Coach Kill 2012 Signing Day Press Conference Transcript - 2.1.12

Go Gophers!
Go Gophers!

Go Gophers!

Feb. 1, 2012

COACH Jerry Kill:  First of all, I appreciate everybody coming out today.  It's been a long few months, and I have several people that I need to thank.

            First of all, I want to thank our academic staff who has done a great job, not only with recruiting and helping us evaluate and visit with the kids coming in, but also what they've done with our kids that are here at the university on our football team right now.  They did an outstanding job.  I appreciate them very much.

            I also thank the professors who have come in and done so many things to help sell our university in recruiting.  I thank the University of Minnesota, our administrative staff, everybody that was a part of our recruiting process.

            I also thank the state of Minnesota and also thank you.  Why I say that is that probably I think we had a lot of success.  I feel good about it.  A lot of it had to do with the high school coaches and the relationships that we have had with high school coaches not only in this state, which they've been tremendously supportive, but also throughout the country of coaching for 29 years.

            You know, what we sold in recruiting is we sold you.  We sold our university.  We sold the great state of Minnesota.  When you only win three games, you have to look at what you need to sell to these young men, where we're going to go.  It's very easy to sell our great state.  So that's what we did.  I think we did well.


 

 

            We have eight of those young men already on campus and going through workouts and going to class, learning how to do things here at Minnesota.  They have done very well to this point.  So we feel good about that.  So we're excited about the direction we're going.

            With that, I'll open it up with any questions.

 

            Q.  Coach, Jim Delany sent out a memo encouraging all Big 10 teams to offer full-cost attendance for full multi-year scholarships.  Several of the Big 10 programs have offered that.  Are the scholarships you've offered today, are they multi-year awards or are they year-to-year renewal?

            COACH Jerry Kill:  Well, right now -- and again, I don't know what everybody else has done.  I think that's still under provision in April.  Correct, JT?  With the scholarships and multi-year stuff, it's going to come up in April again.

            That's not been completely resolved.  So I can't really make a lot of comment.  There's still work being done on that.  There is a lot of legislation in April.

            Couple weeks in February.  So nobody has been able to do that.  We're all on hold with a lot of legislation.  A loft things in football are going to change.  We will know on that one here in two weeks and a lot of stuff in April the direction they're taking.

 

            Q.  You hit one area this year that Minnesota has never really targeted, and that's the panhandle area of Florida, southern Mississippi, and Alabama.  What led you there?

            COACH Jerry Kill:  You just go back again, I think you are who you are in recruiting, and it's all about relationships.  We've always recruited there, and we have a good relationship.

            That's Coach Saville's area.  He's a relentless recruiter.  We have a lot of ties in that area through the places we have been before.  You try to take a situation we're in, you try to make sure you do a good job in recruiting.  You don't want to make recruiting mistakes.  You want to make sure they fit into the university and what we're trying to do.

            Again, recruiting, a lot goes back to relationships.  We have some good ones there, and we're able to take some advantage of those relationships.

 

            Q.  (Indiscernible.)  How does that help you going forward in your recruiting effort?

            COACH Jerry Kill:  What happened here with the state of Minnesota, I can't be more happier with.  Again, it's the loyalty of the high school coaches.  We had tremendous help, you know, in the recruiting process.

            Our state helped us.  I don't think there is any question about that.  But those kids helped each other.  You know, I think that, you know, when you get a chance, if you talk to Philip Nelson, once he came on his visit and he got to know Andre, then they fit in with the players on our team.

            Our players did a good job of recruiting.  When you get the kids on campus, you know, and they interact, there was some chemistry involved there.  I think, you know, once Philip Nelson jumped on board and said, Hey, I think it just kind of a domino effect.

            Your kids are your best recruiters, you know, because I think the players know -- well, the coaches who are recruiting you, they're going to tell you everything you want to hear, selling the program.

            The player is always going to tell you the truth.  They come on a visit, they'll say, Hey, Coach Kill, if you don't go to class, he's going to go right down and see Jackie and Shayna (ph.), it's not going to be good for you, you're going to be in a brown shirt, you know.  They don't hear that in recruiting.

            But those players will tell them the way it is.  The thing about it is the kids here in Minnesota, they were able to -- we had them in camp, they came to practice and spring ball, they seen who we were.

            Sometimes that's good; sometimes that's not so good.  But in this case, I think it's good.  The recruiting class you see here I have been in every one of them's home.  I've gotten a chance to visit with every one of them.

