Feature: Q&A With Wes Chandler and Todd Howard
Courtesy: Cal Athletics  
Release:  08/09/2012

August 9, 2012

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Compiled by Tim Miguel - Cal Athletic Communications

Wide Receivers Coach Wes Chandler

On Why He Decided to Come to Cal
"I thought the fit was ideal for me. Coach Tedford's tenure here, the things he's done for this program and more importantly, his passion and direction for where he wants to take this program, was very important to me. The fact that he wants these kids to have something other than football; he wants these kids to be able to go into life and be productive members of society. That's where the education comes into play for these young men. I like that. Being a two-time academic All-American, I understand the importance of academics and athletics. What he stands for was huge for me."

On His Initial Impression of the Football Program at Cal
"I know a couple players who attended Cal. I've always heard stories about Cal from guys like Chuck Muncie and Ed White, guys who were great athletes and very astute individuals. All of the things about this campus like the relaxed atmosphere, that family atmosphere is very important. If you're going to try and help shape the dynamics of a young man's life over the course of the next four to five years, then that environment is very important. It's his home away from home. Cal now becomes his home away from home. When you start recruiting, that's a big thing to them, that comfort zone in their surrounding environment. I was very impressed with the environment here. This high performance center here is state of the art. This is second to none."

On Keenan Allen
"Here's a young man who the good Lord has really blessed. He's a humble young man. He's hungry, eager to learn and eager to get better. I thought he was very well-balanced. He has tremendous talent. My job is to help him be better tomorrow than he is today with the basic fundamentals of the game. We can all get better, that's at every level. I know he wants to get better, and that's what I'm here to help him with - releases, different looks, understanding the game and being a student of the game. These guys have a great mentor to look up to in Keenan, and I hope his work ethic and drive rubs off on our younger guys."

On How the Young Wide Receivers are Progressing
"They've all gained strides since spring. I'm proud of how far they've come since I first got here to where they finished in the spring, but they know that we still have a long road to travel. It left a great spirit in their heart at the end of spring that, `hey, we got better. I got better as an individual.' They got to know me, which is very important because that's where the trust factor comes in. That's what I was hired to do, to try to make a difference with their talent and their abilities. So now that we've started fall camp, I think that these guys had a foundation from the spring and an expectation coming into fall camp that yeah, `I can contribute. I have a fighting chance.' Now you have guys working much harder, as opposed to an individual who feels he does not have a chance. Some kids decide to take a back seat and don't want to get better. These kids are working very hard; they don't want to miss reps. It's allowing them to showcase their talents. That's included a lot of walk-ons and all the young freshmen who have come in here eager to prove they can play. They all want to do that, especially freshmen. They want to prove to the older guys that they can play and they have a sense of belonging. They're playing catch up because the previous team has already played in spring. For them now, they're trying to catch up, learn the offense and be productive at the same time."

On the Transition From Working With NFL Players to NCAA Student-Athletes
"Basically it's the recruiting that has changed. Outside of going inside someone's home and talking to a young man about why they should choose Cal, Cal speaks for itself. Now it really comes down to the program - what the program stands for, who the head coach is, who's on the coaching staff and the particular position coach. For me, having been there at that level, my relationship with these individuals is about trying to show them how they can make it to the next level and what the expectations are. I think the biggest difference is, in the NFL, for most players, they're already there. They think they've arrived because they're there. They don't all work hard to get better. These young men work harder because they're not there. They haven't accomplished anything besides being a part of a team that has a lot of camaraderie. They all have something to prove."

On If It's More Difficult to Coach NFL Players or NCAA Student-Athletes
"It is. You may have a high draft choice, but it just means he has the ability to flourish and play. We've seen a lot of players turn out to be less than just average players when they were drafted or ranked so high. That's opinion, but you have to put them in categories because there's a draft. It's not like here, where they're on scholarship. You have scholarships and you have a draft. They're one and the same. When you draft the player, they're being paid. Here, these kids are playing for the love of the game."

Defensive Line Coach Todd Howard

On Why He Decided To Come to Cal
"My very first college football game was against Cal. I was a freshman at Texas A&M and we played Cal in College Station. We lost that game. So far in my collegiate career, as a coach and a player, I've faced Cal seven times and only won once. I guess it's what they call, `if you can't beat `em, join `em."

On His Initial Thoughts on the Football Program at Cal
"I'm happy to be here. I've been impressed with Cal's reputation as an academic institution. It's known worldwide and considered to be one of the best public schools in the country. Any time you can associate yourself with greatness, it's humbling and satisfying."

On His Initial Thoughts on the Defensive Line When He Arrived
"Talent wise, they've always had some good d-lines here. We've got some great young prospects coming back this season. I expect Deandre Coleman to have a breakout year. Kendrick Payne was very solid as a backup last year, and I expect him to have a great senior season, same thing Aaron Tipoti, who is a returning starter. He missed most of the spring, but he's back now at full speed. Todd Barr, Mustafa Jalil, Viliami Moala, Puka Lopa, we have some great young talent. We have the chance to be solid on the line for years to come."

On the Newly-Renovated Memorial Stadium and the Simpson Center
"Facility wise, with the renovation and the new things they've added, it has to be one of the best venues in the country. I'm looking forward to opening in the newly-renovated stadium for the first game of the season. The offices are excellent. The new weight room, the meeting rooms, everything is top of the line."

On the Advantage of Coming to Cal After Having Already Coached for Many Years in the Pac-12
"I'm familiar with most of the kids who are competing from most of the Pac-12 schools. I'm familiar with most of the coaching staffs, although we have some new ones that have come in. I'm familiar with the different places in the conference where you play. None of that is new to me. I've recruited in California, Washington, Oregon and Arizona, so I'm very familiar with the kind of talent that is on this side of the country. It's a very competitive league. From the top to the bottom, there's a lot of talent in the Pac-12."

On the Difference of Working with NFL Players and NCAA Student-Athletes
"It differs with regards to the kind of relationship that you have with them. One of the things that I like about college football is you have the ability to mentor the young men, show them how it's done and just be a positive influence in their lives. At the pro level, the relationship is a little bit different. A lot of these guys are married with kids. I'm not saying you don't mentor professional players, but it's more of a business relationship. In fact in the pros, the players don't even call you coach. You're all on a first-name basis."

On How He Intends to Help the Defensive Line Improve
"I have over 20 years of experience with coaching at the collegiate and professional levels. I was an NFL football player, so a lot of the things they're trying to earn, I've already achieved. I can help them with techniques and polishing their games so they can eventually play on Sundays."

On If It's a Struggle to Work With Players He Did Not Recruit
"I'm a good communicator. In my first year at UCLA in 2006, I went in right away and had two first-team All-Americans. There were already there when I arrived, but I was able to help their game to that point. They're still playing today in the NFL."