Complete Transcript From Wednesday's Signing Day Press Conference



Feb. 5, 2014

Curtis Johnson
Tulane Head Coach
Third Season

Opening statement
"Thank you guys for coming out today. It's been a very exciting year for us, and today was a very exciting day. This is one of our biggest gifts. There is no way we should have gotten these kids that we got. Last year's class was a miracle class. This class is beyond that. This class is just awesome.

"I hate to do this in front of all of these cameras, but I have to apologize to my wife. I've been wearing my (New Orleans Saints) Super Bowl ring and my (Miami Hurricanes) National Championship ring during all of the recruiting. Well, I lost my wedding ring. So that's why I don't have it on. We have problems, but not those kinds of problems. Let's not spread any rumors.

"We like to get our kids (to commit) very, very early. Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don't. What we like to do is keep the unity of our staff as much as possible. This year, we lost coach (Barry) Lamb. He has some illness problems, and he is not returning. I know he is going to be fine. We know he isn't going to be with us. Right now there is no replacement.

"We also lost coach (Mike) Neu, who we had to push out the door. That's a joke. He is probably going to get my old office at the Saints. He is going to take coach (Joe) Lombardi's spot with the Saints. He is a great, great coach and great recruiter. Sean (Payton) speaks so highly of him.

"But the coaches in the room put and kept this class together. Some of these guys flipped, flopped and then flipped back again. We got the guys that we really wanted to get to. The reason why we did is because I think we do a great job with the parents.

"This is by far the best class that we've had, and you can tell by the schools that we had to recruit against. I would say that we weren't always recruiting against the big, top-10 schools, but some of them did come in at the end. Our guys held steady."



On getting John Leglue at the 11th hour
"This was a young man who was in camp. We didn't bring him in on a visit because we didn't have anything for him. I hate to bring guys in on a visit and then we don't have anything. Something came up right at the end. One of our position guys ended up going somewhere else. (OL) Coach (John) McDonell got on the phone with (Leglue), and McDonell will recruit his back yard. We looked at him on tape, and he looked good. He's big, and he's only 17-years-old. He has a brother that goes to UNO. It was just a natural fit. We talked with his mom and his dad, and he called back yesterday to say he would join the Green Wave."

On Glen Cuiellette coming even after Mike Neu left for the Saints
"Glen has been around so long. He was good. He was comfortable with it. Glen knows everyone on the staff, and he knows that the move for Mike was a great business move for him."

On the quarterbacks on the roster with the loss of Neu
"(Nick Montana) had a really good relationship with Mike. But we all understand. I've spoken to most of them, and they all have a great understanding of the business. It's not like Mike won't be slipping in to watch practice every now and again. He'll do that. They know it was the best for Mike and his family. The one guy who will benefit from this greatly is (former Tulane QB and current New Orleans Saints QB) Ryan (Griffin). He's smiling from ear to ear right now."

On who will coach quarterbacks in the spring
"We are looking around. We may have someone in house in the next few days. If not, EP (OC Eric Price), can do it. He's coached quarterbacks before. He's been with Kansas City (Chiefs) and he's been with the (New York) Jets. He will do a great job until we get someone here. We will get someone in here pretty soon. We've actually been bombarded with calls about it. I just don't know who the best fit is for us."

On signing four tight ends
"Most colleges don't play with a tight end, and we have to. If you look at Sean Payton and Bill Belichick, they find ways to get the ball to the tight end. If I don't do that, (Sean Payton) will disown me. He has Jimmy Graham. I don't, but we are going to find our Jimmy Graham and our (former Saints TE Jeremy) Shockey in this class. We are going to do some stuff with the tight ends that most colleges don't see. We will get this offense where we want it to be."

On Daren Williams and his decommitment, commitment to Kansas State and recommitment to Tulane
"This was a made-for-TV movie. (DCs) Lionel (Washington) and Jon (Sumrall) have been recruiting the guy forever. All of a sudden, a school like Kansas State came in, and they should because Daren is a good player. It wasn't just Kansas State, either. Florida called him. People do their homework, and when they come down here. They know they can get a good player. We felt that he was one of the better players for what he does. He is big and physical, and he is a pass rusher. There are two players that we knew (could decommit and go elsewhere). One did. When Daren came in and said he was going to Kansas State, Jon and Lionel got on the phone with him and he said, `you guys can flip me back.' His mom was just awesome. The coaches at his school were great. They got his mind cleared. We have three of the best players from that school. It went on and on, and I had a nice long conversation last night with his mom, and she was a doll."