            We have had a live evaluation on every kid, whether it's been on our campus and their spring ball or watching them play basketball.  I mean, we have been able to do that.  I mean, we got a couple really, really good basketball players that are on this list.  We got to see them, got to see them compete.  I think that's what we've tried to do in recruiting.

 

            Q.  How would you characterize this group academically?

            COACH Jerry Kill:  Well, you know, you look through it.  I won't mention names, but I go through it, I think there's -- you know, we had everybody met through Lanis (ph.) up there, and Jackie and Shayna and our professors.  And we met with -- if I had a question on somebody academically, I'd say, Hey, what do you think here?  You know, I kind of -- one of them I wasn't sure about, we didn't go on, because we can't take a lot of chances.

            So I feel very good about, you know, the kids that we have recruited.  I feel very good about their capabilities.  There are some kids in here that are 4.0 students, going to be engineers.  There are some kids like me that are 2.5 and are going to have to work at it.  I think they have to want-to to do it.  I think it's a good mixture.  I feel very confident.

            We can't, again, make a lot of recruiting mistakes.  I feel good.  I think we've got a good mixture in this class of athletic ability and want-to to get things done.

            We'll see.  The only good thing I can tell you, it's like athletically and academically with the kids that are here, you know, we're educating some of right now, but they've done a solid job at this point in time.

            I know athletically, I know coach said six  out of eight kids that we brought in, or six out of our football team, I think six of them are more the faster guys on our football team.

            So, I mean, that's a good sign.  Speed solves a lot of problems.

 

            Q.  Would it be fair to say, or would you be equally impressed with this class if you were coming off back-to-back 9 and 3s versus back-to-back 3 and 9s?

            COACH Jerry Kill:  I think -- you know, yeah, I feel -- I think every coach is gonna get up here and tell you, Boy, we feel good about the class.

            The thing I feel good about it is we've researched it.  We've seen it.  I have seen them run, I've seen what they've done in the classroom, I have got a good evaluation of it.  It's the same thing I did at Northern or Southern.  Whether we were 9 and 3, 3 and 9, doesn't make a difference.  I feel good about where we're at.

            It's no different -- I think Notre Dame recruits to Notre Dame.  Butler basketball recruits to ButlerMinnesota has got to recruit to Minnesota.  I feel good about this group and where we need to to compete at the level that we need to compete at in the Big 10.

            I mean, I will tell you the three -- actually, Harbison, Andre, KJ Maye, and Isaac Fruechte, I tell you what, those are four guys that can get it and go.

            I think people in the Big 10 will tell you that they can run, they're athletic.  You know, one of them is a point guard.  KJ Maye is on a basketball team.  I went down and watched him play.  He throws all those no-look passes, explosive, jumps out of the gym.

            Those are what we have to have.  We need some guys who can go make a play and make something happen.  Like I said, we have had some of those kids in camp and we've seen them make plays or watched them practice in spring ball and watched them play basketball.  We have spent a lot of time evaluating the kids that we brought in.

 

            Q.  Your philosophy in recruiting, do you go for need or do you go for best available?

            COACH Jerry Kill:  I think you go for need.  You know, I don't think there is any question.  Right now we basically, where we're at scholarship-wise, we needed to recruit a team.  We won't be able to do that next year.   We won't have as many scholarships available.  In this case, we can recruit a team.  There were some places we were overloaded. 

            I think out of all the home visits I made and went and seen kids, I think we lost one kid at the end, a kid named Drew Davis that is going to North Carolina State.  We all enjoyed Drew on his visits, smart kid.  He ended up at North Carolina State.  They offered him the last week.  You know, that's home, five minutes from his house, and he committed there.

            But at linebacker right now, as you know, we only lost one linebacker, so it wasn't as needy as a place as we have in other -- you know, secondary we needed to replace some people.  You know, we needed to get some play makers on offense, so forth.

            So, you know, tried to really recruit a team and need at the same time.  At the end of the day, every once in a while, you go, We're not gonna turn down this athlete.  He's that good.  We'll find a place to play him.

 

            Q.  There is always attrition with classes.  At what percentage would you hope to be with this group, when they're seniors in four or five years?

            COACH Jerry Kill:  Oh, you'd like to keep them all.  What I like to do is I like to go on our past.  I haven't been here at the University of Minnesota -- I mean, I still have to prove myself here.  I understand that.  But the two places I have been before we've been able -- that was the strength.  That's why our APR was so high.

