CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Nick Davison definitely sounds the part of a college assistant football coach.
Less than 12 months removed from being on the field himself, the former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga defensive tackle smiled wide Tuesday when asked about new linemen Derrick Lott and Chris Mayes.
"It's nice to have two kids who are 6-3 or 6-4, and are close to 300 pounds and can move," Davison said without missing a beat.
Yes, Davison and fellow former Moc, Chris Harr, are already referring to their ex-teammates as "kids" after trading in their helmets and pads for hats and whistles.
"I guess just hanging around with coach (Marcus) West and coach (Adam) Fuller, you kind of get that mind set," Davison said of his new terminology on the field. "I know they're not really kids. I'm only about a year older than some of them are."
The separation, though, is the reality of what Davison and Harr are going through as they adjust to life after playing.
"You can't think of them as friends anymore. They're now your players," Harr said. "You have to approach it differently and try to be their mentor and coach."
Davison, who played at Calhoun High before starting his college career at UAB, was on the field as recently as last fall before an knee injury in the home-opener against Jacksonville led to an early end to his career. Harr, a Chattanooga native who prepped at Notre Dame, finished his eligibility in 2011 and spent last summer in NFL training camp with the Kansas City Chiefs, but returned in the fall to help the program.
UTC head coach Russ Huesman welcomed both onto his coaching staff with open arms. With strict NCAA limitations on how many assistants he can have, the duo's "student-assistant" status is a blessing.
"That's one rule I really like, where if a player is out of eligibility, they can still be an on-the-field coach if they're finishing up their degree," Huesman said. "We have some volunteer coaches who can help with stuff in the office, but the NCAA won't let them on the field.
"(Nick and Chris) were both really smart football players, so you knew they'd be good coaches. They know most of the players and can relate to their experiences, so having extra help in positions like that is huge."
The transition hasn't exactly been easy. In addition to coming to grips with the end of their playing days, both have a new-found appreciation for how mentally taxing life as a coach can be.
"There's definitely more hours involved in the whole coaching process," Harr said. "Players get to go home but we are still here working on film, coming up with plays and practice scripts. It's completely different."
It may not have previously been where each ex-Moc saw himself at this point, but now it's what they see themselves doing in the future.
And they're happy for the head start.
"The guys know that I know what I'm talking about, and they know I've been in their position recently. I was there just last year," said Davison. "I definitely want to do this now. I decided my sophomore year that I wanted to get into coaching, and it's been fun so far. I'm really enjoying it."