Miguel Chavis proves himself to Brent Venables and joins OU coaching staff | OR Additional Sport

NORMAN – The path to a position on a Power 5 coaching staff can be like threading a needle.

For decades, the graduate assistant route has promised the best results. Those who are lucky enough to land a coveted position know they have to do an impressive job in a short time, and then hope for something better.

The arduous hours combined with an unpredictable career path drive many from the coaching ranks. Individual ability is great, but mentor fortune and connections are often more important.

Miguel Chavis, Oklahoma’s new defensive end and outside linebacker coach, found himself in the right place at the right time. The former Clemson defensive lineman entered the profession because his former coach, Dabo Swinney, saw the potential. A few years later, he became the right arm of Brent Venables and Todd Bates of the Tigers.

When Venables landed the head coaching job at Oklahoma, he knew Chavis was essential to his team, even though Chavis had never been a full-time coach.

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“I sat in the staff room with him every day,” Venables said. “He ran a camp with us. He’s had a few coaching opportunities, because of COVID and things like that too, over the last few years. But just, you know when you know. You know it when you see it, and you know it when you don’t.

Venables could only have gone after proven assistant coaches. OU has the money and the prestige and Venables has the connections and the respect to poach the coaches of any personnel.

But Venables saw a ton of potential in Chavis.

Chavis, who was headed for a path to ministry at the end of his playing career, served as a defensive analyst for five seasons at Clemson. Jobs like these allow prospective young coaches to prove themselves to someone like Venables.

Chavis had the opportunity to take on-field coaching positions elsewhere, but he was patient and it paid off. It’s not just that he works under Venables; Chavis continues to work with Bates, the OU’s new defensive tackles coach/assistant head coach. They started at Clemson at the same time.

“We have a very special bond, a friendship, very unique,” Chavis said of Bates. “They started calling us salt and pepper. Of our families living together, going to church together, recruiting together. I understand Todd. I understand the creature he is and vice versa. We are similar in many ways and we complement each other in many other ways.

Bates entered the profession a decade before Chavis. He had to work his way up as an assistant coach in high school, then junior college and at Jacksonville State before coming to Clemson. He quickly saw that Chavis was worth the mentoring effort.

“You could always see his time was coming and he was ready for his time when it came because of the work he did when he worked with me at Clemson,” Bates said. “It’s wonderful to see him interact with his players and take the things he’s learned and pass them on to people. That’s what he’s always done.

“Miguel Chavis is an elite cheerleader, and that’s something I know. I know he loves his players, and it shows every day. He’s very intentional in every word he says and in everything he does.

How that translates to the Sooners remains unclear. Spring training begins later this month.

“I have a lot of work to do,” Chavis said. “The work. The expectations. The standard. I’ve known him for five years. Just because I’ll wear the crimson and cream doesn’t mean the standard is higher or lower. Working for Coach V is very demanding, but man, it’s so rewarding. He makes everyone around him so much better. I don’t know if my mind was racing as much as I was humble and assertive.