The following is Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron's Signing Day press conference transcript beginning with Coach O's opening statement.
Coach O: We are very excited about our signing class. I want to thank my coaching staff and administrative staff for all their hard work over the past year. We came up with a class we are very, very excited about.
We are excited to sign the number one player in Mississippi in Chris Strong. We think he will be a great player and that's where we wanted to start our recruiting, with a player like him. Then we wanted a JC middle LB to replace Patrick Willis, which was our number one need. We signed Tony Fein and we are happy about it. We feel he will contribute immediately and will be a great player. We got a Top 10 recruit from last year in QB Jevan Snead, who has already demonstrated leadership and that he will be fantastic in the future. We went to Louisiana and Frank Wilson snatched the top offensive lineman there in Rishaw Johnson. It was a battle to the end and Frank did a super job recruiting him. We had to have a tall receiver and got the number one JC player in the country in A.J. Jackson. He will fill an immediate need. I feel we got the best nose tackle in the South in Ted Laurent. He's extremely quick and talented. Again, we got the top player in Memphis in WR Rod Davis.
I am pleased we started in Mississippi and then went regional and national for some bigtime players.
By position, at DB - we have Johnny Brown, Colby Arceneaux, Jamariey Atterberry, Jamison Hughes, Ashlee Palmer, who is already here and is a big safety, and Fon Ingram. We think they are a fine group. We lost some guys there to graduation and we feel these guys are very athletic and can help us in the secondary. We needed LBs. LaDerrick Vaughn is already on campus and doing well, Scottie Williams, Chris Strong, Tony Fein, Lamar Brumfield will help us immediately.
We also needed help inside on the DL. I spoke about Laurent, but we also got Justin Sanders, a tough and strong kid from Alabama, and we went into Florida and got another 300-pounder in Lawon Scott. We are excited about them.
On the OL, we went big. Bradley Sowell 330, Alex Washington 348, Mark Jean-Louis a slim 350 and I already talked about Rishaw at 315. We got big kids to fill those positions in the future. Those kids love Coach (Art) Kehoe.
At WR, we added speed with Lionel Breaux, a 4.4 guy and a guy from Louisiana we are proud to have. I talked about Rod - he came to our camp last summer and we thought he was fantastic. He was a battle all the way and Coach Hugh Freeze did a great job on him. Throw in the tall receiver in A.J. and we have a good group.
Overall, we are excited about the work the staff did and excited about these young men being Rebels.
Q: Who does Laurent remind you of?
Coach O: He's about as quick as Mike Patterson, but a litle bigger. Quickness is his strength.
Q: What kind of impact can a Chris Strong have?
Coach O: We have known Chris for a long time and he knows us. He's a ferocious player, one of the best we have recruited since I have been here. He will step in immediately, I believe. He's mature and physical and we need those kinds of players on our defense.
Q: Looks like you went after a bigger TE in David Rue.
Coach O: Yes. I didn't mention David Rue. We are excited about him. He's 6-4, 245. He came to our camp as a sophomore and Coach Frank has been recruiting him since and did a tremendous job on him. David was a victim of Katrina, but we stayed with him and got him. We feel he is a pro-style tight end.
Q: Do you expect Rue to contribute early?
Coach O: Sure. We want all our signees to come in and compete for starting positions. We feel Rue fills a need as a big tight end.
Q: Did you feel you filled all your needs?
Coach O: First of all, we needed LBs. We got them. We needed a tall receiver. Got one. We needed inside guys. We got them. We needed speed and we got that. I feel good. We were really looking for a top QB and we feel fortunate Jevan Snead wanted to transfer and then wanted to come here.
Q: Are you getting any feedback on Jevan from volunteer workouts so far?
Coach O: The players love him. He has leadership qualities we are looking for in a QB. The other players have grown attached to him, but he's like everyone - he has to get it done on the practice field and in games.
Q: Can the DL signees you got help your depth?
Coach O: We have Peria, Brandon, Jeremy and Daverin Geralds coming back on the inside on defense. That gives us a rotation and some flexibility if we need to move one of them to end. Then we have the new guys, who we believe will help us immediately in some capacity.
Q: How close did you come on Joe McKnight?
Coach O: We were in there until late last night. If he was going to go away from home, it was USC. If he was going to stay closer, it was us. We felt good about the recruitment of him the whole time. Frank did a great job with Joe's recruitment. I was proud of the way we recruited him despite coming up a little short.
Q: Robert Elliott said Joe McKnight was a factor in his decision to go to MSU. Was it a risk recruiting McKnight?
