Q&A with Coach Chip Long

Last year the ASU tight ends collectively saw very limited playing time. This year this group is preparing for an increased role in a new offensive scheme. Tight ends coach, Chip Long, talked about the transition his position group will undergo, his role as a recruiting coordinator and other topics in this exclusive Devils Digest interview.

DevilsDigest: As the team's recruiting coordinator you are naturally quite aware of how hard it is to assemble a class in such a short time. As you reflect back at the last several weeks how hectic was this process?

Chip Long: "It was hectic as we working with half of a staff for a while. But I had a lot of great resources to go to. Mike Norvell was a tremendous help. He had been with coach Graham previously and knew how he wanted things to be done and he helped me get things organized when I first got here. This staff is one of the hardest working staffs that I have been around. Everybody just flat out rolled up their sleeves up and just got after it.

"Even though it was hectic for us all we were able to work through it and put together a darn good class."

DevilsDigest: Recruiting coordinator is one of those staff positions that every program has, yet it does tend to greatly differ in its responsibilities from school to school. How do you would describe this position at Arizona State?

Chip Long: "It's basically keeping everything organized. Keeping everything very detailed, have calendars planning out when and where we need things to be done, and making sure everybody is recruiting every single day. Making sure the head coach has everything he needs to know about every player we are recruiting and having a detailed description of every player that we are recruiting. Organization is really key.

"I'm lucky I'm on a staff that has a lot of great recruiters on it, so you obviously let them do what they need to do. You just want to make sure that everybody does stay on task and we are all moving in the right direction."

DevilsDigest: Whether someone is really familiar with the Arizona State program or just watching it from afar, there seems to be a wide spread perception that this program is one that in many ways can and should recruit itself. Does that observation actually lessens some of the challenges involved in recruiting to this school?

Chip Long: "That is a major plus, but there are a lot of other great schools that can recruit themselves. So you have to get out there and work everyday. The schools that grind the hardest in recruiting are usually the ones that have the most success. But don't get me wrong, this is a great place to recruit to. This is an unbelievable university which is a great academic institution and it has a great football tradition. Additionally, you get to live in a beautiful area.

"So all that helps but you still have to go out everyday and brand your program, speak victory and really share your head coach's vision and change the whole mentality of how things are going to be run here, and communicate that vision to all the coaches and prospects you talk to during the recruiting process. It's one thing to have a great place to sell, but it's another thing to go out there and do the work."

DevilsDigest: You talked about coach Graham's overall vision for the program. How would you describe his vision concerning recruiting?

Chip Long: "He wants the best and the brightest. He wants kids with strong character and kids that see themselves as smart kids and have great self confidence. They need to be self disciplined, and obviously also be talented. It's not only about getting the greatest player, but also the right player to fit your program. A player that loves to work, loves to compete and be the best they can possibly be."

DevilsDigest: Let's shift gears to the two tight ends who were signed in this class. Kody Kohl was obviously committed here for a long time, and wanted to come here because of his brother Trevor who played here and his love for the program. How would you describe his skills?

Chip Long: "First and foremost, Kody brings toughness. He brings the love and the desire to play for Arizona State University. For him it's a family tradition. You walk into his house and it's Arizona State everything. So he is a player that wants to be here. From an athletic standpoint, he's a big kid at 230 lbs. and very versatile. He should have a great career here."

DevilsDigest: Darwin Rogers was a mid-year signee and because of time constraints the staff had to make a quick evaluation and decision on him. Therefore, there had to be something that jumped out right away at the staff that made all of you decide to pursue him…

Chip Long: "He's a very big and athletic young man. He grew up playing quarterback, which is always good because he knows how to get open and he has a sense of urgency about himself. He's a very explosive player and I'm excited to coach him. He's a pleasure to be around and you love being around those kind of guys."

DevilsDigest: With a brand new staff in place, each coach has to go through an acclimation period that involves not only getting to know his players but also communicate expectations. When it comes to your position group, following an offense that virtually didn't employ tight ends, I would assume there would be challenges that perhaps other position groups don't have…

Chip Long: "I want to see what each tight end on the roster does best, and put them in a position to do what they do best. I'm going to take those guys under my wing and I'm excited to coach them. They'll be learning from me as much as I will be learning from them. I expect all them to come in and be very physical, compete and work everyday, and make plays."

DevilsDigest: How would you describe the role of the tight end in coach Graham's offense?

Chip Long: "What's unique about it is that we ask our tight ends to do a whole lot, which is great. That is what you want. We are going to ask them to split at wideout, motion in the backfield, line up next to the quarterback, be lined up as a traditional tight end…all those things can create personnel mismatches. So the tight ends have to be very bright and carry a lot of information and be versatile so it adds to your arsenal."

DevilsDigest: I wanted to get your evaluations concerning the returning tight ends. Chris Coyle will be out of spring practice due to his shoulder injury, and he technically was playing at wide receiver last year. What did you see from him on game film and what position do you expect him to play at?

Chip Long: "He will be at tight end. We obviously need to get him healthy and before you know it he will be running around. But I'm very excited about him. He made some plays in his career here. He's a tough kid that is working extremely hard which is very encouraging."

DevilsDigest: Max Smith is a player that saw limited playing time last year, but as you watched his game film how does he figure in the tight end rotation?

Chip Long: "Max has really come around and worked hard and he's another kid that is great to be around. That is what I love about my group of players. They are all bright eyed and willing to work really hard and Max is at the forefront of that. He now has an opportunity to show his skills and hopefully he takes full advantage of it. He's a big physical tight end that we would want to use."

DevilsDigest: Josh Fulton is a player that had some bad luck with injuries since he got here. What have you seen from him?

Chip Long: "I like his size. He needs to attack the weight room and help himself out there, but he has been working very hard. There isn't much film to see on him but I'm excited to see what he can do and I think he's excited about his opportunity. That's what you want – a player who is hungry wanting to prove something. Like everyone else he has a clean slate now and it's time for him to make it happen."

DevilsDigest: Sounds like this group of tight ends is excited to be more of a factor than they were last season…

Chip Long: "Oh man, you see them everyday walking down the hall with a bounce in their step. They are really excited, they all have been doing a good job this first couple of months and they need to keep doing it. The look in their eyes shows me that they are ready to go to work and compete. I'm going to play the best players and usually the guys that are the most physical are the ones that end up playing the most. It's up to each of them to go out there and take advantage of their opportunity and prove that they have earned their playing time.

"It's an exciting group and I can't wait to get started and working with them."

DevilsDigest: With being a first-year coach here and coaching a position that was in essence not utilized last season, and one that has a lot of learning to do, what kind of approach do you take to spring practice?

Chip Long: "On day one, we're going to start with their stance, get-off and just build a foundation from the ground up. It all starts with the fundamentals. From there just work to keep on getting better and better. They will have to be able to take their teachings from the classroom to the field. We don't have 100 practices for them to get it right. So they need to be focused and get things right the first time. It will be highly completive and they will need to have an intense desire to be a master of their craft and I know they're excited to go.

"I want my guys to feel that they are the best in the country in their position. That is the standard that we want to set here. We want this place to go back to being ‘Tight End U.'

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