Signing Day Press Conference - Part II
BIG CLASS IN NUMBERS A CASE OF BRINGING IN PEOPLE AND SEEING WHO WILL STICK?
"I wouldn't phrase it that way at all. The role of the head coach is to put the roster together. I kind of look at this a little bit differently. We have a budget of 85 scholarships that the NCAA allows you to give and you can never give more than 25 in a year, but it's my responsibility to make sure, and I'm not trying to be flippant or coy, but that if you are going to the beach, how many blue blazers do you really need? You need some sandals and some shorts, probably more than one pair, but how many blue blazers do you really need? It's kind of the same way when you are putting a class together and you have to make sure that you can really make yourself feel better by recruiting a lot of players at a particular position, but you have to be sensitive to the 85 and the overall budget and how the roster is put together."
"Those are some of the things I'm managing to make sure that down the road we have some sort of fiscal responsibility when it comes to budgeting those scholarships and that the assistant coaches at each position have the numbers to work with to do a good job. That's part of what went in to that, making sure that we are at 85, at full strength, that we didn't want to be at any disadvantage."
ARE THERE ANY SPOTS WHERE YOU FELT YOU NEEDED HELP FAST?
"Not from a competitive standpoint, but more from a roster standpoint. In evaluating the roster I went back and looked at the signing classes for the last six years and compared that with the roster and the other 11 teams in the conference to see what percentage of veteran players we had and what we'd be taking the field with in the future as well. I wanted to be able to project what the roster might look like in the future in comparison to the other teams in the North and the teams we could possibly be playing from the South. That's where the strategies. I wanted to make sure that we were sound going forward with our roster. Most of my concern was more from sheer roster numbers as opposed to a particular competitive analysis of a position."
DOES THAT MEAN YOU ARE LOOKING AT THIS CLASS MORE AS GUYS WHO WOULD HELP OUT DOWN THE ROAD?
"Fundamentally I'm of the approach that when they are ready, I'm ready. I never talk to any player about red-shirting. It could be in some young people's best interest, but we had a situation at Virginia where we started true freshman and red-shirt freshman, played kids very early in their career. We didn't feel like seniority had anything to do with competitiveness. We want to make sure that we have that at all times and that every person knows they have a chance to compete for playing time. I think that's when you have the best kind of locker room and competitive spirit on your team, not where a player is waiting his turn. We're going to put the best players on the field, and I think I owe that to the fans, the team, the university that."
ON SIGNING SO MANY DEFENSIVE BACKS
"I think it's very clear to me if you analyze the current landscape in college football, the style that is being played…if you look at the style played…the spread offenses (Texas-Oklahoma) where often times the quarterback is the featured player and often times the runner, when you are in that situation with a lot of wide receivers on the field you feel like you need numbers in that area. In the landscape of college football it's become a much more wide-open game as opposed to a between the tackles game. That was one of the strategies when we looked at the sheer numbers at the defensive back position that I felt like we needed to bolster."
THIS CLASS PUT YOU CLOSER TO YOUR GOAL OF BEING THE FASTEST TEAM IN THE NORTH?
"I think what you are looking for in all cases are functional demonstrations of speed and toughness and those kinds of things. There is no question that I think right now the premium on college football is on speed. Because of the intersectional games you may play and in divisional play here in the Big 12 that being able to play fast through November is critical. If you can maintain functional speed throughout a season and don't have any limitations because of a lack of it you give yourself a change in every ballgame. Obviously I think that plays into things in special teams I'm interested in doing that could make an impact in that area."
ANY OF THE RECRUITS BROUGHT IN WITH SPECIAL TEAMS IN MIND?
"I wouldn't say so, but I think every player on the roster has to have a special teams component. To me, if you really look at the long-term success of Virginia Tech, I don't know if there is another team, other than maybe N.C. State, who has been as consistently good on special teams. I think that is a direct correlation to their standing in the Top 20 consistently. I think Virginia Tech consistently can put a fast team on the field. I've been heavily influenced by the way that roster was put together and organized having studied it so closely, and I think one of the ways to get your self back into the hunt quickly is to be excellent on special teams."
ON USING THE KANSAS JUNIOR COLLEGES?
"I think we have a very interesting system here in the state. As we all know we have a (small) population in our state, and in a given year there will likely be less than a dozen players. In certain states like Florida or Texas you might have 250 to 300 Division-I players. We have a unique situation because a lot of players like myself get to go into the incubator for two years, one of our community colleges in the state."
"I think when you have that chance you get a second shot at it, and I want to make sure we do a good job of evaluating those players, high school players from our state who get an opportunity to compete at that level. It's also unique because there are a lot of players who are not from the region who become exposed to us through the system. Whether it's the Kansas community colleges or those that are nearby, it's a unique opportunity for our staff and our state to be able to have players come from different players."
IS IT MORE IDEAL TO HAVE MORE HIGH SCHOOL RECRUITS?
"You could argue that there hasn't been another program to more successfully balance the Junior College-High School equation under Coach Snyder. We want to make sure that we always take the opportunity to update our roster. If you try to make the analogy with the pro team some times you have to view these junior college prospects as free agent signings. You can't build your team through free agency, you have to build it through the draft, and we want to make sure that the team is based on high school players, but we would be foolish not to take advantage of a resource we have right underneath our noses."
MORE DISCUSSION ON JUNIOR COLLEGE RECRUITING
"I think one of the things that Coach McCarty had that was a little bit of an advantage for us is that he was coaching at East Central Oklahoma, where he was the head coach, and because of his background and relationships he had in many of these community colleges we were able to get in on some kids that maybe we might not have otherwise. The thing about high school players is that the recruiting process is starting earlier and earlier."
"Because of that when you come in with a transition like we just experienced, to make that connection with a young person and his family is not as easy as somebody who has been on the high school campus or on the college campus for games and all of those things and grown into being a fan of the program. Being a former junior college player and coach I understand the urgency those players have to land in a good situation. I think that was appealing to many of them. A new coach comes in and they heard the message that we were trying to create an environment where people could compete for playing time."
"Every move we made addressed a roster position. There were maybe one or two decisions made that I can think of that maybe we had some sensitivity with saying, 'He's just the best player available, and we'll take him if he is available to us.' Most of these were situations we felt because of what the roster looked like this year and in the coming years."
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