            I think Northern still -- you'd have to look.  I think they're still in the top 10 in the country and I think you work at it that way.

            But you're gonna lose some kids because of competition.  I know we're getting better because I had two people come up to my office yesterday and say, Hey, coach, where do I stand?  This guy is coming in.  They read the Internet, too.  I go, Hey, if you're good, you shouldn't have to worry about that, you know.

            Competition will create some of that, but you hope -- in the old days, I know Barry Switzer back at the Oklahoma University used to say if you kept, I think, 60% of your class, you're gonna win every year.  Because you're gonna have some natural -- you know, when kids aren't playing, you're gonna have some kids that will move on and so forth.

            But hopefully we'll do that, you know.  I feel that if we don't, you know, it will be somebody else talking at the press conference.  You know, we've got to do a good job of what we're doing, and that's why I think we spend so much time in the recruiting process, try to get to as many people as we could, make sure we're making the right decisions.

            There's no perfect science.  I'm sure there are some people that are really, really happy with us.  There will be some people that, you know, maybe we didn't offer that are upset with us.  And, I mean, it's hard.  I'd like to offer a bunch of them, but we just can't.  We try to do the best we can and always gotta go back, gotta do what's best for the University of Minnesota and what we're trying to do here and build a program.

            I certainly will tell you recruiting started -- ladies, it was a Monday, correct?  Jackie?  We came in here, recruiting started.  I walked in this door about two weeks ago when our kids came back in.  I took a video, I put it up on the deal, and a group of people back at Southern Illinois made a documentary of what we did there.

            It was almost like -- when we played it to our football team, it was about 30 minutes, and it was almost eerie.  I was saying the same things to the same people that I'm saying right now.

            Then after that, we put a book on every deal called Uncommon by Tony Dungy.  He's one of ours.  That's gonna be my class.  I'm teaching that class, because we're going to be uncommon, different than everybody in the Big 10.

            When I walked in there it was a different feeling for me than it was a year ago.  That's a good thing.  Academically we're in a different situation.  That's a good thing.  We have improved, but we still have a long way to go.

            But I do see us improving, and what those kids -- those are all recruits.  That's the most important recruits we have is the ones right here right now.  Then with the ones coming in and them working together in the recruiting process, I think we're headed in the right direction.  It's gonna take time, but I'm pleased with the direction we're going right now.

 

            Q.  Did you ever sense any hesitation on a guy like Mitch Leidner or Philip Nelson coming in, same position and the same spot?

            COACH Jerry Kill:  If you look at the Super Bowl, and I listened to Peyton Manning last night, the key -- they make a lot of money, but if you don't have a quarterback, you're not gonna win.

            You better have some of them.  I'd like to have more than too many than not enough.  With both those youngsters, I feel like we're getting two of the better quarterbacks in the Midwest.  I got to see them live.  They were right here, worked out.  I got to see them  through passing leagues and et cetera.

            They're both smart, and, you know, they're both talented and don't worry about it.  Competition is good.  It will all work out in the long run.

 

            Q.  (Question about junior colleges.)

            COACH Jerry Kill:  Well, the thing about the junior college -- again, you always have my vision and how you build a program, if I was writing a book, I'm doing the same things I've always done:  I go back to connections.

            There is two or three junior college kids that we have that we know a lot about.  James Gillum, Coach Saville put him in that junior college.  He's known him for three years.  And if he didn't go to our place, he's going to go to Mississippi State.  We had one of the better running backs at Southern Illinois out of that school named Vick Ballard who played at Mississippi State out of that junior college.

            So there is a connection there.  There is a couple of those kids that got three years left.  They're not two-year kids; they're three-year kids.  They went to junior college to have the opportunity to play at this level.

            Plus we knew some people to place -- you know, we have a connection because I'm from Kansas, and we have those junior college backgrounds, and then building relationships.

            We felt there was some need certainly in the secondary that we needed to get some immediate help.  But there's -- Briean Boddy is a three-year kid.  He's got three years of eligibility left.  Baltazar has two years of eligibility left.  Shabazz has got two years of eligibility left.   Fruechte has got three years.  You know, we talked to his dad and he didn't play this year in junior college so he wouldn't use a year's eligibility.

