Kirk Ferentz: I had several thoughts in December. But at that point, I wasn't quite sure which direction we were going to head. I am not quite sure why, but as I was watching their bowl game, I have great respect for Coach Carr, that was one of the few times I was pulling for Michigan. It dawned on me during that game that I wonder if Erik has made arrangements at all. So I contacted him two days afterwards just to kind of gauge his interest. He indicated he would be interested and that started the due diligence and there were a lot of phone calls. Every report I got was extremely favorable, and that was one of the first recruiting stops I made. Fortunately they don't track planes. Well, they supposedly did on one I was on. I was in a small airport in Detroit the first week of recruiting on my way to somewhere else and we had a visit. Everything was positive and the picture became clear to me quickly.
Q: What goes through your mind when you see the type of players he has coached at Michigan?
Ferentz: Unfortunately, we have seen way too many of their receivers do well against us. I am still teasing Erik about that, when they saw our corner get injured in 2001 it was bombs away on that side. It wasn't just that, the more I talked to people that are knowledgeable, the details I was interested in became apparent that he was a teacher. Just all of the ingredients came up positive. It started with a talk I had with Lloyd Carr, who I have great respect for. Every person that worked with him, players that played for him, it came back quality, a great teacher.
Q: You have reshuffled the deck on your staff, how was the reaction?
Ferentz: I think good. There were some candidates I was aware of that would have been a great fit, some excellent running back coaches as well. What I was thinking about was trying to get the person who was the best fit and make arrangements from there. I don't anticipate any problems with the transitions. I think it will be pretty fluid.
Q: Is it that big of a deal for Lester to move to running backs coach?
Ferentz: I don't think it's huge. One nice perk for us is the fact that Carl has retired and hasn't left for another job. He will share his expertise. Lester is a smart football coach and has done a lot in his career already. He has some offensive line background, too. I don't see that being an issue at all and maybe it will be a benefit for him down the road career wise.
Q: What about Eric Johnson, how does he fit in?
Ferentz: My sole purpose there, I toyed with it a year ago and decided not to do it…the impetus behind it is the way recruiting has changed from the 80's and the last nine years, my hopes are is that we have a mini personnel department, and I am hoping we can be more streamlined with recruiting. He is in the thick of it and will head that up and make things easier for the other eight guys to do more football work. I think it will give us more focus and concentration to football also.
Q: Will Erik help provide a boost to the passing game?
Ferentz: I will start by saying I think Lester did a great job. Our biggest challenge a year ago was a lack of experience for obvious reasons. The good news is that two of those three guys will return (Brodell and Moeaki) and a lot of young guys got valuable experience. Hopefully when you talk about that game experience back, younger guys showing improvement, hopefully we can upgrade things. Erik is part of that puzzle, but it's about what the players do.
Ferentz: I think two different discussions. Shonn really proved himself as a player here. He got sloppy academically and paid a price for it. His obligation is to take care of what he has to do and I think he has committed to doing that. We have a clear picture of what he is as a player. Amari on the other hand, I think he was overwhelmed by this. It sounds funny for us in the Midwest, but Amari wasn't the most worldly guy. I am not sure if he knew where Ohio State and Michigan were in the Big Ten. He wasn't real worldly, and he was overwhelmed with everything coming here. Academic, football and all of that. In his case, I was really curious to see how he would respond to the year away. He did a wonderful job from the feedback we got from Coach Twait, and he did great in the class and football field. I am not sure I would have predicted that a year ago. He played well on defense and special teams for them, and also Kevin said he did a great job providing leadership. I was hoping to hear those things. He comes in with an advantage in that he is more worldly. He has seen parts of the world he never dreamt of seeing. He will be his third year out of high school in August. I think we will see a different guy. It's a position where we could use some help and we are hoping he can get in the mix right away.
Q: What is their status when they come in?
Ferentz: They will start at the bottom like all first year guys. But we will be moving fast, too. Whoever comes out of spring ball with an edge that is great, but it's a whole new phase and we evaluate every phase.