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Go Utes!
Coach Whittingham Signing Day Press Conference Quotes

Feb. 1, 2012

Opening statement:
"We feel very good about the class we just signed. We took care of our needs. First and foremost on that needs list was linemen. We came away with more than half the class as either offensive or defensive linemen. Those were our primary targets. Quarterbacks and cornerbacks were also high on the priority list. We felt like we took care of our basic needs and added a bunch of good football players to that built around the primary needs. It was an outstanding job by our assistant coaches putting this class together. If you look at the breakdown, by the way, if you look at the release [Associate AD/Communications] Liz Abel puts out, that includes all the NLI and mid-year tender signees, we also have everyone numbers that include everyone we have put on scholarship since January, which would include walk-ons that were awarded scholarships. The numbers may not jive exactly because [Abel] just focuses on the new signees. Whereas, we as a program focus on the number added to the roster on scholarship. If you look at the overall numbers, we had 15 on defense and 15 on offense.

"If you break it down by state, we had a huge year in-state. Fifteen athletes from the state of Utah received scholarship since the turn of the year when you consider new signees as well as walk-ons, including Coleman Petersen. We awarded a scholarship to him after doing such a great job for us so he earned himself a scholarship. That number is inclusive of everyone that we put on scholarship since Jan. 1, including our new signees. California was next with 11 and we got three from Texas. Morgan Scalley did a great job, pulling three quality players from there. We also got two from Hawaii, two from Louisiana and one from Nevada and Arizona. Again, our primary footprint is in-state with California and Texas as it is almost every year. If you look at it by high school versus JC, it was high school heavy again, which is usually the case. We're right around 21 high school signees.



"We also have to keep in mind that we have what we call `sign-and-send,' which means they'll serve their missions before they enroll at all at the University of Utah. They'll graduate from high school, go on their mission, and then when they get back, we'll bring them into the program. That number is inclusive of those guys."

"We have seven junior college players, one of those players, Sione Tupouata, is a defensive end that actually has three years, so he is a sophomore eligibility-wise. We took care of all of our basic needs. We had a big need for big people up front. We took a big hit, graduation-wise we were a little bit down anyway in the trenches, so we think that we restocked those positions and came away with some very good players.

We still have a couple players who are unsigned and out there who we feel very strongly that we'll have a good shot at. I can't say anything about those guys right now, but hopefully in the next couple of hours we'll have definitive information on those guys."

On impact of first year in Pac-12 on recruiting:
"Without a doubt, the move to the Pac-12 [has helped]. Has it been in affect at its peak yet? I don't think so. I think it's continuing to build. We were a member of the Pac-12 last year theoretically, we hadn't played in it yet, and we had a very good class. In fact, last year's class would have been the top-ranked class [at Utah], but only to be surpassed by this year's class. We're hoping that trend continues and the affiliation with the Pac-12 has been huge. On paper, this is the best class we've ever signed and we may very well end up in the top 25 if we're able to get a few players that we're still anticipating may come our way."

On incoming linemen playing right away: "The majority of the linemen up front on both sides of the ball are from junior college. Those guys, more times than not, are the guys who are more ready to play and more ready to contribute right way. I'd be excited if there were probably half a dozen linemen who will be either starters or significant contributors this fall. I won't single them out because you never know how it's going to unfold, but we feel very good about all of the linemen, in particular the JC linemen, as far as their readiness to come in and contribute."

On recruiting the state of Utah:
"The state is always our first priority and we put our money where our mouth is. We don't just say that and then not recruit it. We say every year to coaches in the state of Utah that these guys are our top priority and our bear that out. We have more numbers, I believe by far, than anyone in the state in terms of players. I believe the quality of football and the sheer quantity of Division I players in the state has grown every year for the last 12 or 15 years so it's been a state of incline. We're going to get a lot of mileage with players from the state of Utah, but we still have to supplement them with players from states we consider primary areas like Texas and California and then secondary areas like Arizona, Hawaii and Nevada. I think you're going to see the bulk of our roster going forward always Utah-heavy."

On size of incoming offensive linemen:
"Facing the Pac-12 schedule we faced, it was very apparent that we were not quite as big, for the most part, particularly on the offensive line. I thought defensively, we matched up very well. I didn't think there was a discrepancy there. The offensive line was an area where we needed to bulk up with taller and little bit heavier guys. I think we were able to accomplish that. Plus, a lot of guys we have in the program already. There are a lot of guys who are still developing inside our program and we're hoping they'll get to Pac-12 competitive level."

