March 11, 2014
GopherSports: Mike, congratulations on the promotion. How does it feel to be the linebacker coach at Minnesota?
Mike Sherels: It's a dream come true. Ever since I was a freshman or sophomore here I knew I wanted to coach. I have always had a great passion for the University of Minnesota and have fought hard to help return us to where I think we should be. To be in this position now is truly a blessing.
GS: You are not too far removed from the college game as a player. How do you think that will help you moving forward?
MS: I think it helps me out in the fact that I can relate well to what our student-athletes are going through both on and off the field. Sometimes coaches get so far removed from going to glass and the demanding day-to-day schedule of a student-athlete that it can end up hurting the kids. I am fresh enough out of school that I remember the way things were and know what they are going through.
GS: What kind of coaching style will we see from Coach Sherels?
MS: I would like to think that I am a really good teacher. With that being said there are times that I get passionate about the game. I enjoy being around football and coaching football. However, yelling is not my style. I know it works for some people, but that is just not me. If I am trying to be somebody that I am not then the kids will sense that.
My biggest thing is that I want to make sure that our kids understand what they are doing and why they are doing it. I ask them at all the time, "Do you understand this? Do you understand what we are trying to do?" I ask them that two or three times because if a young man does not understand what he is doing, or the concept of what is going on in the defense, then he is going to have a hard time rationalizing why we are doing things a certain way. If I can get the kids to understand why they are doing something, their chances for success will not only increase, but their acumen for doing things right when maybe the picture changes a little bit also increases. Then they can think for themselves and coach themselves on the field.
GS: How would you describe your first few days?
MS: It certainly has been a challenge, but it has been fun. It's new for me to plan meetings and things like that. I have always embraced challenges though and have never shied away from them. I told Coach Claeys and Coach Kill that I am ready for this and I am going to work my tail end off for these kids because they deserve it. The school deserves it, this great staff deserves it, but these kids really deserve it. I went through four position coaches in five years and I had two head coaches when I played here. I know what a transition can be like and I know how hard it can be like to learn a new style and new personalities. There is a feeling out period and I hope that I have been able to mitigate some of that eliminate some of that just because I have been through it before.
GS: Before your first practice, was there a pinch-me-moment, or were you just ready to coach football?
MS: Leading up to the first practice and first meeting I was nervous. I would be lying if I said I was not. I had butterflies in my stomach, but I was excited. It was something new for me, to be the guy in charge. But as soon as the horn sounded and practice started I was at home. Being out on the field for practices and games comes very naturally for me and those nerves went away.
GS: What do you look for in a linebacker?
MS: I want linebackers who want to get better. I want guys who are a little bit selfish in a way, in a sense that they think that, "I need to make sure I understand things and I need to make sure that I am getting coached personally." I want guys who are constantly hungry and asking for help and trying to figure out if there are ways to do something better. It is hard to try and force somebody to get better when they do now want to. I have seen players with both attitudes. I just think it is that much more rewarding when you have a player who is hungry and wants success. That makes you want to do everything you can to help them achieve their goals.
GS: Last Friday was a good day for the Sherels' family. You were named linebacker coach and your brother Marcus signed a new contract with the Minnesota Vikings. Marcus lives with you and your wife Emily, what was that day like for you and your brother?
MS: It was a good day. Marcus and I are both very alike in that we do not like to publicize our success. We kind of shy away from the spotlight, but I would be lying if I said I was not happy for the both of us. I am very proud of him and he is very proud of me. We are very close as a family and kept our celebration in house, but I could not be more proud of him. He works very hard and deserves everything he has received. Growing up we wanted to bring positive vibes to the Sherels' name. When people say our name, we want them to say positive things. We applied ourselves and worked hard and good things have happened.
GS: Some fans are not familiar with your story and how you walked-on at Minnesota and became a two-time captain. Can you share that with us?
MS: I was lightly recruited by the U. When I got the word that I was not going to be offered a scholarship, I essentially stated that I was going to come here anyway as a walk-on. I came here with a big chip on my shoulder. I was angry and felt slighted and I wanted to prove everybody wrong. Thankfully, I came in here and worked hard and had really good people to learn from. Older walk-ons who had played kind of showed me the way. They helped pave a path for me. I also had good coaches and was lucky enough to be put in a position where I could succeed. My brother followed the same path and we both found success. I ended up being a two-time captain and he ended up playing in the National Football League. It's a good story.
GS: Where did you have scholarship offers from and was it hard to turn them down?
MS: I had offers to North Dakota St. and Northern Iowa and ended up turning those down. It was not a very popular decision at the time with my grandparents and mother. But it was all about pride to me. I really thought that I could play here and belonged here and nobody was going to tell me anything different.
GS: You are the only former walk-on to be named a two-time captain at Minnesota. To this day that still has to make you feel good.
MS: When I was voted captain the first time, I was completely humbled because it came out of nowhere. It was not something that I expected, but it was certainly something that I embraced. It's an honor when your team votes you as a person who they want to lead them. I think it goes back to the fact that I worked really hard and I did not talk a lot. I tried to hold teammates to that same standard.
GS: So you will bring that same attitude you had a player to the coaching profession?
MS: No question. I am not going to be a flashy guy. Our guys are going to work hard every day and we will let the chips fall where they may. But as long as we work hard and keep our head down then good things will happen.
GS: You are from Minnesota. You went to Minnesota and were a captain of the Gophers. You know this state and program better than most people. That will surely help you in recruiting.
MS: I have had a lot of people ask me about what kind of recruiter I will be, and without trying to brush it aside or laugh it off, I feel like nobody can explain the benefits of coming to Minnesota to get an education and play football better than I can. I think that way because I have lived it. I know the benefits of attending school at Minnesota, and I know the benefits of having a degree from here. My family will have six degrees from here by May. My wife was a student-athlete here, I was a student-athlete here and so was my brother. I know all the ins and outs of being a student-athlete at Minnesota.
I may not have been on the road as much as others and I do not know all the coaches across the country, but I told Coach Kill that he can put me anywhere in the world and I will be able to communicate to people how special this place is and how special it will be.
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