Feb. 2, 2000
JOHN HEISLER: Thanks very much. Just a couple of quick notes. We have 18 names on our list at this point in terms of people who have signed letters of intent. You can find information on those people in a couple of different sources. One is our fax back sytem that many of you have used probably. The most convenient place is our website, www.und.com. You can find a full roster, you can find biographies on each of those people and you can also find audio comments from Bob Davie on each of these 18 individuals that are currently on this site.
Also, we will be transcribing this press conference and that transcription will appear at www.und.com as well so hopefully that will give you a good chance to find whatever you need on those people.
BOB DAVIE: We made it through another signing date. And as you guys know, we’re one for one now, so we’ve ironed that out. As John mentioned, we signed 18. There’s a chance we may sign one or two more. There’s a couple young men still out there that have not officially signed yet. But as always, you don’t get all the ones that you are after, but I’m excited about the ones we did sign.
Once again, as always, you think you know a lot about the ones you’re getting. The reality is you don’t know as much as you think. You’ll know a little bit more in August, but you’ll really know probably a year or two from now. So as probably everyone else is in this country, you’re optimistic. You’re excited about this recruiting class.
At Notre Dame, I think it’s even more true that you have to wait a little bit to see what you get, because I think what I’ve found over my six years here, it is unique. I think more than what they look like on tape, you know, more than sometimes what you see in those homes, you know, it’s once they get on this campus, how are they going to fit in, how are they going to fit in, because the reality of Notre Dame, you wear that gold helmet 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Living on this campus and adjusting to the rules on this campus are a big part of it. And I think just being able to stay in the program, we’ll only know the answer to that over the next several years with these prospects.
Second thing, you’re curious how they are going to respond to competition because they are coming into a situation now where we do have a lot of good, young football players on this team. There’s going to be numbers at positions and there’s going to being competition at positions. How are they going to react, are they going to be able to stay in the program when there are other good players in their position. Are they durable, will they stay durable, how are they going to develop over the next several years.
So I’m excited about this class, but the reality, as you guys know, we’re not going to know for several years. But maybe more important than that, because none of us have a crystal ball.
The thing I’m excited about is the process we’ve used. I think the first year when I became head coach, I think we signed 19 players. Four players had already committed, that I honored that commitment. So in reality, we had 15 players in that class. But this is the third year in a row where I think we’ve had a chance to have our system in intact.
What I’m excited about is the process. First of all, in the evaluation of how we evaluate these players. I think everybody does it pretty much the same way as far as evaluating the tapes. We’ve tried to get kids on our campus in summer camps, but more importantly we’ve really utilized the faculty, and I’d like to thank the faculty for their support. Every young man that visited this campus is first okayed by admissions before they ever make the visit, just to come for the visit. And then before I offer any young man a scholarship, I get the red light from admissions — and I don’t have to, I’ve chosen to — get the red light from admissions, and also their faculty of their perceived course of study. A faculty member meets with them individually. So I get feedback from admissions. I get feedback from faculty, and if I don’t get the green light, I don’t offer them.
So one of the things to keep in mind is as we sometimes make calls to prospects and ask them why they don’t choose Notre Dame, I think it’s important to keep in mind that not every young man who visits this campus is offered a scholarship. So I think that it’s ‘s important to take with a grain of salt as to why young men tell you why they don’t chose Notre Dame, because the reality is they may not have been offered a scholarship.
I like the process we use. It’s not just about football and how we select these young men. I get feedback from faculty. Obviously I get feedback from admissions. It’s a joint effort in how we evaluate these young men.
I think back on that first class, in which we really signed 15, back in ’97, we’ve lost two players from that class that I signed. We lost one from the ’98 class, so we’ve lost three players in three years that we’ve signed. And I think that’s a pretty good retention rate if you look around this country. So I think the process is working. I think we’ll benefit in the years to come.
Second thing I’m excited about is the work ethic of our coaches. I mean, I’m so proud of these assistant coaches. They grinded it. And this year, probably more than any year, they grinded it, because the reality is we were a 5-7 team that lost the last four games of the year. That does impact recruiting. I’ll be honest. Not as much as you may think.
