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PENN STATE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE
March 17, 2014
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† Appreciate everybody being here.¬† Hope everybody had a great spring break.¬† We had spring break.¬† I got to see my wife and kids who I haven't seen in a month since signing day, so it was great to go spend a week with them.¬† Obviously, really excited we came back from spring break.¬† I thought it was important to give the coaches some time off.¬† Most of them handled their moves or went to go see their families as well.
Then we came back on Friday and put a full day's work in on Saturday and Sunday making sure we're ready and all the T's are crossed and the I's are dotted to get going with spring ball so we could be as effective as possible.
Just like I told the coaches and the players, we need to go out there with the mindset that we've been here for three years.¬† We know how to practice.¬† We know what the expectations are.¬† We can't allow the fact that this is our first practice for us to use that as an excuse to not go out and fly around.¬† So we need to go out and practice like a veteran team, like a veteran staff, and like a veteran organization so that's kind of our goal is to hit the ground running.
We've been as thorough, as detailed, and as organized as you can possibly be with the players as well as the coaches.¬† They understand that when they hit the field they're running.¬† There is no walking on the field ever.¬† I told them the first day if you don't know where you're supposed to go or what you're doing when the horn blows, then sprint in a circle until you figure it out.
So we're going to go out there and have a good time and enjoy ourselves.¬† It's going to be a lot of energy, have fun with the guys, coach them hard.¬† I think it's going to be important to build this chemistry and this trust with the players.
What I've found in a short period of time of these guys, a number of the guys on the team, I'm their third head coach.¬† I'm their third head coach in a very short period of time, and I think they're very, very close as a team, the players, but we need to make sure we're very close and have great chemistry as an entire organization, coach, players and everybody involved.
So we're really excited about that.¬† There have been some position changes.¬† There have been some number changes and things like that.¬† But I'm more than happy to get into any specific questions that you guys might have, but I wanted to just open up with a little opening statement to let you know where we're at, and can't tell you how much I appreciate everybody coming out and spending the day with us.
Q.¬† You mentioned you guys are trying to be as well prepared as possible for this practice.¬† Can you kind of give us a sense of how you guys prepared and the things that you've spent a lot of time on to get yourself ready for this?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† With the limitations that we've talked about in the past with the number of hours and things like that, what's nice is some of the rule changes here recently is you are allowed to meet with them.¬† You weren't allowed to do that before.¬† That's helped.¬† Making sure, first of all, that the coaches that we're all on the same page.¬† We do have a couple of new coaches that have joined us, so I think that's important.¬† Same thing with the administration, strength staff, just making sure we're all on the same page.
Every year, whether we would have stayed at the previous institution or moved on, you're always going to go back and clean some things up and grow and adapt, so we have done that.¬† Then being able to start giving the players the installations.
So we do basically 15 installs.¬† Offense, defense, special teams, run game, pass game, whatever it may be, and how we break it up, so they were able to get two or three of the installs in written form to look at before they left for spring break to have it with them over spring break, and then also video as well.¬† So, for example, install 1 of the defense may be cover two, they'll get that in writing, exactly what the responsibilities were, but then they'll also get film of examples of that coverage as well.
For us, it's a little bit different and it's a little bit weird at this point because we're showing them film that is not Penn State film, but it's the best example of what we can show them at this point.¬† As we get better examples from practice, then we can start to take Penn State examples and replace that film because you'd love to have the freshmen coming in or whoever it was to be able to watch our film as much as possible.
But we'll also splice in some examples of NFL Films as well, running the same plays or same schemes, because I think that helps with the kids as well.
Q.¬† James, you mentioned a couple of position changes you've made.¬† Were they made based on need or based on watching film and reanalyzing or reevaluating some players?¬† What went into some of those changes?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† I think right now more than anything, need.¬† It's hard to say this guy should be playing this position or this guy should be playing that position based on what we've seen and evaluated.¬† We basically look at the overall roster positions of strength, positions of weakness, based on numbers, based on talent.¬† For example, a great example is we've moved Dowery and we've moved Gaia to offensive line.¬† A big part of that is when I looked at the defensive line, we had a four deep of scholarship players on the defensive line basically, four deep at defensive end, about three and a half deep at defensive tackles, nose guard and D‑tackle.¬† Offensive line, we did not have a two deep of scholarship players.¬† Not even a two deep.¬† So, just felt like we needed to make some moves.
