Klint Kubiak has had a long and winding road across the football world to get to his current role as the Vikings offensive coordinator.
Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune recently chatted with Kubiak, a former safety at Colorado State, to weave through his various stops along the way.
And while Kubiak takes over the role previously held by his father, Gary, he has also had to work his way up the ladder.
Krammer wrote that Klint Kubiak initially wanted to play in the NFL, but decided to get into coaching instead. And he started at the bottom.
His path to replacing his father as the Vikings' offensive coordinator at age 34 wound through four offensive systems with seven different head coaches on four teams.
It started with an itch as an out-of-work player. He became a grad assistant at Texas A&M, his dad's alma mater, while pursuing a master's degree, figuring he could always stop coaching and just study.
But he was sold immediately by his first task: working the same youth camp he'd once attended as a grade schooler.
"My first gig," Kubiak said. "Stay at the dorms, sell Gatorade, all the little things. It was just being on the field with the kids and seeing how excited they were about the game and getting to be a little bit a part of their enjoyment was special. It stuck."
Krammer also talked to a handful of coaches who have worked with Kubiak in the past, including Browns Head Coach Kevin Stefanski, who was the Vikings offensive coordinator before Gary Kubiak.
Stefanski praised Klint Kubiak's leadership and said he has high expectations for his friend.
As Kubiak takes the reins of the Vikings offense, former colleagues say they expected this rise, adding that he earned it through a typical coaching route of long hours and often thankless work that overshadows notions about being a coach's son. His influences stretch beyond his four-time Super Bowl-winning father, as he built his acumen for three teams over six years before the Kubiaks were on the same staff.
Kubiak's work ethic and knowledge will command a room of players, said friend and Browns Head Coach Kevin Stefanski.
"Players right away want to know what you know," said Stefanski, the NFL's Coach of the Year. "They're looking at you. They're judging your football acumen. It's so obvious with Klint that he's prepared and is willing to put in the work to get his guys to understand."
The Vikings offense ranked fourth in yards per game (393.3) and were 11th in points per game (26.9) during the 2020 season.
Hasan: Guard is Vikings biggest need in free agency
The countdown to the new league year — and the official start of free agency — in on.
The NFL flips the page to 2021 at 3 p.m. on March 17, when free agents can officially sign with other teams.
Arif Hasan of The Athletic recently broke down Minnesota's five biggest needs heading into free agency, and put guard at the top of his list.
The Vikings don't have many bodies at guard to begin with, and the level of play they got from the players they do have wasn't spectacular. Add in the potential departure of starting left guard Dakota Dozier and the position goes from worrisome to alarming. When the new league year opens, they'll only have four players on their 90-man roster devoted to the position, about as many as they have quarterbacks.
The Vikings will have to make a decision on tackle Riley Reiff and, subsequently, a decision on Ezra Cleveland before they can move forward, which means they'll know whether or not they need one additional guard or two. They've historically had extremely poor interior play, and pressure up the middle along with defenders knifing into the backfield to create tackles-for-loss have been a big problem. While not the most valuable position on the roster, it is the position that could stand to gain the most from an upgrade (or two).
Dozier, who started all 16 games in 2020, is slated to be a free agent this offseason. Cleveland started nine games at right guard as a rookie.
Minnesota used five different starting combinations this past season, with the group of Reiff, Dozer, Garrett Bradbury, Cleveland and Brian O'Neill being the most common.
Hasan's other areas of need for the Vikings were, in order, safety, defensive tackle, cornerback and defensive end.