The reality also is we don’t know until December 20th, I believe it was, what the NCAA decision was going to be. That impacted the early stage of recruiting, when it’s so critical to get those visits and have young men excited about it, because you know, as this process goes on, you guys have targeted these kids, they wear out. They burn out by the end, and you have to get them early when they are excited about it.
And we were behind. But we came back strong because these coaches worked hard and we finished this recruiting on a positive, and it was because of hard work.
And I think this year more than any other year, it came down to the end. I don’t know that we’ve ever went into a signing date — we had 16 commitments going on. We actually had six or seven offers out there going into this morning that we don’t know about, that they had not made any commitment. You know, what I’d like to have done, probably get to 20 is where I would like to be in the numbers. We’re at 18.
But I think this year more than any, it was a grind. And I’m proud of how this recruiting class has shaped up, more so than being able to say, looking at crystal balls and being overly optimistic now. I think the process, the process that we’ve used and the work ethic these coaches have shown, I think this class has a chance to be successful.
Couple things about this class. You know, I think we made some inroads in Florida. We signed three players out of Florida. All three of those players — actually we signed four players, I think, but three of those players were in the Georgia-Florida All-Star Game representing Florida. And any time you can go into Florida and beat those Florida schools, which we did on these kids, but not all of them, on each kid by a Florida school on each one individually to get you’re starting to make some inroads there.
Once again, Texas was very good for us. I think if you look at the class, you know, what we really tried to target was athleticism. You know, if you watch those Bowl games, as I’m sure you all did, if you think back to last season, so much of college football has come down to those individual match ups. You think about us playing against Michigan State. You look at Michigan State’s team with those big, tall wide receivers and the athleticism they had. You think about Michigan with David Turrell. You look at the Bowl game and Virginia Tech and that quarterback, how he single-handedly put that team in a position to win the National Championship. You look at Florida State with Peter Warrick running down the field. So much of this is athleticism, particularly on the corners, at wide receiver and at defensive back.
So for us, athleticism was a priority. First, you look at the wide receivers, I think we signed five. You know, we’re tired of covering, big, tall wide receivers. We’d like to have some on our team, and we went out and found a couple. We’ve got three wide receivers that are all 6’4, in that range, and Jovan Witherspoon, Ronnie Rodamer and Jerome Collins. Got a couple real good athletes, Lorenzo Crawford and Omar Jenkins. So wide receiver was a priority, and I thought we did an excellent job. Urban Meyer goes out and works his tail off, and I think we’ve got our wide receiver position really built up. When you look at Javin Hunter and David Givens, Jamaar Taylor, Joey Getherall, Jay Johnson has a chance for a 5th year. I think we’ve got that thing built up where we’ve got some athletes at that position.
Quarterbacks, no question that was a priority for us. I know it’s a little bit different to go out and sign three quarterbacks, but it was something I really wanted to do. You look at our team right now, I feel really confident. I feel that we’ve got our team built back up to where we have a chance to be really a good team. The question mark is quarterback. Not because we’re not excited about Arnaz Battle, but because Arnaz Battle is really the only one, and he hasn’t played.
What happened last year took the wind out of us a little bit on signing date. That wasn’t going to happen again. So we evaluated quarterbacks all over this country. We started last year at this time. The day after the signing date we started evaluating quarterbacks. We had ten of them in our summer camp. We had probably ten of the top quarterbacks in the country right here on campus. Two of them we signed were in our camp. We offered both those quarterbacks in the summer. That doesn’t mean we’re right, but we had them on our campus, and we evaluated and we picked those two over the other ones we had in the camp.
And also, Carlyle Holiday is a young man we started recruiting last March. So the three we went after are the three we signed, and I’m excited about that. How that unfolds with three of them in the same class is something we were right up front with them from the beginning. I told each one of those quarterbacks that I wanted to sign three. I told them who they were. I told them who else we were recruiting from day one, and it worked out well for us.
Running backs, we signed two running backs. As you know we’re going to give them first opportunity to be running backs, but that’s always where your defensive backs come from.
Offensive line was not a priority. We really offered three offensive linemen. We may end up getting one, we may not. But I’m not really concerned about it. I think we have every lineman back on our team except John Merandi.
