Describe the qualities that your program is looking for in a potential student-athlete?
Toughness – although physical toughness is important and wanting a kid who is willing to stick his nose in the mix to make a big play is utterly crucial, mental toughness is really what we try to develop with our kids. Being able to handle the rigors of college academics and the time-management of college athletics can be quite daunting. Frankly, I don’t have much sympathy for the players who come late to meetings, miss lifting sessions, etc. because they “have too much to do.” Being able to have the mental fortitude to plan ahead and get their stuff done speaks volumes. Those are also the guys you can count on when it becomes crunch time in a game.
Humbleness – I want guys who aren’t above any role. The guys who have a cocky attitude can often be the least coachable. The guys who take the humble approach always know they can improve and work to improve in those areas. Humble players don’t overlook an opponent (ties back into mental toughness.) This should not be confused with guys who lack confidence, that’s not good either. The humble player knows he is good enough to compete and should have the expectation of excelling, without losing the fact he needs to earn everything he wants.
Could you give us an example of a current or former player who exceeded your expectations, highlighting the reasons that player excelled?
We had a player who had been a starter since he was a freshman and very well could have been content being the ‘top dog’ on the team. He had never been voted all-conference and was always adequate. Not only did he play and practice the entire season with a hernia (his decision, not the coaches) but he locked in his senior year and became a true student of the game. He wanted to master the skills necessary to be an elite player at his position. He racked up as many stats in his senior year as he had in the previous three and went on to be voted to the all-conference team. He is the toughest player I’ve ever seen and his humble approach during the senior year helped make him a really good football player.