VandyMania spoke on National Signing Day with football recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach David Turner regarding Vanderbilt's 2003 signing class. The Commodores signed 22 prospects to letters-of-intent. (Part 1 of 2)
Q: Coach, congratulations on the recruiting class. I know you're glad it's all over, and I presume you're very excited about your signing class at this point?
A: Yes, we are. We feel like we've helped ourselves tremendously in some areas. We can't wait to get these young men here and get them in the program.
Q: You coach defensive linemen [in addition to being Recruiting Coordinator]. This looks like one of the best-looking groups of defensive linemen I've seen since I've been following Vanderbilt.
A: Well, it does look good on paper right now... Marcus Dixon, and Antron Dillon, defensive end, and Greg Jacobs... we got some big, athletic guys that can help us. Like most classes, it will probably be three years down the road before we know how good it is. But we feel good about the potential of these young men in being able to help the defensive front.
Q: Let me ask you about a few of the recruits specifically. A guy like Marcus Buggs, who could play a lot of different positions for you... where do you see him ending up?
A: In the secondary. We had two pressing needs this year, offensive line and defensive backfield. Marcus Buggs is a local guy, good athlete. He might be able to play corner, but we know he can play safety. That's an area where we're going to need some help next year. He might be a guy who could end up playing some next year.
Q: How about a guy like Stephon Johnson? It seems like he could go on either side of the ball.
A: Well, I really don't know. You're exactly right, he is a guy who could play on either side. It could be a situation where he might be able to step in over there with the offensive unit. He's one of those guys that's an athlete who can play a number of position. We kind of put him in that "Athlete" category. Where he plays after he gets here might be based on where we have a need. Wherever he can fit in quickest.
Q: Talk about the offensive linemen you signed-- it looks like you got some guys who are really tall, but some of them maybe not all that thick at this point. Talk about your philosophy of going after a taller offensive lineman.
A: Obviously we felt like we needed a little bit bigger offensive lineman. Those tall, lean guys are guys that we think-- we recruit them, look at them, and get to know them-- we feel like we can get them in here in the strength and conditioning program with John Sisk and John Moore, and they can put weight on those guys. It's a whole lot easier to get a good, lean athlete and put weight on than to have a guy who comes in and you've got to worry about them losing weight, and stay on him to be mentally tough and diet. We feel good about the guys in terms of frames. All of them are big, athletic guys who can move real well. With their body structure, and a few years of maturity we feel we can put on some pounds, and they can end up being really big athletes for us.
Q: You got one quarterback in the class, Lance Parker. What kind of quarterback is he? Is me more of a thrower, or a runner, or a little bit of both?
A: He does a little of everything. You see him scramble some on tape. He's a pretty good athlete. He eludes tacklers. He's got good feet. He throws the ball extremely well. He's probably not got as strong an arm as some of the guys signing across the country, but he has a strong enough arm that we feel he can fit in well with our offense, with what we ask a quarterback to do. He's a smart kid, and has really just been a winner. So we feel real good about him.
Q: Then you also got two receivers-- 6-3, 6-4, guys who can really move. Tell me about them.
A: Well, that's another area where we felt like we needed to get a little bit bigger guy. We've got to get some guys that we think can stretch the field. And both George Smith and Marlon White are big, athletic guys who run track and play basketball. Those things kind of factor in-- we had a chance to watch both of those guys play at practice. They have really good ball skills. We feel once again we can get them in here and develop them. They will get bigger, faster and stronger and hopefully develop into some pretty good wide receivers for us.
Q: Running back might be an area where you really didn't get the guy you were looking for. I know you were going after some pretty big names. Do you feel like you're going to be OK there? Are you still looking for that marquee running back?
A: Well, we started out saying we were going to take one running back. We had some guys that we started out recruiting, but we didn't end up signing one, as of yet. But it's a position where we have some numbers. We've got some guys who were hurt last year, Norval McKenzie and Ronald Hatcher, who should be back, healthy and at full speed for the fall. It wasn't a position that we had determined we have a pressing need, but it was a position that, yes, we would like to get one guy if we could get the guy we wanted. If not, we thought we'd be in pretty good shape for another year, maybe try to hold off and get one next year.