Stoops: "This is a really special group"

Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops talks about the 2004 class and signees. See inside for a transcript from Stoops' signing day press conference Wednesday in Norman. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

On the 2004 class
"Excited to announce our recruiting class here. Really feel fortunate to have all the great players that we got. This really is a special group. It's well-rounded at all positions with great players at all positions. It is also a class that I feel can continue to help us do what we've done in the past couple of years and compete for national and Big 12 championships. When you look at the quality of the class it's pretty special."

On how the class ranks compared to the others
"If the experts have any idea what they're doing, when you look at rankings, stars or per recruit, when you look up there at per recruit, ours is up there in the top two in the country. And that's special. With the needs that we had, we filled them with some great players. After watching them and getting to know them as people, they're guys that are really special and can help us in all areas."

On Rhett Bomar
"I really believe he's special and I appreciate the way he committed early and never wavered on his decision. He's a big guy with a great arm and great athletic ability. He has the ability to run the football as well as throw it, and that's what makes him unique.

"He's a guy that does a lot of audibling and no-huddle, and he has the ability to run the spread. He has the ability to check off at the line of scrimmage, so we're excited about Rhett. He comes in here with a lot of maturity.

"There's been a lot made of the baseball issue, and really there is no issue. Rhett is a football player first and foremost. That's what his passion is and that's what he wants to pursue first. I believe that unlike some other players who go into baseball first and come back to football, I don't think there is any question, and I don't want to speak for Rhett, but he has made it known that he is going to be a football player. If somewhere down the road something changes or another opportunity presents itself, we'll see. But Rhett is determined to be a great football player first and he has every opportunity to do that."

On signing two running backs
"We have D.J. Wolfe and Adrian Peterson. Peterson was rated as maybe the best running back in America and D.J. was up there around fourth or fifth in the country. Both have power, speed, size and really excited about what they bring.

On Adrian Peterson
"He's around 6-2, 210, with speed and the ability to catch the ball and make people miss him, really special player. Adrian, despite all the reports that are out there, has never wavered in his decision. He's always been solid with his decision. He's always said that he didn't realize all the stuff that was out there. Half of it's made up, half of it's people trying to get people on their website to read it, and that's what recruiting has become.

"I think a lot of it is people trying to get people on their website or get someone to tap into it and make things up to make people read it. Adrian's fax was one of the first ones in here, around 7:01 (a.m.), so he didn't waste any time. It wasn't like he was sitting around wondering what he's going to do. So again, it tells you his intention and that he's really excited to be here."

On D.J. Wolfe
"D.J.'s a guy that has been in our camp here for a little while. He's been strong all along helping us recruit. D.J. is a kid who's been in our camp, catches the ball well and can run, has power with it and you know Adrian has the same thing."

On the wide receivers
"We got three really big, athletic guys. We got size with all of them, all of them are at least 6-2 or better. All of them have great athletic ability, basketball players and kind of guys that are big play guys."

On Quentin Chaney
"He's got that special size at 6-6."

On the offensive line
"Probably our biggest need coming into the recruiting season. Signing four guys on the offensive line, we really feel that we met that need with big, rangy guys who can be tackles, and again a group that is really athletic. Excited for all these guys, J.D. Quinn, Randy McAdams and Cameron Schacht because their all big, athletic guys and guys that I think can help us, because we're thin there."

On Brandon Braxton
"Here's a guy that I called Coach Wilson from his basketball practice and I asked him if he had any idea of what this guy could do, and he laughed. He said Coach Sumlin had called him the week before playing basketball. He's a guy that is 6-6, about 310 pounds, brings the ball up the court, cross-over dribbles, best 3-point shooter on the team, incredible the way he can move his feet."

On the defensive tackles
"We've got Corey Bennett and Remi Ayodele. Again, good, athletic guys."

On Remi Ayodele
"Remi is a guy who has a little more maturity coming from a JUCO. He has the size and strength that you look for and he has great explosiveness. Remi's a guy that, because of his size and strength can come in right away and compete and help us out."

On Corey Bennett
"For a young guy, he has a lot of explosiveness and ability and a lot of room to grow."

On Alan Davis
"He's a guy who's been committed for a quite a while, very solid. Again, what we look for is an athletic guy who plays hard and plays physical up front."

