LINCOLN — So where else would you expect to find Kyle Brey, Nebraska's new offensive graduate assistant, other than on a field of play with a practice plan in hand?
His father, Mike, has been head basketball coach at Notre Dame for 13 years as well as having worked at Delaware, Duke and famed DeMatha High School.
His mother was a volleyball player at George Washington and an assistant coach at Delaware.
His grandmother, a swimming world-record holder in the 1950s, coached at George Washington.
And his grandfather was a longtime high school athletic director.
“I didn't have any other option growing up,” Brey said with a smile. “I was going to play sports and then coach them at some level.”
And the former scholarship tight end and fullback at Buffalo under Turner Gill couldn't be happier about his chosen profession.
“Playing sports my whole life,” Brey said, “and at the same time being around my father and watching him teach and watching the impact he has on his players — the sense of family you can create and seeing kids grow — I think I've known from a very young age it was going to be the right fit.
“And I was very lucky to have a father help me get into it.”
Papa Brey, in the beginning, was far from 100 percent on board.
“He was the No. 1 fan for me not to be a coach,” Kyle said. “He was the first guy to stop me and say, 'Are you sure you want to do this?'
“He wanted to warn me. But I felt I would be cheating myself if I didn't give it a try. And I love it here at Nebraska. My wife and I are so excited to be here.”
Brey, after graduating from Buffalo, spent two months as an offensive intern at Western Michigan before Gill called from Kansas with a graduate assistantship. Brey spent two years at KU — one under Gill and one under Charlie Weis — before moving to Nebraska this winter.
The influence of Gill, the former Nebraska star quarterback and longtime assistant coach, on Brey's life is strong.
“Turner is the guy who got me into coaching,” Brey said. “And getting recruited by Turner and going to Buffalo and playing for him, I learned he is the ultimate values guy.
“His morals are as good as anyone I've ever met. People ask, 'Did a coach make you a better player?' Turner is the perfect example of a coach making you a better person. He force-fed you to become a better person.”
Brey said his father's example of working with players and making them better athletically and socially has impacted his own development.
“But Turner Gill really showed me the other side of the coin in how special you can be with plugging in the spiritual life into coaching,” he said.
Brey was an all-state pick in Indiana, but set modest goals for himself in college.
“I was just excited to be a Division I football player,” he said, “I wanted to get a degree and hoped Turner didn't kick me off the team.
“I wanted to be around him and learn from him because I knew I wanted to get into coaching, and I thought, 'What an amazing guy to start the foundation of my learning with.'”
Brey got more than the minimum out of his college playing days.
The 2008 Buffalo team stunned the nation by winning the Mid-American Conference and earning the school's second bowl bid in its history. The Bulls had posted just one winning season in the previous 21 years.
“We had one of those special seasons with a lot of overtime games,” Brey said. “It ended up being a heck of a ride.”
Gill left Buffalo for Kansas, where he replaced Mark Mangino. After two seasons and a 5-19 record, he was fired. Brey said the dismissal surprised him.
“Turner wasn't someone who was going to go for a shortcut,” Brey said. “Sometimes in athletics, the right way takes time. The problem with modern-day athletics is people don't have patience.”
Brey, who just turned 26, has goals in coaching, but is showing patience by not setting age-related deadlines.
“I want to be a position coach,” he said. “Any young coach wants to do that. My ultimate goal is along the lines of my father — I want to be a head coach and run my own program.
“What level that will be at, I don't know. But being able to bounce ideas off my dad at night, he's an amazing resource to have. And now I have great coaches here to learn from, too.”
Contact the writer: