Feb. 4, 2009
Bob Toledo Tulane University Head Coach
"First off, it's great to see you all out here. It's been a while since we have all gotten together. Today is a culmination of a year of hard work. My hat is off to our coaches. I think they did a great job this year. We made a lot of end roads, and it was kind of exciting. This class, to me, is exciting.
"I know that you talk to a lot of people all over the country, and every school feels the same way today. Everybody is excited about their class. So really, only time will tell how good these classes really are, ours along with everybody else in the country. As I mentioned, I think the coaches did a great job."
On how the recruiting process works
"There are some things that I want to talk about before I talk about the recruits because I think it is important, sometimes, to educate some people. There are obviously some rules, and I think that you need to know about some of those rules, too, because sometimes you don't think we are doing what we are supposed to be doing. In April and May, this spring, we can go out for four of those eight weeks and we can recruit. We can go to each school a maximum of two times. So all we can visit a school is two times in the spring. Now, I as a head coach, or any other coach in the NCAA, cannot go out. Now, this last year, we visited over 300 schools in Louisiana, plus we went to other coast states. We talked to head coaches, we talked to principles, we talked to counselors, and we gathered information on academics, which is crucial here, and on their character. I want to know what kind of people they were. We watch video and spring practices.
"From there, we added guys, or in this case, we eliminated a lot of guys which really narrowed down our pool of players which in my opinion is good because we don't want to waste a lot of time. In June, we had six one-day satellite camps all over the state of Louisiana. We really feel this is beneficial to us. We started this two years ago, and I guarantee you that it was good because we get to know the players, we get to know some of the coaches and the players get to know us. We actually get to coach those players and in my opinion that has been very beneficial. Another plus is that we find players, but we also get to eliminate more players again - guys that are on the fence post so to speak. But the nice thing about our camp is that out of the 26 players that we signed, 13 players were guys that were in our football camps this summer. So that is a pretty good return.
"Then you get into the fall, and we write notes to all of our players. We have a letter-writing campaign. We write letters to our players weekly. Anybody that is a prospect, we have them come and watch us play at a home game. As far as the rule, during the course of the year, there are 42 evaluation dates. Of those 42 evaluation dates, basically you have seven coaches go out and keep the coordinators in. That means, six times they can go out and watch games and go to high schools. We do that during the course of the year. So for those of you who think we are not out doing our job, you are mistaken. Our coaches did a great job. They go out to high schools, get more information, and they watch games.
"Now in December, you can go out once a week. At that time, we go out, we look at the prospects, we talk to the prospects, and we invite them to official visits. The NCAA allows 56 visits - 56 official and 48-hour visits. You can have 56 players come and officially visit you campus. You can give out 25 scholarships a year. You can give out more, like we gave out two at the mid-year, because we only gave out 21 last year. So you can count back if you get them at mid-year. Out of the 56 visits, we visited 30 players. We had 30 players in on official visits and of those 30 players, we signed 26. Again, two of them are mid-year guys. That's pretty darn good when you talk about percentages and trying to not waste money or time.
On the amount of in-state signees for the 2009 season
"Out of that group, we signed 10 from the state of Louisiana. Obviously, I want to recruit more players (from the state), and believe me, we recruited a lot of players. We didn't visit that many, but we recruited a lot. Some of them just flat out weren't interested in coming to Tulane. But we're going to continue to recruit this state hard. If we can get 10 or more every year, that's going to be 40 in four years. That's what our goal is - to continue to recruit players from the state."
On the 2008 signing class
"Last year's class, obviously, was very good. We really thought we did a good job. Of those 20 guys that came on last year, 12 played and eight of them redshirted. Of those redshirted kids, we think most of them will contribute this year."
On having eight three-star recruits on this year's signing class
"Last year, people mentioned that we didn't have any two-star, three-star or whatever those stars are. This year, obviously, we have eight three-star athletes as opposed to none a year ago. I don't know if Matt Forté had any stars behind his name, but I would sure like to take a lot of Matt Fortés. Sometimes we get caught up in these star things, but we really believe this is the best class we've had since we've been here."
