Jerod Arlich Q&A

During the heat of the recruiting battles, we think we learn many things about the 17-year olds through their interviews and the choices they make. But too often the focus is on playing time, coaches and depth charts. Jerod Arlich, the Stanford fullback commit from Minnesota, is an incredibly charismatic young man, but only Sunday did we start learn more about him. Read on for a transcript of our interview, with questions taken from subscribers.

The Bootleg's Q&A session with Jerod Arlich

Q:  What was the key factor that first tipped your preference toward Stanford?
A:  I told everybody that it wasn't one or two things.  It isn't something I can put my finger on.  It was overall.  The relationship with the players I developed in my short amount of time.  And the coaches all seemed like great people.  I had a great time at the other schools, though.

Q:  We worried a lot that the relative urbanity of the Stanford campus - you can't deer hunt just outside of town - might ultimately cost Stanford your commitment. How did that play out in your actual thinking?
A:  When I started to think about it, and the commitment required for D-I football, there just isn't going to be time for something like that. As long as it is available when you want it to be available.  When you really think about it, that can't affect my decision.  My decision came down to football and academics.  I am so far out of my comfort zone that I'm sure I will find new things to do.  It's a completely different lifestyle I'll find, which is part of the reason I chose it.  And there's always life after college.

Q:  What are your pre-game rituals?  Are you superstitious?
A:  I am not superstitious.  I wear a lot of different layers, as do a lot of football players.  I have to put them on in a very particular order, though.  I listen to music - it needs to be hard, heavy stuff.  I like rap music, but that's not the type of thing I want before a game.  I also eat exactly three and a half hours before game time.  That's as much for comfort as anything, though.

Q:  Where will you be working out this summer, before heading out to Stanford?
  We don't have a strength program, which sucks.  Our trainer - we borrow from a local therapy place.  We have a local Gold's Gym - about 10 minutes away; I'll get a membership.  My running will be done on our high school track.

Q:  During the recruitment process, did any coach of other schools bad mouth each other?  What did you do when you heard it?
A:  I will definitely say yes.  The funniest part was how I never negatively talk about other schools.  Every school negatively recruited against other schools, which put a bad taste in my mouth.  I felt like they did that when they sensed they were behind in the race - when they were about to fall off the wagon, so to speak.  That made my decisions against those schools even easier at that time.

Q:  What are your main academic interests?  Any thoughts on how these might translate into a career post-Stanford?
A:  Getting down to the specifics, I absolutely love math and science.  For a major, I would probably enjoy computer science the most.  For a career, I don't really know (laughs).  I might kinda like to get into Apple because we are an Apple family - try that and see if that's possible.

Q:  Did you know any of Stanford's current Minnesotans before this season, and were you acquainted with Patrick Bowe and Liam O'Hagan, and if so, how?
A:  No and no.  I did not know any of the Minnesotans beforehand, but it was cool to meet them on my visit.   Stanford is neat with a lot of people.  And it's interesting to see how people from this area are handling a different place like that.

Q:  What do you think you will miss most about your high school experience playing football, and what do you think will be new and enjoyable for you playing big-time college football? 
A:  I can say some stuff I probably shouldn't, about college football (laughs).  Those poor little linebackers that shouldn't be playing linebacker - I'll miss them (laughs).  But I can still have fun with bigger guys in college.

Q:  Which of the other Stanford recruits have made the biggest impression on you - and how?  Same question for current players?
A:  Other recruits: Alex Fletcher, it is hard for him to not have an effect on you.  He's a great guy and is so in love with Stanford.  Current players: everybody I met, but I got to know Capp Culver the best.  I'm a wannabe hick, but he's the real thing.  Seeing him and how he was having a great time, outside of injuries, was great.

Q:  It seems as though in the last couple of years there is more of a push for early playing time by recruits.  How much of this comes into play for you?  And do you think it realistic for the many who do want early play?
A:  I think it's a person by person basis.  Not only do you need to be physically ready, but also mentally ready - assimilating plays, etc.  I would love to if it would be possible, but I trust the opinions of the coaches.  If they think that it's best for me to redshirt, then I'll redshirt.  If they think I can contribute to the team, then I will play.  I wouldn't mind redshirting, but would also love to play.

Q:  What was your first impression of Stanford and the state of California?  Who all went with you on the trip?
A:  My entire immediate family - mom, dad and brother.  My grandparents wanted my brother to really go so they paid for his ticket, which was cool.  My impression of Stanford - don't want to sound corny - was breathtaking.  I'm looking outside right now - windy, snowy and ice.  We got off the plane and saw a little weed in a crack on the concrete, but it was green.  My mom was almost in tears, she was so happy.  Palm Drive was crazy - seeing palm trees!  The architecture is fantastic, too.  Everything was wonderful.  As for California, it's a big state. I saw not too much of it.  Everything was a positive experience, though.  Palo Alto was awesome.  Though the surrounding areas were a bit of a culture shock.  That's not bad, though - good to see new things.  San Francisco was also a culture shock, but not necessarily a bad thing.  San Francisco seemed like an awesome city.

