Taylor Mazzone talks about his new job:
Q: here with Taylor Mazzone, the newest addition to the UCLA staff. So just… talk about your excitement level kind of getting your first real college coaching job.
TM: you know I was trying to be patient the past 3 years being a G.A., but never ever thought that UCLA would ever be my first job. Getting the call from Coach [Jim] Mora, the week before New Year's and to hear it, and to tell him that I have the opportunity to be a coach with my dad on the same staff with Jim Mora? I was so excited. It was a great opportunity for me to start my career with UCLA.
Q: so talk me through like how it came about. So it's before New Year's? What were you doing?
TM: yeah, I think it was around New Year's. I was with my mom actually. We were actually grocery shopping for a house party, and he gave me a call and was like, "hey Taylor, one of our guys on the staff might be taking another job, stay close to your cell phone." So, "alright, Coach." I had no idea what that meant or anything. I called my dad, and he doesn't really know anything as well either.
Q: could be your dad for all you know.
TM: exactly. He's keeping it quiet. And sure enough, late that night, Coach Mora called me, because I'm in North Carolina at the time, late at night he calls me and he was like, "what if I gave you an opportunity to work on our staff as one of our coaches on offense?" And I just jumped right to it. And he said, "You can have the job. Here's your opportunity." And I took it. And then he said, "Call Thomas Duarte." So just like that.
Q: I mean, that's got to be kind of a quick transition for you. I mean, going from buying stuff for a party and then all of a sudden, you're calling a top-level recruit to get him to come to UCLA.
TM: yeah, it was, I mean… being around… I've been around college football since all my life because of my father. And I know the responsibilities, and I know the procedures of what happens throughout the year as a coach. So I was aware of it, and I knew what was my responsibilities. And I enjoy making phone calls to great athletes so I gave him a call.
Q: I mean, obviously, you're a quarterback or an ex-quarterback and you've worked with quarterbacks a lot. Talk about… do you kind of use some of that knowledge or are you planning on using some of that knowledge when you're coaching the Y's this year? Y's and F's.
TM: Y's and F's, exactly. It all fits in. It's great that I started from the quarterback position because I know timing and I know what the plan is for the quarterback. I know what he's looking for and where you need to be at this moment because his eyes are in that direction. So it always gives me a better knowledge to spread to those guys in our meeting rooms what the quarterback's thinking to allow you to get to that position.
Q: and in terms of… obviously, your knowledge of the position and that sort of thing, you've obviously worked with receivers a lot as a quarterback. Is this a lot of getting prepared for kind of doing a new role? What do you have to do over the next couple of months to get prepared for it?
TM: it's pretty easy. Working with Eric Yarber [Wide Receivers Coach], probably one of the best wide receivers coaches in the country. I just could walk 2 strides and I'm in his office and I can ask him, "What do I do with this situation? Against this coverage? If he's aligned outside. Or inside. What drill should I do?" And Coach Yarber… he's right there, so helpful. The knowledge that man has, it's unbelievable. So I'm very lucky to have a guy like Coach Yarber be on my staff.
Q: obviously, the help in the room. Your dad's on staff as well. How much of a help is that, having that guy being the overseer of everything you're doing?
TM: it's good.
Q: good and bad?
TM: good and bad? Yeah, today we did some installs and I tried to add another pass concept for day #2 and he didn't want it. Father and son moment there. But I always stay in my place. I know he's the head man for the offense. And it's awesome for father-son bonding. His mental aspect of the game is like mine. It compares a lot to us. So it's cool that we think the same way in a lot of ways.
Q: what was your conversation with him like after you talked to Coach Mora and he offered you the job? did you call your dad pretty soon after that?
TM: my dad doesn't show too much of happiness for me in some ways. I mean, he gets happy but he won't talk about it. If it's a good thing, he won't say much. I could tell there was some disbelief because here I am… because we were looking for other jobs for me outside of UCLA and he was feeling a little sad that I might leave him. For the past 3 years we've been working together. And for Coach Mora to give us this opportunity for both Mazzones to work on the same staff and hopefully have a great future throughout our career here at UCLA so he was fired up.
Q: obviously, it's a big family affair for you guys now. I mean, it's you, your brother's on the team. I mean, how does it feel to kind of have that kind of family atmosphere when you come into work?
TM: it's awesome. I mean, we were doing our installs today and my brother walked in and it's me, my dad, and my brother hanging out in the staff room. It's just awesome. Football's a part of our lives. Football's given back to us by allowing us to work together at the same university, especially at UCLA which is a blessing.
Q: last year, you kind of moved around a lot. You were doing a lot of different stuff as a GA. Are you still going to be able to do a little bit of work with the quarterbacks or is it going to primarily focused on the inside receivers this year?
TM: you know right now it looks like I'll be looking at mostly inside receivers. Pretty much the same role as a communicator on the sideline with the hand signals. But I think, with Brett Hundley, being so close to him for the past year, I'm still going to work with him as well.
