Tuesday Q&A with Butch Davis

Butch Davis was a guest on WFNZ in Charlotte on Tuesday morning. Check out excerpts from the show ...

How many phone calls have you already made this morning?

[laughs] I don't know that last night actually even ended. It was kind of a phone-athon. You're obviously reaching out to all the guys that are solid commitments, guys that you know that you're going to get, congratulating them and talking to their parents, talking about Signing Day. Then we're trying to put the finishing touches on the three or four guys that maybe are on the fence. It's been non-stop being on the phone probably for the last 48 hours.

What's the difference in preparing a recruiting board for high school players as opposed to preparing a war room draft board?

There are a lot of similarities. It's one of those things we want to get more proficient at – being able to evaluate, rate, stack a board and put players up there. The biggest difference is the versatility of high school football players. At this stage of their careers, so many of these guys … you know, you see it written in the newspaper that a guy is listed as an athlete. It means that the high school head football coach is trying to win games. For four of his high games [the prospect] played wide receiver, he played quarterback for one game, he was a running back for two games, maybe started at corner for six games, and safety or outside linebacker. Those are the guys that fall into the multi-athlete type of a category that you recruit them because you know that there is going to be tremendous upside there.

When I was at the University of Miami we would sign a lot of guys like that. Jesse Armstead, who was a phenomenal, phenomenal football player. He started his career as a strong safety, but moved into being a linebacker and played outside linebacker. Those are the types of things you're dealing with and we see a lot of that because some of it is projection. You're looking at guys that are outside linebackers … and they may become defensive ends at some point in their career. So you have a lot of projection, whereas in the NFL you're dealing predominantly with the finished project and there's not a lot of conversions that take place once you leave college football.

What do you think is a fair assessment of the guys that verballed to Carolina before you took the job and what the retention rate is going to be for you?

I'm not exactly sure. I know they had 18 of some form of soft or hard commitments. Maybe as many as 50 percent of those guys were guys we felt like were great fits for the University of North Carolina – we're excited about them, they're excited about us and we feel they have a great opportunity to make an impact in this program.

I guess if there is any one real regret or disappointment, it's the lack of opportunity we had to impact recruiting more. From Dec. 18 to Jan. 14, the NCAA has the dead period and that's a huge chunk of time where you're relegated to one phone call per week. It's difficult to build the relationship with the players, but it's certainly something we'll be in a much better position with in the years to come.

Can you rebuild a college program faster than an NFL program?

Absolutely, I do believe that. Predominantly because you have the availability to recruit a larg number of athletes. In the NFL you're relegated to seven draft choices and a small handful of free agents … If you are able to recruit anywhere from 18 to 25 student athletes each year, you've basically turned your locker room over with guys you've recruited.

Was there a tug to return to the ‘Canes?

You know, I honestly, truly felt that the University of North Carolina was an awesome opportunity. That opportunity presented itself before there were any other opportunities, but I was thrilled it was available. I felt the academic credibility of the University of North Carolina was spectacular. … This state has got a lot of very, very talented high school football players. … It's good, good quality high school football. All those things give you a chance to have great recruiting classes and eventually build your football program to the point where you can win a national championship.

How many kids are there that you feel you can get and won't know until tomorrow?

We've probably got that number down a little bit. Last Friday I would have said as high as six or seven, but now it's more like three or four that could go either direction. One thing I learned a long time ago was that if you're going after great players, you're going to lose some. At Miami we built the reputation that we were going after the premier players in the state and in the country and that's the same way we'll recruit at Chapel Hill. You're going to fight and go down to the wire with some of them, and you'll get some of them and some you won't get. But if you set your sights on things less than that, I think you're doing a disservice to your football team.

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