At running back the Hoosiers have to replace a player in Devine Redding who twice rushed for more than a 1,000 yards. Peegs.com spoke with Indiana RB Coach Mike Hart about the progress his players have made so far this spring.
Q - Talk about how spring ball has gone for your guys. Are you pleased with the progress they are making?
MIKE HART: It’s going great. The good thing is I have a great group of guys. They’re hard workers and they show up to work every day. They’re fun to coach and they’re fun to be around. It’s about getting better every day and competing every day.
Q - Is anyone standing out for you? Is there anyone that you feel has stepped up as the guy?
MIKE HART: To me it really doesn’t matter what a running back does until scrimmage time. After the scrimmages we have in spring and then our scrimmages in Fall Camp, and then you go from there. Everybody is an All-American in shorts. You’ve got to see guys that can make something happen when nothing is there, and who runs hard consistently. They’re all good and that is a good thing because it means a lot of competition. No one is ahead of anybody, and for me personally, I don’t see that happening until after Fall Camp.
Q - Did you know much about the running back personnel at Indiana before you joined the staff?
MIKE HART: When I got here I didn’t ask about anybody and I didn’t want to know about anybody. I didn’t want to know who played and who didn’t play because at the end of the day they’re all going to have a fair shot to get on the field and play. To me it is what you do on the field, and I always tell the guys, the film doesn’t lie. So whoever is the best is going to play. I tell the guys all the time it’s what you do on the field.
Q - Talk about coming to Indiana and working with a new group of players. What is the toughest part of getting to know them and learning about them as players?
MIKE HART: I think anywhere you and any group you have everyone is different. I think every kid in my room is different. I think at the end of the day you’ve got to find out who your group is and how they are and how they respond and then you coach them that way. So I think that is the toughest thing, finding out how your group responds and how they act and then finding a way to coach them.
Q - What is it like to come to Indiana as the running back coach after the success they have had at that position the last few years?
MIKE HART: I think Deland (McCullough) did a great job. Between him and Coach (Greg) Frey they had a tremendous running game the past few years. With Tevin (Coleman), Jordan (Howard) and Devine (Redding) that is three years of guys that can really play and really run. And obviously also A.T. (Anthony Thompson), which is a little further back, but just so good so recently which is great for these kids because it shows you can have success running the ball here, and you can get to the league running the ball here. If you come here we’re going to run the ball, so I think for recruiting that is huge because it helps you recruit some running backs into the program.
Q - What has it been like to be on the same staff with Coach (Mike) DeBord after playing for him when you both were at Michigan?
MIKE HART: The good thing is I have been calling him DeBo since I was in college so I’m used to that. Anytime you get a chance to learn from a guy with his experience it is awesome. You can really grow as a coach by soaking up the knowledge he brings from the places he’s been and the people he’s worked with.
Q - Talk about how the new offensive staff has come together. How has that transition gone for you guys?
MIKE HART: The only one I didn’t know was Coach (Grant) Heard. I knew Coach (Darren) Hiller because we had worked multiple camps together and I’ve known him for the last few years. Obviously Nick (Sheridan) and I have been friends for a long time, and then obviously knew Coach DeBord. It’s been easy because we have a great group of guys and they’re fun to be around. We laugh, we joke, and it’s really a joy to come to work every day. If you ask a lot of coaches that in this profession they all won’t say that, but we all truly get along.