The Tigers signed 30 players.
"It's a big day at Auburn for us. It's always an accumulation of a lot of hard work on this one day in about four or five hours. You kind of figure out if your work has paid off for the last two, three or four years. It's not a week-long process and it's not a month. It's a long process that you go through.
"I'm real proud of our coaches and our players for what they have done in recruiting and how they have sold our program to the players who have come on campus, and also to the parents in doing it the right way. I let them know what to expect and what Auburn is about.
"We have 30 signees, obviously a few more than the 25 that you are allowed to accept and enroll in school. Several of these guys will enter either junior college or prep school over the next six or seven months.
"We are very excited about this group because of the character and attitude that we feel like they bring to this University. It has been a fun group to recruit, but again it has been a long process. All of these guys have come from the Southeast. Most wanted to play in the SEC and wanted to play at Auburn. They wanted to be part of a program that has won a lot of games the last few years.
"As I told a lot of people who ask me about the key to recruiting, the key to recruiting, as I have found out over my 30 years of coaching and recruiting, is winning games--winning games and having a great product here at Auburn, a great academic institution.
"Our football program going the way it is, it hasn't been real easy because there is a lot of competition out there, but it has been very fruitful for us. To be able to sign the type of player that is going to come here and represent our University in academics and athletics, we are excited about that.
"We think it is a very good group. We won't know, obviously, until they get here on campus in the next few years to see how it pans out. Again, I am very excited about the attitude and character and what they represent. We had a lot of input this year from parents. A lot of these parents came onto our campus, and we are proud to have them also as a part of our family.
"It is a big group, a lot of offensive and defensive linemen. As I always say, that is how I evaluate our class. If you can get good linemen to come and be a part of your program, that is where it all starts on the defensive and offensive lines.
"This year we signed five offensive linemen who we feel like are some of the best potential athletes in the country. I think they are really going to enhance what we are doing here at Auburn. We needed that. As we all know, we graduated a lot of our offensive linemen from last year.
"We do have some coming back, but there were some holes we needed to fill. We feel like these young men who have signed with us today are going to be a great addition to our program. We signed a lot of skill players in some positions.
"The other area that we needed to address was our kicking positions. Last year we had one of the best kicking games in the country, and we lost our punter and kicker.
"We had to go out and search the southeast and the country for what we felt like would be the best person to fill that position. We found a good kicker in Wesley Byrum. He has done a wonderful job for his school in St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale. We are really excited about what he brings to us.
"I'm not going to talk about all the players. I think that I will probably get some questions here about some particular players. Obviously, we went back to my home state and we signed three players there, and we will talk about that also. I am proud of the players and the confidence they have in us, the guys that signed with us and the direction that our football program is headed.
"This is just another group of players that we brought in to add to the last few recruiting classes that we feel like were the best in the country. We're excited about their addition today, and look forward to them coming to campus either this summer or in August and starting their education and athletic career here at Auburn University."
(On kicker Wes Byrum)
"Ryan Shoemaker, who has been our punter, has a redshirt. We brought him in here last year, and he followed Kody (Bliss). He has done a good job for us. As a redshirt, we have to wait and see what he is going to do once the lights come on. He has a lot of potential. He has a strong leg. He has worked very hard.
"We have Zach Kutch as a kicker that we signed who will have the ability to go through spring and see what he can do. The thing that Wesley can do, he is strong and actually played defensive end, too. He is a big kicker. He has a strong leg. I don't think there is any doubt that he will be our kickoff guy because of the strength of his leg.
"When it comes to being the punter, we will give him a shot. I think Ryan and the things that he has done, it looks like he will have the edge at the putting position. With field goals and extra points, there is going to be a lot of competition there with Wesley coming in and having the opportunity to pick up where he left off last year in a very good year as a kicker and field goal guy for St. Thomas."
(On picking up four commitments on signing day)
"Recruiting is getting a little bit different, as we all know, over the years. There are guys committing a little bit earlier. We've known for quite a while that a lot of these guys are going to be a part of our program, as everybody else has.
