Swinney Talks Upcoming Season

CUTigers.com's Brett Jensen spoke with wide receivers coach Dabo Swinney in the fourth of a series of exclusive one-on-one interviews where you, the fan, get to propose the questions for the entire football coaching staff.

How many true freshmen do you envision getting significant playing time at receiver this season?
Swinney: Two. I don't want to name who they are yet, but I see two true freshmen getting playing time.

When you were out of football, did you think you'd ever get back in the game, or were you prepared to do something else for the rest of your life?
Swinney: When I was out, I kind of knew in my heart that I would probably get back into it at some point. I was still doing some clinics and had helped with some high schools, so I still kind of had my head in it. I just put it in God's hands and I was in a good situation for my family. I was enjoying working for my old coaches, but I missed coaching. There was a real void by not coaching and I was just looking for the right opportunity.

I had seven or eight opportunities to get back into coaching, but it just wasn't the right fit for me. I didn't want to take a job knowing going into it that I would probably trying to leave in six months. I'm a guy, who if I couldn't commit to it and feel good about it and go full speed, then I would rather just continue doing what I was doing. I was coaching my kids, coaching little league and doing a bit of everything. But I missed it. I missed being around young people and I missed college football.

I just put it in God's hands and prayed about what I was looking for and said, ‘If it's your will, here's what I'm looking for and open that door.' And he did. I didn't hesitate when the time came.

What is your favorite part of recruiting and are you a little surprised at how good you've become at it?
Swinney: My favorite part of recruiting is Signing Day. When they're signed, you can celebrate the guys that chose to come to your university. That's always the best part.

But as far as being successful recruiter, it's a lot more than just me. It's the university, the head coach and the coaching staff. There are so many things that go into it. I guess just as far as being a recruiter, I think it's being able to develop a relationship and fortunately, I guess that part has always come easy to me as far as dealing with people. Success is measured in a lot of different ways, but I think the biggest thing for me is I'm fortunate to be at a great university. We have an awesome head coach and great facilities and a great staff.

Speaking of recruiting, how many receivers are you going to try an sign this fall?
Swinney: We'd like to sign at least two. That's my goal. Hopefully everybody will qualify that signed this year. If not, then we'll try to sign them back, plus two.

What kind of hobbies do you have away from football?
Swinney: I love to play basketball. I've always been a basketball guy. It's a fun way to exercise. I love to play golf, although I hardly ever play and I'm not very good any more. But when I do get a chance, I like to play. But my main hobby is to just stay around my kids. My number one thing is to spend time with them. What little time I get away from football, I try to devote that time to my kids and my wife. I don't know if you call that a hobby, but I love to spend my time with my boys. I also like to travel.

What's your perfect height and weight for a receiver?
Swinney: Seven-foot tall, about 230 pounds and run a 4.4. That would be ideal. I've never really been hung up too much on size. Size is obviously one of the factors that can go into decision making. I've always put a lot of emphasis on a kid's feet. The first thing I evaluate in a receiver are his feet and can he redirect. People always want to tell me how many catches a guy's got and how many yards. But that's really not the first thing that's important to me, because at this level, if you can't escape, redirect and win at the line of scrimmage with great foot speed and lateral movement, you're going to be eliminated.

With the type of offense that we run, we've got to have guys that when we do get man coverage, we can win at the line and redirect and maneuver down field. And to be able to do that, you've got to have good feet. So, that's the first thing I look at and then I go into all those other things: size, hands and that kind of stuff.

Ideally, I'd love a guy 6-2, 190 pounds, who can run. The bigger the better, like Aaron Kelly. He's 6-4, but I'd like to get a little more weight on him, but he plays like a 5-10 guy. Then on the other side of it, one of the best players I ever coached and the leading receiver in the history of Alabama is a 5-10 guy. Smaller guys are typically your slot, but sometimes you can have a 6-3 guy like a Derek Hamilton be a good slot player. And typically your outside receivers are the bigger guys, like a Kelvin Grant. But if I was just going to have a mold of a wideout, I would say a 6-2, 6-3 guy that weighs 200 pounds and can run.

Speaking of Aaron Kelly, has he gained any weight or gotten stronger in the offseason and how important a role do you see him playing this season?
Swinney: Aaron has really improved his strength since he came here last summer. He's picked up weight and we'll see when he gets back for second summer session exactly what he weighs. He's going to be a guy, who each year develops as far as his body goes.

As far as playing time goes, he's a guy that's going to have to come through for us for us to win. He is an awfully blessed and talented young man. The sky is the limit for him. It should be exciting to watch him develop over the next four years. He can be as good as any that's been here.

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