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What do you emphasize in coaching the defensive line?
“Well, the thing with me is that I always talk about hard work. The biggest thing is when I get in here, the kids are going to look and they’re going to want to know about Deke Adams and what he’s done and how he’s going to make us better. From them, I want to know, ‘How are you going to make us better? How are you going to make this team better?’ And so it will all come back to hard work. We’ve done a good job in other places we’ve been and I’m excited about having an opportunity here because I know there’s a great tradition here, especially with defensive linemen, and I’m excited to go out and have a chance to work with them.”
Coach Fedora mentioned there not being a learning curve on the staff because so many of you have worked together before. How beneficial is that?
“It’s great, because now you can really focus on developing relationships more with kids and teaching them and showing them what to do. We’ve all been together, so we’ve seen the headaches of what comes with some of the weaknesses, because every defense has a weakness. We’ve seen the headaches of going in and out of different systems, so this will be good because now we know what we can do and what we can’t do in certain situations. I think it’s going to be good because our kids, once they see the confidence in the staff, and [will say], ‘Hey, these guys know this system.’ Once they see that and buy in, I think it will be good.”
With regard to recruiting, your position group is losing some big talents to graduation and the NFL. How do you go about breaking down what’s currently on your roster and then try to apply that over the next several weeks before Signing Day?
“Defensive line and corners in the secondary are two of the biggest positions in the country that are recruited every year. So my biggest deal is when I come in here, and at places I’ve been in the past, I never really look at film. Because I don’t want any preconceived notions, I don’t want any different ideas of, ‘Hey, this person is this, etc.,’ because it all comes back to what-have-you-done-for-me-lately. And I want the guys to understand and know that if you work hard and you prove that this defense is better with you on the field, you will play. It’s that simple. I know there’s a lot of great talent here. I’m excited about working with them. I know there’s a lot of great talent going out the door, but we’re going to keep that tradition and we’re going to keep it working hard and hopefully we’ll be better.”
What’s been your approach at previous in trying to incorporate former players into the program? Is that an emphasis at all?
“Oh yeah. I think any time you can bring back former players and let these guys see that, ‘Hey, these are the things that you can accomplish and this is what it will take to get to where these guys are,’ then I think that’s beneficial. A lot of times a lot of guys have different ideas in their heads of what it takes to get to that level or what it takes to get to the next point and sometimes their ideas are not what it takes and it leads them in the wrong direction. So I think it’s great and it’s always good to hear from former players.”
Did Coach Fedora have to sell you on coming to Chapel Hill?
“No, no, he didn’t. Southern Miss is my alma mater. I love it. I have a lot of great love for the place. What we did this past year was a great year with breaking [records] and the most wins in school history and winning the conference championship. But I think a lot of Coach Fedora. He has a great reputation in the business. He’s a great offensive mind. I love the staff and I love the guys I’m working with. It was a great fit.”