"Today we had some guys that made their decision in the last 24 or 48 hours. Sometimes some go your way, and sometimes they go the other way. We felt like with the four guys that signed with us, we're very fortunate because our coaches work very hard. But again, they made the decision to come our way after really thinking about it for a long time. Josh Bynes being one of those, a linebacker, was recruited by almost everybody. We felt good about him.
"As we tell them all, ‘Don't make a decision until you're completely sure.' We don't anyone to commit and change their minds. We want them to completely sure of what they're doing and that it's the best interest for them. Josh was one of those; Nick Fairley was one. Carlton Johnson was a guy a lot of people didn't have on their radar screens. He had visited some of the ACC teams in the last few weeks. He was a teammate of Enrique Davis. He's really got a lot of talent. He can run, has a lot of speed and we're really fortunate to pick him up. When you get a few surprises the last day, you hope they're good surprises and not surprises that you weren't expecting to go other places. This was a great day for us here at Auburn." (On signing three players from Arkansas)
"We look everywhere, especially in the southeast. The first thing we were looking for in Kodi Burns was a quarterback that had some mobility. I compare him a lot to Dameyune Craig, who was here a few years ago. He's a guy that can make a big play sometimes when things don't go very well at the line of scrimmage or they are blitzing.
"Kodi is a very athletic person, and he's got a strong arm. He can get the ball down the field. He can make people miss. We'll be able to do different things with him. As I told him, we're going to give him an opportunity to come in next year and see what he can do the first year. He might be a guy that can play some in certain situations, but he is also going to learn this offense.
QB Kodi Burns is rated as the No. 1 prospect in Arkansas by Scout.com.
"We're not going to put in a different offense just for him. He's going to learn the same offense as the other quarterbacks, so it will take him a while to learn the entire package. It just so happens that he was in Arkansas, that we found him and felt like he would fit in to our scheme. We feel great about him coming and spending the next few years here at Auburn and getting his education and playing for us.
"Lee Ziemba was one of the top offensive linemen in the country. We got on Lee because of a situation where his parents went to school here. A lot of time when you get players like this, there are some ties that they have to your school. It gives you a better opportunity. Hugh Nall did a great job of selling Auburn. It was a tight battle.
"There were a lot of schools (interested) because he was Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Arkansas. He had a lot of other options, but he saw what we needed here. And as he told me, he felt like it was home when he came to visit. He had been here several times before. His parents were open to letting him go wherever he wanted to. They had no feedback into what his decision was. They supported him, obviously, but the decision was his to come here.
"Adam Herring, a defensive coordinators son at the University of Arkansas. (His father) Reggie Herring coached here with Coach Dye. Adam was born here, so he had some ties. We needed a true inside middle linebacker and he fits exactly what we were looking for. That's how we got onto those three. Again, we go to every state in the southeast. Fortunately for us, this year we were able to get three good athletes out of a state that I know quite a bit about.
Adam Herring played on a state championship team at Shiloh Christian.
(On if a he concerns himself with the rating of recruiting classes)
"We got a good combination of players. Almost half our team is linemen; half are skill players and one kicker. We've got speed. If you look at the defensive players we recruited, they might not be the biggest guys that you'll see on some of the boards across the country, but they do have speed. That's my philosophy; we're going to recruit guys that have speed no matter what size or weight. We feel like we've been successful doing it that way.
"Coach Muschamp had a lot of input on things we're going to do defensively and on the type of players we need to bring in. He was very active in the role of helping to recruit all of the defensive players. I think that helps. This is the first time we have done it that way, where the coordinator has gone out and been active with all of the defensive players, not just the ones in his area. I thought Will (Muschamp) did an outstanding job.
"It's a good mix. We'll be ranked in a lot of these so-called polls. I've never gone by that. As I tell people, I was on three national championship teams at the University of Miami back in the 80s and early 90s. None of those recruiting classes we had were ever in the top ten. It's all a guess, but you try to do as much background work as you can. There are a lot of different services. Our camps have been great for us. We have some very extensive camps where players come in and we get to know them very well attitude and character wise, personally. Position coaches, recruiting coaches and myself get to know a lot more about them in our camps, not just athletically but all around. We've had a lot of success with that, so I attribute our success to our camps if we have any kind of ranking after today."
