Can you walk us through the process of how you ended up at UNC?
“Well, obviously, Coach Warren made the decision to go to Tennessee, and fortunately for me, I had a lot of relationships with guys on the staff. Coach [John] Papuchis and I have worked together numerous times at LSU and Nebraska, and Coach [Larry] Porter, I would worked with him also at Nebraska and I’ve done a lot of the Manning Passing Camps with Gunter [Brewer]. So I knew a lot of people and Coach [Larry] Fedora and I played phone tag a few years ago when he was at Southern Miss and I was at LA Tech. [It’s] a dream of mine to continue working with great defensive minds. I’ve worked with Coach [John] Chavis and Bo Pelini and now to work with Coach [Gene] Chizik is a dream come true.”
What do you see on the current roster of defensive backs for you to work with?
“Obviously, I think it starts with M.J. [Stewart]. He played well last year. He’s an NFL corner. He can go inside and play nickel. He’s the prototypical guy they look for at that level. He can cover, he can tackle. He plays the ball down the field. Donnie Miles put up some good numbers last year. I think the best thing about the group, besides those two, is how young they are. They’re young and they have skill sets where you can put them together and have a great secondary.”
How much film from 2016 have you watched?
“Well, getting hired really takes a long time here. I had time to watch about four or five games while a lot of the guys were on the road, so it was really good that I could sit in a room by myself and not have anybody telling me who’s who and just watch everybody with an open mind. And I also watched about two weeks of training camp so I could get a feel for the guys who didn’t play in the game as much.”
How beneficial is that opportunity to watch tape alone without outside opinions?
“It’s interesting that my cousin, he just became the head coach of the Broncos, so me and him were both going through the same thing at the same time. So at night we were talking about watching personnel with open minds. It gives you an advantage because when you talk to the other guys, you can look back and compare your notes. And then also as we go through the offseason program and get towards spring ball, you can see how it all plays out.”
Did you request certain games to watch?
“I just picked out some games that I thought were going to look interesting. Obviously, with the relationship that I have with a lot of guys, I’ve watched them quite a bit on TV, following along and cheering for the guys I knew on staff. I just picked about four or five games and saw the good, the bad, the things that can be improved on and also things that they did pretty good.”
What can be improved on?
“We’ll see when we start spring practice.”
Did you have a role in this recruiting class at all?
“The first thing I want to say is that the coaches that were already here did a great job of holding it in place because obviously the coaching move happened quick. Luckily, we replaced it quick, so I got here pretty quick. I just had to get out and see those guys face-to-face, those guys in the secondary, and just make sure they were comfortable with me and understanding that the defense is still going to be the same, the program is going to be run the same way by the same head coach. It was just the position room that was going to change a little bit. All of those guys were comfortable with it and we were able to hold on to all of them.”
What strengths do you think you bring in terms of recruiting?
“I think a good recruiter can recruit anywhere. I always tell people I can recruit just as good in Antarctica as I can in New Orleans. I’m just ready to hit the ground running, learn more about this great university and this program and get out there and sell it to the kids that it’s a good fit for our program.”
How would you describe your skills on the recruiting trail?
“Well, recruiting is all about relationships. It’s about doing a little bit every day. I’ve been in some fertile recruiting areas, being in Louisiana and parts of Texas and Atlanta. I’m excited about the opportunity to get down to Florida a little bit more, but I think it’s all about developing relationships and letting the prospect know that you and your university have some ways and avenues to get him where he wants to go. That’s to get a degree and get a chance to play in the NFL, and then set him up for life after football. When you put all of that together, that’s when you can really earn a kid’s trust, earn his family’s trust and hopefully you can close the deal.”
What will your recruiting areas be?
“Right now, I’ll have Jacksonville, parts of Atlanta, a little bit of the state and then I’ll cherry pick Louisiana a little bit with the connections I have down there.”