Feb. 2, 2005
Good afternoon everyone. I am obviously here from lovely Jacksonville going through signing day with a little unorthodox version, but, this is the last time we will have to go through this.
First of all, I would like to thank all the assistant coaches at Notre Dame, who, in my absence, have done a very admirable job. I am very, very happy with the young men they have added on here. So far today we have had 15 who have signed letters of intent. They come from 12 different states, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.
As far as depth went, which I thought was a very important aspect of our recruiting, we added three defensive backs, two linebackers and three defensive linemen on the defensive side of the ball. On offense we added two offensive linemen, two wide receivers, a tight end, a fullback and a quarterback. That totals 15 people.
What I am going to do very briefly is just list them in alphabetical order so no one can be misconstrued as being the most important or least important of the 15. Then at that point I will open it up for questions.
A defensive back from Ohio, David Bruton. An offensive linemen from Georgia, Paul Duncan. A wide receiver from Michigan, David Grimes. A defensive lineman from Pennsylvania, Derrell Hand. A defensive back from Florida, Ray Herring. A tight end from Minnesota, Joey Hiben. A wide receiver from Missouri, D.J. Hord. A defensive linemen from Indianapolis, Indiana, Pat Kuntz. A defensive back from Youngstown, Ohio, Kyle McCarthy. A linebacker from New Jersey, Steve Quinn. A fullback from Connecticut, Asaph Schwapp. A quarterback from Michigan, Evan Sharpley. A linebacker from Highland Park, Illinois, Scott Smith. An offensive lineman from Pennsylvania, Michael Turkovich. And a linebacker from Texas, Kevin Washington.
Several of these players have position flexibility, which is part of my makeup. Some of these guys played offense and defense. We are listing what we feel is their primary position walking in the door. Once we get our eyes and hands on them there might be some movement positionally. Right now they are the initial 15 team signees and we have a couple pending this afternoon. I will be on a show later on this evening, 7:30-ish, to conclude this year’s signings.
Q: How difficult is it to recruit at the present time for Notre Dame under the circumstances that you face?
COACH WEIS: I think this was very unorthodox as we all know, because off the fact that I was not as visible as you need a head coach to be when you are trying to nail down your recruiting class. I think because we have such a great group of assistant coaches, spearheaded by Rob Ianello and his assistant, David Peloquin. I think they did a really nice job getting the coaches on the road and getting on top of the people that we were interested in and so far landed 15 young men who I think are going to bring a lot of depth to our roster. I’m happy. I’m very content with where we are right now.
Q. Any predictions as to what will happen a year from now and how will this process be different than the first time through?
COACH WEIS: There’s two obvious factors. First of all when you have recruiting with one staff, starting with the head coach, but when you have an entire year of recruiting with one staff, it makes it a heck of a lot easier than it was, because we were scrambling coming in here at a late time, late date and having the head coach still coaching somewhere else, and that’s obvious.
Once they get the sense of the style of coaching, players can see whether they fit into our system, and simultaneously we can see whether the players fit into our system. I think this year it was more trying to fill the glaring needs with Notre Dame type of kids.
Q. I talked to Evan Sharpley a couple of hours ago, he’s very excited and he said that you guys told him that you wanted him to compete when he comes in; is that for him or for all of the guys coming in?
COACH WEIS: I would be very disappointed with any of the 15 guys that I’ve mentioned — I would be very disappointed if they walked in the door not competing to get into the mix. In the case of Evan, obviously you walk in the door with a guy like Brady (Quinn) having been a starter here for the last two years, and behind Brady, there’s basically inexperience. So I think walking in the door for Evan, just like every guy in here, you’re trying to challenge, first of all, just to work your way up the depth chart to be in contention to play. And I would be very disappointed if any of these young men weren’t thinking along those lines.
Q. There’s been a lot of talk of how much you’ve been on the phone. Have you been on the phone every day all the time?
COACH WEIS: Yeah, as a matter of fact, that was not misconstrued, or misinterpreted. That’s really what I’ve been doing. I’ve been spending — I felt the only thing I could really do was spend the phone time to try to get us into contention. So that’s exactly what I’ve been doing, and in some cases, it helped, some cases it didn’t help. But one thing that you’re never going to be at Notre Dame, it’s never going to be for a lack of effort.
Once again, for the sake of being redundant, I’m content with — I’m content and happy with the 15 young men we’ve got, and hopefully we can as the day goes on add another one or two guys that can make this recruiting class even better.
Q. I wondered if you felt like there were players who were lost because of your dual role, and maybe players you gained from the exposure of New England being in the playoffs?
COACH WEIS: I think both things happened in this case. I think that one thing happened, there were a couple of people, again, at the end of the process that we got in on that — in fact, the kids we were looking at, I think that we not only saved some people, but we gained some people. On the flipside of that, there was some people who really – I call it wanting to be stroked. They wanted a lot more love than I had the time to give them, and you know, I very matter of factly told them what our situation was, and how we were going to go about recruiting, and if they didn’t — if that wasn’t good enough for them, then it was time for us to move on, because I’m not in the process as a representative of Notre Dame that they are going to misinterpret what our intentions are. If what our intentions were not good enough, then we had to move on to the next guy.
Q. You’ve used the word “content” a couple of times when you’ve described this class now. Just to get an understanding of what you mean when you say “content,” would you still feel the same way a year from now if you had this same number and this same quality of kids?
