UNI Week: Transcript - Ferentz on the Side

In the first 2009 edition of Kirk Ferentz On The Side, the Hawkeye Coach goes more in-depth on the Jewel Hampton injury, talks recruiting, Wegher, Keenan Davis, Hayden Fry and more. Read all about it in this premium transcript.

Q: Is Jewel going to be able to fully recover?

Kirk Ferentz: There is no such thing as a routine surgery, but fortunately the injury he incurred, the outcome is really predictable. So, he should be fine. But it's going to take time.

Q: Has surgery already been set or have they not complete diagnosed it yet?

KF: No, we expect it to be done at the end of this week. Assuming everything goes how it's planned, he'll be rehabbing in no time and probably could go through spring ball. I don't know why we would do that at this point. We'll transition him forward. The good news is that he hasn't lost a year of eligibility, but it's just unfortunate.

Q: It was the ACL?

KF: Yeah, he has a knee injury, so…

Q: If you were to play Wegher, you'd have four running backs in the same class going forward. How would that affect the future?

KF: We'll have to trade one, I guess, maybe. (laughter) Can we do that? Are we allowed to do that? We could (switch positions), too. I don't think they'd go for that. Maybe we'll trade them for…what are we losing?

Q: Didn't you move (Adam) Robinson last year?

KF: We toyed with him a little bit. We did that with Shonn Greene, too. I'm going to defend myself on that one, too. At the Doak Walker dinner, Calvin Hill was there being honored. I went up to him afterwards. Dallas had him at tight end. During a preseason game, somebody got hurt. They didn't want to put the good guy back in there, so they put (Hill) back at running back. He ran for like 300 yards, one of those deals. So Tom Landry said, "Geez, maybe we ought to put him back at running back." I told him that I'm not the only fool. Tom Landry and I are both fools.

Q: Were you guys all along here hoping that something would heal with Jewel?

KF: When he got injured (the first time), the prognosis was like for anybody. Anybody has a chance to be re-injured. Everybody felt like he had a legitimate chance to make it back; not a 100 percent chance, but a legitimate chance. Otherwise, we wouldn't have gone that route. They would have done surgery right away. Ultimately, it was Jewel's decision. He decided to give it a shot and he was doing very well up until the episode right prior to the first scrimmage. Again, the interesting part about it is that what he did was not dramatic at that point either. It just went on him. That's how knees are. We thought we were ramping right back up. He actually did some work this weekend. But that's the way it goes. If there was any good news, it wasn't the fifth game. That's the only positive spin I can put on it.

Q: Brinson has a foot sprain?

KF: Yeah, he's doing better. He's been on the field this past week. So, he's back on the field.

Q: You've always been a pretty big supporter of Paki (O'Meara). It seems like some people out there might not believe that Paki might be the guy. What do you see?

KF: He's just a guy that does everything pretty well. That's not a bad thing to do; all phases of the game. He's a smart player. He's been on the field on special teams. He's experienced. Those are all good things. It's his turn now.

Q: How did you guys find him?

KF: It's amazing we had two captains from last year's team walk on here from (CR Washington) with Gavin McGrath and Rob Bruggeman. Then Paki followed right afterwards and now we've got Keenan (Davis) and Wyatt Seuss, too. Wash has been pretty good to us, that's for sure. We thought he was an excellent football player. We were hopeful that he would come. We didn't know what our chances were.

Q: You recruited him, right?

KF: Oh yeah, we were very active in our recruitment of him.

Q: How would you describe him as a back? What does he do well?

KF: He kind of does everything pretty well. It's not like there is any one attribute. He's not the strongest guy. He's not the fastest guy. But he does everything pretty well, which is really a pretty good way to be as a player. There aren't many guys that do everything pretty well.

Q: When you do into games, do you have a plan in terms of how many carries each guy gets?

KF: Oh, we haven't gotten that far yet. First of all, we'll see what we have and then we'll try to figure that out. Last year, it got pretty easy by midseason. (laughs)

Q: What has Robinson done that has impressed you?

KF: He's quietly, very quietly, just done a lot of things well, too. He's got good quickness. He's a tough young guy, too. He's not the biggest guy. He's not a 220-pound guy. But he'll fight you. He'll block you. He'll play hard, but he's young right now. We kind of like the way he's performed and carried himself. He could be a real good special teams guy, too. We're going to try to work Brinson into that role, too. We have to get him back up and running.