Q: sure. Obviously, this past offseason, I think you worked with Matt Barkley this past offseason? How did that go?
TM: it was good. It was funny. You know, coming from UCLA and him being a USC Trojan, it was at first, you know, I didn't know how to take it but he opened his arms and the one thing on his mind is being the top quarterback in the draft. And it was awesome to work with him. To get the opportunity. Incredible human being. Great person. Great quarterback. And I hope the draft goes perfect for him.
Q: how does it make you feel to know that, you know, even at your relatively young age, these kind of respected young quarterbacks are coming to you for kind of advice and tutelage and that sort of thing?
TM: you know, I would say the first year ever doing it was with Tim Tebow.
TM: and just telling myself that the first guy I worked with was Tim Tebow. It helps a lot. What came with working with him and being in that atmosphere and being around him, I learned so much. At the end of the day, these guys want to get better. They don't care who you are. If you know what you're talking about, they want that and they want to learn from you.
Q: obviously, there's a lot of adjustments that come from going from GA to a full-time coach, but one of the biggest ones is recruiting because, you know, as a GA, you might talk to recruits, but you're not going off-campus and that sort of thing. I mean, what was the biggest deal for you, and obviously, it's on-going now with [audio difficulties] kids but what's been the biggest adjustment for you, recruiting-wise?
TM: being the GA, you're usually the middleman between groups. And now, being the guy… you're the one who's going into living rooms. You're the one getting on the airplane and flying to go see him. You're the more first-person guy with the guy. That's when I started learning the traveling part. You know, I've taken red-eyes from here to Florida to go see Asiantii Woulard and that's when it opened my eyes of what the times and what effort you have to put in to see these guys. Really just learning on the road what it takes to talk to high school coaches and all that.
Q: who did you… did you take a trip with one of the other coaches first to kind of learn the ropes a little bit? Or did they kind of cast you off by yourself?
TM: the first one was Asiantii Woulard out there in Florida. That was the first trip I took out there.
Q: was that by yourself?
TM: that was by myself.
Q: wow. So that's a big deal. That's the quarterback you need to bring in this year. How did it feel, kind of having to control that trip yourself?
TM: it was good. My dad was… I thought he'd be more of a help. He really just said, "get on an airplane and go." I mean, it didn't take much.
Q: sink or swim?
TM: yeah, exactly. I did forget where my rental car was in the morning where I was parked. It took me about an hour and a half to find it. But it was a great adventure, and I feel like I'm one of those guys that likes to learn from their mistakes so it was one of those trips I went out there on my own to figure out how to really do it. It worked out perfect.
Q: in terms of recruiting, obviously you sealed the deal with Thomas Duarte. But I mean, who else were you kind of working on? Asiantii Woulard, Thomas Duarte. Was anybody else in this recruiting class that you got on?
TM: not really. I mean, obviously Marques Tuiasosopo was throughout the year was working with Thomas Duarte. Did an incredible job with him. It was more of an alley-oop. Marques sold UCLA so much to him. And then for me to take his position, he knew me from the Junior Day the year before and felt comfortable being here. Because that's one thing, to be comfortable and what coaching atmosphere you're going to be in. And that was easy. And then Asiantii was only the other guy that was my other guy that I looked at so I was 2 for 2 for this year so hopefully my year in recruiting would be the same.
Q: about 100% the rest of the way?
TM: 100% right there. Batting 1.000.
Q: I mean, what do you think the biggest assets you have to sell the recruits are? Just as a coach, as a person…
TM: I mean, the first one is obviously UCLA and what academically, and the campus, what it can give to you, the resources we have on this campus. The second one is so easy. It's Coach Mora. Obviously, at the end of the day, you're on that field fighting for that man that's on the sidelines with the headsets on. And selling Coach Mora is probably one of the easiest things you could do with a recruit. And they see the passion I have to coach for him, and I want them to see that you'll have a passion to play for him.
Q: obviously, your dad's an OC [offensive coordinator], do you have ambitions of rising that high? Maybe get a head coaching job at some point?
TM: I do. I do. I mean, I take it each step at a time. And I try to learn from my dad. I never want to be put into the fire if I'm not really prepare yet, but every day with Coach Mora, I learn something new from him and from my dad and then Coach [Lou] Spanos [Defensive Coordinator], and Jeff Ulbrich [Special Teams Coordinator/Linebackers Coach] and Coach [Demetrice] Martin [Passing Game Coordinator/Defensive Backs], I learn something new every day with those guys.
Q: so do you kind of take it as a nice little thing to be coaching the Y's, especially kind of learn something new and then kind of use that eventually?
TM: exactly. I think as a coordinator you should maybe coach every position on the field just so you have an understanding of the whole offense.
VIDEO: Taylor Mazzone
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