Feb. 5, 2014
Another signing day has come and is almost gone. We had no bad surprises today and one good surprise with DJ Law committing to us. It was between us and an SEC school and we were able to get that commitment, so that was a very positive thing that happened. Otherwise, things went about as expected. As I've been saying all offseason, the main goal with this recruiting class was to improve our team speed, particularly in the secondary. We feel like we've accomplished that. The class was heavy in the skill positions - corners, wideouts, and safeties. That was by design and our intent. We fulfilled those needs. We also got some quality players in other positions as well. They were not as high priority as far as immediate needs, but overall we feel really good about the class. We were able to make some really good inroads into the south. The most players came out of this class from Florida (5). Louisiana, Texas - we felt like we really expanded our efforts this year and branched out and it paid dividends. Our typical Utah signees might seem a little thin at first glance, with just the three, but we have five who we really can't talk about because they are going to serve church missions and won't be able to sign NLI's as per the new NLI limitation rule that was put in effect last year. We did very well in state, which is always our first priority, and then of course California. California is always a place we recruit very heavily.
On making inroads in Louisiana and Florida:
We hope it continues and that this is just the beginning of that. Our two main Florida recruiters, Dennis Erickson and Kalani Sitake, did a great job down there. Brian Johnson in Louisiana and Morgan Scalley in Texas. We're going to continue to hit those areas hard and continue to make those primary recruiting areas for us and hopefully the success we've had will continue.
On the new coaches and recruiting:
They were assisting, they didn't have a primary area because they came into the game so late. Dave Christensen as our offensive coordinator had an impact following up with a lot of the players that were either already committed or were on the verge of committing. It wasn't a big year for offensive linemen, Jackson Barton was already with us midyear, and that's really the only offensive lineman we signed in this class. We still have one scholarship remaining, and that's not uncommon at this point in time. I know it looks like we've only used 16, but we've actually used 24 if you count the guys who were awarded scholarships last fall and pushed forward. The one remaining may go to an o-lineman, we'll find out. To answer your question, they did a good job assisting us, and going forward we'll talk about what areas they will be primarily recruit and that will start tomorrow.
On players that could come in right away and be on the two-deep:
Without a doubt, that's happening more and more. I look back 8-10 years ago and there were only a few freshmen that didn't redshirt in those classes. Last year it was just about half that didn't redshirt. You're seeing more of the freshmen having an impact and playing earlier, and I don't think that trend's going to go away. Yes, we think there's going to be multiple guys who help us this fall, but I don't want to single anyone out until we've had a chance to see them on the field.
On wide receiver:
We have a guy who can play right away in Kaelin Clay. He'll be here in a matter of days, maybe a week or two. He was our JC receiver who we signed. Kenric Young, extremely fast, talented receiver from Florida. Raelon Singleton, who we feel really good about and has been committed to us for a long time. We think that those guys will be in the mix. We lost three senior receivers, so there is opportunity for those guys to come in and play right away.
On signing six players in the secondary:
Speed. Speed, speed and more speed. That was the focal point of the entire class. I was talking about it all offseason. We feel we match up at the line of scrimmage with anybody in the country, certainly anybody in the Pac-12. I think we proved that this year and the last three years as far as being able to play run defense, run the football offensively, get sacks with our front four, and we feel like that's been a matchup in our favor or at least on equal footing. But we needed to improve the speed and athleticism on the perimeter. That really is something that jumps out at you when you look at this class. There are a bunch of guys in the 10.4 to 10.8 100-meter range in this class and we need that desperately.
On Donovan Isom and the quarterback situation:
Quarterback is an interesting situation here right now. He won't be here for spring, and the guys who will be here in the spring will obviously have a leg up. Donovan's a big, strong kid who is a tireless worker. He's just a guy who is as competitive in nature as anyone we've recruited, so it wouldn't surprise me if he was in the mix but we'll have to see how it shakes out.
On this year's recruiting class compared to the previous two years:
It's certainly the fastest, and that was our objective, to recruit speed. It was very thin on the line, we only recruited one offensive lineman, and by the way that offensive lineman is doing a fantastic job. Jackson Barton, he's here with us, joined us at midyear, and has just done a great job in all aspects, so we're elated with him. He was the highest-rated high school recruit that we've ever signed here, and he's as advertised so far.
On recruiting two seniors:
It's not a common thing. One of them is a wide receiver, Kaelin Clay, which gives us immediate help at that position. We have an immediate need at that position. He's a slot receiver. We feel that he will contribute right away. He's an explosive receiver, an excellent return guy as well. He does so many things so well we felt like the sacrifice of 1-for-1 was well worth it. Tevin Carter we signed last year and he didn't qualify and we stuck with him, and our need at safety is much like our need at wide receiver, that we felt like it was worth the investment.
On recruiting services and class rank:
I would tell [fans] not to worry about that. A bigger indication, in my opinion, of how well you recruited is players in the NFL. We were in the top half of the Pac-12 in that. I think that's a better barometer. Recruiting is just speculation. What do you have? You don't know. With the guys in the NFL, you know exactly what you had. We have a very good track record over a long period of time of recruiting very good athletes. If you watched the Super Bowl, there were some interesting studies done on the number of five star, four star, three star players, and the vast majority of those players were three or two star players or not even rated. Recruiting always comes down to evaluation and projection. How well you can evaluate and project. There are only a handful of five stars in the country. Those guys are obviously very talented, but it's your evaluation of the three and two star guys that really makes a difference. I think our coaches do a great job evaluating those guys. If you look at the guys we have in the NFL, I think they were all two and three star guys.
On Dennis Erickson:
Coach Erickson's reputation is obviously huge in Florida. The talent that we were able to bring in from the south I think is going to be a huge benefit to us. He has definitely expanded our contacts. And not just in the south - Arizona, California. Dennis Erickson has been a lot of good places and done a lot of good things and has contacts far beyond just Florida. Where we felt it the most in this recruiting class was in Florida, but he also assisted in other areas as well and will continue to do so.