Texas Tech National Signing Day Wrap

RaiderPower.com reporter Alyssa Chrisope and publisher Jarret Johns discuss Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury's comments during his National Signing Day press conference, recall some favorite moments from the 2016 recruiting cycle and predict which signees will make an instant impact.

Q. I know you can't talk specifically about guys you haven't signed, but is this class done?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: It's pretty much done I'd say. We'd like to hold one or two back for possible transfers, things of that nature, but as far as signing any players, that's pretty much it.

Q. What would you say you like about this class?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: Just that we addressed a bunch of needs. You look at taking seven defensive linemen, that's an area with some of the departures of the junior college linemen that we had being gone. Length at outside receiver is something we had to get longer out there to make plays in the vertical passing game. Quarterback needed a game-changer-type player; we felt like we got that. So I just think on the areas that we were really concerned post-season, we got those addressed and feel good about those guys coming in.

Q. Talk about Doug Coleman, kind of how that all came together.

KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, we found his tape late, tremendous offensive player. When you look at what he did as a wide receiver, state champion, great length, can really fly. Shocked he wasn't recruited more highly, honestly. And we're going to have him as a defensive back. He can play both ways. But great skill set, played some DB in high school. Coach Juluke had a relationship, being from Louisiana down there, and it really helped smooth that transition, and I felt like we got a steal late there with him.

Q. Can you compare Jett Duffey and Pat Mahomes.

KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, I think Pat is a bigger guy in stature. He's about 6'3", 6'4", 230. Jett is probably 6'1", 6'0", 205. Jett is faster just in a race. Pat is very mobile, can move around. Jett does about the same stuff, but as far as arm strength, both very talented, both in high school kind of put their teams on their back, took them deeper in the playoffs than probably they should have gone, based upon their performance. So very similar attitudes. Both think they're the best when they step out there, and I'm excited to have them both on campus at the same time.

Q. Any chance Duffey will be the backup?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: I'm not sure. Nic Shimonek, I've really been pleased with his progress. Payne Sullins as well. But Nic has really stepped up. Had a great fall camp and through the season really came a long way. So we expect him to be the backup, and you'd like to redshirt Jett, if possible, but with the spring semester, I think he'll be ready to go in fall camp.

Q. Was it nice not having any surprises (inaudible)?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, it was an interesting year in that most of those kids were committed prior to the season and just went status quo. That's nice. You want an uneventful signing day for the most part, when you can get those guys locked in that you had targeted. So it made for a good day.

Q. Was this your first class that you can say you were in at the very, very beginning, or are you still just a little bit behind in that process?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: No, I think we were right there. I think we're getting closer where we want to be. With the coaching changes, you're always starting over each year when you have coaching changes and when it comes to areas, and a guy is learning how we evaluate our process, things of that nature. But I think we're getting streamlined, getting more efficient. I felt like we did a great job recruiting this year.

Q. Da'Leon Ward what do you expect out of him? I know there's a lot of guys in front of him?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, I would expect him to play. I think when you look coming back, Justin Stockton and Demarcus Felton, Quinton White, Corey Dauphine, and he'd be the fifth on scholarship. So we're going to see if he can play. We think he can. At Skyline they play in a very similar offense. He caught the back out of the backfield, was a tremendous runner, has a good skill set, has a good build. He's going to be a guy, who if he can pick up mentally, we'll try to get on the field.

Q. Now that you have him, does he kind of have the best all-around skill set?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: I think so, as far as coming in. Some of those guys, De'Andre really worked to catch the ball out of the backfield. Justin has become a better inside zone runner, but just coming out of high school he's as complete a back as I think I've seen in that he's such a good pass catcher out of the backfield.

Q. Talk about Derrick Willies and what your expectations are for him.

KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, that's why he's here on both ends. We talked to him about coming in, playing right away, giving us that vertical threat with his size, his speed that we could take shots, and I know his mentality was come into this style of offense and get right to work. Him being here this spring semester is huge. He's roommates with Nic Shimonek neck, who's one of the hardest workers on our team. They've been up here at all hours putting in work.

Q. Is he kind of what you've been missing at that spot?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: I hope so. I did not like our vertical passing game. I thought when you have a passer like Pat, who's so good at the deep ball, you've got to give him some longer targets out there to take some shots. When Dylan Cantrell got hurt, that aspect really dropped a lot, and I think the length we added, particularly with Derrick, is going to help us.

Q. How much do you think having Willies (inaudible)?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, there's no doubt. It's huge. He knows particularly a program like Iowa with Kirk Ferentz, who is very disciplined, very -- he handles his business. So he coming in has the right mentality, knows what to expect, knows the level of competition, and he's approached it that way. His recruitment was a business decision as far as, hey, he wants to play at the next level. This is a vehicle in our offense where he felt like he could do that and play right away and play with a great quarterback, and that's why he's here, and he's working towards that.

