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Q & A With Assistant Head Coach Darrin Chiaverini – Part I

On July 24th, at the Pac-12 Media Day, CU head coach Mel Tucker announced that he was promoting wide receivers coach/recruiting coordinator Darrin Chiaverini to assistant head coach. In making the announcement, Tucker said, “Darrin has done a really good job recruiting; he’s relentless. He has a really good feel for the University of Colorado and its history.  And he’s really stepped up and has been really helpful in our effort to create the football culture that we want to have here.”

Chiaverini, who was a wide receiver under Rick Neuheisel (1995-98), is in fourth year as a coach at CU. Last season, Chiaverini was co-offensive coordinator, in addition to wearing the hats of wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator.

Part One of our conversation covers recruiting. Part Two, which will be posted Thursday, will cover his role as a coach under Mel Tucker, and thoughts on the upcoming season.

Offer sheets – how do they work? Oregon will have hundreds of reported offers, while UCLA, at least under Chip Kelly, has a much shorter list. These all can’t be “committable offers”, so how does that work? What sort of conversations do you have with recruits about their offers, and what they mean in terms of becoming a member of a CU Recruiting Class?

In today’s college football, you really have to offer a prospect just to get into the recruiting game with them, especially when most of our offers are to out-of-state kids. You’re talking to kids from Texas, California, Louisiana, Georgia. I think you need to start that recruiting process, and a lot of times the offer is just to show the kid that we have a lot of interest in you, and to see if you have any interest in us.

This is especially true when you are talking with a player who already has several offers. In today’s college football, you really have to be aggressive in offering kids and showing that you are interested in them.

What would happen if, all of the sudden, Boulder became the place to be, and 180 prospects all said “I’m accepting your offer”? How would that play out?

There’s a numbers game, as we can only sign a maximum of 25 players per year. So, once those positions are filled in a Class, those offers go away. You see schools offering more than they can take, because they know that not every kid is coming to their school. I think for every school it is going to be different, but for us, under Mel Tucker, we are going to be aggressive in offering kids, so our offer sheet is going to be long.

So, when you offer a prospect, you tell them, ‘We are only taking three weakside defensive linemen, and once we have them, we’re done”?

Yes, we do. We’re very open about that. For example, we are only taking two wide receivers in this Class. We have one commitment right now, so that number goes to one. We’re only going to take one more, so if that spot gets filled, we’re done. I’ve obviously offered a lot more than one guy out there, and they have to understand that once that number gets filled, we’re out of that game. It’s good for us to be transparent with that with the guys that we are recruiting.

You have been recognized as one of the top recruiters in the country, so you must enjoy the chase. How hard is it to spend much of your year trying to read, understand, and convince 17- and 18-year olds to come to your program?

For me, it’s not hard to sell Colorado. I played here, so I’m a Buff. When you are at other places, you are trying to sell the brand of the school that you are at. But I am a Buff. I know what it’s like to play in Folsom, to run behind Ralphie, to wear the Black and Gold, to sing the fight song in the locker room. I know what that feels like here, and not everyone can sell that the same way.

I think when I talk with players and their parents, it comes off as genuine because I have had those experiences, and I’m not just trying to sell them something.

You were a part of Rick Neuheisel’s first Recruiting Class (Class of 1995). Were you a CU commit before Bill McCartney resigned (after the 1994 regular season finale against Iowa State)?

Coach McCartney was recruiting me, along with Coach (Brian) Cabral. Rick was on staff here as the quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator. I was interested in Colorado, but then once Coach Neuheisel became the head coach, and got the head job, that’s when I committed. I’m a California kid, I grew up on the west coast. I obviously had interests in other schools on the west coast, but I knew that CU under Rick Neuheisel was going to throw the ball, and as a receiver, I was excited to be a part of a west coast offense. That type of offense was being implemented at Colorado in those years, and so it worked out for me. I’m truly grateful for the time I spent here as a player, and now I want to give that back to my players.

As a player, you experienced a coaching staff with a head coach coming in as a first time head coach. Have you related your experience to your players, who are now a part of a team with a first time head coach?

You know, I haven’t really talked with them about that. I have talked about my experiences here as a player and being an athlete in Boulder.

One of the benefits of being an excellent recruiter is that you have a very deep receiving corps. How do you persuade, cajole, and otherwise get your unit to buy into the team concept?

I’m a true believer in that competition makes you better. When I was here in the ‘90’s, and we were winning ten games almost every year, we had really deep receiving corps, and sometimes, you didn’t get your chance until you were a junior. I backed up my first two years at Colorado, and I still got drafted, I was still an All-Conference player. It didn’t hurt my career not to play. It made me a better player because I was competing every day.

I tell these kids that each and every day you go out there, you are competing to play and stay at this University, and get a chance to get on the field. If you don’t approach it that way, then you are going to have a hard time making it here. I’m a firm believer in competition. You have to have competition in your room, or it won’t elevate their play. They will get complacent because no one is pushing them from behind.

I think you saw that last year with Laviska (Shenault) and K.D. (Nixon) both starting as true sophomores. They were starting because they were the better players, and they both had big years. If you don’t have the mind-set that you are coming in here to compete, and be relentless in your attitude and effort, you are going to have a hard time playing here.

Have you seen that attitude and effort this off-season?

Yes, they are competing hard to get on the field and getting reps. And we have a bunch of freshmen who just came in who are really talented to, so it’s a good group. I’m excited to work with them, and push them, and make them better.

Coming Thursday … Part Two: Coaching under Mel Tucker … coaching his son … outlook for the 2019 season …

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One Reply to “Q & A With Darrin Chiaverini – Part I”

  1. You’ve done a great job getting some cool interviews. The recruiting side of football can feel like such a black box from the outside, interesting to see his answers about offer sheets.

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