FNF Coaches Talk for Wednesday, Jan. 23

FNF Coaches Talk

Good afternoon, Coaches. Check out the stories we’re recommending today.


This is an inspiring story for coaches highlighting the impact we can make on high school students off the field.

D’Angelo Dereef and his coaching staff at Al Raby High on Chicago’s West Side are more than coaches. Their players say their leadership means everything to their chances of educational and life success. The program’s impact has resulted in scholar athletes going to college and top talent drafted into the NFL.

“Some kids don’t even have a choice,” said senior cornerback Romel Goston. “For most, we’re the man of the house at 16 [years old]. We don’t have a father figure or role model at home. So, we come here for three to four hours [a day], and this is the only time we get grown men telling us, ‘Do this right. Do that right. No backtalk.’ Teaching us respect.”

In 2017, Dereef marched his program to a 12-2 record and to its first state semi-final appearance. More impressive though, 68 college recruiters came to visit Al Raby players that year, the coach said, and seven out of 11 seniors signed college intent letters to play football.

Dereef doesn’t make excuses despite the fact that his school can’t afford spring or summer programs.

This scholastic and athletic feat is accomplished with “unwavering discipline,” players explained. Not just the hard stuff, either, but discipline coupled with love, acceptance and consistency according to Dereef.
Each player is expected to achieve a point total derived from off-season program participation like weights, team meetings and academic requirements. Failure to do so means a player does not dress in the fall.

In what ways do you influence your players to become better men?

2. Many successful head coaches have been or coached quarterbacks (Cincy Jungle)

Many of the top offensive coaches in the NFL were quarterbacks at one time in their careers.

Some coaches, like Doug Pederson and Jason Garrett, were former NFL quarterbacks (albeit not very good ones). Other coaches like Andy Reid and Bill O’Brien never played quarterback at any level, but served as quarterbacks coaches before being promoted to head coach.

Of all active NFL coaches, the presumed Cincinnati Bengals hire Zac Taylor would be the only head coach to be promoted directly from quarterbacks coach to head coach aside from Sean Payton, who was the Cowboys’ assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach before taking the Saints’ head coaching job in 2006.

Other former quarterbacks or quarterbacks coaches who are active head coaches are Freddie Kitchens, Matt Nagy, Frank Reich, Kyle Shanahan, Bruce Arians, Jay Gruden, Adam Gase and Kliff Kingsbury.

This seems to be an effective strategy because not only has nearly half of all NFL head coaches spent time in the quarterbacks room, but five of the head coaches to make it the divisional round of this years’ playoffs fit the bill.

Why does this strategy of hiring former quarterbacks seem to work?

For the most part, it has to do with the playbook. Quarterbacks have to learn the ins and outs of the whole playbook so they can run the offense and adjust accordingly in-game. Not only do quarterbacks have to throw the football, but they have to know all of routes and all of the blocking schemes.

How heavily would you weigh a prospective coach’s previous experience playing quarterback before making a hire?

3. Young athletes confront pressure to specialize in a single sport, despite risks (Hartford Courant)

Coaches and administrators across Connecticut have witnessed up close a national trend over the past 10 or 15 years in which kids specialize in a single sport in elementary or middle school, playing year-round for club and travel teams in pursuit of elusive college scholarships, despite the risk of injury, burnout and stalled development.

And although early specialization tends to help athletes succeed in the short-term, it might actually hinder their long-run performance. Research suggests athletes benefit physically, cognitively and psychologically from playing multiple sports, while also remaining healthier than their counterparts who specialize. The website Tracking Football reports 29 of the 32 first-round picks in the 2018 NFL Draft were multi-sport athletes in high school, along with 30 of the 32 first-round picks in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Even college coaches, who would have reason to prefer more polished high-school prospects, often voice a preference for multi-sport athletes. UConn football coach Randy Edsall said recently that he likes to watch recruits play other sports as part of his evaluation process so he can see their full range of skills.

How do you make your offseason program welcoming for multi-sport athletes?

What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk!