Feb. 7, 2007
New Oprleans, La. -
"This is an exciting day for all of us here, obviously, because it is our first recruiting class, and we had to make up a lot of ground really fast. As you look at the release I thought we did really good job.
"We only had three weeks to recruit and in those three weeks we started out that first week bringing in 15 players that the previous staff had committed to and we wanted to honor those commitments. Rick Dickson had personally called every one of those kids to tell them to hang on until the new staff was aboard, and once we got aboard we contacted all those players and had them come in that first recruiting weekend. Out of those 15 players, 13 of them ended up signing National Letters on Intent with us.
"From there, the next week we went out and we just started hitting the entire state as well as other states as you well know, Texas and Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, that type of thing. We really set out, me in particular, to get a chance to meet as many high school coaches that I could in this state. I was with a couple of our coaches visiting approximately 80 high schools, anywhere from New Orleans to Baton Rouge to Shreveport to Monroe to the North Shore, everywhere. The one thing we did was we tried to continue to find players, but the big thing I wanted to do was to kind of put a face with the name. I wanted to get a chance to not only meet the coaches at the high schools, but I wanted to give them a chance to meet my assistant coaches and me. So we did that and we found some more players and we finished up signing 10 more guys.
"As you look at the list, nine of them are from Texas, eight of them are from Louisiana, four from Georgia, one from Alabama and one from Florida. What I would like to do in the future, I would like to change the ratio of that a little bit. I would like to get somewhere in the neighborhood of about two-thirds of our players from the state of Louisiana. That means we are going to recruit this state hard, but it also means we are not going to pass up an outstanding player who is out of state. We want to get the best possible student-athletes that we can each and every year. We are off to a good start.
"The one thing we tried to do was we tried to blanket every position. We have a got a player that will help to back up in every position next year. If they come and our good enough, physically and mentally sharp enough to learn our offense and defense and are able to help us as freshman, we will play them. Otherwise they will redshirt. I am anxious now to move forward and find out more about our football team. Our guys have been working out at 6:30 every morning and so now we will get a chance to spend some time with them. I will actually get a chance to see them in person a little bit more; but the recruiting process went well. We are excited about it. Now, we are looking forward to spring practice."
On the short time frame to put together the 2007 signing class
"When I was at UCLA the same thing happened. It was Jan. 6 by the time I got the job there. The one advantage there was that I was already on that staff with a couple other coaches so I was able to continue recruiting the players that we had on board and went out and found more. This was a little bit more difficult because there was only one coach that was really held over, that is Greg Davis. The entire coaching staff was new, so we had to go on what the previous staff had done evaluating those 15 players, as we had mentioned, and then we had to go turning over the rocks so to speak to find some other players. I think our coaches did an outstanding job of canvassing the state and recruiting their areas out of state."
On what he feels he has personnel-wise at Tulane
"What happened when I took the job, the first thing I did was interview all the coaches that were on the staff and got a feel for the players that were coming back and what the needs were. Then keeping several of them for awhile and then narrowing it down to Greg Davis, I got an idea of the players were that they were recruiting and how they would fit into our scheme. Again, I honored the commitment of the 15 players that we brought on campus that first week. There's some players as you see in the release that are two position guys right now because we need to find out what they can do. On our offense, we are going to play with a fullback and we are going to play with more tight ends, so that was a need for us. We have some guys that can play tight end, play fullback, yet play some other positions."
On how assistant coach Greg Jackson helped get him in at other state high schools
"O'Neal Gilbert, who is from Monroe was one of our players and a graduate assistant at Texas A&M when I was coaching there, knew a lot of people in this state. So those two took me and a couple other coaches around and introduced us. That really help us gett into areas that we hadn't been in."
On where Tulane has had trouble recruiting
"That was my first priority. The first school I hit was John Curtis. (USC signee) Joey (McKnight) wasn't interested in us by the way, and I did ask him. But that was the first school, I met (head coach) J.T. (Curtis) and spent almost a couple hours there and then we ended up getting a player that wasn't previously being recruited there in (Andrew) Nierman. He is a 4.0 guy and benches 400 pounds, a four-year starter, excellent football player. We were excited to get him and am looking forward to working with J.T. in the future, as well as the rest of the coaches in New Orleans. I hit every school in New Orleans and that was a No. 1 priority. Then we ventured out to the rest of the state. I did not go out of state myself personally."
