Logan • David Yost placed the football in the passer's hand, turned her shoulders toward the net and watched her lob the ball through the air. Whether his quarterback is a child in Utah State's summer football camp or a college senior preparing for the Aggies' upcoming season, Yost can summon an unusual experience in his profession: conducting a class of kindergartners.
Even now, nearly 25 years later, some of his old techniques occasionally come into play in his new job as the Aggies' offensive coordinator. "I always joke, teaching kindergarten is like coaching football: If you want to get your point across, you just raise your voice, and they listen," he said. "You're drawing on the board a lot; you draw a lot of pictures. You're connecting things and repeating things over and over and over."
That's what he learned at Kent State, where he played briefly as a walk-on football player. Yost wanted to coach, and every coach he had known was a teacher. His own route was different, though. He became the only male student in a six-year period to enroll in the school's early child education program. As he approached graduation, Yost worked as a student teacher in the Kent City School District and discovered that's where he belonged.
"The kids were fun," said Yost, 47. "It changed up every day. You're communicating, there's all this energy, you don't know what you're going to get. Kids'll say odd things; they ask interesting questions."
Some of those children in northeast Ohio wanted to know Mr. Yost's first name. David? Wow. David Yost was an actor who played one of the "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers," a children's television show that aired in the early 1990s.
The kids liked picturing their teacher as the Blue Power Ranger, but this David Yost didn't care about being a superhero. He just wanted to coach. During his college summers, he coached little league baseball. Yost later became the defensive coordinator of Bell-Herron Middle School in his hometown of Carrollton, Ohio, devising blitzes for eighth-graders. His calls of "Bones" and "Blood" sent a bunch of defenders rushing toward the quarterback.
"I don't know what coverage we were playing behind it, but we were bringing eight guys," he said. "I can't imagine how bad of a defensive coordinator I was."
But he enjoyed the job, and moving to the high school level was even better. "He just loved to coach," said Pete Sedello, then Carrollton's coach. "Breaking down film was nothing for him. That's not a very fun job for high school assistant coaches. It didn't seem to faze him."
Sedello tried to find his former player a teaching job at the high school, but nothing materialized. Yost pieced together opportunities as a long-term substitute in various elementary schools. "Amazing," he said, "how many kindergarten teachers get pregnant." In other words, he got a lot of work.
He attended a job fair in Georgia and intended to visit another in Florida, where teaching opportunities were plentiful. But then came a call from Tiffin University, one of the three dozen or so Ohio football programs Yost had contacted about an entry-level coaching position. He was offered housing and meals for the football season, with a promise of a $1,000 payment if everything went well.
"Needless to say, my mother was not happy with my decision," he said.
It all worked out nicely, in a profession where Yost was paid $353,600 to coach Oregon's quarterbacks last season. Yost considered returning to teaching after he left a coaching job at Missouri in December 2012 for family-oriented reasons, but he ended up joining Washington State's staff.
"My mom's still shocked that they pay me to do what I do," said Yost, a father of three. So are hometown friends who can't grasp that he coaches without having to teach classes. Then again, that was his own frame of reference in Carrollton. And he's still a teacher, working with quarterbacks and installing USU's new offense.
"Every kid learns a little differently. … Some guys are better visual learners; some guys, verbal is all you need," Yost said. "The teaching part never changes. I don't think it changes if you've got kindergartners or eighth-graders or college football players."
Now retired, Sedello is thrilled about the way Yost's career has developed, and how he matured from being a high school student who once mischievously tried to write messages on the windows of Sedello's house. The coach caught Yost and his friend in the act, but didn't punish them. Sedello and his wife just treated them like kindergartners, serving milk and cookies