Preseason Chat: Napoleon Sykes (Part 2)

Preseason Chat: Napoleon Sykes (Part 2)

In part one of our offseason conversation with new Navy assistant coach Napoleon Sykes, the former Wake Forest Demon Deacon spoke at length about the rise of Maryland prep football and the importance of recruiting the capital region. Today, he discusses how social media is changing the way Navy recruits, as well as Navy's recruiting philosophy in 2010.

Miss Part 1 of our interview? Make sure to get caught up before reading forward.

GoMids.com: Back to recruiting, I couldn't help but notice that you have a Twitter account. Is that for recruiting?

Napoleon Sykes: (Laughs). I actually don't use my twitter for recruiting. I just kind of use that for my personal deal, but I do use facebook for recruiting. It's the easiest way to keep in touch with guys. The funniest thing about kids these days is that they won't ever call you back or answer their phone or check their email, but as soon as you send them something on facebook they'll hit you back in five minutes (laughs). But I really haven't gotten into the twitter deal yet…

GoMids.com: Are social media tools like facebook the next step in recruiting?

Napoleon Sykes:Yea, and I think it's a pretty big deal because it gives those kids an opportunity to learn stuff about you. Obviously you can put what you want to put on facebook, but you learn a lot about the kids. You can be turned on by a kid by what he puts on facebook -- and they can give you an idea of what they want and what they like -- but you can also be turned off by what they have on their facebook page. Some of the things they have up there and are saying on their page can really give you an idea about what kind of kid you may be getting. So I think it's really go to be (important for recruiting). I think about the internet, and I think back to when I played, Rivals.com and Scout.com had just started…probably about 100 kids in the country had a picture on Rivals. And now you can find just about every kid on Rivals, and get all kinds of stuff. The internet has just changed the whole process and made it a little quicker for us as coaches to try to evaluate kids.

GoMids.com: A lot of Navy fans were a little taken aback by the success of last year's recruiting efforts, specifically with winning some head-to-head battles with BCS schools. Are you finding that you're going up against some bigger name ACC schools for kids, and how do you convince kids with multiple FBS offers to try a place like Annapolis?

Napoleon Sykes:One of the great things -- and clearly I have nothing to do with it -- is really the things that coach Niumat, coach Green, and coach Johnson have done in the past seven or eight years. They've done a great job. They've been to seven straight bowl games and (won) seven straight Commander-in-Chief trophies. They've really made this program into a great program with, at the beginning, kids that nobody wanted. Now it has gotten to the point where (as coaches) we're out on the road and we feel like we can offer those kids what those other schools are offering. Schools can't come in and say that, ‘We play in the ACC or Big 10 or Big 12 and you can't play that schedule (at Navy).' We can prove now that we play those guys. You look at our schedule this year and we have three ACC schools in there. We have the Conference USA champ, the MAC champ…the Notre Dame game and Air Force every year. We've got a great schedule, and it's one of those deals that you can't deny anymore. We've had some great success and coach Niumat has done a great job in his first few years after coach Johnson did a great job, so they've created a great scheme for me when I'm out on the road. Kids kind of know about Navy football now. The funniest thing is some of these kids -- when I go out on the road – some of them know more about the Academy than I know. So it's a neat deal, and I feel like as coaches we're getting out on the road and competing with the big dogs a little bit, and getting in the mix for some guys that have I-A offers now.

GoMids.com: How influential have some of the seniors been – particularly Emmett Merchant, Wyatt Middleton, and Kevin Edwards –in helping you get set as a coach?

Napoleon Sykes: They've been perfect. I mean guys like that make you look good. Those guys do a great job, and anytime I have questions they'll help me out. They really helped me out those first couple of weeks just with coming in off the road and not having anywhere to live and getting thrown right into spring ball. They really helped me out with learning stuff. And those guys – Wyatt, Kevin, Emmett, and even Kwesi Mitchell – they've been doing it for long enough to where they are really coaching it on the field a lot of the time. So they really help me and coach Green out a ton. They are coaching those young guys. When (coach Green and I) are coaching those young guys, they're standing back there coaching those young guys too. We've got like three or four extra coaches who are really helping us out.

GoMids.com: What's it going to be like coaching against your alma mater this season

Napoleon Sykes: It's going to be fun. It's funny, because I was talking to one of the Wake Forest coaches this morning – coach Lambert, the defensive coordinator down there – and he's coached me and is one of my best friends on the planet, and he was telling me, ‘you're going to be so jacked up you're not even going to be able to think straight.' So it's just going to be an awesome opportunity for me and a really great experience. Just getting down there and seeing those guys…I'm going to definitely want to win that game. They always joke -- and I'll say the same thing -- that I hope they go undefeated except for one game. It's going to be a great game. It's actually been one of those games which has been great for the past few years…just with the defense that (Wake) has and the offense that we run. It's been a great game and I don't expect anything less this year just because I'm involved.

GoMids.com: I was going to say, it's been quite a little rivalry that's developed.

Napoleon Sykes: Yea, it really has been. The funny thing about it is, and we always joked about it (while I was at Wake Forest), is that Wake is kind of like the academy school of the ACC. You have coach Grobe there, and they have very similar types of kids. It's a high academic institution and both schools really have hard nosed kids who really love playing the game. When I played at Wake Forest we were known as guys who were not as good as everybody else and who nobody wanted. Hard nosed guys who nobody wanted to play, and Navy is the same kind of deal; the little dog that comes with a huge bite."

GoMids.com would like to thank coach Sykes for taking the time to speak with us. Be sure to check back frequently for all the latest recruiting news from the world of Navy football, and find out which prospects the Mids are targeting in 2010.

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