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University of Memphis loses key football coordinator to University of Alabama

Three months after being named the Tigers' special teams coordinator, Svoboda was named special teams coordinator and tight ends coach at the University of Alabama.
Credit: UofM

TUSCALOOSA, Ala — Alas, Drew Svoboda, we hardly knew you.

Three months after being named the University of Memphis special teams coordinator, Svoboda was named the special teams coordinator and tight ends coach at the University of Alabama, the defending national champions.

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban announced the hiring Monday of the former Memphis and Rice assistant. Svoboda spent three years coaching special teams at Rice and one spring as special teams coordinator at Memphis. The former Texas high school head coach was the Owls’ running backs coach in 2018 and coached fullbacks the next two seasons.

Here is Svoboda's bio from gotigersgo.com:

Drew Svoboda, former Rice special teams coordinator, was hired in the same role for Memphis Football in January 2021. Prior to Memphis, Svoboda completed his third year at Rice, including two as the Owls' special teams coordinator after a successful run as a high school coach in the Houston area.

"We are so excited to add Drew as our special teams coordinator," Silverfield said. "He runs a very similar system to what we have had in place at Memphis. Drew is a very smart and passionate coach who will continue a great tradition here. His connections to Texas will certainly assist us in our recruiting efforts. We can't wait for his wife, Kristi, and kids, Austyn and Jack, to join us in Memphis."

Faced with the challenge of replacing Jack Fox, the C-USA Special Teams Player of the Year, as well as kicker Haden Tabola in 2019, Svoboda's replacements surpassed their efforts.

"I am thrilled to be joining Coach Silverfield's staff at the University of Memphis and getting to coach a phenomenal group of young men," said Svoboda. "I look forward to doing my part in regards to coordinating special teams and recruiting student-athletes to help continue the success the Tiger program has experienced."

Former walk-on Chris Barnes, who earned second-team all-conference honors while averaging 44.8 yards per punt, combined with grad transfer Adam Nunez to rank fourth nationally in special teams grades from Pro Football Focus. Rice was second in the conference and 18th nationally in ESPN's Specialty Teams Efficiency rankings and their 63.1 rating was the third highest in program history.

They were second in Conference USA in both net punting and punt return defense, ranking 17th and 14th nationally, respectively, in both categories. The duo led C-USA with 27 punts inside the 20. Austin Trammell ranked fourth in C-USA in punt and kick returns, and the Owls ranked fourth in punt returns in the conference with a 9.2-yard average while long snapper Cameron Riddle earned honorable mention All-Conference USA honors.


Svoboda coached running backs in his first season at Rice in 2018 highlighted by Juma Otoviano's freshman record 224-yard effort vs. Old Dominion in the season finale. Senior Emmanuel Esukpa topped 100 yards in two of the first three games, including 173 yards in the season opener vs. Prairie View A&M, the most by an Owl in an opener since Trevor Cobb had 191 in 1991. Fellow senior Austin Walter concluded his career joining Cobb as the only players in school history to have 1,500 yards rushing, 500 yards receiving and 1,000 kick return yards in their career before signing as a free agent with the San Francisco 49ers. 

Svoboda made the jump to collegiate coaching after guiding Klein Collins High School to five district championships, eight playoff appearances and a 93-24 record in 10 seasons as head coach. His winning percentage (.795) ranked sixth among active Texas 6A head coaches at the end of the 2017 season.

He took over a program that was 1-9 in 2007 and two years later led them to a 12-1 mark and a district championship. He earned the first of five Touchdown Club of Houston Coach of the Year finalist awards as well as five District 15 6A Coach of the Year honors and the Houston Texans NFL High School Coach of the Year honors. 

Svoboda was named Dave Campbell's Texas Football Preseason 6A Coach of the Year in 2017 after leading Klein Collins to the state semifinals in 2016. He was also tabbed by VYPE Magazine as its Houston Football Coach of the Year in 2016. Prior to that season, he coached the East team in the Bayou Bowl High School All-Star game.

He was president of the Greater Houston Greater Houston Football Coaches Association and was on the Board of Directors for the Texas High School Coaches Association, serving as the Region Five Director.

A graduate of Tomball (Texas) High School, Svoboda was a three-year letterman and two-time Academic All-Southland Conference at Stephen F. Austin.

Svoboda and wife, Kristi, are the parents of two children, a daughter, Austyn and a son, Jack.