Q&A with Coach Steve Broussard

Whether on the field coaching the Sun Devil wide receivers or off the field as the newly appointed recruiting coordinator for ASU, it figures to be a season full of challenges for Steve Broussard. Devils Digest sat down with Broussard to get his thoughts on his recruiting philosophies and the upcoming 2012 class, as well as his evaluation of ASU's wide receivers and their prospects this season.

DevilsDigest: Congratulations on being named the team's recruiting coordinator. How will you approach this position and what is your recruiting philosophy?

Steve Broussard: "We have to hone on the in-state kids and do a better job of getting those kids to stay home and recruit that area very hard. Not to say that Grady (Stretz, former in-state recruiter) didn't do a good job of it, but word came out (in the 2011 class) that we didn't do very well and we have to make that an emphasis in the state.

"We all have to be on the same page when we recruit kids and do things as a collective unit. We have to be aggressive when we recruit hot spot areas like Southern California. We have to hit an area like that hard."

DD: Last year the coaching staff had to contend with a small class, but this year it could have a class double in size. Aside from the obvious numbers difference, how will the recruiting approach differ this year from last?

SB: "Last year we had to be selective with the number of offers that we put out, and this year we will be a lot more aggressive with the numbers of offers and evaluating players to make sure that we get the right kids in here. We are going to have a lot more flexibility and that will allow us to be more aggressive."

DD: With having a class that will approach 30 players, would it be fair to say that this is type of class where you take more chances on the ‘diamonds in the rough;'' or players that have been overlooked by other programs?

SB: "This (size of) class will allow you to be able to project on players a few years down the road and how they will contribute to the program at that time. It will also allow us to take a look at a number of JC guys too. When you have 27 seniors you have to look at what you have behind those guys and see where you have to go to the JC route, and this class allows you to look at mid-year JC players."

DD: As a recruiting coordinator what aspects of ASU do you try and highlight when you are out promoting the program?

SB: "Our location is very easy for Southern California kids to get to, the weather is good here most of the time. Obviously, if you have a good season it's a lot easier to recruit when you are winning. So we know that if we start winning everyone is going to jump on the bandwagon."

DD: When you compare college recruiting these days to even just five, ten years ago what are the main differences that you see?

SB: "The Internet is prevalent in the recruiting process. You have all these recruiting services rating players, you have a lot of teams putting out passing leagues, a lot of players have their highlights on YouTube and that is something that is much more prevalent now than it was ten years ago.

"So you have to deal with all that as a recruiter, but you can never get away from the basics which is evaluating players on a couple of games and not just a highlight tape. You have to trust your evaluation and gut feeling and see which player does fit what you are looking for and try not to lean so heavily on these outside sources."

DD: Do you think the role of the Internet makes recruiting harder or easier compared to years past?

SB: "It does help sometimes because with the Internet some players aren't diamonds in the rough anymore. Once one person finds out about a kid and offers him, the next thing you know that kid has four, five offers. It also helps because it provides you information that you may not have had before. The more information you can gather about kid, the more it can help you in evaluation."

DD: Let's shift gears to the wide receiver group. How would you evaluate their performance in the 2010 season?

SB: "If I were to look at last year (2010) and the previous year (2009) we threw the ball more and we were in a new offense that offered more opportunities for them. If you look at the big picture, I thought that they did pretty well for all the circumstances that they were up against. It was a culture shock for them to get used to this new offense. I was very proud in how they responded to everything. They battled, they fought…one of the things that I tried to really instill in the group was togetherness and a toughness and for the most part guys bought into it. As the year went on they got better and they did help our offense execute."

DD: Blocking is one trait that you really stressed throughout the year with this unit. How do you feel they performed in that area?

SB: "I didn't have much to compare it to and myself I am always looking for my guys to improve. I always want them to do better and I think that they would say the same thing. So to be honest, I would say that they were average, but talking to coaches who saw them (in previous years) said that they were much better. My expectations are always going to be high, but for the most we did a fairly decent job with what we were asking them to do which is something that they were not used to doing. We asked them to be downfield blockers, block at the point of attack, and be physical…that is all stuff that they were not used to doing. But they bought into it and did a fairly decent job."