On how he recruits student-athletes once he gets them on campus
"On recruiting, we really felt we had very good official visits. President Cowen spoke to all of our recruits. He does a great job. He obviously played football and knows what those guys are going through. Rick Dickson spoke to all of our recruits. He also played football and that's one of the things I try to preach to the recruits. The people that head up our department and our University played college football. They sat in the seat that you're sitting in. I think that's coming from strength there. Our professors were great. They met with our kids academically and talked about the majors and those types of things. Our equipment guys did a super job of setting up all of the stuff in the locker room. Our trainers came and we tried to get a little bit of a physical on them - to see how they are, whether they have bad shoulders or bad knees or whatever, get official heights and weights on them. Our strength and conditioning coaches give them a little bit of an idea of what they do there. And then of course, our players host these guys when they come on campus. Our players really did a great job of selling the program. I know we struggled last year, but I think our players realize how close we are to being a good football program. They did a great job of selling the coaching staff, this University and this program."
On the role the state high school coaches play in recruiting
"I believe coaches in this state are becoming more familiar with us, are becoming more comfortable with us and are sincerely helping us more. I talked to a couple of them this morning already, a couple of them that we didn't get players from, but I appreciate their help. I don't need them to tell them where to go. I just need them to give them direction, and they did that. The good thing is that they're not telling them to not come here anymore. I think that is important."
On his commitments holding firm all the way through National Signing Day
"Not one of our commitments - and I'm talking about a guy who verbally committed to us during the course of the year - wavered at any time. Not one guy who committed to us wavered or changed their mind at the end. You talk about these commitments during the course of the year and these kids who give soft verbals. What's a soft verbal? I talk to them and I say , `Look, it's like dating. Once you date a gal and you get engaged, you don't keep dating. You're going to get married. So once you make a commitment, don't keep visiting schools.' Some of these guys drive me crazy. A couple of these guys (nationally) haven't even signed today. What are they doing? That really bothers me. To me, when a kid comes on campus and he doesn't want to commit, that's fine. I understand that. But once a player commits, to me, that's where he's going to school. If they commit to me, then they're done visiting."
On the team's priorities for this year's signing class
"Our priority obviously was speed...speed...speed. We needed to have more speed and we did that. We also wanted size in our offensive and defensive linemen. We went out and got one kicker, which we wanted to have a kicker for our future. Defensively, we got one linebacker. We recruited several others, but we didn't get them. We wanted some defensive linemen and we got four. We got six defensive backs. Offensively, we got two running backs, two tight ends, five offensive linemen and five wide receivers. We didn't get any quarterbacks or fullbacks. We didn't feel like we needed that this year. Next year, that may change, particularly at the quarterback position but probably not at fullback because we have some young guys."
Final comment before opening the floor to questions
"That's our recruiting spiel for the day. Spring practice starts March 31 and it will end April 25 with our Spring Game. Once again, we're exciting about the prospects. You guys have the lists in front of you. I don't know where our SIDs got all that information, but obviously some of these guys were recruited by better people than I ever though. All kidding aside, I'm excited about this class."
On which local offensive and defensive linemen have a chance to come in and contribute right away
"I would think offensively, it'll be a little tougher because I think we're starting to build up a little depth there. One, maybe two, freshmen offensive linemen might be able to help us next year. Defensively, we probably need a few of those guys to come through for us. (Shane) Delery, I think, is a very physical guy who has a lot of upside. He plays with his hair on fire and he's the kind of guy we want playing defensive tackle for us. We've got some guys at defensive end that have a lot of speed. They're good players. Offensive line is a little tougher than defensive line, I think."
On the recruits keeping contact with each other to help land other recruits
"One of the things that you're mentioning is when our players committed to us, one of the things we wanted them to do was get involved with the other recruits. On our first recruiting weekend, we brought in all of the guys, for the most part, that had committed to us. They created a little bond amongst each other. They got each others' phone numbers and they started calling each other. I think that helped us keep commitments. Plus, then they wanted to know who else we were recruiting and they somehow got involved with guys, started calling people and tried to convince other guys to come aboard too. The phone calls by our recruits were probably pretty important."
On signing four pairs of teammates, including a set of twins
"I thought that was interesting. We did have four sets of players from the exact same school. Now the twins, that's like one person. But we did have four groups of players from schools. When we go recruit guys, if there are more than one player there, then obviously we're going to recruit them. We were very fortunate this year that some of the schools had more than one player and that is what we did. It just kind of worked out that way."
On how he came to sign the Washington twins from Brenham (Texas) High School
"One of the things is they came here for the Junior Olympics. They ran over at Tad Gormely. So we knew about them. They came very highly recruited. They're not real big guys, but they are very, very fast. We were looking for speed, and Greg Davis (Jr.) was recruiting that area. We had them in for a visit, they remembered the area from having ran here and they wanted to get involved in our program."