On Chris Patterson
"Tremendous athlete. One of the top two LB's in the country. We believe he's as good anybody we've ever watched when you look at speed and a guy that is 220. He was a guy that was in our camp, great change of direction, big physical guy. He's a prototype of what we look for."

On Defensive backs
"This is another area that we felt that we really needed to strengthen ourselves on and we did."

On Brett Bowers
"He's a big physical safety. He's a great tackler."

On Marcus Walker
"The best cover corner out there that we've seen this year. He was the best throughout Texas. Marcus reminds you a lot of Derrick Strait. But coming out of high school, he's got a little more size, a little more speed and a little more this and that, but he has the same kind of instincts."

On Chijioke Onyenegecha
"People have asked me about this guy, you know I can't say his name, well I can. We've been recruiting him for a year. Chijioke is in our program now and people don't realize that up until three weeks ago he could have gone anywhere in the country that he wanted to, but he decided to be here at Oklahoma.

"He's about 75 percent healed from his hamstring injury, which coming in that's pretty special. He has plenty of time before spring ball and get that other 25 percent healed up and ready to go. He's a big guy, 6-2, about 210 and great speed. He said he hasn't lifted a weight in about a year and Coach Schmidt had him on there and was testing him and he benched 330 on his first time on the bench. That's pretty special for a corner. Excited about Chijoke coming in. He's got a great attitude and he fits in well with our team."

On Garrett Hartley
"He really is a special guy too. He was in our camp a year ago and I was working with him in camp one day and after he warmed up he was putting the ball on the sideline, not the hash mark but the sideline. He put the ball at the 35, to the 30, 25, 20, 10, 15, 5 all the way down to the goal line and did not miss until he got down the goal line. Then we went to the other sideline and didn't miss again until we go to the goal line, which when you're at the goal line looking at those goal posts it's about a three foot window there, and he wasn't far off from hitting it.

"He's got excellent power, gets the ball up high and mind you while he was doing this he had not kicked off the grass yet. He was kicking off the grass when he did this, but in his camp was one of the first times to be kicking off the ground. He's really a special guy. I understand that position should always be the leading scorer on your team and one of the leading scorers in the country, and to have a guy that you really feel is automatic can only help you. So we're really excited about Garrett."

On class as a whole
"They meet all our needs. We maxed out all that we were able to get to and really excited about some of these guys who have been talked about a lot. I like the fact that our coaches, we had the bulk and majority of our recruiting done by the time the national championship game was over, we had a bunch of really special guys ready to go."

"I appreciate the hard work of our staff. People always want to know, ‘who signed him?' But it's never really one guy that signs these special players. It's a group effort, a team effort where there's two, three, and four guys working, and they all get to know them and interact with him.

"We never get into one guy this, one guy that. We all do it and our staff is really good in that we understand that it takes all of us. We all kind of interweave ourselves into each guy and never allow it to be just one guy that makes a difference, so I believe it strengthens us in a lot of ways as we get these special players."

On taking issue of other teams recruiting a player already committed
"No, that's an issue with recruiting. If a guy is going to be recruited, he's going to be recruited so as long as it isn't negative recruiting. And as long as it isn't two, three schools trying to call one guy and keep him in one area, that kind of thing isn't correct. But if you're just trying to sell your one school that is fine."

On how this class ranks with others OU has signed
"Well, we weren't allowed to offer as many guys, there isn't as many numbers but when you look at sheer quality. I'm as excited about this class as any we've ever had. Coming in these guys, what they've shown in high school, is a really special group and probably coming in from high school probably our most talented group coming in. But I always find that hard to say.

"You know that brings you back to our '99 class and you've got a Heisman trophy winner, an offensive player of the year, a runner-up Heisman winner, an All American and 2,000 yard rusher in Quentin Griffin, and it goes on an on. I always caution and never want to put too much pressure on one recruit before they have time to get here and fit in and feel their way around. But let's fact it, when you look at the quality of the group, it's really special."

On if it is a good reflection of offensive staff to get top rated QB and RB
"I think it reflects on one: our success as a team. A lot of these guys have stated that competing and winning championships is important to them. You know our graduation rates are tops in the nation and top in the Big 12, and that's important too. But in the end these guys are competitive too and they want to be in the big games.

"You know Adrian Peterson sees the fact that Quentin Griffin rushed for 2,000 yards and was our leading receiver – he had his hands on the ball a lot. And he wasn't even a guy that carried it in our "I" sets. We had another guy carry it for over 700 yards too in the "I". He sees the opportunity.

