Coker NFL Draft Press Conference

Two days after the University of Miami broke the record for most players placed in the 1st round of the NFL Draft (6) Larry Coker addressed the media on a variety of topics.

Opening statement regarding the NFL Draft…

I appreciate everyone coming out. Saturday was an exciting day for the University of Miami with a record six first-round draft choices. We had three players selected on the next day with a total of nine players drafted. It started off with Sean Taylor going fifth to Washington, and then Kellen Winslow went to Cleveland to play for Coach Butch Davis. A little bit of a surprise of the draft was that Vernon Carey went ahead of Vince Wilfork. I think New England, the Super Bowl champions, got a real bargain with Vince. I am excited for Vernon Carey to play for the Miami Dolphins. Obviously with what their needs were and we are excited that they picked a Hurricane. I don't think that was the bottom line; the bottom line was that Vernon could help their football team. I know he is excited about it. I talked to him about an hour ago and he is excited to be a Miami Dolphin. We are elated for our players. It is a great tradition we have had here. I heard Vince say at his draft party that next year's class will try and break this record. That might be hard to do. That might be real hard to do. We are extremely proud of our players.

On losing a number of quality players will affect the 2004 team…

I think we can be good. We just met as a team about an hour ago and the thing we talked about was painting our picture for next fall. What can we be? Having a dream and setting your sights high. We have guys that nobody has ever heard of and next year people will say ‘wow, look at this guy.' I think we have those types of players around. We have to coach and they have to step up and do it. Will be as good? We expect to have a good football team. This year's junior class was a great class. You have to put Willis McGahee also in that class. Had Frank Gore not been injured we would have had four first-round draft choices. We are losing a great junior class. I think we can step up. I like our attitude.

On the success of the NFL Draft and how it helps in recruiting…

It can only help. How can a team recruit against Miami? There are a lot of times where you ask what can happen and what we are going to do. At Miami they are facts. We ask kids if they want to compete for a national championship. Obviously we talk about the graduation rates, but the reality is that a lot of those kids want to play in the NFL and they should. When you come to a program of this level, or a Florida, Tennessee, Southern Cal, whichever one. That has to be a part of your dream. When you look at what we've done it is a reality. Certainly we have to sell, but it is not something we have to fabricate. It is there. Not only one year, but the last three to four years what has happened to this program. Not only that, but the success that they have had. Has Ed Reed done well? Has Jeremy Shockey done pretty well? How about Phillip Buchanon? There is a list of those guys that have done well in the league. I think the league takes notice in that. I just got a call from the General Manager of the New York Jets and how excited he was to have Jonathan Vilma and Darrell McClover. He told me, ‘we are going to try to draft someone from Miami every year. They are a class act, dressed well, and they are sharp.' I don't know if Miami guys, on a scale of 1-10, are 10 times better than other players. I think it is the way they carry themselves, the way they are coached, and their work ethic. I think a lot of things go in along with that.

On if the University of Miami can sustain its national success despite losing a number of quality players…

I think this is one program in the country that can because we are in a good area for recruiting. The reputation that we have built here and the family feels good about having their sons play here. As long as we can do that I think we can do that. You look at how we lost all of our linebackers, but you look at a Tavares Gooden, a Jon Beason, and a Rocky McIntosh. The guys that we have coming back are pretty good. Players have to step up and we expect them to do that.

On what makes Miami special in terms of NFL success in the draft…

I thing the biggest thing that we have is the competition we have every day in practice. You look at a Phillip Buchanon going up against Andre Johnson every day. You have Sean Taylor going up against Kellen Winslow every day in practice one-on-one. You have Jonathan Vilma and D.J. Williams going up against tight ends Kevin Everett, Kellen Winslow, and Jeremy Shockey. This is every day in practice. Some NFL teams don't go up against that much talent week in and week out. The competition every day in practice and the level of competition we face in games. We play Florida State, Florida, Tennessee, our league schedule. The tradition that we have with guys setting the tempo and the tone. Also the guys in the NFL from Miami do well.

Christopher Stock is a Staff Columnist for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at stock@grassy.com.

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