Raw Chicago: Kirk Ferentz Part 2

Marc Morehouse
Published: August 3 2011 | 9:55 am - Updated: 31 March 2014 | 5:04 pm in
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This part is on running back. What sophomore Marcus Coker is and who might be the Nos. 2, 3 and 4.

[I love the idea of a Danny Woodhead type at RB, but Jordan Canzeri isn't as physically mature as Woodhead, who's short but very well put together. I think Canzeri could fit that mold, but it might take a year of Iowa lifting for it to happen.]

INTERVIEWER: Your huge running back, Marcus Coker … the Bowl game. Is that more kind of …at running back or is that ..

COACH FERENTZ: We’re just kind of in a situation, you know, what else were we going to do? You know, you do what you need to do and you know, the thing I said yesterday about Marcus that impressed me more than anything. You know, what he’s done on the field is really impressive. But two things that really stick out to me. Number one, he finally got his … down on that one third in short in the Bowl game in the second half and ran a safety over and picked up another 10, 15 yards whatever. And he’s a big guy so learning how to run lower. You need to do that, certainly in college. And if he plays beyond college, it’s going to be important.

And then the other thing that really impressed me more than anything last year was he got hurt in camp. You know, the third, fourth day, whatever it was, he got hurt. And he got back on the field mid-season. He was a much smarter player than he was when he got there. So it really indicated to me that he was paying attention. And … did the same thing back in his freshman year. He missed about three or four weeks there and when he came back in October, I remember the moment vividly. You know, watching him do something and the drill we had, a team drill, and ooh, that was pretty impressive. So when a young guy, anybody does that, that’s impressive. But when a first-year player does it, it just tells you they’re thinking right. So you know, you guys have all seen him on the field. He’s done some good things there. The big key for him right now is to continue to try to improve and really try to be the best player he can be. And he seems to be intent on that which is good. That’s the way you want guys thinking.

INTERVIEWER: … [Running back depth]

COACH FERENTZ: A lot. Yeah, it’s real great. I think we know what we have in Jason White. And Jason is probably the … of this year’s team. Jason’s a phenomenal guy. A phenomenal person. Really engaging to talk to and you’ll get a chance to talk to him next Friday. A week from today. But anyway, and I think he’s going to play a real role for us. Hopefully, have a great special team. He’s been a great back-up. And then the million dollar question, what’s going to happen after that. De'Andre Johnson just looked terrible in the fall, quite frankly. But he was coming off an ACL injury, which is typical, you know, or not uncommon. He thought he was rehabbed and he really was probably about 70% last August. So by the end of, when we got into Bowl prep, you could see a little bit there then, and he had a much better strength, but he’s playing from, coming from behind right now. He’s got a lot of ground to gain.

And then we’re here to get the freshmen on the field. We want to see what they look like, too. So we’ll give them every opportunity. …several lineman. I think that’s a position, the perimeter positions are typically a little bit more first year player friendly, as far as having a chance to play. So we’ll see what happens. Lester’s done a great job of getting guys ready. And Shonn Greene came out of the furniture store and is ready to go.

INTERVIEWER: Are you guys working with …, the running back?

COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, we have three guys that are on the line up there. Mika'il McCall and Jordan Canzeri and then Damon Bullock. We’ll get them going to all get … and see what happens. See if they have the tight ends. So we have three freshmen tight ends. We’ll throw them in there and let them work.

INTERVIEWER: And there’s always kind of a different body. Is Bullock a running back?

COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, not to oversimplify it but I think McCall’s probably more like Coker and De'Andre andJordan are probably more alike … And it’s good to have some change-up type guys so hopefully they’ll complement each other a little bit.

INTERVIEWER: … Canzeri was obviously overlooked by a lot of people, which you don’t care about.

COACH FERENTZ: We overlooked Danny Woodhead. We blew that one.

INTERVIEWER: But what does Jordan Canzeri have to do? What does he have to just look like to get attention. Because he looks like Superman on the film.

COACH FERENTZ: I’m not gonna say it’s like the Mike Daniels story, but it’s kind of like, I think it was the Outback Bowl, and that’s when I saw Mike’s tape. I had to come into Darrell [Wilson, LB coach] and so anyway we had a little bit of a lull there with the convention and there was like a dead period there and somebody threw it on my desk and I threw it in and my question was, okay, what’s wrong with this guy? And he was, the first time I ever talked to Michael was he was driving back on a Sunday morning from a visit over at Villanova and I asked him if he’d be interested in coming out, and I think it was that week that we went out and visited Mike and his family, and met his Grandpa. It’s a great story. Ask him about his grandfather. Anyway, it was like, hey, this is a no-brainer.

And Canzeri actually happened a little bit later. But it was the same thing. I mean, we looked at the tape. Okay, this guy’s not big, but what else is there? So what’s wrong? In our minds, we’re not experts in evaluation, but, and he’s not a, I think he’s a 4.3, 40 guy. So he’s small and he’s not a 4.2., 4.3 guy. But I would say … to do that. But he looked pretty good. I’m no expert, but I thought he looked like a good football player and we try to recruit good football players. And I’m not saying Danny … And I’m not saying that Danny … would have … He surfaced pretty last fall in a pretty prominent way and I was watching him on tape a couple of weeks ago. We were watching some tape. He blocks guys and everything. So, we’ll see. I hope it turns out half as well.

INTERVIEWER: Have you had any look at all? [Canzeri]

COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, we had his tape. And we knew about him.

INTERVIEWER: You can’t get them all.

COACH FERENTZ: No, and like a lot of people we said, no. We said, no. Probably cause he was small. But, boy, what a football player. And he looks like just such a, you know, him and Welker, those are two guys that are, those are great stories. Two guys that, you know, you’d never pick on one of those pick-up games and all that stuff, yet they’re playing at a pretty high level on a pretty good team. They’re good football players, so.

INTERVIEWER: …

COACH FERENTZ: And we had a meeting certainly. So we were looking everywhere and just watching that tape and it was like, hey, this guy’s a good football player. As was Mike.

INTERVIEWER: How does that work? You pop the tape in and then are you like, holy crap. What’s the deal? Do you callReese [Morgan, OL coach] in? Do you go, guys, come into the office. Take a look at this. Do you see what I see? Is that how you guys think?

COACH FERENTZ: Yeah, mainly it was the guys, like Ken O’Keefe , last year. Eric Johnson [recruiting coordinator] looked at them and that was kind of it. And then we started digging and talked to the coaches out there and all that type of thing. And get some more information and then the next question is would you be interested and then it got interesting at the end and I kind of jumped in. But it worked out.

INTERVIEWER: … [Canzeri, a native of Troy, N.Y., and a distance question.]

COACH FERENTZ: Seems it’s a lot closer, but there are always obstacles in the distance.

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