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I won't lie to you. This time of year after covering a recruiting class for six months, the day to day aspects of keeping tabs on what 18-year olds are going to do and say can get to be a bit of a grind. But it is still an enjoyable job.
And then a player like Rashad Dunn commits to the Iowa Hawkeyes and I get a chance to interview someone like Mickey Derrick, Rashad's coach at Greenbriar High School of Evans, Georgia, located just north of Augusta.
Derrick is 100-percent pure Southern gentlemen. When you read his quotes, think of a man that sounds a like a cross between Bobby Bowden and Buford T. Justice, all the while talking with a smile and glowing admiration of a young man he has been involved with for the last four years of his life.
During the course of the interview, I asked Derrick if he feels like a proud father today, because that is what he sounded like.
"Look here," Derrick said. "I think I am more excited for Rashad than he is. Greenbriar has only been in existence for eight years, so he is our very first D-1 player. Coach Aiken called me yesterday to tell me that they were offering him and I told him that Rashad had been locked up at the Charlotte Airport since Sunday night."
"I finally got a hold of him last night, and I said ‘Son, let me ask you something. What do you think about being the first Greenbriar High School D1 signee?' He said ‘Coach, don't kid me.' I said ‘Son, I am not kidding you. You got it. You deserve it, and we are both Hawkeyes now.' He started yelling right there in the airport. It is amazing that they didn't throw him in jail or something. I could have heard him all the way down to Augusta."
See what I mean?
"Rashad came up there (to Iowa) for an official visit this past weekend and he loved it. He said ‘Coach, it's just like Pleasantville up here.'"
"I said that you had better enjoy it right now, because after you put your name on the line buddy, you are going to go to work. But he is not scared to work. He has been with me for four years now, started three years on the offensive line for us. He is a member of the 1,000-pound club with the three lifts. He is hard-nosed, dedicated, determined…he just wants to be the best. He is just that type of kid."
"If you happen to find a copy of his highlight tape, you will see what kind of kid he is as far as going after it and hustling."
Q: We have heard that Iowa's staff was very impressed with that tape. So if that is the case, why do you think more schools did not show him interest?
"I really don't know. It might be because of his size. Louisville came down and talked with us and they offered him. Then he went up there for an official visit, and we have not heard anything back from them at all. It was dropped like a lead balloon there." Derrick said.
"I think it might be because of his size. Right now, he is 6-3 ½ and weighs between 265 and 270. That might be one reason. But Iowa offensive line coach Reese Morgan said that was fine, because they saw him and felt he could grow into what Iowa wants him to be."
"They (Iowa) asked four questions, and I can't remember all four of them, but they went something like will you work hard on the field, in the classroom and will you be a team player…before Rashad could say a thing, I spoke up and said, 'Coach, there is only one answer to all of those questions, and that is yes'. He works hard in the weight room; he works hard in his studies. Right now, he does not have the best grades in the world, but he did qualify."
"I have a feeling that once he gets up there with the tutors and the education building that they have for the athletes, I don't think there will be any problem for him."
Derrick is referring to the Gerdin Academic Facility that will help Iowa athletes work on their studies in a building built specifically for athletes.
"That was one of the things that sold Rashad. Geogia Southern offered him, and they have had countless national championships, Appalachian State, Louisville and a couple of other schools did as well…but I just don't understand why Georgia or Georgia Tech did not offer him, other than his size. That is the only thing I can come up with."
Q: Do you think those schools will regret passing him over?
"I think they will. There is no doubt in my mind." Derrick said.
So does Rashad project to a guard at Iowa?
"They never did say, but he played guard for us, because he moves so well. He was nice when we ran the Wing T. We run a little bit of that, but mainly the Gun. When we run the Wing T, and he pulled out there, those cornerbacks did not like that. He was a headhunter." Derrick said.
"On pass protection, all year, his man did not get one sack on him. He has great feet, long arms and he just works hard."
These next words certainly fit into the Iowa offensive attack:
"He loves the waggle now. We run the death out of that play. It is a simple play, but when you run the sweep a few times and come back with that waggle, it's hard. We tell our own defense that it's coming and they can't stop it."
At several points of the interview, Derrick could not contain his excitement that was clearly overflowing at this point.
"I tell you what, it's a great fit. I told coach Aiken that I graduated from Clemson University, but right now, my blood runs black and gold. I have become a Hawkeye fan now, and I told Rashad that I don't know how many games I will come up for, but I will at least come up for one before you graduate." Derrick said.
"I told Rashad, ‘Son, if you go to Iowa, you have a chance to put a ring on your finger.'"
Though Dunn sounds like a model citizen, Derrick said that it was only because he did not allow his surroundings to affect him adversely.
"He does not come from a real close-knit family, and he has had it real rough. If any kid had a reason to have a chip on his shoulder, it would be him. But he does not. He has one of the best attitudes you will ever see in a kid." Derrick said.
"Last night he called me and said ‘Coach, guess where I am?' So I said, ‘Where are you at, Rashad?' He said ‘Coach, I am at a motel at the Marriott.' So I told him that coach Aiken told you he was going to get you one.'"
"He said ‘Coach, they told me to order room service.' I said ‘Rashad, get whatever you want son.' He is just that type of kid. He is not going to take advantage of anybody. He was calling me long distance to ask me if he should do room service. He is just a good kid."
At the start of the interview, I asked coach Derrick for just 180 seconds of his time, to which he replied at the conclusion of our interview that lasted for more than 10 minutes:
"You said three minutes there to start, and I thought to myself ‘Lord, I won't be able to get it all in in just that amount of time."
Given the lack of high-major D1 schools that recruited Dunn, some might call him a sleeper.
But in the eyes of his proud coach, he is an All-American.