Q. There are differences in programs whenever there is a coaching change. What differences did you observe last season compared to the Minter years?
There is always going to be a learning curve whenever there is a coaching
change. I think we saw that last year in certain games. There were
some games earlier in the year where the team didn't play well. I think
some of that was a byproduct of the coaching change. Some attitudes needed
to be adjusted, and some had to adjust to the changes in "X's" and
The coaching change also probably gave some of the newcomers a
better opportunity. Look what took place on the field last year. We
had 25 seniors that were going to play. It would have been tough to keep
them off the field, but some of the freshmen played key roles as the season
progressed. That's a good thing. Bradley Glatthaar and Butler Benton
became key contributors along with Earnest Jackson. I saw Jackson's talent
on the first day he was switched to receiver. He didn't know what he was
doing at first, but you could see the talent there.
looking at the 2005 football recruiting class, what do you see?
This staff likes two things- speed and athleticism. I also think this
staff is willing to take a chance on kids. We saw that last year with
Glatthaar. Many people backed off him because of his forty speed , but we
saw there are very few players that run as hard as he does. This year we
saw it again with Byrd. Many recruiters thought Byrd was too short at 6
feet tall, but I've seen a lot of very good defensive linemen that were 5" 11"
Q. What do you think of the low ranking many recruiting
sites gave this class?
A. Too many people want to base their
opinion on NFL combine numbers like height and weight. There are so many
other variables to consider like leagues and their competition. Those kids
from Colerain played great competition all year long. There are also other
intangibles to consider like coming from winning programs like Colerain and
Elder. I don't put a whole lot of stock in those
Q. How do you see the QB competition shaping up next
A. Well, as everyone knows we lost a 4 year starter that took
about every snap and owns about every record. How do you replace a guy
like that at such a key position? Personally, I see it as a three man
race. The leaders in my mind are Dustin Grutza, Nick Davila, and Tony Pike. I've been impressed with Pike. He's about 6'6" tall and has
a strong arm. He still needs to put on more weight, but he has great
potential. Although he's had only one year at QB, Carey could be in there
too. The great thing about Carey is he can play TE too.
How does UC football draw more people?
A. That's a tough
question. We've seen it go up and down, but we know certain teams will
draw. Playing Pitt and WVU will draw fans, but I'm not sold that Rutgers,
U. Conn. And even Syracuse will draw well. I think the key for UC is to
win games. They need to go at least three years in a row with no less than
7 wins a season. If you look at urban schools with professional football
teams, they all struggle with attendance, even Miami of Florida.
to see us have teams like OSU, Kentucky, Indiana and Purdue on the schedule on a
regular basis. On the other side is a Kansas State that has built its
program by playing weaker non-conference teams and building a
Q. Some believe UC basketball was able to take the next
step when it successfully recruited Herb Jones to the program. His star
quality helped to bring others. Can that happen for UC
A. Yes, but it takes more guys in football. One guy
can make more of a difference in basketball. It's important for UC
football to eventually land some of the very best local recruits. By the
best, I mean those that are now going to Michigan, OSU, and
Q. What do you predict for the Bearcats in their first
season in the Big East?
A. When the Big East has its meetings this
summer, UC will be projected in the lower end. I would expect them to be
picked 6th or 7th, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It sure didn't
hurt this year that CUSA picked them so low. They may be able to sneak up
on some people, but I expect a battle in every game. I don't see any team
they can't beat, but Louisville would be my early favorite.
you envision any of the incoming freshmen starting next season?
It's very possible, but it's too early to say where. With all the
graduating seniors there are plenty of openings, and there won't be a lot of
returning upperclassmen so there will be a lot of competition. I'm not
sure any of the freshmen will start right away, but I think some may work their
way into the line-up by the 3rd or 4th game.
Q. There are six
Bearcats at the combines. What are their prospects?
A. I like
them all. I've always been a fan of Gino, and I see him making a
roster. I love the speed of Trent Cole and was impressed with him at the
Senior Bowl playing as a standup linebacker. Frazier is a fast as Cole but
I just wonder if his body will hold-up in the NFL. Enzor and Hagler are
similar to (ex-Bearcat LB) Troy Evans, and Evans has managed to stick with
Houston for several years now. Holly is just so fast. If he gets
with the right coach, he could make it too.
Although all six of
them have a decent chance, I see Cole as the only "lock." I think he'll
get drafted on the first day but not the 1st round.
Q. When was the
last time UC football returned its entire staff?
A. I can't
tell you that . There will be change because it's the nature of the
profession, but there doesn't need to be 4 or 5 guys leaving every year.
That's tough. Coach Dantonio knew that was a problem and addressed it with
Bob Goin in the beginning. Some of the current staff will eventually
leave, but I think Coach Dantonio has recognized that his guys don't need to be
working 14 hours a day. There needs to be some time for their families
too. He's such a class guy.
Q. What does returning the entire
staff mean to the program?
A. We saw what it means when Coach
Minter was here. Often the Bearcats under Minter would get off to poor
starts, but finish the season strong. I think much of that had to do with
the coaching changes. It took a while for everyone to get on the same
Bearcat Insider would like to thank Jim Kelly for his time and
looks forward to listening to his broadcasts for many seasons to come.
Q & A WITH JIM KELLY JR.
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