From a media and from a fan perspective, every time I meet somebody all they want to talk about is Christian Hackenberg.¬† And don't get me wrong, I'm excited about him as well.¬† But it takes a lot more than a quarterback to be successful on offense.¬† So we want to make sure that the game of football is not played from the ground up from a fundamental standpoint, but the game of football is also played up front, on the offensive line and on the defensive line, and we'll make sure that we recruit well at that position, develop well at that position no different than anywhere else.
But you better be good at those two positions.¬† So there were some things we think we needed to do.¬† It's not a perfect situation because I think where we're lacking the most is at offensive tackle.¬† Typically you'd like a guy that's 6'4", 6'5", 6'6" at offensive tackle; it's not necessarily to do with height, but with length, so you can get away with a guy with long arms and stuff like that.
I wouldn't say Dowery and Gaia allow us to do that, but it might create some flexibility with Dieffenbach and some other guys as well to create depth at that offensive tackle.
Q.¬† Can you tell us how much time you and the staff spent watching players from last year to get a feel for what these players are about.¬† And about that, how much does the first week of practice to work with these guys and hands on?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† I think the hands on experience is the most important thing.¬† A lot of times you watch a tape and you're not sure what they're being taught.¬† What the techniques are, the fundamentals are and what they're really being asked to do in the scheme, so that is the most important thing.¬† But, yeah, we did go back and watch tape, offense, defense, and special teams.
Probably as excited about special teams as any area on the team because if you look at us statistically the last year or so, it's the area for most improvement, I think.¬† It's the area that we can make the biggest impact, and we're committed to playing the best players on special teams.¬† I think it's a little bit philosophy in the past, and I think that dealt with the sanctions and things like that.¬† That was a way they were going to try to solve it with sanctions.¬† I don't believe in that.¬† I believe we're going to play our best players.¬† I think a lot of times coaches give special teams lip service.¬† I'm not saying that's what's happened here in the past, but I believe you're going to play your best players in all three areas.
Now we can't have a guy starting on offense or defense and start on all four units on special teams either?¬† You've got to have an understanding of that as well.¬† But the film has been important, but the hands on experience is going to be the most important thing that we have.
Q.¬† Along those lines, when you get to see the guys for the first time, what are you looking for compared to maybe what you saw on film?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† It's really about, we've talked to you guys before about culture and what culture means.¬† Culture is about creating great habits and eliminating bad habits.¬† That's academically, socially, that is on the football field.¬† So that's what we're really looking for.¬† We're looking for guys that are going to run around and compete and have fun.¬† That's one of the things I think is so important to find coaches, to find people, to find players that can work extremely hard, but while they're working extremely hard, they can have fun and enjoy themselves, and that's what I want to see.
Our four core values, which you've heard us talk about before.¬† No. 1, positive attitude.¬† Number two, unbelievable work ethic, unrivaled work ethic.¬† Number four, compete in everything you do, and number four must be willing to sacrifice.¬† There are things we're going to talk about.¬† I hope you see them in practice.¬† I expect it to be the most competitive practice, and environment you've ever seen.¬† That will get better in time, obviously, with the more depth that we have on the roster.¬† But I want you to see that with the coaches.¬† I want you to see that with the players in everything they do.¬† Who goes through the stretch and warm‑ups the best?¬† Every aspect of the program is important.
You guys know we've said this before as well we're a process‑oriented organization, not a goal‑oriented organizations.¬† So what I mean by that is we're going to focus on doing the little things extremely well, and by doing that, the big things will take care of themselves, so every detail is important.¬† Every detail is significant in what we're trying to do.¬† I hope you guys get a chance to see that at practice.
Q.¬† You're talking about having a competitive atmosphere in spring.¬† Do you feel the need to dial back any of the contact or anything because of the numbers issue that you guys do have?¬† That's what they had to do last spring to preserve guys and prevent injuries, perhaps?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† Yeah, but not for that reason.¬† I think you can get a lot of work done without going full contact.¬† To be honest with you, I told you guys this before, we had a lot of similar challenges and issues at our last institution.¬† I think I mentioned we had seven guys playing in that conference that never played high school football before on that team.¬† We had real challenges from a numbers perspective.¬† Now there it was overall numbers, not scholarship numbers.¬† So we'll have to be creative.
I think we can get a lot of work done with tag off, which is basically two‑hand touch, but you're doing it in an athletic position.¬† You've got to be able to legitimately when you watch the tape say that guy would have made the tackle.¬† He was in an athletic position.¬† He was down in a football position, bent down, good bend in his ankle, knees and hips, and was able to tag palms up with two hands on the ball carrier.¬† If not, they're going to run.¬† They're going to keep running to the ball carrier until they're able to do that.¬† I think you can get a lot of work done if you do it the right way and you demand the fundamentals and the technique in an athletic position.
So we'll do it, but it's not necessarily from an injury prevention standpoint.¬† That's part of it.¬† But I also believe during spring ball is a time to develop toughness as well.¬† So sometimes it's hard to do that during the season because if you do get some tweaks or some pulls or some issues during the season, it's going to affect you on game day.¬† Right now everybody wants to talk about the Blue and White game.¬† We're not trying to win the Blue and White game.¬† We're trying to win today's practice.¬† The more good days we put together like that, the Saturdays will take care of themselves.
Q.¬† Can I get your thoughts on the defensive back field going into spring?¬† You moved Adrian to safety, and your thoughts on Jordan Lucas, what he had last year and what you see from him, and who else could be a factor at corner with Adrian moving to safety?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† Yeah, I feel really good about it.¬† I didn't bring a depth chart in here, which I probably should have.¬† But I feel really good about our defense and about our secondary in general.¬† I really do.¬† I think it's a little different on the defensive side of the ball compared to the offensive side of the ball.¬† Those guys are two deep on the secondary.¬† They've played a lot.¬† They've played a lot.
So I think if you look at our starting unit across the board, and when I say starting unit, the guys they're going to be running out there for the first snap of team periods or 7 on 7s, I feel good about it.¬† We've got a lot of guys that have played and been successful.¬† We're going to build on that.¬† Where our issues come is depth.¬† Our issues in the secondary, if you're going to play some young guys, that is the position to do it.
I think wideout, corners things like that and you can get away with it.¬† It's hard to have a freshman playing for you on the defensive line and the offensive line.¬† We think Amos's natural position is safety.¬† That's where we're going to play him.¬† I think, obviously he creates some flexibility the fact that he plays corner as well in a pinch.¬† But I like him back there being a leader for us, and Jordan Lucas gives us two really veteran guys at both levels of the secondary.
Q.¬† How will you use your practices in terms of allotment?¬† Will you do it three times a week, two times a week?¬† Coach Galt mentioned lifting during spring practice.¬† How does that work as well in terms of the scheduling of it?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† We'll go two days a week where we'll lift.¬† Typically you'll see in the future we'll go Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays for spring ball.¬† The reason why we really like to be able to practice on one day, the next day be able to watch the film, and then the next day for practice just focus on that day without having to go back and watch the previous days film.¬† We're not going to be able to do that also with the amount of hours that we're allowed to have them during the week.¬† I'd rather spread it out and go three days a week.
We'll go basically four days a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, and that is how the schedule was set.¬† That affects how the guys schedule their classes academically and things like that.¬† So we basically are keeping the same schedule that was set before we got here.¬† In the future, it will be a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday most likely schedule for spring ball.¬† Then they'll lift two days a week.¬† They'll lift those other two days, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Q.¬† James, do you feel like you're still catching up from the whirlwind of the last couple months?¬† Or do you have your feet underneath you at this point?¬† Also, have a you had a chance to meet the new school president here?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† I have not met the new school president.¬† Really looking forward to doing that.¬† As you can imagine, he's got a lot of things on his plate.¬† But really looking forward to doing that and having a conversation with him whenever it's convenient and convenient for him.¬† When it comes to getting our feet on the ground, our feet have been on the ground since we arrived.¬† The feet are moving fast and in a lot of different directions, but like I mentioned before, it will be that way for the first three years.¬† It really will.
