Skip Holtz said somebody once asked
him what he did.
"I'm a football
coach," he replied.
Then, Holtz recalled, "They asked me
what I did the rest of the year."
While some may figure this is the time
of year that Holtz would be playing golf, relaxing or hanging out, there
is also plenty of job-related business to keep the East Carolina coach
occupied in the offseason.
"We've got a large number of our team
that's here for summer school," he said. "We're trying to make sure that
they're doing everything they're supposed to do academically."
On Saturday, ECU will host high school
teams for a one-day passing camp. Several individual camps already were
held in mid-June.
Camps have become an increasingly
valuable tool in the recruiting process. The Pirates have several verbal
commitments for the signing class of February, 2008, but Holtz noted
that ECU's upcoming recruiting class will be smaller.
"You sit down and kind of look at your
depth chart by class," he said. "We have numbers that we try to meet at
every position. You look at what you're graduating. Obviously, you're
always going to try to sign a couple of offensive linemen.
"You're kind of looking at where you're
going to have a little bit of attrition. We only have 13 seniors in this
class so we don't have a very big class that we're looking to sign next
year. We'll probably have the smallest class that we've signed since
we've been here."
There are good and bad aspects to the
limited number of scholarships that will be available.
"From a recruiting standpoint, you'd
love to bring more talent in here," said Holtz, who enters his third
season at the Pirate helm. "But at the same time it's a positive because
it means you're returning a large nucleus of your team, which we haven't
had the ability to do yet."
There are also organizational meetings
with the offensive and defensive staffs.
"We're trying to put everything
together and, at the same time, get out of here a little bit," Holtz
said. "We want to get away a little bit and recharge the batteries
before we get back to work."
ECU opens the 2007 season at Virginia
Tech on Sept. 1. Players will convene for fall camp in August. A
productive spring practice has given the ECU coaches a grasp of their
starting point for preseason workouts.
"Spring ball allows you to look and see
what your needs are and what you've got to find," Holtz said. "The depth
chart has started to take some shape. We have a pretty good idea of
where everybody is, what some of our strengths are, and, at the same
time, what some of our weaknesses are and what we need to do to be able
to hide some of those.
"I've got a pretty good feel coming out
of spring. I feel like our players worked extremely hard. They're
working extremely hard now. Some of these guys are going to continue to
develop, because for a lot of them, they're just young and they just
need the opportunity to develop."
A case in point is redshirt freshman
offensive lineman Doug Polochak, who has added over 60 pounds to his
6-foot-4 frame since his junior season at Nease High in Ponte Vedra
"I just throw out a young guy like Doug
Polochak, for example," Holtz said. "He was redshirted last year because
of a shoulder injury. His whole thing after spring ball — he's got good
feet and he's going to be a really good lineman — he's just got to get
"I'm hoping that he can make some
strides this summer that will give him a chance to be competitive in the
Mike Golden, ECU's strength and
conditioning director, is in charge of making the Pirates all they can
be physically. Summer is a Golden time for building football bodies.
"There are a couple of things your
strength coach is trying to get done during the course of the summer,"
Holtz said. "Obviously, you have to coach technique when you're in the
weight room so you're not getting somebody hurt, which we can't afford
to do right now.
"You have to be very knowledgeable with
the core lifts that you're going to operate to get them stronger. You've
got to be very knowledgeable from the conditioning standpoint. You've
got to be sure you're not just developing strength. It has to be
strength, conditioning and flexibility.
"(Golden) is excellent at understanding
the balance of all that. One of the biggest things a strength coach
needs to develop as well is the mental toughness. It's an opportunity to
teach young men how to really strain their bodies and how to compete
when they're tired. That's one of the things you have to do in order to
learn how to play this game."
Holtz and his staff have some "get
away" time coming up before immersing themselves in preparations for a
challenging and compelling schedule in 2007. Holtz said he doesn't have
any elaborate vacation plans.
"When you've got a 13-, a 10- and
an eight-year old, you don't get to make many plans," he said. "Your
plans are pretty much made for you. Their summers are pretty much
set with different camps they're going to, birthday parties and all
that different-type stuff.
"We'll be kind of in and out around
here but we don't have anything elaborate that we're going to go do this
summer. I'll try and spend time with the family, recharge the batteries
and get ready to get back to work."
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