By LARRY VAUGHT
Since 2001, coach Bob Beatty has led Trinity to 10 state football championships and he has compiled a 165-21 record in 13 seasons guiding the Shamrocks.
He has been named the head coach of the East squad for the U.S. Army All American Bowl Jan. 5 at the Alamodome in San Antonio where his five-star receiver James Quick is scheduled to make his college choice with Louisville and Ohio State the perceived leaders.
Beatty, an assistant coach for the West in last year’s bowl game, had senior defensive end Jason Hatcher (USC) and senior cornerback Ryan White (Vanderbilt) on this year’s team and has quarterback Travis Wright returning along with standout athlete Reggie Bonnafon.
He shared his thoughts on how new Kentucky coach Mark Stoops and his staff have shown interest in recruiting Trinity players already as well as other thoughts recently during a ceremony at the Louisville Quarterback Club when Quick won the Paul Hornung Award as the state’s top player.
Question: What do you think of new Kentucky coach Mark Stoops and his staff?
Beatty: “I have only met the coordinators and talked to the head coach on the phone, but the first thing I can tell you is that they were here. They were in our school and they were talking to us and spent a great amount of time with me on two different occasions. The fact that they are here and punching the clock tells me that they are making their faces known and that is the first step.”
Question: Have you sensed a stronger commitment already from this UK staff to recruiting Trinity than past UK staffs?
Beatty: “I think the past Kentucky staffs were in there, but I think at times there was maybe a word spread that the kid wasn’t interested so they would maybe kind of fade away. These guys came in strong and said, ‘Hey, we have a package to sell and come and look at us.’ That is where it has to start and they have been persevering pretty hard and that is what you have to do.”
Question: How did Brown come across on his visit to Trinity?
Beatty: “We immediately went to the board and started talking some X’s and O’s. I am a lot older than he is, so we go way back. A lot of our philosophies meshed and we could kind of along the way have touched different people that have influenced us on the offensive side of football. (Defensive coordinator) D.J. Eliot, I don’t know very well yet and do not know that much about their package yet because we run a little bit different defense than they do. Just getting to know them initially is a good step and I felt like we did that.”
Question: How would junior quarterback Travis Wright (244 of 374 passing for 3,314 yards and 36 touchdowns) fit into Brown’s system at Kentucky?
Beatty: “I think he could pretty much fit into anybody’s offense. We are a very, very multiple offense. He can run it and he can throw it, but more than anything he has a lifetime completion percentage of about 70 percent. That says a lot. We average throwing about 25-26 times a game. The key thing about him is he has three state championship rings and knows how to win. That’s a key. When you play the kind of schedule we have and you still come out on the winning side, then he knows how to handle competition, he has played in front of big crowds and he knows how to win. I think that is one of the big leading factors on why he could play anywhere.”
Question: Is he thinking about college choices yet?
Beatty: “I think so. The question is how many people are going to take a look at him. You hear this a lot, ‘He is a system quarterback.’ My reply is maybe you need to design a system to let him be successful because he’s been pretty successful in our system. It is their job to find the talent and if they don’t, they won’t have jobs. Somebody is going to find him.”
Question: How good is defensive end Jason Hatcher?
Beatty: “As good as he wants to be. His potential has just barely been tapped. He has a got a ways to go maturity wise to make sure he plays every down. But is it there? Yes. Is he hungry? I hope so. When he gets to that level, there is no such thing as plays off because the next three guys behind you are as good or better than what you are. I think he is going to realize that very quickly but I think he is going to be very good at the next level.”
Question: Even though he has verbally committed to USC, is there any truth to rumors he might reconsider that and could be interested in Kentucky?
Beatty: “If he listens to his head coach, he will open all of his doors. This business of early verbal commitments, it holds no stock on their end and really there is no stock on the athlete’s end. My philosophy is to protect my athlete, so open as many doors as you can and then don’t shut it until you have to. If it were up to me to open all those doors and take a look, absolutely because I wouldn’t trust those guys any farther than what I could throw any of them. I have been in those recruiting rooms because I coached five years of college ball and know how they operate. He should keep every door open that he can.”
Question: While it sounds like Mr. Football James Quick has done that, is he set to make his college choice at the U.S. Army Bowl Jan. 5?
Beatty: “I think so. He will know when the time is right. If it is there, it’s there. If it is sooner, it’s sooner. He has my support. He has family support as well. He will know when the time is right.”
Question: How do you feel about players playing multiple sports as Quick did with football, basketball and track?
Beatty: “That is something we relish at Trinity. We want kids to play multiple sports. We have a tremendous amount of football-wrestling. A tremendous amount of football-baseball. James played basketball as well. We don’t have a tremendous amount of guys that do basketball because they are right after each other and they overlap, but James does that. (Former Louisville/NFL quarterback) Brian Brohm did three. It is not unusual for us. We do cherish it, but if you are not out for another sport you are expected in that weight room in the offseason. That has a lot to do with our success at Trinity.”