Getting to Know Aaron Moorehead and Jeff Grimes

, TechSideline.com, on January 25, 2013
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Virginia Tech’s new offensive coaches were introduced at a press conference in Blacksburg on Friday afternoon.  It’s tough to make it around and get every quote from each coach during a 30 minute session, but I did get a chance to speak to and listen to Aaron Moorehead and Jeff Grimes briefly.

This is a quick transcription of interviews of Moorehead and Grimes, and questions were asked by other reporters, as well as myself.  There is also a quick video of Aaron Moorehead at the conclusion of his section.

Aaron Moorehead, Wide Receivers Coach

New wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead

On being in the NFL and winning a Super Bowl and how that helps him coach and recruit: “It’s instant credibility.  At the end of the day, they know you know what it takes to get to that level.  You know the work ethic, the desire, and the drive that it takes.  As long as you treat someone the right way, and that’s always been a thing with me…if you treat somebody right, they’ll respond to you.”

On he and his father both winning Super Bowls: “It’s been different, but in a good way.  Being a part of a family that’s been around football basically my entire life, it’s fun.  He was on a team that is basically immortalized in Chicago.  Those guys to this day can’t walk down the street without people saying things to them.  The personalities of guys on that team were just unbelievable, and to grow up with that is fun and exciting.”

On always wanting to coach, even when he was a player: “I think so.  I kind of started thinking about coaching maybe my second year in the league.  By the end of training camp my first year, I really had [the offense down].  It was always kind of easy for me to pick up the offense.  I started doing the NFL coaching internship with a high school in Indiana with Pike High School and it was awesome.  And I did it the whole time I was there.  Right after I was done, I went back to my own high school coached there for a season, and then I went into college.  It was pretty much a natural transition.  I love it.”

On learning from Peyton Manning: “I don’t think I learned [being a student of the game] from him, but I think I got better from being around him.  The guy is unbelievable.  He remembers things you wouldn’t believe.  I talked to him when they played in Oakland, maybe a month and a half or two months ago.  We were talking about stuff we did in 2004, and I’m just thinking, “How do you remember that?”  Not just in games, but in practice.  But that’s just how he is.  It’s great having guys like that in your life.”

On leaving a successful program like Stanford: “It was tough.  If you stay somewhere long enough, and you get to know the kids, and you get to know the families, you’re playing good football, and obviously the kids are academically oriented so you don’t have to worry about them not going to class.  It was tough, but at the end of the day this was the best thing for me and my family.  I’m closer to home, which is kind of a nice deal.  It’s refreshing to see snow!  I haven’t seen snow in two years.  I’m just excited to be here.”

On talking with Pep Hamilton: “I talked with Pep a lot, and Pep obviously helped me, he introduced me to these guys.  I don’t know how close he was [to coming to VT], that wasn’t anything we talked about.  But he’s happy for me and happy that I got this opportunity.”

On his first time being an off-campus recruiter, and whether he’s looking at it as a new challenge: “Absolutely.  The coaching stuff, that’s been great, but I look forward to recruiting.  I love people.  And if you love people and respect people, I think recruiting kind of goes hand in hand.  Being at a place like Tech, a lot of it speaks for itself.  All you’ve got to do is go in there and sell yourself.  I think if I go in there and talk to the kids and the parents and the coaches with the same respect I’ve always treated people with, and have the passion that I have about this place, then I think I’ll be alright.”

On his possible recruiting areas: “I have no idea.  We’re going to talk about it in the next few weeks.  We’re just trying to close this class up the right way.”

Jeff Grimes, OL Coach and Running Game Coordinator

On how he knew Frank Beamer: “Really more by just reputation and his record more than anything else.  The conference championships, the 10-win seasons, all of that preceded my personal knowledge of him.  But on top of that, everybody I’ve known and talked to that knows Coach Beamer has had just unbelievable things to say about him and the kind of guy he is.  I’m at a point in my career where working for the right people is really, really important to me because I want to learn from guys who have the knowledge of how to do something and sustain it.  And you can’t argue with his record.”

New offensive line coach Jeff Grimes

On recruiting at Auburn and focusing on offensive linemen: “Yeah, that’s pretty much all I did.  We all had a recruiting area, but my primary job in terms of my recruiting area was just to identify prospects, and then I’d hand them over to the defense or the receivers coach, or whatever the case may be.  And there were a couple that I ended up having a natural relationship with that I stayed with as the lead recruiter, but for the most part other position coaches took them over.  That’s the way we did it in general at Auburn, however I think it’s even more important at my position.  If you just talk to offensive linemen, their personality is a little bit different than others.  The relationship that they have with their coach I think is a little bit more important to them.  If you just talk to kids during recruiting and you ask what’s important to them, and you listen to the answers, I bet if you took it all by positions you’d have more offensive linemen talking about the relationship with their position coach.  That’s something that I’ve always done everywhere I’ve been.  When I worked for Dirk Koetter at Boise State and Arizona State, he was really the first guy that told me to do that.  He said “Hey Grimey, you’ve got your recruiting area, but you have to sign the best four linemen that you can sign.  That’s the #1 thing you need to do.  So I’m going to be really involved with those guys wherever they are.”

