Signing Day: Kirk on the Side

After finishing his lengthy press conference introducing the class of 2009, Ferentz spoke with the media again for a bit more candid conversation. Read what he had to say in this premium transcript.

Q: DL-wise, you've got Scott, then you have Tyler Harrell and Martin Hopkins. Do you have tem slotted at DE or DT?

Kirk Ferentz: We'll figure that out when they get here. I was pretty sure Karl Klug was going to be a DE when he got here, now he's playing DT. We'll figure it out when they get here. Scott and Martin are closer to the Matt Kroul/Mitch King bodies, Tyler is a more linear type guy. I kind of foresee him being on the edge, and the other two guys, we'll see what happens. There's a certain knack you need to play inside. We'll see if they have that then go from there.

Q: When he committed, Jake Reisen was 205-210ish. He's up to 230? Is he a DL maybe?

Ferentz: We'd like him to stay at MLB. That's our goal there. He's with us now. We've got a need there with both those guys getting up there. Jacody's a junior next year, pat's a senior.

Q: How about Schiavone, is he a Scott Chandler TE guy?

Ferentz: We'll see. That's probably a good comparison, I guess. He's a linear guy, yeah. I read that somebody thought maybe he'd be moving inside, I don't see him having that growth potential. He's a tall target type guy, runs pretty well.

Q: What did you like about Hopkins?

Ferentz: First thing is his motor. His enthusiasm and motor. He's tough. He's been awfully productive. We're not sure he's a B10 linebacker, but we've done OK with guys who aren't Big Ten linebackers. Mitch might have been, Matt wasn't, Aaron Kampman was OK as a middle linebacker. The first thing was just his attitude, his motor, his aggressiveness. That jumped out at us. He was playing against good competition and being a factor on that whole team.

Q: Drew Clark, is he a guard?

Ferentz: I wouldn't limit him to that. I think he's got guard/tackle potential. He could probably be a center, too. He's smarter than anyone on our coaching staff, I know that. I shouldn't speak for everybody, I don't want to include Norm in that. He's highly intelligent. Very quiet but very productive, very tough. I'm really excited about him.

Q: When you look at the DL you bring in, how much do you use the success of Matt Kroul and Mitch King?

Ferentz: We share that story with them and their backgrounds, too. They didn't come here as outstanding defensive linemen. They both ended up playing four years. It's a big testament to their attitudes, staying power, work ethic. They weren't as big and strong back in 2005 as they are now, but they played really well for second-year players. They really played well. We tell those stories, and we've had a lot of guys that have converted. It's what we look for, I guess, with the defensive linemen. It's not like there aren't guys who are ready to play, but most of them are going to USC or wherever. We're looking at a little different route.

Q: You were talking about players you feel end up being coachable, moving positions, how receptive are recruits when you go into a home and have them not playing that position they played in HS?

Ferentz: You roll the dice a bit, but if we have strong feelings, I'd rather articulate those at the front end and not after a guys' been here for four months. You don't want a player to be unhappy. Geez, they recruited me at this then…. If it happens it happens, but we try and be as honest and candid at the front end about everything, not just positions. You don't want unsatisfied customers showing up, that's not a good thing.

Q: Josh Brown, you have at athlete. Is he a slot receiver?

Ferentz: We think he has that capability. If we're going to pinpoint, I think he can play several positions, but that's what we're thinking about is receiver. I think he's receptive to that and eager about that. He could probably do some things on defense, he could help us at RB too, but we're going to start him out at receiver.

Q: Ahead a bit to next year, another, numbers-wise, small class. Do you have to be a little more reserved?

Ferentz: We'll try to be as smart as we can. We'll start the same way, we'll try to identify the guys in the Midwest that look like good fits to us. People from outside areas that express interest, we'll go down that road too, but we'll proceed cautiously. I'm not overly concerned about it. Flipping it around, to sign a class of 25, some sign 29.

Q: 35. Ole Miss.

Ferentz: I'm still trying to figure out the math on this.

Q: Some guys are getting pink slips.

Ferentz: I know that means something, I'm just not sure what that means. I don't think we'll ever go down that road. We'll try and be prudent. It's not a static process, because once we get the team on campus next fall, you make other evaluations. Maybe we need more help in this direction that we thought, other areas you don't need as much as you anticipated. It's always a dynamic process, always trying to evaluate that.

Q: Do you see Nolan as an OT?

Ferentz: I think he's got that potential for sure. Outside of maybe Conor, but I think the other guys have a potential of playing on the outside. Drew could be a tackle, Nolan for sure, Brett, Matt also. They all have that type of potential.

Q: You tore down the 6-7 tackle with Yanda.

