DevilsDigest: Coach, what can you tell us about the wide receivers in the 2004 recruiting class?
Daryl Jackson: Michael Jones – "He's a tall athletic kid that played quarterback in high school. He's a baseball player too. He's 6-3, a good runner that change directions very well. He has very good hand and eye coordination. Most people do put their best athletes at quarterback, especially in high school. When he gets here he'll be competing."
Nathan Kimbrough – "Another athletic receiver. Had a very good senior season. He played safety as well, so you know he's a tough kid. He does a great job going up and getting the ball. It's gonna be great getting him here because I know he wants to compete and he wants to play right away. That's the mentality these young men have to have. That's gonna make for tough competition in our group."
Jeremy Payton – "Another good player that played wide receiver and was pretty much the jack of all trades on defense. He played cornerback in the (CaliFlorida) All-Star game. Very good at getting a great push on a corner, and being very sharp with his routes. He has solid hands."
DD: Two traits all these players have in common are being tall receivers who played more than one position. Are those some of the traits you covet when you recruit wide receivers?
DJ: "All the kids we signed are over 6-foot and are relatively taller than kids we signed the last couple of years. It's nice that you have you have big tall receivers. But they all can also run and are very athletic. All three of those guys are football players. It's great to get kids who understand what a football player is all about. They're not just someone that goes around saying ‘I'm just a receiver.' They can say that they were football players who stayed on the field most of the time."
DD: Can you talk about the play of Derek Hagan last year, and your expectations from him in 2004, where he'll be considered the leader of this group?
DJ: "We're establishing who's gonna be the leader of the group for 2004. That hasn't been established yet. Skyler Fulton was the leader of our group the last two years. This upcoming season, the leader of our group will work itself out. There's no one who's the leader right now. If you go by last year stats, then you can say that Derek Hagan is our leader. But in today's society leaders aren't elected just by the numbers. There are a lot of other characteristics that go into being a leader."
"Derek had a very solid season last year. He did a very nice job of making plays and got better as the season progressed. People don't realize that he didn't start the first part of the season because he had a very slow start in camp. The one thing he and everybody else needs to understand is that every day you're always working to be better than the day before, and he's doing that."
DD: Going into the spring, what aspects does this group need to improve on?
DJ: "Last year we had way too many drops, and that costs you a lot of first downs and touchdowns. That's the first area we want to improve on. We want to get to where we were two years ago. The next area is finishing plays. What I mean by that is either blocking for your teammate after the ball is caught or pushing the pile and not just standing around. Those are the little things that will help us in the long run."
Q&A With Coach Daryl Jackson
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