Texas Longhorns linebackers coach/recruiting coordinator Brian Jean-Mary gets a good first question in his "5 Questions with Michael Huff" segment: Where's the better speed, Florida or Texas?
"I still think Texas speed is probably No. 1," says the Apopka, Florida native. "I love the fact that — the track programs here, and how they intertwine with football — I think that makes the biggest difference."
Jean-Mary says many of the best football players in Texas also compete in track, which isn't always the case in other states.
Huff then asks what made Jean-Mary decide he wanted to become a football coach.
"For me, coaching is a testament to the guy that coached me," says Jean-Mary, who played his college ball at Appalachian State. "Sometimes they say that coaches end up being fathers for a lot of players. I can honestly say the guy that recruited me and coached me in college is my mentor. Without purposely trying to do it, he influenced me to become a coach to be more like him."
Huff describes Jean-Mary as one of the best recruiting coordinators in the nation, in America and in the world. So what is it about recruiting that gets him excited?
"Our staff does an unbelievable job, and it starts with coach Strong," Jean-Mary says. "The thing he preaches with everything that we do, but especially with recruiting, is being personable. You want to get to know parents, family, you want to get into their high school and know the high school coaches. You want to delve into recruiting a particular kid where you're not just recruiting the kid, not just recruiting him to come here. You're recruiting his whole family."
The next question is about in-state recruiting and how important it is to protect the borders of Texas.
"This is the best high school football in the whole country," Jean-Mary says. "I don't have to mince words saying that. This is the best place to find high school football players. We're the University of Texas, so the thing you always want to do is protect your borders. You want to find the guys that are going to be the best players to fit your program."
Obviously it's important to recruit other states as well, but he adds that recruiting Texas is the number one priority.
Huff's last question is about Charlie Strong, who Jean-Mary coached with at Louisville prior to his move to Texas. The two also coached together at South Carolina in 2001 and 2002, when Strong was defensive coordinator at Jean-Mary was a defensive graduate assistant.
"The first thing with him (Strong), my first job in coaching as a young graduate assistant, I got a chance to work with him through Lou Holtz," Jean-Mary says. "The thing that I saw with Strong was the players on the team would run through a wall for him."
He adds that Strong's attitude and personable nature is what sets him apart.
"The effect he had on the players, you feel the same way as an assistant coach," says Jean-Mary. "You want to do well for him because you know much time and effort he puts into his job. You want to try to match it."