Q: Can you talk about Keenan a little bit and how he's moved himself in there?

KF: Yeah, I thought he handled the recruiting process beautifully from Day 1 and that was at a young age. Last year, I thought he handled any attention that came his way pretty well. Ever since he's set foot on campus, he's just kind of taken every situation pretty much in stride. He's a good learner. He pays attention. He concentrates. Obviously he has some good size and all that. He's been thumped around a little bit, which you're always curious to see how they're going to react to that type of treatment. He's handled it well.

Q: Is he a guy that might play special teams as well, he and Wegher?

KF: Yeah, all three of those (true freshmen) I mentioned (Micah Hyde being the third) we're going to try to get them involved for sure. They all have some attributes to help us in that regard.

Q: What have you learned about Wegher? He had some incredible high school films. What is reality like for him here?

KF: The same way. He's really handled things pretty well. He had a little setback injury wise where he missed a period of time. But it wasn't overly lengthy. Whatever we've fed him, he's handled it pretty well. Some guys just handle that adjustment a little better than others. And again, it's a little bit easier when you're away from the ball. It's tougher if you're an interior guy. But he's done a nice job.

How has Amari looked in the return game?

KF: I think we all saw his potential up at Minnesota. The big thing with him is just consistency, getting a feel of what we're doing and then performing with consistency there because he didn't do it the last year. But right now we plan on using him this weekend.

Q: What did you know about Hayden prior to coming out here?

KF: I'm dating myself but it was pre internet and any of that stuff. I'm laughing because my mentor, Joe Moore, his son looked it up. He read that Coach Fry was a square-jawed Texan former Marine. I got a haircut and a tie from Coach Moore. I think I borrowed a sports coat, a blue blazer, and that's what I wore out here.

Q: Is there anybody on UNI's offensive line that stands out?

KF: They work well together. The center is good. Like with any good line, it's starts at center. He's a good one.

Q: What is your recruiting number going to be this year?

KF: High teens, probably mid teens to high teens, somewhere in that ballpark right now. We've been a work in progress, injuries and things like that.

Q: Are you guys surprised you've done as well as you have? I know you can't talk specifics.

KF: First of all, I'm just really pleased with the way that recruiting has gone and the way it's going. As far as numbers, it seems to be a national trend. Someone put something on my desk within the past week with all the Big Ten schools and it seems like everybody is there. It just seems like players are committing a lot sooner than they used to. This has been a really active year that way. It's a sign of the times. I know we've been a little bit more aggressive. I guess that was timely. Otherwise, we might have gotten left at the station. In the back of my mind, I'm thinking, how many stories are going to get missed if we're not all careful? There are always guys that…I can't put a number on it, but a certain percentage of guys that ascend every year. If you're patient and wait a guy's career out, his season out, sometimes it's well worth the wait.

Q: It seems like a lot of guys made decisions that coincided with the start of their senior season.

KF: Yeah, I'm guessing it's a record number at this point. With that comes, predictably, a record number of decommits, too. I'm sure that's coming. (laughter) Stay tuned. (Ferentz snort).

Q: Do you bring up the Appalachian States and teams like that?

KF: Yeah. All you have to do I say Appalachian State. That's the same (Michigan) team that beat Florida (in a bowl). The rest of the story is four months later it was Michigan over Florida. Everybody thought Michigan was going to get their tail kicked in that game. You know, SEC-Big Ten. So, it wasn't like (Appalachian State) was a dog team. They went up there and played and won. That's all you need to know.

Q: It wasn't like they grinded it out against Michigan. They used big plays.

KF: And they had guys (that could make big plays). The team we're playing has got some guys that can burn you deep. They've got some speed. And if you open the gate in the kicking game, which in early-season games, turnovers and kicking game, that's just like bowl games. Those are things coaches worry about going in; and dumb penalties, too.

Q: This is the first real setback in Jewel's career. He came to Iowa and took off. Is there counseling you do in these cases or do you just take their temperature and make sure they're OK?

KF: For the most part, any player that has a season end by injury, prematurely, it's rough. It's rough. Yeah, we all get involved – the position coach, recruiting coach, myself, a counselor if necessary. The strength coaches and medical staff do a wonderful job. That's their business. They're used to doing that. That's a big part of rehabilitation. It's not just the actual physical work that goes on. As a player, your window is so limited, be it in college or high school. To miss out on it, it stinks.

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