FOOTBALL COACHING SERIES
RIck Wimmer- Fishers
Your safety RJ Potts is being recruited nationally. Talk about him as a player?
RJ is probably the most talented player athletically I have ever coached. He has the speed to cover, he has the size and physicality to play in the box, and he has good football instincts. He enjoys competing against good competition which is important. He still needs to learn to push himself and compete with himself to really raise his level and discipline himself to train and compete at his best regardless of the situation or the competition level. This is the area we are trying to get him to improve upon. I see signs of that from time to time. Just looking for continued improvement in those areas. If he can learn to do that more effectively, he will have a good college career at a high level and possibly beyond.
Looking at your roster your offensive line could rival some NFL teams size wise? How important are they as a group?
I think our offensive line is going to play a critical role in our success. I also like our RBs as a group so I think being able to run the ball well is going to certainly be a point of emphasis for us although I guess we could say that every year. We have some solid, capable QBs but they have very little varsity experience so the play of our offensive line – both from a running game standpoint as well as protection – is going to be very important to our success. Obviously, having a good running game also helps our defense. We obviously have some very good size there but they all have good feet, all can bend pretty well, and all can move. OT Charlie Bernhardt 6’6” 245 and OG Luke Martin 6’4” 305 are the best known among college coaches. OG Eric Fahrnkopf 6’5” 340 and OT Seth Rogers 6’4” 230 are new starters who saw quite a bit of playing time last year and are showing signs that they are ready to be very capable starters. Adam Hochstedler 5’10” 230 is the midget of the group at Center but he is tough and a good leader and he is going to be very good at that position. We also have a sophomore in OG Andrew Voskuhl 6’1” 310 who will see quite a bit of varsity time as well.
You were ahead of many on the thought process on what Fishers could become. What do you have to do to keep it at an elite level?
I think we just have to continue to stress the things that we think are important. We have to make sure our players understand and believe in our process and that can be challenging after you have been in one place for a while. Sometimes players (and even coaches) can go through the motions of the process and, because they have done it in previous years, the enthusiasm and excitement for what we are doing can become lost. My challenge as the head coach is to make sure everyone understands the importance of what we do and why do it and to have enough enthusiasm about it that it is infectious.
You will be breaking in a new QB this year. How is that competition going?
We have 3 QBs who I really like: Joel Smyth (Senior), Matt Wolff (Junior), and Jon Vore (Sophomore). Joel and Matt are really competing for the top spot this year, but I think Jon is performing very well as a sophomore and will be capable if needed this year and will certainly be given a chance to compete as a starter next year. We are giving Matt and Joel equal reps right now with our 1st team unit and I anticipate doing that through at least the 1st week of official practice and quite possibly beyond unless I feel one of them really separates himself from the other. Both are capable of leading and performing well and have done so throughout the summer. I am not opposed to starting the season using both QBs until one of them steps ahead of the other. Both can throw, both are intelligent, both can run and move in the pocket, both can lead. All the QBs encourage and help each other so they are all unselfish guys. We will let it play out. Joel and Matt split time very evenly last year on our JV team which went undefeated so they know how to handle that as well.
Who is the most underrated college prospect on your team?
Although he has quite a bit of interest from a number of schools, I would say Charlie Bernhardt might be the most underrated. I think he has at least 1 Ivy league offer, but I think he will have more offers following our season. He is 6’6” which gets a lot of people’s attention, but he only weighs about 245 which makes him pretty lean. However, that weight is up about 15 pounds from last fall and he is going to keep putting it on. High level college programs want to see him with more weight, but he can play, he can move, he can bend, and he is smart. He is a great locker-room guy and a program will not go wrong reaching to him with an offer. I would also include DB Jalen Moss and WR/DB DeVonte Adams as guys who are very good athletes, very coachable, and can play at a high level in college if given an opportunity. I also think Angelo Howze is poised to have a good year. Some colleges have an interest in him because he is pretty athletic, but he hasn’t yet had that highly productive year that I think he is ready to have this year.
Who is the one player who no one knows about yet, but will??
Will Syrus is a long receiver w/ great speed who caught 10 balls last year as a sophomore but I expect to become much more involved. Brian Kantner is a receiver who didn’t play a lot last year but has really made some great catches for us this summer. Michael Noble was a sophomore move-in last year who saw some playing time and performed very well but was really learning and fought some injuries that limited his playing time a little. He is a dynamic RB who will probably also play some in our secondary. Jake Willard, I think, has shown he is ready to play this year in our secondary. We need better LB play this year and I think Junior LB Michael Nettleton can provide that for us.
Biggest position battle as we end the summer and head to fall camp?
Certainly the QB spot is one that is at the front and we have already addressed that. I think we have a lot of position battles going on. TE is certainly an area where we have to have improved play from last year and all those guys are back so I would expect it to be a much more solid position for us. We like to use a number of TE personnel groups, often playing with 2 TEs and quite often even with 3. Angelo Howze is the top returner but will also be playing quite a bit of defense. Kaleb Clark, Luke Albright, Michael Johnson, and Bryce Gee (TE-WR) will be battling for playing time and all have shown signs of improvement from last year. I guess you could say we have a battle at RB, but we plan to use several of them so I’m not sure it is that important who the starter is. Top guys who I think can all play well are Trevor Newman, Michael Noble, Max Shores, HL Lewis, and Jay Dawson. It is a very deep group of RBs so they will need to be unselfish and make every play count.
Who is one guy on your team who might not be a high level recruit, but is a great football player?
If you are going to be a good team, you better have a bunch of these guys and I think we do. I would start with TB Trevor Newman. He is tough and can run every play in our offense. He is unselfish and spent most of his career as a back-up guy to some other backs but got a chance last year to be the starter in a few games and proved to be very effective. Our Center Adam Hochstedler has taken over as a leader on our offensive line. He filled a need at center and at about 5’10” 230 he gets dwarfed by our other linemen but he can play. Also Jake Winkle is a good football player who had 10 sacks for us last year as a junior. He may be a little small to play D-1 at 6’2” 215, but he will be someone that our opponents have to deal with and can play college football if he gets the right fit.
In what way has recruiting improved since you first started coaching??
Players have a much bigger hand in their own recruiting because of the video and social media. I use to have to create highlight video for players on VHS and then on CDs, but now players can create their own and post them themselves. Social media, when used correctly, can be used to get information to college coaches and help build relationships and find out information.
What are the negatives about the current recruiting process?
There are a lot of misconceptions about the recruiting process that are difficult to get some kids and parents to understand. Football is not AAU basketball or volleyball or soccer. College FB coaches are still going to recruit through the HS FB Coach, not some club coach. The “elite” 7-on-7 leagues and tournaments and many of the combines that people try to get our players involved in are going to do little to help a player get recruited. College coaches are not and cannot be there in most cases. College coaches want to see game video, they want to evaluate personally at a 1-day evaluation camp, they want to see grades, and they want to talk with the HS FB coach and strength coach and sometimes even counselors, teachers, and administrators. Also I’m not sure most HS players understand how what they put on social media can hurt them in the recruiting process. If a college coach is recruiting you, he is going to follow that player on social media. It is not uncommon for a player to be dropped from being recruited because of the perception he gives on social media.