Homegrown Gibbs OC earns TnFCA state award

Tyler Kitts: ‘It’s a humbling honor’


By Steve Williams

Tyler Kitts may be the head football coach at Gibbs High School someday.

At age 37, he is putting together quite a resume. He has been coaching at Gibbs for 15 years, including the past 11 seasons as the Eagles’ offensive coordinator.

In 2022, Kitts was named the Tennessee Football Coaches Association’s Assistant Coach of the Year in Region 2-4A. And for this past season, he has been selected the TnFCA Assistant Coach of the Year in the state for Class 4A.

“It (the award) means everything,” said Tyler. “Obviously, you want to be respected by your peers. You don’t necessarily do stuff to get noticed. You do it for the kids. You do it for your community. And you do this because you’re at Gibbs and you want to be successful. The fact that your peers take notice while that’s happened; it’s humbling and honestly an honor.”

Like 75 percent of the coaches on the Gibbs football staff, Tyler is a Gibbs guy.

“On our staff alone, there are so many guys that have put in so many years and poured into the kids; they do just a phenomenal job,” added Kitts. “We have so many good coaches and (the award) is humbling, because I know just even in East Tennessee and throughout the state, there are so many great coaches who have been doing it for a long time and have made such a big impact on football in the state.”

Gibbs line coach Brent Gibson is a former TnFCA Assistant Coach of the Year award winner on the region level.

Record-setting running back Boone Brockwell also made the TnFCA All-State team this year. “He had a phenomenal season,” said Kitts.

Tyler grew up playing youth football and baseball at the Ruritan Park in Corryton and with GYA (Gibbs Youth Athletics).

He continued to play those two sports at Gibbs High and was a quarterback for former longtime head coach Randy Carroll. Brad Conley was Tyler’s QB coach for three years and Geff Davis was his baseball coach.

A 2005 Gibbs graduate, Kitts played baseball at Carson-Newman University and graduated in the spring of 2009.

“I was really lucky,” said Tyler. “Coach Conley (who succeeded Carroll) hired me on for football in the fall of 2009 and Coach Davis added me to his baseball staff in the spring of 2010.

“I’m forever grateful to him (Conley) for giving me an opportunity,” said Kitts.

“In 2013, Conley promoted me to OC and I’ve been doing that ever since and Coach (Brad) Turner retained me (when he became head coach). We are really close and teach in the same department (Physical Education).”

Kitts said the success Gibbs has had in the past few years is a direct correlation to how great of a job the middle school program is doing in the MAC (Middle School-Age Conference).

“Johnny Hibbett is the (GMS) head coach and Zack Beeler has a huge part in that too,” said Kitts. “I’ll be honest, I don’t think I would get an award like this if those guys didn’t do such a great job, because the players are so ready and prepared when they get to us.

“As a high school staff, we are reaping the awards of an awesome job that the middle school is doing. And obviously we have great kids and great community support. That’s the coolest thing about Gibbs; it’s just such a good community.”

It’s no secret that most good high school football programs have a good feeder system.

“The past two years we’ve been blessed with some really skilled kids on the high school team,” said Kitts. “In 2022, we threw for 2,500 yards and then rushed for 2,000. This year was more ground based. I think we threw for around 1,000 yards and the rushing total was at least double that.

“Boone had like 1,300 yards himself and scored 30 touchdowns. There were a lot of other guys that played really important roles. We had a young offensive line that really grew as the season went on and developed an identity. And some guys stepped up that were behind the scenes.”

His aspirations to be a head coach someday?

“That’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Tyler. “With Coach Turner, I see all the responsibilities. There’s a lot of stuff, but yes, most definitely (it’s) a career goal. But the timing would have to be right with everything … if it presents itself.

“It’s not anything I’m going looking for,” he added. “It would have to be whatever Coach Turner decides. Because, like I said, I’m a Gibbs guy. I love our school. I love teaching at our school. Love our community. Grew up here and have no desire to leave.”

In other words, the talented OC is happy with where he is right now.

“A hundred percent,” he said.

“As Coach Turner says a lot of times, that’s the fun part – getting to call the plays and scheme and stuff like that. As a head coach, everything comes back to him. And I guess we kinda get to still play, because we get to do the Xs and Os and all the fun parts and he has to manage.”

Kitts added that Coach Turner is an “absolute blessing” to work for. “He brings energy to our program, to our coaches and to our kids.

“One of the big things with him is he doesn’t want to have our kids want for anything. He has a second to none mentality as far as materialistic things and opportunities. He wants to be cutting edge with everything and wants to offer the best. And not just from the competitive element of that, but from just the true, deep caring nature he has for kids and our community and our school.”

He also has an award-winning offensive coordinator who someday may follow in his footsteps.