Q:  Once you announced for Stanford, did you receive any criticism from friends or others at your high school about not picking Minnesota? Or did folks back there generally accept Stanford as a good choice in light of its reputation?
A:  I really didn't get criticism - just a little joking about not picking Minnesota.  People seem to understand what a Stanford degree means - just unbelievable.  It would have been really bad had I picked another Big 10 school.  Colorado might have bad, too.

Q:  Did the turf in Boulder or Minny factor into your Stanford decision?
A:  The turf in Minnesota flat-out sucks.  I still have scars on me knees and elbows.  Any open skin gets torn off.  Colorado probably had the nicest field I've ever seen - some crazy combination of real turf and artificial.  Not be a smart aleck, but that didn't impact my decision

Q:  What do you say to those who say you are too tall to play fullback?
A:  First I would give them some film.  Before my recruitment, me and my coach analyzed this.  We looked at film and I'm lower than anybody on my team.  If someone stands straight up going through a hole, they aren't cut out to play fullback.

Q:  Jerod, did you always know that you wanted to take yourself out of your "comfort zone" for college or was a realization that hit during recruiting?  What kinds of challenges are you seeking?
A:  It was definitely something that hit during the recruiting process. I was forced to look at new situations.  As for challenges, I'm not looking at it that way.  It's just hard to change things in your life after college.  College is maybe my best chance to go and do something different.  Everybody in my family has gone to school in Minnesota and lived there all their lives in Minnesota.  I'll never know if that would be good for me or not if I don't try something.  If I go to Stanford, I'll test myself and find out how I feel about different places.

Q:  How does your high school get by without a strength program?
A:  In my community, there is so much emphasis on youth sports.  I started playing football in fourth grade.  Kids start playing hockey at age four.  It's ridiculous.  But kids start so young that skills develop very early.  We have a good pool to draw from.  Our school's success derives just from talent and desire.  Some guys also take it upon themselves to get a membership at a local gym.  Lifting, unfortunately, is something you do based on hearsay - when and how to lift.

Q:  Can you give us your impressions of the presentation by Minnesota and Stanford of each school's respective football traditions?  Was there a standout highlight film, a hall of fame visit, or a marketing pitch that was particularly influential in getting you fired up to attend either one?  What things made the most lasting impressions on your visits?
A:  They both showed me.  Each school has a hall of fame.  I don't want to sound stupid, but I wasn't a really huge college football fan prior to a year or two ago.  A lot of the stuff was cool to see, but didn't leave a lasting impression.

Q:  Have you thought about playing positions other than fullback?  Do you think you may be as well suited to middle linebacker or strongside defensive end?
A:  That's a tough question.  I doubt any of my coaches are reading, but I would be most comfortable playing fullback.  That's what I've played all my life.  I love hitting and will play wherever I can.  If the coaches have patience to teach me a new position, I can do that.  It's just that I really want to hit people - bottom line.

Q:  What do you think about the overall quality of Minnesota high school football?
A:  A lot of guys I have met here - you have to be tough to play football in Minnesota.  The conditions here are hotter in the summer, but you can't wear spikes at times when the ground is frozen.  The intensity of all the kids I've met is huge.  We say that if you are not lifting and running, then someone else is.  Hockey is big in Minnesota, but football is right there.  I see the same things not just at my school, but also at the other schools we play.

Q:  Are you a vocal leader on the field or more of a silent, lead-by-example guy?  What is your take on "woofing" and post-play celebration?  How much is a good thing?
A:  I'd say that I do best as a lead-by-example leader.  There are certain situations you see when it will take more.  As for post-play celebrations, that's a hard one. Definitely not too much, but who is to say what is too much.  Maybe a little yelling is OK.  What ticks me off is arrogance.  I hope it doesn't change when I get to college, but I prefer the common courtesy of handing the ball to the refs.  I'm all for being respectful of other players, and everyone I guess.

Q:  What did the staff tell you about your new position coach.  Are they close to hiring one?
A:  The interviewees are in this weekend with Coach Teevens, I believe.

Q:  Is their a special girl and what are her plans?
A:  There is a girlfriend of two and a half years.  She is a junior this year, so she won't have to make a decision until next year.  Chances are she's not going to be coming out to California.  The effect - not to sound cold - but there's a point where you have to do what is best.  I don't want to sound selfish, but I have to do what is best for me.

Q:  How good of a receiver do you consider yourself to be? 
A:  I love catching passes and think I'm pretty good at it.  I have long arms, which helps.  But if the ball is within reach, I'll catch it.  I'm a firm believer that if you can touch the ball with any part of your body, you can catch it.