Defense, I like the three linebackers. I think Jason Sapp — Warren Sapp’s cousin, and we were able to beat Miami on him, which is difficult. He’s up to 245 pounds, plays basketball. I really like his athleticism.
Same thing with Curry. And Goolsby gives us a lot of attitude at that position. I was in his home the other night and he’s a unique character.
Defensive line, Greg Pauly, he committed early. I was in his school last week. He’s about 6’6, 275 right now, and I really like the way he moves around. Budinscak is a guy that we fell in love with on tape.
Defensive backs, Abram Elam is quite an athlete. He was in our camp. He played quarterback down at Cardinal Newman in West Palm Beach. We’re going to give him first opportunity to be a quarterback, but he also realizes there’s a good chance he could end up playing safety. Miami recruited him as a safety, Georgia Tech recruited him as a quarterback, Florida recruited him as a safety.
And then Preston Jackson is a young corner out of Tampa that has a lot of confidence and shows some good coverage ability.
So, as always, recruiting is a grind. Glad to make it through. You know, had some interesting experiences. Steve Addazio and I flying into Columbia, South Carolina about a week ago, we avoided that snow just about through this whole process, and you’d never think flying into Columbia, South Carolina — and all kind of turbulence and socked in in that weather, and in a snowstorm, and we’re coming in and those landing gear are down. I’ve flown to realize that thing started going back up, but we were low enough that those landing gear were down and we went back up and we start the circling. And the pilot still hadn’t said anything. We were still socked in in that turbulence. And he came on and said that the sytem had gone down at the airport just on our approach, that the electronics had just gone out, and he wasn’t sure what he was going to do and he was calling back to his base to try to figure out just what they were going to do. That wasn’t the most encouraging thing.
But we ended up landing in Greenville Spartanburg, which is about 60 miles away. It took about six and a half hours. I got in that car, six and a half hours later, we had driven 60 miles to get to Columbia in 12 inches of snow.
And that trip ended in Atlanta, two days later. At 5:30 in the morning, I couldn’t find my rental car coming out of the hotel and just left the rental — couldn’t find it,thought someone stole it. Got on a plain at six o’clock out of Atlanta, fly back to South Bend and realize that they did find the rental car in the hotel parking lot down there.
As always, you’re just glad to get through this recruiting process safely. But I’m really proud of the effort our coaches have put into this. We’ve got some guys that will compete. The thing that also was encouraging was that our team — our guys here on campus good a job. There’s no question our pride was hurt last year.
But the attitude of this team right now, I think, is one that is just tremendously enthusiastic, and just about every home I was in, the parents of the young men had visited with their sons on the campus said the same thing about our players on this campus, and they did a great job selling our program.
So we’re excited. Only time will tell, but I’m proud of the process and proud of the way our coaches worked to get these 18 guys signed. So any questions, I’ll be more than happy to answer.
Q: How many of these kids do you look at and figure that they might have a chance to play at some point in time as freshmen?
BOB DAVIE: Well, it’s always tough. You know, who would have known last year, you look at Julius Jones coming out of that small school in Bigstone Gap, Virginia and he would come in and have the impact he’s had on our football team. I think back to Joey Hildbold this time a year ago, wow, I don’t know if he had even shaven yet when we signed him to come in and be our punter. You just don’t know.
But I’m excited about those receivers. You just, you watch the tapes that they have put together. Urban Meyer and I last night flew to Youngstown. I had Urban go with me. I was named Penguin of the Year last night. I told him, they could imagine after the kind of season we had, I’ve been called a lot of things, but that’s the first time I’ve been called Penguin of the Year.
But we were flying back lat night and Urban was telling me he put together a highlight tape on the five receivers. And he said he’s never seen a group like that since he’s been coaching that he’s that excited about. So I think the wide receivers, because of their height, because of their athletic ability.
The quarterbacks, you know, because we’ve evaluated them so starred hard, two of them we saw in camp. Carlyle, we watched play in person during the season. You know, the quarterbacks are going to be young. They are obviously freshmen, but boy, they are talented. You know, on defense, you know, I like the linebackers, you know.