Universities are very complex places.¬† They're very sophisticated.¬† Being able to understand‑‑ I know how we want to run our program.¬† We've got to figure out how do we run that program within the Penn State system and under the Penn State umbrella, so we can be successful and put a product on the field, off the field, in the classroom, in the community that everybody can be really proud of.¬† But there are a lot of things that have to get figured out, and that's why I'm talking to as many people as I possibly can, asking as many questions as I possibly can.¬† Shaking as many hands, kissing as many babies as I possibly can, and you guys, I think have seen that.¬† The people in the community have been great.¬† The administration has been unbelievable.¬† Getting a chance to build relationships with the other coaches I think is important as well, to get to know them and kind of learn from them.
I've had a lot of conversations with came.¬† I love to go to the wrestling matches and sit there and not only watch the guys compete, but watch him.¬† He's an impressive guy he really is.¬† He's built an impressive program.¬† I want to become good friends with him, and I think he'd be a really good colleague and probably more than anything, I want to keep him on my good side because I think he might pick me up and slam me.¬† He's an impressive guy.
You look at what our volleyball program has been able to do.¬† You look at soccer and you can go on and on.¬† Basketball, women's basketball, and I've had a chance to go and watch all those programs compete, and watch the support they get.¬† That is the thing that probably blows me away more than anything is the support this university and these athletic programs get from this community.¬† We want to build on that.
You've heard me say before we're going to sell out every single game next year.¬† I believe that.¬† I'm going to keep pounding the table on that because we need to do that we need to do that from a recruiting perspective.¬† We need to do that from a financial perspective.¬† And I truly believe once we get everybody pulling the rope in the same direction that we can build something really special here.
Q.¬† James, can you talk about the adjustments that you guys as a staff have had to make coming into a roster that you guys didn't recruit for your schemes?¬† How much have you had to learn from that and what kind of adjustments have you made as a staff?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† Yeah, I don't think that's really significant.¬† In our opening press conference we talked about our schemes and the coaches that we've hired, we believe in flexibility and being able to play to your strengths, whatever those strengths are.¬† If we came here and had a dynamic dual‑threat quarterback, we'd be comfortable doing that.¬† If we had a drop‑back quarterback, we'd be comfortable doing that. ¬†The fact that we've got a guy that can do both, it's exciting.¬† Same thing on defense.¬† If we came here and they were built for a 3‑4 defense, and we were a 4‑3 team, we'd find a way to make it work from a 3‑4 perspective until we recruited to what we wanted to do.¬† That hasn't really been an issue.
The biggest issue for us as a coaching staff is I've got a bunch of really good men and I've got a bunch of really good family men.¬† Most of us have been away from our families for a long period of time.¬† A lot of our families have stayed back to finish up school.¬† We've been staying in hotels, or they're renting places where there are multiple coaches living there.¬† This week has been spring break for a lot of people.¬† So a lot of the families are in right now.
Herb Hand's family is here visiting for the first time.¬† Bob Shoop's family is here visiting for the first time.¬† So that's been the biggest adjustment.¬† I think in some ways it's really good because we can stay in the office until 11 at night, call in recruits, evaluating tape, talking X's and O's and schemes because you've got nobody to go home to.¬† What are you going to do?¬† Go back and look at the wall at the residence inn?
We get the kind of grind.¬† So from a professional standpoint, I think it's really important.¬† But from a personal standpoint I want to get these families here and coaches settled as soon as we possibly can, so there's good and bad there.
Q.¬† James, what have you seen from Barney at this early point that allowed you guys to keep him at DT instead of moving him to offensive guard?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† Who are you saying?