            Again, we have been doing some of this a long time.  When we took the job, we started working on the future, if you understand what I mean.  I was making calls and we are doing things.  And we still are.  We're already working on the future right now as we speak, getting guys placed and so forth.  Sometimes you have to hide a few guys out.  That's a part of this deal.  Don't want to tell all the secrets.

 

            Q.  Are you done for this year, or are you going to try to add a couple more guys?

            COACH Jerry Kill:  Never done.  Always recruiting.  We're recruiting today.  We had a recruiting meeting just 30 minutes ago.  If we need to fill -- there are three or four players I'd like to continue to recruit.  When I say "recruit," that's whether they're scholarship or not scholarship players.  Sometimes the best players you ever recruit is kid that's a nonscholarship player.

            And we're fortunate to have three or four of those men who decided to come here and turned down opportunities at other places.  You're always recruiting in this deal.  I tell our players every day or our coaches, You better be recruiting, because everybody else is and you can't get bypassed.

            We're already into junior recruiting, and also still, if we can find a certain need that comes up, you know -- they are there are still good players out there.  There will be somebody got left out today or something.  So you're always on the search.

 

            Q.  How many of these players will wait until next January to enroll?

            COACH Jerry Kill:  I don't know.  I haven't -- we talked about three or four youngsters that we possibly could do that with, but we may not.  We'll just see how things work out, you know, in the long run.

            We've talked to three or four players about possibly starting in January to build our program up.  But we'll see how it works out.  You know, last year we talked to Bjorklund (ph.) about doing those kind of things.  It's something that, you know, we signed them and we haven't talked a lot about it.  It will all work out at the end of the day.

 

            Q.  What's the factors that go into deciding that?

            COACH Jerry Kill:  Well, injuries, things of that nature.  It's just one of those -- you know, we feel good.  We've communicated with all the people that we recruited and feel good about where we are with all that of that.  Sometimes it's injuries.  Sometimes it may be academics, et cetera.

 

            Q.  Do you see Phil Nelson going on the development track or...

            COACH Jerry Kill:  Well, we want -- you know, that's the whole thing.  Not just Philip but Mitch too.  I think competition is good.  All it can do is make you better.  It's one of those things that, you know, I've told every kid that we're coming in is I want you to come in and play.

            I don't know, we redshirted probably 60% of the kids last year and probably maybe more than that.  I want them to come in and think they're gonna play and work hard.  We'll see what happens.

            Again, we have to make sure we do a good job, if a freshman is gonna play, if they can handle it academically and also athletically.  And sometimes we made the mistakes in the past, I'm honest about that, you make mistakes, is you put a kid out there because there is such a need for him, but then academically he's not ready and then you've got all kinds of trouble.

            So the maturity level of a youngster coming in, whether he's ready to play is very, very important.  So a lot of that has to if they're ready for that challenge and can they handle the grind.  You usually find that out during, you know, during the course of the two-a-day camps, and some of the kids that are here now you'll find out earlier on.

 

            Q.  With the kids who enrolled this January, obviously eight of them, that seems to be more than you've had in the past.  Are you finding kids more and more willing to try that?

            COACH Jerry Kill:  Well, I can't tell you that -- you know, there is a trend, it seems like there's more, certainly at the quarterback positions, that they want to come in early.

            I think we have to be careful, to be honest with you.  It's like anything.  You've got to keep up with everybody, but it's not always what you want to do.

            I know that we've talked about it from an academic standpoint.  You know, Marcus Jones could handle it because he was highly intelligent coming out of high school, great student.  I think the kids that we brought in, freshmen, that can do that.  Does it make me a little bit nervous?  Sometimes that speeds up the process of growing up, you know.  I mean, sometimes I think you have to have that high school experience.

            So it's a tough question.  It really is.  But at the same time, you know, we're caught up in the recruiting process, and if they want to come and you have a need for it, you don't want to lose them because you don't do it.

            So it's a twofold -- I think with the quarterbacks, it's a pretty good deal.  They can learn, and their learning curve is a lot more.  We've got Scott Ekpe who is defensive tackle that's come in, and he's 17 years old, and he's got a lot on his plate right now.  Coming in, he graduated -- I think he graduated, and in two days he was here.  I mean, that's speeding up the process.

            So you get concerned about that.  I mean, I'm not gonna tell you that -- I'm not perfect, and sometimes I don't make perfect decisions and so forth.  I got mixed emotions on that.  I really do.  I wish I had the right answer.