On West Monroe High product D.J. Banks
"D.J. Banks is such a good athlete that we think he can do a lot of things. One of the things we're going to do, obviously, is play him at receiver. The other thing we want to do is play him - and I hate to use the term Wildcat because when I was UCLA I had DeShaun Foster and Freddie Mitchell running from that formation but I didn't call it Wildcat...it's a new deal - but we're going to put him in the backfield and let him play some quarterback as well. Obviously, we also see him as a return guy. He's very exciting."
On if Banks can be a game-changer
"We hope so. We think he's got a lot of explosiveness and he can make big plays. We're going to try and get the ball to him in the passing game - try to put him in positions to run some reverses, get him the ball quick on some bubble screens and that kind of thing. We're going to try and teach him enough where he can go in and do those things right away without having to learn all the receiver stuff. And then we're going to put him at quarterback, let him learn a few things at a time and kind of build upon that to utilize his ability to run the football."
On if Banks has anyone on his team currently that can do those types of things
"On our current team? Jeremy Williams probably could, but obviously, he's coming off surgery. But yes, Jeremy can do it. We did some of that against Alabama early. He can't throw, though. That's the thing. D.J. can throw the football and so he gives you that added dimension. We think there are some guys we recruited who can do the same thing, but you can't use too many of those guys doing that."
On the recruits that got away
"Let's just say that a few guys got away. There were some linebackers that we were after because we wanted one more. We just didn't get them. But sometimes, they want to get away (from home). I called one of them this morning, as a matter of fact, and wished him luck. He handled it with class. I saw him on TV last night. To me, that's classy - to speak highly of a program that you ended up not going to. So I wished him luck and told him that he always had a home back here if things didn't work out."
On if landing Hargrove Military Academy receiver Devin Figaro shows that the administration is working to help get transfers into Tulane
"I think a prep school is more like a high school where as a junior college is maybe different. I think a four-year transfer is easier for us to get in. I think, for the most part, the administration has been pretty helpful, in particularly for a prep school guy. That's like a continuation from high school, and he's done a good job. His mom flew out there today and signed with him. And of course, his dad played pro basketball. His dad is a great athlete. He was here this weekend. I wish he had a little eligibility left. I'd put him at tight end. He's a big ole man."
On if Destrehan product Ryan Rome will be counted on to contribute on special teams in 2009
"There is. He was in our camp and he did a good job in our camp. We knew he was pretty good, but when he came to our camp and kicked, that sort of solidified the thing for him. I think there is a real possibility that he could do that. The concern that we have is that he's been kicking off a tee and he needs to start kicking off grass or turf. He said he's been doing that He's got a strong leg and maybe he can help us kicking off."
On if Figaro's extra year of experience will help the receiving corps
"Obviously, he's got to come in and prove himself just like everyone else. When we were watching his (prep) school film, it was against Tennessee, Marshall, East Carolina. He played against some people this year. It was pretty impressive to see him. He's 6-2 and about 200 (pounds). He's very fast and has really good hands. But again, there are some other receivers that we recruited that are pretty good, too. We're excited about that whole group."
On if he has any recruit that he feels is the crown jewel of the signing class
"I don't know. I've done that before and I've been wrong. Let's just wait and see. There is no need to put any pressure on any one person right now. I think there are a bunch of them that are going to contribute to the program next year."
On if there was any one assistant coach who really stood out in the recruiting process
"I think they all worked hard. Obviously, the coordinators don't go very far and have local schools. Greg Davis, Jr., has been here for a long time. He knows a lot about Tulane. He knows a lot of people. He knows a lot of people in Texas. He really did a great job. I think Thomas Woods in Alabama and Georgia did a great job. I look at Jason Rollins, the new guy on the block. He's going to be recruiting the Louisiana/New Orleans-type area next year. We'll probably take him out of the Texas area. I think all of the assistants did a great job. They all worked hard."
On if there was a sense of urgency by the staff after going 2-10
"I think there is always a sense of urgency. We put it on ourselves. Some of these kids, we've been recruiting since I got here. When I got here, we already pretty much had a class. We picked up a few guys, but we honored the commitments from the previous staff. So we were looking at juniors and we saw sophomores in that group, too. So this is not just one year that we've been recruiting some of these guys. It's been longer than that. We've already offered guys for next year. I've already got offers out for next year. Tomorrow, we'll have a big recruiting meeting to talk about all the juniors in the state and all the other players that we're looking at."
