Not every one of Matthias Farley’s handshakes will be introductory ones.
When the free-agent safety steps into the meeting room at the Tennessee Titans’ training facility for the first time, it will be a good-to-see-you-again situation with position coach Scott Booker. The two first connected a decade earlier at Notre Dame when Farley was an incoming freshman wide receiver and Booker was in his second season as an offensive intern who worked closely with the wide receivers.
“In college, he was a coach who was going to tell you how it is,” Farley said Tuesday. “… He’s honest, and I really respect that. As a player, I think all you want is honesty. Whether you did good or you did bad, you know. You want to have a coach that can come along side and tell you where you need to improve or what you did that wasn’t right but still love you in the process.
“… So, it will be great to be back in a room with him, and I’m really excited about meeting the guys.”
Both men – in their own ways – made their marks in special teams. Booker rose to special teams coordinator with the Fighting Irish, a role he filled for five years (2012-16). He has been with the Titans since 2018 and was named safeties coach last season after two years as a defensive assistant.
Farley, who following a redshirt season became a safety, has built his NFL career on special teams. Last season, his fifth in the league, he was a special teams captain for the New York Jets and was on the field for 71 percent of all of their special teams snaps. As a rookie with Indianapolis in 2016, he played 80 percent of the possible special teams plays.
“I really feel like I learned a lot of information, just about the game of football and about life with (Booker) in college,” Farley said. “I’m sure he’s an even better coach now than he was then. I think he was a phenomenal coach then. So, to be under his tutelage again, I’m really excited.”
In all, Farley played three seasons with the Colts (2016-18) and two with the Jets (2019-20). He did start 15 games for Indianapolis in 2017 and two games last year for the Jets. With the Titans, he takes the roster spot created when Kenny Vaccaro was released but effectively fills the role of Amani Hooker, who will replace Vaccaro as the starter at strong safety after two seasons as Tennessee’s No. 3 safety.
Farley is well aware of what got him this far in the NFL, though, just as he is of who will be his position coach with his new team.
“My one goal coming in is just to be trusted – to be trusted on special teams – and work my way from there,” Farley said. “… Whatever doors open from that, I’m very available to, I’m very excited about. But you’ve got earn the trust, earn the respect.
“I’m excited to get in the room. I’m excited to be back with Coach Booker.”