But it’s just hard — it’s hard to say right now but if I had to say I would say the receivers and the quarterback, the quarterbacks would have the best opportunity.
Q: I don’t have the list in front of me. Was Jared Clark also amongst quarterbacks?
BOB DAVIE: Yes, he was.
Q: So was Elam, is he essentially a fourth quarterback signed? Elam, LoVecchio, Holiday?
BOB DAVIE: You have Jared Clark, Carlyle Holiday, Matt LoVecchio. Abram Elam was recruited as a quarterback defensive back. I told him he would have first opportunity at quarterback, and we would make an evaluation as soon as possible on what was best for him and best for our football team.
Q: And that led me to my other — I guess you can’t possibly know, but you don’t want to end up with five and six quarterbacks on the roster. Apparently, these are the type of kids who would be willing to switch to other positions if they are not going to be able to play quarterback?
BOB DAVIE: I don’t know that we’re looking in that direction yet, except with Abram Elam, because we only have really four true quarterbacks on scholarship. Gary Goolsby’s situation — Gary Godsey, excuse me, his situation we’re going to evaluate. He’s up to 250-some pounds right now. Whether we use him some at tight end and some at quarterback in the spring, I just want to sit down and talk to him, just see how the off-season program goes.
So we’re going full speed ahead with all those young quarterbacks because right now we don’t have a starting quarterback. I think that it’s going to be Arnaz, but we don’t know. It’s a good opportunity for someone to come in and put himself in a position to play next year for us.
So we’re going full speed ahead and just see how that thing — see how that thing shakes out. But I think the good thing about it is all the kids came into the situation with their eyes wide open. They knew there was going to be competition. That’s why I was impressed today that Carlyle Holiday would step up and sign with Notre Dame. He knew that there were two other quarterbacks already in the fold. Same thing with Abram Elam. I like the attitude of those players. We’ll just have to see how that thing shapes up over the next several years.
Q: I guess you hope you’re successful against Nebraska on September 9th?
BOB DAVIE: I wish it was that easy.
Q: Jerome Collins, I’ve seen him as both receiver and tight end, can he go either way?
BOB DAVIE: He’s big. I was in his home last week. I had not seen him since he visited the Boston College game, so I have not seen him since November. He is probably 6’4 1/2, 22- pounds. We’re going to start him off at wide receiver, but tight end is a possibility, and he also played some outside linebacker in high school. He’s an exciting prospect because of his size.
Q: I was at a news conference with Greg Pauly, and he’s excited about coming to Notre Dame. Does he have a chance to play as a freshman, maybe as a backup on that line, and just tell me what you really liked about him? I know he committed quite a while ago?
BOB DAVIE: One thing that happens with those guys that commit early, sometimes they don’t get the publicity, don’t get all the hoopla that surrounds some of these guys that commit late. I really appreciate how Greg Pauly handed this process because he was a highly-recruited player. He came down to Michigan and Notre Dame for break. I think he’ll have a chance to play as a freshman. I can’t imagine — I told Greg and his mom Friday, I was up there, there’s not many kids in this country that look like Greg Pauly: 6’6 and 260 pounds and was a basketball player and a good athletes. It’s exciting. You know, he’s a big physical guy that I think will have a chance to help our defensive line. And I think it’s really important because we didn’t sign many. We only have Budinscak is the other defensive linemen in his class, so we’re going to give him an opportunity, and it will be up to him to make the most of it.
But we’re looking for him to come in and provide depth for sure.
Q: I guess Coach Madison was certainly key with him in the recruitment of Greg, right?
BOB DAVIE: One thing about Greg Madison is he does a great job. We went up, as I mentioned, Friday, and in that school, everyone knows Greg Madison when he walk in. He knows where all the pizza lines are. He was in the pizza line having a little pizza. He knows all the faculty members and they think he does a terrific job. And I think what’s great is Greg is going to have the opportunity to coach Greg Pauly as well. He did a great job recruiting Greg Pauly as he did Mike Goolsby, as well.
Q: You said at the end of the season that your three priorities were wide receiver, quarterback and getting depth at linebacker. What you guys did at quarterback and wide receiver, did it even exceed your expectations as far as the numbers you got and the quality of the numbers, Bob?
