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Football Feature Friday: Football is Family for Coach Luvara

UAlbany Sports Information   03-10-2017
By: Bob Weiner for UAlbany Athletics
ALBANY, N.Y.Football and family go hand-in-hand for University at Albany assistant football coach Gabe Luvara. The assistant offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach grew up with a football in his crib, and he continues his love affair with the game as part of the “Purple Family.”

“Football has always been part of my family,” Luvara said. “My father was a football coach, and he is still coaching to this day. He was coaching junior college football the year I was born. It was basically what I knew. It was around the house all the time. That’s how I was raised. It’s just like a lot of other families. Sometimes, it’s what you fall into that you end up being a part of.”

Luvara’s father, Angelo, coached for many years at Cummings State in West Virginia. He also coached at Berkley Springs and now, even though he’s retired, still helps out on the sidelines at Frostburg State.

Since football is in Luvara’s blood, he can’t help but see the similarities between his coaching style and his father’s. “The longer you are in the game, you might not realize it, but you tend to see things through your father’s eyes,” Luvara said. “You understand why things were done the way they were. You can’t replace what happened to you when you were growing up. We are definitely two different human beings, but I appreciate his coaching style. I often flash back to times when I was younger and watching him coach.”

Fast forward several decades, and Luvara is part of another strong football family. He is currently in his fourth season on the UAlbany staff, and he worked with head coach Greg Gattuso several years ago when he was part of Gattuso’s Duquesne coaching staff.

“It’s so much easier when you have common ground with the other coaches,” Luvara explained. “A lot of us here have known each other for a long time. The thing I like is that we all have a healthy respect for everyone on the staff. You are not always going to agree on everything, but it’s healthy that we respect each other. We are all freed up to speak our minds. That’s good for the program.”

Many of the UAlbany coaches have similar backgrounds and have coached the same positions. Luvara, for instance, was a center when he played, and he has quite a bit of experience coaching offensive linemen. Fellow assistant coach Jim Sweeney, the current UAlbany offensive linemen coach, was also a center.

“Obviously, there are a lot of high achievers on this staff. It’s the same thing with other groups or companies. We feel comfortable with each other, and we can spread the responsibilities very easily,” Luvara said. “You are going to win and lose games at every level, but the sun comes up the next morning no matter what. We all care about each other on this staff, and that helps us to keep an even keel.”

Luvara graduated in 2001 from Indiana (Pa.) after earning All-PSAC honors as a center on a team that earned three NCAA playoff appearances. His first coaching job was as a graduate assistant for the University of Louisville. He later spent three seasons coaching at JuniataCollege before joining Gattuso’s staff as the offensive line coach and offensive coordinator at Duquesne. He helped the Dukes win the 2003 IAA Mid-Major National Championship and the 2004 MAAC title.

Luvera got his first taste of New York football as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at perennial upstate power Ithaca College, where he helped the Bombers earn two NCAA playoff appearances. His offenses were ranked among the best in the nation over that period.

Luvera made his mark as a coach with expertise in the passing game when he helped Frostburg State connect for 2,234 passing yards, the fourth-best in school history, in the 2011 season.

He continued to excel coaching the passing game with the Great Danes when he joined their coaching staff in 2014, and he helped develop tight end Brian Parker, who not only earned third-team All-CAA honors but signed as an undrafted free agent with the San Diego Chargers.

Although he was an offensive lineman as a player and has coached that position many times throughout his career, Luvara has gained a reputation for fine-tuning quarterbacks. Part of his coaching philosophy is helping signal callers remain calm under fire.

“Guys that play the quarterback position know what it’s all about,” he noted. “They are not foreign to all the pressure. They can’t control it, but they get most of the credit or the blame. I’ve always said that there are three people who get most of the blame every game – the quarterback, the head coach and the coach who calls the plays. Quarterbacks need to compartmentalize things. They also need to prepare themselves for certain things that are out of their reach or control.”

It’s no surprise that the QB position is the hardest to recruit. “Quarterbacks are different. Obviously, you have to do a lot of work when you are looking for a quarterback. Everybody does to the highlight film, and they can look great. But you must watch the game itself. I think the most important thing is how they respond to when things go wrong or when things go right,” Luvara said. “There is no doubt that players need a high level of talent to play QB at this level, but it’s how they lead, and how they handle success and failure that makes a big difference.”

Luvara, who enjoys hunting, fishing and outdoor sports in his spare time, including golf, considers himself a team player when it comes to receiving credit as a coach. “I don’t like beating my chest,” he said. “I think the biggest thing for me as far as what I love the most about coaching, is that you get to see young people develop. Just being in the college environment and watching 17- or 18-year-old kids become men by the time they graduate is very satisfying. There is a lot of growing up in those years. Obviously, it is very rewarding to be a part of that as a coach.”

MEET TA’VON GRANISON, 2017 UAlbany NLI Signee
Ta’von Granison is a 5-foot-11, 180-pound quarterback from Greece Athena in Rochester.

The four-year letterman passed for 2,000 yards, threw for 20 touchdowns, ran for 1,200 yards and scored 12 touchdowns as senior captain for the Spartans. The first-team All-New York State and Player of the Year compiled more than 6,500 total yards (4,048 passing, 2,498 yards rushing) and was responsible for 85 touchdowns (43 passing, 42 rushing) during his career.

“Ta’von is a great athlete from the Rochester area,” Luvara said. “We’re excited about him. We think he can affect the game in a lot of different ways. He’s an in-state kid who we have a lot of respect for especially because of the program he played for. We are trying to build up our recruiting network in this state, and winning the recruiting battle is huge. We want to basically defend our home turf when it comes to recruiting. Getting great athletes from New York to stay here and play is very important to us.”

UAlbany football season tickets are now on sale for the 2017 season. Prices start as low as $75. For more information, visit ualbanysports.com/tickets or call the UAlbany ticket office directly at 518-442-DANE.

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