FOOTBALL: A few minutes with Coach Drayton, Part 2

Coach Stan Drayton is Florida's new running backs coach. He joined the Florida staff from Mississippi State midway through the January recruiting period. Among the other stops during his 13-year coaching career are Bowling Green, where he worked with Coach Urban Meyer, and the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League. While coaching at Villanova, Coach Drayton helped to turn Brian Westbrook into the Walter Payton Award winner, which is the Division 1-AA Heisman.

Under the tutelage of Coach Drayton, Westbrook (now with the Philadelphia Eagles) because the first player on any collegiate level to record more than 1000 yards rushing and 1000 yards pass receiving in the same season.

Coach Drayton took time from his busy schedule Thursday morning to talk with Gator Country. This is Part II of the interview:

1. Will you tell us about Kestahn Moore? Where do you see him best suited in this offense?

He is going to be perfect for this offense. He is a back that has done some of the same things schematically that we are going to do with our backs here. One back situations or a guy that motions into the backfield or a guy that gets involved in the passing game protecting the quarterback or catching the football, that is the kind of back we are going to need in this offense. We are going to need backs who have done it all or have the ability to do it all. He is a very explosive young man. I can see him getting up around 215 (pounds) and doing some of those things where you can line him up in a lot of different places where he is a threat everywhere he goes. In this offense as you see and learn it a little bit, there will be times where we spread the defense and we don't want to get out of a two back personnel grouping. We will just take that second back and put him somewhere else and then have the ability to motion him into the backfield and do some of the same things we are doing in the running game. It just makes everything unlimited for what we can do schematically. He is just prime time for that and perfect skill for that.

2. Florida will have only four running backs on scholarship next season. Is this a concern? And if it is a concern, how will you compensate for the short numbers?

Depth is a little bit of a concern but we feel like we have four good ones. Knock on wood! If anyone of these guys were to have the misfortune of getting hurt there will be no hesitation for the next man to jump in and take control of the deal. Ideally, we want to carry more (backs) in the program but we feel like we have some good class integrity. By that I mean we have two juniors and a red-shirt freshman and a true freshman. So there is some good class integrity there. What it forces them to do is all of those guys have to come in here and learn in a hurry. Kestahn Moore can't come in here and be a freshman from a mental standpoint. He has to pick up on this offense and be able to run with it. Every single one of those guys has got to be able to take the bull by the horn and play, because I can see them all playing.

3. How are your running backs handling the tough mat drills under Coach Marotti and Coach Balis?

This is the toughest thing that they have ever been through. It is, and you know it. One, they are being asked to do things they don't want to do and two, they have never done before. But, they are handling it very well, those guys are toughening up. You know, I sat here and I scouted this team at Mississippi State last year and I sat there and looked at the talent and you are awed by it. You try and look at the intangibles as to why in the world a Mississippi State beats a Florida, and it shouldn't happen. If there was one thing on film that I could see where we could have gotten better, and I see right now that we have already made that turn in the right direction, (we needed) a little toughness. We needed a little harder skin. That is what the off-season program does. It puts a hard shell on these young men. They are paying the price right now. The rewards are going to be what they gain on Saturdays during the course of the season. Right now they are going to pay the price and earn what it is they are going to get. We are going to make that part of it as tough as we can, so come Saturday, it is easy for them.

4. Did you do something similar at Mississippi State?

We did. You know everyone has their own different way of doing it but we tried to make the off-season as tough as we could for them.

5. You coached Brian Westbrook at Villanova. How do the backs Florida has on its roster compare to him? He's a tough runner with speed but he also has good receiving skills.

I'm telling you, and it is funny that you say that, I am sitting here and I am saying that I would have taken Brian Westbrook everywhere I have been. That is a Division 1-AA player you are talking about. Even here I would love to have him in a system like this. Every running back is a little different. But the similarities, all these guys have the same type of vision that Brian Westbrook has, all these guys have the feet. Some of these guys may have a little bit more top end speed than Brian had. What Brian had, and I am trying to learn about my guys, he had a sense of maturity about himself that was above and beyond his years. It takes a maturity level to make it at the next level. Young men don't understand that right away. They say they have the talent and yes they have the talent. Every single one of the running backs here at the University of Florida has the talent to get to the next level. But, do they have the complete understanding of the game yet? Are they a complete student of the game? Do they have the maturity to look above and beyond what their position is asking to do and have an overall view of what a defense is trying to give you? He had that early in his career. I am learning to see if my running backs have that same type of state of mind.

6. What are you most excited about heading into spring practice?

I just can't wait to see these young men in pads. I think they have traveled a distance in the off-season that is going to make them a better football team. And, they are excited about it so that makes you excited as a coach. You can see it, you can feel it. I am ready to see the type of talent that I actually have at running back, because I think right now it is the most talented group that I have ever been a part of. I just can't wait to see them display that in spring ball.

7. Are there any off-season or off the field goals for the running backs?

As a team, we want these young men to graduate. I want them to first of all handle themselves like young men, to handle themselves with class. Treat women right. I want them focused in on everything from a class and academic standpoint. I want them to focus in on everything, so when it comes to football, it's just football. It is a tough duty. It is a different world these kids live in. They have totally different distractions that you and I may not be used to. I just want them to be able to handle that like grown men. Then carry everything else to the football field and let's have fun.

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