BOB DAVIE: A little bit. You know, to be honest, I was a little nervous about that, because, you know, with the way recruiting is now, you know, with the Internet and just the exchange of information — it used to be you could — you know you could get a commitment out of a wide receiver, a great wide receiver and maybe wide receiver in another part of the country wouldn’t know everything about that other guy. Now, there are no secrets, so any time you get a lot of good players at one position, you’re afraid it’s going to impact other good players coming.
But that’s why I’m so excited about this group. They knew who else was coming and they all had confidence in their ability and they all realized the way college football has become. We found out last year what happens when you get injured and how critical depth is. And I think the fact that these players at those positions decided to come to Notre Dame shows a lot about just their confidence in their ability.
Q: What’s the latest on Cross? Is he going to make a decision tonight?
BOB DAVIE: You know, I cannot comment on anybody that is not on this official signing list.
Q: But he has not made a decision?
BOB DAVIE: Can’t comment on anybody that’s not on this official signing list.
Q: If you had your druthers, would you have like to have gotten another defensive lineman?
BOB DAVIE: Yes. I think always you’re looking for a defensive lineman. That’s a critical position, as you know, probably the hardest thing to find. I think we’ve got some quality on our defensive line. Darrell Campbell is up over 270 pounds. Grant is 270. Weaver is back heavy. Cedric, we’ve got to get some productivity out of Cedric Hilliard, Lance Legree, Wisne.
But we just need a few more. We don’t have great depth there. So yeah, defensive lineman is a bit of a concern, depth-wise.
Q: It looks like you and the Huskers had a common interest that be Carlyle Holiday. First off, if you could tell us what it was that — what type of — what he can bring to the football game at Notre Dame and also how you swayed him away from Nebraska to come play for the Irish?
BOB DAVIE: I don’t know because we couldn’t talk to him for about the last three days. All communication was cut off. You know, I think Carlyle is a big, tall quarterback that’s very athletic. He is a basketball player. He fits our offense very well, as he would fit Nebraska’s offense.
I knew that was going to be a battle. So he was recruited by a lot of other schools. It came down to Notre Dame and Nebraska, and it was a battle. You know, both schools are dealing with distance. Texas A&M was right in the middle of it right until about the last week or so. You know, you’re better off asking Carlyle what swayed him towards Notre Dame. You know, because I knew he had a great visit to Nebraska. It was a battle. I think Kirk Doll, our assistant coach, did an outstanding job. Kirk is a bulldog. He stayed on it, as we all did.
I think Carlyle liked us from the beginning. You know, I don’t really know. But he brings to us, you know, the prototype quarterback we’re looking for in this system and just about everybody in this country is looking for now, a guy that can run and throw.
Q: Did Joe Ferrer’s comments come up during the recruiting process?
BOB DAVIE: You know, it never did. I was not in one home where any of those comments were brought up. In fact, you know, those comments were never brought up prior to me in any way, until I actually got a copy of what was said or someone called and asked me about the — to respond to those quotes.
You know, there wasn’t a whole lot of reaction to it. I’ve received from mail from people around the country that have read some of Joe’s quotes and responded to it. But really, it never came up in the homes of any young men.
Q: What is your response?
BOB DAVIE: My response to his quotes?
BOB DAVIE: Well, as I said, you know, first of all, I’m trying to think back to what he actually said. What were his quotes?
Q: “Notre Dame takes away player’s swagger, stifles individuality.”
BOB DAVIE: What I said was we are never going to alter the standard at Notre Dame. And maybe in some ways Notre Dame is different, and Notre Dame is not for everyone.
But I didn’t overreact to Joe he’s comments as well. You know, he and I have spoken since then. You know, I wish him well. I hope his next move works out for him. You know, he played four years of football here at Notre Dame. He’s going to graduate in the spring.
And, you know, coming back for a 5th year is not a given. I sat down with Joe Ferrer back in early December before I ever went out recruiting. And we talked about, you know, the pros and cons of him coming back, what would be asked of him if he did come back, what role he would have to play on this football team if he came back.
