Associate Head Coach, Recruiting Coordinator, Defensive Line
On his long history with Coach Davis -
I remember I was in junior high, and they had just gotten the job at the high school. He told the new staff, ‘You're going to see this kid named Blake.' They made sure I came to the right high school. He taught me Biology. We became really close. It was fun. We worked together with the Cowboys, and now we've come back together to work at North Carolina. It's really been a blessing for me. It's always good to know someone who you're familiar with how they act and how they perform.
How did you do in his class?
Real well. He was real hard on me.
What will your role/direction be with regards to the recruiting coordinator position leading up to Signing Day (Feb. 7)?
You just focus on the players you already have and make sure they get a feeling and understand the direction we're going in as a program and then you go from there. We want to go after the best players in the country. We want to play for a national championship, and that's very important. We're going everywhere. It's a tremendous team effort.
What makes you special as a recruiter?
I don't think it's special. I don't think it's so much of just recruiting here; it's just a love for people. When I was growing up, I always wanted to help someone. I always believed I had that ability. When I talk to those kids' parents, I think they see the sincerity. Kids are so smart now. You just know you've got it or you don't got it. I've just been blessed.
On establishing a family atmosphere -
The thing I do is I have a chance to be a father-figure to these kids. All coaches have that same attitude of being there for the kid, but there's something about me that always wants to get that kid in my office and find out where he's at. Butch Davis is as much like that as I am. I've been around him a long time, and he has that same desire to be a father-figure and a leader. If I see a kid walking around like he's down – maybe I can tell from his body language – I immediately attack that.
On how UNC has been able to put so many players in the pros -
It's just a matter of bringing a group of young men together – as an offense, as a defense and on special teams; and then tying the whole thing together as a team. You're going to always have great players in the NFL from obscure, tiny colleges. How they got there? Everybody has their own story. I think blending everything together playing tough, smart football as team, not only will we send people to the NFL, but we'll also start to win.
Do you think UNC is the "sleeping giant" Davis thinks it is?
Absolutely. I spent four years at ECU in the late 80s and early 90s, and I've been able to see from my other jobs what Coach [Mack] Brown was able to do here before he left for Texas. I look at the players in the NFL – some of the dominant Pro Bowl players like Julius Peppers. One of the reasons I did come here was the quality of life geographically. I grew up in the west – Boulder, Colorado – and you can't find a better place to live and raise a family. The atmosphere, the academics, the integrity of the program, where it's located… There are just too many great things here. If we go out and do the job we're supposed to do recruiting, we'll attract a lot of great players, build this thing and get it to where Coach Davis is showing. Yes, this is a sleeping giant.
On his approach to blocking -
We're going do the zone schemes. We're going to do the stretch a little different than some, because I like to pull guys. I want to pull center, the guard and the tackle. I'm not doing it for dressing. Everything we do is going to have reason behind it. I want to do that because I want to be able to down block, take the angles, kick out here and roll a center around. If we're in an inside zone scheme, we're going to run it where we can fit two to possibly three double teams. We're going to try to find out what we call ‘Can't do wrongs.' We're going to call the right play where we can get double teams and angles. We've been a big inside zone and stretch team, and we've been a power and counter team with several different ways to do it by changing one guy here or there, yet cutting the defense in the ‘A' gap and the ‘C' gap, or something where safeties basically just can't come and sit down outside on us. Well, people say just throw the football if they do. But there are going to be times on a 3rd and 2 where you want to cram the football up in there and make a statement. So there are a lot of different entry points for the back. We don't have a coordinator hired, so obviously we're going to do as a staff what we do best as a football team. But in the past it's been the inside zone, the outside zone, the power and the counter, and a one-back draw.
On the team's current personnel -
To sit here and tell you I knew a lot about my kids – the linemen – I would be lying to you, because I don't. The most important thing was to try to meet them and learn about them and their families, and try to learn a little more about character. To learn what they're about, talk to the strength coach and learn about what they've done since they've been here. I've had a chance to watch a little bit of film, but not much. I do understand basically on the inside we've got most of our guys coming back except the left tackle. We've got [Andre] Barbour… he was playing tight end last year, he's a big ol' kid, so maybe we'll have a chance to move him back in as a lineman. It seems like we have some guys that can run. And we have two or three great big tall guys that hopefully that can protect the edge when we drop back.
On coaching with Davis previously -
When we were at Miami, Miami was going through some turmoil. And Butch just stepped right into it, handled it and never looked back. I learned so much from Coach Davis. In six years I was with him, never once did he have to raise his voice in practice or meetings. He's got the utmost respect for guys. He called it like he saw it. The rest was history.
So to get the opportunity to come here and work with Coach Davis and some of these guys that I know, it's going to be great.
Tight Ends & H-Backs
Do you like it here?
Yes; it's beautiful. I've been through Carolina a number of times working guys out, but I've never had the opportunity to live here. We're looking forward to it.
Have you met some of the players you'll be coaching?
Not really. We had a little team meeting last night, but guys have just started coming back to school. I met all 105 of them at one time, so I couldn't tell you who was who.
Have you watched any film of the team?
I could have, but first of all the priority is recruiting so I've been watching a lot of recruiting tape. I'm just letting my exposure come naturally to me. I don't want to be influenced by anybody else's opinion or what I may or may not have seen. Spring ball will be a great evaluation period for us as a staff, and I'm looking forward to that. Winter conditioning is also a great evaluation area which comes before spring ball. We're going to find out which kids can run and which kids are going to sit out and throw up.
What are your impressions of the staff so far?
Chuck and I worked together, so that's good. And Charlie and Sam, I've spent the most time with them because they're on the same side of the ball. It's been a lot of fun just to sit and watch recruiting film with them. We've not even been talking about offensive schemes and all that kind of stuff. It's just been a lot of fun for us to be together. I think Butch has done a great job. He knows the kind of guys he's looking for. He knows us. It's like a marriage. You're sitting in this office from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day – you better like each other a little bit.
No one has their own personal agenda. The agenda is: ‘Let's win. And what are we going to do to make this team as good as it can be to win the games it's scheduled to play?'