The following is a transcript of first-year head coach Robb Akey's press-conference last week in Moscow announcing the 2007 University of Idaho football recruiting class.
Robb Akey: I know you never had a football coach sit here and tell you that he was disappointed in the guys that they signed, and I'm not going to sit here and tell you that they're all short and slow or anything like that. I'd like to think some of them are pretty good players. Obviously we'll find out here in a couple years exactly how well they're playing for us and how well we did, but I'd be lying to you if I didn't tell you I was excited about this group.
The first thing I want to do is commend this coaching staff on the job they did. In the course of three weeks we accomplished what everybody else has been having the opportunity to work for a full year on in regards to putting this recruiting class together; so I am excited about that, and the caliber of some of these guys that were able to come with us. In a nutshell there should be four guys from the state of Texas that will be signing with us, three from Las Vegas, one right now from Hawai'I – I'm hoping there might be another in that mix – and there are some Southern California kids, some Washington kids. I think we did pretty well. We were able to get established in some of the areas that are going to be strong recruiting areas for us. Obviously towards the future I'd like to see some Idaho names start to appear on the University of Idaho signee list, and I think that with the opportunity to get started on next year's class today, that will enable us to have the opportunity to have some Idaho kids as Vandals at this time next year.
The first kid on that list there, Justin Allen, is a 5-11, 207-pound linebacker from Cedar Park High School in Austin, Texas. He was 5-A Defensive Player of the Year down there. He's got a great motor, a good student. Flies around, and is a very physical football player. I like what he brings to the table both as a football player and also as a quality young man. He comes from a great family, a very good student, and I think he is a great addition to the group that we've got here.
The next name on there is Quin Ashley, also from the state of Texas. Paris High School in Paris, Texas. Quin was a quarterback and defensive back at the high school there, and he's you're Michael Vick / Vince Young type of quarterback - the athletic kind of guy. I think in college he could be potentially a quarterback, he could be a running back, could be a receiver, could be a safety. We'll get him in here and see what he would like to play and get him started, but I think the athleticism that he brings to the table is going to be a great mix for us. That was kind of a neck and neck battle for us in the recruiting war. TCU made a hard swoop at him on Monday and tried to get him to change his mind. I was very concerned about that, because seeing his mom last week she made it clear that she'd love to have the kid with us, but closer to home would be better. We're not closer to home, but they obviously felt strong enough about the way that he was going to be treated at the University of Idaho. When they tried to make their swoop on him on Monday he stayed strong with us, and I think that says a lot about the character that he brings to the table. I'm obviously excited about his athleticism.
Matt Cleveland is a 6-4, 300-pound offensive lineman from over on the west side of the state of Washington. He helps us add to the size of this front that we're going to have here. He's gong to be the future, obviously. He comes from a great family, a great kid, and athletic for a 6-4, 300-pound kid. I think his future is going to be very big.
Michael Cosgrove, defensive tackle, 6-4, 250-pounds from Desert Pines High School in Las Vegas. Michael's got a ‘little wild' eye to him. He's going to be a taller version of the future in our defensive line being 6-4, 6-5 right now. The weight room is going to get him big and strong. He'll be playing in the interior for us. He comes from a good line of football players. His father played at the University of Oregon as a defensive tackle and a linebacker. He had a couple of uncles who also had the opportunity to play college football; so I think there are some things there that he brings to the table. He is certainly a tough kid. He fit in on this campus very well right off the bat.
Joseph "Jo Jo" Dickson. He's a linebacker, about 6-1, 200-pounds from Baldwin High School over in Hawaii. One of the things that we wanted to be able to do was try to get established in Hawaii, and build on that. I think he'll help us be able to get that going. Coach Nansen did a nice job with him. He's got a wild eye to him. He can run around. He's going to be a physical, flying around linebacker. I'm very excited about his future. I'll talk about that linebacker group here in just a moment.
Andre Ferguson is one [another linebacker signee]. He's about 6-3, about 205-210 pounds right now from Southern California. He was at East Valley High School in the Redlands area. Andre was one in that he was initially committed to Arizona State University. He committed to them early last summer. A lot of people kinda quit recruiting him because that was the case. When the change took place, that was a quick stop that I made back in there, and at that point in time I was next door and wanted to know if he might be interested ... what he was going to do, where he was going to look for someplace else. Basically over time the new crew at Arizona State got somewhat involved with him. They didn't close ground on him, didn't have anything for him, whatever the case was. We certainly did. He and his father came up here two weeks ago, liked very much the way they were treated, the way things are going to be. I think that's a linebacker with Pac-10 ability. I felt very good about him for a long time. I like his future. I think he's going to be not only a good player, a good person. He's a good student as well.
