Trent Bray returns to his old stomping grounds of Corvallis on Saturday when the Oregon State football team tangles with Arizona State.
Bray played for the Beavers from 2002-05 as a linebacker. He tried playing in the NFL briefly with the Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans, but knew coaching was his future.
Now the linebackers coach for Arizona State, Bray happens to be the youngest full-time coach in the Pacific-10 Conference at 28 years old.
"It got to a point where I could have kept on chasing it," Bray said of playing pro football. "But I saw the writing on the wall and I knew I wanted to coach for a long time. I'm happy I took the opportunity. Being this young I'm fortunate to be doing what I'm doing."
Bray joined the Sun Devils as a graduate assistant for the 2007 and 2008 seasons. That led to a job in the new United Football League with the California Redwoods before returning to the Sun Devils.
He's well-connected at ASU, having played for coach Dennis Erickson when he led the Beavers.
Bray's father, Craig, is a long-time assistant with Erickson, so the father-son combo has already been together at ASU.
However, it wasn't who he knew that got him hired, it was what he did as a graduate assistant.
"As it turned out, all the linebackers on the team marched into coach Erickson's office and asked that I be hired when there was an opening," Bray said.
As a graduate assistant, his job was to teach the defense to the freshmen while the position coach worked on the players who were playing in the games.
Those players liked what Bray did and now he's coaching them again, but with the game on the line.
"It was a smooth transition since I've been coaching these guys since they were freshmen," Bray said. "They are doing really good and I have a lot of talent at linebacker. They really figured out what to do last week."
Bray is an expert in the ASU defense. It's the same scheme he ran as a player at OSU and coached in his first stint with the Sun Devils.
He started 34 of 49 career games with the Beavers, was a two-time all-conference player, the 2004 Insight Bowl Defensive MVP and sixth in career tackles at OSU with 337.
"He has done a great job with the linebackers," Erickson said. "He has a lot of personalities there to deal with. This wasn't the easiest job for him, but he has done a great job with them. They are very fundamentally sound. They listen to him and have great respect for him."
OSU coach Mike Riley is proud of all his former players working their way up the coaching ranks, but knew Bray would excel.
Riley has been around a long time and coaches against many friends. Going against someone he mentored is extra special
"He was a coach on the field when he played," Riley said. "It was a very natural thing for him to coach. His dad was a great coach, so he grew up with it. Trent Bray saw stuff before it happened. He's a natural for our profession."
Bray's return to Reser Stadium as a full-time coach won't be too emotional. He said it was a big deal coming back the first time as a graduate assistant in 2008.
Seeing one of his old coaches, Greg Newhouse, will be a treat. Bray patterns himself after OSU's linebackers coach.
"We still talk a bit," Bray said. "I find a lot of things I say to my guys come from Newhouse. He influenced the way I play and coach."