Freeze Opening: Today was the culmination of a lot of hard work just to get to this day from out staff - on the field guys on the road and off the field guys. I was motivated to get a message from Chancellor (Dan) Jones this morning. He's such en encouragement. His message was he was extremely excited about our class that I think is, from top to bottom, actually may be our best since I have been here. We will finish with the most 4+ star players in the history of our school. We will finish in the Top 15 for three years in a row which has never been done before. We have also identified young men who fit at Ole Miss and that is huge to us. Our niche here is developing young men who fit here in our environment and are motivated to be great. I think we have done that well.
It was a challenging class due to the numbers crunch we faced. It's difficult to keep too large of an active pool when you don't have the numbers, especially a Plan B pool. You can have a few Plan Bs, but you can't manage too many with no numbers well. I thought we managed it well. I am pleased with this class. We lost some battles against some of the top programs in the country, but we won a lot of battles too. I'm excited.
On Chad Kelly and mid-year players: The mid-year class was a home run. D.J. Jones is a super talent - one of the quicker twitched guys I have seen on film. Our pitch was the number of snaps Bryon Bennett and Lavon Hooks got last year and we think you can have them all. Tony Bridges is one of the best looking kids we signed. Terry Caldwell makes us longer and faster at linebacker. Javon Patterson - I don't know if I have ever been more crazy about a young man than I am him and his family. He is a special talent and a phenomenal kid. He could be the class president of his class here. He handles himself well and will represent us great. Chad has made some poor decisions that have cost him some opportunities and almost cost him this one. He understands what has to be done moving forward. He has strong reins on him. My thought process was simple - give a kid an opportunity or me getting embarrassed. I have been embarrassed before, but I think he has redeeming qualities that will be brought out with structure. I pray he handles it well, but it's a possibility he won't. If he doesn't, I will own it. I trust the coaches around him and believe he will succeed. As for his talent, he's got it - strong arm, field awareness, the works.
On social media's influence on recruiting: Social media represents an arm of recruiting, unfortunately. I don't think that should be a reason a young man chooses a school, but unfortunately it does influence some. It's part of the world we live in and you have to deal with things that are untrue every day. We have to manage that the best we can. We will preach that with our 2016 kids, for sure.
On Shawn Curtis: It was a big get for us. We needed a Mike LB badly. I love his core values. It was difficult for him to break away from his word with Pittsburgh, but they wanted him as a DE and he wants MLB. We offered him that. He signed with us without taking a visit. We facetimed and I took him on a trip through our facilities. He's 6-4, 245-pounder who can run. He will fit with us nicely.
On Eric Swinney: I loved his balance, toughness and vision. His pad level is outstanding. He probably doesn't have top-end speed of some in the nation, but he was our guy from the start. I put my hand on the table and said this is our guy - all-in. We won't waver. He didn't either. He could have gone anywhere and he never blinked, even with the temptations he had at the end from other schools. I am thrilled with him - special kid and back.
Needs moving forward: No question we have to have mid-year held at OL, DL and LB. That's waht we will address moving forward into 2016, which has already begun.
On OL signees: I love the three we have. Alex Givens fits perfectly with us. Patterson is a stud. Michael Howard could have gone to Penn State, Florida, Missouri and many others. I put my boots on at his house and helped lock up the dog kennel. That night he called all the other coaches and said I have found my home. Matt Luke did a great job with him. I watched him clean snatch 325 pounds and I knew immediately he was our dude. We will get him on the training table and put 30 pounds on him and he will be outstanding. We needed more, but we have everyone back on the OL and we are moving Jeremy Liggins to OT, so we have time to shore things up. He'll play QB too.
On continued recruiting positions committed: If you commit a kid and don't keep recruiting his position, he might bolt at the end and youa re left holding the bag. On the other hand, if you recruit others at his position after he's committed, that can be used against you. That's the million dollar question of recruiting. . . . I don't know how to figure it out, but we are working on the formula. It's tough.
On secondary signees: Bridges and Ordway are quick-twitched, athletic and long guys we think can play. Custis and Linton are also fast, physical kids. I think this could be the best secondary class we have signed, extremely talented.
On allowing commits to take more visits: We will revisit it, but I don't know if you can do a whole lot about it unless you draw a line in the sand, which with some of them, you should do, probably. We will go through every kid, talk about the outcome, talk about the good and bad, what we could have done differently and that will be part of the equation. Do you tell them they can't visit or not after they commit? We will come up with a plan moving forward. I don't know the answer now.
On Jalen Julius and DeMarkus Lodge: Jalen will be involved in the return game and at the slot, but I also think he could be a pretty good cornerback. I believe he will be in the slot. Lodge is as good as I have ever seen at going up and competing for the ball when it is in the air. He attacks it. He's very, very talented and will compete early on. We also have Van Jefferson, who I think is really special too.
On Austrian Robinson: He may be the steal of this class. Ohio State ran at him late in the process. I developed a great relationship with his Mom and got to know her. I watched him practice hoops and I knew I wanted him on our team. He's 270 pounds and runs around like a 200-pounder. He's raw because he hasn't played a lot of football, but I am excited about him.
On commitment flip-flopping across the nation: We have created a media frenzy and circus around recruiting and there are so many more people involved in the recruiting process. The kids want to communicate with everybody and you know what, every staff is good at recruiting. The last one on the phone with them has an edge. Social media is also very powerful. Anybody can get to any kid, positively or negatively, and it plays on a young man's mind. It's created something that no coach is crazy about, really.
On academic issues: We know of a couple of sign-and-places and there are three kids overall we are concerned about. Joe Anderson is probably a sign-and-place. He understands that.
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