Eric Greenwood is a 6-6, 195-pound receiver from Edmonds-Woodway over in the Seattle area. Eric is fortunate enough to be the first commit to this class. He was very proud of that. As a matter of fact he called back and wanted to know if he could wear number one since he was the first one to commit to this class. He's a big target. He'll go up and catch the ball. I like the way he runs. With his frame he might…we'll see what the weight room does to him, how big he gets in time. That might be a guy, who knows, if he continues to be a big target at wide receiver, would he maybe be an athletic tight end in time. We'll see what that holds in the future, but I like what he brings to the table. I think you can go throw jump balls to him and he'll do a nice job of going and catching the football.
The next name on there is Dewey Hale, and that's Quin Ashley's teammate from down there at Paris High School. We put the tape on and watched these two guys. It was fun to watch the tape. You could shut it off because you like the way they played, but you had so much fun watching them play you left in on there for a little while. Dewey was the one that Quinn was throwing the football to. He could be a slot, he will probably be a punt returner for us, and he might also be a corner for us. We'll plug him into the spot that fits both him and us the best in time, but I like his athleticism. He will be a good addition to this class.
Bilal Liggins is an offensive lineman that is very athletic, very physical. You see him finishing blocks very well. That's what we liked about him in the video that we watched of him. Obviously at 250 pounds his future is down the line, but that's what we have that big weight room for down there. With that kind of athleticism, those feet, I seem him being a 6-3, 285-290 pound guy for us here in a few years that will play a strong role for us. If he gets anywhere near big like his dad he'll certainly fill-in to that; so I think his future is good. There are some guys in this class that will be able to help us soon and some guys that we're obviously building for the long haul with in this class. I think that he's a good one in that respect.
Tyrone Novikoff, he's the midget of the group. He's not really 6-7; he's only 6-6 ¾, but he is 306 pounds. His house is about eight miles this side of the Canadian border up there around Curlew. He played eight-man football, and if you watch him play football, obviously he dominates at that level, and you see a kid that is able to move and run around a little bit. When I got the opportunity to meet him and he came in here, he's got some size to him. At 305 pounds it looks good on him. That will become a lot more weight here in a period of time when that weight room goes to work on him. I also think the fact that he's played eight-man football, his upside I think is going to be very big. That's one that we're building for the future, and one of the things we want to be able to do is I'd like to increase the size of the line here. I don't have to look up at a lot of guys, but I'm not looking up at enough of ‘em right now. He can give me a crook in my neck and that's a good thing. That's what I like to see in this offensive line. If nothing else, that big ol' body and those long arms will take a day to run around and get to the quarterback. That ought to help us a little bit in that respect. His mom was a power lifter. There's a lot of good things I think that he brings to the table.
Kenneth Patten is a future corner. He played corner and safety at Crenshaw High School down in Los Angeles. A real good burst. A very physical kid; so he'd be a physical corner or a fast safety, however that works out. I think he's one that will be with us over the long haul. We'll see what his future becomes.
Fonomanu Sekona – He's a 6-2-1/2, 293 pound defensive tackle who actually played quarterback and linebacker in high school this year. I've done this my career a little bit with some guys, former quarterbacks sometimes make pretty good defensive linemen. If you think like one, it makes it a little easier to hunt ‘em down, and he certainly brings the size to the table. He's a physical guy. Believe it or not, at 293 pounds he was the runaround type of quarterback. The thing was when he was running around those DBs that had to tackle him, they kinda tried to get out of the way, and he'd still track ‘em down and truck ‘em before he scored or before he gained those extra yards. He's an aggressive kid, but brings some of the size that we like to get added to our defensive front.
Maurice Shaw – Maurice is about 6-2. He's an "almost" 6-3. He's a 188, 190, 195 pound receiver. He's one that I'm very excited about. He was one that I was very aware of when I was recruiting over at Washington State. He's a receiver that will go get the ball, does a great job protecting it with his body. He runs well. We survived a swoop on Monday night. A Pac-10 school tried to come in steal him away from us, and he stayed strong with his commitment to us. I think that says; again, I like the character that he brings to the table, what his family brings to the table. He's a class kid with a big, big future. The first time he returned a kick – they put him on the kickoff return team last year – the first time he gets an opportunity to do it he takes it 95 yards to the house for a touchdown. He's got some things like that, and I think a big upside in front of him; so I am excited about what I think he can do.
