MADISON, Wis. - This season University of Wisconsin junior running back Brian Calhoun has been used to the spotlight. And again today - despite the football season being over - Calhoun was in the spotlight at an afternoon press conference where he announced that he will be entering the 2006 NFL Draft.
Along with Calhoun new UW head coach Bret Bielema spoke about Calhoun's decision.
Here is a transcript of Calhoun's and Bielema's opening statements and Thursday's question and answer session:
"Hello and thank you for coming to this press conference. First off I would like to announce that I have decided to declare for the 2006 NFL Draft. The decision to leave with one year reaming of eligibility to play football is a difficult decision, but it has done putting forth a lot of thought, a lot research, counsel, prayer and with the help of my family.
"First of all I would like to thank Coach Alvarez and the rest of the staff for doing a great job with me and helping me feel comfortable when I came back here. I also would like to thank my teammates for accepting as a member of the team two years ago and I hope each and everyone of them the best in the future. I also want to thank them for making me a better player and a better individual. I want to thank my O-line and my tight ends and fullbacks for doing a great job of blocking for me and Stocco for throwing passes to me this year. And I also want to thank all of my friends and fans from Oak Creek, Milwaukee, Madison and throughout Wisconsin for their outstanding support and prayers over the past two years. There are no other fans like Wisconsin and I was very privileged to play in front of them. Like I said, again I would like to thank you for your support and please keep me and my family in your thoughts."
"Well, I have a tremendous amount of respect for what Brian had to do today. Obviously this is something that has been speculated and talked about for a long time. I know he put a lot of thought into it. One thing I tried to do - I was little biased in my opinion as a coach - for next year what I wanted to have him to accomplish and I was very clear with Brian and his family about that very early on. I sat down with him in December and I tried to give him as much information as I could of people who could give him an unbiased opinion, someone who obviously doesn't have a personal agenda with him or his family. And for him to go through this process in the right way and talking to him - I'm a big 1-0 philosophy person - so it was important for me to try to put emphasis on obviously the bowl game. I think it be clear to everyone that he was able to do that as well as our team and I didn't want to take away from that. And during the course of the last several weeks he's been able to come to some conclusions on his own and I have the utmost respect for everything he accomplished.
"Obviously I wanted Brian back for another year, but the biggest thing he had to do is take into account everything he had learned, information he had gathered, and no matter how much time he spent here at the University of Wisconsin the one thing they can never take away is the accomplishments that he did. As a coach I greatly respected what he was able to do in a year in transition. It wasn't an easy thing to come in and be on the scout team after being a premiere back in another conference. The work that he did that year and the things that he did during the course of this past season is probably one of the biggest rewards you can take from Brian is obviously a lot of things he accomplished on the football field. But it was important down at the bowl where he was obviously a hot commodity to stay an extra 15 minutes, half hour, sometimes longer than that to take time out of his personal time for anybody that wanted an autograph, anybody who wanted to say words to him. That is going to be the thing that will probably be the big surprise at the next level the maturity that he displays and that is evident here today."
Q & A
Brian who did you depend on besides Coach Bielema to gather your information and what were you able to discern as to how you will be used as an NFL running back?.
BC: "I obviously tried to seek out as much information as possible regarding the decision. I sat down and talked to Coach Alvarez. I talked to Coach B. on more than one occasion. I talked to Coach Chryst. I talked with coach Eric Bieniemy at UCLA. I just tried to gather as much information as possible as far as what they thought I should do and maybe their opinions to see if I was ready for that next step. And I think I gathered up all the information and it was the right choice for me to make that jump."
There has bee speculation back and forth if you were going to stay here or possibly go. At what point did you finally decide you were ready to go?
BC: "I think right after the bowl game. Obviously it's been a pretty god year and I think after the bowl game, for not only for myself but for our team to play the way that we did, and for me to go out that way and to send Coach Alvarez out on a good note like that I think that was kind of the nail in the coffin that said I was ready to make that next step."