Q:  What do you see as your strengths and weaknesses?  What area would you like to improve?
A:  I would say my strength is seeing the field.  I really take a lot of pride in finding possible holes and making them into bigger holes.  It kills me more than anything if my tailback gets hit.  As for weaknesses, I might say speed.  I'm quick, but that tell-tale 40 time isn't great.  I could probably be faster.  Physical strength, too, but both those things will come with a training program.

Q:  Can we get you on record for current height, weight and legit 40-time?  What do you think will be your ideal playing weight?
A:  Officially I am 6'4" and 245 pounds.  255 or 260 will be ideal, but I need to be more cut.  I run a 4.7 right now.

Q:  What is your initial reaction to The Bootleg website?
A:  I definitely like how much support I have seen with Stanford in every aspect.  I am adhering to people's warnings about the message boards but yet to see anything bad.

Q:  Can you think of any Minnesota players we should look at for next year with the brains and talent for Stanford?
A:  Actually the top prep juniors just came out today in the local paper, but I don't know too much.  When Coach Teevens came here, I told him about one of my teammates who I think could be a fit at Stanford.  He's a tight end.  6'6" or 6'7" by now.  The kid cannot miss a ball.  He's caught just about anything ever throw to him.  He's physical; a little bit light right now, but he has the frame to fill out.

Q:  What is it that you enjoy about hunting?  Being in the great outdoors or the feeling of taking the life of a living thing?  (Just kidding. I am not one of those California hippies his brother was so concerned about!  Ha!)
A:  (laughs)  It's seriously being in the outdoors.  I've been a Boy Scout for eight years, now an Eagle Scout.  It's not a big deal that the hunting chances will be less in college.  I'll hopefully get out for some hiking on the weekends in the off-season.  It's just getting outside that I love.

Q:  You are a big guy with long arms - how are you at taking care of the football?  Are you aware that Tommy Vardell never fumbled in something like 418 career carries?  Oh, and Patriots or Panthers? 
A:  I take real good care of the ball.  I think I had only one fumble all of last season.  No I was not aware of that (laughs).  Patriots or Panthers?  I really don't care.  It's just another football game to watch.

Q:  What kinds of stuff did you and Capp talk about?
A:  Everything from hunting to fishing to rodeos to country music.  That was one thing that was big.  Not a lot of people today - particularly my age group - are into country.  I got into Capp's car and we listened to Toby Keith.

Q:  Have you been given any indication of how our use of the fullback will change/evolve in the near future?
A:  Yes.  In the offense they use, the fullback means so much as formations go.  There are so many more formations that can be used to keep the opponent off guard.  It's pretty much how I know it.  I'll run, block and catch the ball - in no particular order.  They showed me film of Casey Moore from two years ago, and that's what they would like to do again.  I've done those things all my life and will be shocked if I can't do them again.

Q:  When you are at Stanford, what will you miss most about Minnesota?
A:  That's tough.  Friends are left behind, but I'll have new friends in college.  We'll still hopefully see each other on holidays.  Family is the big thing.  I live five minutes from one grandparent, 10 from another.  When you are younger, you don't really understand how important they are nearby, but I think I will be fine.  I have lots of support and will talk with them a lot.  They are all so proud of my decision.  I have an aunt who just moved to England but lived in California for six years.  She's the one who got my mom on the Stanford bandwagon.  Mostly I will miss the negative-35 windchill (laughs).

Q:  Play hockey?  If so, what position?
A:  I do not play hockey, but I kind of regret that.  I go to a lot of hockey games and it looks like so much fun.  You see big kids out there, and skates add another couple inches.  I'd be 6'7" out there!  You also see kids just hit each other all the time, which would be fun.  Kids play hockey really early, and my loving mom was concerned.  I talked her into letting me play football in fourth grade, but I was never able to talk her into letting me play hockey.

Q:  Charles Barkley once claimed he was "not a role model."  There will be a lot of youngsters idolizing a big touchdown-scoring fullback and asking for autographs when you get to Stanford.  How do you feel about becoming a role model for young people?
A:  I think that would be unbelievable - so gratifying.  To finally have kids look up to you.  You kind of have that as a varsity player, with the junior varsity and junior high kids.  I always carry myself as if I am a role model, even if I'm not.  I hope my status as an Eagle Scout shows that I am a respectful person.  It really bugs me to see the arrogance in some kids.  Off the field, you should be a nice guy to help whoever you can.

Q:  What was your Eagle Scout project?
A:  There is an elementary school in my district has a natural trail.  Around there is an invasive plant that turns into a tree called buckthorn.  I believe it was brought over from Europe.  It's a nasty plant with tiny little branches like thorns.  It takes over its area because it is such a hearty plant.  First priority was clearing them all out.  When we were done, we had a pile the size of a small house.  The fire department came out and burned it.  We also created eight informative signs about the native trees and plants to put on the trail.

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