Locker room: Jake Spavital
The young coach leads A&M’s offense and quarterbacks.
Spavital coaching on the sidelines during the Texas A&M versus Rice game Aug. 31, 2013. Texas A&M won 52-31.
Texas A&M University Media Relations Department
Jake Spavital grew up in a coaching family, has played in championship situations and has coached at several top college football programs. Toss in the responsibility of working with Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, and the expectations can be enormous.
But the Tulsa native seems to be handling the pressure of coaching big-time college football just fine.
Spavital, 28, cut his football teeth as a third-grade ball boy for Union High School. He always envisioned himself as a coach. He has rapidly risen through the ranks and is now quarterback coach and co-offensive coordinator for the Texas A&M Aggies.
You were an All-State football player at Union High School, played quarterback at Missouri State and now are coaching college football. What about football appeals to you?
I like the team concept. A bunch of guys from different backgrounds, all pulling together for the same goal. I really enjoy the relationship between coaches and players.
What has been the biggest challenge since you’ve entered the college coaching ranks?
Time. There never seems to be enough time. You are always looking for an edge, so you pore over more tape.
You’ve coached at five highly regarded college programs. What are some of the major differences in coaching philosophies?
I have been blessed to be around some great coaches. I try and observe and learn, and you see what works and maybe what does not. At the end of the day, you have to be yourself as a coach and try not to be someone else.
As the quarterback coach for A&M, your work with Johnny Manziel is in the limelight every week. Has the additional attention and constant scrutiny been difficult?
Not at all. Johnny is a terrific football player, and he works very hard in the film room and is always trying to learn more. I am fortunate to work with Johnny.
Your brother, Zac, is on the coaching staff at the University of Houston. Do you two communicate much during the season, to compare notes and help each other out if you play common opponents?
We stay in touch and exchange ideas and film. You are always looking for anything to give you an edge.
You are not much older than many of the athletes that you coach. Have you encountered any issues because of this?
No issues at all. In some way, I may relate better to these quarterbacks. It helps that I have been fortunate to work with some great quarterbacks like Johnny Manziel, Geno Smith, Brandon Weeden and Case Keenum.
Your late grandfather and father have had successful coaching careers. Do you ever ask your dad for advice?
I was blessed to grow up in a coaching family. I tried to learn a lot from my dad and grandfather, and I respect their opinion and knowledge of the game.
What do you envision yourself doing in five years?
I try not to look too far down the road. Right now I am worried about this week and getting our team ready to play to the best of our abilities. I do know I would like to continue to coach.
Jake Spavital’s career highlights
2002-03: Two-year starter as quarterback for Union High School; 26-1 record; won 2002 state Class 6A championship; made it to 2003 state semifinals.
2006-07: Quarterback/punter for Missouri State University
2008: Offensive quality control for The University of Tulsa
2009: Graduate assistant for the University of Houston
2010: Graduate assistant for Oklahoma State University
2011-12: Quarterback coach for University of West Virginia
2013-present: Co-offensive coordinator and quarterback coach for Texas A&M University
Family coaching connections
Grandfather Jim Spavital: Played four years at OSU; No. 1 NFL draft pick; scored four touchdowns in one game; his 96-yard touchdown run for the Baltimore Colts was an NFL record for 33 years and is still the fourth-longest in NFL history; coached in the Canadian Football League, and the U.S. and World Football Leagues; coached the San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets, where he served as Joe Namath’s quarterback coach.
Father Steve Spavital: Longtime defensive coordinator at Union High School; now head football coach at Broken Arrow High School.
Brother Zac Spavital: Defensive coach at the University of Houston