John Lilly's View

FSU recruiting coordinator John Lilly chatted with the media Wednesday evening. Here is that conversation and Lilly's comments on the Seminoles' 2003 recruiting class. "...I think they are coming in ready to try to make an impact on a team that returns a lot of starters and is set up to make a run at the (national) championship this year. So, we are pretty pleased with it from that standpoint."

Here are John Lilly's comments

"I think it's a lot like. ... every year we always talk about the same things and we talk about recruiting being real important in terms of meeting needs. So, from that standpoint, I think as we look at it we hit on most of our needs. Really, we're trying to focus a lot on the offensive and defensive fronts and felt like we came away with some real good quality and numbers there. It's going to be real important over time and yet I think the one thing. ... a couple of things that jump out that there's a bunch of guys in this class who have played for and most of them have won state championships. The ones who have been in them, I think there's five or six out of this group, obviously you want to bring guys in with that type of attitude and that type of experience and that can kind of help some of the other guys maybe elevate their class up to that level. And I think they are coming in ready to try to make an impact on a team that returns a lot of starters and is set up to make a run at the championship this year. So, we are pretty pleased with it from that standpoint.

"The one thing, the numbers are a little bit less than we initially anticipated or than what we could have signed if things had fallen right. But at the same time it wasn't a year we went into it putting a whole lot of stress on the numbers simply because we are going to be faced with a year next year where I think we have 10 seniors on our football team. One on our offense. We are kind of back into that cycle where we can only sign a handful of guys like we did in the '99 class - I think we signed 11 - we are going to be facing that again next year. Obviously, you don't like for that year to come around because it puts you a little behind schedule. We should have a couple leftover now that we can carry over to that or give somebody who is going to be playing a real big role on our team as a walkon."

Are you looking at Antonio Cromartie as a wide receiver or a defensive back?

"He has expressed a tremendous interest in playing on the defensive side of the ball. Obviously, he has played well on both sides of the ball and he's an excellent kick returner as well and you are always looking for a guy who can hit a home run in the kicking game. That's kind of a way to get him involved because he's dangerous with the ball in his hands. That's another way to get him involved in your plans, where he can make some plays. But he's real excited about the opportunity to play on the defensive side of the ball and I think to play for coach Andrews over there at the corner."

There were several players who talked about growing up as Florida State fans but yet did not sign with Florida State. What do you think happened?

"That's a good question and I don't know. Sometimes that's the worst thing that can happen to you. If you look around, there's probably a few that we've signed that maybe grew up as fans of other teams or whatever. I can look at a couple of them and I kind of know for sure they did. I think that happens when, at times, other people who know the competition is pretty early if a young man comes out and says he has always been a fan of this particular team or this program. Sometimes that subjects them to a little bit more - I don't want to necessarily use the word negative recruiting - but they are going to be told a little bit more about that particular schools that their fans of by all the other schools. You know how it is. At any time you are going to be impressed by the majority, particularly if you're 17 or 18 years old, a lot of times you hear one thing from Florida State and you hear something else from every other school that's recruiting you, then at times I think maybe that can persuade you to maybe go against what you had always wanted to do. And sometimes you have to also take into account, when you look at the situation at their particular position, the fan thing might not override the desire to play early somewhere else."

You can talk about signing the three local players and the impact that it had on the overall class.

"That was a major priority for us. That was, truth be known, that was the priority for us entering this year. When you look and in your own backyard you've got what you feel like are a handful, not only the top prospects in your state but the top prospects in America, and you are able to get three like we did, the quality of the ones that we did, that's going to be a very, very important thing. You always want to take care of home and that's what we were able to do with that. That was a focus from day one and we wanted to make sure those guys were able to see what Florida State had to offer. Again, you run into a lot of hurdles because they know everything that goes on at Florida State and sometimes familiarity is one of the worse things. They want to do something different, they want to see something different and they want to get away if they've been here forever. So we feel very, very fortunate to have signed three players of that caliber from right here."

Are you disappointed that some of these high-profile players who appeared to be coming here did not end up signing?

"What happens in recruiting and you can ask anybody this and I think you will get the same answer anyway. What happens in recruiting is that you work very hard and do all the things that you feel like are the right things to sell your program and your university. And then if you find out, as you know you are going to, a certain number of times each year that a young man has chosen another school, you are going to be disappointed naturally about it. But it lasts for 30 seconds, a minute, whatever, and then you move on because you know you have to go on with recruiting the next guy or finish up. When you step back and look at it, the bottom line is you can't spend a whole lot of time worrying about the ones that you didn't get or feeling upset or disappointed about it because those guys are not the ones who are going to win or lose for you. You may play against them somewhere down the line and have to deal with them, but as far worrying about it, you are never disappointed when you've added quality to your football team like I think we did today. We are excited about the ones that we have and not thinking anymore about the ones that went somewhere else. The ones that can get you beat are the ones that you signed not the ones that went somewhere else. That's the standard answer but it's the truth."

You were asked earlier about whether the negative publicity that surrounded FSU this past season would affect your recruiting effort this season. What is your verdict?

"All I will say on that is certainly there were some things out there that are not necessarily going to help you in the recruiting process. But at the same time, we had time to deal with those and I guess go over those, explain them, talk with the prospects and the families about them. I would never assign blame for not signing a prospect to something else that happened or somebody else did. The bottom line is it's my job to make sure that we get them and for any that we didn't get, I will take the blame for that. You can't put the blame on an event that happened or anything else that goes on."

Have you ever seen anything like today's finishing day?

"This one topped them all, I am not going to lie to you. This was different. We've been through some. ... but some of what makes this thing so much fun is no two days are the same. Some days are a little bit more fun than others. Today was funny but not necessarily in a laughing sense at times. But it was definitely different from any other that we've been through. I just think that's the way recruiting is now and it's going to continue to get that way. We've talked before. Obviously, we are to blame as coaches. I think the media is to blame for it. The fans, the Internet, all those things are to blame for it. Kind of the way that it works now and I hate to say circus - I heard that word a lot today - the circus it has become to an extent. You start looking at where guys went and things like that. I don't know how many guys changed their mind in the last day, or two days or week. It seems like once a guy commits, the one sure thing about it is that's where he's not going to go. That's the way things are right now and you deal with that. That's just the way recruiting seems to be, the trend of it, or the cycle that it's going in. But it has been a little bit different and I am sure it continue to be that way as long as all of us continue to feed it."


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