Varsity - The Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics

Varsity - February 28, 2013

Varsity is the free Official Digital Magazine of Wisconsin Athletics, covering Badgers football, basketball, hockey and more each week.

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BEHIND THE DESK B A R RY A LVA R EZ ��� UW DIREC TOR OF AT H L ET IC S Draft ���experts��� still haven���t learned lesson S ome of the same so-called draft ���experts������ who were saying Russell Wilson wasn���t tall enough to play quarterback in the NFL are now saying Montee Ball isn���t fast enough or strong enough. It���s the biggest farce I���ve ever seen. They ought to spend more time watching game film. How about watching someone actually play football instead of comparing their times and reps to others? Some of these guys who are breaking down players at the NFL Combine ��� the ones who have never coached or played ��� wouldn���t know a good football player if one hit them between the eyes. Last year I tried to tell anyone who would listen that Russell Wilson was special. Don���t judge him on his height. His passes aren���t tipped. He understands the game. He makes things happen. His Pro Day was ridiculous. He lit it up. I remember Chris Weinke, the old Heisman winner, saying afterward, ���He hit a home run. He���s better than all of them. Russell is the best.������ Over the years I was coaching, we had a lot of players go to the combine. The one thing that I told them was that they were now making an investment in their future. So when the season ended, they needed to get with our strength coaches ��� or the coaches that their agents got for them ��� and they needed to prepare for all the drills and the questions. I don���t put a lot of stock in what 12 �� VARSITY FEB R UA RY 28, 2013 they call the measurables. In recruiting, when you saw a five-star, you knew he was a five-star and you liked him. But they didn���t always pan out. You have to be able to anticipate how a kid is going to develop. What���s his football IQ? The good football evaluators talk about watching film and watching how they play and compete in big games. Montee Ball has proven that he can play. He���s an every down back. He catches passes out of the backfield. He���s played against good competition and he has played well against the best defenses. Montee has been consistent. Productivity should mean something. Anyone who calls me ��� and they still do call me about players ��� I will tell them all the same thing. He can play, and he���s guy who will be productive for a long time. Put on the film. Watch him play. You can���t judge him just because his bench wasn���t ���good enough.��� Now, he has to run a little faster, and I know he will. Montee will im- prove his time considerably when he runs here at Pro Day. I���m sure he will draw a big crowd. They didn���t have a combine when I got out of Nebraska. I had a couple of good performances in postseason all-star games and thought I would be drafted. But when I wasn���t, I made up my mind to get started on a career as a coach. A lot of NFL teams wanted to sign me as a free agent, but I really wasn���t that interested. My old coach, Bob Devaney, changed my thinking after the Minnesota Vikings had contacted him. I still didn���t want to do it, but he encouraged me to give it a shot and said if it didn���t work out, he���d hold open a spot on his staff and I could come back and be a grad assistant. I agreed to give it a chance, but my heart wasn���t in it. I admitted to Bud Grant that I was in camp for all the wrong reasons. I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to go out and coach. That���s what you need to do, he told me. I���m glad I did.

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