Q.¬† Your early enrolle, Tarow Barney.¬† And Anthony Zettel, do you anticipate him playing defensive tackle as well?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† Yeah, Zettel is going to be a defensive tackle.¬† It's funny because that was kind of our thoughts when we got here, but that was already his thoughts.¬† I brought him in and had this conversation I was going to sell him on D‑tackle.¬† I was talking about it for a while, and he kind of looked at me and was like yeah, that's what I was planning to do.¬† I learned, once it's been sold, stop selling.
But he's excited about doing it, wants to do it.¬† Has really put on great size, tested extremely well, but really excited about him at the three technique and what he's going to be able to do at that position.
Tarow's got a lot of work to do.¬† He's tested extremely well, but just the understanding of what it takes to be a Division 1 player, he's still figuring out, and that is a natural evolution that he's going through right now from a maturation standpoint.¬† But he's doing a great job.¬† He's freakishly strong, but we still need to do some things in terms of changing his body and getting his cardiovascular improvement up where it needs to be.¬† Excited about him and really excited about the freshman as well, the true freshman that came in at mid‑semester.¬† He's as competitive as a true freshman that I've been around on the defensive line.
Q.¬† (No microphone).
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† I wouldn't say anybody's going to play strictly anything.¬† He's probably going to play D‑tackle.¬† He'll probably play some D‑end depending on match‑ups.¬† He might be our short yardage quarterback.¬† He might be our short yardage field goal quicker.¬† We'll use him where we have to.¬† But he'll be playing defensive line for the most part, right now defensive tackle.¬† We'll get into situations where we'll play four defensive ends on the field unless we feel like he gives us as best of a chance.
He ran as good of a 40 as anybody we had on the entire D‑line at almost 280 pounds, so we expect him to play defensive line.
Q.¬† Do you have a good feel for what we'll see in the blue‑White game?¬† Will it be maybe a full‑time of scrimmage or will it be more of just a practice with some of the tag off things you'd like to have?¬† What do you generally like to have in your spring game, and what do you think we'll see the first time with some of the depth issues?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† I'd like to have a true game.¬† It's hard to say that at this point because we'll see where we're at in 15 days.¬† But I think it's more fun for the players.¬† I think it's more fun for the fans.¬† We'll probably go all ones versus everybody else type of philosophy.¬† Or maybe a ones and twos versus everybody else type of deal.¬† I have a little bit of concern on the O‑line.¬† Do we have enough bodies to do that?¬† It might be a situation where we put the O‑line in a different color and they run from sideline to sideline.¬† That will get them in shape and get them a lot of reps.¬† But we're going to do everything we possibly can to have a true game.
Q.¬† Coach, in terms of goals and things for spring training for spring camp, how do you go about determining it?¬† Can you talk about what your goals are and how you go about determining them?¬† Are they different because you're in a first‑year situation here?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† Yeah.¬† We are a process‑oriented organization, not a goals‑oriented organization.¬† So what I'm worried about is them waking up every single morning and being the best they can possibly can be, academically, athletically, socially and spiritually, and the rest of the stuff will take care of themselves.¬† So I don't have any goals for how much offense, defense or special teams we want to put in.¬† How many points we want to score in the spring game, any of those types of things.¬† I just want to get the most we possibly can out of every single day.
Like I've said before, the most important thing to me is I want to make sure that at the end of the spring, we have great chemistry and organization.¬† These kids know how much we care about them, make sure they have an unbelievable experience here.¬† But once you have great chemistry and the kids know how much you care about them, then you can maximize their experience here and maximize their potential.¬† But it starts with that.¬† It starts with trust.¬† It starts with the relationships.
I think one of the things a couple of the guys mentioned to me last night is our practices will now be open for the parents.¬† I don't think that's ever been the case before.¬† They have to let us know ahead of time that they're coming.¬† I'm going to do background checks on them as well.¬† If one of their dads played for a certain school and for a certain coach, then he might not be part of the family.¬† That parent might not get in.