 

            Q.  (Indiscernible.)  What's your philosophy?  Keep recruiting?  Back away?

            COACH Jerry Kill:  You know, Andre is a tremendous talent.  I don't think anybody can deny that.  I've coached a long time.  We had him out there on the field, and, you know, during camp.  A tremendous talent.  He learns quick on the field, those kind of things.

            You know, it's just like -- hey, you look at sometimes, as coaches, we create that.  You know, kid comes in, he sees you, commits to you, all that.  Sometimes that's our fault.  You know, sometimes you need to make sure a kid wants to come.

            I derecruited about three or four of these at the end, said, Hey, listen, I'm hard to get along with.  I wanted to make sure they wanted to come here.  You talk about losing -- you know, our coaches will tell you, as a head coach, when I go in there most of the time, I don't tell them what they want to hear, because we can't afford to lose people.  JT is sitting up there.  He's helping us with APR.  We need to make sure we make the right decisions.  We derecruit them a little bit sometimes.

            Andre's situation, with a player like that, young kid, you've got everybody in your ear and all those kind of things, so it just comes back around.  At the end of the day, I always say this:  Just like today when I came in here at 7:00 this morning and the fax machine is going on, I've lost them on signing day.  We had two or three recruits that had national letter-of-intent papers sitting there from somebody else.  So you don't know what's gonna happen.  The way I look at it, at the end of the day, it just works out.

            You keep recruiting.  And certainly here in our state, let's face it, you all have been on me, and you're right:  We've got to keep the best players in the state.  We have to.

            So we've got to be a little more patient.  This is our state.  We have to be a little more patient than Wisconsin, Ohio.  We don't have to be as patient -- there is a whole different type of recruiting that happens here than it does in the South.  It's just a different deal.

            So I think we stayed -- I can't take credit for it.  I'd tell you that Jimmy Sobrowsky (ph.), Brian Anderson, and Pat Pour (ph.) did a great job of staying in there.  I just stayed low and let them guys work through the process, and it eventually worked back through.

            And, you know, the great thing about Andre, when I sat at his house, there was no question this is what he wanted to do at the end of the day.  He figured out this was what was best for him, and that was good.  That's what it comes down to.

            Every situation is always different, you know.  I'd like to tell you there is a plan.  You get a feel for it if -- you know, there are some things you don't want to chase because you're never gonna get.

            You know, you've just gotta get a feel, should you hang in there or should you not, what the reasons are.  Every kid has a different situation.

 

            Q.  (Indiscernible) in June?

            COACH Jerry Kill:  He's working through some things again, pressing the situation with Jordan.  He wanted to graduate at semester.  Again, they were playing in the state championship.  There are a lot of things going on, trying to get that done.

            So it just didn't work out to get all the things that are needed to take place.  So it gives him an opportunity to get situated a lot easier than what it was.  He was on the fast track, again, probably a situation that should have been slowed down and we cannot slow 'er down.  That's us a little bit.

 

            Q.  Nelson compare to (indiscernible)?

            COACH Jerry KillChandler is pretty good player.  I think that the biggest thing with Philip is that when he was here, I think he ran 4, 5/2.  He runs better than what people think, and he's 228.

            Chandler Harnish is probably not that fast.  Chandler is probably more -- now, Chandler, I say that and you'll print that and he'll be calling me.  I don't know.  Chandler is in there somewhere, you know, in that speed.

            The thing I would say, they are certainly similar character-wise.  I'm talking about smart, care, you know, through his process.  You know, his dad went to Wisconsin and Iowa, was recruiting him very hard.  After he committed, that never stopped.  I always say when they're committed, that's when recruiting starts in this day and age.  People kept hammering him, and that youngster stayed in it.  This is where he wanted to be.  He wanted to be a part of turning around a program.

            Mitch Leidner, the same thing.  This is what they want to do.  Iowa came in -- it's one of those things where I feel good about the kids in the state of Minnesota that decided this is where they wanted to be.  They truly want to be here.  They truly want to make a difference.  That's a neat thing.  It really is.

            You know, they did as good a job at recruiting as anybody.  In some ways I think they just kind of worked with each other, get to know each other through the recruiting trips and camps, and they get a feel for what you're doing.  They want to be a part of it.

            So I think again the high school coaches and us visiting people, people have been good.  You know, we have a lot to sell here at the University of Minnesota, and I think I learned a lot in the recruiting.  We are different than anybody else in the Big 10.  We are.  There's nobody that offers a city -- I pulled up last night.  I had to get away for a little bit, and Tracy Claeys took me on a little drive, and we pulled up to the Twin Cities last night.

