Texas Longhorns safeties coach and special teams coordinator Craig Naivar may have been destined for greatness at birth.
Naivar was named after the great Dallas Cowboys quarterback Craig Morton. The Austin native went on to star at quarterback and safety for Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, was named team captain and began his coaching career there as well.
In this Longhorn Network interview he admits his career wasn’t quite as illustrious as his namesake, but it’s clear he’s a passionate and serious football coach:
Naivar (pronounced “NI-ver”) was a huge ‘Horns fan growing up, attending every home game from kindergarten through his high school graduation. Since leaving Hardin-Simmons with two degrees in hand he’s coached across Texas at Sam Houston State, Rice, Texas State, TCU, Houston and now UT, along with stops at New Mexico and Southern Illinois.
The qualities he looks for in a secondary player are range, toughness, leadership and communication. There are some qualities that can’t be coached, and Naivar especially likes guys who like to strike over and over again.
Guys like Brandon Jones.
“He brings energy, he brings excitement, he’s a guy that wants to work,” Jones says. “He’s got a skillset that we can build upon. He can run, he’s intelligent. We can build upon that and get him to where we’d like him to be and where he’d like himself to be.”
Naivar has been a special teams coordinator at several of his previous stops, coming over from Houston along with head coach Tom Herman. He sees special teams as a reflection of the overall team, not just a way to gain field position.
“How you cover kickoffs is a great barometer for the culture of your program.”