Mike Stoops: "I am really excited about this class. What I like about this class is that we have a lot of diversity, and we hit our needs in some critical areas. From an offensive and defensive standpoint, there obviously are some highlights in some places where we felt that we needed to bulk up. The offensive line and defensive line were some areas of concern and need, and we feel very positive about the group of incoming players to help this team."
"The thing I like about this class is that we needed to improve our team speed in some areas, and we feel like we upgraded speed all the way across the board. When you look at this group, we feel like our team speed as a whole on the offensive and defensive lines and all the skill positions definitely has increased our overall team speed."
"A number of big guys that you see are types of guys that we feel can help in a variety of ways. They are guys who have good size and good range and can play multiple positions. When you look at some of the heights and weights of some guys, we feel that there are some particular guys that can grow and play multiple positions, whether they be tight ends, defensive ends or offensive linemen."
"We wanted to recruit people that obviously were difference makers, and that was very important, as well as to get players that we felt could make a difference on this football team and make us better. Overall, I think we did a good job of that. Some might be asked to play sooner than later, but we will cross that bridge at some point here as the summer progresses."
"Overall, I could not be more pleased with the way our staff recruited. With limited time and with the lack of production that we had from a win-loss percentage standpoint, we felt that we came in and did as well as we could with the players that we were able to recruit. I couldn't be more pleased with the overall class and the effort of our assistant coaches and all the support staff. It was unbelievable when you look at the amount of support that we got during the process. We made up a tremendous amount of ground, and to be able to establish a class of this magnitude so late speaks volumes for this program and our coaching staff."
"Everything has been very positive about the University of Arizona, and that gives us a great feeling right now. You would always like to do better, and we will definitely strive to do better in the future. If there are areas that are a concern or areas that we feel like we need to do a better job, then we will concentrate on those areas as we move forward. The hiring of coaches to me was the most important part of the whole recruiting process. The players that we recruited, as well as the assistant coaches, are vital and pivotal to any success that we have as a program. The recruiting process was so important to me, and I couldn't be happier to have had all the support that I have from all of our assistant coaches."
"I feel very blessed to be in a situation where we can move this program forward at a more rapid pace than people might have anticipated. Our guys are doing a great job right now, and we are excited for the future. I am very excited today, especially to have our first class as a staff established on paper. These guys are all on paper, but we have to get them on the field, and let them go to work. Ratings are just numbers, and they mean very little to me. What is important from this day forward is how we develop our talent. That is what we have been known to do, and that is what we will do with this staff as we move this program forward."
Question & Answer Session
Can you talk about the difference between recruiting at Oklahoma and Arizona?
Stoops: "Well, I think there is something special about the building of a program. It is easy to go to places that are established, but I think there is a sense of accomplishment when you are able to build a program. We went through this five years ago when I was a part of Oklahoma's staff. The similarities are uncanny as to how we were able to recruit as a staff and as a group. To do something, to build something together was a tool that we used during the recruiting process; we all want to be a part of something special and put Arizona in a place that it has never been before. Our kids accepted those challenges as we did as a staff. I think they are very excited. When you look at the University of Arizona, the possibilities are unlimited. During the process, we had approximately 40 kids on campus, and we hit half of those kids. Players are excited to play for this coaching staff."
Can you talk about your success in recruiting Texas?
Stoops:"Well, I couldn't be more pleased with our efforts in Texas. To come out of there with the players that we were able to come out with speaks volumes of what we did at Oklahoma in terms of our recruiting ties with Texas. We had great ties, and the visibility through Oklahoma and the success we had can directly be correlated with me, and that helped."
What were your most successful positions from this recruiting class?
Stoops:"It's hard to say. In looking at the defensive backs, I am really happy with the whole group. B.J. Dennard obviously was the guy that I couldn't be more proud of because of what he had to go through. He is a star in the making; I love everything he does from a physical standpoint. He has great size, and he will be a player that we will look to early along with Antoine Cason. I was really happy to get those two big corners. When you add Dominic Patrick and Michael Klyce, I think they give us a very complete secondary. Each of them fit a position need, and they fit perfectly into our system."
"The offensive line is an area that we felt very strongly about. Dillon Hansen is a guy that probably didn't gain as much exposure since he is from New Mexico, but we think Hansen and Eddie Rollman are two guys that are right where we need them to be in order to compete for positions from a physical standpoint right now. On the defensive line, when you look at Yaniv Barnett, a guy who can play anywhere in the country, and McCollins Umeh from Klein Forest, those are two great defensive linemen. Along with Chris Kolone and Chris Wilson, those are all great guys that are hard to get. Defensively, we feel very strongly about the defensive players that we signed."
"Not signing a quarterback and a running back become areas that will be targeted as we speak, but I think it will enhance our opportunities to get a quality running back and a quality quarterback in the future. We want a quarterback that can make a difference, and we feel like we have four great quarterbacks under scholarship right now, and they are all relatively young, so we feel like the quarterback position can be the strength of our football team if we develop them properly. That leads us to running back, which would be the position that we wish we could have gotten a big-time running back, but we feel like we have guys that can get us through the next year. We will look to sign a few running backs in the next recruiting class."
Were you able to do as much junior recruiting as you would have liked?
Stoops:"We were kind of shorthanded for a major part of recruiting season, so we weren't able to do as much junior recruiting as we would have liked. But, we started with junior recruiting this week, and we feel like we have a handle on it. We need to do a better job of recruiting in the state and in Los Angeles; those are two areas that we are going to work religiously to do a better job. Recruiting in Arizona is an area that we have to cultivate and work with the high school coaches to do a better job in the state. With all of the problems that existed in the program, I think the first year is when you get hit the hardest in-state because those players are the most familiar with the problems that you had internally. With the change, our attitude has changed and the perception of the University of Arizona football program hopefully has changed throughout the past few months."
