Pat Fitzgerald spoke with the media before Northwestern held its Pro Day for its seniors. Forty-six scouts were in attendance from 31 NFL teams.
Here's what Fitz had to say:
— Fitz said he feels bad about what happened to Illinois' Bill Cubit before he addressed the hiring of Lovie Smith: "We've been friends for a very long time and I'm very happy for him and his family. I wish him the best of luck in every game except one, as you'd expect."
— When asked about Smith's declaration that he wants to dominate the state in recruiting, Fitzgerald let out a bit of a chuckle: "Not the first person I've heard that from."
— On the challenge of coaching and recruiting in a conference with coaches like Jim Harbaugh and Smith: "It's about the program... I think our league is in a really good place. I think we've returned to where we were when I was playing."
— On the opportunity Pro Day presents for seniors: "I couldn't be more excited for (the seniors) today. You dream as a little kid to get an opportunity to play college football. And at some point you had a favorite player who played in the pros, he was probably your hero. And now, to see this group get this opportunity to fulfill their dreams, it's something that's very special."
— On the difficulty of making it in the NFL: "I couldn't make it as an Economics major here at Northwestern, but I do understand a simply supply and demand curve. There's a lot more players who want to play than who get a chance to."
— Fitz said Dan Vitale's blocking is the most underrated aspect of his game and should translate well to the NFL. "A lot of I-formation teams wanted to know, will he go put his face on guys? He answered that with a big ol' exclamation point at the senior bowl...I think that was his biggest question mark, and I think he's not only answered that on tape when we put him in those roles."
— Fitz reminisced on his personal Pro Day experience: "I knew I'd be the worst athlete working out at my Pro Day, so I was really looking forward to it being over. I ran a 4.82 40-yard dash, and did the worst cartwheel known to man. The scouts looked at me like I had three heads. But I was the happiest guy on the planet. I don't know if I broke 5-flat in my training."
— There's been some talk of Dean Lowry being able to play on both the inside and outside of the defensive line. Fitzgerald said his flexibility makes him a valuable piece: "I think he's going to have a long career. With that position flexibility, it gives him a chance to stay around for a little bit longer. When a guy gets hurt, he can jump outside. He can jump inside."