Bulldogs Conclude Campus Session Saturday; Mullen Pleased with Early Recruit Class

You had a big day on Wednesday with early signings? Dan Mullen: “Yeah, a good day for us Wednesday. I guess, I mean we addressed some needs on the team. I’m excited about the guys coming in.”

“And as I say in recruiting I guess we will find out here in a year or so how good a day it was with those guys coming in. But we’re excited about guys that are coming in to play for us.”


Was the record haul for December signings a combination of need, of availability, opportunity? “I think as we rate players and you’re looking at players and need by position, some for us fill immediate needs that way and expect guys to get on the field to play.”

“And you’re looking at some really good players in that group that we felt are really going to contribute to our team. And I guess it just played out that way for us.”


About half that juco group has been at the D-I level, talk about the difference in having done that? “Yeah, one I think a lot of guys that go (to college), go to juco are desperate to get back. Because they know what they’re missing at juco sometimes as far as facilities, training, the other stuff that they have here.”

“But it’s good. Those guys will know what to expect coming in day-one.”


How long does it take to get back into game-practice mode? “I tell you, I thought our guys on Wednesday did a great job. We had a great practice Wednesday. So I was really pleased with how they flipped the switch back into game week. That was fantastic.”

“We were a little slower yesterday, I don’t know if it was weather-based type of deal. I tell you it was 70 to 30, back to 70 tomorrow and back to 30 on Sunday. It’s been crazy. But we had a real good day today. And so we’ll wrap up tomorrow with like a regular Thursday practice for us.”

“When we walk off the field tomorrow we should be just about ready to go play that game. So that’s the confidence you’re going to have leaving practice tomorrow.”


When you have a team that lost the first six games, then won six in a row, do you look back at the September tape or just the last six games? “You watch everything a little bit. But you play a little bit more attention to the last six games, how they’re playing those games and the confidence they’re playing with.”


What do you see from the newer tape? “You know, a team that plays with a little bit more confidence. It’s not like they were getting crushed early in the season then all of a sudden a light came on for them.”

“They were battling, they had some tough losses early in the season. Then they just started kind of making the plays and having the confidence to win the games later in the year.”


When you get to the bowl site how much do you take from this week and make changes if needed? “That’s how we’ve always done it, for us. Is we prep like it’s game week and finish game week on a Thursday practice. So when you get down to the bowl site there’s a lot that goes on. You’re in a new city, you’re excited, you’re in a different facility, a different practice facility, a different meeting facility. I think we have the beach day, the Busch Gardens day, all kinds of different activities.”

“So you want to make sure the guys know the gameplan and are confident in the gameplan before you get there; so when you’re there you’re really just re-doing the practices you’ve already done to build up that confidence. And if we have to make a tweak or change in it we will. But hopefully we’ve got most of those changes done this week.”


We’re told you had some good news on team academics? “Yeah, we just got the grades. I think we had thirty-something guys with over a 3.0 GPA.”

“I’m pretty pleased academically. As I said, a great motivation for guys. Because we’re going to get to play in a bowl game because of our academics. So hopefully message, the young guys that’s got to sink in of how important it is to be a champion in the classroom as well as on the field.”


When you recruited Aeris Williams what made you think he could be a SEC running back? “Well, you watch him, he plays so hard. I remember going to watch him play high school, I thought he was a heck of a safety too and could potentially grow into a linebacker. But you just saw he was a SEC football player and had the physical attributes. His demeanor on the field and how hard he played.”

“Then the biggest thing to me was his character off the field. It was something that just really separated him from a lot of people. Just the type of person he was off the field I thought was really special.”


Do you expect everyone but Darryl Williams to be able to play? “We’ll have a couple of guys that are banged up that will be close. We’ll let you guys know when we get down there.”


Cedric Jiles has had so many setbacks, how satisfying was it to see his pick-six in the Egg Bowl? “Well, it was awesome. It was awesome for him. He’s been banged up and had a tough time in his career. To get that is such a huge deal.”