            It was beautiful.  It's clean.  The lakes, the countryside, the people, the university.  And I said to him, I go, You know what?  I had no idea a year ago that this was Minnesota.  I said, I'm just like a recruiter.  I said, if we can get them here on campus, we're gonna get them.  We have a great chance.

            What happened this year is we brought a lot of kids during the season.  Our season ticket holders, our state, helped get those kids.  I'm telling you, it wouldn't happen -- and certainly the out-of-state kids, they came in here, I mean, there's three or four of these kids, I mean, they were heavily recruited, that they were here -- I think a couple of them were here to the Iowa game.  You see after the Iowa game and that atmosphere, We're coming.  You know, that helped us.

            So I think the people of the state did as good a job at recruiting as any of our coaches did.  I said it was going to be a group effort, and I think everybody did a great job.  I'm certainly appreciative.

 

            Q.  Couple recruits said that your wife came to the in-home visit.  Was she your closer?

            COACH Jerry Kill:  No.  First of all, you know -- and I really, again, there is so much made of -- I guess that's part of it, is that my wife had to travel with me because of the situation I'm in, you know.  That's the deal.  She didn't say -- she came because, I mean, of my health situation.

            So, I mean, we had to get it cleared with the NCAA, which JT did.  That had nothing to do with it.  That was traveling.  So as you well know, it's documented if I had a seizure that she knows what to do.  She can take care of it.  I go right back into recruiting.

            So that's how that works.  Hopefully here I have been doing well.  Hopefully in the next two, three weeks -- believe me, I love my wife, she loves me, but we have been together enough right now.

            So there is some room for "I need some space," and, you know, so I live a tough life.  I went to get my driver's license, they won't give me my driver's license until I'm cleared.  I can't do anything.  I'm a pretty self-dependent person, so it's very difficult for me.

            So that's a fair question and a fair answer that we probably -- I need to be seizure-free here pretty quick so I can relax a little more.

            My wife's got me under a microscope, that's what I'm telling you, which is a good thing.  I love her to death.

 

            Q.  Is this the highest level that you've ever coached at before, (indiscernible) is this the best class you've ever recruited?

            COACH Jerry Kill:  I think people talk about the highest level and so forth.  I mean, I think probably if I had -- it's one of those things:  coaching is coaching.  Athletically I think that we have to recruit.  I think that's fair enough to say.  And Notre Dame probably selects right now.

            I think we're doing a good job recruiting.  I've reached out to Coach Mason, who has been successful here.  I've reached out to the coaches who have been here.  I've talked to Coach Holtz.  You try to reach out to that know what's going on.

            I'm going to reach out to some other coaches through this thing.  As I reach out to other people that have been at this level -- you know, I've played under Dennis Franchione who's been at Alabama, Texas A&M.  So, I mean, I've had pretty good training.

            As far as the recruiting class, I don't think you ever know what your recruiting class is until about three or four years from now, whether you're good or not.  If we turn the program around, then I'll be able to say we did a good job.

            I will tell you this:  Athletically, this is the best recruiting class as far as athletic skill level because I've watched them run, watched them jump, all that, that we have recruited.

            I would tell you the head coach at Northern Illinois who was at Wisconsin will tell you the wide receiving core at Northern Illinois was as talented, as talented as the one that was at Wisconsin this year.  So I think we have done well athletically.  Now we have got to do a good job of coaching and making sure we continue that process.

            I know I've been AWOL for a month and a half, two months.  I don't want anybody to go out of here and not get what they need.  I owe that to you.

 

            Q.  Is this game different coaching or recruiting at this level versus when you were at Northern?

            COACH Jerry Kill:  We recruit against them anyway.  We just couldn't compete to get them.  Seriously, in retrospect, if Trevor Olson who is working out here right now who is from Richfield came back -- that's what makes you feel good about coaching.  He's a Minnesota kid, played for us at Northern Illinois, and now he's working out here getting ready for the next level.

            But I think the recruiting part of it is now we can get in that, you know, that recruiting realm where when you're at the Mack level in Wisconsin or Iowa, somebody's talking to him, you're not gonna compete, because we're, you know -- but now that we're here, you know, and we're at the University of Minnesota, we can compete against some of that, where we couldn't there.  Therefore you get an athlete, you know, that's maybe a little, you know -- not so much a whole lot more, but you can get in on some people that you couldn't before.