DD: Gerell Robinson was hampered with injuries all of fall camp and for the first few games of the season. However, it seemed that once he got healthy in the later part of the year he really played well. How would you rate his performance?

SB: "Like you said his hamstring kept him out early on and when he tried to come back he re-aggravated it. But when he got healthy he also became more comfortable and confident. With a full healthy season the sky is the limit for him. He has the physical tools, and just has to get stronger in the weight room. "

DD: Mike Willie is literally the opposite of Robinson, because he started out the season very strong but tapered off as the year went by…

SB: "Like any JC guy coming in, and George Bell is the same situation, it's very different coming into a new program and trying to get playing time. Mike actually played the entire season with a torn rotator cuff and he was trying to fight through it. But later in the season he probably got even more sore which is why things were not happening for him the way there were earlier in the year.

"He won't have any contact in spring practice. He's a tough kid and a competitor and I expect a lot of him."

DD: Aaron Pflugrad maybe wasn't injured to the same extent Robinson was, but he was also slowed by injuries especially early on…

SB: "He's a warrior. He's a football player. He's a student of the game. If you can stack your team with a bunch of players like him you give yourself a chance. He's another player that if he stays healthy he can have a great year as well. He understands where his strengths and weaknesses are and he plays to them. "

DD: T.J. Simpson was one of the better wide receivers on the team. How do you think he performed last season?

SB: "He has great speed and I'm sure that he would tell you that he wished he made more big plays when those opportunities presented themselves. But he's a player that always looks to get better. He's a grinder that will always work his butt off and not care what the circumstances are."

DD: You are losing your top wide receiver from last year, Kerry Taylor. Who do you expect to fill in his role in 2011?

SB: "It will be hard to replace a guy with so much experience and someone who made a lot of clutch catches for us. Guys like George Bell, T.J., J.J. Holliday, A.J. Pickens, Kevin Anderson…you have a lot of kids that can step and take advantage of this opportunity."

DD: When you look at the depth chart it seems as if all your best wide receivers are seniors. How crucial is it for the young players to step up their game this year? After all they will be the future of this group very soon…

SB: "No doubt. The one good thing we have with trying to fill so many scholarships is that we can go out and get three, four wide receivers. Obviously these young guys know what opportunity they have next year, but even this year in the spring guys will get hurt and if I'm a third or fourth teamer now suddenly I can be first or second teamer. They have to be ready and hopefully these guys have been working hard and come out with a sense of urgency that they want to play."

DD: One young wide receiver that probably many think can really make an impact based on the way he practices is J.J. Holliday. Is he a player that just got lost in the mix so far because of the numbers at this position?

SB: "He did get caught up in the numbers and I do expect him to have a very good year. He really busted his butt last year and did a great job in practice. He just has to stay focused and continue to work hard. Ability wise, work ethic, the whole nine…he has what it takes. He did have a learning curve with the pace of the game, but he has another spring and fall to pick that up and I think you will see a guy that will be a surprise."

DD: Gary Chambers was the only wide receiver signed in the 2011 class. How do you see him possibly contributing this year?

SB: "He went form a possible greyshirt to now coming in the fall and having a chance to be part of the mix. He matches up with his physical stature (6-3 195) so now it's up to him to pick up the offense and compete. It's not etched in stone that he will redshirt especially if he comes in here and performs. We expect him to come in and compete just like any other first-year player."

DD: With spring practice just a month away, what are your goals for the wide receiver group?

SB: "The first thing I like to see us improve in is getting off the press coverage. We also want to go faster with our tempo, which means getting set quickly back at the line and getting the call. We have to improve on the fundamentals and the little details of the game. Making sure we know our splits, our alignments even though we have to rush with a no huddle."

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