On his relationship with Scot Loeffler clicking right away: “It really did.  With some guys it doesn’t, but it really did click right away.  If you talk to him, I’m sure he was the type of quarterback who hung out with the offensive linemen.  There are some guys who hang out with the receivers and the running backs, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but he’s the kind of guy who I’m sure was sitting over there with the linemen at their apartment having pizza.  But yeah, he and I clicked right away.  We have a great working relationship and a great amount of trust.  Because of his approach and his mindset, I think he coaches the game kind of with an offensive lineman’s mindset.  He wants to run the ball.  A lot of coordinators would really prefer to throw the ball, but he would prefer to run the ball more than throw it.  If we’re in a position where we can have success running the football repeatedly, then he’s going to keep doing that until they stop it.

On his type of offensive lineman: “Well, toughness.  In order to play the game the right way, your offensive linemen have to be the guys who set the tone.  Again, I used the phrase “The Tip of the Spear”, like the Marines, the first ones in.  We really are.  That’s not just a figure of speech.  We, on a play by play basis, are in a position to lead the charge.  I think if we don’t do that with an aggressive approach, then our offense is not going to play that way.”

Was he running game coordinator at past school?: “Yeah, pretty much.  I didn’t have that title, but I did basically do the same thing.  In most cases as the offensive line coach, that’s pretty much what you are anyway.  But I think it does give you a little different level of ownership when you do have that title, because you recognize that your name is on it.  I think it helps obviously that Scot and I trust each other so well.  Coach Beamer talked today about there being times where you have to run the football, and times you have to throw the football.  It just means that I’m going to focus more on the times that you have to run it.  That’s what you do by nature as an O-line guy anyway.”

On whether he sensed that Frank Beamer had an urgency to improve the running game: “Yeah, I did.  Without getting into specifics, we didn’t really get into where [the problems] came from, but that it wasn’t where it needs to be, and that it’s something that would be at the very top of our list of priorities this spring and next fall.”

On being worried about breaking in new starting tackles against Alabama: “Uhhh…playing Alabama is scary regardless of the situation.  I can’t get away from those guys [laughing].  But scary as far as having new guys playing?  No.  That’s part of the deal.  You very, very seldom have five guys coming back, so you’re always breaking in new guys.  That’s part of the deal.  I think the exciting part about opening with a game like Alabama is what it does for your team, particularly the offensive linemen, because they’ve got the biggest challenge of blocking those monsters up front.  It can create a sense of urgency in the offseason.  It’s a great challenge, but every great challenge is a great opportunity.”

On what made him want to coach: “It’s kind of interesting.  I decided initially that I was not going to coach.  My family is really, really important to me.  When I first got done playing, I realized the commitment that a college football coach has to make, and I said “I’m not going to do that.”  My wife and I had just gotten married, and I was going to take a corporate insurance job, and in the meantime I was selling advertising to get my wife through school, and I hated it.  I mean hated it.  I was miserable.  I just knew I was going to be miserable in the corporate insurance job.  I’ll never forget, I was living in College Station, TX, my wife was finishing her last year at Texas A&M, I had on a suit like this, and I had an old ’77 Chevy Blazer and the AC didn’t work.  I didn’t have enough money to get it fixed.  It was like 100 degrees, so I’m sweating my butt off.  I was sitting at a railroad crossing watching this train go by, and I was trying to make phone calls all day.  It was like the thought just popped into my head, “You know you’d love coaching.”  I really took that as a message that God was telling me that’s where I needed to go.  I went home and talked to my wife about it, and she said “well, let’s go do it.”  And I said, you’ve got to understand that I’ll have to move around a lot, I’ll have to work a long time before I make any money…I reminded her of that this past year after we got fired from Auburn.  I started coaching high school football and absolutely loved it, and have been coaching at all different levels all over the country for 20 years now.  I never looked back, and couldn’t see myself doing anything else.”

On Andy Reid being his college offensive line coach: “He was my offensive line coach at UTEP for two years.  He was a great technician, and obviously very intelligent.  But more than that I think was just his demeanor and approach to the game.  He had a way of getting on you and making you want to do better, rather than getting your feelings hurt or getting upset with him.  Guys that are just going to holler and scream all day, basically you just tune them out.  They don’t really challenge you, and then you never quite get to your best.  He was just such a great blend of the two.  He just really had a way to motivate you, and I always wanted to do better because I knew he cared about me.

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