Note: I’m reposting the profiles I wrote on each of the Boise State football coaches with some additional reporting that didn’t make the stories. The last one will appear on game day.
Hometown: Los Angeles
Never miss a local story.
Playing career: Defensive back at Pacific (1995), which canceled its program, and Boise State (1996-99). He was sixth on the team in tackles in 1998 but played sparingly in 1999 because of injury.
Coaching career: Montana State assistant secondary coach (2001-02), Boise State cornerbacks coach (2003-05), Boise State defensive backs coach (2006-11), Texas A&M co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach (2012-13)
Education: Bachelor’s degree in social science from Boise State (2000)
Family: Wife, Melanie; son, Eric (19); daughter, Kaybrie (6)
Did you know? Yates used to bowl in a league in Boise. He once held a 185-pin average.
Quotable: “He played (safety) the way it’s supposed to be played. You always wish you could see how far his career could have went if his body didn’t give out on him.” — Former Boise State graduate assistant John Rushing
— Yates on his stutter, a lifelong issue: “It’s always been a struggle. For so many people, they probably struggle with things I don’t struggle with. Football to me is a joy. I don’t find it hard. Probably the biggest challenge for me is my stutter in public speaking. It’s something I’ve always dealt with. Growing up, I was always good in math because you don’t have to talk. Over the years, it’s gotten better. The more relaxed I am, the more I don’t think about it, the better off it is. When I worry about it and stress about it it gets to be pretty bad. When it’s one-on-one, in a home setting (recruiting), that comes natural to me. It’s funny, when I was growing up I’d go to speech therapists and I wouldn’t stutter because it was one-on-one. There was nothing uncomfortable with that. For me, it’s more group settings or public settings. Usually once I get going and relax a little bit it’s OK. It’s my biggest challenge.”
— I asked Yates for a story from his days as a cab driver in Bozeman. One night, he said, he picked up a 6-foot-6 cowboy at a bar. The man said almost nothing except his destination, which was well outside the city in the mountains. “I’m thinking, ‘This dude is going to hit me upside the head, kill me and chop me up,’ ” Yates said. “ I tell him the fare and he gives me a $40 tip and shakes my hand and says, ‘Thank you.’ It just goes to show, stereotypes. He gives me my biggest tip ever.”
— Yates lived with Rushing when he worked at Montana State. Rushing is now a defensive quality control assistant with the Packers. “We were like brothers,” Rushing said. “He knew how I taught the game. He knew what I wanted out of the players and knew how I thought the position should be played. It was easy for me and him to get the same thing out of the players with different voices or different approaches.”
— Yates on his Boise State career: “I was barely cleared to play my senior year. I started my junior year and had an OK season, not terrible. I wasn’t the same player I was because of the knee injuries, so I was always the player who studied the game a little different. I knew the schemes. I looked at the schemes kind of like a coach.”
— On his influences: “To work with Ron Collins and Justin Wilcox and Pete Kwiatkowski and (Mark) Snyder (at Texas A&M) as coordinators, I learned a whole lot from those guys. They kind of shaped my playbook and my thoughts on exactly who I want to be as a coach and how I want to do things. And every one of those guys I’m still close to and can talk to if I have questions.”
— Yates on the pressure of his new job: “To me it comes down to being disciplined, working hard and not being afraid to step out of your comfort zone. I won’t say I feel pressure. I’ll say I’m excited and I’m ready to go to work.”
— Former Boise State defensive coordinator Ron Collins: “He’s very competitive and he’s going to challenge those guys to get better every day and even though he’ll be like that with them on the field those guys will feel very good about coming into his room and hanging out with him off the field.”
— Collins on Yates’ defense: “I think it’s going to be very aggressive. I think it’s going to be tough. He’s a very tough-minded guy and he wants tough guys on his defense. He has that mentality for the secondary so I can imagine that the whole defense is going to be like that.”
Tomorrow: Bryan Harsin
Email me at email@example.com.