Jan. 5, 2010

Thoughts about coming to Notre Dame:
“I was extremely excited when Coach Kelly made the phone call to me on Jan. 2 to invite me to join the staff at Notre Dame. The tradition here is something I look forward to relishing. I’m soaking it in right now, and it’s been a great experience so far. To follow the best head coach in the country to the most storied program in the country is an exciting prospect for me. My family and I feel very blessed to have this opportunity.”

His thoughts on growing up in the Midwest, attending Michigan and now coaching at Notre Dame:
“I’m very excited because the traditions are very similar. There’s a spiritual factor here at Notre Dame that you don’t have at Michigan, but you have great football tradition and great academics at both places. I think that Notre Dame probably leads the two schools in those two areas. I’m excited to see what avenues open up in the areas of recruiting. I’ve been at Michigan and helped recruit there and now I have the opportunity to recruit for what I feel is the most storied program in the country. I look forward to finding out what type of players and young men we can attract to Notre Dame.”

What initially attracted you to Coach Kelly at Central Michigan and what has caused you to follow him to Cincinnati and now to Notre Dame:
“Working for Brian Kelly, the first thing that you notice about him is the excitement and positive energy that pours out of him. His ability to get everyone involved with the program to follow him is great to watch. He’s a great man to follow. He’s a family man, which is great because I have two young children and a third on the way. It’s a family environment. He’s all about the development of student-athletes the right way, which is something I strongly believe in. The great thing about Brian Kelly is he gives you opportunities to grow in different areas. He gives you responsibilities and he holds you accountable for them. That’s the thing that I cherish the most – the opportunity to do different things for him and to make sure they get done.”

On his experience as a defensive line coach:
“When I played at the University of Michigan, we had great defenses along with great defensive line coaches. My pedigree and the foundation of how I coach defensive line was established there. I was around the program for the 1997 defense that was best in the country and went on to win the national championship. My foundation is the Michigan base of football, and that is a 3-4 or a 4-3. We did multiple things. I went on from there and learned a tremendous amount of football early in my career by being a Division I football coach at Eastern Michigan. I followed that up at Central Michigan where I worked with some great coaches. I’ve had an opportunity to coach alongside some great coaches and some great defensive coordinators. I sat out a few years of coaching defensive line so I could go over to tight ends and coordinate the special teams, but now getting back to coaching the defensive line is exciting because it’s something I have missed. My coaching style is a very detailed, organized, fundamental approach. The players will know a tremendous amount of football.”

On his coaching personality and what the defensive linemen should expect from him:
“The first thing I do is let the young men know that I’m going to be there every single day with the same demeanor. I’m going to give them the consistency they need. One day, I’m going to be hard on them and the next day they will come back and I will be hard on them on the second day, too. I’m not going to be up and down. Now, there will be times that we’ll play a little bit and have a good time. The guys will enjoy being coached by me because I’m a young coach and I understand the rigors of being a college football player, especially at an institution like Notre Dame. We’ll have our fun. I’m into all types of music and can relate to that in ways other coaches can’t. The things they can expect from me are love and consistency. I’m going to love them and there’s going to be consistency from their coach that maybe they haven’t experienced before. That will help accelerate the buying-in process because they will quickly see that I deeply care for each of them and will treat them the same every day.”

On his involvement with special teams:
“Coach Kelly approached me in our third year at Central Michigan to be the special teams coordinator and linebackers coach. I was very excited about that because it gave me the opportunity to delve more into football. It just seems like every game we play, something new pops up where you can grow and learn. We have had the pleasure of coaching a lot of great players in special teams. The one thing I can say is we have been very consistent on special teams over the last four years. We have been one of the top producers in many of the major categories. I can’t say that we have won all the games on special teams, but what we haven’t done is lost games because of special teams. We hold onto the football. We’ll be in the top 25 in almost every major category from punting to field goals to kickoff returns to punt returns, and I think we do it by picking the right players. It’s not always going to be the starters on the field. A lot of teams will put four or five starters per group and sometimes there are guys on the sideline better equipped or better qualified for those positions. We’ll find the best 11 and I think we do as good of a job at that as anybody in the country, which is why we have had success.”

On his recruiting background:
“I worked at the University of Michigan which recruits on a national scale. That opened up a lot of doors for me both in the Midwest and across the country. I have recruited Florida, in particular, for six years and a number of kids we recruited down there just helped Central Michigan win their second MAC (Mid-American Conference) Championship in three years. The connections that I have at a number of the more successful and prominent high schools in Florida should help us moving forward at pulling in top talent.”

On his immediate plans:
“Right now the plan is to hit the road and tie up some loose ends on a few of the committed players. I might potentially follow some leads on kids we had evaluated at Cincinnati but were either out of our reach or have recently reopened their recruiting based on other coaching changes or different circumstances. So I imagine I’ll be flying around the country here a little bit towards the end of the week.”