By Craig Ellenport | Aug. 7, 2018
One-on-one coaching has become a cottage industry. High school and college players – and even professional football players – sometimes feel the need to supplement the coaching they get from their team’s coaching staff with personal training. Some of these “gurus” are former NFL coaches who have branched out on their own. Others have coached at different levels and find they have more to offer.
On his website, Team Dime, Los Angeles-based private quarterbacks coach Danny Hernandez explains that he “is trying to change lives through the great game of football and get kids to college.”
We caught up with Hernandez to learn more about what he does and with whom he’s working.
HCR: What is your football background and how did you get started as a private coach?
DANNY HERNANDEZ: I got into coaching at a very young age. As a 5-9 quarterback, there were not a lot of QB opportunities for me after high school but I wanted to stay in this amazing game. So coaching was the best thing for me. I had success with local QBs I worked with and fell in love with training the position. I didn’t plan to be a private coach, but I noticed there was a need and truly enjoyed the work. I never had any kind of social media, but from the advice of another trainer (Chris “Frogg” Flores from S.T.A.R.S in Anaheim), I decided to get on. Social media helped open a few doors and created a lot more training opportunities, and I took advantage of them. The opportunity to reach such a huge audience was awesome to me. I get QBs and other trainers from all over the country messaging me for help, and I do what I can to make us all better.
HCR: What are the most important things you work on with young quarterbacks?
DH: I’m obviously working a ton of mechanics and details on the QB position, but one of the biggest things I push on my kids is to be the standard. Be the first one in the weight room and be the last one out. Know the assignments of everyone on the field. What can you do as a QB to make everyone else better? When you get sacked, do your linemen immediately go to pick you up? If not, there is something you’re doing wrong as a QB. Relationships are huge and I push my QBs to invite the big fellas over for dinner or buy them pizza after a game that you didn’t get sacked. I think when a QB does these things, he creates an amazing environment and a culture that every player wants to be a part of. Be a leader of men! At an early age, I will work with my kids on simple things like how to shake someone’s hand. I deal with college coaches every single day and it’s crazy to me when I hear them talk about a kid being uncomfortable with eye contact or a firm handshake. Simple things like answering “yes sir, no sir.” I think these things matter. Not all my kids will get D-I scholarships or go to the NFL but I’m working to shape these young men into good people. It’s bigger than football.
HCR: How does what you do differ from what these players get from their team coaches?
DH: A lot of coaches do not have the time to work some of these details at QB. They are working on how to get people open and how to win games. I try to do my best in filling that void. It can be mechanics, off-platform throws that will be needed but coach will not want to work on, or sometimes basic leadership skills. Especially at the college level. I have coaches tell me all of the time, they pretty much need a finished product. Some will work fundamentals more than others, but if you’re at that level they are expecting you to have most of these things down. I want to have my QBs prepared, where they are able to self-correct as soon as the problem happens. I tell them all of the time that they will throw without a QB coach way more than they will with one. If that ball sails on them or they ground one in the dirt, they need to know why that happened and fix it by the next throw. Sometimes they will be on a team where a coach will be able to tell them why that happened, but most of the time they will not.
HCR: Which NFL coaches do you most admire and why?
DH: I’m a fan of what Sean McVay is doing with the Rams. His ability to communicate is very impressive. There are some coaches that are geniuses but there is a disconnect when they are dealing with players. There’s a balance that a coach needs to have and I feel McVay has that. I love his energy!
HCR: Who are some college players you’ve been working with that you think will have breakout seasons in 2018?
DH: Now, this is a question that I will answer on the kids that I’ve actually put in a lot of time with. Some trainers run special camps where every top QB in the country will be there and they work with them for that one day and that’s it. The kids I’ll mention have been my guys that I’ve been grinding with. Jake Maier from UC Davis will be one of the top FCS QBs if not the top FCS QB this year. He was Newcomer of the Year last year in the Big Sky Conference as a redshirt sophomore and it’s scary to think what he will do in that offense after having one full year under his belt. At the moment, he is my only QB that is set to start Game 1 this season. A few of my other QBs that are in QB battles are true freshman JT Shrout at Tennessee, redshirt junior Jorge Reyna at Fresno State, true sophomore Kaymen Cureton at Nevada, true sophomore Dylan Lemle at Idaho, true freshman Jalen Chatman at Rutgers, true freshman Griffin O’Connor at Yale and true freshman Colton Mitchell at Seton Hill to name a few. I’ve had the luxury of also working with some great receivers that will have huge years, but these are some of the QBs I have that I’m expecting big things from.