Jack Del Rio was an All Everything Linebacker in high school at USC and then in the NFL. When he retired from football after the 1996 season, he immediately got into coaching.
He didn’t have to struggle like so many coaches because he’s a big name guy. His first job was in 1997 as an assistant Strength and Conditioning coach at New Orleans.
In 1998, the Saints named him Linebackers coach.
He moved up the ranks pretty quickly and by 2003, he was the head coach of the Jacksonville
While in Jacksonville, Jack Del Rio’s son Luke played Quarterback for the Episcopal High School. Jack Del Rio was fired in 2011 and he was hired by the Denver Broncos as their Defensive Coordinator.
The Del Rio family loaded up and moved to the Rocky Mountain state.
A lot of Bronco players kids wind up at Valor Christian High School in Highlands Ranch such as the four McCaffrey boys, Elliss brothers and Blake Stenstrom to name just a few. Luke Del Rio was the starting Quarterback for Valor Christian in 2012.
Jack Del Rio was supposed to be 6-4, 245 when he played Linebacker in the NFL, but Luke didn’t inherit his father’s size. He is about 6-1, 200. There were some schools that were after Luke Del Rio including Oklahoma State.
But, he chose to walk on at Alabama and play for Nick Saban.
Why didn’t he walk on at his father’s school?
The story was that Jack Del Rio was USC Trojan to the bone, but not a lot of Trojans liked Lane Kiffin the head coach at USC at the time. Which may have been a factor with Luke heading east to Alabama.
Kiffin was fired at USC in the middle of the 2013 season because the team performed so poorly even with talent on the roster.
Nick Saban hired Kiffin as his Offensive Coordinator and Luke Del Rio was out the door. He transferred to Oregon State where he backed up senior Sean Mannion. It looked lie Luke Del Rio was in line to take Mannion’s spot in the 2015 season.
But, it was not to be as the Oregon State head coach of many years, Mike Riley, was hired by the
Nebraska Cornhuskers. He was replaced by Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen.
Andersen ran a different type of offense than Luke Del Rio was equipped for, so Luke was off again. He transferred to the area close to where he had mostly grown up, Gainesville, Florida and the Florida Gators.
The Gators had just fired Will Muschamp and hired Jim McElwain from Colorado State. McElwain had been interested in Luke Del Rio when he was playing high school ball in Colorado.
But, now, he was a scholarship player and would have to sit out a year. He sat out the 2015 football season while new Florida coach did their best to get by with Will Grier, or Treon Harris.
Grier started improving after a rough start, but then he was suspended for the year for supposed steroid use.
The Gators had a rough season at Quarterback, but they still won the SEC East.
After the season, Grier had transferred out. Harris moved to Wide Receiver.
This opened the door for Luke Del Rio, or Purdue transfer Austin Appleby. The Gators also signed 4 star Quarterback Feleipe’ Franks and 3 star Kyle Trask. Franks has a long way to go to be ready to play college football and Trask never even started in high school.
Will Muschamp built a great defense at Florida, but he ran his offense into the ground and any talent brought in at Quarterback transferred out.
Jim McElwain was left with very few prospects at the team’s most important position.
But, McElwain worked wonders at Colorado State and then he was able to win the SEC East in his first year with mostly Muschamp’s players.
Luke Del Rio, according to unknown internet sources, supposedly looked really good at Alabama and may have started there if he had remained on the team. He looked good as a back up to Sean Mannion at Oregon State in limited opportunities.
He also looked really good in the Florida Spring Game. Those Spring Games often mean little, but Del Rio throws a really accurate pass and seems to have few limitations with his arm. He has a quick release and he throws one of the prettier passes of anyone in college football not named Deshaun Watson. He’s the son of a former great player and a football coach that is now the head coach for the Oakland Raiders. Time will tell what kind of leadership qualities are in Luke Del Rio, but he has the makings of a Quarterback that can change the offensive scenery in Gainesville, Florida.
With improved Offensive Line play, a powerhouse running game led by Junior College transfer Mark Thompson, and talented young receivers like Antonio Callaway, the Gators have a chance to have an offense to match their defense.
That should be a scary thought to the other SEC members.