Here's the second half of my interview with Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster, whose team kicks off spring practice today. For Part I, click here.
You can't expect another Eric Decker to emerge, but wide receiver will be a key position in 2010. Who do you lean on among the wideout group?
Tim Brewster: The guy who I think has a chance to be really good is Da'Jon McKnight. Again, [the wide receivers will] benefit from a guy like Steve Watson, who played 10 years in the NFL and coached wide receivers and was a wide receiver. He's going to do a great job with those guys. Da'Jon, he's 6-foot-3, he's 210 pounds, big, strong, physical guy that can run and catch. I'm expecting big things out of Da'Jon. Then you look at Troy [Stoudermire] and Brandon Green, and I really think Bryant Allen's got a chance to take the next step. Hayo Carpenter, last year he didn't do much, he got in here late and he's really showing some things. So we've got some talent there to work with.
On defense, as far as leadership, do you really lean on the two safeties, [Kim] Royston and [Kyle] Theret?
TB: Yeah. They're two guys that are really experienced, tough guys. And then Christyn Lewis has come in, the JC corner, and really done a nice job. And Michael Carter, I think is really going to take the next step at a cornerback position. Ryan Collado really did some good things for us last year, particularly down the stretch. But I'm really excited about our linebackers. We've got some linebackers that all can run, very physical type guys, and it's going to be good. Ra'Shede Hageman's got a chance to be a special player. He's 6-foot-6, he's weighing 292 pounds, runs like a deer. He's got a chance, along with Brandon Kirksey, Jewhan Edwards and D.L. Wilhite, to really have a pretty good group up front.
People always talk about up-the-middle defense. You have some good safeties, but middle linebacker and D-tackle have to be positions you're going to watch.
TB: When you look at middle linebacker, we've got competition there between Gary Tinsley and Sam Maresh. It's going to be fun to see Sam out there, competing this spring. They're two big, physical guys. And when you look at Jewhan Edwards and Brandon Kirksey, and Anthony Jacobs is also going to play inside, I think we've got the makings of a strong group down the middle and a group that is athletic and can run. That's the area where we've most improved, athletically.
You mentioned wanting to have the quarterback spot settled by the end of the spring. There are a lot of these other competitions. So how much of the depth chart would you like to know by the end of the spring?
TB: What we want to do is have a good feel for who we can count on from this group, excluding the incoming freshmen. I think we'll be able to come out of spring practice with a good feeling of who we're going to be able to count on when we go to Middle Tennessee [Sept. 2].
You've talked so much about recruiting and how it's a big emphasis. Is there a different feeling now that you recruited most of the guys on this team?
TB: I feel like we've done a good job recruiting, but that's got to translate to the field. We, as coaches, have got to do a great job of developing the young talent. That's the challenge for us. We've got some talented kids. We've got to do our job as a staff, and I feel good about our coaches. We'll get after it and develop these kids. And I think the competition is really going to push our players to take that next step.