Sam Webb: Look back at the season and tell me how Clelin Ferrell performed for you last year.
Greg Lilly: “He has started for us the past two years. He was really a pleasant surprise, which probably doesn’t describe it well enough as far as his sophomore year. We knew he had some ability. He had good length. He is long and tall. We didn’t know that he would be as physical as he was. His sophomore year, we had a couple of other kids that were D1 guys on the other side of the line from him. He had offensive tackles one-on-one kind of pass blocked him and he had 23 tackles for loss, 11 or 12 sacks. That is as a sophomore. His first game as a varsity player, he had four tackles for a loss and three sacks. We said, holy cow this kid is pretty good. The good thing about him this year was that we were able to stand him up, move him around a little bit, played him at linebacker. He showed more athletic ability. He showed better strength. He was more physical than he had been as a sophomore and he ran better.”
Sam Webb: Height, weight and 40, where is Clelin as far as those stats are concerned?
Greg Lilly: “He’s 6-4/6-5 based on who is looking at him and what hype you’re putting on him. The heaviest he got was 227 during football season. He is in basketball right now so he is about 220. He’s a kid that has always played basketball and always played football and has never really been a weight room guy. So I think when coaches look at him, they are going to say once we get this kid in the weight room 12 months out of the year, he is going to be 255 in a month. He has got a great frame and has the ability to put on a lot of weight. Right now, he is just a really athletic kid who is running around and playing a bunch of sports for us and we want him to keep doing that.”
Sam Webb: When you look at him long term I am curious to what college coaches have said to you. Is he an edge rusher type of kid or are they looking more at a strong side end, have you heard a consensus from coaches yet?
Greg Lilly: “I’m not sure. This year we have played him on the strong side and kind of made him like the six technique, sort of an anchor end is what we call it. He has typically played the weak side, five technique, sort of the rush guy off the edge for us. We had some injuries and needed to move him over there and he was physical enough on this level to do that. We’ll see how he develops. He runs well. I think the basketball has helped him from that standpoint. We got him electronic time of 4.7. That has operator error from time to time too; we got him at a good time on a real clock. He can definitely run.”
Sam Webb: Do you have his offer list or how many offers he has?
Greg Lilly: “At this point he is 20+. Penn State offered him but that was the old staff. We haven’t seen those guys yet. I don’t know if Nebraska is on his list yet, but they’ve offered. He has got great opportunities. Just us as a program, we’re not trying to go out and get 50 offers for each of our kids and try to get them a four star rating. We’re just trying to find the one right offer for our kids and make sure it is a good fit for our kids from an academic standpoint, athletic standpoint and character standpoint – we find the right place. We had a kid who had one offer, he took it and we felt it was the best fit for him and a great opportunity for him. We’re not trying to get the count, but just trying to get the right one. He has definitely got some really good offers that would be a good fit for him.”
Sam Webb: Has he given you an idea of when he will begin to narrow his focus so that it will be something more manageable and he can actually get out and look at some of these schools?
Greg Lilly: “Last summer, he and Scott took a couple of trips and saw a couple different places. I know they’re planning on making some trips over spring break, he and his family and probably some trips early in the summer. They are going to get out and there and see Michigan. Over the past two to three years that have been recruited at the D1 level and the advantage that Scott and Clelin have had is that they have been able to sit there and observe these guys recruitment. I think they both want to narrow it down and make it a manageable list early on. I do think that they want to commit early. I’m not saying this spring, but in July/August timeframe. I think they want to be able to enjoy their senior year.”
Sam Webb: About Michigan specifically, what are your impressions of Roy Manning? Also, what has Clelin said to you if anything about Michigan?
Greg Lilly: “Coach Manning has done a great job as far as recruiting the guys. When he has had the opportunity to get to the state of Virginia has always come by and seen us and he has done a really good job when he has been here. He is a very nice guy, personable guy. I think he had a great rapport with the kids. I can’t remember if it was in January or December, whatever that recruiting period was, but Coach Hoke did come in and stop by and let us know how interested they were in both kids. I think both the guys, Clelin and Scott were impressed by that and honored by that. We’re a small private school, 275 boys. It is a military school, a catholic school. There is obviously an emphasis put on their education and them wanting to go to good academic schools and be good student-athletes and obviously Michigan offers that opportunity.”
Sam Webb: Knowing Clelin as you do, what do you think are going to be the most significant factors into those decisions?
Greg Lilly: “Clelin is close with mom so I think Clelin and his mom are both going to have to feel comfortable with the coaches that are there and the feel of the campus and the feel of the school. I don’t necessarily think that needs to be two hours away from Richmond. It might be Michigan, might be a place a little farther away. I think they both will want to feel comfortable with the feel of the campus. Then definitely the academics, his mom has worked too hard in an attempt to get him to school and keep him in school and paid tuition at our place just to go pick a school on football. I think they are definitely going to want to get a place that is a great academic fit for him and offers him a good life after football.”
Stay tuned for part two during which Lilly gives the latest on Scott Bracey.