As a high school quarterback, Michael Granieri set his sights on playing for a great college team and worked hard at Mainland Regional High School in Linwood, NJ to make his dream become a reality. While attending a skills camp at Boston College, he met Chip Kelly who at the time was the offensive line coach for the University of New Hampshire.
“He was the only coach to give me his information and to actively pursue me to come to his school,” remembers Granieri.
Kelly visited Granieri in South Jersey and successfully recruited him to UNH on a scholarship. It was Kelly’s first quarterback recruit and an amazing opportunity for Granieri. Over the next five years Granieri played for Kelly, who soon took on the title of offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach. Now, almost a decade later, Granieri who works in production at ESPN learned the news that Kelly had been named the new head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles and he couldn’t think of a better man for the job.
“He is a genius at the X’s and O’s. He loves his players, he’s a hands-on-coach—he’s a player’s coach and he’s extremely loyal,” Granieri says.
Most recently Kelly led the University of Oregon to three consecutive conference titles from 2009-2011 and a conference division title in 2012. As he makes the jump to the NFL, Granieri says there are several traits that set him apart from other coaches.
“His preparation, the way he thinks out of the box, the way he perceives the game of football—he does things differently than anybody ever has and expects the best out of you and his number one thing is trust,” he explains.
As for the Eagles, Granieri believes Kelly; a New Hampshire native has exactly what the program needs.
“You saw the way they’ve played the past couple of years, they need to change their train of thought, how they approach the game, and I think it will be a nice fresh start with Chip and all of the success he’s had. He is a great motivator, he made me do things that I wasn’t really prepared to do or ready to do and lead the team in a way I never thought I could,” he says about his time playing under Kelly for the Wildcats.
Even Kelly’s interview style is unique. He is known for giving very interesting answers to reporters which have been referred to as “chipisms” something that doesn’t surprise Granieri.
“The way he conducts himself in his interviews now represents him; he’s not being fake in his interviews he’s still the same Chip that I knew back then,” he says.
When Kelly’s not on the field he loves playing golf according to Granieri who adds, “He’s a cool dude, he’s a regular guy.”
Lots of changes are on the horizon for the Eagles and Granieri is confident Kelly will lead them on the road to victory.