I had a chance to speak with several players and coaches at Media Day and found them all to be very approachable and willing to talk.
Chris Campbell #29
Excited about getting on the field any way he can. Currently running at Middle LB behind Paul Worrilow; also still playing on offense at FB in the “Jumbo” goal line and short-yardage sets. Also, playing on most special teams. They haven’t started game planning for Navy yet, but he expects that to come soon – said playing Georgia Southern last year should really be helpful because the preparation is completely different than for any other teams. Said all the guys were upset to see Kyle Hunte get hurt and the coaches haven’t said yet how that will affect who is playing where. His long blond locks give him that “Clay Matthews look”. Keep your eyes open for a GoHens.net Media Day photo by BigHens that shows off that hair with some of the other players – you should get a chuckle out of it!
the day he was riding up to UD with his mom, he got a call on his cell phone and it was Oregon offering him a scholarship. However, he said he felt he had made a commitment to UD and decided to stick with it.
Travis Hawkins #1
I asked how he made the decision to come to UD: when the coaching staff at Maryland changed, he decided to leave. He really wasn’t considering a move to I-AA because he didn’t think that would help him improve, but he talked to his old HS coach, who suggested he really give it some consideration. Plus, his D-Coordinator at Maryland was ex-UMass HC, Don Brown who is now the D-Coordinator at UConn. KC mentioned that Brown had a lot of good things to say about Travis. I asked Travis how fast he is and he said his last “40” time was 4.42. He is really looking forward to returning kick-off’s “I can’t wait to get my hands on the ball again.” He said that, coming out of high school his “dream school” was Oregon, but his mother was very hesitant about the prospect of taking that plane ride for a visit and was hesitant to go out there with him so he decided to stay close to home. When he was leaving MD, he still had Oregon on his mind, but they didn’t have a schollie available. He accepted UD’s offer and, the day he was riding up to UD with his mom, he got a call on his cell phone and it was Oregon offering him a scholarship. However, he said he felt he had made a commitment to UD and decided to stick with it. Pretty cool.
Since California has so many HS players and relatively few D-IA or I-AA teams, a lot of kids end up looking East to play.
Since Coach Wrobo is the Recruiting Coordinator I wanted to ask him about Jake Reynolds whom I had noticed on the roster was from Frisco, TX. I was curious whether he was here because of our trip to the Championship Game last year. Coach Wrobo said that Reynolds had actually been on the roster at the Air Force Academy in 2010, but students there have an option to leave before the end of the second year if they decide the military is not for them, and Jake made that decision after his first year. Coach said that our appearance did stoke some interest from players in TX. We don’t recruit that area at all, and there were a number of contacts initiated by players there after all the coverage from the game. (No offense, TennHen, but that’s another great reason for the change from Chatty – many more very good HS football players in TX than in eastern TN!). In Jake’s case, it was somewhat coincidental that he is from Frisco, but it did have some minor impact. I also asked about the transfer punter, Rauley Zaragoza who is from California. Coach said Rauley reached out to us since, like TX, we do not recruit there. Since California has so many HS players and relatively few D-IA or I-AA teams, a lot of kids end up looking East to play.
Irvin Titre #99
Feels really healthy. Playing the nose tackle or “1- technique” position (center-guard gap). Expects that there will be a lot of rotation on the D-line to keep everyone fresh. He said “the 3’s are as good as the 1’s”. I said it would be pretty interesting to see him and Demetrius Hester next to one another and he said: “That’s the plan.” Actually, I would have expected them to both play the same position on different line rotations, but he could have just meant that we’ll see that in certain situations, like short yardage/goal line.
In response to the same old general questions from me and other media about the general state of the team, he gave the same answer he had in the past … the lines are the strength, D-backfield and QB are the positions that need to develop. As reported elsewhere, he confirmed that Kyle Hunte is out for the year with a torn ACL. I said that we are fortunate to have some quality depth at LB and KC said that’s true, but that Hunte was having a really good camp and was demonstrating some special capabilities. My sense was that this is a bigger loss than I had originally thought, but we’ll still be OK there.
I asked about the advantages of having a player like Eric Farkas on the team who can be both a position player and a back-up punter and PK, which gives you room for another position player on the travelling team. KC then got into a really interesting (to me) explanation of how our schedule should help in that regard this year. In normal CAA conference play, the visiting team can only dress 60 players (there is one game where you have an exemption and can dress more). When you have a lot of early road conference games, you have to make the decision on those players right away and you don’t have as much of an opportunity to take a look at as many players as you might like. This year when we go to Navy, we can dress up to 90 players if we want (we’ll probably take 70). Then our first 3 games are home, so we can dress 90, and our first conference road game is Maine, followed by two more home games. So if KC wants to use the exemption on the Maine game, that gives us the first seven games to dress and play more players before deciding on the 60 player travel roster for 3 of the last 4 games. That means a lot of time to look at, and evaluate different players and, since we have a lot of depth this year, that is a good thing to be able to do. It is an aspect of the game that I had never thought about before and, like I said, I thought it was very interesting.
if KC wants to use the exemption on the Maine game, that gives us the first seven games to dress and play more players before deciding on the 60 player travel roster for 3 of the last 4 games...that is a good thing to be able to do.
I asked about Special Teams and I was surprised that KC said the most improved player in camp is Sean Baner. He said he really dedicated himself to improving this off-season and it really shows in his performance. He said he has no problem having a player do both jobs if he is the best for both.
Regarding Andrew Pierce, KC talked about how AP has worked to get faster and also how unselfish he is – just like Andy Hall and Joe Flacco – completely focused on how the team is doing and not personal stats.
One of the reporters asked about the potential impact of transfers like Hawkins and [Jessel] Curry which gave KC an opportunity to talk about his philosophy on transfers. He said: “It’s all about finding the right fit. We will pass on, literally, a hundred transfers for every one we take. We had a young man stop by on his way home from leaving an ACC school 2 days ago. It happens all the time. We’re looking for the right fit.” Then he spoke about talking to Don Brown about Travis Hawkins, and to a coach at Auburn who had been the boss of our current LB coach, regarding Curry. He said: “Whenever we’ve made a mistake with transfers, it’s because we targeted a position and said ‘let’s go get this’. So, we’ve gone to a philosophy of: Let’s let them come to us, if we see what we like, and if we think it’s a good fit, we’ll take them. That’s what we did with Curry and with Hawkins. They both will help us and we need help at those positions.”
I asked about walk-ons and he said he had just talked about scholarships on Tuesday during his team meeting. Ten of our current players were former walk-on’s who have earned scholarship money including Tim Donnelly for this semester. There will probably be 15-18 new walk-on’s this year although not all are in camp because of the limited number of players we are allowed to have prior to when classes start. (As an example, I spoke with Jake Geiser who is currently rooming with Sam Feleccia, but once classes start, he’ll be rooming with Joe Furlong, who participated in Spring Practice and will be with the team this fall, but is not in camp and won’t be joining the team until the first day of class.)
...there are kids who are good players, but a bit shorter who may have their sights set on DI-A, but might be better off taking a trip to a school like UD to see the level of play
Eric Farkas #48
Doing well. Has been practicing punting and kicking as well as DB.
Rob McDowell #50
I asked about the “pipeline” we seem to have developed with DeMatha for linemen. The first thing he said is that practices here at UD are hard, but they were also pretty hard at DeMatha, so that was good preparation. He also said that he and Jake Geiser are relatively tall, and there are kids who are good players, but a bit shorter who may have their sights set on DI-A, but might be better off taking a trip to a school like UD to see the level of play, the stadium, the fan support, etc., because they might have a better chance to play here, do well, and enjoy their experience.