From Signing Day to Spring Football

With just about two weeks to either throw together a new recruiting class or try to salvage what was left over from the one assembled by former coach Derek Dooley, new Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes seems to think he pulled a rabbit out of a hat.

(AP Photo/Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Dean Hare)

"It's an excellent class," Dykes said. "It's the culmination of a lot of hard work by our assistant coaches. I think these guys did an excellent job of holding this class together during the transition, and I couldn't be more proud of the players we signed."

Dykes, whose spread offense set records at Pac-10 Arizona, has vowed not to force ill-fitted Louisiana Tech personnel into a spread offensive scheme.

That's not to say he isn't going to try to get as much of his offense in place this spring, but he is willing to adjust his offense to the personnel for the first year rather than forcing the Bulldogs roster to play in an Air Raid offense they weren't recruited to play.

"What we want to do here is build a program," Dykes told the Monroe News Star. "We're not looking for a quick fix. We're not looking for guys that are going to come in, and nobody else wants to have them because of bad character. We want to bring in the right kind of kids."

NOTES, QUOTES --When Derek Dooley left Louisiana Tech to take the Tennessee job, landing Sonny Dykes as the Bulldogs new coach was done quick and made many around the program let out a sigh of relief.

A new staff and a new system will take some transition for a program that had a disappointing 2009 season, but the general good feel about the Dykes hiring should buy some patience with Bulldogs fans.

--As of signing day on Feb. 3, Louisiana Tech still had at least three coaching vacancies on Sonny Dykes' staff. "The emphasis has now shifted from recruiting to getting the coaching staff in here and making those staff decisions that I have to make over the next week and a half," Dykes said in the Monroe News Star. "... I think the staff is going to be excellent. I have had tremendous interest from people from all across the country and I have really been surprised at the level of coaches that are available out there right now."

TOP RECRUITS:

--QB Taylor Burch, Monroe, La. -- The Rivals.com three-star recruit is a player Dykes hopes will develop into the next great quarterback at Louisiana Tech, or at least as serviceable as the quarterbacks he used at Arizona to put up gaudy numbers. Burch is a 6-foot-2, 221-pounder who threw for 307 yards and three touchdowns (he also rushed for 91 yards) in the Louisiana state championship game in 2009.

--WR Carey Fortson, Longview, Texas -- Forston is a burner. His 4.4 40-yard speed is something that could land him on the field as a true freshman, especially if Dykes is able to open up the offense as much as he'd like in his first season. The offense is one that could use 6-7 receivers on a regular basis. Forston could elevate toward the top pretty quick.

--CB Justin Goodman, Houston -- The December enrollee at Louisiana Tech from National Junior College champion Blinn College is an instant impact guy who should start from day one. Goodman is a shutdown corner who at 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds still plays physical. He had 75 tackles in 2009, one interception and forced two fumbles.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "My coaching style is a little bit of myself and everybody I've worked for. We'll be a little like Texas Tech without the fourth downs and without putting guys in closets." -- Louisiana Tech head coach Sony Dykes, in the Shreveport Times.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

2010 LOOK AHEAD: Louisiana Tech loses 12 seniors from the 2009 roster with the most notable being RB Daniel Porter, DT D'Anthony Smith, TE Dennis Morris, and S Deon Young. Whether there are players talented enough to step into those roles is a big question mark, but some of the returning players have fans pretty excited. There is talent at wide receiver and in the return game with Phillip Livas, but the team needs to find a punter and determine in spring ball if Ross Jenkins is going to be the right fit to man Dykes' pass-happy offense.

SPRING SNAPSHOT: Practice begins March 15 and ends April 10. The T-Day Spring Game is scheduled for noon on April 10.

New coach Sonny Dykes has said he won't force the La. Tech roster to fit into a spread offense if they aren't ready, or fitted, for that. He's more than a system guy and is more willing to adjust his offense to his personnel than forcing his personnel to adjust to his system.

PRO POTENTIAL: Louisiana Tech has a good history of landing a player in the pro ranks every season or so, and the seniors from the 2009 season are no exception. While Smith is the most obvious choice to be playing on Sundays next fall, there are others who will get looks.

--DT D'Anthony Smith -- Smith, who got an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine, didn't have as dominating a senior season as many expected, but there is no denying his talent translates to a possible NFL interior lineman. He had 51 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks as a senior and 12 sacks for his career while consistently being one of the best run stuffers in the WAC.

--TE Dennis Morris -- The 6-foot-1, 250-pounder was one of the nation's better college tight ends with 38 catches for 623 yards, but may have a better pro shot as a fullback. He can certainly block and moves well, but isn't fast enough to be a pass-catching specialist at tight end and might be too small to handle pro defensive linemen.

--FS Antonio Baker -- Baker was hurt toward the end of his senior season and was never considered a draft-worthy safety, but that doesn't mean he couldn't get some workouts and possible land on a pro team. He's a ball hawk who had 10 career interceptions at La. Tech.

ROSTER REPORT: --Five of Louisiana Tech's 20 signing-day scholarships were actually already handed out by Feb. 3. The Bulldogs had junior college players Justin Goodman (defensive back) and Josh Tillman (defensive line) enroll in December while LSU transfer Tim Molton (wide receiver) and grayshirts D.J. St. Julien (wide receiver) and Andre Taylor (tight end) were all already on campus last fall.

--WR Houston Tuminello, one of two key wide receivers to quit during the 2009 season along with Adrian Linwood, who was also punting for the Bulldogs at the time, transferred to Stephen F. Austin.


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