Day 2: What Singletary gets out of the combine

In the second part of Mike Singletary’s Q&A, he said he wants to look in the eyes of the draft prospects and get to know them.

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Q: What do you look for at the combine and how much does it influence the opinion you form of players?

Singletary: One of the best things about coming to the combine is you have an opportunity to look at film before you get here and once you’re here you get to look at and talk to the players. You sort of put a face to who it is you’re watching on film. And then you try to figure out if it matches with some of the questions that are asked and some of the body language. You come away with having a better feel for that player. For me, that’s what I’m looking forward to every time I come. How does what I see here match up to what I’m looking at on film?


Q: How does it change with being a head coach as compared to a position coach?

Singletary: I think my role now is more of an overall view of the talent that’s here, rather than just focusing in on the defensive side of it, whether it’s the linebackers or the d-line. Now it’s the total package.


Q: Have you worked hard at that, watching more offensive tape in a different way?

Singletary: I have always watched the offensive side of the ball, as well as the defense. But, yes, I do pay more attention to it now and detail it a bit more, in terms of what our offensive style is and what our offensive philosophy is and try to go a little deeper and look at these players and the character and the whole piece and try to put it in place. But it really is interesting to look at the whole package.


Q: Offensive tackle Jason Smith might be the greatest player in Baylor history next to you. Do you know him? Are you proud of him?

Singletary: I had a chance to meet Jason when I went down for the homecoming game. It just happened that the homecoming week fell at the same time as our bye week. It was a great time to go down and watch the team. I think they were playing Missouri that day, and really did a good job. After the game, he came up and introduced himself and talked with him just a bit. To answer your question, I am really proud of him. More so than anything else, I’m really impressed with him. I think the physicality that he has and I guess the focus. He is very serious about being good. It’s important to him. Football is important to him. Preparation is important to him. You see some of the things that are written about him. Yesterday, I came down on the plane and I sat next to a guy that knew him and talked about him. Yes, it’s very nice when you can have a player at your alma mater who is doing a good job on and off the field. It’s impressive.


Q: During the interviews, how important is it to find out who they are?

Singletary: Once again, I think the truth of that goes to the film. The unfortunate part about it is a lot of guys who come here and they kind of been trained by their agent to say certain things. And they know key words to put in. There is something about the gut of that player that you really look into. For me, it’s more body language, that connection, it’s more eye contact. There are a lot of things that go into it. But when you get back and really turn on that film, the true identity of that player really comes alive.


Q: What is going to be your approach during your first offseason as head coach?

Singletary: I think my approach from the day I got the job has been an ongoing process. That very first day I thought about that time and I thought about this time. I thought about the offseason. I thought about how I wanted to do the whole thing and how do I start it and how do I keep that progression going? So those are things I’ve been thinking about. Now, the most important thing to get the most out of this offseason is to really pay attention to the talent that’s out there. Pay attention to the opportunities that are out there and focus on what we want to be going forward and what kind of team do we want to be. And if we want to be that kind of team, we want to be a playoff team, want to be a championship team, what are the things we have to have in place in order for that to happen? It’s not just a slot. We need a wide receiver, put a wide receiver in. We need a tackle, put a tackle in. It goes deeper than that. It is what kind of tackle? What kind of mentality will that person have to have? How does the quarterback fit into the overall chemistry of our team? How does that make us better? So I think it’s just finding the individuals, one by one, and taking our time to do the due diligence and plugging those people in and not having to look around and say, ‘OK, this is a guy we really have to work with’ . . . no, we plug them in, they get the information and we just keep moving forward and make us better. Not just adding people to add people because we have a vacancy at a spot.


Q: As you talk to these young players, do you think they understand what it takes to have a long and successful career?

Singletary: Fortunately, I spend a lot of time with kids. I have seven kids myself. So, no, I don’t think they have any clue. I think they’ll sit there and tell you, ‘Yes, I know what I want to do and I know what I want to be.’ But once you turn the fire on and it starts getting hot, ‘Well, wait, I’m not sure I really want to do it that way or that much.’ But I think it’s great to be here and sit down and have the opportunity to visit with some of these young men and you look into their eyes and you know the road that’s before them. I just think the most important thing that we’re looking for is just trying to identify those individuals. Maybe they don’t know what it is. Maybe they don’t know what it’s going to look like, but they’re willing and you know they’re hungry and you know they want to be a part of something special. That’s exciting to me. I don’t have the expectation that they really know what it’s all about right now.


Q: When you look at the players today and when you entered the draft with the draft training, do you sense they’re more prepared for the process and life ahead than the player of your era?

Singletary: Certainly, some of them are. They’re certainly more aware. You can look at the NFL Network and get a lay of the land about what the expectations are and what are some of the interview processes like — what the coaches are looking for. Yes, these guys are a lot more astute, but sometimes I think it hinders a player when they’re coached to go in and be more polished. I prefer a guy to come in and be who he is. Maybe you don’t say the right thing. Maybe you say ‘you know’ about 30 times before you make the comment. Maybe you’re redundant, whatever it is. But the true personality of the kid comes out. And you can tell when a kid comes in and says, ‘This is who I am and if you draft me this is what you’re going to get.’ It’s not a canned presentation. This is me. And I like that.


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