|by David Hood|
“He’s still here today. That’s the world we live in. there’s nothing we can do about any of that stuff. Most of the stuff that’s out there is so far fetched, it’s crazy. Any time a job comes open – whether it’s an assistant or coordinator – and there’s a “fit” if you will, people just immediately throw things out there. When you’ve got good coaches, those kinds of things are going to happen. There’s nothing that takes place on this coaching staff, that I don’t know about and that goes back to the great relationships and great chemistry that we have. It’s not just Chad, it’s other guys too. Everything gets public. There are still a few things that y’all don’t know, believe it or not. Things get thrown out there for people to write about, to talk about, to create conversation and all of that kind of stuff. When it’s a story, there’s something to tell you. It’s not worth having conversations about it. The bottom line is that if there’s anything to talk about, y’all will know about it. We’ve got a great staff. We are all here. I expect everybody to be back and if somebody has an opportunity to better their situation, then you understand that and you support that and you reload. Change is not bad. When you have good people and you lose good people, you bring other people in.”
Juniors leaving affect numbers
“It doesn’t affect the numbers very much. We were kind of counting on attrition to be honest with you. We had 10 scholarship seniors, and we were kind of counting on four or five spots of attrition to help us out. We’ve got some grayshirt guys. We’ve got the ability to manage this class with guys we really like, guys we think fit in our program that might not have a chance to come in August depending on what happens but will certainly be here by next January. We’re just really tight, because you get into situations where you’ve got a young man like Sobeski. Yes, I could take his scholarship away, but I’d really like to keep him on scholarship because he’s earned it. Certainly within our rules that when a walk-on earns a scholarship, it’s not necessarily for the rest of his career, it’s something you evaluate every year. But talk about a guy who’s been a starter for us and great producer. Another guy like C.J. Davidson, a young man we think is going to be a great player for these next two years. You’d like to keep a guy like that on scholarship. So you get into those types of situations. And we’ve had a little bit of attrition, but we’re okay right now, and we’ll see where it goes as we move forward.
“Sometimes a guy will come to you and say, coach, I want to graduate or I want to transfer somewhere I can get playing time. Those are things we don’t ever know. Just like last year, I had no idea Morgan Roberts was going to transfer out. Numbers-wise we’re in good shape. And we’re almost finished with this class. There’s two or three guys out there we’re working hard on. We’ll see what happens.”
Juniors leaving early
“You know, everybody’s convinced they’re going to be a first-rounder. And unfortunately there’s going to be a lot of those guys that don’t get drafted at all. Or several of those guys who think they’re going third round, they go seventh round. That’s the sad part of the business. But that’s just the way it is, and we’re no different than any other place.
“Most of our guys have stayed the majority of their time. A few guys here and there. This is the first time we’ve ever had this many juniors – three for sure, maybe four. Sammy is a guy that has to go. The other guys had decisions they needed to think strongly about. Dwayne Allen a couple years ago, went in the third round. He’s a first round talent. But he was ready for the next challenge and ready to move on. That’s each guy’s individual decision. Again, we try to inform them, make sure they understand all the parts of that decision, and you move on. Proud of the guys that we’ve got who are coming out this year.
“(Bashaud) Breeland, I’m so proud of that guy. He was a great freshman for us, really really struggled as a sophomore on and off the field, and man, he was incredibly consistent and played with great confidence. Really became a leader for us this year on that back end. Quietly had a great year. I’m excited for him. It’s what he feels like he needs to do. He’ll be drafted as high as he possibly can and maximize that opportunity.
“Same thing with Martavis. I think we all know Martavis is going through a little bit of a transformation as well. I’m really proud of him. Because since last January, I have not had one issue with him. Not one. Since we got back from the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, he was waiting on me in my office, because I really didn’t even want him back. He sat in there and we had a great conversation. The best thing that happened to him was having to sit at home. He committed. For the first time, he really made a great commitment. And it was consistent. All spring, all summer, the offseason, through fall camp, the whole deal. Because he knew he had the ability to really be a special player. Great to see him have a great year this year. I have no doubt somebody’s going to get an outstanding young talent in Martavis.
“Obviously Sammy, somebody’s going to take him in the top ten or it’s crazy. He is a special, special, one-in-a-million kind of guy. Vic, we’ll see what he does. I’m proud of all those guys. But I think anytime you have guys being drafted out of your program, just go in my office and look on that wall of those guys who made a team since we’ve been in place here, it’s pretty impressive. That’s what it’s all about. Guys are sticking because they’re leaving here prepared and ready not just for football, but a lot of tools to help them make it.”
ACC having a good year
“Somebody had to break the streak. I think we can all take pride in that. Just like the SEC has always taken pride in whoever wins the national championship. It’s great that this conference stepped up and got it done. The SEC is a great, tremendous conference. We don’t try to say we’re better than anybody or anything like that, but we’ve always maintained we’re as good as anybody out there. So it’s good to see a couple teams emerge as dominant teams, and we need that in this conference. Hopefully we’ll have a couple more. The SEC, that’s what they’ve done consistently, over the last decade, have 1-2-3 teams that were really really good and nationally relevant. That’s what we need in this conference, especially as we move into the College Football Playoff scenarios. We want to be on that seam, from a conference standpoint and from a Clemson standpoint. I’m proud of Florida State, text back and forth with Jimbo, congratulating him, and they’ve done a fantastic job. We know very well the kind of team they have. It’s good to have th national championship back in this conference, and we want our turn. So we’ll keep trying to get to the top of that mountain.”
