"It's a big day for football coaches all around the country. We felt like we had a real successful day. What we thought was going to happen in the last 24 hours happened starting at 7 o'clock this morning. We ended up signing 20 high school players and four junior college players."
"We do have one more signee we can't announce yet because the papers haven't come through. There was car trouble. We hear a lot of stories through recruiting up to signing day, but this was factual and did happen. We'll announce it when the papers come through."
"I want to introduce Walter Nickel and Scott Fisher. Walter is a tight end who we felt like was one of the most athletic tight ends in junior college football. His teammate, Scott Fisher, claims to be much better looking than his twin brother who is also coming to Iowa State. Scott is almost 6-8 and 330 pounds. Whether he can play or not, he's the first one off the bus that first game of the year. He's a heck of a player. Paul will finish his graduation and join us in June."
"We addressed our needs. In the Big 12 Conference you'd better be looking for as much speed as you possibly can, and I think we did a good job of that. There is going to be immediate competition at a lot of positions because of this class we brought in, especially in the offensive and defensive lines with the junior college kids that we signed…the four and potentially five that we will sign today."
"There are at least seven or eight of the players we signed in this class that could play either side of the ball. There is a lot of athleticism in this class. We put in a lot of time evaluating these kids. Seven of the kids that we signed today were in our football camps in the summer, which is very important."
"To me, Iowa State University is an easy sell. That doesn't mean recruiting is easy, but once we get young men at our campus, there are so many great things to recruit to and sell. For all 18 sports at Iowa State. What did we sell this year? Lots of good things. We were only one of 28 bowl champions in America. We started preseason 90th in America and are a bowl champion. Sixteen of our starters return for next year, plus a kicker and deep snapper. You want to be part of success and compete for a job and be part of a young successful program, come in here and be a part of it. We have tremendous academics and a great community. But the first thing that we sell is the people at Iowa State."
"We signed three kids from the Fort Myers, Florida, area. Chris Ash did a tremendous job in Florida and signed six of them. He headed up my Florida recruiting and did a great job with those kids. When those three kids came up, the temperature ranged anywhere between 20-below and 50-below wind chill factor."
"I told them if they were tough enough to withstand that weekend, they were tough enough to play for me. Those kids, despite that ridiculously cold weather that we've had, came in here and loved the people, academics, and felt the family. They wanted to be part of something special. Those kids believe that the best is yet to come."
"The key to recruiting is evaluation. You've got to be good evaluators. We'll sign some guys today that won't have the four- and five-stars behind their names, but what does that have to do with once the ball is snapped? When they get here, we'll start developing and coaching them."
"One of the real key things that we've done through the years is we can evaluate. Whether they're one-stars or five-stars, we've had a lot of success with kids that were a fit with Iowa State. Frankly, I could care less about rankings or ratings, especially if we've done a good job evaluating, and I think we have."
Comments on current team:
"Spring ball starts seven weeks from today. March 23rd we begin spring ball. The great thing is there's not much of a break from the last time we walked out of the indoor facility and when we'll line up for the spring."
"We'll know sometime in the next week or two whether Tony Yelk gets a sixth year or not. We're taking care of his school right now and he's still on scholarship. We hope that he can come back. It's all up to the NCAA. It's in their hands. We're pulling for Tony and hope it all works out."
"We've got a few guys back in the program. Dominique Flower used to be a scholarship player and left for some personal reasons. He's on his own, paying his own bills, and I'm giving him a chance to earn his spot back in this program and earn a scholarship."
"Landon Streit, an offensive lineman that joined us in January, is now in the program. Travis Cruise, who we felt was an excellent prospect here in Ames has joined us. He graduated early in January and has joined us as an outside linebacker."
"Then we have made some position moves. Brandon Johnson has moved from offensive line to defensive line. Matthew Scherbring has moved from the defensive line to the offensive line. Tyler Lorenzen was one of the best conditioned athletes on our team has moved from quarterback to tight end. We have moved Seth Zehr from guard to center. Some of these are considerations we made throughout recruiting."
