While Nick Tiano is preparing for the start of his Canadian Football League career with the Toronto Argonauts, the 24-year-old Baylor School graduate is also at work in his community.
Tiano remembers when he was younger traveling to Atlanta, Nashville and even Denver to learn from coaches who helped him become the quarterback who went on to play at Mississippi State and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Instead of having athletes go out of town for similar training, this month Tiano launched 423 Performance, which bills itself as Chattanooga's only elite football training business for all positions.
"I have really wanted to start something like this for a long time," Tiano said. "Through all the different cities I have been in, I have seen a lot of services that exist for young football players from pee-wee to the pros where kids get to train and work with current and veteran professional players. We never had anything like that in town when I was growing up.
"By starting 423 Performance, we wanted to bring a full-service football training environment here so these kids can come in when they are young and build a solid foundation. We not only want to help athletes improve their game, but mentor and help them pursue their goals and dreams with football and with life in general after that."
In his first year at Mississippi State, Tiano was a backup to Dak Prescott, a two-time All-Southeastern Conference selection who was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys after that season. Prescott was the NFL's offensive rookie of the year in 2016, when he earned his first of two Pro Bowl selections.
Tiano appeared in five games for the Bulldogs as a redshirt freshman in 2016 before transferring to UTC, where the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Tiano broke out as a dual-threat star in the Southern Conference.
He started four games during an injury-abbreviated 2017 season, but as a redshirt junior the following year, Tiano completed 233 of 378 passes (.616) for 2,710 yards while accounting for 17 touchdowns in 11 games. He then totaled 23 touchdowns (14 passing, nine rushing) in his last season with the Mocs before being named MVP at the 2020 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. He was signed by the Houston Texans as an undrafted free agent on April 27, 2020, but was released in late July.
Toronto signed Tiano in February. While the CFL season begins Aug. 7 for the Argonauts, who have former NFL receivers Martavis Bryant and Kendall Wright on their roster, Tiano's new coaching business will not take any breaks.
Former local high school standouts and UTC football players Darrell Bridges, Mike Davis and Kota Nix are also on staff for 423 Performance, which offers training on Tuesdays and Saturdays. One-on-one coaching sessions can also be booked.
"We have a great coaching staff in place," Tiano said. "We are also pulling some of these local pros to come out and talk and work with kids. The goal is to become a one-stop shop for athletes in Chattanooga. We are starting with football now, but as we expand I would love to get into other sports.
"Life is about making relationships, and we feel like this is a great way to make an impact on the lives of young athletes in Chattanooga and help them achieve their ultimate goals, whether that's winning a starting job in high school or playing in college or the pros."
Tiano reflected on his time at Mississippi State with Prescott when talking about how young quarterbacks can learn from the game's stars.
"Playing under Dak was great for me because I got to learn so much from him," Tiano said. "He is someone I look up to, and he was a great mentor to me. All the pro quarterbacks do something great, whether it's a great arm or their mobility or being able to play the game from the shoulders up like Peyton Manning, who knew where to go with the ball before the snap.
"Pick those attributes and combine them all. Take the good and learn from the bad from every single one of them."