How are things going? You getting acclimated to the new staff?
It is going great. I got down here Sunday. Only been down here two days. The staff has been just unbelievable, as far as helping me along. Showing me how things work. They are great group of guys. I have really enjoyed it so far.
Have you worked with any of the guys or have known any of them through the coaching circles?
A few I have through recruiting things and stuff like that. My brother worked with John Hendrick at South Carolina State. I had met a few guys recruiting but have never worked with any of the guys prior.
Take me through the timeline in talking with Coach Leavitt? How did it come about and how quickly did they move along?
Coach Leavitt called on Tuesday of last week to ask permission from Coach Sweeney to talk to me. He did everything the right way. He never contacted me before that and it went from there. There was a mutual interest from both sides. It kind of just went from there.
What was your timeline of this offseason? Were you aggressive looking for a job and what made USF a destination?
As the way things went down at Clemson... We hired an outstanding staff and coach Sweeney is an awesome guy a great friend of mine and I think he is going to be an outstanding head football coach. We brought in Kevin Still and Charlie Harbison from the outside. Both had been coordinators before. Kevin had been at Alabama, Charlie at Mississippi State. They were outstanding football coaches. I was very excited about working them. Throughout my few months working with those guys, I thought it was a very close knit staff. I thought we worked really well together. I told coach Sweeney from the beginning, because he was worried about me having opportunities. I wasn’t interested in making a lateral move. I was interested in bettering myself and put myself into a position to one day be a head football coach. It would take a special type job for me to leave. This has always been a job that has intrigued me. I think the potential is high. I think you have some outstanding people. What has happened here in 12 years is amazing.
How comfortable are you recruiting Florida?
When I was at Pittsburgh, I recruited H.B. Blades out of Plantation high school and Clint Session out of Miami Killian High School. They are both in the NFL now from Pittsburgh. We had several kids while I was at Pitt from the south Florida area. Through the years when I was at Illinois State I recruited Avion Casson out of St. Pete Lakewood who is still in the NFL, A running back. Bryan Bruock was his coach at the time. Armando Andority was a young man also out of Lakewood also up to Illinois State, who was great player for us up at Illinois State. Leonard Relaford was another St. Pete kid who started for us and was a great player. There have been several through the years. At Illinois State, I had the I-4 Corridor from Daytona Beach to St. Pete. When I went to Pittsburgh, I had Dade and Broward County and at Clemson I had a larger portion of South Carolina and dabbled a little bit into south Florida. Christian Chancelor is one we signed out of Miami Edison who will end up being a four year starter at Clemson and potentially be a fairly high draft pick. He’s just an outstanding young man and great football player. This is obviously one of three or four states in the country that is a hot bed for recruiting. Texas, Florida and California are probably the three that people are going to talk about the most as far as producing elite level athletes and so I’m excited about being in an in-state school and having the opportunity to recruit this state.
How will the dynamic work with you being a co-defensive coordinator with Coach Tresey?
Coaching linebackers is something I have a comfort level doing. I have been doing it for 10 years going back to Illinois State and I coached the outside backers at East Carolina but I have been comfortable coaching the front and have been coaching the front. I have also thought though if you can coach you can coach. When I worked for Walt Harris that was something he said all the time. Good coaches can coach anything. It is just a matter of getting comfortable and applying yourself. As far as defensive coordinator, coach Tresey is the defensive coordinator and he will do an outstanding job. We have a great defensive staff. Just the few days we have been together, I think we will have a very cohesive staff. I think our guys are going to work really well together because everyone will have a lot of input. Obviously, Joe is the front man for it. I don’t see any problem.
Have you met any of the linebackers yet?
When I came down for the interview and such I got to see a practice. I met most of them then but to actually sit down and talk to them? No. I am still in the learning process of getting to know them.
What is the most important thing you as a staff need to get done leading up to the spring game?
I think we have to get to know each. We are implementing a new defense. We have to get to know the kids. Just improve and get better. They have set a high standard around here defensively and we have to continually get better each day.