Jonathan Crompton: They don't come much better than Jim Chaney
The term “players coach” is often used but is seldom explained. For former Vol quarterback Jonathan Crompton, a players coach is how he would describe Jeremy Pruitt’s new offensive coordinator Jim Chaney.
Crompton was a Parade All-American, a Rivals Top 100 player when he arrived in Knoxville in 2005. Heading into his senior season in 2009, Crompton’s career had been beset by injury, rotating coordinators and labeled by many as a bust. But a year with Chaney and head coach Lane Kiffin changed that notion. In his first three years of action, Crompton threw for 1,387 yards, 9 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.
In his senior year though, Crompton threw for 2,800 yards 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, ultimately getting drafted in the 5th round by the San Diego Chargers.
“They just told me to be the player that I was. You don’t try to mentally beat people up. That’s my opinion on how you should coach,” Crompton said.
“Everyone has their own way, but for me there’s a difference in pushing someone, training them hard and trying to ruin someone’s confidence because that’s the way the old school does it. When you instill confidence in a player, it works. Now to instill confidence the player has to work hard. I can remember going up in the summer and Chaney did things that would help. I would script the 7-on-7 workouts. That helped me learn the system and I had to learn it fast because I only had one year with them. So I would script the 7-on-7 work using the new terminology.
“Look at his track record. His knowledge of the game. His understand of young kids. Keyword being kids. They are 18-21 year-old-kids. It takes a special human being to understand how to coach them and get them to do things within the system. They don’t come much better than him in that position. That’s my personal opinion. At the end of the day, I’m a numbers guy. I like math. His numbers don’t lie. Look what they have done at Georgia. If you look everywhere he has been there has been productivity.”
Crompton has plenty of thoughts and ideas on coaching and offensive systems. He played in the same system in high school and his first two years in college. In his last two years of college and seven years of professional ball, he never played in the same offensive system. Each year was different. Crompton feels the success of Chaney’s system is in its ability to maximize the skill of it’s personnel.
“There is flexibility in the system and that is one of the beauties of it,” Crompton offered.
“Look a me. I was a pocket quarterback who was mobile. There’s a difference in being a runner and a mobile pocket passer. My deal was when I would roll out or had to scramble, I liked going to my left even though I was a right handed quarterback. Naturally a coach says a right hander wants to go to the right and a left hander wants to go to the left, but I liked going to my left. One thing that he and Lane did was if they were going to straight up call a bootleg and the game situation allowed for it we were going left. Just little things like that. They know how to play to your strengths. They put their players in the best positions.
“I think him and Lane are the two best I have ever had coach me that their system allows everyone to play to their skill sets.”
And maximizing those skill sets could mean guys play anywhere on the field.
“With the receivers it’s all about match-ups,” Crompton said. “If I have a stud “X” receiver who is typically my single receiver to the boundary, I want to mismatch him with who he’s going against. I’m going to move him around. It’s going to look like the exact same formation but he will be in a different place. Same thing with a tight end. If I have a mobile tight end, I might put him out at the Z on the far side of the field. That’s also going to help the quarterback understand if it’s man or zone. You can still run the same plays out of it. In his system you run the same stuff with guys in different spots. For a quarterback, that’s an indicator. It’s little things like that. It’s the same things with motions. He does a good job of getting guys moving around for an indicator for the quarterback. He can run his same plays but make them look different by adding a simple wrinkle to it.
“In game adjusting is a huge deal. The guys that win the most are the guys who adjust in game the best. I think that was one the biggest deals with him and Lane combined. Both really know how to do that. They know their personnel. They know how to use them and they do it better than anybody.”
Crompton has followed Chaney’s career whereever that has taken him from Tennessee to Arkansas, Pittsburgh, Georgia and now back to Tennessee. The North Carolina player admits he can not longer call a Chaney play because he’s got too many systems left in his head, but he watches Chaney’s teams' play and does with great enjoyment knowing how Chaney wants to play football.
“I love watching his teams play,” Crompton said. “You know you’re going to get good physical football, but you are also going to get finesse football. Look at what he has done at Georgia. He had two running backs taken in the Top 35 picks a year ago and this year with two new tailbacks both ran for 1,000 yards. That helps a quarterback so much.
“He has a balance and that’s what’s beautiful about his offense. He can go run it 35-40 times a game or they can turn around and throw it 48 times a game and you never know where it’s coming from.”
In 2009, Jim Chaney arrived in Knoxville and inherited Crompton and a chance to help a highly regarded prep signal caller live up to his billing. Ten years later, Chaney inherits highly regarded Jarrett Guarantano, who’s now playing for his fourth offensive coordinator in as many years.
Crompton’s message to the New Jersey native is simple, enjoy it.
“Soak it up. Work your butt off. Understand he’s going to get the best out of you,” Crompton offers.
“He’s going to coach you hard. There’s going to be critiques. But understand those are coming out of the goodness of his coaching. He not just going to beat you up to beat you up He’s going to teach you why he wants you to do it a certain way. Know that it’s not criticism just to be critical. Understand he’s done it for a long time at the highest level. He’s had players play at the highest level. He’s going to love you no matter what. Trust the process with him. That’s the fun part of it.”
Fun Crompton found in his final season as a Vol.