On how many high schools he visited himself
"Approximately 80 in three weeks. See, what happened when I got the job, that first week after we got back and I got back from the bowl game and put my staff together, we couldn't go out because that was the convention and I didn't allow them to go to the convention. So we stayed here. We watched some film on our guys, we watched some film on recruits and we started mapping out what we were going to do and when we could go out. And then the next week was Martin Luther King Day, so we didn't go out Monday, so that Tuesday the seven of us hit the road. Several of the coaches had to stay in because you can only have seven coaches on the road. I went out with six other coaches basically and we started right here in New Orleans. I hit every one the coaches in New Orleans and then I tried to hit every big school that had bigger players and then eventually I hit all 300 of them."
On what type of player he thinks is a good fit for Tulane
"Yeah, we found some guys and it was a little difficult. I think the hard thing about recruiting is when you get such a late start, it is easier for a kid to tell you no. We are starting now to work on juniors, we are having a junior day and we are going to go out and get after it pretty good here in the next several weeks. I am going to dedicate a few days just to recruiting where our coaches are going to be on the phone, looking at video and doing nothing but getting transcripts and evaluating juniors for next year. Once we get to go out in May, we will hit all those kinds. What happens when you don't build up a relationship over a period of time, because you don't have as much time to recruit, it is easier for the kid to tell you no. One of my things right now is that I want to build a good relationship with the high schools, the coaches and get the recruits so that they get to know us and feel comfortable being here at Tulane.
On how many of the 2007 signing class will likely redshirt
"I really do not know the answer to that question, because I really don't know our football team well enough. I know who is playing what position and those things, but I don't know how good or bad they really are. We will find that out during spring. The one thing I told each and everyone of the freshmen is that I want you to come thinking that you are going to play next year and then if you are big enough, strong enough, mentally capable of handling what we are going to do, you will play. If you are not, then we will redshirt you. But I wont tell a guy he is going to redshirt until the season is over, because I have been situations where you have told a kid he will redshirt and then you get a couple of injuries and then the eighth game of the season you are playing him. I will never tell a kid I am redshirting him until the gung goes off in the last game of the season."
On incoming freshman quarterback Joe Kemp
"Joe Kemp is a really good football player. I got on the phone with him today and I promised he could wear No. 7 because that was his number. I think some pretty good players here wore No. 7 and he was really excited about that. He is a young man who is a fairly good-sized kid, very smart kid and can throw the football. He has had some unbelievable games, you look at percentage wise, there are couple games where is like 22out of 29 with something 100 yards. So he has a lot of upside to him. Our thing here is that we have three quarterbacks right now. We have a junior, a sophomore and a redshirt freshman, so I want to see how they are going to do in spring first. But Joe will get every opportunity to prove what he can do when he gets here in the fall."
On when spring practice will start
"Spring practice will start March 27 and the schedule is already laid out for the morning because they have the afternoon classes. We will practice Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and then Saturday. We will practice somewhere in the neighborhood of 8:30 to 11 a.m., with meetings prior to that. The 21st will be our final practice and we will probably put on a little scrimmage and have a bunch of people come out and watch that. Our practices will be open to the public."
On the number of signees in 2007
"I am pleased that we were able to get 23. No. 1, and I am also pleased that we were able to get a guy in all positions. I think we have got some pretty good football players."
On if he had any difficulties recruiting to the city of New Orleans
"I didn't have that problem in the high schools because coaches are aware of those things, but I had those questions asked to me in home visits. The moms were particularly concerned about the crime and we had to address those problems. Obviously, people know that the school is in pretty good shape now. The ones that visited saw that we got a new weight room, a new locker room, our offices upstairs are being renovated, new carpet, new paint, new furniture. So they can see something taking place, but the big was the crime to be perfectly honest with you and I will tell you what. President Cowen met with our recruits each Saturday in the business building and he addressed that problem with the players and their parents. He did an outstanding job and put a lot of people at ease. He said that Tulane is a safe area, that we are an urban city and there is a lot of places in America that are having the same type of problems, and they may not be getting as much publicity as we are because of Katrina as well. So it is kind of a sensationalized thing in that sense because there is a lot more publicity because of Katrina."
On his feelings about getting his first Tulane signing class under his belt
"I am really excited because its new. I am really excited and I can't wait to get started. It is very exciting and I think every class is exciting because it is always a different group. This one is special because it is my first recruiting class at Tulane."