Aug. 5—Editor's Note: The Great American Conference held its 2022 Virtual Media Days Wednesday and following are excerpts from the session that included East Central University interim head football coach Kris McCullough and players Jay'Quan Lincoln and Jalen Baldwin:
Opening comments from McCullough
"I feel like these last four years we've done a good job of building a great foundation. The culture here was already established. My big thing was just trying to keep the staff here, trying to keep continuity with the players and not lose anybody in this transfer portal world we now live in. We lost one starter that played for us last year and I'm proud of that."
"In this new era at East Central, we're focused a lot on team bonding, community service, their grades and obviously the play on the field. I'm proud of our guys. We had 45 kids in the spring make a 3.0 or higher. That's huge. That speaks volumes about our program."
"I took over as head coach on March 8 and it's been smooth sailing ever since."
"We have 16 starters back. I'm excited to get things rolling."
Great American Conference competition
"Every single week is a battle. There are no pushovers. There are no easy games. It's feeling more and more that every week is a rivalry. Teams are just so good and week to week you never know what's going to happen," — Kris McCullough.
Baldwin on playing for McCullough
"This season I'm really excited to play for coach McCullough. We have a really good bond. I'm really excited for the season. I feel like we're going to be one of the top teams this year."
The season-ending win over rival Southeastern in 2021
"The feeling going into the Southeastern game every year is unbelievable. With this rivalry, there's bad blood. There's animosity toward each other. It's awesome. I hate the scuffle that happened at the end of the game. It was kind of a raw emotions deal. To cap the season off with a win over our rivals — there are no words that can explain that." — Kris McCullough
The 2022 season-opener against
GAC No. 1 seed Harding
"I wouldn't want anything else than playing the No. 11 team in the country in Week 1. We played these guys in the spring last year and played well in an exhibition against those guys," Kris McCullough said. "But that kind of gave us a little too much confidence and I feel like we didn't work as hard going into that (Harding) game last year. They put it to us. Our defense played lights out, but offensively we had too many turnovers and on special teams, we had some turnovers."
"Ever since the end of the Southeastern game, they've circled the Harding game. They've been getting ready all summer. I think they'll be ready to go,"
The culture at ECU
"Coming in as a freshman and committing to a 3-8 school is not something that happens often. We're the ones that had to change the culture. It's really like a brotherhood here now." — JayQuan Lincoln
The return of quarterback Kenny Hrncir
"Kenny's growth has been incredible — from 2019 (as a freshman), through COVID, beating Tarleton State and last year throwing for 18 touchdowns and running for seven more. He's grown as a leader. What he means to this team is bar none. This year he's going to set every passing record at ECU which is a huge accomplishment for that kid. But he can only do that with the guys around him." — Kris McCullough.
Tigers picked sixth in the GAC preseason poll
"We live in a social media world where we say a lot of coaches don't look at preseason polls. We all do, right? No matter if you're first or 12th, you're looking at it — seeing what everybody thinks about us. We try to use it as fuel to the fire. Our guys finished sixth last year. We have a lot of dudes coming back. We'll use that No. 6 because we all know what we want and that's to put rings on our fingers. That's our goal and that's what our culture is." — Kris McCullough
"I think it's good for our team. Because a lot of our guys on the team have been underdogs our whole life. We like proving people wrong. We like being doubted and slept on. It gives us more to work for." — JayQuan Lincoln.
"It gives us more motivation to compete every day and work harder." — Jalen Baldwin.