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LFN Exclusive: Coach Coen On The Class Of 2012

I'm happy to bring an exclusive interview with Lehigh head football coach Andy Coen on the incoming recruiting class for this year. I managed to talk to pry him from his busy schedule to talk to him a bit about the incoming class. In the interview, he talks about some of the new players he's excited about, talks a bit about recruiting, and the new recruiting landscape.

LFN: As a fan, I was really happy about getting some good receivers and more good linemen.

Coach Coen: I'm really happy with the offensive line and the receiving corps. The linemen are all big kids, athletic kids, that's what I like and I'm excited about that group. They're all coming in here at about 280 lbs. At wide receiver we wanted to get some bigger kids as well.

LFN: There were a lot of names from Florida, a place where Lafayette has found a bunch of recruits the last three or four years.

Coach Coen: When I got here, I think Lafayette had fifteen or seventeen kids on their roster from Florida, and we had three or four. You can get good players anywhere, but now we've got some good name recognition down there.

This year, we got three kids from the Orlando area -- two kids from Lake Brantley, K Alex Smith and DB Colin Newton, and one down the street in Orlando in QB/DB Jonathan Littlejohn, who I think is a very good athlete. Then, we got the two kids from the southern part of the state, OL Vinny Pellegrini from Boca Raton and OL Jim Liebler from Miami.

We actually put two coaches down there this year - in the past we only had one coach down there. I think Florida should be a good resource for us every year. I think we have nine kids from the last two recruiting classes from Florida.

LFN: Do you feel that we're doing more recruiting nationally now?

Coach Coen: There's no question about it. You have to get your kids where the academic profiles are and find a kid that's the right fit, it's a challenge that way. It used to always be that we'd get [most of our players from the Lehigh Valley area]. And they used to be some of the better players. I would love to recruit the bulk of our kids locally, or from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It's not a possibility now.

There's always an ebb-and-flow, though. Next year, you could find a bunch more kids locally that fit academically, financially, and athletically.

Recruiting nationally starts by going through the different scouting services and the coaches familiarize themselves with their recruiting areas. We begin with a lot of those far-away kids over the telephone. You get tape in here from these kids, then you make a decision on a visit. We sent [offensive coordinator] Trey Brown out to Omaha, Nebraska in the middle of winter in a snowstorm - it was important to do that to make contact with Jake. I think Jake [Drwal, wide receiver from Omaha,] is a very good player and we're very excited to have him.

LFN: What do you think about coaches that say that highlight tapes can make anyone into a star?

Coach Coen: They do, but you watch the kids run. You can put kids on there that caught a hundred balls during the season. They look great catching the ball, but when they start to run, you realize they don't run as well as you'd like them to be able to run.

You can certainly hide certain things in highlight tapes, though. We like to see the highlight tapes but also like to see play them in games. Particularly linemen. You have to see a lineman play games. You've got to see what he does when he gets beat.

LFN: How do you approach recruiting and determining what needs should be addressed?

Coach Coen: When you approach recruiting in general, it's really a year-long process. The key is developing a relationship year-round with the recruits cumulating with the signing date.

We have different opportunities where the kids can come onto the Lehigh campus in the summertime, whether it's junior day or one of the other camps we have here, and we try to get as many kids on campus as possible so we can see them and they can get a feel for Lehigh.

As for needs, in the summertime I sit down and look at the depth in the program, where we need particular numbers at positions. I'm really happy after the last two recruiting classes that we finally have gotten good numbers in every group. The last two groups have not only given us good football players, but also good depth so we don't necessarily need to scramble and get a whole bunch of guys at one position to replace a big class that graduated.

We had that a little bit with the defensive backs last year - we had seven that graduated this year. But we were able to get four backs last year, anticipating that, and we got three or four backs this year, so we're in great shape there [now].

I think the best way to do it is to get to the point where you can recruit a "class" every year - everybody at every position every year. You get competition at each position, and get the best guys on the field. That's how you get good. That hasn't always been the case since I've been here.

LFN: Now that the recruiting class has been announced, I can't wait for spring football to start.

Coach Coen: We're starting March 20th, and the spring game will be April 19th.

Comments

Lehigh74 said…
Great interview. Thanks for posting it.
ngineer said…
Getting psyched for another year. I believe Andy is building a very good foundation with bigger and more physical players. We should be in position to challenge every year for the PL title, recognizing that there is growing parity in the league. There are now 5 top teams in the league and the competition is more ferocious every year.

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