On what Tajh, Sammy and Chad have accomplished
“When Chad was coming here, he didn’t know who any of those guys were. I said, you know, we got this guy named Nuk Hopkins here. I got this guy named Dwayne Allen. I got a pretty good running back named Andre Ellington. We’ve got some pretty good young offensive linemen you’re going to like here. I got a guy named Sammy Watkins committed that’s down in Florida. A guy named Charone Peake and Adam Humphries. He didn’t know who any of those guys were. He was just fired up to come in here and get started with a new challenge.”
“It’s been fun. It’s been fun to watch it all come to fruition, the vision, if you will. It’s exciting. The leadership that we had at quarterback with Tajh. He has been special in every regard. He’s handled his success and adversity very well. As we’ve said many times, he’s set the standard at his position. Listen, we’re just scratching the surface of what we want to do here.”
Wide receivers going forward
“I think Mike Williams is going to be a very special player. Adam Humphries coming back. Very confident in what he can do for us. Germone Hopper’s got good experience this year. He’s going to continue to get better. Then Charone will be ready to roll. He’s going to be champing at the big to get back out there. You’ve got three freshman receivers here, three mid-years: Kyrin Priester, Artavis (Scott) and DeMarre Kitt. All highly-touted, very talented. It’s going to be a lot of fun this spring. Competition is wide open, outside of a couple guys we feel like we can pencil in, it’s going to be very very competitive just like the quarterback position.”
Orange Bowl momentum
“(The CFA Bowl) was good momentum for us and all that. But whether you win or lose the game, it’s over at the end, just like when we lost to West Virginia that year. Everybody was like, omigosh, they wanted to keep talking about it. We were thinking about beating Auburn in the opener. It’s a new team. New everything. New chemistry, new leadership, new challenges. New guys in certain spots. We went back to work last year and beat Auburn and won the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Same thing this year; it’s great, it feels good, because you work your tail off for that one game, and it’s exciting. But it doesn’t have anything to do with us going to Athens and beating Georgia. We’ve got to pay the price all over again, as we say, get ready, transform, primetime, championship time.”
“Jeff Scott has come miles and miles not just as a recruiting coordinator, as a coach. He’s tremendous. He’s a great asset. Chad obviously as the coordinator gets a lot of the credit, as he should, but we have a great staff. And Chad will be the first one to tell you that. The best quality Chad Morris has is he listens. I can’t say that enough. He listens to his staff. Jeff Scott, Tony Elliott, Danny and Robbie Caldwell, these are outstanding football coaches who are very innovative when it comes to game-planning. Great knowledge, and they work very very well together. That’s the reason we’ve had the success we’ve had. Jeff Scott is tremendous. He’s 32, 33 years old now, and he’s a special coach.”
Back injuries, Tyshon Dye
“I don’t have any reason to not be (confident.) We’ve got Kalon Davis, who’s 300-plus-plus-plus-plus pounds. They really had the same injury, but Kalon’s was a lot worse. A lot worse, actually, than Tyshon’s. Tyshon had some ankle surgery, while he was in the midst of this back rehab, that he cleaned up and injured in high school. I don’t have any reason to not be confident that he’s going to be ready to go. I don’t know where he’ll be this spring. Not really concerned, to be honest with you. I just want him to be ready to go when we get to camp come August. I know he wants to go right now today. But you have to be careful.
“He’d just been playing with it. He just thought he’d deal with it. So hopefully we’re able to get him some relief with what he’s dealing with in his ankle, but anytime you’re dealing with a back, you want to proceed very cautiously. So again, I don’t have any reason to be concerned, but until you see a guy out there doing it again, there’s always a little bit of caution.”
Leaders at quarterback
“We’ve got four quarterbacks that are great, natural leaders. That’s just in their DNA. The personalities are different. Cole Stoudt is an excellent leader, Chad Kelly is a very very good leader. He’s going to be out in front in everything, right in the middle of it. DeShaun Watson has been a starting quarterback since the ninth grade, grade school. He’s used to it. Nick Schuessler came in here as a walk-on and he’s a guy we have to have at that position, and he’s also an excellent leader. That quality, you can check the box with all of them.”
b>Tight ends, fullbacks?
“Those guys have got to get better. Leggett’s got to become a more physical player. McCullough is the guy who should be able to run the football, do all the things a true fullback would do, but from our 3-man position. Seckinger, I think did a lot of good things this year. Those guys right there continue to improve physically. We just brought in Kurt Fleming, who’s been in the Braves organization the last four years. I’m really anxious to see him. This guy’s 235 pounds, and he was drafted as a center fielder. I don’t think the Braves draft center fielders who can’t run, especially in the eighth round. You know he’s a good athlete. I’m anxious to see him. He might be a guy that fills a dual role for us. But until I see him arrive in pads … we’ve got plenty of guys. Darrell was a throwback for us, a guy who was here as we transition systems, and just such a good player, such a valuable guy, we just had to carve out a niche for him. But as we move forward, it’s more about tight ends for us. Those guys have to fill that role.”
Five straight to South Carolina
“I don’t spend any time thinking about South Carolina. It is what it is. They’ve had a great run. They’ve earned it on the field. That’s why they call it bragging rights. They’ve earned the bragging rights. If I could change it I would, but we’ve got to get it done on the field. That’s really all that matters. None of that stuff matters. What matters is our football team and how we perform, how we prepare. We’ve got to win that game. It’s just that simple. But that’s really all there is to it.”
David Hood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org