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February 18, 2014

Chiaverini talks quick month

Texas Tech made a big splash when it hired Darrin Chiaverini. Without the new special teams coach, Dominique Robertson would be going to Kansas State and Shaquille Davis would be attending Fresno State next fall.

The hire helped bolster the Red Raider offensive line to the point depth issues that have lingered since 2011 are finally on the cusp of being eliminated. And that's before we even begin to talk about the special teams gaffes last season Chiaverini has come to correct after four seasons in a similar capacity at Riverside (Calif.) City College.

Tech's new coach is a parting gift from David Raih, head coach Kliff Kingsbury's first director of high school relations.

"A good friend of mine, David Raih, who just got hired as an offensive assistant with the Green Bay Packers, he worked with Coach Kingsbury last year as the director of high school operations," Chiaverini explained to Chris Level and Brian Hanni on their Lubbock radio show 'Tech Talk.' "Me and my buddy David, we worked together at UCLA in 2009 and became really good friends. I went my own way and went to Riverside City and he went to Iowa to G.A.

"When Coach Raih got the job here with Coach Kingsbury and the staff, David called me and said, 'Hey you need to come down here and meet Coach Kingsbury. I think you guys would get along.' So I came down and worked a camp last year in the summer and then I went my way and went back to Riverside."

Maybe he didn't know it at the time, Chiaverini managed to make an impression.

Kingsbury opted to pursue a special teams coordinator rather than directly replace former outside receivers coach Sonny Cumbie upon Cumbie's departure to TCU.

So Raih called Chiaverini once again as the clock ticked toward the Holiday Bowl in San Diego.

"David had called me and told me, 'Hey, we're going to be looking for a special teams coordinator and I've recommended you to Coach Kingsbury,'" Chiaverini told Level and Hanni. "Kliff had texted me during the bowl week. I came down and talked with him and then they flew me out for an interview for the job. I ended up getting it. It's kind of weird how things work out. Sometimes it's just meant to be."

There are lots of questions to address on special teams. The unit just wasn't very consistent last season in coverage or fielding kicks

Those are issues that can't be answered until at least spring ball when Chiaverini sees what he's working with in person.

The new coach earned immediate respect by landing two key pieces expected to contribute immediately on the offensive line. Robertson is a student at Riverside and Davis is in the area at Walnut (Calif.) Mt. San Antonio Community College.

Both right in Chiaverini's wheelhouse as a former local junior college coach.

"I think Coach Kingsbury and the staff kind of thought it might be a little late to get those guys just because it was so late," Chiaverini said. "I only got here two weeks before National Signing Day. I conveyed the message to Kingsbury, 'I think I can get those kids.' I recruited Dominique out of high school. He was going to go to Arizona Western in Arizona and I sat down with him and his mom. They trusted me once before and I told them I'd do the same thing for him and make sure things were done right for him at Texas Tech."

Chiaverini said Robertson wasn't completely sold on Tech until the "11th hour."

"I had to go with him through the recruiting process in a short amount of time," he told Level and Hanni. "Same thing with Shaq. Shaq Davis was a kid committed to Fresno State. I know the Fresno State coaches were upset he flipped and came to Texas Tech, but this is a great opportunity for both those kids in an offense that is one of the top offenses in the country and is going to showcase their talents as far as being athletic either outside or inside."

The new coach is another fairly recent professional player turned college coach.

Chiaverini meets the Red Raiders' staff's desire for youth synergy. He was a standout at Colorado and played receiver for the Cleveland Browns as a 1999 5th round draft pick before moving onto the Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons rosters in the final two years of an NFL career that wrapped up in 2002.

Chiaverini continued playing with the Austin Wranglers of the AFL from 2004 to 2006 before moving to Mt. San Antonio, UCLA and Riverside as a coach.

"I think it's refreshing," he said of the move to Level and Hanni. "They've been very welcoming. Always, when you're a new guy coming into a new situation, you're not sure how you're going to fit in and you're not sure how they're going to communicate with you. They've all been great and I really appreciate them inviting me into the Texas Tech family.

"One thing you'll get to know about me is I love football, I work hard at it and this is what I do. This is what I did when I played and what I do when I coach. I think the coaches will see that too."

To listen to Chiaverini's full interview on Double T 104.3 FM, click here.


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