(On Michael McNeil)
"We have had some problems at safety with a couple of guys hurt, graduation and moving guys to linebacker. Mike McNeil is a special player. He's tall, he's rangy, but he's got great acceleration. There was a huge recruiting battle with some of the schools out of the state that wanted to come in and recruit Michael. We threw our hat in the ring. That's one area that I felt coach Muschamp helped us. He was able to work with James Willis, who recruits the Mobile area. I thought they did a great job of showing him our needs and how he could help us and also help him to get on the field earlier. He will be able to play in the type of scheme that we play where he can play zone and man coverage. He's got unlimited ability.
"He has a football background with his grandfather. His coaches down there (in Mobile) were very high on his ability to pick up different things on defense. He has a nose for the football. I can look back over my career and look at safeties his size, and there's not a lot. There's not a lot of guys who were able to play safety his size because sometimes not having good enough quickness and speed to play back in the secondary at that height. He has that. He can move. What I like about him is his acceleration to the ball and make plays. He will definitely have an opportunity next year to step out and be a part of this team very early in his career."
(On invited walk-ons)
"We can only have 120 players on our team. What we do is go through spring ball, and if players have made it through with us for a year as a football player, no matter whether they are on scholarship or not, we count those as next year players. If we have five, six, seven, we can't go over that. We can have 105 here in August, and then when school starts, we can have 120. Sometimes you have more, sometimes you have less. We do an extensive search of going out to find players that we feel like can play here. We don't call them walk-ons or scholarship players, they are all football players to us. It makes no difference to us. We will play whoever can come here and help us play, as long as they come and know they have to go to class, work towards that degree and do the things off the field as well as the things on the field it takes to be an Auburn Tiger. Hopefully, we can have a half dozen or so new guys who will be a part of our program next year that are not on scholarship."
On James Willis recruiting in the Mobile area)
"You have to be a good recruiter to coach in the SEC. You can't just be a coach, you can't just be an X's and O's guy, you have to be somebody who pays the price in the off hours of writing letters, talking on the phone and studying film. As I tell our coaches, one of the biggest things about coaching college football now is being able to evaluate players. That's what I have been excited about for James. He watches film, can evaluate a high school player and projects them well. I looked at what he did at Rhode Island while he was there and what he did with us a year here as a graduate assistant. He is going to be an excellent coach on the field. He is learning everyday. He is learning different positions and things we are doing with this defense. His recruiting was excellent. He built a personal relationship, as you have to do, with the recruits. You have to sell yourself first, your school second and do it the right way. He did a good job. Every time I went into a home with him in Mobile, I thought he handled himself well.
"He will continue to get better, as we all do. Whether you have been coaching 30 years or you have been coaching five years, you really have to know the importance of recruiting and have to continue to work to get better at it. But I thought he did a good job this first year in Mobile. There are a lot of good players. That's an area where you run into a lot of competition from all the schools in the SEC and ACC. With him being able to get four players out of that area the first year, I thought he did an excellent job."
(On Enrique Davis)
"This is Running Back U, there's no doubt about it. Enrique was one of the top running backs in the country and you can't leave him out. He's been a breath of fresh air for us in recruiting. He made his mind up early. I thought he did an excellent job of evaluating what we had here; he looked at it and studied it. He also looked at the opportunities of what a running back does in our offense--running the ball, catching the ball, blocking and learning a pro-style offense. He's going to be a special running back for us. He's got everything it takes.
"He's a big running back; he's not one of your smaller guys. He's going to fit into our offense and he will have a chance to play next year. He's got a lot to learn, as we all know, but he's got all the skills. I like his personal attitude of what it's going to take to play here as a running back. He reminds me a lot of Ronnie Brown with how he handles himself. He's got the speed it takes. I watched all of his film from 10th, 11th and 12th grade, and he's still got room for improvement. The step he made from his 11th to his 12th year was really fun to watch."