Prior to interviewing for a coaching position with the Colorado football team, Kwahn Drake had never met head coach Mike MacIntyre or defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot.
Drake knew plenty of people who knew both, and those connections landed him in Boulder.
"There was a lot of people help put me in this position," said Drake, who was hired last week to coach the Buffaloes' defensive line. "It was God and my resources that have allowed me to be in a position to have this opportunity. I didn't do it myself. It took a lot of help."
While plenty of recommendations poured into CU on behalf of Drake, 32, it was because of the reputation he's built in his young coaching career.
Drake comes to CU after one season coaching the defensive line at Eastern Illinois. Prior to EIU, Drake was an offensive analyst at Memphis in 2016, and was at Tulane for four seasons. He was a defensive graduate assistant for two years before coaching the Green Wave defensive line in 2014-15.
A 2009 graduate of Nicholls State, Drake coached defensive line for several years at the high school level before going to Tulane.
Along the way, Drake has developed an impressive list of connections, and in announcing the hire last week, MacIntyre said Drake, "came highly recommended by many different individuals from both the NFL and college."
The connections started with Pete Jenkins, one of the most respected defensive line coaches in the business.
"He has been so great to me in helping me develop beyond coaching," Drake said of Jenkins. "I like to pattern myself after his drills and the way he teaches the guys."
Jenkins, who Drake calls "one of my long-time mentors," helped Drake get in touch with Eliot.
Drake also got a strong recommendation from Maryland defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh, who worked with Eliot for four years at Kentucky and played at Auburn in the late 1990s with Drake's brother, Kwesi.
His connection to MacIntyre came through current Auburn defensive backs coach Marcus Woodson. Drake and Woodson worked together at Memphis in 2016. Woodson was recruited as a player to Ole Miss by ... MacIntyre.
Drake's other connection to CU was more direct, as he worked a camp with CU defensive backs coach ShaDon Brown - then at Army - and spent time with him at that camp.
There were many other connections, too, including defensive line coaches at Alabama (Karl Dunbar), Kentucky (Derrick LeBlanc) and the New England Patriots (Brendan Daly).
"Those are some of the guys that have spoken well for me and helped me in my career along the way," Drake said.
Certainly, the connections have helped, but Drake's career is one that is based on not only his love for football, but his roots in teaching.
"My entire family taught and coached and was involved in sports," he said. "I guess you could say it's kind of in my bloodline."
Although he didn't play in college, Drake grew up playing defensive line and said, "it's the position I love."
That's in part because of his brother, who Drake called "my hero."
"That's the person I looked up to at the house and the one I always wanted to be like," Drake said. "He's pointed me in the right direction."
Now, Drake is hoping to take all that he's learned from his bevy of mentors and point the Buffs' defensive linemen in the right direction.
Although he hasn't had a lot of time to evaluate CU's players, he sees good potential in seniors Javier Edwards and Chris Mulumba, redshirt freshman Terrance Lang and junior college transfer Mustafa Johnson.
"We're always going to strive to do the best that we can and always try to get better," he said. "Each year we want to make strides, but continue to develop our guys athletically, socially and academically."
In recruiting, Drake said he will focus on Southern California and the Houston area, but as a New Orleans native, he said, "I would imagine I would do a little bit of Louisiana recruiting as well."
As he hit the road on a recruiting trip last week, Drake was thankful for the connections that brought him to CU.
"I'm thoroughly excited," he said. "The opportunity to coach in the Pac-12 and ... I'm excited to work with (MacIntyre and Eliot). For them to even give me this opportunity is a true blessing."