UAB Previews Season At 2014 C-USA Football Kickoff

UABSPORTS.COM Defensive lineman Diaheem Watkins joined teammate J.J. Nelson at Wednesday's event.
UABSPORTS.COM
Defensive lineman Diaheem Watkins joined teammate J.J. Nelson at Wednesday's event.
UABSPORTS.COM

July 23, 2014

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IRVING, Texas – UAB head coach Bill Clark, along with senior wide receiver J.J. Nelson and senior defensive lineman Diaheem Watkins, spent time previewing the upcoming season at the 2014 Conference USA Football Kickoff on Wednesday.

Clark and the two Blazer seniors went to the FOX Sports Studio for the morning session and spent the afternoon talking with media from around the 13 C-USA schools, as well as national media in attendance.

The Blazers report to Fall Camp on Aug. 3 in preparation for the 2014 season opener against Troy at Legion Field on Aug. 30. Kickoff time for the UAB vs. Troy contest is slated for 11 a.m. CT.

For more on the UAB football team, follow the Blazers on Twitter (@UAB_Football). For more on all Blazer teams, follow @UABAthletics.

Head Coach Bill Clark

On his expectations going into this season …
“I told our guys that it is not fair to our seniors to say we are going to win in four years. That is not the climate we are in anymore. I think our players have already seen a difference in the way we train and the way we prepare. I hope they have already seen the kind of climate we want to create here.” 

On how the newcomers are adjusting so far …
“They have assimilated really well. This summer has been huge for us. We had a lot of injuries when we got here, so we had to make our guys stronger. We had a really great summer to get started, and I am pleased so far.” 

On his recruiting philosophy …
“The first thing we want to do is recruit close to home.  A lot of it is getting the word out on UAB football. We have also taken the philosophy that we are going to go anywhere to get players. We have gone all over the country looking for the right fits and we were able to do that with our first recruiting class.” 

On playing home games at Legion Field…
“It means a lot. I was kind of familiar with UAB, I have had players that have gone on to play at UAB, so I know a lot about the history. I am very familiar with the city of Birmingham and that has helped make this a smooth transition.” 

Senior WR J.J. Nelson

On biggest challenge going into this season …
“We control our own destiny. We went 2-10 last year, so for us there is nowhere to go but up. We are just looking forward to having a good season.” 

On putting last season behind him …
“You can’t forget about it, but that has to be your mentality – you have to put it behind you. You have to have that mentality that you don’t want to go through that again.” 

On improvements he has made in the offseason …
“We have a great strength staff led by coach Zac Woodfin. Coach Clark did a great job bringing Coach Woodfin in to improve our strength and our speed, and we have been able to see those results. It has really helped me a lot this offseason.” 

On climbing the record books at UAB …
“It means a lot. A lot of great guys have come through here – guys like NFL receiver Roddy White. I look up to those guys, but at the same time I try not to look at records and things like that. I try to control what I can control and just playing hard every day.” 

On goals this season …
“My personal goal is to just stay healthy and do whatever I can for my team. Winning the conference championship and making a bowl game are our goals.” 

Senior DL Diaheem Watkins

On the upcoming season …
“The biggest thing we have been able to do in the offseason is come together as a team. Coach Clark has done a great job of creating a family atmosphere. We just have to stay hungry and stay together going into that first game against Troy.” 

On the strengths of this team going into the year …
“I think our receivers and defensive line (are two of our strengths). We also have a lot of returners on offense and a lot on defense. I’m just trying to lead this team by example. At this point, you don’t necessarily need a lot of vocal leaders, you need guys that are going to work hard and lead by example.” 

On goals this season …
“As a team, we want to win the conference championship and make a bowl game. I feel like we really got off to a strong start with our offseason workout with Coach Woodfin. Every player on our team got bigger, faster and stronger this offseason.”