Can you talk about the three signees from Klein Forest High School?
Stoops: "You always dream of big pass rushers, big guys on the edge, and McCollins Umeh possesses a lot of those characteristics. McCollins and Yaniv (Barnett) are two very dynamic football players. Those are two guys that bring a smile to your face because you like those guys rushing the quarterback. I think our secondary guys will really appreciate them. Those three kids from Klein Forest (Bobby McCoy, Dominic Patrick and McCollins Umeh) are special, and we feel very fortunate to have them in our program."
Is toughness something that you are trying to instill right away?
Stoops: "No question. In watching film from last season, our inability to be tough and to be consistent is an area where we need to be better right from the start. What I like about this class is the character of each recruit. They all come from winning programs and outstanding football programs. The character and the winning are both characteristics that we look for in the process. When you look at what they have accomplished in high school, their accomplishments speak volumes about their team, as well."
Is it likely that a large portion of freshmen will play next season?
Stoops:"That's hard to address right now because I have not spent a fair amount of time with our football team. We will address those needs as we move forward through winter conditioning and spring football, and we will see where we are deficient. I think we are getting better as a football team as we move forward every day. I think we have made great improvements with the players that we have here already in place. The recruitment of these 20 players make us a lot better football team today than we were yesterday. The process of recruiting will continue; we still have opportunities if there are players out there that can improve our team."
Can you talk about the players that you lost out on in the last 48 hours?
Stoops: "You never worry about the guys you lose. There are always guys that you wish you could have gotten, but ultimately in recruiting, you get the guys you are supposed to get. You have to worry about the guys you have and what you can do to make them better. All of our efforts will be towards every one of those football players and the players we have on this team. Ultimately, you want what is best for each individual recruit, and you want him to find a place where he can be successful. I have no hard feelings over anybody that we didn't get. You can't get everyone you recruit, and you just can't worry about it."
Can you talk about the satisfaction of getting a player that no one paid much attention to during the recruiting process?
Stoops: "It all goes back to developing players. If there's one area at Oklahoma that I like to talk about, it is their ability to develop players. It is such an imprecise evaluation process; people want to put numbers on kids right now and label them at such a young age. Kids develop so differently, so we look at players that have growth potential. We have to look at the rankings, but I think they motivate the players and the coaches to prove people wrong. They can rate us wherever they want; what matters is what our players do once they are here."
How many of these players did you look at while you were at Oklahoma?
Stoops: "Obviously, we knew a great deal of these players at Oklahoma, so I had a better insight on all of the Texas kids. We didn't have any insight on any of the West Coast kids because we didn't recruit any of these players from the previous staff that I was on."
What do you think of Brandon Lopez?
Stoops: "Brandon Lopez reminds me of Rocky Calmus in a lot of different ways. Rocky Calmus was an All-American and Butkus Award winner; those are pretty high expectations to put on a guy. Rocky was an all-state running back, and I see a lot of similarities in the two. They both can run, but we want Brandon to be a linebacker, and we think he has all of the tools to be a tremendous linebacker. We are really excited about Brandon; he is greatly underappreciated from a recruiting standpoint. He brings a lot to the table, has a lot of diversity to his game, and he is a great competitor."
How much emphasis are you going to put on junior recruiting in Hawaii?
Stoops: "That is a big area; we will recruit the islands. We will recruit extensively throughout the spring and as long as we are here. That will be a big factor in what we do. We will recruit the whole state of California, Arizona and Texas. Those will be our main recruiting areas, and if we can create interest from outside those areas, we will recruit those players, as well. Hawaii will be a big part; we were able to get in on four or five kids from American Samoa or the islands, so it gave us some exposure over there. Those players over there are very talented, and they have a great work ethic. Hopefully, that will be a great area for us in the future."
Did Arizona lack credibility in Pac-10 recruiting areas?
Stoops: "Just by our numbers, I think you get that feeling. Michael Klyce and Gerold Rodriguez are the only two players out of the L.A. area, so that gives you a little bit of concern. We would like to have a stronger presence in those areas. Overall, we did a little bit better in Southern California than Northern California, but we would like to be stronger throughout the whole state of California."
How much did the Stoops name help in the recruiting process?
Stoops: "It helped more in Texas because of the exposure I had in being with Oklahoma and being associated with Bob (Stoops). We have a lot of credibility in being involved with good programs. Anytime you can be a part of four national championships four years in a row as a family member is pretty special. Our staff as a whole has a lot of credibility, as well. Every one of them has either won a championship or been in a championship game of some sort during their careers."
"The kids were very receptive to us, and we have worked hard at what we have accomplished wherever we've been. I've been in good situations everywhere I have been, and we feel like this is a great situation, too. I just believe wholeheartedly in this program, and I believe in what we can do here. I've seen it done in a lot of different places."
Are you going to get a day off?
Stoops: "We have some functions to finish out recruiting this week, but we will get some time at the end of next week. We will finish this week out putting together our offensive and defensive structure. I couldn't be more excited about the opportunities that present themselves right now. I couldn't be more pleased with the team as a whole, and the new enthusiasm and hope that the players have is exciting for me as a new coach. Now it is time to work with our players, and that is what excites me because they need a lot of work, and we need to get a lot of things straightened out as we move forward towards spring football."