Hinshaw's life is football

UT QB coach again living his dream

Tennessee quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw works with the quarterbacks during spring practice in March of 2010..

Photo by Saul Young

Tennessee quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw works with the quarterbacks during spring practice in March of 2010..

Darin Hinshaw, Tennessee quarterbacks coach

Darin Hinshaw, Tennessee quarterbacks coach

Age: 37

Position(s) Coaching: Quarterbacks

Hired: Jan. 22, 2010

As a Coach: 1999 - Central Florida (graduate assistant); 2000 - Central Florida (quarterbacks); 2001-02 - Middle Tennessee State (running backs); 2003-2005 - Middle Tennessee State (co-offensive coordinator); 2006 - Georgia Southern (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks); 2007-09 - Memphis (wide receivers).

As a Player: Was a multi-record-setting quarterback at Central Florida (1991-94). Played professionally with the Cleveland Browns, Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League, the Granite State Warriors of the Eastern Football League and the Nashville Kats.

Personal: Married with four children.

Darin Hinshaw was all set to be a fourth-generation football player at the University of Kansas. But the option offense got in the way.

When coach Glen Mason went to the option, he didn't need a drop-back passer from Punta Gorda, Fla., despite all the family history. So Hinshaw signed with the University of Central Florida, where he became a record-setting passer under offensive coordinator Mike Kruczek. Hinshaw didn't realize how important that Kruczek connection would become until years later when he supposedly had put football behind him and settled into a career in real estate.

That must seem like a lifetime ago for Hinshaw, 37, and his wife, Pam, who, along with their four children, recently joined the Tennessee family. Getting a job as quarterbacks coach on first-year UT coach Derek Dooley's new staff is a significant step for Hinshaw, who previously had made coaching stops at his alma mater, Georgia Southern, Middle Tennessee State and Memphis. No one can appreciate the progression more than his wife, who made the climb right along with him. She's a full-time wife and mother now after 10 years of teaching school and doing most of the parenting while her husband pursued his football dream - first as a player, then as a coach.

"I would not be able to be a college coach if it wasn't for her," Hinshaw said.

All in the Family

Football was as much a part of Hinshaw's childhood as his family tree. He played pitch-and-catch with his dad, Wally, a former Kansas quarterback and teammate of Gale Sayers, and his brothers, Tyson and Ryan, both of whom later played college football.

All of them were quarterbacks, though Tyson switched to wide receiver at UCF, in deference to an already-established quarterback, Daunte Culpepper. In 2000, Tyson caught a school-record 89 passes and ranked second nationally with eight catches per game.

Darin made his mark at UCF as well, passing for 9,000 yards while learning the nuances of the position under Kruczek.

"He taught me the game," Hinshaw said. "Everything I knew about the game came from those years playing."

And he didn't want to stop playing.

He tried making the Cleveland Browns as a free agent, then played two years for the Orlando Predators in the Arena League. Next stop: Londonderry, N.H., in the Eastern Football League.

The owner of the Londonderry team paid Hinshaw $1,200 to fly up weekly from Orlando to coach and quarterback his offense. He would arrive on a Wednesday or Thursday, practice for the Saturday game, then fly home Sunday.

That's how much he wanted to play football.

Ending the Dream

After a season in the EFL, Hinshaw returned to the Arena League, this time in Nashville, where former Vol Andy Kelly was a full-fledged star at quarterback. Reality was beginning to overtake Hinshaw's dream. He was a second-team quarterback in the Arena League and apart from his family.

"It was irresponsible," Hinshaw concluded. "I had a wife, two kids and a mortgage. I had to give up the dream."

The dream gave way to work. He had a master's degree in business, plus experience in sales and recruiting from off-season jobs between football teams.

"I didn't really like it, but I was good at recruiting," he said. "You were getting CFOs (chief financial officers) to leave their jobs and go work for another company. You had to be able to talk the lingo. I was making good money."

His father's connections later helped Hinshaw get an interview with a prominent real-estate firm.

"It was based out of Tampa," Hinshaw said. "They wanted to start an office in Orlando. They thought I was perfect, an ex-UCF quarterback. I took the job."

And just like that, the Hinshaw's circuitous route merged into a main road seemingly headed for normalcy. The family was at home in Orlando, where they didn't have to worry about their husband and dad taking off for football camp. The job could become a career.

Then UCF head coach Kruczek called. He wanted Hinshaw to meet him for lunch.

He had an opening on his staff for a graduate assistant.

A Tough Decision

Hinshaw explained to Kruczek why he couldn't join his staff. He told him he was making too much money in his new job to leave it for a graduate assistant's position.

"And then, it wouldn't leave my mind," Hinshaw said. "All I thought about was getting back into football."