On incoming student-athletes changing position:
"It will still be a part of what we do. It may not be as prevalent as it has been. We have some talented guys in our program already. We're fourth or fifth in the Pac-12 in terms of players on NFL rosters so we've had our fair share of talent in this program already. We need to continue to recruit the highest-level player. We're not going to get them all, obviously, but if we get our fair share, typically moving them around is not as common as what we'd do as classes we've had before. Before, we had a lot of diamonds in the rough, raw material, who had been overlooked and may have been overlooked because they were out of position. When you go after the higher-level players, most of those guys are playing the correct position."

On selling points to prospects:
"[The NFL] is a huge selling point. The aspirations of these incoming players are to get a degree and play at the highest level. That's the way it should be. We feel that we have a great sell on both those counts. Our APR, which is Academic Progress Ratings (a formula the NCAA uses to determine how you're doing academically), is among the top in the Pac-12. And then how many players you've sent to the NFL. For example, we've had five corners drafted in the last five drafts. There can't be many schools in the country that can say that and it may be six, depending on whatever happens to Conroy [Black]. It's certainly attractive to potential recruits."

On the quarterback situation:
"We feel very good about our quarterback situation now. We lost Tyler Shreve, he transferred back to Southern California, and Griff Robles has transferred to Dixie State, so that leaves four scholarship quarterbacks in the country, which is what he budgeted for. Of course, Jordan Wynn is coming back. He's full strength. He's throwing with 100 percent productivity. He has no limitations. Jon Hayes, obviously, is in the mix as well. That leaves two new guys Chase Hansen and Travis Wilson, who we both feel very good about. They'll both be here for spring ball, which is a huge plus for them and us. They will absolutely get a bunch of reps this spring. They will find out what it's all about and show what they can do."

On the offensive coordinator search:
"We'll have a guy in place by the end of this week. The delay was not to create drama. We had recruiting going on and that's a full-time job. That consumes you. With what little down time I did have, I was interviewing candidates throughout the recruiting process. It wasn't a matter of trying to create a climax. We just needed to go through the most important aspect of our job, which is recruiting. Once we get that under our belt, then we'll address the next phase. We addressed it as possible throughout the month of January and now we've got it down to where we will definitely make a decision by Friday."

On recruiting junior college players:
"We've taken about the same mix. It's always about 25 percent. We've had good success for a lot of years with JC guys throughout the years. I don't think it was unique this past year, although John White had tremendous success. We've always felt that the junior college player has a place in this program and will continue to do so going forward. It's just a matter of what your needs are. Typically, you don't' recruit a junior college player for depth. If you want to develop a guy, you're better off going the high school route. You recruit those junior college guys to come in and have more of an immediate impact."

On Kelvin York:
"Kelvin York is here on campus, and I should say that there will be seven incoming recruits who will be here for spring ball. He has been here since the beginning of the semester. We're still waiting on a couple of the other guys to finish up their high school academics. But Kelvin York is going to be a big part of what we do. He's a tremendously talented kid. He's big and strong, a lot like Matt Asiata, but a couple ticks faster in the 40. He has the same type of size [Asiata], he's 5'11", 240 plus. He's much quicker and faster than a guy that size should be. He has a lot of quickness and speed to him."

On being a Pac-12 member on the recruiting trail:
"First of all, being in the Pac-12 was a lot better than going into the Pac-12 as far as recognition. You didn't have to explain to everyone that we're going into the Pac-12. Everyone knows now that we're in the Pac-12 Conference. We've been very well-received at homes. We can get in any door, particularly out west, so it's been a big plus. We hope that it continues to be an even bigger factor in classes to come."

On competing with Pac-12 school in recruiting:
"There were about nine still on the fence on signing day and we came away with three of them if what we think is going to transpire happens in the next short little bit of time. That's a pretty good slugging percentage when you look at the all of the other schools involved. When you have nine guys on the fence, you're not going to get six or seven of them. That's not realistic, but if we come away with two or three, like we think we're going to do this year, that's acceptable and pretty good recruiting."

On Junior Salt:
"He's a big defensive tackle from right here in Salt Lake City. He played his junior college ball out in Southern California, Mt. SAC. He's a big, strong kid, close to 6'3" and about 345 lbs. And he's one of the smaller guys in the class. He'll be a defensive tackle for us. He'll be right there in the mix with Star Lotulelei and Dave Kruger. When he and Star line up next to each other, those are some pretty formidable tackles. We felt last year, we had the best defensive line in the Pac-12. I felt that way going into the season and said it several times during the season. That proved to be the case. We had two First-team All-Pac-12 guys with Star and Derrick Shelby. We expect that's going to be a strong suit again and Junior will add to what we already have at the position."

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