Through each step of his coaching career, Tyson Summers has relished opportunities to learn and grow.

The past three years have been filled with tremendous growth, preparing Summers for his new job as the defensive coordinator at Colorado.

"The last three years have been exceptional for me from a learning standpoint and I think I'll be able to take that and use that (at CU)," said Summers, 38, who will also coach the Buffs' safeties. "That's what's given me the opportunity to be here now. If I wasn't a very good coach or if I hadn't learned from those experiences, I don't think (new CU head coach Mel) Tucker would be asking me to be in this leadership position for him."

The Georgia native has spent his career coaching defense, including two seasons as a defensive coordinator, in 2014 at Central Florida and 2015 at Colorado State.

Following his one season at CSU, Summers was hired as the head coach at Georgia Southern, but that didn't last long. He went 5-13 and was fired after a 0-6 start to the 2017 season.

While he didn't win at Georgia Southern, Summers said the head coaching experience has made him better.

"I think it helps in a lot of different ways," he said. "Hopefully (at CU) I can be of some amount of guidance or be able to see big-picture things, and I think when you have a big-picture idea, it helps.


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"You learn in a hurry that we can be fantastic at Xs and Os, but we really have to make sure that we are building relationships with players and that we are giving them the best opportunity to be successful in life and school and in football."

After being fired at Georgia Southern a year ago, Summers faced a pivotal career decision. He was offered coordinator jobs, but after consulting his family he took a job with Georgia, working as a defensive quality control analyst.

His job, essentially, was to be the right hand man for Tucker, Georgia's defensive coordinator. Summers helped Tucker with the secondary, while also assisting with game plans and scripting practice.

"What I really wanted to do was take an opportunity to go learn," he said. "My background was always as a 4-3 defensive coach. In my mind, the defense that has kind of withstood the test of time has been the (3-4 scheme) that coach Tucker currently runs, and (Georgia head coach Kirby) Smart and (Alabama head coach Nick) Saban and those guys have run.

"I wanted to learn that system. There wasn't a better opportunity to learn the 3-4 in that system and be back in the secondary than to do it with Mel. My relationship with coach Tucker and my relationship with coach Smart gave me the ability to go do that."

Spending the past year with Tucker has allowed Summers to become familiar with the defensive system he will coach at CU. That year also allowed Tucker, hired as head coach by CU earlier this month, to feel comfortable with Summers.

Tucker knows he can work with Summers, but also likes the experience Summers brings to the table. During his career, Summers has coached defensive backs and linebackers.

"We'll have flexibility there on the defense because of what I bring to the table and also what Tyson brings," Tucker said. "He can coach any position on defense."

The defense CU will run is a base 3-4 scheme, but the Buffs will show multiple looks and will ideally be versatile in how it defends the opposition.

"I think it gives you the ability to ... have some versatility with the calls that you have while still being able to be simple," Summers said. "I think it gives you the ability to take your best players and figure out where you can play the best defense with those guys, and that's what the versatility of the defense gives you."

Summers said that during his time with Tucker last season, he learned the key to the system is not necessarily what the Buffs design, but how they approach every day.

"I thought a lot of what we did and how we functioned in our practices and our teaching methods and our walkthroughs really conveyed to me why this system (works) and why what we did and how we did it were important," he said.

Summers is still in the process of learning about the players he will work with at CU, but because of his experiences the past three years, he believes that he will be a better coordinator now than he was in 2015, the last time he ran a defense.

"Without question," he said. "That was my hope going into (last season at Georgia). That was a decision we made as a family to go into that opportunity and that role rather than taking some of the other ones we had chances at. It's been one that we put a lot of faith in coach Tucker and coach Smart and the ability for me to go learn that system, so I can take it and implement it somewhere else.

"It's certainly been a good decision for me and my family."

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at howellb@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/BrianHowell33