Ferentz: Yanda was our Colon, the guy for the Steelers. Seth Olsen, a little taller, but Seth can play both. If you have guys that can do that, that's a good thing. They have to be smart to do it, and I think all the guys in that group as pretty intelligent.

Q: What'd you think of the Super Bowl?

Ferentz: A great game. I wasn't hugely invested (for Pittsburgh) but it was a fantastic game. Both teams really showed a lot in the fourth quarter. A great play there at the end. It was like Tyree last year, it was a heck of a play.

Q: Do you ever wonder what Larry Fitzgerald would have looked like in your uniform?

Ferentz: I try not to think about things like that. That horse left the barn a long time ago.

Q: Do you find more kids are leaning toward staying at home? Less adventurous maybe?

Ferentz: This year that may be true. There might be less decommits this year? Maybe it just didn't affect us as much. You didn't hear as much about it. When I was watching the half-hour show up there, they were talking about guys jumping the fence and whatnot. That scares you a bit. I think that might be fair, that might be fair.

Q: Ever heard of a kid deciding based on a coin flip?

Ferentz: That's a little scary.

Q: Did you hear that story?

Ferentz: I did hear that story. That's a little scary.

Q: Might be a good thing you missed.

Ferentz: My only question is where were the adults? The adults should know better. You hope the prospects do too, but it's a little scary.

Q: Keenan, no real press conference, no hat game.

Ferentz: We've created this. It's an unfortunate byproduct. I think exposure's great for the most part, but like everything else, there are some negative spillouts that come from the technologies that we have in the world we live in, the exposure. I heard an old timer yesterday, they said they already have a mock draft for next year.

Q: Bulaga's on it.

Ferentz: I try not to get shocked by things, but I was like, "you've got to be kidding me."

Q: Some sites will have a ‘recruiting grade'

Ferentz: I can't wait to learn. I'm on the edge of my seat right now. Hopefully someone hands me that report later on, I sure as heck can't find it. I think it's just unfortunate. This oughta be a real special day for everyone involved, a day to just celebrate a very significant accomplishment. It oughta be a day to just say "Job well done." That'll be a challenge, just like high school was.

Q: Any talk on the contract extension?

Ferentz: Not much to say right now. We've had conversations, I think everything's in good shape. It's hardly been major on my radar the last couple weeks.

Q: We haven't spoke to you since Jake was leaving, any more to add to that, do you know where he's going?

Ferentz: He and I spoke right after the season, and I've just been reading the papers like everybody else.

Q: He's got time, he's going to graduate this spring, he's got time to figure that out, no clock ticking.

Ferentz: Exactly. He'll be a real asset to whatever team he goes to. I wish him nothing but great things.

Q: Does that push things up for Wienke and Vandenberg?

Ferentz: It means they're fighting it out for 2 and 3 right now. They competed it out in the fall. I think we were pleased with what we saw from both guys. We'll be anxious to see how that starts to shape up.

Q: Is Marvin a receiver?

Ferentz: Yes. Most definitely. He was our emergency QB in the bowl game. We had him practice taking a few snaps. I remember Pitt lost to Notre Dame, 1977 I think, the first two guys got hurt, and I swear to god they fumbled at least two exchanges, two field goals as a result, and lost 10-7 or 10-9. That one's always in the back of my memory. He was our third guy, if we needed someone to take a snap. That's the extent of it.

Q: Do you have anyone who's not coming back besides Jake?

Ferentz: At this point, not to my knowledge. Those possibilities are always there. I'll know more in March, certainly.

Q: Any more word on DeMarco Paine?

Ferentz: We need a ruling, first of all. The guys that were supposed to be in here August, that aren't here, we'd love to have them back. We'll let that process run its course.

Q: Since we last talked to you, the drama with Ed Podolak, talk about that.

Ferentz: I would echo Gary's comments and most people feel the same way. First and foremost, we're all concerned about Ed and just wish him nothing but the best. Secondly, it'd be wonderful if he rejoins our program. We'll keep our fingers crossed on that. With all due respect, I can't imagine anyone else sitting in that chair. I don't get to hear Ed a lot, but I've gotten to know Ed real well. It's been a thrill for me, and I appreciate the job he does, and really value his friendship, too. We're just all hopeful that he's able to rejoin the program soon. More importantly, just get the things accomplished the things that he wants to get accomplished.

Q: Have you talked with him?

Ferentz: Yes.

Q: With Kinnick getting the new turf, no spring game? Have you looked into that?

Ferentz: I wouldn't mind doing something off-campus, but the thing that would hold me back would be the inconvenience it might cause for our players and their families. Normally we do a social thing with them. I'm kind of reserve don that. I'll give that a little thought, but if I were making a statement, I'd say we're just going to close it down like we did when Kinnick was being renovated


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