Brian was there a cutoff point as far as rounds go? Did you think third and fourth round I'm staying, first and second round I'm going to the NFL?
BC: "Not necessarily, but obviously if I was a second day pick I wouldn't be entering the draft. So I obviously have a lot of faith in myself that I will be a first day pick and that was the main decision on why I decided to declare."
Brian what kind of back do you see yourself being in the NFL?
BC: "Well, I think one of the things I do do well is catch the ball out of the backfield. I think in that way I will be used as a third down back. But I think eventually over time I could develop into a back - in the right system - into a guy who can carry the ball 20 times a game and be a productive running back."
Bret what did you say to Brian to try to make him stay?
BB: "Without going into great detail it was an arm wrestling technique. The one thing I believe is you're in this profession for the right reasons. You look out for the feelings of your individual players, their families and I've been in this situation before. Some have stayed some have left. This is obviously the first one I've had to deal with here at Wisconsin. What I really tried to do was give him as much unbiased information or people who were able to give him that. I sat down and gave him a detailed transcript of what I thought I could do as head coach at the University of Wisconsin, what our athletic department could do working with Justin (Doherty) putting together a month by month plan is he was to return. That's my responsibility and that's what I did for him, but I also tried to give him the information to make contact with people from the outside world looking in didn't have an agenda with him. And I think he used those resources, him and his father.
"The thing that I really am happy about is I think this is something that has been thought out for a long period of time. You always worry that kinds make a quick decision. With the family he comes from, the support system clear back to his high school coach through coaches he's been in contact with within our program as well as other coaches. I called Coach Bieniemy too. I don't know if you know that. Anything we could do I wanted to make sure it a clean decision that was well thought out and I think that can be appreciated."
When did you start thinking about leaving early?
BC: "You know there really wasn't a time where I said I should think about going to the NFL Draft. Obviously I had a lot of people speculating or talking about it before it became aware to me and it started back in October. Right around the Hawaii game is when I started giving it a little bit of thought. After the Hawaii game I tried to talk to as many people as possible and I tried to gather up as much information as possible at that time so after the bowl game I could sit down and make a pretty good decision."
Bret people look at the running back position and say it's pretty thin, if not thin, really young. What is your outlook for that unit?
BB: "I think that's people's natural reaction. That's human nature. I can't control what people think. Obviously during the course of this season that could be said for several positions. But one thing you have to have confidence in no matter who the baton is passed to is that you're training people to do the right things in the right way. Obviously we have a host a running back that returns, nobody with the game experience that Brian has. But before Brian took his first snap this year in the Bowling Green game he hadn't run a ball for the University of Wisconsin, obviously he had done things at Colorado. But you just got to have faith in what your team is all about and you got to be able to step up to the task."
What were the pros and cons of staying and leaving? Do you think you would have changed your draft status by staying another year?
BC: "Me and my family weighed the pros and cons about it for awhile. The pros for staying are to finish and get my degree, which I plan on doing anyway. Another year we could possibly win a Big Ten title, go to another Jan. 1 bowl game. Those were all things I definitely looked into.
"Obviously the cons of staying obviously the No 1. thing would be injury. It's unfortunate to refer to Joe Thomas but that's how it happened. So that is kind of the main thing I was looking at as far as making the decision."
Do you think you can be a first round pick?
BC: "I think so. And if you look at the other running backs in the draft including the top three or four guys they have up there I think I match-up just as well will all of them. I had more receiving yards than any of them. I see my rushing yards total is just up there with them. So I think I match-up just as well with them and if I have a good combine who knows I could be rated right next to Reggie Bush or LenDale White or Laurence Maroney."
How big do you think you can ultimately play at weight wise?
BC: "I think I have to play at between 205 and 210. I'm a little over 200 now. Don't think that will be a problem as far as me just naturally maturing a little bit. But I don't think playing at that weight will be a problem."