            So that's where, you know, that's what you try to do, and I think we have done that.  I mean, I would tell you that if I went through this list right here, I mean, there are some -- there are some guys.  You'll be able to see -- I think it would be better for you to see than talk about it, but I think when camp starts, I think we'll run a lot.  I think we're gonna improve our speed a bunch.  I think that's how you're gonna win.

            We've got to be different, and speed solves a lot of problems, and guys that can make plays, and I think that we've helped ourself in that area.

 

            Q.  Your eight kids that are coming in for spring practice, what's the key for them?

            COACH Jerry Kill:  We've gotta get them -- the great thing about having them here is right now we're getting them adjusted academically and getting them going in the weight room.

            But more so, you know, with those kids, you'll judge them during two-a-days.  You just want to teach them what they need to know what you're doing in your program and also on the field.

            You know, taking guys like Jeremy Baltazar, he's a first-team all-conference player out of Texas, which is hard to do, and he's a very smart youngster.  I think he's playing corner.  I think he'll learn pretty quick.

            Briean Boddy is from Coffeyville.  I call him cold-weather skilled because he's from Delaware.  He's used to the cold weather.  It's not gonna bother him any. You get them indoctrinated what you're doing scheme-wise, so therefore, when they get to two-a-day camp they're not thinking.  They're gonna think all during two-a-days trying to figure out what to do. 

            They're thinking how to do things in the classroom, getting everywhere, what they're supposed to do right now.  You try to get all that process done, because when they start two-a-day camp, we figure they're ahead of everybody else.  That's the advantage of bringing those kids in at this time.

            Now, we won't have that advantage next year.  It will be different.  It's just the way things fell and we've had scholarship-wise, we were able to do what we did this year.  Next year we won't be able to do that.  We won't be able to bring that many in at semester.  And really don't want to.

            It just happens to fall the way it was.  We got lucky.  I'm being honest with you.  We got lucky on some kids at semester.  I'm surprised -- what we did at semester is highly unusual, and being able to get that talented a youngster and get them here this early, it's unique.  It really is.  We're fortunate.

 

            Q.  Recruiting with all the travel and the competition can seem like a pretty stressful business.  What's the best part about it for you?

            COACH Jerry Kill:  Oh, you know -- it is.  I mean, I turn around after this, I turn around after this and I've gotta go speak at -- we have a Big 10 meeting on Friday.  We need to talk to the Big 10 meeting on Friday and go speak to the New York City to a Nike clinic.  It just never ends.

            The greatest thing about what we do, and it's really what you do, is that there's nothing like walking into a home or getting to know a player and having a relationship that you may have for the rest of your life.  That's what it's all about at the end of the day.  I will get judged on wins and losses, but a guy like Trevor Olson, coming back here, Hey, Coach, how you doin'?  He's down there sitting in Coach Limegrover's office.  What's going on?  Or the Chandler Harnishes.  That's why you do that.

            JT, I keep looking back there at JT.  You know, I've got a list about how when he played baseball here, and they were talking about what he did and so forth.  It's all about relationships.  You know, he played college baseball.

            You still know people from what, all those years?

            It's about building relationships just like we're doing here today.  That's why I love coaching and going in and seeing those kids and getting to meet their families.  You kinda get to know how to coach them, to tell you the truth.  You can't coach them all the same.  There's some you've got to scream, yell at all the time.  There's others you've got to coddle.  We're all different.

            It's great to build those relationships.  It's great.  I'm probably not one of those guys that is a good hire to take a 10-and-2 team over.  I like building things, and I like seeing, putting the pieces of the puzzle together and moving forward.

            Right now we've got a good team.  Again, I see our team of people in here or our administration.  I know some of them would scratch their head when I was probably hired.  Some are probably still scratching their head, not sure about me yet.  I think they would all tell you, We're making progress.  They'll all tell you that I'm persistent or they'll tell you I'm a pain in the butt sometimes.  But I mean well, and I do see us moving in the right direction on the insides.  And if we can get the insides straightened out and we keep moving forward, the wins will eventually show up.

            The insides of this thing and the structure and the people is what it's all about.  We've surrounded ourselves with good people.  I have.  From our staff to our academics to our administration, so forth, I'm fortunate in that area.

            Thank you for your time.  We appreciate it.