"We wanted to go out and find high quality people. That was the first and foremost thing we needed to find as far as recruiting. We needed to find guys who have great character and are good kids in the community. We would go around and ask the principals, the students, the counselors, the security guards, and janitors—and when they tells us that these are great people that you are bringing to the University of Miami, those are guys we are going to go after. Secondly we wanted to find guys that are solid student athletes. We need guys that are going to work in the classroom; not just show up one day and then not come the next three days of class.
"The next thing is we try to find athletes. That is one thing this program has always been about is athletes. If we want a defensive back, we want a defensive back that can play running back, receiver, quarterback, and kickoff returns. Those are the type of kids athletically that you want on your team. We recruited maybe 10 guys who can play multiple positions. We also wanted to find winners. We wanted to find players who are from winning programs. If you go recruit an athlete that has been on a team that went 3-9, 3-7, 2-8, 1-9, that kid is used to losing. We try and go out and find winning programs. Those guys know what it takes to win. We don't have to convince them to learn how to win. They know how to get the job done. They know at all costs they are not going to let the program down, the coaches down, and their teammates down. From top to bottom we filled our needs. We have competition up and down our roster.
"The one position where we have to find some competition is the kickers. We are going to find a kicker and punter, so we are going to put pressure on them. We are going to make sure that we are going to have competition at Miami. We are going to have guys from behind pushing the guys ahead of them to be the best. Every home I went into, we told our recruits, next year we are going to find a guy to replace you. We are upfront and honest because that is what you have got to be. These guys have to realize they are at the University of Miami and they are going to find somebody to take my place next year."
What was most challenging part of putting together this recruiting class?
"It was hard because I am not able to go into all the schools like I used to. I used to go to a school six or seven times. I got one shot now. I go into the home and sell what the University of Miami has to offer. As a head coach I have one shot to go into a home and sell, and that takes two hours. Before, I could go visit a kid six or seven times. "
What do you look for in a player?
"I wanted the best quality players. I look at a lot of sports today, and the big name guys are trying to tear down their sport. Like I said from the beginning, one guy is not going to make this team at the University of Miami. If you get quality athletes, we are going to have a great thing going at the University of Miami. It is not a quantity part. You can get an athlete, but he may be detrimental to your team."
Did you put an emphasis on any position in particular this year?
"We were recruiting everything position wise. If we could find five defensive linemen, we would have signed five defensive linemen. If we could find three quarterbacks, we would sign three quarterbacks. We need competition and that was the one thing we said we were going to do."
What was your first priority when you became head coach as far as recruiting?
"The priority for myself was, in my first week, to go out to the guys that had already committed to us. Then after that we branched out to any guys we need. We had a lot of new guys come on-board, but whatever we needed we went out as a staff and got them."
Was it hard recruiting with a small staff?
"It really wasn't a short staff. You are only allowed seven coaches on the road anyway. When you are going through recruiting, you are only allowed seven guys on the road. The one thing we have to do is as a staff is sell what we believe in at the University of Miami. We told them what we are going to do on offense, defense, and special teams. We told them what type of coaches we were bringing in."
Will you have any spaces open after today?
"We may have some spaces open. People forget Ray Lewis was signed in May. We will always leave space open for great players and great student athletes. "
Talk about the importance of landing a strong class of receivers this year:
"We attacked the receiver position hard. Everyone we looked at we wanted guys that can play receiver and defensive back. Some of the greatest defensive backs and receivers that have been here played those positions in high school. Benny Blades was a tailback in high school, but when he came to Miami, he was a free safety. Those are the type of athletes you have to recruit, players that can play any position."
Can you talk about geographic breakdown of where you recruited?
"We have always recruited Memphis. Geographically we did how we normally do. Every year we are going to sign seven or eight players outside the state of Florida. We make sure that if we leave the state of Florida, we are going to grab the best player in that area. The guys that we recruited out of state this year, we feel like are the best guys in those areas."
Are there any guys you feel like slipped through the cracks and surprised you that they didn't sign with you?
"No. The one thing I will tell you about recruiting this year is that a lot of the players have been upfront and honest. They will say coach I am thinking about you guys, but I got somebody else involved. We recruited a lot of quality kids and when a player was not going to the University of Miami, we knew the night or day before."
Did you encounter any negative recruiting this year?
"We always encounter negative recruiting at the University of Miami. We don't do anything but sell the University of Miami. We don't worry about any other programs."
How important was it landing a quarterback like Robert Marve?
"He is a guy who is competitive and not afraid of competition. Coach Pannunzio was vital in his recruiting, but I talk about Booker T. Washington when I talk about Marve. He was talking about how in the first half he was getting banged around, and I asked him how he adjusted. Robert said he told all the guys on the offensive line it was his fault. He said I put it all on me to make those guys feel good. When a guy can do that, I like him. He took the pressure off the guys around and they went out and won it. "
What is the strength of this class?
"Athletes. There are a bunch of athletes in this class. Guys that can play multiple positions. That is one thing we tried to address and we did."
How do you evaluate which players to recruit?
"I do not read the newspaper during football season. I determine which players to go after by film. Film does not lie. We send film out to every school in the nation and we get the film back and the coaches do a great job of evaluating. We all cross-check each other to make sure that film is what we want at Miami. Going off lists is the worst thing you can do. If you go off a list, you may get somebody that can't play."
Talk about getting a quarterback this year after not getting one the previous two years
"Getting a quality quarterback is always great. We have to get more quarterbacks on this team that have a winning mentality and competitive edge. If we could have signed two then we would have, but right now we feel like Robert Marve was the best one on the board to win championships with."
Do you feel like you were handicapped in any way because you had a shorter period to recruit?
"No. We had two weeks in December and the whole month of January. A lot of things can change in that time period because kids change their minds every day."
What type of impact did you have on recruiting this year?
"I think this coaching staff did a great job with recruiting. I did a good job, they did a great job."
What was your selling point in the homes of recruits?
"Me being me. I was upfront and honest with the families. I told them what type of person I am and the coach I will be. I talked about my expectations academically and discipline-wise. I told them the structure as far as what the football players will do every day. I sell myself and my coaching staff."
How many of the receivers can come in and contribute next year?
"I think everybody we are going to bring in is going to contribute to what we have to get done. Everybody coming into the University of Miami is going to have a shot this year."
David Lake can be reached at email@example.com
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