Football, at all levels, is full of sons wearing headsets or holding clipboards who followed their fathers into the coaching profession.
But recently named Kansas University wide receivers coach Klint Kubiak is not one of them.
Kubiak, 27, is the son of Denver Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak, who enjoyed a nine-year playing career with the Broncos before going on to coach in Denver, Houston and Baltimore. But instead of spending his youth picking his dad’s brain for ways to attack the Tampa 2 defense or execute the Broncos’ famed zone blocking scheme, Kubiak had his mind elsewhere.
“I always thought I was gonna be playing,” said Kubiak, who was a safety at Colorado State from 2005-2009 and earned an invitation to Washington Redskins minicamp following college. “That was my goal growing up and going through college: Hey, I’m gonna be an NFL defensive back.”
His shot at the game’s highest level was short-lived, and, before he knew it, his extensive football background led him to his dad’s alma mater, Texas A&M;, where he started out as a graduate assistant on Mike Sherman’s staff with the Aggies.
“Knowing all those things that go into coaching, all the hours and all that, I kind of had an open mind about it,” Kubiak said. “After a semester, I loved it. I was hooked.”
When Kubiak accepted the position prior to the 2010 season, he expected to work with Texas A&M;’s defensive backs. However, when he arrived in College Station, Texas, he learned Sherman had other plans — plans that ultimately helped him land his current job at Kansas.
“He made me go on offense; he didn’t ask me,” Kubiak said of Sherman. “I thought I was going there to be a defensive-backs coach, and he put me on offense, and it changed my whole world. I learned about quarterbacks, offensive line, protections. Obviously, the more you learn about the game itself, it all comes together.”
After two seasons on Sherman’s staff and one (2012) working with KU coach David Beaty under Kevin Sumlin, Kubiak left A&M; to join the Minnesota Vikings.
In a relatively short time, Kubiak developed some pretty strong coaching chops, and his effort, energy and dedication led to a phone call from Beaty last December. Kubiak, who worked closely with Beaty at A&M;, said it took him about 10 minutes to commit to following Beaty to Kansas.
“It was very flattering for him to think of me in that role,” he said. “Obviously, I know he has to trust me to even ask me to do that, and now I have a bigger responsibility on my hands because I represent him, and I represent Kansas.”
So far, so good in that department, according to Beaty, who touted Kubiak’s ability to recruit last winter as one of the most pleasant surprises of his new job so far.
“I didn’t realize how good Klint Kubiak already was at this job,” Beaty said. “He’s really good at it. He comes from a football background.
“This guy is going to be really good and I enjoyed getting to spend some time with coach Kubiak on the recruiting trail.”
The youngest coach on Beaty’s staff, Kubiak believes his fairly recent experiences as a player can help him relate better to the athletes on KU’s roster and also with several players KU is targeting in recruiting.
“I would hope so,” he said. “But I’m just gonna be honest with them and be myself. I know I’ve got a lot to offer them. I’ve been in college, I’ve been in the NFL. I was a player just like them, and I’ve been where they want to go.”
Of course, still being in the infant stages of his coaching career, Kubiak knows he, too, has plenty to learn. That might be one of the things he’s looking forward to the most. Although Beaty gave him a ton of responsibilities and duties at Texas A&M;, being in charge of his own position and being able to hit the road full-time to recruit represents new territory for Kubiak, who, though known for a fairly even-keel demeanor, sounded as excited as one could get about what’s ahead.
“I’ve been very fortunate to be around a lot of good people to get me here right now,” Kubiak said. “And I’ve still got a lot to prove. That’s my mindset moving forward — keep improving. And in order to do that we’ve gotta improve here at Kansas. I’ve got a lot of confidence in myself and a lot of confidence in coach Beaty. And we’ve got a lot to sell here. It’s a great opportunity.”