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January 4, 2013
It took little prompting upon walking into P.J. Fleck's new office inside Waldo Stadium to find out what his focus is as he takes over at Western Michigan. In a word: recruiting.
"Right now our main focus is recruiting," Fleck told BroncoBlitz just one day after arriving in Kalamazoo. "We are definitely grinding. The guys we have on staff right now are here, they're in the war room, and they are grinding. They're evaluating our own talent, the recruits, ranking our recruits, evaluating the commits from the previous staff."
It's not the easiest situation for even a youthful new coach to come into, with National Signing Day just over a month away and a recruiting dead period ending today. But while Fleck's face may have shown a hint of fatigue, his energy and attitude did not waver.
Sure, he acknowledged the challenge of coming in at such a late stage. It seems that Fleck, however, never passes over an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive.
"Signing day is right around the corner and we haven't been out to see any of the kids on our board, so we're at a disadvantage that way," the 32-year-old acknowledged. "But it's also an advantage because we're going to discover some kids that maybe fell through the cracks their senior year. We can reap the rewards of that because everybody else is full."
It would be an understatement to simply say that recruiting has been a hot topic for Western Michigan fans since Fleck was brought aboard. In his inaugural press conference, he brought up the idea of recruiting a "six hour radius", something that has sparked a lot of discussion.
When sitting down with BroncoBlitz, Fleck got into the details of his recruiting plan a bit more and went beyond just the six-hour plan.
"It's not necessarily just six hours, it's six hours plus a little further out, plus the South. We're going to be a little eclectic in our recruiting philosophy," Fleck explained.
And as for the question on everyone's mind, whether WMU would continue to hit Florida hard, Fleck had some words that may ease certain minds.
"I'd like to keep things as much as I can local, but that doesn't mean we're not going to Florida. I'd love to take a ton of kids out of Florida. We're not going to take 23 in a class out of there, but there's a plethora of athletes," he said.
With all this in mind, Fleck has begun to put together his staff. Once again, when asked about what he was looking for, recruiting seemed to always come to the forefront.
Whether it's making sure the staff has varied recruiting ties and areas, or simply their energy and ability to hit the road for days or weeks, everything centered on the coaches' abilities to bring quality talent to WMU.
So far, two members of the new staff have been officially confirmed, both holdovers from last season. Tim McGarigle will remain as linebackers coach, and A.J. Ricker will enter his third season as offensive line coach.
"Passion's the biggest attribute for them," Fleck said of McGarigle and Ricker. "They're both great recruiters. I had numerous high school coaches call me about them. Players were saying, 'could you please keep this guy', and that rarely happens. They were no-brainers for me."
Now, attention turns to coordinators. Fleck has not been shy in admitting that his coordinators will be very important pieces for him as a new head coach.
While nothing is confirmed, it has been reported in multiple places that Richmond offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca and Elon defensive coordinator Ed Pinkham will be joining Fleck in Kalamazoo. Both held the same positions at Rutgers under Greg Schiano.
Fleck could not speak about those possible hires directly, but did have a lot to say about what he looks for out of them.
"We want an open style of offense. I want a simple offense that the kids can understand, master, and play fast. What we need to do now is find the personnel to fit that style," Fleck said.
Defensively, he indicated that perhaps less would change, as the Broncos' attacking style fits what he looks for, but that again things may be simplified somewhat. This simple style of play is aimed to keep the players from thinking too much, as Fleck believes "if you're thinking too much, you play slower."
Fleck and the rest of the staff will hit the recruiting trail starting today, as it marks the end of a dead period. BroncoBlitz will provide updates on recruiting news as they come.
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