Huskies coach Chris Petersen was a guest on 1090 AM with Steve Sandmeyer, Jason Churchill and Bill Swartz earlier this evening, and you can read the transcript of that wide-ranging interview below. Petersen touched on modern-day recruiting, Marcus Peters and his recent interview with USA Today, UW's quarterback competition and several other topics during the roughly 18-minute segment.
(Catching your breath after signing day?) “We’re catching our breath. But you know, the cycle never stops, and so we’ve been grinding hard on the recruiting front for next year. But we’ve been going on that one for a while, anyway. Even though we were signing this class, we’ve already been working on the next one for a while. So we’re doing that. Some of our coaches got some time off. And then next week we get back in and really, it’s a good time of year that I really like because we do so much study on football, and so that’s what we do, just try to make ourselves better.”
(On the whirlwind since he came to UW) “It is crazy. And you’re right. It really had been a whirlwind. Just now, after 14 months, just even our living situation, you feel like OK, I know where I live, and that’s taken care of, and our staff is here, and they know where they live, and we know our kids better. All those things. So many things we’ve been trying to get established, we know we’ve made tremendous progress with. It has been a whirlwind, and just really looking forward to the future.”
(On whether it’s hard to find the kind of recruit who wants to work hard and do all the right things in the classroom, etc.) “I just think this – and that’s the thing you get so frustrated with the recruiting process, because there’s just so much garbage and hype out there, and we just refuse to be part of that, because when those kids get there, what I’m telling them, wherever they’re going, is going to be the truth. It doesn’t really matter if it’s Washington or wherever. It is going to be the hardest thing they’ve ever done, and there’s a tremendous price to pay to accomplish the goals they all have in their mind, academically, personally, football-wise, all those things. So let’s just be real about it. So that’s all we do when we recruit these kids. We’re real excited about this place. It’s as good as anything in the country. But let’s be real about this process. And so yeah, they’re out there, and we have to look for them, but when we find them, that’s what the fit is all about, and that’s when the process is correct, and that’s when you’re getting the guys that are going to fit with you the best, and then it’s all about how well can you develop them?”
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(On schools bailing on committed players right before signing day) “It’s tough sledding there. What I think one thing that will help, and I think we’re heading this direction and I think everybody wants this – I think there’s going to be an early signing period. Because like you said, it’s those kids that have been committed for a long time, 6-8 months, and then it goes down a couple weeks before and they’re saying ‘we don’t have room,’ well, those kids that have been committed, they’re going to be signed anyway, so you’re not going to be doing that to them. So I think that can be one thing. And then you’re going to get a real … much better beat on who your numbers are and who you can take. I think it’ll clean that process up a little bit.”
(On self-evaluation of the past season) “I will tell you this – we analyze the heck out of everything, whether it’s working for us, and certainly when it’s not working for us. And that’s just the process that we’ve always done and that’s kind of going back – I was talking about starting next week – obviously we’ve already looked at every snap numerous times that we’ve taken around here in the fall, and there’s things that we’ve got to get better at, get some things figured out, but we’ll go do it again. And I mean, we go over it and go over it, and we do that with our football, we do that with our weight, strength and conditioning program, we do that in the training room, we do that in the equipment room … everything that we have anything to do with, we analyze and say, ‘how do we make this better?’ And if things aren’t right, how do we figure this out? So that’s just part of the process every single year, without question.”
(On Danny Shelton’s development through his senior year) “You said it – it is all about development. And the true credit goes to Danny. The things that we’re trying to do as coaches, we’re trying to make all these guys better, but not all of them take the coaching. And even when Danny was like younger and I wasn’t around – but you know, it just doesn’t happen with the snap of a finger. It’s a process. It’s a four-year process or five in some cases. So here’s Danny who’s going to be a third or fourth-round draft prospect, and stays another year, and just really buys in, and hears the things we’re talking about. And it was just so awesome. He’s one of the reasons that I’m in coaching, for those rare guys that really listen to you and they use it to better themselves as a player and as a person. I mean, let’s not mistake this, Danny Shelton was the first first-team academic – academic, now – All-American that Washington’s had here in 23 years. Now you couple that when he’s also a first-team football All-American? I mean, that to me, he’s hitting the ball out of the park. He’s doing it what it’s truly all about. And I think a lot of people know what kind of senior year he had. They’ve heard he’s a good student and those things. He’s elite on both ends. You know, that’s what makes coaching fun, when you get those rare guys that just crush it on both ends. It makes your day all worth it.”
(On good players who also perform well academically) “We’ve always felt, and this is really the case, that our best, most squared-away students are our best players. I can’t say that enough. And I tell our team that. There’s always those outliers. You’re always going to have those – the outliers. The guy’s a really good player and his life is out of order away from the field. But those guys are rare, and I always think about if their life was in order, what a true talent they would be, but if you go back to what I was saying, those kids who are really on it academically, and they have their priorities in order, their house is in order, where it’s all about school, it’s all about their family, it’s all about football, and then their social life is put into proper perspective – those are the guys that are always our best players.”
(On Marcus Peters’ dismissal, and his recent interview with USA Today and the news that he’ll work out at UW’s Pro Day) “That type of stuff is the worst and hardest part of the job, and in a lot of ways can be the most important part of the job. Just getting guys to do things the way they’re supposed to be done and be part of a team. So sometimes you’ve just got to take a stand, so we did, and as you move forward you just hope that guys learn form those. That’s our hope and wish around here, that Marcus is really going to be better for it down the road, and time will tell. Again, we want to help everybody, including Marcus down the road as he goes forward in his career. I hope he has a really good NFL career, I really do. And if he does, I’m going to think even some of the hard times that he had here with us is one of the reasons that he’s doing good in the NFL, because he’s learned some good lessons – just how to do things. And so he will be part of the Pro Day. Again, we want guys to be able to chase their dreams, guys (to) learn and improve and get better, and we really hope that for Marcus, as well.”
(On the quarterback competition in spring and fall) “The best quarterback’s going to win, there’s no question about it. I’m really excited to see this competition. I think we’ve got some talent there. Some of it’s very young talent. I’m really anxious to see how that’s going to go. Everybody wants to talk about the quarterback and it’s an extremely important position, but I would say we’ve got that going across the board. There are no jobs that are secure and safe. There’s just not. That would be ridiculous to even make that statement. I don’t care if you have a guy that’s played for four years. We’re always trying – and we tell our team that – we’re trying to recruit young guys to beat you out, but it’s going to be hard to do if you’re doing everything that we’ve asked you to do, and you’ve been doing that for a long time. But if we don’t have good competition, then we’re not going to have the growth and improvement that we need.”
(On watching incoming freshman Tevis Bartlett as a wrestler and what that says about a recruit) “I’ll tell you this – I love wrestlers. I think they’re the toughest competitors. There’s no hiding on the wrestling mat. I mean, there’s just no hiding. You can hide under that mask and you can hide sometimes on that football field, but wrestling, you’re not hiding. And so you can see. And if you’re going to be a wrestler for awhile, there’s no question true toughness comes with that. And that’s one of the things that we just need around here, is a bunch of guys that are great competitors and bring tremendous toughness to the field. And so that’s what I think about Tevis Bartlett. He’s a tremendous, tremendous wrestler. And I went to watch him at a wrestling practice, and they said, ‘we’ll have a half-hour warmup, and then about an hour-plus where we’re training drills, wrestling,’ all those things. I was shocked, again. Their warmup for a half-hour was like most people’s intense practice. Whatever sport you’re talking about. I’m like, ‘you’ve gotta be kidding me, that was the warmup?’ And it was. And so it was very impressive. The wrestling coach there does a great job of training these guys. But I’m just watching him going, ‘this is exactly what we need. This is it.’ The one thing I know he’s going to bringing to the table is toughness. And I can’t wait to get him out here and get him in our locker room and start having that bleed off on some other guys around here.”
(Anything you would change about Year 1?) “That’s a great question. You know, there’s a lot of things that we have to get better at, that we don’t have down as a program, that we’re really excited to say, ‘OK, the footing has been laid, the foundation is poured, and it’s not as thick and as tough and as good as it needs to be, but it’s there, and we just need to build on all these things.’ Everything from how we approach meetings, how we approach the 24 hours before a game, to how we practice – we just need to be more consistent and get better at all those things. And so there’s not a lot going back that you say, ‘OK, I’d change this.’ It’s just hard – I always say this – it’s always hard being new. I tell our recruits that. It’s going to be hard being new. There’s no easy way around it. So it’s hard on everybody. When the new staff comes and the old guys are here and we’re looking at each other, it’s just hard getting through that process to get on the same page. And you can’t do it with the snap of your fingers. You just can’t.”
(On Shaq Thompson’s contributions to the program and his NFL potential) “Off the charts on both levels. I just really enjoyed being around Shaq. I really did. This kid, like we said, is just a football player. What position – the pro scouts ask me, ‘what position do you think he is?’ He can be three different positions and really good. I’ve been watching all of our tapes, and I’m watching him at running back going, ‘holy smokes.’ He only played really two games for us, but wow. And then we played him some at safety and you can see that, and he was a linebacker for us. So he’s just a wonderful football player that can play multiple positions. But I just really enjoyed being around him out at practice and in the games. He’s just kind of got that of it-factor, which is the most important thing in terms of the charisma that he brings to the game and the leader that he’s going to be down the road on whatever team takes him. You talk about regrets, I wish we could have got him for one more year. He’s ready to go into the NFL and your life expectancy in that league is so short that it was time to go. But that’s one thing – I wish we had him for another year. Wow.”
(On replacing departed starters on defense) “We’ve got a lot of holes to fill, no question about it. But we do have some guys that did play last year that got some valuable experience that are just chomping at the bit to get their opportunity. We had a handful of kids redshirt as well, so we’re going to be young there, but we’re excited. We like them. I think we’ve got some talent, and we’re going to have to play better as a unit on all sides of the ball. That was kind of interesting about our defense, we were good up front, the front seven guys were pretty experienced, and then you’ve got this really young secondary. And so now the secondary’s going to be more experienced and better. But I think everybody’s going to know the defense better, we’re going to know how to coach our guys better, and all those type of things. That’s college football. It’s called graduation. That’s the goal, is to get them graduated, but it’s also a hard part of keeping a really good football team. But that’s where the recruiting thing comes in. last year’s class we really liked, and this year’s class we really like, and if we can keep recruiting like we have been, we will eventually get that depth and that experience that we need.”
(On any excitement about getting Year 1 out of the way and moving forward) “I think we are excited, just about, OK, there are so many things that are just kind of like you said, out of the way. We know what our standards and expectations are and what we need to do, but now we’ve got the hard work of going and doing that and executing it day in and day out. Again, big-time games and championships, they’re not necessarily won when the season starts. We’ve got to improve and get better, but so much of what we’re doing right now … and if the process is correct – I’ve always believe this – if the process is correct, and it feels right and you know when it’s going right in the weight room and on the field in the classroom. When that process is right, you know you’re making strides, and as long as we keep focusing on that, eventually it’s going to show up and it’s going to be correct on the field. And that’s where we are. We’re excited about the process and we’re excited about the hardness that we’ve been through for the last year, but getting better and taking the next steps.”