Q: How has practice been going so far?
A: It’s been good to get back on the field and get back to Fresno where I played. That’s been good. It’s been exciting to see the position getting better - we’ve got to get better at the position. We’ve got a lot of guys that are fighting and competing for a spot. It’s been all about family in the running back room. We’re all going to compete and play at a high level.
Q: What are you learning about your personnel?
A: We’ve got a lot of versatility. We’ve got a few guys that can do different things and have different strengths and weaknesses. I’ve learned that they are hungry, tough kids. They work hard. It’s been a pleasure to work with them.
Q: There is a lot of youth and inexperience in the group - what do you think about the potential?
A: I see a lot of potential. We’ve got some good runners, we’ve got some guys that can pass protect. We’ve just got to be able to do everything and be a complete running back. Those guys are young and they have to learn that they have to run, block and catch the ball out of the backfield. They have to learn how to be a complete back.
Q: We expected to see more of that potential play out last year before injuries. How is the group doing health-wise?
A: It seems like we’re getting healthier. We’ve still got a couple guys that are out right now (O’Neil, James). Hopefully we can get those guys back soon. The guys that were hurt and are back now are doing good. I feel like we’re getting better now.
Q: What is the role of the running back position in Fresno State’s new offense?
A: You’ve got to be able to do everything, you’ve got to be able to run the ball, pass protect, catch the ball out of the backfield, know what you’re doing, run hard and run physical. The role will be to be a tough, good running back and get that running back tradition that Fresno State has always had - get that going again.
Q: And what are you looking for in recruits?
A balance of everything, explosive, big playmakers, tough kids, guys that can run hard, physical. It’s a little bit of everything… and you’ve got to be tough to be a running back here at Fresno State.
Q: The previous staff liked to recruit big backs, does it matter if you’re a smaller running back in this offense?
A: In my opinion, if you can run hard and you can run tough, it doesn’t matter. Size does not matter. It’s all about being a tough guy that can run, be physical. Some are small, some are big. I prefer whoever wants to play hard.
Q: What are your key principles in coaching your players?
A: In coaching my players, first of all they’ve got to trust you. You’ve got to get the trust that you want out of your kids. I like a good coach relationship with the players. I just want them to be able to come in and talk to me about football, about other things. Just try to be a mentor to them on every level, to try to be a father figure for them and be there for them.
Q: You’ve successfully recruited players from the Valley to other schools, what will it be like recruiting them here?
A: I think it’s going to be good. There’s a lot of talent in the Valley and the state of California in general. I think we can do a lot of good things with recruiting. Fresno is a good place to come, there’s a lot of tradition here.
Q: What’s it like to be back at Fresno State?
It’s kind of weird and different, but it’s also home too. I’m excited to be here, I really am, to get this program to be where it needs to be. Whatever I can do to get that done, I’m going to try to get it done.
Q: What was the reception from local high school coaches on the recruiting trail?
A: I feel like they were really excited to have me, to have Coach Tedford back and guys that are familiar with the area. It seems like they are pretty excited and they want to work with us.
Q: What are your goals for this spring?
A: For the running backs to get better. To get special teams on track - installing punts. Letting them understand the way we practice and the way we’re going to do things. Our tempo and just trying to get them on track with that.
Q: Can we expect anything new on special teams?
A: We want to be solid in what we’re doing. We want to play hard, a lot of effort. We have to have guys that play with great effort and get after it on special teams. They know their role and take pride in special teams. You can expect that they are going to play hard, with great effort, and that they are going to be sound.
Q: Fresno State was known for blocking kicks - can that still be done in today’s football?
A: We definitely want to get that back going again. We want to get the return game going. We want to cover kicks. We want to be sound with our field goals and field goal blocks - everything we do. You can expect a little bit of everything - we’re going to try be the best as we can on special teams, Fresno State has always been known for that.