Q. (Inaudible.)

KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, it was huge. We needed a big class. We lost quite a few -- the first year I got here, we took a bunch of junior college players, lost a bunch of them, so we needed to build a foundation with high school players, and that was our focus. We did that, and there will be a lot of backups on that field next year that are true freshmen, but that'll pay dividends in the long run.

Q. This time last year you said DL was going to be your main target for the 2016 class. Well y'all signed seven guys today. Do you consider it mission accomplished?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: I do. We won't know until obviously they get out there and play against the elite level competition we play against, but as far as the character they've shown, the way they've handled themselves, and their ability on the field, we feel like we've got a good group.

Q. Just curious your thoughts, the spread offense, seems like so many more athletes want to play offense. How hard is it to project players that probably played a lot of receiver in high school (inaudible) and how difficult does it become to convince some of those players to switch sides of the ball?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, it is tough. You've got to be good at your evaluations because a lot of those kids want the ball in their hands, and it's part of playing the game. I think when you see a certain skill set, if he can run fast, he's physical, he can jump, I think the good coaches, the good evaluators, can project him at a different position. And there's a team like TCU, Coach Patterson has done that for a lot of years and been very successful doing that.

Q. How will your defensive and offense guys fit in? Will they start right away or will you redshirt a bunch of them?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, I think defensive line-wise, just based on our numbers, we expect to throw all of them out and let them play. And then offensive line, on the other hand, we think we have enough depth where we'd like to redshirt them and let them develop and come along. I think it's just based on position. But if they all have to play, we'll play them, and if we can redshirt them and give them a year to grow and get bigger and stronger and learn our systems, then we'd love to do that.

Q. This offensive line class just kind of seems like Coach Hays goes and gets three or four guys (inaudible) just what are your thoughts on this group?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, it's a very smart group. I think it's the smartest offensive line group, when you talk about GPAs and test scores, I've been around. All of them are different. Bruffy is a baseball player. Being 6'7", throws 85 miles per hour, very skilled, great feet. Gio is a state champion wrestler, so he has that aspect. Bailey has a 4.0, kind of a mauler, under-theradar guy. So they all bring something different. Coach Hays, he's big on getting his early evaluations. He doesn't care about stars or what anybody has them ranked. He wants his guys that he know he come in and get after it, and we feel like we've got a good group.

Q. Talk about how he's kind of built depth and is getting his guys. Is that kind of the model for what you want to do?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: I think so. I think we want to play with older guys at each position with a great young group coming up behind them, and Coach Hays has done a great job with setting his room up that way, and hopefully we can establish that at some other positions.

Q. You mentioned the offensive line. Can you talk about Zach?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, Zach is a big, physical young man. I think early on he had Penn State and Miami. When you turn on the tape, he's just a massive human. Plays physical, has a nasty attitude, very disciplined young man. His dad works for the Federal Government, so you can tell he was brought up in that type of environment. Originally from Katy, wanted to come back to Texas. So it's worked out really well for us.

Q. Ivory Jackson is 6'3", 242. He's significantly smaller than (inaudible)?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: We think defensive tackle. He's lost some weight since he's been running track, preparing for that. But we see him when he gets here in our nutrition program being 275, 280 and playing inside.

Q. Will Vasher play basketball?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: We haven't talked about that. I think he wants to focus on football. He definitely has the ability, and if that's something that he wanted to get into, that's something we could take a look at. But as far as I know, my dealings with him, he's ready to focus on football, do an off-season, and really try to become the best wide receiver he can.

Q. Would you be open to it, if he wanted to?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: I would be open to it. Yeah, I think it would be great. I've watched him play basketball; he's special on that court, as well. If that's something he wanted to do, I think other people have done it before, that's something we could work with.

Q. (Inaudible.)

KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, that's who it reminds me of every time I watch him just because Mike only played really his senior year. Football his junior and senior. He was a big basketball guy, really raw, but great physical tools, very big, fast, strong, aggressive, and Mike -- the thing with Mike was how hard he worked, and I think TJ has a lot of those same characteristics. I think when he gets here and just focuses on football, I really think the sky's the limit for him.

Q. (Inaudible.)

KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, that's what he is. He's undersized as far as height, I'd say, but just one of those plugs that you want to play with when you're talking about a nose tackle. He's wide, he's very twitchy, has a great first step, and just terrorized all the teams he played this year. And I think if we can slim him down a little bit, get him in our system, I think he'd be perfect in Coach Gibbs' defense.

Q. Why has there been so much success at Skyline?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, I think we have a good relationship there with the high school coach. Coach Jones, used to coach there, and I think he did a great job of really carrying those relationships throughout the season.

Q. (Inaudible.)

KLIFF KINGSBURY: I think so. You look at what he brought in, he wanted more length at that position. This is really his first class where he's getting to bring in his pieces, and knew we had to get more depth at the defensive line, get longer there at corner, and then a physical group of three linebackers that are all really tough, strong, physical kids that we had good evaluations on early, and they stuck with us.