But parents will be open to practice.¬† We want them there.¬† We're going to do some things.¬† We'd like to have a parent picnic during the spring game, after the spring games.¬† So it gives me an opportunity to get to know these parents because I haven't been to their homes and broke bread and home visits, and school visits and things like that, and we want to do this together.¬† We're going to need their support, the parents support as well, so that's going to be a big part of it.
Like I said, we're not a goal oriented team, but if I had to say one goal, it's about the relationships and the chemistry, and the trust with the kids.
Q.¬† There was a report whether or not coaches would be in favor of an early signing period.¬† Something different.¬† Wonder where you stand on that, if you've given that any thought?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† There's been a lot of discussion in the last league I was in, lot of discussions in this league as well.¬† I'd be for it, but I'd be for it under the right circumstances.¬† What I mean by that is I think you only want an early signing period for the kids that going to a school no matter what, and has always wanted to go to that school.¬† So it's the kids that always grown up wanting to go to Penn State, is not going anywhere else, you might as well get that kid locked up.¬† Let him go back to being a normal high school student and enjoying his high school career, and now we're not babysitting him as well.¬† My point is a kid that is going to wave and won't go on any official visits.¬† The only official visit he'll go on is that specific school and is comfortable with those types of things.
To me that's what it's meant to do.¬† There have been a lot of recommendations on the time to do it, how to do it and when.¬† That is the only way you want to do it.¬† For a kid that wants to take one official visit, him and his family are comfortable with that, that is the school he's going to and it's over.¬† That makes sense for everybody, every school in the country.¬† But besides that, I think these kids should have an opportunity to look around.
What you'll find with us, is I don't want a kid to commit to us.¬† I tell them don't commit unless you're a hundred percent sure.¬† There are only two things you have in your life, that is your word and your reputation.¬† So I would rather a kid not commit to us if he's still looking around and wanting to go through the process.¬† I think there is nothing wrong with that.
If you're not sure that's what you want to do, keep looking around until you figure it out.¬† But once you stand up and shake my hand and look me in the eye and say this is where you want to go, we're engaged.¬† There is no more dating and there is no more flirting.¬† Come signing day, we get married, and there is no divorce.¬† You know, so that is kind of how we approach it.¬† I would be in favor of that.
Q.¬† A couple players ended last season on the injury report or spent most of the season on it.¬† Specifically, Brent Wilkerson, DaeSean Hamilton, Brad Bars and Ben Kline.¬† Do you anticipate those guys will be full available for the spring?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† I don't think that's fair to the kids.¬† I don't think that's fair to the program.¬† I don't see how that gives us any advantage, and I know Coach O'Leary is listening to this press conference right now to try to get any advantage he can.¬† So we won't talk about any of those types of things.
All the guys are really, really healthy.¬† We've got a great support staff when it comes to our trainers and our doctors.¬† Our guys get as good of treatment as there is in the country.¬† We're going to maximize this spring ball.
Q.¬† James, I know you don't want to talk about injuries, but Ben Kline is from our area.¬† Could you at least talk about your experiences with him, meeting him, what you may expect from him this spring?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† He's a great kid.¬† He's unbelievably mature, community service and getting involved with a lot of different things.¬† I think he just got back from Washington, D.C. last week, was very involved with THON.¬† He's been great.¬† I knew him because we recruited him in the past.¬† But I can tell when he speaks in front of the team everybody respects him, very mature kid.¬† I went and spoke at the sociology class and the Professor spoke highly of him.¬† He's one of those kids that's a great program guy and I'm looking forward to working with him.
Q.¬† In the two months you've been here you haven't seen any of these guys; later today you will.¬† But off the field in the film room or weight room, who have you seen that's stepped up as leaders so far?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† I think Hackenberg, obviously.¬† The position kind of calls for that, but he's a quiet leader.¬† He really is a quiet leader.¬† On offense, if I kept going, Dieffenbach has been another guy I've been impressed with.¬† He's kind of gone out of his way in that role.¬† I think it's important to him.¬† The tight ends are a quiet group overall.¬† The running backs are a quiet group overall.¬† They're probably the two guys that stand out to me the most.¬† On the defensive side of the ball, Hall is a quiet leader.¬† When he speaks, people listen.¬† When he does open his mouth to say something, it's well thought out and it's calculated.
