Barry Alvarez Signing Day Verbatim: Part 2

Part Two of Barry Alvarez' chat with the media regarding the UW football recruiting class on Signing Day.

Have you fired up the walk-on program the last year or two? Is that a conscious decision on your part, and is there a gender equity issue there as well?

Alvarez: A few years ago we were hurt when we had a cap put on numbers, because we've always actively recruited walk-ons. And we had a number of them recruited. Then we were capped with a number, and we couldn't guarantee that they would be in the 105. Consequently, we lost a number of those players, and we couldn't guarantee that they would be in the 120. So what we've done now is, the last two years, we've had a day where we've invited preferred walk-ons onto campus. We have spent time with them. We have explained the different phases. It's a mini-recruiting weekend, but we really get specific with them, and make it a special day for them and let them know we have a place for them in our program. The last two years is probably the first time we've done that.

Does Jim Leonhard's success help you recruit walk-ons?

Alvarez: It does, and did. Mark Tauscher's success, and Donnel Thompson's success, but I think none more than Jimmy's. The fact he's still not on scholarship, he's made some All-American teams. He (went) to Connecticut to be honored as one of the Walter Camp (All-Americans). But I think he exemplifies our walk-on program, the attitude of our walk-ons probably as much as anyone.

You talked during bowl practice that you would like somebody to come in and give R.J. Morse some competition at punter. Do you feel confident that the walk-on, Kenneth DeBauche, can give him that competition?

Alvarez: I think we'll probably have at least one more, along with him, and I think they will. I think it will be a competitive position. I stressed on the guys that we're talking to that it's going to be a competitive situation. There are no handouts, because I want the person that kicks to be somebody that wants to compete and has earned a job. But I think (DeBauche) and at least one more will give us that competition.

Are kickers and punters in high school hard to evaluate?

Alvarez: Kickers a little more than punters. Again, we've been through this, because they kick off from a tee. You can see their leg strength, but you don't know what kind of an adjustment period they will have when they go off the ground. You can see it with the kickoff, you can evaluate it pretty well. It's hard to see the punters. You don't see the flight of the ball. You try to rely on some of the people that have kicking camps around the country. They know the kids all over the country. They can really steer you towards the top guys. They've spent time…some of these kids go to camp two or three times a year and have been really tutored by these guys. So we try to rely on them to give us some direction.

You have Joe Thomas listed as a tight end, but you've talked about him at left tackle. Will you take a look at him at tight end?

Alvarez: I haven't decided that yet. I think the decision with Joe Thomas may be defensive line or left tackle. But I wouldn't rule out tight end. I just don't know, but it's really nice to have that problem, to have that type of flexibility, that versatility, that type of athleticism and size. I know when he went down and played in that All-American game, he played against some of the top talent in the country, he played right tackle but I know the coaches felt he was one of the more impressive players in the game. He held up very well.

Do you have a preference on where he will play next fall?

Alvarez: First year, probably where he would help the team best, where he could get on the field, but I think eventually he will be a left tackle, and I told him that. I think he's a guy that would just flourish at left tackle. He's what you're looking for. Big, long arms, very athletic, explosive, smart. He's got the whole package, so I think that's his future. That's where he'll be best in the long run.

Are you guys concerned about the tight end position right now?

Alvarez: We're about where we were a year ago, plus one guy. I like the guy we signed. I think he brings something to the table. I love what I saw with Owen Daniels there. We'll put Owen back there. If Owen would not have been hurt pre-bowl practice, he would have played in the bowl game. I really thought he brought something to the table. So I feel good. I mean, we have the same guys so I know they can block. I would like to add some receiver threats and a speed threat there.

Could you comment on Bob Docherty's status?

Alvarez: Docherty's status hasn't changed. You can't believe you read on the internet you know. Some guys can, I guess.

Are you looking for a different type of tight end?

Alvarez: Well we would like to move away from tackles with wings. We'd like to find somebody that can stretch the defense, somebody we can get the ball to, somebody that can get open and is not just a blocker. Although we do like them be able to block, but we would like to find somebody who can run a little bit better and give us a better receiving threat there. Consequently, that doesn't mean they have to be 265 pounds. They can be 230-240. That's why I think Owen, who has been around 230 pounds, we can get him up around 225-230, with his 4.6 speed that really gives us something there, it makes you very flexible, with what he can do.

Do you feel the five in-state guys you landed were the best players in the state, or did you go after them because they filled needs?

Alvarez: What we try to do with the state is, as we evaluate them, we're going to give people the benefit of the doubt, and we're going to offer anyone we feel can play at our level and fit into our program. And it may not be a need, per se. I like to take as many Wisconsin players as I can.

Will any of the guys play corner that you signed?

Alvarez: Roderick Rogers. We'll start him at corner. We have two safeties and one corner. And Tony Moss really recovered very well. That makes me feel a little bit better. He's recovered from his knee surgery and going through all the drills already. That helps a little bit.

Have you experienced a day of decommitments like we've seen (on Signing Day)? Miami suffered a catastrophe, with five decommitments in the first hour. (Editor's Note: The reporter asking this question had false information. Miami had just two decommitments on Signing Day, defensive linemen Clifton Dickson and Kevin Williams).

Alvarez: I didn't know what happened today. I've never heard of that before. Miami has kind of been in the middle of a lot of that, on both sides. I don't know anything about that. But it sure seems like there's been an awful lot of that. And that can lead towards an early signing. I just don't feel that's right.

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