Coach O: I will take that risk every day. Every day I am going for the best player. Joe is a Reggie Bush type of player and we had a shot. We will always go after that type of kid we have a legitimate shot at. Regardless of the outcome.
Q: It appears you had some hard losses at the end. Were you disappointed?
Coach O: We are fired up about our class. All these guys we signed want to be here and we want them here. If a player decides to go elsewhere, it is a blessing in the long run. I don't want them on my team if they don't want to be here. I want guys who want to be here and are committed to this team and Ole Miss.
Q: Is there one guy you think will come in and make a big impact next year?
Coach O: Tony, Chris and Laurent are my picks, They are mature, physical kids. But you can never tell.
Q: Talk about the Jevan Snead recruiting process.
Coach O: Dan Werner recruited him hard and well at Miami. Jevan picked Texas, but when he decided to transfer Dan was the first guy he called. That was the connection. If you make relationships and continue to do the right things, some guys come back to you even after signing somewhere else.
Q: Talk about Ashlee Palmer more.
Coach O: We recruited him hard last year, but he decided to go elsewhere. He called me and told me he was available. He asked me if I would take him and I said 'yes.'
Q: Tony's military background.
Coach O: I told him the offense was enemy territory and to go into enemy territory and do what he does best. We liked his maturity and the way he carried himself. He is a 24-year old man and we could recruit him differently. We told him what we expected and that is for him to be our starting MLB in the SEC and he welcomed that challenge.
Q: How does APR come into play in recruiting?
Coach O: It comes into play, for sure. Out of 25 we expect to sign, 17 have alrady qualified, which is good. We recruited some players along the way who were an academic risk, so we pulled off of them. You have to be aware of academics now more than ever.
Q: Who would you call a sleeper in this class?
Coach O: I think Fon Ingram. He reminds me of Jamarca Sanford. Fon will prove to be an excellent player here.
Q: Do you know what you are going to do with your staff?
Coach O: I know exactly what we are doing and what they are doing at all times. We will announce that soon.
Q: Anyone you got emotional about in this class?
Coach O: Going after Joe. We went after him hard and did the best job we could. We wish him the best. He's a great young man. But we are excited with who we have. I think in recruiting you can't worry about the guys you lose, you have to make sure the guys you get can play and will have success. We feel good about that.
Q: How have you been able to sell Ole Miss?
Coach O: We believe in what we are selling. The facilities are fantastic and Oxford is fantastic. The education here is great. Our biggest hurdle is that we have to start winning. Winning eight, nine, 10 games a year and going to big bowls. That makes us more attractive to recruits.
Q: Talk about Jamison Hughes and the family connection with Coach Tony Hughes, his father.
Coach O: You can't find better people than Tony Hughes and his wife Marilyn. He's outstanding. Jamison will be an outstanding player. He was very unselfish in that he took no other visits. He committed and he was finished.
Q: Is it difficult playing for your father?
Coach O: We talked about that at length. Jamison will be treated like every other football player here. There will be no difference.
Q: Will Chris Strong be a linebacker?
Coach O: We will always play our players at the best possible position for the team and them, but right now Chris is an LB and a very good one.
Q: Your class has a national flavor. Discuss.
Coach O: We want to be a national player. We want to take care of Mississippi first and then look elsewhere. We got three players from Georgia where last year we had none. We are excited about that. Then we got kids from Louisiana, California and Florida. I was disappointed with the results in Florida - we have to do a better job for the time we spent there.
Q: Did Matt Lubick leaving hurt you in Florida?
Coach O: A little, but that's not an excuse. He did a good job for us. A lot of players from Florida signed with Colorado State and Arizona State when he left here. (laughs)
Q: Are there other areas to tap?
Coach O: Always. I know how this staff prepares and competes and I know we are battling against the top propgrams in the country. We are always looking for new areas to tap into.
Q: Some people believe signing Jevan Snead will help you in Texas. Do you feel that way?
Coach O: No doubt. We will be in Dallas and Houston more, but we can only spread so far.
Q: Talk more about Rod Davis.
Coach O: I look for him to make an impact like Dexter McCluster did. He gives us more speed at WR and is an excellent return man. We went to the end with him and Freeze did a great job recruiting him.
Q: Are great corners becoming as tough to find as great DTs?
Coach O: CBs are the basis of our defense with the DL. They are at a premium. We will have a couple of scholarships available and will continue to look for corners and DL if one is available. We may sign two more players in the spring if the right ones come along and come open.
Signing Day press conference
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