Jordan Lucas never lacks for something to say.¬† He enjoys talking and speaking his mind, and he's got a lot of personality, and he's very, very charismatic.¬† It's not always as well thought out before he says it.¬† It just comes out of his mouth.¬† He's a great kid, love him.¬† I think Amos is a quiet leader as well and has done some nice things.¬† They're the guys that when you say that jump out to me.¬† The guys that have gone out of their way.
Q.¬† Do you have a preference on the way a guy leads?¬† Do you want them to be super vocal, up in your face, rah‑rah?¬† Or do you mind if he's quiet as long as he's getting the job done?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† I want people to be who they are.¬† I want our coaches, myself, the players, I want them to stay true to who they are.¬† I want them to work on their leadership skills.¬† It's our job to help them develop that, and that's not just veteran players, but freshmen all the way up through the seniors.¬† I think that's very, very important.¬† If a guy's not a rah‑rah guy, to try to get him to be that, it's not going to work.
That still doesn't mean you can't work on developing those skills.¬† It might be a guy that's going to pull them to the side and do it one‑on‑one, maybe when the coaches aren't watching or the teammates aren't watching.¬† So I think that's important.¬† I really like people that are comfortable in their skin and stay true to who they are, so that's what we're going to do.
Q.¬† I believe you said earlier that you think one of the areas that you can kind of get away with using some younger guys or with receivers and corners.¬† With the receivers numbers‑wise, it looks like you have a lot of young guys coming in.¬† DeAndre Thompkins, is he somebody you expect to give a shot on special teams right away or do you have to tailer the expectations for somebody like that because he's new and getting adjusted?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† To the same philosophy I said before.¬† Special teams is just as important as offense and defense.¬† If a guy can help us in that area, he's going to play.¬† He's the fastest guy on the team.¬† We ran 40s, he's the fastest guy on the team.¬† So being able to get the ball in his hands is going to be very, very important.¬† But there is a lot more to the game than just being fast.¬† It's the mental aspect, it is the maturity aspect, and it's the physical perspective of it.
He came in here.¬† He wasn't the biggest guy.¬† I think he's put on ten pounds since he's been here.¬† That is going to be important as well to make sure he could hold up.
Q.¬† Do you remember what he ran?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† Fast, yeah, very fast, very fast.¬† Faster than Josh Gattis, I can tell you that.¬† I don't know if you guys saw that video.¬† You've got to let it go.¬† It's time to let it go.¬† But I think that was a great video that we put out and it shows the personality of the staff and the guys and how we compete and like to have fun.
Q.¬† Coach, is there a particular position battle that you're most interested in seeing this spring?
COACH FRANKLIN:¬† No, just areas that I think we have concerns about depth and things like that that it's going to be fun, and it's going to be exciting to see guys that right now we're maybe not dependent on but have had a really good off‑season, and they've really grown up and ready to take a step.¬† There are always those one or two guys that you don't expect are going to jump out at you.¬† So I'm looking forward and excited to that.¬† Some guys stepping up and doing some things that we're excited about, see what they're going to do and how they're going to do it.
There is a guy I'd like to mention who I love and have been unbelievably impressed with, and that's Albert Hall.¬† He's a young man who was a tight end that we moved to offensive line and he works so hard and has such a great attitude.¬† That guy is going to find a role on this team somehow.¬† I've called him out in front of the team a number of times because I've been so impressed with him:¬† His approach, his demeanor, his attitude.
I think a lot of us can learn from a guy like that that wakes up every single morning and makes the most of it.¬† So I've been very pleased with him, and guys like him are what I'm talking about.¬† Maybe by the end of spring he's got a more significant role.¬† We need a number of guys to do that.
We've had a walk‑on tryout, and we're going to do that as well.¬† I'm looking around the room to see if any of you guys have eligibility left and size because we could use you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports