"Well, it's been a busy three weeks and we were just visiting a few minutes ago and you know we've probably put a recruiting class together that takes three years in a three week period of time. It's been hectic and coaches I think with the situation they were in did a good job. There was a lot of help from the administration here and all of the people on campus. It's been pretty tough but that's what it's about. Going into next year, obviously it will be a lot easier with the situation of having a chance to evaluate for an entire year. It's been a tough situation that we've put out coaches in but I'm proud of what they did and how they did it. They spent a lot of time on the road and hitting the trail trying to evaluate. We did keep a few that had previously committed, some went other ways for different reasons and some for obvious reasons went other directions. I thought just looking at this class, it's going to be a class that we can look back on and say ‘You know? For a three week period time it was pretty dang good.
Number one thing I like about this group is that we have a lot of character. I went around and talked to all of these kids personally and just looked them into the eye and talk to them about what they thought about football and life and kind of put it into perspective because you can have all of the athletic ability you want but, if you don't have good character and attitude, it doesn't make any difference. This is a hard job, college football, and as I tell them it's the only time in your life you're going to have two full time jobs. Academics and playing football is a very tough time so you have to have special people to do this. So, we had a short period of time to evaluate that but I thought that went very well. As we went through this situation of looking at each position and thinking about who we were going to bring in, I thought it worked out well.
The first thing we did when we got here was look at the players that we had on the team. We have 31 players on the offensive side and 27 players on the defensive side of the ball on scholarship. Obviously, we have a few more on offense. We had a lot more skilled players. We looked at it in the way of ‘What are we going to do in terms of recruiting? Where are we going to balance it?' If you look at this list, it's obvious. We took seven offensive players and 18 defensive players. There's a reason for that. We need more defensive players. The one area we really need players was at the defensive linemen position and we signed eight. That will pay dividends for us. I've told people for years, they look at all these recruiting ratings and the great players-the four and five star players. However, you can throw it all out and grade the defensive linemen that you recruited. If they're football players, you're going to win more games. Every player is valuable but it's so hard to find defensive players that can play defensive line, that can run, and that can play major college football. So, we went after abundance of them and our guys did a good job of bringing enough in. I think it can really help us a lot next year. Also in this class, we looked for speed. And this entire team will be built on speed as long as I'm here. Speed will win games for us. I don't look at the height. I don't look at the weight. I look how fast they can run and how quick they are. If they can have a couple of those qualities, this football team will get better and better.
We looked at the defensive side first. Foremost, in terms of getting players that can help next year, we looked down the line at players. If you look also, we signed six defensive backs. We're going to need more defensive backs. We're going to play a lot of nickel and dime defenses meaning on the field next year you'll see five defensive backs and see six defensive backs play. Some of these young players, which are all high school players, some will come in and play for us. I'm not going to go through all of their names, but I think a lot of these guys will have an opportunity to come in and play and play early.
The offensive side of the ball, there was just a couple of needs. Every year, we will sign one quarterback. There will be years where we might try and sign two quarterbacks. If you look at the young man that we signed (Scotty Young), he was committed here before. We did evaluate him ourselves. We wanted to make sure that he was the type of quarterback Neal Brown, our offensive coordinator and quarterbacks' coach, wanted for our offense. Number one again, going back to the attitude and character. Does he really want to play college football? Because playing as a college quarterback is very difficult. We visited with him. We talked to him. We watched his film. He's sold on playing college quarterback. He's an athlete that can run, he's got a strong arm. He's a very good baseball player. He brings a lot of athletic ability to the table and I think that he's going to be an exceptional quarterback. Again, there's a lot that out there that has to be determined on whether he can handle this kind of scenario. But, just visiting with him, he's a very mature young man that I think is going to be a heck of a quarterback for us. He's got some good older guys in front of him that he'll be able to learn from. I like his release. I like the way he gets rid of the football. He's very competitive which is a big attribute for a quarterback playing at the college level.
This class is very good. You won't hear a lot of the experts say that ‘They didn't rank in the Top 20 or the Top 10'. I coached at Miami for nine years. We won three national championships and we went to national championship games six times and we never had a Top 10 recruiting class. Players are made when they get here. You go back to and look at their athletic ability. They obviously are going to have to have some. It's the determination and the attitude and how they grow and how they proper so to speak when they get on your campus. This group is a very good class and I think there's going to be some areas that will be better than others just because of numbers. But, I'm excited about it and I know our coaches are and we're looking forward to getting them here on campus."
On DE Jackson Richards:
"He's a guy I had an opportunity to go see in the Under Armour All-Star game down in Tampa, Fla., about a month before I took this job. I watched him practice and watched him play in the game. He's got a great attitude. He's got the attitude that you like for a defensive lineman. He's got no fear and likes to play. He's a very athletic guy that can play outside or inside. He can stand up as all these guys can."
On DT Michael Jones:
"There's just a couple players like Michael Jones. Not many people heard about him till a couple of weeks ago when we started recruiting him. I went to visit with him in Houston. He's a true inside guy. He has great leverage. He obviously had a few offers from some schools but once we offered , that's when everyone started getting in on him. That's what happens in this business. He's the type of person we like to play inside. He's 6'1, 6'2. Right now he weighs about 265 but he'll end up weighing about 300 pounds."
On DE Scott Smith:
"You'll see some of these players like Scott Smith, a junior college player. He's huge, he's a 6'7 player. In our defense, he will not be able to play inside. He's too tall. You can't, in the defenses we'll play, very seldom will we have a guy who's 6'3 play with his hand down playing over the center or playing over the guard. A guy like Scott Smith will play on the outside. Usually a guy with speed and quickness will also be able to drop from the line of scrimmage. With that size and that height at 6'7 his first step is too high obviously because of his build. He's just not a good inside player but guys like him, I think, will be able to play outside and give us some speed rushers. If you look in this league, this league has a tremendous amount of passing and speed rushers need to be there to help out with pass rushing."
On letting players be dual sport athletes:
"I think track is good for them. Over the years, I've encouraged players to help the track team. I don't want them just to go out and to take up space. I think that has to be a process for the track coach. Baseball is a lot different. I've had a few do that. College football is so hard and time consuming in terms of the season, off-season and to turn around and jump into another sport. If they can handle that mentally, I'm fine. But, it's so hard to do that for a young 18-year-old or 19-yearold to do that and keep up their academics. But, I'm up for it as long as they can handle it along with their parents' agreement. I think anything they can do in sports that can help them in any other sport because of the hand-and-eye coordination and doing things that can help them with their speed like in track. I think it's great."