Blum: You were the lead recruiter
for Kris Means. How difficult was it to nab him out of
Alford: He committed so early, way back
in August. He came to our camp and preformed exceptionally well. He's a real
academic-minded kid. He wants to major in chemical engineering, which obviously
we've got a phenomenal program. The advisors in that program did an unbelievable
job in talking to him about that school and that part of the curriculum. He went
Blum: How do the running backs you recruited fit into the system? Do they compare to Stevie Hicks?
Alford: No they are different. Alexander (Robinson) is fast. He reminds me, and I don't want to jinx him, a lot of Ellis Hobbs, as far as his athleticism and his desire. I've told him that he reminds me of Ellis with his demeanor and his work ethic, just how he carries himself in his everyday life. I'm really excited about him. I think he can really run.
Josh (Johnson) is more of an inside, powerful guy. Really good legs on him, powerful. It seems like he's got some good speed. We're excited about him. The guy who is also a really explosive guy is Mitchell Moore. He's a guy with a lot of explosiveness in him. He plays in the post on his high school basketball team and he's 6'1. He's got some powerful movement about him and explosiveness in his body. We're really excited about him as well. With Harry Scott, he's a bigger guy. Harry is 6'2 and 205 pounds. He's a big guy that can really run. He's a physical guy. They are all physical guys. None of them shy away from contact. We're excited about all of them. Every single one. We're excited about what they bring to the table in their own right.
Blum: What about ball security? You have preached that ever since you have been here. Can these guys be reliable?
Alford: How'd we do last year? (Laughs) Let's hope that was an anomaly. We'd like to think so (guys being reliable) We hope so. That's coaching and that's teaching. That's coming in and getting the job done and understanding the tradition that we have built and want to continue to have and get better at. That will be a mantra that will never stop.
Blum: Did you have a plan to go
Alford: Yea, Barney Cotton did a great
job of recruiting down in that state. We did make an effort to go down there and
we were also in
Blum: Who would you say are the playmakers in this class?
Alford: Oh man, there are quite a few. Obviously, Austen Arnaud. The things that he brings; the athleticism and everything about him. I think Kris Means is a playmaker. Guys that really showed up; Derrick Russell, he played basketball he's just a fine athlete. It just goes on and on and on. You look at Rashawn Parker. I mean that guy is relentless. Mac talked about him, and he's a guy on the defensive side that just makes plays. He runs and pursues. Fred Garrin is a sideline to sideline guy as well. Guys like Drenard Williams and Devin McDowell; they can just run and cover lots of ground. If you can run, chances are you can make plays for us.
Blum: Are special teams an area where some of these guys can contribute right away?
Alford: Absolutely. To say that freshmen are going to come in and start right away; who knows, but it's hard to do. But, a guy can come in and get some reps, be in the 2 deep, but also assist in special teams, which are a third of the game and a critical piece of the ballgame. Who we kidding? Guys that can come in here and run, can maybe come in and help on special teams. And ultimately help you win football games. I don't care; we don't care if they're freshman. If a guy can run and go make plays in any capacity, you put him on the field and turn him loose to make you some plays.
Blum: What do you see for the running back competition next year?
Alford: It's going to be heavy competition this spring, there's no question about that. We're going to have heavy competition. Stevie was injured a bunch, but that's part of the game. Some guys have got to step up. We've got to be better as a unit. I've got to be better as a coach. There's going to be great competition and hopefully guys will champion one another's effort and champion each other as much as they can. At the same time compete like hell to make sure they can get on the field and help out this football team any way we can. The ultimate goal is to win games. We need to pull our weight as far as running backs. We need to be big playmakers for this football team and be dependable guys for this football team in all facets of the game.
Blum: Is the goal to get back to the tradition of the Davis' and Ennis Haywood's of the world?
Alford: Oh absolutely. We've got to be
able to run the football. That's not just the lineman, that's the running backs
too. They've got to find holes, break tackles and run away from people. It's not
rocket science. Those are things you've got to do to be successful in the
backfield. I've got to coach it that way, and coach it tough and hard-nosed.
We've got to run the ball and get back to the days of the
Blum: With the amount of guys returning, how powerful of offense could this be?
Alford: I think it could be a good
offense, a very good offense. We got a lot of guys back, a lot of experience. We
just have to come together and jell and hopefully guys will stay healthy. And
continue to compete and push one another to be better, to be the best that we
can be. Ultimately, it comes down to how much can we help this football team
win. Whatever it takes.