A: It all depends right now. We're looking at a small class of seniors next year, so there's been talk that what we have we might just carry over to next year, unless we feel like we can get a player that we feel can really help us. Really I think we're dealing with 23, 24 scholarships, so right now we may have two that we didn't use that we could use. It's been pretty much standard everywhere I've been that, say you've got a walk-on in the program, you reward him for a year with a scholarship. Or you might carry one over. So, using all of them this year, if it worked out and we got the guys we wanted, fine, if not, we can carry those two over for next year and reward a guy we've got in the program. That's pretty much standard everywhere.
Q: Tom Sorensen... my understanding is he'll be a deferred scholarship and then go on a mission?
A: Right. I think he will come in next January, stay for a year and go on a mission. He's like all those guys from BYU... while he's gone his clock stops and he doesn't count against you, and he comes back and still has whatever eligibility he had when he left.
Q: Will he count against your 25 next fall?
A: If he comes in January, the way the rules are, you can either count them forward or count them back. So we could actually count him in next year's class, or we could count him in this year's.
Q: You also had a junior college transfer [Bill Alford], whom I believe is the first junior college transfer Vanderbilt has had in eight or nine years. I understand he's already there on campus and will play in the spring?
A: Yes, he was a unique situation. Got started at Middle Georgia College, which did not play football this past season, and got his A.A. degree. Coming out of Brunswick, Ga., he wanted a chance to play in the SEC, but as a senior he didn't have any SEC offers. He kind of rolled the dice and went to a junior college. He felt he could play in the SEC, had the skills and desire to do that. We think we got a pretty good defensive back in Bill. He's here now, so he has the luxury of reporting in the spring and learning the defense and hopefully being able to play in the fall. He's not your typical junior college guy! He's a solid student and a good citizen. We're glad to have him.
Q: I know Coach Johnson said you guys don't pay any attention to things like recruiting services, and how guys are "rated". You did bring in several highly rated guys. But it looks like to me you went after some other guys who the recruiting services just never heard about, yet they're good solid athletes that maybe went under the radar screen.
A: Every year there are great athletes that nobody knows about, who are not highly rated. And then a lot of those guys who are highly rated, you track them through their careers, they don't turn out to be the players everybody thought they would be. I guess it's good for the fans, good for the alumni to see a guy who is very highly thought sign, in terms of national recognition. But there's no exact science to evaluating talent. Every coach, every school, they'll see something that somebody else did not see. We feel we try to do a thorough job. We watch tape, we talk to the coaches, we talk to counselors, we try to find out what kind of citizen, what kind of person he is. We watch tape, hopefully have a chance to watch them practice, watch them play. If he's a track guy, maybe in the spring we have a chance to watch him run track, or watch him in spring practice or watch him play basketball. But we feel good in terms of the evaluation process we have. We feel like everybody we have coming in fits a particular need. The things we had to do, I mentioned earlier, were offensive line, defensive backs, and increase our team speed. We feel good about that. That goes back to all those tall offensive linemen. We feel like they're all good athletes, and they'll continue to be good even as they get bigger. We don't get caught up in a lot of those publications. It's good, makes for good reading, but some of the best players I've been around were guys who were not highly ranked. Sometimes those players end up being a little more hungry, because they feel they were overlooked. Sometimes those guys come in with a chip on their shoulder because somebody else was rated higher than they were. They work extremely hard and end up being good ballplayers.
To read part 1 of this interview, click here.