"And a guy like Rhett sees the pro style of attack, that throws the ball down the ball and is leading scoring team in the country. We've had a Heisman trophy winning QB and a runner up in the last four years and he's a smart guy and he sees that.

"And when you put that all together, I don't want to say that is a simple decision but it's impressive to them. They see that they could come in and do the same or better or have a chance to be."

On recruits coming in and graduating early
"It's always just a player's choice and does it fit him to do it. I just hope it is a decision that he doesn't regret in two, three or four years but that has to be a personal choice. It just starts the whole process sooner they get into working with the players and working, competing, running with them. And the campus environment too. Sure, I'd think they are further along."

On Strait and Strong coming out of Austin
"I don't look at anything as a poke to anyone at all. You know, Derrick Strait was a great athlete that could make us better and so we recruited him and the same with Fred (Strong). It's gratifying to know that Derrick is going to graduate. He has five hours left to finish before graduating and he's back finishing before he trains for a combine. (Strait) has an opportunity to be a first round draft pick and a guy that has started more football games than any player in Oklahoma history, that's pretty strong. Then he ends up the Thorpe Award winner and defensive player of the year in the country, so that's pretty special, regardless where he's from. So I don't get concerned about where a guys from and trying to put that to anybody."

On only signing two players from Oklahoma
"I think it's a reflection of overall there weren't as many players offered overall that there are in other years. We don't, like this year and other years, we haven't gotten every player that we've offered in this state, always, so in the end there is a combination of that. But overall I don't think that numbers that everyone has offered this year are as high as maybe they have been. I think it's just the population and the numbers in this state aren't what they are in a lot of other states.

"Our job is to recruit who we feel are the very best players at each position to strengthen us and make us better. I will say that we are always very diligent in watching and evaluating and making sure that we feel we've made the right decision. Not that we're always right but we do our best. We start our recruiting process here in Oklahoma every year and are very thorough throughout the year that if we are offering a guy that we feel is good for him and good for us, and if we aren't that is a situation that we feel strongly enough about that we're in the right and we're doing what we feel is best for OU football.

"So in the end, it's hard to say why the numbers are what they are. But again, I don't believe in ever being prejudiced either. It shouldn't matter where a guy's from. This isn't the Soviet Union. You're allowed to go wherever you want in the United State and recruit wherever you want. Some people down South try and act like that's a different country but, it's not, obviously."

On if everyone will be academically eligible
"Yes, right now it all should be and all have the grades that you would think they would be. That has been our track record if you've watched in the last three to four signing classes, we've had for the most part. I'm sure there's one or two that haven't, but for the most part our track record is to not sign a bunch of guys that aren't going to make it then put them in a JUCO. We like to develop our own players."

On the ad in Peterson's home town paper
"You know, it's amazing to me the stuff that goes on in recruiting, what's out there, what's false. People are mostly just trying to muddy the waters. Hopefully, with that situation, our legal and compliance article will investigate. Is that a booster from Texas or Texas A&M or an affiliate that pulls those ads, because if it is I would assume that would be illegal. It certainly didn't make a difference to Adrian. He knew all along, for the right reasons why he wanted to be here."

On if it was a relief to see Peterson's faxed sign letter of intent this morning
"I never felt that there was a sense that I needed to be relieved. Adrian is a wonderful guy and it shows his character. We talk to Adrian a lot and he's always been very solid and his family has been, his father, everybody. He's known for quite a while what he wanted and why wanted to be at the University of Oklahoma and that's never changed. Again, it's people wanted something to write about to discuss and other teams try and throw it around to try to create something. But in the end, it wasn't him.

"Again, I appreciate him for that and he's a guy that could have waited until the end to do it, to try and gather the extra attention. He did it when he knew in his heart what he wanted and again I appreciate him for it. He fits us in a great way in his attitude and the way he carries himself and as much attention as he's had. He's a genuinely humble guy and a respectful guy."

On Wolfe recruiting Peterson
"Yes, he did. Well, he wants great players around him. Guys compete here and they want to be the best. D.J. is a guy that is for the team and he has confidence in what he can do. In the end, at all positions here there's going to be players at all spots here. And there are players that like to compete with each other and make each other better. You know Coach Schmidt is always saying in the weightroom "Iron sharpens Iron" and that's what you want."

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