Feb. 3, 2010
Head Coach Bob Toledo
"Today is the culmination of a year of hard work. It is a year-round process. It doesn't just happen, so today is the fruits of all of our labor, so to speak. We are pleased with the results of our class, we really are. Everybody talks about classes, I'm sure everybody in the country is pleased right now. We are excited about who we got, what we needed, and those types of things."
On his goals for the signing class
"Our goal was to create quality depth, and particularly special teams. We signed a punter, a kicker, and then several guys that can return kicks as well. We also signed 10 linebacker/defensive back types of players that can help us on special teams. I have said all along that athleticism is what creates special teams. When you don't have good athletes, you're not good on special teams. When you have better athletes, better athletes look good in space; bad athletes look bad in space. So we wanted to update our athleticism. Also, Doug Lichtenberger is going to be our special team's coordinator. He will do a great job."
On the breakdown of the recruiting class
"We have nine players from the state of Louisiana and the last three years we signed 35 players from the state. This is something I want to continue to do. I want to get more players if we can. Obviously, there are some players who want to leave, some players don't qualify academically and some players maybe don't fit our needs. We might sign only one guy at one position and there might be three or four guys, so there are reasons why we don't get as many as we would like some times.
We signed five players out of Texas, four from Florida and then one each out of Georgia, Illinois, Tennessee, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. We signed right players from our summer camp this year. I think that's about 30 guys now that we have signed that have participated in those satellite camps that we have in the summer. So that's been really helpful. Offensively, we signed 10 players. We had one quarterback, two running backs, a tight end, one wide receiver and five offensive linemen. Defensively, we signed 12 players, two defensive linemen, six linebackers, which was a real need, and then four defensive backs, and again the two specialists: one punter and one kicker.
"I think we signed seven three star guys. But, I don't get too hung up on that. I don't know how many stars Matt Forte was but I'll take a whole bunch of guys like Matt Forte any day. I really believe that when it is all done, four or five years from now, some of these guys that we signed today will be on NFL rosters. I think it is a good class. We are excited about it and we can't wait for them to get here. Now it's over, now we have to start on next year."
On recruiting within the state of Louisiana
"When I got the job, I always believed you have to take care of home first, so that was one of my emphases. I told our coaches we have to find every good football player in the state and then we have to hopefully recruit them. There are reasons why we haven't recruited some at all, as I mentioned earlier, but I think it's important to recruit guys from the state. They have friends, they have family, they have people that will come watch the games, it is closer to home and there are fewer problems when you are not too far from home. So, it has always been an emphasis of mine wherever I have been.
"We offered a bunch of guys and some of them decided they wanted to go elsewhere and then when it got down to the point where we got commitments from other people I took them, and then all of a sudden these other guys are out. But I think they have to start to realize that's their future. There are only so many scholarships you have, there are only so many guys for each position and we are very honest with them. We tell the players and the coaches that we only have one scholarship for a receiver for an example. And we'll take the first one, and some of them want to wait. If they want to wait that's fine, but we're not going to wait too long. I prefer to get in state but I am not going to wait.
On the need for playing a lot of freshman this upcoming year
"No, I don't believe so. As we go through the process here, this is really our third full year of recruiting. My first year we honored commitments (from the previous staff), we were only here a couple of weeks, so this is really our third year. I think as you go through the process you shouldn't have to play as many freshmen, and I honestly believe that we will play less freshman next year than we did this past year. But there are some key positions that will have to help us next year like on defense and primarily linebacker."
On L.J. Parker and Steven Funderburk
"We're looking for speed, athleticism, and size. Funderburk has size, but we're looking for athlete because we play so much nickel. Last year, Shakiel Smith, for example, played the nickel, and what's tough is that you have a 180 pound linebacker basically, and you line up against someone like LSU and they pound you. We just didn't have the people to line up. So, now were going to put him back in free safety and hopefully he won't have to play nickel and we'll have some linebackers and some other people who can play that position."
"We have four guys returning and Trent Mackey, who is one of them, we redshirted last year, and I think is going to be a heck of a football player. And then we have three others. One is a walk on right now. Then we have the six coming in, plus one of those safeties can also be what we call our Sam (Strong-side) linebacker which is also a nickel position, that's what Shakiel played last year. In our league, most of the time you play a 4-2 with five defensive backs, as opposed to a 4-3."
On the incoming players graduating early
"None of them will graduate early, but we're going to bring them all in for the July summer session like we did last year."
On the local player: Kenny Welcome
"Kenny Welcome is a guy we targeted a long time ago, and he committed a long time ago to us. He wanted to stay home, his mom wanted him here and he's a big strong physical guy. We watched him the last couple of years, so we are pleased to have him. He's a guy, if any, he would have a chance to play right away, because of the position that he plays. He is physical and he's capable of holding up against some of the people we will play against, and he's athletic."
On beating out some of the big schools
"We recruit guys that are being recruited by bigger schools, but the other thing that you have to realize is that we got some commitments from kids early and people tried to come back on, but, they hung tough. Obviously, you lose some, that's why until you sign them on signing day nothing is for sure."
"This year is pretty good. If you are playing baseball and you're 24 out of 25, that's pretty good. We did well. When you start looking at things, you look at the NCAA rules, they allow 56 players to come on campus. We brought 28 players and really we lost two of them that went to other schools. One of them we had to turn down because we got another position and the other one we're thinking of possibly gray shirting, and he's willing to do that. So from a percentage stand point we did pretty good, we got the pool of guys that we wanted, and we stayed on them and we did a great job of recruiting them I think."
On the weekend of bringing them in (for official visits)
"It was big. We brought in 19 guys that first weekend and we took them out on the boat and we had dinner out there and all the families. The big thing about us is that we bring parents too. We want their mom and dad to see our place. And when they see, they always leave on Sunday saying it was even better than they thought it was going to be. And that trip helped because the parents got to know each other, the players bonded, they started texting each other and getting involved. The moms want to start a booster club. So it was huge, it was a big weekend for us. We got everyone of those guys, so it was good."
On leaders in the class
"There were more guys that got involved that way. More guys started texting each other. It wasn't one or two guys that took the lead. There were several players that became good friends."