"I'm excited about this class and am always very appreciative of my staff. Don Knock and Scot Knock head up our recruiting on campus. They can't leave campus to recruit, but organize everything that we do. My staff has a great belief and confidence that we can continue to have a lot of success at Iowa State in the future. I'll match them up with any staff in the country. They're great and we're back intact. It sure bodes well for the future."
On recruiting in the state of Florida:
"It's a team thing and a lot of guys have been there evaluating and recruiting. Chris Ash was my primary recruiter on the gulf side on the West Coast. He did a tremendous job. I've seen first-hand what he does. He writes notes, calls, is relentless, and builds relationships.
"None of these guys are All-Big 12 or starters at Iowa State, and all they've done is sign the papers. But I think they have a chance to be real special. Whether these kids had two opportunities or 20 to go to other schools, I think we've done a good job evaluating these kids in our evaluation. They were high on our priority list and we closed the deals down there."
"There is a lot of good talent down there. Somebody told me that there were more than 200 players in the state of Florida that are leaving the state to go to Division I schools. We're glad that we have the bunch that we have, and that's going to enhance our chances of going back there in the future to get more of those great young men."
On differences in recruiting this year and last year:
"Your backs are against the wall when you come out of a season like a year ago. You get a real test. Is the program cracking, or was it just a temporary setback? Because of the commitment of my players and dedication of my staff, we were able to come back this year and show that we didn't like 2003 and didn't appreciate it. We were embarrassed and were coming back real strong. To have that trophy in front of us, I'm so proud of it."
"Because of the success that we've had, tying for the Big 12 North title, winning the bowl game, and knowing that so much of this team is back for a number of years – do you want to come in and be in the middle of it? I think the kids that said yes to Iowa State and no to others, said we would be successful and also want to be a part of it."
On recruiting focus in the state of Iowa this year:
"This program starts and ends with Iowa players first, and then we go out of state. There were not lots of players from a talent standpoint this year. The quality was fantastic and the quantity wasn't as good as it usually is. We got our share and Iowa got their share. I think there is one young man that is leaving the state to go to a Division I school.
"But we're not going to go invent players, either. We're not going to invent a guy in some town in Iowa, if he can't play winning football in the Big 12. Let's recruit the kids in this state that we think can be successful, and we can keep bringing trophies home to Iowa State and challenge for Big 12 titles.
"As my staff and I'm sure Kirk (Ferentz) would tell you, many of the decisions are being made so much sooner. We're aggressive in our recruiting from an evaluation and offer standpoint, and Iowa does the same thing. The decisions that were made in the state of Iowa were done a long time ago for the most part."
On recruits making impact on young team:
"There is a great nucleus coming back and we hope a number of these guys will come in and challenge for two-deep spots. There is a tremendous group of players coming back that know how to win and defied the odds. Those guys are going to stay hungry and we will coach and play with our backs against the wall again in 2005. How many of those kids can come in and get in the two-deep? Probably not as many as there were last year. But you just don't want to sell kids short."
On influx of kids from outside Midwest:
"I hadn't even thought about it. But we'll go anywhere. We went to Oklahoma this year. Barney Cotton went down and did a great job signing those two kids (Marquis Hamilton and Houston Jones). We don't go to states wanting to take the backups, threes, fours, and rejects. We watch tape, look at transcripts, get to know them, and get to know their families. I wouldn't be surprised if you see us branch out into two or three more states.
"If you continue to have success – four bowl games in five years – more and more young men around the country know about Iowa State. We can go to more places and have a legitimate chance to recruit those kids. But do not overlook the kids that are in your backyard, and that's in the state of Iowa first."
On getting kids they wanted and missing out on a few:
"There has never been a year that I've gotten through signing day and said, ‘this is it and we got everyone we wanted.' There are always a few of them that you wish you had done a better job with. But the bottom line is, I think this is a class that believes in what we're doing and want to be here. They can't wait to come to Iowa State."
"I'm proud of a young man like Brice Beck. Todd Fitch did a great job of recruiting him. He's a talented young man and had a number of offers, but he wasn't thinking he would waltz in here and beat out Bret Meyer, the offensive MVP of the bowl game. Instead, he's willing to come in and learn the system, have the patience and trust in our evaluation, and still give him a chance to be a one or two in the program."