Coaches Corner: Cornerbacks

Spring ball has come and gone, and now we give you a little more insight by catching up with some coaches and talking in detail about their units. First up are the corners with CB's Coach Ashley Ambrose.

Two things will be very different about Texas State football this fall, not seeing number 25 on one side of the field anchoring the secondary, and the well known face of Coach Jason Washington. Both will be tough to replace, but Coach Ambrose is up for the task and has hit the ground running.

We go in depth about his personnel and their talents, who fills the spot opposite of David Mims, his transition to Texas State, filling the shoes of Coach Wash, and even expectations for Florida State come September 5th.

So far Coach Ambrose how is the transition going?
It's been great. I can say that it's been awesome for me to experience because the coaching staff, the players, everybody has welcomed me with open arms. One thing I know is that Texas has some good football. That's one thing I wasn't surprised about by living in Louisiana and being right next door to Texas, even living a few years in Texas.

As for the personnel on the field, you lose Craig Mager, a possible NFL draft pick, but do return All-Conference selection David Mims. What about the other spot coach, who's fighting for it?
It's still a complete open competition, but I can tell you a few guys that are really trying to make a name for themselves, battling opposite Mims. He's really showed me the things he can do and he's been doing a great job of being a leader, which is good. I think Craig has a lot to do with that too, because he looks up to Craig. He's trying to get these guys to do the same thing as Craig worked with him.

I'm seeing Brandon McDowell (So.) step up, he had a really good spring. He's our most improved player, he had a really good spring. I was impressed with the things he did. He did really well in the weight room as well. He's really been standing out and if he continues to work like this it's going to be really hard to beat a guy like that out.

Clarence Guidry (So.) stepped up this spring. He started off slow, but finished off a lot stronger. Javante O'Roy (Jr.) kind of surprised me, he stuck out. A junior college kid who made a lot of plays over the second half of spring football. He got his momentum going and had a chance at 4 interceptions. I've seen him step up and I think he's going to be a good leader.

We got some good competition here, but a good group of corners, and the competition is going to be really good in the summertime when we get back. Those guys do well in the weight room and you compete with each other. I'm getting them to understand you compete with each other, things happen, and you just never know when it's going to be your opportunity to get out onto the field. Somebody rolls an ankle, anything, the next guy has to be ready to go. They have an opportunity of being one of the better group of kids that I've had, and I've been at Cal and Colorado.

What's been the biggest adjustment or challenge at Texas State in comparison to a Cal or Colorado where you previously were?
I think its' a little bit of everything, resources, the playing field. For me though, we have to consider ourselves as one of those bigger programs. We're not that 1AA school, FCS school anymore. It's funny, I'm looking at the kids now and Coach Fran mentioned this, this is the biggest team we've ever had. I'm looking at it, we really look like a Cal or Colorado, if you really think about it. We've only been in FBS for a couple of years, but this team is starting to look like that. You have a quarterback who looks as big as he is, as strong as he is. That's what it looks like and that we're starting to look like one of those teams. If we continue to recruit the right way and continue to be successful, and continue winning 2-3 more games a year. We'll be up there with the likes of Texas and all them.

This place (Texas State) is unbelievable. Being at Colorado I thought it was one of the most beautiful places ever. I thought how can you not get recruits here. Here, it's one of the best parts of Texas. You're in between two major cities, it's not humid like Houston is, but right here is a beautiful area and we gotta take advantage of it. We can be like the Texas and Texas A&M's, its' a great thing.

You replaced Jason Washington and since your arrival coach, have you had to change anything whether it be scheme or technique?
I think Jason Washington is a big time football coach. He's a really good football coach. Unfortunately Texas State lost him, but fortunately for me I got a chance to fill his shoes and I do have big shoes to fill. He was a legend here and I want to continue that legacy. For me, all I'm doing is I'm changing and tweaking a little. I can tell a lot of things he did is what I do anyway. The guys, they like it. I asked all the guys on their exit from spring if they like what I'm teaching and they all said they do, and they can see why I played as long as I did. I'm a technician, I'm more about technique, if you got the 4.3 speed, that's good, but you're gonna have 4.3 speed with technique. Knowing your leverages, where you're supposed to be at and where everybody else is going to be. I don't like corners that don't understand what the other guys are doing. I think that's really helping them out, when they can jump a route, when they can't, and when the ball is going to come to them, certain defenses, and they're starting to understand that.

How's the recruiting trail been? Have the high school coaches been open and receptive?
They've been very receptive, everybody has. It's good because a lot of the guys ask where I'm coming from and I tell them Idaho and they're like you're coming from way up there, you have no clue what you're getting into. I tell them I was born and raised in Louisiana, most of my family is in Texas, and then you have some that know my name. It's been awesome, it feels like home. It's a fun deal, in fact one of our players, Aaron Shaw, his high school coach was my teammate with the Atlanta Falcons, it's a small world.

Did any of the players know your history in the NFL, or are they too young to remember?
Really some of these guys are kind of young. You come across a couple here and there. Some of these guys played Madden, it's funny. I only finished playing 10 years ago, but a lot of these kids were like 9 or 10 years old. A lot of them always want to see footage, what did I do, how did I play so long, how did I get so many interceptions. I just explain it to them, you have to work your behind off, you'll get there.

Whats your expectation come September 5th when they hit the field in Tallahassee?
I expect them to go out there and defeat the guy in front of them each and every play. The reason I say that, that's my mentality and that's the way I think. I know that's Florida State, they're nationally known, Jameis Winston former Heisman Trophy winner, a lot of good football players, and recent National Champions. For me my whole thing is that I want them to understand that they put their pants on just like we do, and sometimes you get overlooked because they were supposed to be the better players coming out of high school. I know, I understand that, but that doesn't make them better than you. I give them the example of myself. I played at Mississippi Valley State where the talent wasn't that great, but I got drafted to play in the NFL and I played a long time. I know you have an opportunity to go out and show the world that you can beat these guys. It all comes down to how mentally tough you are and how bad do you want to beat them.

You have 2 seniors in David Mims and Donta Clanton, for the '16 class are you guys looking to take in a few corners in order to replace them?
We're going to shoot for 2-3 corners for sure. We're looking for some corners that can come in and help this football team. If we get 2, if we get 3, if we get 4, but whatever it is we want guys to come in that are going to help us win and compete. Continue to build this program and make it strong.

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