Charlie Weis hasn't changed. He's still a compelling interview. Yes, even by NFL coaching standards. Weis is back in college now, tasked with improving on a miserable 1-win rookie year coaching the Kansas Jayhawks.
How does he plan to turn it around? With his very own Dexter McCluster of course.
Tony Pierson is listed as a halfback at Kansas and he appears to be the McCluster of Kansas football: someone who can play running back, receiver and even return man. And someone the coaching staff looooves to rave about.
Here's what Weis said about Pierson (via KU):
"Obviously we have big plans for Tony. Big plans for Tony. We didn't do all that research on [West Virginia's] Tavon Austin for nothing now. This is a copycat business. All those people trying to act like all their ideas are original, they're all liars. When yo have someone doing something good, and you have something that fits that bill, you go study them and you figure out how they're doing this and how they're doing that.
"Tony is clearly still the most dynamic running back we have. The only problem is that he might be the most dynamic receiver we have as well. Tony's not a guy we can just say is a running back, he's a definite pain in the butt for defenses because they really don't know whether to call him a running back or a wide receiver. He's shown in a short period of time that he can play in the back field and run legitimate routes and catch the ball and most importantly, he can get open. As you know last year when we were playing that was an issue for us. But he can get open. That gives you a chance."
Change the year to 2010, replace Pierson with McCluster and move Charlie 45 minutes east of where is now and this is something that sounds very familiar.
As a reporter noted in a follow-up question, that sounds like he's describing McCluster.
"Yeah but Tony's faster than Dexter by a significant, significant margin," Weis said. "I think that although Tony's got toughness, hardly anyone was tougher than Dexter. I loved Dexter coming out because he was a tough .. pound for pound, I'd put Dexter with anyone. Dexter was quicker than fast. Tony's fast. Tony's in that 4.3 and change range where Dexter is that 4.5 guy. Two tenths, that's significant.
"I would take Dexter too if you would give him to me. I think we'd get him in there."
Too bad he doesn't have any eligibility left. But I do coach! If you're looking for a safety with minimal experience, extremely poor speed, and weak tackling form but a real go-getter ... you let me know.
Let's move forward to present day McCluster. Andy Reid spoke weeks ago at the NFL Combine about McCluster, saying "there is a place for him".
"You know what," Reid said, "I kind of like him. He's not the biggest guy in the world, but he's got a heart of a lion. He's got that MO, tremendous quickness and can catch. He's pretty good at running the football, so there is a place for him. You line him up everywhere. You can move him around and kind of do some unique things with him."
Then there's Jamaal Charles. He's not McCluster in that they'll line him up anywhere -- generally, you don't want to do things to take the ball out of your best player's hands -- but he is expected to receive his touches in a variety of ways, including catching the ball.
"I thought he handled that very well," Reid said of how Weis used Charles in 2010. "You could flex him out and throw it to him if you needed to. The running part we all know. You hand him the ball, good things are going to happen, but to be able to move him around and give him other options to get the football in his hands, I think he can do all that."
In that 2010 season, Charles had a career high 45 receptions for 468 yards, averaging over 10 yards per catch. McCluster, meanwhile, has developed morem as a receiver since Weis has left. As a rookie he had 21 receptions in that one year with Weis, increasing that to 46 and 52 receptions in the last two years.