When he was blocking opposing nose tackles for UNLV, Will Kreitler had no interest in being a football coach. It wasn’t even on his radar.
But after his NFL dream fizzled, Kreitler received a call from Rebels coach Tony Sanchez, who offered him a chance to join his staff, first as a student assistant and then last season as a graduate assistant.
Now Kreitler lives the life of long work hours, little sleep and lots of Red Bull.
And he wouldn’t want to do anything else.
“Five years ago if you had asked me, I would’ve been like, ‘No way,’ ” he said. “Here I am.”
A standout center for the Rebels in 2015 and 2016, Kreitler is one of four grad assistants. He works on the offensive staff with Brian Metz. Cristian Garcia and Ofa Fifita help with the defense.
Working as a grad assistant is a great training ground for coaches.
Ronnie Regula was a grad assistant the previous two seasons at UNLV — woring on the offense in 2017 and the defense last year — and now is the tight ends coach.
“They’re the unseen most valuable players,” Sanchez said. “From getting practice scripts and drawing up cards to making sure everybody’s to the meetings on time, they’re doing all the stuff behind the scenes. I tell you what, those guys grind. If you are a graduate assistant, most likely you’ll end up being a football coach. But if you decided to do something else, you have an educational work ethic that 1 percent of the country gets.
“They’re working 100 hours a week. They’re here when the coaches are home. They are going, going, going, and they do a really phenomenal job.”
Kreitler arrives at the Lied Athletic Complex at 6 a.m. He is tasked with drawing up the plays for the offensive scout team, tagging video (identifying players, plays, situations, etc.) and taking attendance in meetings.
He worked until 10:30 or 11 p.m. early in training camp while the offensive system was being installed. That’s in place now, so Kreitler can head home at around 8:30 or 9 p.m.
“It gets pretty rough, and then you’re trying to balance out what kind of social life you have,” Kreitler said. “If you have a girlfriend, you come home, kiss her and go right back to work, it feels like. But that’s part of the game, and I think everybody knows that’s what we sign up for. It’s that time of year.”
Kreitler, who began his college playing career at Scottsdale (Arizona) Community College, was one of the first players to commit to Sanchez, who was hired after the 2014 season.
Sanchez saw enough in their two seasons together to want to bring back Kreitler, 24, after his playing days were done.
“His ability to watch film and to critically think through it and to problem solve, it’s extremely high level,” Sanchez said. “For a guy as young as he is, he’s kind of an old soul. I can easily see him being a big-time offensive line coach for a long time.”
Kreitler has an even bigger goal.
“Head coach of UNLV after Tony Sanchez,” he said. “After we make this a powerhouse, I want to follow in his footsteps. I think it would be really cool to coach at a school that I’m helping build right now.”
UNLV graduate assistants
— Cristian Garcia — Former linebacker at Florida, where he received his bachelor’s degree and MBA.
— Will Kreitler — Former center at UNLV, where he received his bachelor’s degree.
— Ofa Fifita — Former linebacker at Fresno State and Sacramento State, receiving his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Sacramento State.
— Brian Metz — Bachelor’s degree at Notre Dame and three master’s degrees at Ohio.