The biggest problem with his obsession was breaking the news to the wife, who had managed the household for so long while he was playing football, and his father, who had helped him land the real-estate job.

"My dad was kind of mad," Hinshaw said. "My wife could not believe I was going back to being on scholarship. She was supportive but she wasn't exactly happy."

While his dad might have been surprised at the timing, he couldn't have been surprised at the hold football had on his son. There was too much history to ignore.

"He had been playing football since he was 8 years old," Wally Hinshaw said. "He assured us it would work out."

Football had worked out before for the Hinshaws.

Wally and Suzanne Hinshaw moved from Punta Gorda to Orlando when Darin was a quarterback at UCF. A couple of other quarterbacking Hinshaws factored into the move. Tyson enrolled at Lake Mary High School, and Ryan at Oviedo, where they both became starting quarterbacks. When their teams played, the story was a natural.

A sportswriter from the Orlando Sentinel asked Suzanne for which team she would be cheering.

"She told him she was for the offense," Wally said.

Knowing the Game

Hinshaw's transitional year as a graduate assistant led to a full-time position. Other moves have broadened his offensive repertoire.

After coaching at Memphis and MTSU, he has more experience in the spread than the pro-style passing game he learned from Kruczek. But he still prefers the offense he played.

"I like the offense we're in right now," Hinshaw said. "I think you can run some spread concepts from this offense. But I think in the SEC, you better have a pro mentality.

"The level of play is as close to the NFL as you're going to get without being there. You've got to be able to move the football running."

You also need someone who can throw it.

On the wall behind Hinshaw's desk is a large, framed photo of former UT star Peyton Manning. That's an appropriate visual aid if you wondering what the new staff is seeking in its next quarterback.

"We're recruiting the next Peyton Manning," Hinshaw said. "That's our pitch."

"Does he have to be those dimensions? No. But you will be able to go from this offense right into the League and be a first-round draft pick."

And that's every quarterback's dream.

John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 42

DownTheField writes:

It's good to hear something about one of our coaches. Sometimes it seems like there is an iron curtain around the program.

VolGrad writes:

"...recruiting the next Peyton Manning." That is tall order. I hope it gets filled.

Bigger_Al writes:

Putting a Florida college football career behind him and settling into real estate.

That reminds me... Whatever happened to Danny Wuerrful?

DownTheField writes:

in response to Bigger_Al:

Putting a Florida college football career behind him and settling into real estate.

That reminds me... Whatever happened to Danny Wuerrful?

He works for an inner city ministry in New Orleans called Desire Street: http://www.desirestreet.org/templates...

give_him_6 writes:

Welcome Coach Hinshaw. Sounds like he's got a plan!!!

ncvol17 writes:

Good Luck..I hope we can get a future star QB in 2011...

dvhill100 writes:

NS did these type of articles on the previous regime about this time. Glad to see them continuing the stories. Like to get a little human interest slant on the coaches.

I think CDD has put together a very good staff and I look for a lot of success from them over time.

BigBadVol writes:

I'm reading and hearing a lot of goods things about this coaching staff. Give them some time and we will be fine.

HtownVol writes:

I really like the recruiting pitch " we are recruiting the next Peyton Manning"

I find it hard to believe that there are not a few top QB recruits that would want that.

I also believe that Tyler may fit that bill as well as any recruit out there. I have been in favor of TB since the O-W game. UT is in SO MUCH better hands with Tyler. If Simms wins the job, I will not expect much for this offense. With Tyler the offense will be better (in my opinion), and he will gain much needed experience during this rebuilding year.

CDC has had a very interesting journey to get to UT. He sounds like he has a great love for the game. I am a little more excited about this staff after this story.

GO VOLS

CoverOrange writes:

Dang. Good article JA.

keepitreal4vols writes:

Wonder why he left Georgia Southern after 1 year as OC/QB coach to be the WR coach at Memphis under HC Tommy West(who was clearly on the hot seat)? Seems like a big step backwards but here he is; so I guess it all worked out.

UTByrd writes:

Once again, This story exemplifies CDD's penchant for valuing character first and ability second. Many people have ability but are lacking in the character department. There are many coaches who value ability first and character second. You can see the results in headlines across the nation
CDD will prove to all that you can win even though you put character first. UT is well on it's way back to garnering the respect it so richly deserves.
Building a solid foundation pakes the way for a strong house and CDD is "IN DA HOUSE!".
Go VOLS!!!!!

UTByrd writes:

Once again, This story exemplifies CDD's penchant for valuing character first and ability second. Many people lave ability but are lacking in the character aspect. There are many coaches who value ability first and characte second. You can see the results in headlines across the nation
CDD will prove to all that you can win even though you put character first. UT is well on it's way back to garnering the respect it so richly deserves.
Building a solid foundation makes the way for a strong house and CDD is "IN DA HOUSE!".
Go VOLS!!!!!