“And a big play. A big play in a big game to really close out and seal the victory for us was huge.”


Have any juniors approached you about a NFL evaluation? “We had a meeting on that. I don’t know if anyone is turning in paperwork. A couple guys might. But I don’t really expect anybody to. I don’t know if they’re even going to turn in the paperwork.”

“I think a lot of them, we met on it because they were wondering does the paperwork come back as an evaluation on what they need to improve on. I said no, it just gives you what your status is. And so I think there was a lot more interest in what do I need to improve on to be a prospect next year, than where do I stand right now in coming out.”


You had a first this week being mentioned for a NFL job, have you talked to the L.A. Rams at all? “I haven’t talked to the Rams yet. Yet! I don’t know, my feet are freezing cold right now so everybody would like L.A. this time of year from practice!”

“No, like I said, I guess when we talked the other day, that’s got to go back now to the flattering side of things. I guess I’m flattered with that stuff.”

“But I think everybody knows how happy I am. I love it here, I love what we’ve built. We’ve got a great program, I think we have a great future with young guys. One of these days? I wouldn’t expect it to be now. But just like any coach I would imagine like players, you’d love to have the opportunity at some point to be at the highest level of football, in the NFL.”

“So if that opportunity ever presented itself it would be something anybody would seriously consider. Like, all our players I meet with, the juniors, I’ve met with every senior about their opportunity to go do that. But I think it’s pretty flattering. I haven’t gotten a call! I was pretty shocked by that, too. But I’m flattered, that would be great, a heck of a deal!”


Between tomorrow and reporting to the bowl what will you be doing? “Before we report? I’m going to New York City to see my new-born nephew, and my Mom. Take the kids up to New York City, I think I’m going to see the Lion King. I think the Rockettes may be on the schedule too, I don’t know I haven’t talked to the boss, she has the itinerary exactly laid out. We’ll do that for a couple of days.”

“We have to write a letter to Santa Claus. I think Santa is supposed to hopefully get the letter that he’s going to drop off stuff at our house on the night of the 26th, when we get back from the bowl game. Because I think everybody is worried about being at a bowl trip and not realizing no one is home and not skip our house. And he might not know what hotel room we’re in, I don’t think there’s a chimney at the hotel. So we’ll be working on some of those things.”


Is that all the coaches? “I don’t know what everybody else has written in their letter to Santa! But I know we’ve worked on ours at our house! I love Christmas, I’m big on Christmas. We’ll have a bunch of activities Christmas morning with the team, you guys (media) are welcome to come to those if you’re at the bowl game and see what’s going on with the team and get yourself in that spirit. Only if you’re in that spirit, I don’t need any Grinches! So if you’re a Grinch, unless you heart grows three times and you decide to come and join us on Christmas morning, get the true spirit of Christmas it will be fantastic.”


With NCAA consideration of an early signing day, and now December signings, should the early high school signees be able to sign a letter of intent rather than just an aid agreement? “Here’s my deal. I think we’re going to get to the point of having an early signing day. The one that has been proposed right now is like the worst thing I’ve ever seen for football. It came from completely out of left field and I’m on the committee, and it was nothing that was even recommended by the working group that we spent all this time, that I co-chaired.”

“I guess they threw all that out and had no interest in what everybody thought was the right thing. And I have no idea where this proposal even came from. Maybe somebody on the committee has a personal agenda they were trying to push through. But it is certainly not good for football.”

“But I do think you’ll get to an early signing day at some point. Whether that’s going to affect mid-year guys I’m not sure. I do think it probably would or could, or depending on how the dates match up. We’ll see. We’ll see. I’ve told our guys that are coming early, hopefully legally we can do it, is on February 1 of this year we’re going to give them the national letter of intent. So that they can sign it, send it home, and mom and dad can frame it or keep it in their collectors items. Because they’ll already be in school so they don’t need to sign that day, but to just give it to those guys so they can get it done.”

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