AT 27, JOE D'ORAZIO is mature beyond his years.

He's already coached alongside Andy Reid here and in Kansas City, been part of former Penn coach Al Bagnoli's staff at Columbia. He's already parlayed his experience as the center on Penn's successful football program of the late last decade and lifelong passion for the game into a diverse coaching portfolio that includes working with receivers and tight ends, special teams, defense and now, as Eagles coach Doug Pederson's offensive quality control and assistant wide receivers coach.

Along the way, he's met a lot of famous coaches and players, some of them players he watched as an Eagles fan growing up in Bryn Mawr.

"Working in the NFL,'' he was saying at the NovaCare Complex recently, "you tend to see all these famous people all the time, and it tends to wear off, the 'Oh my gosh, that's so and so.' ''

With one exception.

"Chad Lewis," he said. "I still feel some of that every time I see him."

Chad Lewis? The tight end of those Eagles teams a decade ago?

"I always wanted to be a tight end growing up,'' D'Orazio said. "So Chad Lewis was one of my favorite people growing up. And he's very close with coach Reid.''

Lewis was signed as an undrafted free agent in 1997 by the Eagles and blossomed into one of the league's better tight ends in the first half of the last decade, reaching the Pro Bowl three times. D'Orazio starred at St. Joe's Prep around the same time, named to both the Philadelphia City All-Star team and the Pennsylvania East-West All-Star team his senior season.

From there it was on to Penn, where he started at center in his final three seasons, won a couple of Ivy League championships, and was named to the All-Ivy League first team twice. Graduating from Wharton School, he majored in "Major Decision Processes."

"How and why people make the decisions they do in a business setting," he said. "Which combines business with psychology. The leadership. The organizational ability. When I went to Penn, I wanted to be a teacher. And then I realized the subject I liked best was football."

And so began a journey that first took him to coach tight ends at the University of Chicago, defense at Utah, to serve as Reid's senior assistant for the 2013 and '14 seasons, and finally to Columbia last season, where he coached tight ends for his old coach.

He liked it there, he said, and was mulling the college route when Pederson got the job and called to see if he'd be interested in returning.

"I had opportunities this offseason that when you looked at it from the outside might have seemed like better opportunities professionally,'' he said. "But I didn't want them because of how good my situation was at Columbia. But when Doug got hired . . . I obviously knew Doug well and had worked very closely with him in Kansas City . . . I accepted the job on the spot.

"It was a chance to be back in the NFL. And to be back home.

"In coaching, you move around a lot. And I had spent the first 21 years of my life in one place and then the next seven years away. To get that back, it's tough to put it in words. I felt it walking up the stairs on the first day I came back to work here . . . Awesome.''

Explaining what he does to family and friends - that's less awesome and more cumbersome. But so is the job. "How I like to simplify it is to say it's like going to grad school for professional football," he said. "You're asked to do so many different things in the preparation part of it. In terms of breaking down the film, preparing all the playbooks. All the things that happen that you don't really think about. Work with all the different coaches on offense but then also work with the minutia of football.

"It's a little bit of everything. A thorough education in football."

And a launching pad to bigger things as well. For someone three years shy of 30, D'Orazio already has built a nice resume. This year he will work under two former NFL quarterbacks, a former wide receiver from his hometown team who caught a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl, and another guy he watched a lot as a kid in Duce Staley.

No worries he said. The "Oh my gosh" portion of his coaching career is in his past.

With that one exception.

"He was around a lot in Kansas City, so I got to talk to him a couple of times,'' D'Orazio said of Lewis. "So I would like to think it's lessened a little bit. But he's about as awesome a person as you could meet.''


On Twitter: @samdonnellon