Ron Prince's Signing Day Press Conference

With the signing of 26 (plus on grayshirt) players to letters of intent, Head Coach Ron Prince and staff scoured the country to evaluate and sign a talented mix of Junior College and High School players on National Signing Day. His first class at Kansas State, Coach Prince spoke to a packed house about the promise and talent that will soon be donning Purple and White jerseys. Here are Coach Prince's thoughts on his recruiting haul and the newest Wildcats.


OPENING STATEMENT TO A PACKED HOUSE

"I want to start this press conference about signing day and just say that this press conference is in memory of Andre' Thibault - a young man, a 12-year-old from Halstead who died tragically in an accident after school last Thursday. He was an avid K-State fan and was in a family who was really terrific in their support. It was a devastating blow to a family and a community. I was fortunate enough to be invited to go down and celebrate his life, and we're going to do what we can here this spring - particularly in the spring game, to honor this young man who was such a big K-State fan. I wanted to start with that, because he was a very special young man whose life deserves that attention.
"I'm really excited about this signing class. When we first came here we talked about wanting to build a team that was fast, tough, strong and disciplined. That's the kind of team that helps you consistently compete for championships. We talked about having a team of people who had integrity and talked about what some of those things are, and also a team where individuals have toughness, both physical toughness and competitive or mental toughness. We were looking for people who were really achievement oriented, really interested in going to college and earning a degree, and people who in their makeup are really wired for success. The people in this class represent that. "
"We took a lot of time to investigate the people, not just their football talent, really who the people were and are and what we think they can grow up to be. I want to have young people here who we can all be proud of. I think we have a very compelling story here. It's very easily identified as the Miracle in Manhattan. There's the story of a small town kid who gets to be the head coach at K-State, and a lot of really interesting people on this team and part of this signing class. We want to do a good job of giving those young people an opportunity to get their story known as well. The number one requirement for this class was really the character of the people and how we wanted the team to put that together. The head coach cannot give that job out to anybody else. The head coach is responsible for putting the team together."

HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT PUTTING YOUR RECRUITING BOARD TOGETHER?

"I don't think that I can give enough credit to those folks who were here, Coach Latimore and those coaches who were here in the office who were responsible for helping us maintain this list. Those first four guys who came onto the staff, Pat Washington, Mo Latimore, Tim Tibesar and Tim McCarty, did a terrific job in many cases cold calling and trying to take the temperature of the recruiting landscape to see what was out there. Those people who we hired were picked and selected because they have a proficiency in recruiting.
They were very geographically sensitive, those selections were. That was part of their selection as well as being excellent coaches. They did a great job of essentially starting this class from scratch. But coaches like Mo Latimore did a great job, not a good job, but a great job of really keeping this thing held together and to provide me with some direction. He was instrumental in giving me a pretty good idea of what the board looked like. One of the assistants here, Jay Kaiser, was valuable along with everyone in the secretarial staff. It was a terrific team effort, and those four original coaches who came on staff really did a lot of the heaving lifting."

ON JOSH FREEMAN

"We were involved with Josh a little bit at Virginia and had some contacts with him there. When you are the offensive coordinator at a major college you are involved with players of that magnitude on a national scale. We were looking for that type of quarterback, obviously everybody covets that ability. What makes a quarterback a really special quarterback, many people like to evaluate size and arm strength and measurables, but what really makes an excellent quarterback, and this is the hardest part to evaluate, but you have to have a young person who is not only a special thinker but a sequential thinker as well. It's very difficult to evaluate that. If a quarterback can understand his progression than read his defense separately, those are hard enough. But if you combine the two talents or skills, that's the rarest of people. I think that's why you see in the National Football League, when teams find one, they hold on to them. We felt through our evaluations at Virginia that Josh was that type of quarterback that he had the aptitude to play, the awareness we were looking for. When we came to Kansas State it was just a matter of seeing if he was interested, if his family was interested. "
"Obviously when you get an opportunity to sit in front of a family or any kind of player, all you are trying to do is make a connection. I think people have a misunderstanding of recruiting. They think recruiting is sales. Recruiting is far from sales. It's making a connection and trying to tell you story, express the things that are important to you and hope that people can identify with those things. That's really what the recruitment of all the players was about."

DO YOU HAVE ANY PHILOSOPHY ABOUT RECRUITING COMMITTED PLAYERS?

"It's difficult, because the NCAA recognizes the national letter of intent. It's very difficult situation, because coach staffs change, and when kids are committed to a coaching staff and a coaching change occurs then people will recruit that young man because the situation changed. I think that also happens from a positive standpoint, when a staff changes there are some young people who may look at a university because of a new coach."
"It goes both ways when it comes to coaching changes, the fact that a program may lose a player because of it, or sometimes when you come in a player would have considered you had you been the coach there before. I think every case is individual. I don't think there is a blanket statement regarding it, and I think that's why there is a signing date. The verbal commitments are just that. I think that in some cases they are lasting, and we've respected those. We've asked young people if they are interested, and if they say that they are not we have moved on, and that's it."

DOES HE FORSEE ANY ILL- WILL FROM NEBRASKA OVER THIS?

"I think there was plenty of competitive spirit from the start. I don't think this is the beginning of any kind of competitive opportunity with that institution."

ON SO MANY JUNIOR COLLEGE KIDS HAVING THREE YEARS TO PLAY
"This is really kind of a few new things since I was playing. When I went to a junior college you played your two years to get experience, then you moved on with three years to play two. Now there seems to be a little bit of a trend or an opportunity for more and more kids to do this. I think it's extremely helpful when you can have a player who has three years instead of two. We all know that sometimes that first year is a transition, whether it's the football transition of playing against faster and fancier competition or being on a faster and fancier team."
"There is an academic curve and transition that has to be made. I think any time you have a young person who has more time, that's always better than less. I think that's why you see people excited about red-shirt opportunities. I think in the long run some players really benefit from that, and I would say the same thing for the junior college player who has three years."

HOW MANY OF THE 56 OFFICIAL VISITS DID YOU USE?

"It was interesting. Where we started from was really with a small list of names and there had been very few official visits taken. We had basically the full allotment of official visits to offer. I was committed to using as many as necessary, because to be frank with you not really being able to gauge the interest of these young people not only to the new coach but the institution, you want to make sure we had enough opportunity to be in front of enough young people that we didn't need to have a perfect yield, so that we gave ourselves an opportunity to be in front of as many young people as we could."

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