Q. (Inaudible.)

KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, that's what -- like I talk about, we want to go out, get our evaluations early, not knowing who's going to get stars, who's going to be highly rated. Just if we think they fit our system, if we like the type of young man they are, we're going to go with them.

Q. (Inaudible.)

KLIFF KINGSBURY: I think so. I think just bigger, longer, stronger bodies that we can develop. When I first got here, I mentioned earlier we went the junior college route, and we needed to start from the high school level and develop these guys with this class.

Q. Would you talk about taking three guys from (inaudible)?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, it was good. Coach Curtis did a great job down there in Louisiana, working that area. And obviously bringing in Coach Juluke has smoothed that transition. But there's a ton of good players down there, guys we got on them early, and we held on because all of them got hot late. We think they'll all contribute, all great young men, and excited to have them here.

Q. Were your defensive choices in line when you looked at (inaudible)?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: I hope so, yeah. We wanted to bring in guys that could hopefully play right away and push any other returning starters we have coming back based upon we weren't as good as we needed to be. It was definitely an emphasis to go heavy on the defensive side and try to create competition and depth for the defense.

Q. What does it mean for your defense that your defensive coordinator now is coming back and can recruit to specifics as far as what he wants?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: As you all know around here, that hasn't happened very often, to have back-to-back seasons. He's a great evaluator of talent. This is his first class that he's really been able to put his hands on throughout the entire year. We brought Coach Gibbs in to improve turnover margin; that improved dramatically. I think as he stacks his classes together, I think you'll continue to see our defense improve.

Q. What does Coach Gibbs do as far as his recruiting process when evaluating prospects?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: For prospects? You know, high character, likes hard workers, guys that when they show up on film, they show up. They're not afraid to hit you. He's big on seeing them play in person. He likes to get live evaluations during the spring, make sure not just watching them on tape. He's big on going to see them in person in the spring move around. And having been in the NFL, he knows that that's the ultra evaluation profession, and so he's been through some of that. So he does a great job, very thorough in his process, and couldn't be more pleased with these guys that we're bringing in.

Q. You mentioned an area that (inaudible)?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: No. I think any time you go after a class, you're going to emphasize pretty much every position, do the best you can at it. But I think all the guys, I mean, every coach in America says they feel good about their class, but having gotten to know these kids over a year's time, they've all been committed a long time, it just makes me feel better and better about what type of people they are and the type of players they're going to be.

Q. (Inaudible.)

KLIFF KINGSBURY: That's why he was brought in. I think when you lose someone like Jakeem Grant, you're searching for that position. We have some good young guys that we think can step up and do that, but we wanted to bring him in to compete for that position as far as a returner, an inside receiver that can catch those quick screens, catch those bubbles, make people miss and take it the distance, and he's a guy who has that skill set.

Q. (Inaudible.)

KLIFF KINGSBURY: I would assume that we're going to put him wherever we can to get him on the field as soon as possible, but I think day one he'd probably be inside.

Q. (Inaudible.)

KLIFF KINGSBURY: I think we'll start him on the inside and see who shakes out where.

Q. Kevin Moore, just talk about his versatility a little bit if you would (inaudible).

KLIFF KINGSBURY: He is. He's a heck of a player. Played quarterback the one year that they went to the state championship. Loves football, can play safety, play linebacker. When you watch the tape, he's all over the field. He's great in pass coverage, very physical at the line of scrimmage, and so we were very excited to have him, and we'll move him around and see where it best fits his talents.

Q. Do you have a favorite?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: No, no. They're all good. They're all going to have a special role here, and just excited to get them on campus.

Q. Next Class?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, I think it'll be smaller. I don't know by how much. But we don't lose a ton, don't have a ton of seniors this upcoming season, so it'll be smaller, and as of now, don't really have an emphasis. We'll see how spring and fall play out and go from there.

Q. With Brayden Stringer (Inaudible.)

KLIFF KINGSBURY: Yeah, same deal, physical kid. Will stick his nose in there. Probably going to be an outside guy to start but can play all over. Was the best special teams player they had by far, so I expect him to kind of start there, and hopefully we can work his way onto the field at linebacker.

Q. (Inaudible.)

KLIFF KINGSBURY: It will. That's what we want. We knew we had to improve there, get some more athletic bodies running down, covering kicks, and in our league with the dynamic returners we have, we've got to get better, and I know Coach Robinson is excited about working with these guys.

Q. Is there a favorite meal or one that was particularly unusual that you were part of during this recruiting season?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: I'm trying to think. Favorite? I don't want to hurt anybody's feelings with favorite, but --

Q. Most unusual, interesting?

KLIFF KINGSBURY: No, we didn't have one. It was pretty much catered-type situations, but it was all good. They took care of us this year. 


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