Stoops excited about his latest class

See inside for quotes from OU head coach Bob Stoops' (pictured above on Wednesday) signing day press conference. Stoops talks about the class as a whole, as well as his thoughts on each individual prospect. (Photo/Lisa Hall)

Opening Statement

Coach Stoops: Just really excited to sign another excellent class here at Oklahoma. Really pleased with our assistant coaches, the way they've worked and hustled to the end. And just really excited about the quality of these players, again a class that's very well rounded offensively and defensively with the number of players, key positions where we needed to address and the overall balance of the group.

Though this year limited in numbers just because of very few seniors. Those numbers changed a little bit as we were going through recruiting with Adrian Peterson deciding to declare for the NFL. We had a couple - three guys actually - not able to recover from injuries that will be put on medical scholarships because of their inability to overcome their injuries. And so in those cases, we really hit our numbers perfectly.

And again, though few, I'm really excited about the quality of players. Some key areas that we needed to address, our offensive line first, though even with these five, we're still gonna be thin. It will still only give us 13 scholarship guys with a big class graduating the coming year. So we're still down somewhat in numbers there. But to sign five will really boost this class.

To sign a quarterback and really an excellent player in Keith Nichol. Really exicted about the athleticism and ability of Keith to run, to throw, to win. Championship quarterback in the state, three times the state player of the year, really an excellent player.

Some speed at receivers. Really several of those guys have legitimate track speed and again, just the quality of those guys is really special.

Finishing there in the last day with Ryan Broyles here locally was exciting. You want a local guy to stay around and fortunately he saw the opportunity here to be solid and good. And we're excited to have Ryan here locally to be with us and see using him as a receiver and really believe he's going to be a good one for us along with those other guys. Tyler Stradford, excellent track times and Corey Wilson as well, Travis Wilson's younger brother who has a lot of the same qualities as Travis. In fact, we think he's better. You guys tell Travis that if you talk to him.

And then defensively, getting Londell Taylor late, really excited to watch him. His highlight tape goes on for about an hour. Offensively, defensively, returning. Great basketball player. Just really excited about the athlete that he is. We'll find the best position for him.

It goes on and on. Let's see here, we got several others. Jamell Fleming, Desmond Jackson, defensive backs. Sam Proctor, another great athlete as a quarterback that takes his team to the state championship game. About 6-1, 205, Sam has great ability to run and be an athlete. Getting a guy that we believe can really help us, in the end, probably in the secondary just because of the athlete that he is.

Some great linebackers. I think getting Travis Lewis in the last couple of days is big. Just because, again, graduated two guys this year, we're graduating two more linebackers next year. I was on the horn with Coach Venables the other day thinking, 'you know what, we're gonna be pretty thin here at linebacker' and you know, linebackers and DB's make up the biggest part of your special teams. So to get Travis here late was really big to go with Mike Reed, who's already on campus and Austin Box, another local great talent, great ability and Austin's doing a great job working here already. So we addressed our needs there.

Defensive end, same thing. When you look at David Anderson here locally, big guy that's 6-5, has got great range, great ability to change direction. Reminded us a lot of Larry Birdine and so fortunately, we're able to get David here towards the end. And Frank Alexander coming today. When you've graduated four D ends, that was really important. Again, we're still gonna be somewhat thin there, with two more graduating this coming year. That really helped, though, and Jonte Bumpas, also a local Oklahoma guy, as well in that area.

Got a kicker, Jimmy Stevens, who we really like. With Garrett Hartley coming into his senior year, it gives us time to work with Jimmy through the year and get him ready. Really like his consistency and the way he's played through his high school career. We're hoping for that same kind of consistency here.

And we also gave a scholarship to Michael Cohen, our punter we feel did a great job this past year with grades and the way he's worked in a really positive way. Though he doesn't show up on your commit list, he's one we wanted to use a scholarship for and it's just as good a one that we could use. I'm excited about Michael, too. I don't know if I'm allowed to talk about him, since he didn't sign a letter of intent, but hopefully that's OK.

Excited to have five of these guys already here working. Kody Cooke, Phil Loadholt, Austin Box, Mike Reed and Keith Nichol. You know, they're all in with Coach Schmidt working. Coach Schmidt is always my barometer, he loves the way all of them are working. Guys like Keith Nicol, who's already gained 12 pounds working in the weight room and running. Phil Loadholt went from 350 to 360 and lost body fat. You know, he's 6-8. 360. He walks around with Brandon Braxton and Duke Robinson and they look small. So really excited about the way he's working. But Kody Cooke's doing really well, again, Austin Box and Mike Reed, Coach Schmidt's just real happy with the way they're lifting and training and the progress that they're making here already on campus.

Again, just really a well balanced class in all positions and excited about it.

MEDIA: Could you talk about the offensive line. Are these guys that can work at different positions across the board?

Coach Stoops: Well, Jason Hannan's an inside guy we feel, a fabulous center we believe. Alex Williams and Donald Stephenson probably could play inside or outside. We like guys like that who can really do both. They've got really good range, long guys. Really same thing with Kody (Cooke). They're all guys that have good height, long reach, and so we'll just see what fits them.

MEDIA: Coach, about the number of scholarships you had to give. A lot of people were concerned about that.

Coach Stoops: Well, there's nothing we can do about the rules. We have to stop. We hit it just where we wanted to and so in the end, we had a very small senior class. That's going to happen from time to time.

