Q: Coach, fans always enjoy stories about recruiting, and I hoped to just ask you a few questions about how it all went down this year. Going back to the camp you had last June, the story I heard was that you saw Mackenzi Adams that day, you liked him, you offered him, and he accepted on the spot. Is that the way it happened? And what was it about Mackenzi that was so special that made him stand out?
Vanderbilt offensive coordinator Ted Cain: Well, he committed really early. I know that I and my offensive staff looked at him on some junior videotape before he got to camp, and we really, really liked him. Then he came to camp, and we liked him in camp, and we did offer him at that time. I really can't remember exactly when he committed, whether it was then or after that. But we just liked his athleticism, and the way he got the ball out of his hand for the receivers. He's a tall young man, very intelligent, played in a couple of different offenses. That's kind of how it went down, and of course, most importantly for us, he committed early and stuck with his commitment.
Q: About that camp... it seemed like seven or eight or nine guys at your camp this year ended up on your final commitment list. How important is getting them into camp in terms of being able to get them successfully recruited?
A: I think it's very important to try to get your top recruits to come to your camp. Number one, they can kind of get to know you and get on your campus and see it a little bit. And of course we can get a closer look at them, after we conclude our April / May evaluation period. We get to see exactly what they can do in some drills and tests, especially in the secondary, where it's so hard to see those guys on videotape. More and more it's becoming a crucial time in the recruiting process. Plus, we cannot be out as much as we used to a couple of years ago as far as evaluations. We can only go out and see them one time in the fall, so you might catch them on a good night or a bad night, or may not be able to get back to their area at all. So camp's really big.
Q: Let's talk about some of the skill-position players you signed. Vanderbilt, like everybody else, needs some guys who can really make some things happen when they get the ball in their hands-- the explosive receivers, the quick running backs. Of the guys you signed at those positions, who looks like he might be a real playmaker?
A: Well, at running back, Daniel Dufrene was probably one of our more highly recruited guys, out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He's very explosive and some make some things happen. Jared Hawkins from Klein, Texas, was actually in our camp, so we got to see exactly how fast and quick he was. He's not the biggest cat around, but he has some great running skills with the football. In the wide receiver category, two receivers that were in our camp-- Earl Bennett from Birmingham did a great job on both sides of the ball when he was in our camp. Alex Washington from Stone Mountain, Ga. showed out in camp too, and both of those guys did a nice job. Larry Simmons is really a waterbug kind of cat, gets the ball and makes them all miss. He's not very tall, but he's one of the guys we're looking at to get him the ball in space and see if he can get some more yards for us. Then Justin Wheeler is kind of an under-the-radar type of athlete. He didn't play his junior year and came back out for the team his senior year at North Augusta, S.C. He's an outstanding young man, outstanding student, and just a very good athlete. He had several I-A offers and committed to us, and everybody started picking up on him after that. But we feel very good about the running backs and wide receivers that are coming on board. They have a chance maybe to play early. They don't have to be quite as big and strong as say, some of your defensive linemen and linebackers.
Q: Wheeler you will definitely use as a wideout?
A: Coming in, yes. Really all four of those guys will initially line up with the wide receiver corps. We'll see how it shakes out in the August camp.
Q: On signing day I made it up to Riverside Military Academy when Broderick Stewart signed. I asked him where he would play, and he very diplomatically said he would play either side. He said he might prefer rush end, but to me, with his body type, he looked a lot more like a receiver.
A: Just looking at him on videotape, it's just his ability to run, when he did play defense, his ability to run, separate and go make plays was what stuck out for us. For Broderick it just depends on how much weight he can put on this next coming year. He's probably a young man that would not have to play his first year, and could get a year under his belt with a redshirt and pick up some weight. Great frame, great range with those long arms as you saw, and he might stay on the defensive side, or he might gravitate toward a tight end. We'll just have to see how he comes along and see what the needs of the team are.
In Part 2, Cain discusses the offensive line and shares some tales from the 2005 recruiting trail.