COACH WEIS: Well, that’s kind of a loaded question, because when you’re saying that, you’re saying that these kids are not good enough and I disagree with that. All I know is that we had more (scholarships to give) — between my guidance and our staff, we decided not to go to the limit, because we didn’t want to bring in the wrong type of kid. I mean, we could have gone and brought another four or five kids just to make everyone happy, “oh, they signed 20 guys.” But I think it’s not important — it’s not important, the number of guys you sign. It’s signing the right type of guys, and I’m happy with the guys we signed.
Q. Along the same line, recruiting analysts who talk about what it means put Notre Dame in the mid 20s, when you’re traditionally in the Top-10. Do you think it was almost impossible to get the blue chippers coming in in mid-December, and is that the biggest maybe problem with this class is that you didn’t get maybe the blue-chip players?
COACH WEIS: I think that every Division I college football player has multiple options. I think the problem in a few cases, or well, several cases for that much is the relationships — with all bets being even, if the relationships are such where a kid has had a relationship with a university for a year or two, okay, it’s not an even playing field. You either try to close as much ground as you can, but if I’m exactly even with another school in what they represented their relationships (inaudible) and they end up moving over, and that will not be a problem.
Q. Do you feel because of the time, you were short-changed?
COACH WEIS: Short changed, yes — there goes my head coach over there half-laughing at me walking by, by the way.
Although to answer the first part of the question was yes. We’re not into making excuses.
Q. You talked about relationships. Since you didn’t have time to build a lot of relationships, what do you think it was that did put you over the top on some of these recruits?
COACH WEIS: I think honesty. I think that it’s really important with these young men to be honest with them and when I picked up the phone and say, look, this is exactly where we’re going. You know, there was no lying, no exaggeration of the truth. I was selling Notre Dame and our coaching staff and what our expectations will be. But at the same time I was just brutally honest and for some kids, that just wasn’t good enough.
And for the kids we did sign, I think they appreciated — I think everyone will tell you they appreciated our approach and get right down to business on what’s going on.
Q. Looking at defensive backs specifically, do you talk to any of these young men specifically — I know you’re looking at flexibility and you don’t know until you see them (inaudible)?
COACH WEIS: We try to build position and flexibility between the safeties and the corners, which allows to you do a couple of things. Make sure you have enough depth at corner and safety, but at the same time, being able to not get mismatched by people by put being multiple wide receivers on the field where you don’t have guys with coverage ability.
So I think cover safeties are almost sometimes as important as cover corners. Everyone knows about the strong safety type that just comes and runs up and hits you. I’m more worried about the guys that can cover people and release down the field and not get into match up problems.
Q. Did you feel like with this class you were able to address all of your needs?
COACH WEIS: We were generically — when we went in here, we would have two or three at certain positions that we wanted to get, and we at least reached the minimum of every position number that we wanted to get. In some cases, for example, we might have wanted to get three wide receivers, two or three wide receivers and we got two. Okay. We wanted to get one quarterback; we got one quarterback. So I think that we at least reached the minimum of each position that we were recruiting.
Q. You didn’t feel like you needed a running back at this point?
COACH WEIS: Well, I mean, take a look at those young running backs we’ve got on that roster from last year. Last time I checked, there’s a lot of youth with a lot of years left, and I think that there’s going to be some great competition from the guys we have on our team. We did have a running back, but he ends up being a big guy. And you know, he’ll be the first one to sell tell you he’s not so bad as a running back. Just because he has a fullback body, don’t think that doesn’t bring depth to the running back position.
Q. Can you just talk a little bit about Steve Quinn from Philadelphia? I understand that he was offered last week is there any though to him changing positions, can you talk a little about that?
COACH WEIS: Well, I’ll start with the second question and I’ll come back to the first question.
Now here is a pretty good offensive player. He’s a wide receiver in addition to playing linebacker, so he had some good skills, so he was kind of that athletic type that can play both linebacker and wide receiver; that’s a very unusual combination that I’ll be interested to work with.
The reason why he was a late-comer is he was committed to another university that we felt, you know, three weeks ago was signed, sealed and delivered. And last week when we found out he had been a guy that we were interested in recruiting, but we kind of backed off him because he was already, you know, had made it be known that he was going somewhere else; and the last week, he found out we had interest in him.
We got out there, I hung out at the airport for a little while to make sure I got to meet him and his uncle, so we came to visit and we knew exactly what we were dealing with. I think it was a really hard decision for Steve but a really happy one for us.
Q. Do you envision him like playing linebacker or offense or what did you envision him coming in as?
COACH WEIS: Right now, every guy that we gave you his position, that’s what he’s coming in at, so when I tell you Steve Quinn is a linebacker, he’s a linebacker. We’ll adjust — we’ll adjust to the wide receiver situation later. Right now we’re bringing everyone in a primary position, and we’re worried about a secondary position based on what we see.
Q. I’m wondering if you can talk a little bit about your philosophy on quarterbacks, how many on the roster, and do you have some philosophy that you need to get at least one quarterback every year or how do you feel about that?
COACH WEIS: I think it’s great to recruit a quarterback each year. We are really happy with Evan (Sharpley), and he’ll provide us some good competition at the quarterback position. But to be honest with you, I think a quarterback, you can never have enough quarterbacks. So my intent is to try to recruit one every year.