Denny Stolz gained a reputation at Bowling Green for being straightforward and brutally honest, even at the expense of hurting people's feelings.
Kevin Yates might say Stolz's reputation is safely intact as the San Diego State football coach.
During spring practice, Stolz said he did not think Yates, a returning fullback, was a Division I player. Yates, a Carlsbad High School graduate, subsequently transferred to Utah State.
The dilemma was simple.
Yates (6-feet 2-inches, 205 pounds) prefers a system in which the fullback primarily is a runner and receiver. Stolz prefers bulkier fullbacks who are used primarily as blockers. Troy Reed, a 220-pound converted tight end, is SDSU's projected starting fullback.
After spring practice concluded in early May, Yates discussed his situation with Stolz. Yates was told he would be a member of the scout team (players who mimic upcoming opponents in practice but rarely play in games) if he returned.
"I think he (Stolz) was going to say anything to get me out of the system," Yates said. "I was going to gain 10 or 15 pounds then go back to San Diego State. He told me it wouldn't do any good because he said I couldn't play the game. He had only been around a couple of months when he told me that. It really upset me."
According to Stolz, he said Yates would fit better in a system designed for a small fullback.
"You have to be honest with people," Stolz said. "Even though you tell them what they might not want to hear, you have to tell the truth. You don't want a kid three or four years later to say, 'Why didn't you tell me I wasn't in your plans or couldn't play?' "
Yates was a redshirt as a freshman in 1984 and played sparingly in 1985. He rushed eight times for 30 yards and caught four passes for 45 yards last season.
However, Yates was expected to be a contender to replace Casey Brown at fullback this season.
That plan changed when Coach Doug Scovil was fired and Stolz hired.
"He is recruiting certain types of players and has to meet his own needs," said Mel Galli, who coached Yates at Carlsbad. "What bothers me is that he degraded guys in the paper. I don't know Coach Stolz and wouldn't recognize him if he walked up to me. The next time he recruits one of my players, he'll have a tough time. He has to be careful with what he says in the paper.
"This isn't pro football. The players aren't getting paid. It'll take three or four of those acts for him to lose San Diego County (recruits). If that's his style, he won't last long. You have to deal right with people. He didn't make any points at Carlsbad."
Stolz's staff signed five local high school players to letters of intent--defensive tackle Demetrius Bell of Morse, offensive tackle Jason Bill of San Pasqual, running back Darryl Crawford of Montgomery, linebacker David Woodhouse of Bonita Vista and kicker Tom Wurth of Monte Vista. Woodhouse since has signed a pro baseball contract with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Yates signed a letter of intent with Utah State earlier this month after visiting the campus in Logan, Utah. The offensive coordinator at Utah State will be Brian Billick, SDSU's receivers coach and recruiting coordinator last year.
"Kevin was not going to be utilized the way he wanted to be utilized (at SDSU)," Billick said. "They said he wasn't a Division I player. That would be like going to San Diego State with Todd Santos, one of the finest dropback quarterbacks in the nation, and saying he wasn't a Division-I quarterback if he couldn't run the wishbone. There's no question in my mind that Kevin Yates is a Division-I fullback.
"Basically, we utilize our backs as runners, blockers and receivers, with emphasis on the and receivers . As is my understanding, Coach Stolz doesn't use his fullback in a receiving manner, which is fine. Kevin can be a good runner and excellent receiver."
Three walk-on players from 1985 have been granted full scholarships this year--linebacker Randy Kirk, punter Wayne Ross and tailback Ron Slack. . . . Aztec freshmen will report Aug. 10 for the beginning of practice. The remainder of the team reports Aug. 14. The first game is Sept. 6 against Cal State Long Beach at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.