Given Addison Gillam's injury history, how much will you hold him back for precautionary reasons during camp?
Mike MacIntyre: "We'll definitely be cautious with Addison. He has had a really good summer. He weighs 230-pounds now, he really looks good. He is running good and with the knee, he'll wear a brace on it, but you kind of treat him like you would an NFL veteran in a way. You don't send him out every day in practice doing the whole thing. There are some days you make sure he gets it in, and some days he can rest a little bit because we want him ready for the 12 regular season football games and our post-season after that."
It seems like the foundation has been set to the point where you don't have to play a lot of true freshmen. And while cornerback is one of your team's most talented spots at the top, you only really had three scholarshiped players at the position this spring. It seems like that is one position you will have to rely on some true freshmen to play at?
"It seems like everywhere I've been there are always a couple young defensive backs that play. Because you play five guys a lot of times and those guys play special teams. There will definitely be a couple true freshmen defensive backs that play some this year, for sure."
Isaiah Oliver is obviously an elite athlete and he seems to have all the physical tools. Is there any reason to believe he can't be an All-Conference type player in his career here?
"I definitely think he has the ability to do it. He came on last year and we'll see how he does in August camp, see if he has taken another jump. It looked like he took a little bit of a jump this spring and he needs to take another jump. And then when you are out there every down and they know you are out there, they get film on you. You are going to have to keep adjusting your game when they attack you certain ways. That is when we'll see if he will be an All-Conference player. Does he have the ability and intelligence and everything that goes into it? Yes, I think he has all that to be an All-Conference player. We just have to see him do it."
One thing I found interesting on the post-spring depth chart was the fact Afolabi Laguda was listed as the No. 1 nickel back. What did you see with him in that role this spring?
"We are just experimenting with all of that. That depth chart is in complete pencil. He is a guy that definitely could do some nickel but the best nickel on our football team is No. 4 (Chidobe Awuzie) but he also might have to play some corner. Also, we do a lot of that in case an injury happens, you have to have the ability to get your best guys on the field. Afolabi can play safety and nickel but nothing is definite until we open the season against CSU."
Speaking of No. 4, you have mentioned that you have known Chidobe Awuzie since he was a ninth grader at Oak Grove High School... what has it been like for you watching his development here?
"It has been awesome. He is just a phenomenal young man and he is extremely intelligent. He has great parents. He is an excellent team player and it has really been fun to watch him just keep maturing. He was saying the other day, 'I can't believe I am graduating in December.' He has done it in three-and-a-half years. It is hard to believe it is already his last season here. He wants to go out on a great note, and he should."
I know fans are sick of hearing about strength and conditioning talk, they want to see results in terms of wins. That said, in 13 years covering this program, I've never heard more rave reviews over a strength and conditioning coach than the reviews Drew Wilson has been getting. What do you attribute that buy-in from the players to?
"I extensively interviewed quite a few people for the strength coach position and kept going over and over and over it. He is a guy that I talked to quite a few times. I liked his character, his personal nature with people. I thought he could really relate with our guys. But I also liked his ability to hold them accountable and responsible and be very, very tough with them. At the same time they know it is a tough love. They feel cared for and not demeaned at all. I think he has done that. I think they have really, really responded to how he is doing it. He has a really good staff with him, too, that has really bought into everything. The kids have bought into it so it has been a heck of a summer."
What is your biggest concern about your football team as we sit here today?
"Wow. As a head coach, you have a million different concerns. You have a million different things going through your mind, that is your job to cross every t and dot every i, all the time. And sometimes it is a moving target because of different injuries and different situations but I feel like this team is definitely a group that feels good about themselves, it is a mature team. There are a lot of little things that I don't have to do anymore that the maturity of the team takes care of itself. They have a phenomenal work ethic and attitude now. That culture has been built so I guess the main thing I am concerned about is injuries and how we are going to have good practices in the fall. Knock on wood, hopefully we will stay healthy. Because if we stay healthy, I know we can be a good football team."
Everyone has seen the impact Darrin Chiaverini has had on the recruiting trail since he came on board and there is a lot of momentum with your recruiting efforts this cycle. What else do you attribute that to?
"Really it is a culmination of everything. We are going into our fourth year so we have been in all these high schools, we have been working hard in California and Texas for a while. We dipped into the South a little bit last year and those connections have been been paying off. And also the new facilities and getting more and more kids to campus helps that. We weren't able to get as many kids on campus before. So more and more kids are getting to campus on unofficial visits, which helps all that accelerate. The connections we have made with the high school coaches through the years, there is more trust built there. They know we are real. I know they see the program changing and building. They hear it from other coaches around the league, how much we have improved. So I think it is a crescendo of that. I revamped the entire recruiting process. I wanted to try to do it when we first got here but we didn't have the money. We sat down with [Athletic Director] Rick [George] and he also realized that we needed to get it revamp it to where I am able to hire more people in our recruiting area. That has really accelerated a lot of what we can do. So that has really helped us a lot. I started that about 18 months ago, so all of that is culminated. And our coaches have done a really nice job staying after it but they have had a lot more help in-house to do that. We have a whole recruiting network now that helps us be more successful. And then the icing on the cake is when they see these facilities. All of that coming together, it is a process we have built and we have finally got it rolling like we wanted to get it rolling. And as we win more games this year, it will just keep clicking from there. But the foundation is built in that area."