UTByrd writes:

Sorry for the double post, my bad.
Go VOLS!!!!!

nola_vol writes:

in response to keepitreal4vols:

Wonder why he left Georgia Southern after 1 year as OC/QB coach to be the WR coach at Memphis under HC Tommy West(who was clearly on the hot seat)? Seems like a big step backwards but here he is; so I guess it all worked out.

It does makes sense that a QB coach would want some WR coaching experience to round out his resume (as did the OC gig) and demonstrate a more complete understanding of the passing game.

From the resume POV it also makes sense for him to keep moving up into higher levels of competition. Anyone know what kind of bucks we're talking about here, between OC at GaSouthern and WR coach at Memphis?

As for the timing with West at Memphis, maybe he figured he could get his WR ticket punched without getting stuck there. Staffs of fired coaches get first look when the big boys need to fill a position. (Easier & cheaper than raiding from the staff of an established program.)

Or maybe it was a chance to expand his recruiting experience base beyond GA/FL into TN, AR, MS, LA, KY. If his goal was to coach in the SEC, that too might make sense.

----

Of course, it could have been as simple as one of his kids needing braces and the Memphis job paying better (with Memphis being willing to pay to add a recruiter with GA/FL connections).

Okay... enough uninformed speculation from me. I think I can go back to sleep for a few more hours!

Lostvolinhighweeds writes:

in response to UTByrd:

Sorry for the double post, my bad.
Go VOLS!!!!!

If that's the worst thing that happens to me today, this will be a good day.

skm writes:

Wow, sounds like Hinshaw is really committed to his dream. That can only be good for our offense.

MiserableFloridaVol writes:

Only knock I have on the guy is that he looks just like Kiffin. Go to the full hat instead of the visor coach. Create some separation.

tonyvick#213307 writes:

Good Article. He seems young though.

BigOrangeSlim writes:

You have to think that if things keep working out for Coach Hinshaw The Big Orange will the the ones to enjoy the fruits of his labor!

crimsonviper writes:

Good article, John Adams...Are you feeling O.K.?

tnsportsman writes:

in response to ncvol17:

Good Luck..I hope we can get a future star QB in 2011...

Good read on Coach Hinshaw. We have our future star QB in Bray! Wait and see, this young man is the real deal. Not to say we don't go get another star QB recruit, we always need top recruits.

GO VOLS, WE ARE UT!

murrayvol writes:

in response to tonyvick#213307:

Good Article. He seems young though.

He's older than the Jackal.....more character too.

coach799 writes:

He has Chaney for a mentor so how could you question the choice? We have some sharp people in our fanbase. GBO!

oskie_score writes:

One is very fortunate to actually "live the dream", whatever that may be. Congratulations Darin!

His comment, "We're recruiting the next Peyton Manning." is the highest form of compliment.
Aside from the (NFL) "first-round draft pick" and every QB's dream remark another interpretation...Tennessee seeks to recruit young men of outstanding character and talent that excel both on the field and in the classroom.

FWBVol writes:

in response to RichRollin:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I know a lot of OC also are the QB coach, but, IMO, coaching QBs is the most time consuming position on the field. By coaching RBs, Chaney has more time to develop the whole offense. As OC Chaney's impact will be felt at the QB position as well.

Hinshaw played the position and might be able to offer some insights that even Chaney or Cutcliffe can't.

Huttdawg100 writes:

in response to FWBVol:

I know a lot of OC also are the QB coach, but, IMO, coaching QBs is the most time consuming position on the field. By coaching RBs, Chaney has more time to develop the whole offense. As OC Chaney's impact will be felt at the QB position as well.

Hinshaw played the position and might be able to offer some insights that even Chaney or Cutcliffe can't.

I agree with Rich on this one. I'd take Cutt or Chaney coaching my QB's. We can at least guess what the end product will be: Peyton Manning, Drew Brees. Hinshaw doesn't really have a track record of producing NFL QB's. Of course it's still early in his career, so who knows.

I do have high expectations of Bray: by the time he's a junior, he'll not only have the experience of playing against SEC defenses run by Saban and Chief, but I expect that he'll be playing behind an experienced offensive line. That sounds like a good combination.

voloffaith writes:

in response to RichRollin:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Maybe he means total picture. Make your son a renowned QB in UT history. Yes ,the I coached PM can only be said by the DukeHc. The bar they are shooting for is Peyton Manning type career. They are saying we are committed to making you the best...not so much we coached the best one ever here. Just my little quarter's worth without beating to death the "next Peyton Manning rift some have a problem with."