On if he is satisfied with the mix of local products and players from outside the area
"No. 1, I wish we had more Louisiana guys. I really do, and it's not that we're not trying. We're trying to get Louisiana kids. I'd love to get a bunch of them. I'm not saying all of them, but I'd like to get a majority of our players from the state. But we're not going to turn down a good player from another state. Brock Sanders, the tight end, he's rated the No. 10 tight end in the country. He verbally committed to Stanford and then changed his mind. Now they've got a pretty good football program. He's a heck of a football player and his dad played pro ball. His dad came on a trip and he's like 6-7, 320 pounds - played for Detroit and played for Atlanta. He's a big man. We're not going to turn down a good player from somewhere else. We got this Dezman Moses kid, who transferred from Iowa. Steve Stanard, our new defensive coordinator, knew him. He's been working out with us, and I'll tell you what, you can tell he's been in a big-time program."
On what the fact that no one decommitted says for the state of the Tulane program
"I think it speaks volumes for it, I really do. Again, I think people see us and they say, `you were 2-10.' But they don't realize how close we are. We're a lot closer than that, in my opinion. That's something that myself and my coaching staff try to convince these players. `We're a lot closer than most people give us credit for. We need you to get us to that next level, to get us over that hump.' I think they saw that. They saw that the program is headed in the right direction, they saw an opportunity to play early, and they saw a chance to play at place that is going to give them a great education."
On how much he evoked the names of past Tulane greats to recruit players
"We did that quite a bit. We made it known that Matt Forté was a big-time player. We made it known that Troy Kropog was playing in the Senior Bowl. They all got information on that. We made it known that Mewelde Moore was going to be playing in a Super Bowl. They all know that. That's part of us educating recruits."
On Trinity Presbyterian wide receiver Wilson Van Hooser
"Wilson was in our camp, and I'll tell you what, I've never seen a guy jump that high. He vertical jumped 42 inches and ran a sub-4.5. He's kind of related to the Wilsons that own this building, I think. He's very close friends with that family. He came with his friend, who is a Wilson. His first name is Wilson, so I think there's something in cahoots there. I'm not sure. But let's put it this way, he was kind of the lead dog for this class. He was one of the first commitments and he's the one that just took charge in recruiting. He started calling everybody and getting everybody riled up. He can't wait to get here. He was kind of a bellcow."
On if he feels like this class has the kind of talent that can make Tulane a contender in C-USA
"Absolutely. You talk about classes, and maybe other people have better classes. Who knows? That all remains to be seen. These guys are guys we targeted a long time ago who we thought could play for us, play in our system and help us win. I honestly believe that these guys are going to grow and mature to be really good football players. To go along with that last class - as I mentioned, 12 played, eight redshirted. This year, we played 10 redshirt-freshmen. I think what will happen in a year or two, if you get some guys hurt, you're not playing with freshmen again. You're playing with quality back-up people. That's what we're trying to develop right now. We're trying to develop a program where not only do we have good starters, but we've got good quality back-up players. These guys are going to push some people in this program and help us down the road."
On how much of a challenge this class will present to the current members on the team
"I think they see these guys and they know some of them. Obviously, they were here hosting them. To be perfectly honest with you, I tell them, `Don't worry about freshmen. Just worry about yourself.' Right now, our kids are working out and I tell you, they're doing a great job. They are lifting. They're getting stronger. They're getting faster. We're building a team. We're trying to get back to being a football program. Derick Atchley right now has been put in charge of being the strength coach for football, and he's got these guys revved up pretty good right now."
On if he plans to bring the incoming freshmen in during the summer
"Yes. I'm going to bring them in, hopefully, in July. That was instrumental in having those guys contribute early. They got to lift, run, work out with our players, learn the system through the players. When we started practice, they had a really good idea of what we were doing already."
On if the injured players from last year will be ready for spring practice
"Not right now. Both Williams (Albert and Jeremy) are going to be slow and won't scrimmage. André Anderson has been working hard, but he's not going to scrimmage. Joe (Kemp) may scrimmage, but he'll have a red shirt on and nobody better touch him. Basically, we want to look at a lot of other guys. André Anderson doesn't have to prove anything to me. Jeremy Williams doesn't have anything to prove to me. I would like to see a couple of other guys be able to play, but hopefully they'll be back in time to get enough work to contribute. I think we're at a point in our program where it's not like my first year when I didn't know these guys. I know these guys so some of them don't have a lot to prove to me. We'd like to get them better, but to have André Anderson scrimmage doesn't make sense anyway."