"What's up scoop?" a booming voice would call out every time I entered the Klein Collins' field house.
Drew Svoboda loved to talk Houston high school football, recruiting, and life in general when I'd pull up in his office. He and his lead assistant loved to razz me about being obsessed with North Shore, Katy, or The Woodlands. Just, pure hazing.
That assistant is now College Park head coach Lonnie Madison.
Madison was the first I texted when I began hearing the rumblings about Svoboda becoming the Special Teams coach for the Alabama Crimson Tide.
"I gotta call you back, I'm interviewing with Ohio State," Madison texted tongue-in-cheek.
Svoboda left Klein Collins (93-24 record), where he built a Houston super-power, for the college game with Rice. He was with the Owls for three seasons and special teams became the strength of the team.
He was then hired by Memphis in January to take over the coordinator job for the Tigers.
As luck would have it, Jay Graham was hired by Alabama months ago and had to resign -- right place, right time, right opportunity. Now, Svoboda slides in to learn from the best – Nick Saban.
That's a long way from Oak Ridge High School where we first met.
"I've worked with Drew a long time and I'm not surprised with the success he's had in college," Madison said. "He's the best coach I know."
Former Klein Oak head coach Jason Glenn and new Director of Student Outreach coached against Svoboda and played for Nick Saban when he was with the Miami Dolphins.
"Drew is an amazing coach and as someone that played under Nick Saban, he will fit in great with the culture and expectations that have been established at Alabama," Glenn said. "I'm happy for him."
Other Coaches Weigh In…
Jon Kay of North Shore
"Drew Svoboda on staff at Alabama is testament to the quality of coaching at the high school level in Texas, and more specifically the Houston area. His seamless transition and meteoric rise is really no surprise to anyone who knows Drew. I think college and NFL teams get stuck recycling coaches over and over and I credit Mike Bloomgren at Rice, along with other coaches who have dipped into the high school ranks when building their staff, for recognizing coaching talent and giving Drew the opportunity he deserved. We certainly look forward to working with Drew as he recruits the Houston area for years to come.
"The importance of athletics in the state of Texas develops coaches, who can transition to the next level easier. Texas high school coaches are fluent in the "24-7-365" nature of the college game because of athletic periods and summer conditioning rules. Obviously, this state is a hot-bed for recruits and it's always good to have a guy on staff with connections in the state. All of that coupled with the fact that Texas is one of the few states that play by NCAA rules. These coaches develop an eye for the game (without using video) that have bred them to make the in-game adjustments necessary at the college level."
James Clancy, Klein Cain coach
Greater Houston Football Coaches Association, President
"I am very proud and happy for Coach Svoboda and it is no surprise that he has risen quickly in the college ranks. It is a great representation of not only the quality of high school coaching in the Greater Houston area but the state of Texas."