MEDIA: Along those lines, a third of the verbal commitments came in the last two weeks. What does that mean?

Coach Stoops: It means a third of them came in the last two weeks.

MEDIA: I'm just going to throw a name out there. Your chief rival in the Big 12 is Texas. For instance, they get 20 before December even gets here. You guys got a third of yours at the end of January or later.

Coach Stoops: It means their guys made their minds up earlier. That happens with some people, it doesn't happen with others. I'm sure they're not the only ones in the country, I'll bet, that had 20 by December. If you have them all done and you're pleased with it, great. If you're not, you keep working. So, we're not on any clock or it's not a race, you know, as long as today you reach your needs and the players that you want and we feel we did. And some come sooner than others and to me, I don't think that much matters.

MEDIA: When you have small numbers, though, do you have to play your cards differently and how quickly you offer a guy?

Coach Stoops: To some degree it was hard for us early because we didn't know on some of the medical issues until here in January. We didn't know on Adrian until here in January, so sure, that changes things to some degree at different times, numbers you're able to work with and number of players you're able to work with. Sure.

MEDIA: Coach, most of the recruiting services projected Ryan Broyles at cornerback. Why do you have him at receiver?

Coach Stoops: Well, we just like his elusiveness, his quickness and speed and the way he runs. You see a lot of highlights of him with the football and he does a great job. In the end, that doesn't have to be the case, but that's kind of how we saw it and we see him as that kind of guy that can make things happen with the ball, so that's what we're going to look for first.

MEDIA: You talked about Reggie Smith early last season as a guy who's a natural on both sides of the ball. Is Ryan Broyles sort of in that mold?

Coach Stoops: Sure. It's very easy for him when you watch him. He has highlights on both sides of the ball that are equally impressive.

MEDIA: Can you comment on what happened with Broyles? He seemed to be having a tough time making up his mind.

Coach Stoops: I'm not going to get into all of that. It's always a difficult decision for some and more for others and what they're after. So in the end, you just keep working it and fortunately, it worked out and we're excited about Ryan and his potential and opportunity here.

MEDIA: You got two athletes in Proctor and Taylor that were outstanding in high school that you've projected as safeties. What was it about these two that led you to that decision?

Coach Stoops: You watch them, like Sam, offensively, he's a major factor in leading his team to the state championship game and just running around. And he knows he's not a true quarterback, but you watch his ability to make plays and make people miss him, run past people, through people, just a physical guy that really moves well. He throws an interception and you see him really destroy somebody tackling them. You don't see many quarterbacks do that. Same thing with Londell. Again, his highlight tape just goes on forever and then you talk to everybody about what a basketball player he is. I think he's the MVP in that whole district virtually every year. A guy can make a lot of plays and they've got good size and strength.

MEDIA: Bob, you talked about how big Loadholt is, and the word is he's also very athletic for a man his size.

Coach Stoops: Incredibly athletic. Again, my barometer is a great one. Coach Schmidt is incredibly excited about the way he's working. He's come in with a great mindset to be better and improve and he's doing it. He's got a lot of physical abilities to go along with that attitude. So we're hoping that continues. I believe it will. But he is very light on his feet and has great range.

MEDIA: Is he a guy you see in that left tackle spot that Messner vacated?

Coach Stoops: Oh absolutely

MEDIA: With Keith Nichol being on campus early, is he a guy you see as being a guy who can come in and start right away as a true freshman?

Coach Stoops: He's a guy that will compete for it, just like the other guys will. And it's always helpful that they're here to go through winter, to be here for spring practices. All those guys, nobody has game experience at this level to be on their side, so they'll have great competition and we'll work it in the right ways.

MEDIA: You said he's already put on 12 pounds. Are you pleased with what he's done so far?

Coach Stoops: Absolutely. Just watching him work out and lift and run a little bit and visiting with Coach Schmidt on how his work ethic has been. He's done a great job.

MEDIA: Bob, I've heard you and other coaches talk about the need for an early signing period. Do you think that will happen and what needs to happen to get that done?

Coach Stoops: I think sometimes it's been shot down because people have tried to get it before the season, which I wouldn't be in favor of, either. But one that coincides with junior college signing day like December 20th seems to make sense in that we have five guys here on campus that didn't sign anything. They're already here. I guess the junior college guys did, but the other guys didn't get to sign anything because they've already enrolled an are here. There's more and more of those kids that are doing that, so it just seems to make sense with more kids coming out of high school early.

Also, here's my reasoning for it. I think some coaches say 'no, I want to outwork you through the fall to get that guy to change his mind by sometime in January'. Well, my feeling is that if you haven't by December 20th, you're probably not going to and that gives kids the entire fall to visit during games. It gives them to the end of November and a couple of three weekends in December to have official visits. So a guy could still get three or four visits to decide what he wants to do and if he wants to, he can go ahead and sign in December. If he's in the playoffs and can't visit then, well, there's no rush. You don't have to.

Or you find out if a guy's committed and he signs December 20th, then he's really commited. If he doesn't, then he's probably not real committed. You know that. You know you've got more work to do.

So in the end, it just seems like that date would save everybody time. Kids that really knew what they wanted to do would be done with it and move on and some of them would enroll. Others still don't want to be bothered at school. It allows more freedom for our coaches to be here on campus with our guys when they get back to make sure they're attending to class problems or any discipline issues or getting into workouts with them to be around our players more often. And we'd save a ton of expenses as well.

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