Transcript: Coach Eric Johnson

Eric Johnson, the TE coach and recruiting coordinator for the Iowa Hawkeyes spoke with the media on Monday. Read what he had to say about the competition at tight end, recruiting against midwest powers, and more in this premium transcript.

Q: (A question on the number of tight ends in camp)

Eric Johnson: I think we're kind of set. We've got six guys in camp right now. Brandon, Tony, Mike Sabers, Tyler Gerstandt, and the two freshmen, Zach Furlong and Allen Reisner.

Q: Talk a bit about Tyler. He had a great spring game.

Johnson: He did well. Again, another guy that we moved over that first practice of the spring. Basically, out of need. He's put on decent size, I think he's up to 245. Again, he's still young, in learning the position. He gives us some athleticism there. He's a hard-worker and a smart kid. He's got to make some strides from a physical standpoint, which is always the case. Chandler had to do the same thing when he moved from WR to TE. This'll be a big camp for him to progress and try to earn a backup role or push those other guys for the 1 or 2 positions.

Q: How do you feel about your group overall? What are you going to look for? You usually play 3 or 4 guys.

Johnson: A lot of that comes out o of need. We think we have a strong group, especially with Brandon and Tony. Hopefully we can build some depth behind those guys or have somebody to push them. We feel very good about Brandon and Tony right now. You're looking at two guys that you're basing solely on potential. Tony has played in the games and has done some good things in the games, but both those guys have a lot of unrealized potential in the fact that they don't have a lot of playing experience on the offensive side. They're going to see a lot of things come at them this year, the first time they've seen those situations. It'll be interesting to see how they react.

Q: How do your thumbs feel that text messaging is gone for a few days?

Johnson: It's a nice deal. If you ask our staff, it's nice to focus on football and not have to worry about text messaging guys every day, a couple times a day. Personally, I don?t' think it's a bad rule to eliminate the text message. It makes some coaches that had other guys doing the text messaging for them have to write notes themselves. Hopefully they keep it the way it is, but I doubt it.

Q: Has it gotten more challenging for you guys recruiting in the Midwest? Brewster, Zook, Charlie Weiss. Does it get tougher?

Johnson: There are a lot of staffs that are doing a good job. It's the same thing we do on the field, we just keep re-evaluating what we're doing in the process of recruiting. Seeing what areas we need to shore up and how we need to improve ourselves. We'll continue that process. There are a lot of staffs that are very aggressive in the Midwest and the Big Ten, from a recruiting standpoint. We've got to improve ourselves from that standpoint.

Q: How many kids do you anticipate signing in February?

Johnson: That's something you'd have to ask Coach Ferentz. I think we're looking around 18 or so.

Q: You're real confident in Tony and Brandon, but who are some of the guys in the mix behind, you guys can play 3 or 4 in a game.

Johnson: The guys that are in the mix are the other 4 guys we brought to camp. Gerstandt, Mike Sabers, then the two freshmen in Zach Furlong and Allen Reisner. Zach and Allen, it was their first day of practice. Those guys both got reps with the twos. We're going to try and find our 3 and 4 guys out of those four guys. Not saying those four guys can't press for the one and two spots. If we honestly evaluate, Tony and Brandon have separated themselves from the other four. It's important to find the next 3rd and 4th guy for us. It'll be a good mix.

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