Q&A with Dave Huxtable, Part III

<i>Inside Carolina</i>'s Buck Sanders sat down with North Carolina defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable for an exclusive one-on-one interview. This is part three - check back tomorrow for the final installment.

Brad Lawing will coach both the ends and the tackles, how has your interaction been with him so far?

I have been very impressed with Brad. Number one, he is a tremendous person. Obviously he has a great reputation as a recruiter, but from the defensive side of it he's been a great contribution to the defense so far in the meetings, with ideas, bringing things to the table. I am really excited about Brad; I think he is going to do a great job with the kids. I think he is a tremendous teacher and he is very detailed. I think he is going to be a real strength for us on defense. I am really looking forward to having him on the defense and working with me.

One of the new guys you have here now, Melik Brown. What has been your experience with kids that have prepped for a year, as Brown did at Hargrave?

I think it gives them a little bit of an edge where they have had a year to get bigger, get stronger, play against some kids that might be a little bigger and stronger than what he played against in high school. It is another year of experience playing football, which is always great to have.

The big thing now for Melik is learning the defensive system, and how quickly he can pick up on the terminology, the technique, the fundamentals of his position, and just learning the defense. Because we are going to throw a lot of things at him and it is going to go fast, and how well he is going to be able to keep up with things will determine how fast he can contribute.

Do you see him as a guy that can help you next year?

Most definitely. He is a big, strong kid, that has a lot of energy and he is very motivated, he's always got a smile on his face. He's a real upbeat kid that's big, that's strong, and that runs well. I will be excited to see him with his pads on because I have a feeling he is going to be a hitter.

You have four freshmen coming in next fall at the linebacker position, how difficult is it for a freshman linebacker to make the transition and play at the college level?

It is a tough transition because there are just a lot of things to learn as a college linebacker just from a position standpoint and from a scheme standpoint. I am sure our volume will be much larger from a defensive package from what they had to deal with it as a high school player, but I am very excited about the freshmen we have coming in. I think there is some real talent at that linebacker position.

Probably one or two of those kids will play for us next year. I am almost certain some of them will play as special teams players, and I wouldn't count out that one or two of them will play for us on defense.

Do you have idea what position those kids will start out at – WILL, MIKE, SAM?

I will start Larry Edwards out at the WILL (weak side) linebacker position. Fred Sparkman and Kory Gedin, I will start out at MIKE (middle) linebacker, and Joe Kedra will be a SAM (strong side) linebacker.

That is where I will start them on day one, but after working with them, seeing if they fit more the mold of some other position, that's where I will move them, but that is where I will start them out in the fall.

Do any of those have the potential to win a starting spot next year?

We have only got one real true starter coming back at linebacker from last year, and that is Doug Justice. SAM linebacker, we started out last year with Devllen Bullard, then went to Clarence Gaddy, and Jeff Longhany started a couple of games. So we didn't really have a starting SAM linebacker last year.

Our WILL linebacker was Malcolm Stewart, and Clay Roberson started a couple of games when Malcolm had some injuries. So we really only have one starter coming back at linebacker, and that is Doug.

This spring, Clarence Gaddy will start out at the SAM linebacker position and I will back him up with Melik Brown, who we have already talked about. Devllen Bullard, who played SAM linebacker in the fall, I am going to move him to MIKE linebacker, and he'll compete with Doug Justice at MIKE linebacker. Jeff Longhany who played SAM in the fall, I am going to move him to WILL linebacker, and he will compete with Clay Roberson at the WILL position.

So, that linebacker position is wide open right now. There are going to be fifteen practices in the spring for those kids to compete and for me to evaluate fifteen practices. And then those freshmen will come in, and that is all those kids will have on those freshmen when they come in and there could be a freshman kid that could compete for a starting position or get into that two-deep.

We won't have Victor Worsley this spring, he is a MIKE guy, but Victor is a guy who I think can play any one of the three positions. He's big, he's strong, he is explosive, and can run. I hope we get a healthy Victor Worsley back because he is a kid – at the end of fall when we worked some of the young kids at the end of the practice individually and in some group and team stuff – boy he really stood out. It is a darn shame that he hurt that shoulder, but if we can get a healthy Victor Worsley back in the fall, you'll see him play because he is a tremendous talent I think. I think he can play any one of those three positions, where we need him to play.

At this point in their careers where do you see Tommy Richardson and Rashaad Tindall playing, safety, or linebacker?

Safety. We are going to start them out at safety. I am really excited to see both those kids this spring. Tommy played some, not much defense, but special teams for us last year and I know he is very anxious to get out there and show this defensive staff what he can do as a defensive player. I am anxious to see him play.

Tindall had the knee injury, and boy, off high school film I was very impressed with him. He was a big hitter; I mean he brought the wood. I am very anxious to see how well he learns and how well he can play for us on defense this spring.

I think it is going to be very competitive at that safety position. Of course Dexter Reid is back at that free safety position. Chris Curry started out at the strong safety position last year and lost that job to Defonte Coleman. Well, Defonte was a senior and he's gone. So, we should have good competition at that strong safety position.

We should have good competition at that strong safety position with Tommy Richardson, Tindall, and Michael Harris, who is coming back, who has really worked hard in this off-season. He is going to get a shot – Michael backed up Dexter Reid at free safety last year – we're going to put him over at strong safety and let him compete for that strong safety position. Mahlon Carey is moving over to the defense and we are going to put him at the strong safety position. So it is going to be very competitive back there at that safety position.

We are going to move Chris Curry over to the free safety and let him compete with Dexter. So at both safety positions, it is going to be very competitive. We have some numbers there and we've got some kids that want playing time out on that field. I am anxious to see them compete and play this spring.

Kareen Taylor, who has prepped for a year, is another kid that looks very good on tape and that we're really looking forward to getting here this fall.

We've got a lot of bodies there, with talent. Kareen, when he gets here in the fall, I'm sure will push the kids that we'll have this spring and could break into that two-deep. The concluding installent of this interview will appear tomorrow on Inside Carolina.

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