On having a guy like Niguel Veal already on campus
"That could have gotten ugly. What happened with him was he slipped through the cracks because he switched schools. All of the schools that were recruiting him, the best thing was that they could not find him. We knew where he was. I thought (WR) Keith (Williams) did a great job. He's another guy who farms his own land. All of a sudden, he was planning on visiting all these places, and then all of a sudden, he was here on campus. He was at Carver High School and then he transferred to West Jeff. When he transferred late in the school year, coaches couldn't get to him, and Carver wasn't giving out any information on him. No one knew where he was."

On being able to navigate the Greater New Orleans area compared to staffs of years past
"I thought (TE/RB coach) David Johnson did the best job this year. He knew all of the high school coaches. He was recruiting and getting names. He knew moms, dads, aunts, uncles. He reminded me of a young CJ (laughing) when I was down here. He's better looking though (laughing), but he just did a phenomenal job. When someone had a question, he had the answer. That really helped us this year in recruiting."

On the scouting services showing the class some love
"It says that we have the ability to work. It shows that the staff has the ability to get a commitment. We have a lot of good stuff going on. We have a new stadium coming up. We have a new president coming in, and I think he is going to be on board with what the athletic director is doing here. The one negative thing opposing coaches were telling our kids that our school was too good and too hard. If you look at it, (rising-junior DB) Darion Monroe is doing a fantastic job here. (Rising-sophomore DB) Leonard Davis is doing a great job. We have a lot of guys doing well in school. The professors and the people in academic services are taking the time to help our kids."

On using the new conference as a recruiting tool
"If you look at Central Florida, they were in the Fiesta Bowl this year, and they won it. They beat a good Baylor team. Those are the teams we are going to be competing against. The television contract is there. It's a contract. It's not going away. It's a signed document. We are going to get to go play at some places. There are a lot of things coming together. This has been a win-win-win year, and it's just going to get better."

On the new school president
"I haven't even had a conversation with my wife yet. I was on the phone with people until 3 a.m. As soon as he can fit me in his schedule, I definitely want to talk to him. Everything that I have read and heard about him makes me think that he is going to be awesome here."

On the local flavor of the class
"It's very important to us. It was one of the things I said when I first stepped up to the podium for the first time here. This is the `State of Tulane.' We aren't messing with those guys in Baton Rouge too much, yet. Notice how I said yet. Those guys are doing a fantastic job. We want to get our kids, character kids. We are doing a very good job of doing it."

On the quarterback situation for the spring
"Every job is wide open. It's open as can be, especially the quarterbacks, the running backs and the receivers. I'm looking at some of these freshmen kids going, `how are we going to keep some of these guys on the bench?' It's definitely all wide open. If Drew Brees comes in here, it's his job. But everything is wide open. It's going to be interesting to see these guys compete. I like what (Nick) Montana did early on in the season and I like what (QB Devon) Powell did at the end. I like (QB) Tanner Lee, and I like Glen (Cuiellette). I like (QB) Jordy (Joseph). They all have a chance to impress me and the new quarterbacks coach."

On the offensive line
"Well, we started two freshmen and we had some injuries. I don't think Nick ever got the real continuity that he needed. Ryan Grant was the only consistent receiver he had, too. (Sean) Donnelly was the only consistent offensive lineman that played every game. I think now that we have some more tight ends, we'll do some things we want to do. It will be simpler, and I think our guys will excel."

On spring practice starting early
"Two reasons why we are starting spring practice early. The first is that I don't want to mess with the Saints and their practice facility too much so close to the draft. I want to get in and get it done early. It also helps us with the volume of schoolwork towards the end of the school year. It will allow for our guys to get healthy before the school year starts (after the summer). It gives them 12 weeks after spring ball to get strong and fast. It's just a win-win for us. We are going to have a lot of time after to tweak things that we need to. We are still in pretty decent shape, and the memory of the bowl game is in our minds."

On the Belle Chasse recruits
"Dave Johnson just does a fantastic job. How many times do you get a receiver who is already six-foot, 200 pounds coming into school? Robert Kennedy, just don't wrestle him. He pins everyone, and he wins the district in the 200 meter dash. Dave was just so far out in front of the others. He did the same last year with Quinlan (Carroll). He didn't even play his senior year, but we kept our word. People are all of a sudden dying to come here."