Korey Toomer – 6-3, 210 pound linebacker from Las Vegas, Nevada. Korey has a brother who played in the NFL. He's a big, athletic kid who has a lot in front of him. He runs very well for that size. I like what he brings to the table a lot.
The Vegas connection stays there with Corey White who's the best runningback in the city of Las Vegas, and if memory serves me correctly he was originally committed to another Pac-10 school up here in the Northwest. He had a couple of Mountain West Conference trips, and he and his dad were here last weekend and this is where he elected to come. He's 5-9, 5-10, about 205 pounds actually. He's got a nice burst, real good feet to him. I think he'll be an exciting kind of a running back in the future for us here.
There were only four junior college players that we took in these recent additions. Going into this we're trying to build a program here. That's what we want to get done. If there were some guys that could help us initially certainly we wanted to be able to add that to the mix. If two players were close in their ability, those types of things, we were going to go with the younger player because they're going to be with us longer and give us a better ability to be able to build the family.
We felt like tight end was a position…we've got some guys here that maybe are a little unproven in regards to how they can help us. If we can find one that would help us maybe immediately we were in tune with that. And that brought us on both Jim Reuber and Kevin Small.
Jim Reuber had originally signed with Kansas out of high school, had gone to junior college. Very athletic. Runs very well, catches the ball very well. He's 254, almost 260 pounds right now. He runs kinda like a receiver and has on-the-ball blocking ability; so I think that gives us a chance to have a guy that can help us right away.
Kevin Small, at 6-3, 261 pounds, he didn't qualify out of high school. That's why he went to junior college. He was getting a lot of Pac-10 attention early in the process when he was a high school recruit, and then not only played football but played basketball down there at Palomar Community College in San Diego. He's every bit a big, and moves very well. I think he could really help us a lot. The addition of those two guys that can have an opportunity to play right away, I hope that gives us the ability to be able to be multidimensional in regards to personnel groupings and formations with our offense as early as this season.
The other need that we obviously had right now was the ability to cover somebody at corner. Stanley Franks did a tremendous job for this program a year ago leading the nation in interceptions. The other guys that are here are unproven. We felt like we needed to add to the competition there, and the ability to get two junior college corners may also give us the opportunity to maybe play some nickel and some dime, some things like that.
I like very much what we got in T.J. Taylor. Some of you may remember his daddy played for about maybe 10 or 12 years in the NFL and was with the Seahawks for about seven years, I believe was an all-pro player a couple of times; so there's some good blood lines in there, and I hope that will translate into some good coverage with us also. I like the kid a lot. He brings some nice size to the table as well. He's not small at 5-11, and he can run; so I think that's a good thing.
Then Breyon Williams is the other who came to us from Pasadena Junior College. He was in here last weekend, runs very well. It's a big 5-9 that he's at. Now we've got two guys that can compete with Stanley, maybe a nickel, maybe a dime as well as compete with the other kids that are here right now; so I think that helps us with some immediate concerns in regards to making sure that we can cover folks.
I know you've already been aware of Marcus Pedro and Cory Rhoane who were actually signed on the day that I got this job.
That's the class. I do think some of ‘em are big, and I think some of ‘em have got some pretty good speed. One thing we wanted to be able to do was try to increase the size of the fronts, and I think you see that we've been able to address that a little bit. I think we have helped the speed at some of the positions on this football team, and I think that's an important thing. We've got a couple of guys in there that I think are playmaker-type guys that I would expect you to see maybe this fall. We've got a nice corps of linebackers here. We might be pretty good at linebacker. That might be a strength of the defense coming into this season, but four of those guys are seniors, and when they're gone, everything is unproven behind them. I felt like that was something that we needed to address. Certainly each of these guys will have the opportunity to help us in special teams this fall so that when they do have the opportunity to maybe become that next starter as a sophomore they've been game tested a little bit also. I just don't want a true pup out there. That was part of the reasoning into what we did there. We like the athleticism that those guys brought to the table. Those are some of the things that we look to try to be able to add to this class.
I'm proud of what our coaches did, and I like where we're at. There are some of them that will help us right away and some of them…you'll see them start to contribute for us in the future.
LOI Press Conference Transcript (PART I)
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