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

in response to MiserableFloridaVol:

Only knock I have on the guy is that he looks just like Kiffin. Go to the full hat instead of the visor coach. Create some separation.

??

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

Great read Adams. While there is not a big track record of success with this guy, I like his attitude and love of the game. Dooley made a good hire here, hope we see results by the end of 2010 at least!

oskie_score writes:

in response to RichRollin:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Hey Rich, let's hope so, otherwise taken at face value CDH's comments would appear insincere and shallow...definitely out-of-character for CDD and what he is trying to accomplish, certainly not the impression CDD wants (or his staff) to give players, parents, recruits, fans, administration, etc.

You make a good point. I think CDH meant well (I gave him the benefit of a doubt) but I also think he's still a little green when it comes to speaking with the press.

I enjoy your comments and appreciate your passion. GBO!

illinoisvolfan writes:

in response to MiserableFloridaVol:

Only knock I have on the guy is that he looks just like Kiffin. Go to the full hat instead of the visor coach. Create some separation.

I thought the same thing when I saw the photo of CDH. At least he's wearing an orange visor. Fast Lane seemsed to have an issue w/ wearing orange. I heard somewhere that Layla didn't like the way he looked in orange. Guess we know who wears the shoulder pads in the Kiffin family. GBO!

illinoisvolfan writes:

in response to illinoisvolfan:

I thought the same thing when I saw the photo of CDH. At least he's wearing an orange visor. Fast Lane seemsed to have an issue w/ wearing orange. I heard somewhere that Layla didn't like the way he looked in orange. Guess we know who wears the shoulder pads in the Kiffin family. GBO!

Seemsed? OK, no more beer while I'm commenting on a KNS article. Drinking while reading the article is fine, however.

OrangePsyched writes:

I think Chaney will be somewhat hands on also. Although he is RB coach he is also OC. He and the other coaches will be involved in the recruiting process. If the team succeeds the position will sell itself. I think next year will be somewhat conservative and I don't think any of the QB's will put up big numbers.

Huttdawg100 writes:

http://espn.go.com/blog/sec/post/_/id...

The Oregon game is going to be extremely important. Imagine opening the 2010 season 2-0 with an upset over Oregon.

letthebigdoghunt writes:

I like what we're building!

Marty87 writes:

Originally from Knoxville I grew up on Tennessee Football, but we moved to Orlando as a teenager. I completed my college days at UCF and saw Darin Hinshaw play his football days as QB here. UT has now a great guy coaching QB's there. I see better days for the Vol nation in the days to come !!!

Go Vols .... and Go Knights !!

always_vol (Inactive) writes:

in response to RichRollin:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

rich, nothing wrong with your post/questions.

I honestly do not know what dynamics CDD is working on. Here is my guess:
Hinshaw is a good be'er, a good communicator. He was also a pretty good passer in college.

His role at UT may be nothing more than recruiting, working QB mechanics, and relaying signals.

Given that Cheney is now the OC, he may have taken on the RB's to lighten his load in practice and on game day. I can't imagine being RB coach being an intensely challenging position, at least not something to distract from his OC duties.

So, that is my take.

always_vol (Inactive) writes:

Rich, to add:
Hinshaw (as a recruiter) will probably use his own stats and experience, Plus citing Peyton (UT Grad) and Cheney's ties with Brees...for now.

Hopefully, in a year or 2 he can add Tyler Bray to the list.

If Hinshaw is any good, he won't stay long as QB coach. He'll either move up to OC (If cheney leaves), or move out as OC somewhere else.

murrayvol writes:

in response to Huttdawg100:

http://espn.go.com/blog/sec/post/_/id...

The Oregon game is going to be extremely important. Imagine opening the 2010 season 2-0 with an upset over Oregon.

Imagine struggling vs Martin and getting the Hell beat out of us by Oregon.

Hope I'm worng but this could be a very difficult season. Unbiased experts are picking us in the mid-50s nationally and 8th in the SEC for a reason.

mrvol2u writes:

Sounds good to me! Young guy, smart guy with an obvious football sickness (can't live without it).

I like the fact he has stops in Middle and West Tennessee. I believe we need to shore up a few ties in those areas to recruit them better.

mrvol2u writes:

in response to murrayvol:

Imagine struggling vs Martin and getting the Hell beat out of us by Oregon.

Hope I'm worng but this could be a very difficult season. Unbiased experts are picking us in the mid-50s nationally and 8th in the SEC for a reason.

It's summer! Relax, we have a few months before we need to get geared up. UT is an easy pick to be a really bad team this year. I am not sold on that. I believe we have enough defense to compete and be a mild surprise this year.

We will not win the east or go to a BCS game but I think this team will give the fans a few positive moments and have us looking forward to the future.

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