A Different Breed

Replacing current Notre Dame linebacker coach Kerry Cooks in the secondary, new Wisconsin assistant coach Chris Ash brings a new intensity to the cornerbacks, words of advice to the safeties and the same philosophy on the recruiting trail that he had in his tenure at Iowa State.

Badger Nation: When you were first approached with this opportunity, there had to be a lot of things that excited you about this job, especially working with old friends again and coming to the Big Ten?

Chris Ash: There were a lot of things I liked about this job. It was a tough decision for me because I really enjoyed where I was at and who I was with. It was purely a professional decision for me. The potential that we have here the next couple of years is outstanding. The coaching staff here is an outstanding staff. The game day atmosphere at Madison is second to none. There were a lot of things that pointed this decision, and I was real happy that I made it. I was excited to get started.

Badger Nation: Watching you coach, you are right in the guys' ears giving instruction, giving feedback and it seems they really respond to that. What makes you the coach that you are?

Chris Ash: Well as a coach, you have a certain responsibility. My job is to try to help everybody reach their full potential, and how you do that is try to hold them accountable. How do you hold them accountable? You stress the details and the little things, and it's the constant feedback, the constant coaching to reemphasize and reinforce the points you're trying to make. The goods, the bads, everything you see and that's just how I have been brought up. Evolving as a coach, I don't believe in sitting back and waits to the meeting room to coach things. I like to coach up tempo, get after things and be enthusiastic. That's just the way that I have done it.

Badger Nation: Who has really stood out to you so far? You've had a chance to work with these guys a little bit. Who has popped out to you and who do you think has a lot of potential going forward?

Chris Ash: I can't single out any one individual. I am looking at it as one group because we are not going to be as good as one individual out there. The group itself in the secondary has done a nice job with the transition. They're listening to me, they're coachable and they are like sponges right now. They are coming in to learn all the time. That's what has stood out to me any more than one person. These guys want to be coached, they want to do good and they want to try and help us out there win a Big Ten Championship.

Badger Nation: You haven't watched him long but Aaron Henry is a veteran guy new to the safety position after playing cornerback. Does it seem like a good fit for him and how have you seen him progress?

Chris Ash: Aaron has improved a lot. Coach Bielema actually pointed him out to the staff the other day as a guy that is really starting to show up more. He's got a lot to learn because it's a new position for me. I can't comment about how he was last year or in the previous years, but has made tremendous progress in the short time I have been here. I hope he continues to do so as we go through spring ball, the summer, and then into fall camp. I think safety is where we need depth and that's where he will be as we go into the fall.

Badger Nation: Are you primary recruiting Illinois

Chris Ash: I have three states in the Midwest. I have Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, and then I am going to go into Dallas also.

Badger Nation: The Indiana, Iowa, Illinois region has been a tough area for Wisconsin in terms of getting productive recruits from there. How do you approach that area and sell the program?

Chris Ash: Recruiting is about relationships. I am not looking to sell Wisconsin because Wisconsin will sell itself. There are certain things that each individual, each recruit wants to buy, and it's my job to find out what they are looking for and point out that we have it at Wisconsin. Going into to schools and building relationships with high school coaches, trying to get them involved here in our camps and our clinics to show them what we have here so they can feel good recommending their players to our program. That's really what it is about – going in, building relationship and identify and evaluating kids that are a good fit. We aren't going after kids because they are a five-star, four-star player or other people have offered them. We are going to find a kid that fit the program and that's what I need to do in those areas.

Badger Nation: Is that the same area and same philosophy that you had at Iowa State?

Chris Ash: Similar. Moving from job to job, recruiting is recruiting. My area is different. I never recruited Illinois or Indiana. Last year I was primarily in Florida and Southern California. It is a new area, but the philosophy and how you approach it doesn't change.

Badger Nation: If you were recruiting player X at Iowa State and now you are recruiting him here at Wisconsin, is that a hard transition for you or him?

Chris Ash: Yeah, it is, but part of that process is finding out what they want to buy. If I was recruiting a kid at Iowa State and then I came to Wisconsin, he might not be interested in what we have here. It's the same thing the other way. If I was recruiting a kid to Iowa State and he might not like what we have there, he might think Wisconsin is a perfect fit for him. It's all based on the individual, but it is hard.

Badger Nation: How excited are you to really get going into spring ball, move through the summer and get ready for the season?

Chris Ash: I am excited to see the players improve. I was excited the first day we were able to get out here for winter conditioning and work with them. We made progress then. I was excited to get to spring practice and work with them. Going through summer and training camp, with every step or phase that we complete, I am excited to see the progress that we made.

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