VandyMania Interview: David Turner (Part II)

In Part 2 of VandyMania's two-part signing day interview with assistant coach David Turner, Vanderbilt's recruiting coordinator talks about individual recruits from the 2004 class and speculates regarding where some may end up playing. Turner also talks about how well the class addresses the team's deepest areas of need, and how the team will go about fitting the new recruits within the 85-scholarship limit.

VandyMania: Three guys on this list are listed at an offensive and a defensive position. Let me ask you whether you think they'll start out on offense or defense. The first one is Jeff Jennings (RB/LB).

Coach David Turner: Jeff-- he wants a chance at running back, so he's going to start at running back.

VM: And if not, he winds up at linebacker?

Coach David Turner: Yep. He has to prove that he can't be a running back, and they'll take him at linebacker.

VM: Reshard Langford (RB/LB). Same thing?

Coach David Turner: Reshard is probably going to start out on defense. I can't say that for sure though... Coach [Bobby] Johnson, he lets them start out where they want to start. If he feels strongly about playing offense, they'll let him do that. But I think Reshard really doesn't mind. He thinks wherever he's needed the most is where we'll put him in. But I'm pretty sure he'll start out on defense.

VM: The other is Zach Logan (FB/LB).

Coach David Turner: Zach is a young man that, right now, we told him, is a grayshirt. Hopefully we can work it out where he comes in the fall. He would rather be a fullback. We got to the point at the end of recruiting where we decided we were going to take the best available athlete, and Zach was one of those guys. Zach can be a fullback, or we feel he could be a tailback in the one-back set. We also feel he has athletic ability to be a linebacker. So Zach's one of those guys, it might be based on where we're thin and need him the most as to where he starts. He has a lot of ability, and to make a long story short, he could be a one-back back for us, but with his size and speed, we also think he could be a linebacker, if that's where we needed him.

VM: I saw you signed two cornerbacks. What struck me about them is they're both incredibly fast, but they're kind of smallish. I gather from that that you must not mind if your corners are a little bit on the small side if they can really move.

Coach David Turner: Well... you're an intelligent man! If you're going to make a mistake on one, you don't want him to be slow too! If he's small, he better bring something else to the table. He's got to be fast. Yeah, if you ask any coach, they'd love to have 6-2, 205-pound corners that can run 4.4. Fact of the matter is, there's not that many out there. You look at the NFL, there's not many even there playing corner. We all say we want big corners, but the fact is, it ain't a whole lot about that. We had both Jared Fagan and Josh Allen in camp, so we had a chance to work with them, and [secondary coach] Jamie Bryant had a chance to put them through some drills. Physically we think they can do it. Obviously they're not big enough right now to come out and play 75 snaps and make tackles every play. They're going to have to get in the weight room. But they have their tangibles. We've been watching them. They're not scared. They're tacklers. They don't mind getting in the mix. And they run extremely well. When we first got here, we said we have to increase our team speed at every position. We feel good about them. This class, top to bottom, we feel good about everybody. The guys we got are guys we wanted, no question about that. A lot of these guys, we've been in the recruiting process for over a year. A lot of them bring the intangibles, come from good programs. They've won a lot and have a good work ethic. They're good-character kids who bring a lot more than just football ability to the table. Obviously that's a good part of it, but there are some intangibles we look for too.

VM: Is there any need that you feel like you didn't quite meet with this class?

Coach David Turner: No... I think we addressed the defensive line... going into it we felt like the most pressing need was that we wanted to get a bigger back. The backs we have, Kwane Doster, Norval McKenzie and Ronald Hatcher are all about the same size. They're all quick, good backs. We wanted kind of a different animal, a different back to change up things on Saturday afternoons. Corners... we said we need to get at least two corners. We got two guys we feel good about there. Lance Parker leaving threw us into some kind of a bind at quarterback. Going in, we said we would take a quarterback this year if we found one we really wanted; but after Lance left, that became a priority. We ended up getting one we wanted a whole lot, the one that we did want, in Chris Nickson. So I think we did a pretty good job of addressing our needs. We started out with just eight scholarships, and we ended up with about 19 or 20, which is a far cry from eight. That kind of gave us more room to address the needs. Offensive line, going in, we said we'd take one. We might actually end up with two or three, because with seven defensive linemen, there's a good chance that one or two of those guys might go to offense. We ended up getting a big receiver, and we ended up getting a smaller, faster, more elusive guy in Sean Walker. Sean Walker will complement Bryant Anderson, and Bryant Anderson will complement Sean and the other guys we have in the program. We got a fullback we wanted, David Whittington, and we kind of got an ace-in-the-hole with Zach Logan... he could be a one-back, could be a fullback, could be a linebacker. So right now we feel good about addressing our most pressing needs.

VM: Kicker... you didn't announce a kicker on signing day, but the story is that you probably have one on the way. At the first of the year, Coach Johnson was saying you weren't going to sign a kicker. What changed along the way to change that thinking?

Coach David Turner: The obvious thing was the number of scholarships. With eight scholarships, there was no way we could take one of those eight and give it to another kicker. Then you'd be talking about seven scholarships for 22 other positions. There was just no way. But we got up to 20 and then all of a sudden, hey, we had addressed our needs. If there's one we feel strongly about, hey, let's get him! Obviously I can't comment about it until we get one signed, but hopefully we can get one that can come in and help us. But the increase in scholarships was what allowed us to seriously evaluate kickers.

VM: Does one person have to grayshirt right now if no one leaves?

Coach David Turner: I'm not exactly sure. Coach Johnson has all those numbers. He would have to answer that. Right now we're going to do everything we can to get all the young men we got signed in here in August. If not, we've discussed grayshirting with one or two other guys, and they're receptive to it. Like everyone else, they'd probably like to be here in the fall, but there are a lot of positives to grayshirting too.

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Click here to read part 1 of this interview.


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