Never a Doubt in Chavis
Oklahoma fans were left scratching their heads when some random Clemson support staff member announced to the world in December that he was the new defensive ends coach for the Sooners.
Miguel Chavis? Is this guy pranking everybody? Eight months later, everybody knows it’s not a joke, and everybody knows Chavis isn’t a joke.
But it was an interesting period because it’s safe to say that not many people outside of the Clemson bubble even knew Chavis existed.
Brent Venables did, no doubt about that. Chavis had been working in a support role from Clemson for five seasons (2017-21). Even though the hire felt strange and felt like too big of a job to give to a first-time position coach, there was never a doubt for Venables.
“I’ve known what he can do. That’s why he’s one of the first hires we had,” Venables said. “He is mature beyond his years. Terrific around the players. Y’all see a lot of fun stuff but he’s tough and he’s demanding. And he gets the most out of his guys. He’s very accountable and has a unique way in how he relates to people. Whether they’re 75 years old or they’re 16. He’s just got a unique way.
“Effective communicator. Great motivator. He’s very passionate. Intense. Super smart. Really technically sound in how he progressively teaches. He really understands our system inside and out.”
Chavis hit the ground running. There wasn’t much he could do in December except go nuts on the recruiting trail, and he did just that.
His efforts and production were a key reason why OU was able to finish as strong as it did for the 2022 class, finishing in the top 10 when most thought the group would crumble.
Spring practice just reinforced early impressions as one-by-one, defensive ends spoke glowingly about Chavis and what he was bringing to the table.
Maybe Venables did know something.
“I don’t need anybody else to sign off on whether or not the guy can recruit and coach and be a great teammate and have a lot of depth from a knowledge standpoint,” Venables said. “I wouldn’t have done it if I was unsure or if he was just a great recruiter. I don’t want to have to hide your weaknesses. If you’re going to show up here, you’re going to do well in all areas.”
Every position coach has to start somewhere, just few get that initial foray at a place like OU. Chavis put in that work, though. In his words, he wasn’t just twiddling his thumbs at Clemson.
Venables didn’t doubt him, but Chavis might have had an even bigger supporter in defensive tackles coach Todd Bates.
OU fans were thrilled as all could be when Venables was able to land Bates for that position, and now you have a bit of an understanding why Bates fared so well at Clemson.
They call themselves ‘salt and pepper’ as Chavis’ job was to help Bates in any way possible. Eventually, his time would come. Indeed, it has.
“Man, he's been ready,” Bates told SoonerScoop.com at media days. “You know, that's the thing. There's a saying – it's better to not have an opportunity and be ready for one than to not be ready when you get one.
“And I think he's the perfect example of being ready when your opportunity comes. Work is where opportunity roars and knocks. That's the acronym for work. And he put in the work. So he's earned where he's at man, and he's doing great man. It's awesome.”
Chavis isn’t worried about making first-year mistakes because he’s just being who he is. And who he is happens to be somebody who can resonate as much with the players in his room as he can with elite recruits he’s trying to bring to Norman on the trail.
“I might pull a hamstring here or there, but I’m trying to do my best,” Chavis joked about going full speed at all times.
Why slow down when everything he’s doing is working? Chavis has been instrumental in OU securing the commitments of two four-star defensive ends in P.J. Adebawore and Colton Vasek here in the last month.
Neither was easy. No previously established OU connections. Heck, OU had never ever earned a commitment from Austin (Texas) Westlake, which is what Chavis was attempting to do with Vasek.
If that combo signs with OU, it could end up as one of the best defensive end duos to sign with the Sooners in a long, long time.
“You know I talked to some players, even people from (Clemson), just to really assure, well I was assured but even more assurance," Adebawore said. “I was talking to one of the players, one of the defensive linemen. It was a lot of good things, nothing bad to say about him – just so many different things that are good about him.
“His traits, who he is as a person and in recruiting who he is, that’s exactly who is when you get there. He is a little younger, a little more wild, brings a little more energy – he can relate a little more to us. He has a lot of energy. He's a lot of fun and I love to be around him."
Energy is one word. Passion is another. That passion has helped separate Chavis from the rest of the pack.
“Because I love my job. Because I’m passionate about Oklahoma,” said Chavis to SoonerScoop.com at media days. “Because I’m passionate about the guys in my room. Because I’m passionate about proving Coach V right. I’m passionate about that this is the job I was given to do.”
Chavis has definitely heard the words of Venables. One thing Venables has stressed is the relational aspect of everything.
For Chavis, it’s all about relationships. The relationships with the guys in his room, and the relationships he’s been able to forge with his targeted recruits.
“I think relationships is do you like people? That’s for me, though,” Chavis said. “For some people, it’s different. Recruiting can mean different things. For me, recruiting is not the end. It’s the means to the end.
“Recruiting is the means to come into contact with the guys that I’m called to love on and develop and equip and teach and hold accountable and put in position to be successful on and off the field. Why would I not love that?”
He’s no longer that unknown. Chavis has made his name in such a short period of time, and now he’s ready to show OU, its fans and the rest of college football what he can do.