider Sports radio broadcast team alongside Brian Jensen and John Harris in the booth.
He goes from spending time with plenty of talent in the press box to being in good company on the field, as well. Cumbie inherits a receiving corps along with outside receivers coach Tommy Mainord that is arguably one of the deepest and most-talented groups in the country.
Detron Lewis led the team in receiving yards last season (844) and looks to improve on that in his senior year along with Tramain Swindall, who also looks to return as an inside starting receiver after catching 55 passes for 694 yards and five touchdowns.
"I think with the inside receiving group, it all starts with Detron," Cumbie said. "He had a great spring, great summer and I think that will translate into a great season for him, as well.
"Tramain Swindall is another guy that I think will be pretty solid this season. He had a great fall and up and down spring but got right back to work this summer. Then there's three or four guys that we feel pretty good about after Tramain. Cornelius Douglas is certainly a guy who turned heads this spring and then you have someone that's real consistent like Austin Zouzalik. He is accountable and you know what you're going to get."
Cumbie said it's not just the depth that impresses him but also the great play by all the receivers — outside and inside — on a daily basis.
"I definitely think it's one of the most consistent groups," Cumbie said. "When you have a guy like Alex (Torres) on the outside, he's not ever really flashy about anything but he's a lot better at everything than you think he is, and he's consistent, that's his No. 1 thing."
Cumbie reiterated what Steven Sheffield and others have noticed about Tuberville and the new coaching staff and that's a special attention to the smaller details that sometimes went overlooked in the past.
"(Offensive coordinator Neal) Brown is so organized. That's one of the best things about him," Cumbie said. "He pays attention to all the details and that really filters throughout our whole coaching staff. That really helps our receivers because for a while, it was more about the big picture.
"Now they're understanding why they are doing the things we are asking them to do. When they go out to the field for a practice or a game and they start catching more balls and making more plays, they're going to realize that all that attention to the little details helps add up to those big plays."