Dayton Flyers football coach Rick Chamberlin stayed up late Friday to see if tight end Adam Trautman would get drafted.
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“I was getting a little nervous,” Chamberlin said, “I think Adam and most of us were because of the teams that had passed on him and picked a couple of tight ends that I didn’t even read about.”
Chamberlin’s patience was rewarded in the third roumnd minutes before midnight when the New Orleans Saints drafted Trautman with the second-to-last pick of the night, the 105th overall selection.
“When his name came up, how exciting,” Chamberlin said. “I jumped up out of my seat. And to be selected by the Saints, a first-class organization, a winning organization, that’s what you want for your players.”
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Chamberlin sent a congratulatory text message to Trautman on Friday night but waited a couple days to give him a call, knowing he would be busy.
“I told him how thankful I was that he gave me the opportunity to experience something like this before my coaching career ended,” said Chamberlin, who’s entering his 45th season in football, counting his playing career at UD, many years as an assistant coach and now 13 as a head coach. “Of course, he was very complimentary on the opportunity we gave him.”
The NFL Draft gave Chamberlin, his staff and players a taste of normalcy during an unprecedented offseason. The University of Dayton closed in March because of coronavirus pandemic. The Flyers didn’t even get to start spring practices.
Chamberlin has had to adapt like every other coach in the country during a challenging time, not knowing for certain there will even be a football season in 2020.
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“I don’t think there’s a person in the country who doesn’t hope that football will be right back at the time that it’s supposed to be,” Chamberlin said. “No one really knows. In my opinion, I don’t want any decisions made until later on. Let’s get more data. Let’s see how things have progressed, what protocols we can put in, going into the fall. I know we won’t do it until students are safe on campus.”
In the meantime, Dayton coaches and players will prepare as if they are coming back. They have tried to keep that preparation as consistent as possible even though everyone is spread across the country, focusing on studying film and the playbook. Three days a week, they have position meetings on Zoom. Sometimes they have offensive and defensive meetings.
If Chamberlin has information he needs to share with everyone at once, the entire team will join a Zoom meeting together. The 63-year-old head coach has adapted well to the new world.
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“I’ve learned more about computer technology in the past month,” Chamberlin said, “than I did in my entire life. I’m a pen-and-paper guy. When guys are on their computer talking about folders, I’ve got actual folders. That’s how I am. But some of the stuff is pretty good, and I’m glad I learned it because I’m going to be using it even when everything gets back to normal.”
The virtual meetings have provided a pick-me-up for the players, too, Chamberlin said. Robbed of their spring practice season and access to UD’s facilities, they’re trying to keep in shape at home. Some of them have home gyms or access to parks where they can run. Some are getting creative with strength training.
“One guy he was lifting when he’s in his living room,” Chamberlin said. “Lifting tables and then a chair and then a sofa, just whatever he could find to do a bench press.”
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