Nick Sheridan follows dad into coaching

There were never doubts, never any internal struggles, never any questions about what Nick Sheridan wanted to do when he grew up.

From the time he was 14, he knew he wanted to be coach. He knew because he watched his dad, Bill, turn in once successful stint after another both in college and the pros and, well, he wanted to be just like him.

So the idea that Sheridan has risen quickly through the coaching ranks, all the way to USF quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator at the age of 24, does not leave him much time to reflect. He is doing what he always wanted to do. So he is 24. So what? Sheridan got to Tampa thanks to an instant connection with new coach Willie Taggart two seasons ago when they were both at Western Kentucky, and has come along for the ride.

Now for the most interesting twist of all -- Nick Sheridan and Bill Sheridan are coaching in the same city, but for different teams. Bill Sheridan is in his second year as defensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Bucs. The two teams share the same football stadium.

"It’s pretty neat and it’s been great so far," Nick Sheridan said in a recent phone interview. "I rely on him for all sorts of advice."

"My dad was my hero growing up. I thought he was the coolest guy out there and I wanted to be like him. I thought he had an awesome job. I used to think I was really cool because my dad was a football coach and I enjoyed going to practices and I loved the game of football so I knew my dad enjoyed it and there were so many great things about being a football coach."

Coaching runs in the Sheridan family. One of Nick's brothers, Joe, is a high school coach in Michigan. Another, Mark, is at Albion College playing football, with plans to become a coach.

"I tease Nick because he went to the University of Michigan, and he got a political science degree and the knucklehead wasn’t smart enough to go into another career," Bill Sheridan said with a chuckle during a phone interview. "He decided to go into coaching. At this point, he looks like a genius because he’s coaching at South Florida and he’s only 25 years old."

So how did Nick Sheridan get here so quickly? After he graduated from Michigan, he tried to find a graduate assistant job. But it was spring time, and there were no openings. So he went back to his high school just outside Ann Arbor and spent the season helping out. When he tried again for a GA job following the season, a former teammate, Jeff Kastl, told him about Western Kentucky offensive coordinator Zach Azzanni. Kastl and Azzanni had worked previously at Central Michigan.

Sheridan contacted Western Kentucky and spoke to Taggart on the phone. In the spring of 2011, Sheridan joined the staff as a graduate assistant. The following year, he was promoted to quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator, the same position he has now for the Bulls.

"He’s been fortunate from a timing standpoint to get on with Willie as a grad assistant two years ago, then because of some movement, he was able to take on a full-time position for Willie last year at Western Kentucky and that was an unbelievably generous opportunity Willie provided for him," Bill Sheridan said.

"Nick’s got a very bright future. He’s a very bright kid, but he’s been – like it is a lot in coaching -- in the right place at the right time with the right guy, and for him to be down here as a position coach for a Big East school, he’s fortunate, and he knows it."

Nick and Bill Sheridan have been able to see each other weekly now that they are in Tampa together, and they do talk shop despite coaching opposite sides of the ball. Strategy is a big part of the discussions they have, particularly with all the changes both have seen with offenses in recent years.

Given the uncertainty that comes with being in the coaching profession, the two are extremely thankful they are in the same place at the same time.

"I feel very fortunate," Nick Sheridan said. "You take it as it comes and just make the most of your opportunities, work as hard as you possibly can and hope good things happen for you."