Well Traveled Kevin Daft finds a Good Fit with Cal Football
April 20, 2007
BERKELEY - Here is a Cal football trivia question: who on the coaching staff has resided in San Diego, Tennessee, Atlanta, San Francisco, Indiana, San Jose, Scotland, and Amsterdam? If you answered Kevin Daft, you would be correct.
A fifth round selection in the 1999 draft by the Tennessee Titans, Daft gained valuable experience not only in the NFL, but NFL Europe and the Arena League. One of his early highlights as a professional quarterback was being a member of the Titans' run to the 1999 Super Bowl where he spent time behind Steve McNair and Neil O'Donnell.
After his playing days, Daft soon found a spot as a graduate assistant with the Bears' coaching staff in 2004. He spent three years working with the Cal offense, assisting with game planning, opponent scouting and individual player development. Just like his play on the field, Daft's hard work and persistence paid off as he was promoted to Quarterbacks Coach in January.
On the heels of his first recruiting trip (GA's cannot go on visits), Daft credits his success to his many journeys as player. Now he hopes he can draw upon those experiences to become a successful coach at Cal. 'I was able to play under a lot of different coaches and to be around a lot of different players and a lot of different schemes,' explained Daft. 'Because of that, I've been able to take pieces from `this' coach that I liked (and) `this' coach I didn't like, and formulate what I wanted to be like when I was a coach. It's helped me get a good perspective on all the different aspects you can have as a coach.'
Learning and the education of a team game have followed Daft in every phase of his journey. And having been a part of a Super Bowl team in Tennessee, Daft was able to draw upon the importance of preparation. 'Being in Tennessee was great because I was around a lot of good players that cared and did a lot to prepare to be great,' said Daft. 'I learned a lot from Steve McNair and Neil O'Donnell - two quarterbacks I respected - I wanted to emulate and learn from them and the way they prepared for games. I think the team atmosphere (is important). When I was with the Chargers and we didn't have such a good season -- just the differences and what you can take away from those (two) teams - the way the team cohesively practiced -- you get a lot from being around those guys.'
Now as a coach, Daft feels that his experience and preparation as a player will translate into helping develop the quarterbacks this season for Cal (Nate Longshore, Kyle Reed, Kevin Reilly, Cory Smits, Bryan Van Meter, and Brock Mansion). 'The fact that I played quarterback and now I'm coaching quarterbacks is good because having gone through similar situations or maybe the exact same situation I think I can relate to the guys,' said Daft. 'Having finished playing a few years ago, I think I realize what it takes being a player and what they go through and being on that same level. As a player, I liked coaches that played my position because they understood what I was going through. You know what's possible and what's unrealistic to expect out of a player.'
With a talented corps of signal callers this season, Daft was pleased with the progression of the position during spring practice, which concluded Apr. 14. 'Spring is all about improving and getting better,' explained Daft. 'It's a chance for a lot guys to get a lot of reps -- individually they have to work on a lot of things, (but) it's just a matter of getting them all involved and all improving. The main thing is that they learn and continue to head in the right direction. All of them did that this spring.'
Daft has also been able to remain focused and balanced in his journey because of his commitment to his family off the field. His wife Kesa and young daughter, Talia, both make it out to Memorial Stadium to keep a watchful eye on their coach. 'Family is very important to me,' said Daft. 'My wife does a great job and is very supportive and understanding, especially with this profession. There is a lot of travel time and a lot of hours in the office, and she does a great job (understanding) that. With our daughter being born, Kesa does a great job of bringing her up here for practices so I can see her everyday. It means a lot to me. Having a daughter is just the neatest thing in the world. It's one of the greatest experiences in my lifetime. We're happy to stay here in the Bay Area. Things have worked out nice.'