Northern Arizona's game versus Montana State is designated as the Family Weekend game for the University. For Tim and Nick Davis, every weekend is family weekend. Tim joined the NAU football staff this past spring as the offensive line coach. A little bit later, his son Nick decided to make the move to NAU, as well.
The move for both of them gives Lumberjack Country the unique experience of seeing a father-son duo every Saturday. Not only is Nick on the squad as a redshirt sophomore, but he's an offensive lineman. That means day-in and day-out Nick is coached directly by his father.
Nick spent two seasons at the University of Florida. A preferred walk-on, Nick redshirted his first season there. He was with his father on the same team for the first time. Nick enjoyed his time at Florida and the friends that he made, but his father getting the job at NAU provided him the opportunity to change his playing career path.
"I didn't get to see him much when I was at Florida because I was up with the first team and he was with the scout team," said Tim. "Now, he's directly involved in playing. He gets it. He understands my terminology, where I come from, but he understands when I'm real and when I'm not real. There's a time for getting it done and he knows that."
Nick had considered NAU when thinking about his college of choice and had even made a trip to Flagstaff to check out the campus. Ultimately at the time, Nick made the choice to test the waters with the Gators with the hopes of getting an opportunity to work hard and play.
Having spent two years with Florida and giving it a chance, Nick decided that with his dad getting a job at NAU it opened the door for him to make a move back to Arizona.
Some people may think of it as a little too much pressure to be coached by your father in college, but Nick thinks otherwise. He knows how to distinguish between his father and his coach.
"I don't really see him as my dad on the field," said Nick. "He's my coach. Once we get on the field it's all business. It's all football. I call him 'Coach' whenever I can; even when we're alone."
What makes this situation even more special is that fathers coaching their sons happens quite often in the Davis household.
"It goes back to when I was growing up. My dad coached my oldest brother in baseball," Tim said. "My oldest brother coached me in junior college. One of the things they said to me was 'If you ever get the opportunity, you treat your son like a son off the field and you coach him like a player on the field' that was always the clear separation between the two."
Quite naturally, one would think that being coached by your father would make you want to do anything but be a coach when you finish college, but it's the complete opposite for Nick.
"It really is a family business," said Nick. "My entire family played football or baseball. I like being coached by my dad, and I'm even thinking about going into coaching once I finish with school. It's a family business and I don't want to get out of it."
Tim insists that he was a not a "helicopter dad." He gave Nick the encouragement to play any sport he wanted, and that included wrestling, a sport that Nick competed in all through high school.
"I didn't want to make him play football," said Tim. "I stepped back and watched him mold on his own. I watched him wrestle from the stands, and I don't know anything about wrestling. The only coaching point I guess is 'to make sure you're not looking at the ceiling' something he laughs about."
When it came to football, Nick was able to test out many different positions, although eventually deciding that the offensive line was for him.
"As he went through high school, he played a little D-Line. I thought maybe tight end would work, but growing up with me he wanted to play O-Line…he has to get bigger." (Tim laughs).
At the end of the day, having your father coach you at any level has to make for great stories when the entire family gets together. Where some sons might take that time to excuse themselves from the conversation, Nick knows there's no way of getting out of it.
"My dad has four brothers, so when we're all together he definitely takes that time to tell stories," Nick said. "I can hear him now telling them what I did wrong on a play. He's a character, but he's still a great coach."
Two weeks ago, Nick got his first start on the offensive line at Arizona. It was a moment that both will remember. Nick did not come to NAU with anything promised to him. He knew he had to work hard every day in order to be seen as an equal to his teammates.
Nick has done just that. He doesn't want any special privileges. He just wants to play, and playing for your father is a bonus.
"It's really special to me," Nick said. "Every day I think about it. It's something I'm very blessed to be a part of."
You can catch the Davis Family every Saturday on the football field as they celebrate Family Weekend every weekend with Northern Arizona pride and Lumberjack spirit.