Q&A With Coach Grady Stretz

ASU's defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Grady Stretz was officially named on Tuesday as the co-defensive line coach for the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Yet, this career move wasn't an easy one for him to make. Devils Digest caught up with Stretz to talk about his decision, the state of the Sun Devils' defensive line and the 2011 recruiting class.

DevilsDigest: Coach, congratulations on your new position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Can you talk about what led you to this decision?

Grady Stretz: "It wasn't an easy decision at all. I am blessed to have this opportunity. It has been a hectic last few days. Tampa Bay called coach Erickson last Thursday to ask his permission to visit with me. Next thing I know, I'm on a plane Friday morning to go out for that interview. So things just turned a certain way and it's going to be very hard to leave this place."

DD: You have been here at ASU for five years. What are some the achievements you are most proud of during your tenure with the Sun Devils?

GS: "I am really proud with the direction the program is going in. I am really going to have a hard time not being part of this team next year, and I know I'm going to enjoying sitting back and watch this team succeed. The personal relationships I have here, seeing young men come here and develop into the player and the person they are today, seeing these guys play as hard as they can week in and week out, …those are things I am real proud to be part of."

DD: Let's talk about some of the defensive linemen that will be joining the team this year. Mo Latu is obviously a local player that you have recruited for a while. What can you tell us about him and his skills?

GS: "Mo has a ton of ability. He's a great person and an explosive player. He really turned some heads in our summer camp. We knew he would be a great offensive lineman but after we saw him live in person at our camp we also knew that he could be a great defensive tackle for us. He has some academic work to do but he is determined to get it done and doing everything he can to finish strong. He's a player that just has a lot of upside."

DD: David Moala is one player that was recruited late by the team. What caught your eye about him?

GS: "He had a great senior year and anytime you have a defensive tackle that has 18.5 sacks in one season – that is a pretty phenomenal feat. That doesn't happen often, regardless if you played 14,15 games like his team did because they went to the CIF championship game. He's a natural football player who showed a lot of productivity. I loved his mentality once I had a chance to meet him."

DD: Sean O'Grady is another player that you have recruited for quite some time. What do you like about his attributes?

GS: "Sean is a kid we watched a while ago and were fortunate to get him early in the process. He really jumped at us on film as someone that makes a lot of plays and plays extremely hard. He's fast and athletic and does the things we ask our strong end to do in our system."

DD: When you look back at the 2010 season, how would you evaluate that year as far as the defensive line is concerned?

GS: "I thought they did a very good job in the run game, were very gap sound and played very disciplined. It was a group that was very productive up front. There was point in the season where they started to do a better job pressuring and getting more heat on the quarterback. We had some veterans out there mixed with some youth. I am looking forward to watching these guys play this year."

DD: Even though you probably expected Junior Onyeali to play as true freshman you also probably never expected him to have the season he did last year…

GS: "You're right because it's so hard to get these true freshmen on the field and we have been very fortunate with our evaluation of him as a staff. I told him during one of the two-a-days we had ‘you will be starting come mid-season' and sure enough he did. He just continued during the season to get a better grasp of our defense and grow technically. Coach Erickson and coach Bray say all the time that speed kills and we put an emphasis on that during the recruiting process. When we watched Junior Onyeali on film we knew we had a special player and when he came in he did everything we hoped he would do. He battled through a shoulder injury and still played at a very high level. He's dedicated about his rehab and is ready to develop into even a better player. I have no doubt that he will be one of the best defensive ends in the Pac-12."

DD: Jamaar Jarrett is one player that made a huge leap from the 2009 season...

GS: "I am very proud of Jamaar because he had to go through a lot of things that the public does not know or truly understand. He has overcome so many obstacles in his life, has really grown as a person and he has shown that growth playing on the field. He has such a great work ethic and a passion to play football. That is always rewarding as a coach to see someone like Jamaar Jarrett take full advantage of the opportunity he was given. He has nothing but good things ahead of him as he continues to grow both as a person and a player."

DD: A player like Bo Moos is someone who had a steady progression from his freshman year until now. Can you talk about his performance?

GS: "Bo has definitely come a long way and has totally dedicated himself to football and academics. He is really determined to be a good football player. I know he will have a great senior year and he has become quite the leader. I had a chance to say goodbye to all these guys today and obviously shed some tears. Bo is one of those guys that will cause you to well up because you know he has been through some tough years and you see how far he has come. He's someone that has great ability and always plays with everything he's got."

DD: Corey Adams is a player with a very high ceiling that if he was healthy all the time could really show his true ability…

GS: "Corey's upside is as great as any defensive tackle out there. With all the injuries he has had he showed how resilient he is and he always finds his way back onto the field. I know he is working very hard and really looking forward to the upcoming season. He will have a great couple of years here at ASU."

DD: What are your thoughts about how the defensive line will fair now that Lawrence Guy has left for the NFL?

GS: "It will have an impact but I think we have been blessed with depth, and when you have depth you have good competition that breeds success. I think Will Sutton who redshirted will be as a good as a defensive tackle as there is the Pac-12. I believe that he really is a very special player and that group is full of good players that can step in and get the job done."

DD: What are your thoughts of the 2011 recruiting class?

GS: "We did have a small senior class and that limited us in the number of scholarships we could give out. We were hoping in the end that a few guys would jump our way and they ended up going elsewhere. The bottom line in the whole picture is that these days you have some guys that tell you that they are committed and that they will join your team and ended up doing something else. We know that we signed players that can help bring us a Pac-12 championship. Getting those two quarterbacks was huge because they are both so extremely talented and you have to have a good triggerman to succeed."

DD: Going into the 2011 season how do you see this defensive line fairing this year?

GS: "I think they will be a great unit up front and whomever they bring in to coach them Will Do a tremendous job with them. It will be one of those things where they will have an opportunity to go out every week and dominate football games. They have a lot of experience and talent. They have the ability to play very physical, but also the speed to go out there and make plays. I have high expectations for them. I know that they have worked very hard and now it's time for them to reap the benefits. They will be a fun group to watch."


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