So, you know, I didn’t overreact to that situation because I really didn’t feel that we lost a player because Joe Ferrer had played four years, and he is graduating. And the 5th year thing is not a lock. You know, I don’t think there was overreaction to that.
You know, Joe Ferrer is a good young man, and I don’t think those comments he made should be taken out of perspective. I don’t think that the only reason he didn’t come back — in fact, I know that the only reason he didn’t comeback for a 5th year is because of hair or how you show emotion on the field. You know, I don’t think people across had country should maybe get a perception of him because of that.
He’s a good young man. A lot of thought went into his 5th-year decision. I had a lot of input into his 5th-year decision as well, and I wish him nothing but the best.
Q: Not to belabor the point, but what is your policy on what players can do with their hair?
BOB DAVIE: You know, we don’t really have a hard, fast policy. My policy is let’s do everything in a first-class manner. Let’s do everything that represents this university in a first-class manner. Let’s not draw unnecessary attention to ourselves. It’s that simple. Do everything in good taste. Do everything in the best interests of this football team. You can be yourself and you can express yourself, but don’t bring a lot of unnecessary attention onto yourself.
Probably the same way I’d handle my son in that same situation. So I don’t make a real big deal with about it and it hasn’t been a big issue. So I don’t think this comment or his thing should be, and that’s why I didn’t overreact to it.
Q: You’ve got a deep group of receivers now in both numbers and size, and you’ve talked about how essential it is to establish a running game. What are your thoughts going to be on offensive philosophy going into next season?
BOB DAVIE: Well, we’re going to run it a little bit more. Just because we have a young quarterback, regardless of who that quarterback is, he’s going to be young. We’ll probably run it a little bit more than we throw it. Maybe run it a little bit more than we did this year, for two reasons. One, the quarterback is younger, two, I like our running backs.
I think we’ve got a great situation at fullback. And, you know, when you look at Julius Jones, Tony Fisher, Terrance Howard, and the young freshmen coming in, that’s a pretty talented backfield, and we’ve got our offensive linemen and tight end, we’re going to be a balanced offense. But it’s probably going to be in our best interests to run that football a little bit more early in the year.
BOB DAVIE: You know, I didn’t spend any time — probably because I’m not educated enough in it to find the right things to look at on it. But Dennis Moynihan and Liz Dalton spent a lot of time because I think it’s human nature that you do. And I think some of these recruiting services, they are doing an excellent job. They find out a lot of information.
You know, I think every coach in the country follows that to a degree in recruiting. But the thing that’s so different now is just how many phone calls these kids get at night. And I think at some point, there has to be some reason put into all of this. It got to the point late in the recruiting that kids take the phone off the hook and will not answer the phone, and it may be down to one or two schools. And it’s not so much the coaches and the schools calling, but everybody trying to find out the scoop and everybody scratching and clawing to be the first one to know.
It’s just become unbelievable how much access people have to these kids, and I think it puts a lot of undue pressure on the kids. It’s great interest, it’s great fan interest and people love it. But it’s really — it’s really difficult in these people’s homes. I feel for these families.
To answer your question, we have someone in the office that follows all that. It’s accurate, pretty accurate, things from the recruiting services. As far as all those chat rooms and things, I don’t go there. I mean, I promise you, I don’t go there.
But with these different services and things, I think that’s — I think that information is pretty accurate. You know, they talk to those kids on a regular basis.
BOB DAVIE: These kids get paralyzed at the end of the process. But we talked to Carlyle a couple times, not a lot in the last two or three days. You know, it was kind of a hit-or-miss thing. In fact, Kirk Doll, he’s got little calluses on his fingers from hitting that dial on that phone so many times. And that operator comes on and says, “No one answers yet, if you’d like to leave a message, pound one” — I mean, in my sleep I can hear that operator come on saying “No one answers yet.”
It’s a grind. And the communication is more difficult than ever with these kids at the end. And to be honest, with Carlyle Holiday, we had a good feel that he was coming to Notre Dame. His mom had told Kirk that Carlyle had told her Tuesday night, but Carlyle had not told us. And we did not know until he called us, after he had signed at the press conference in his high school with Notre Dame that we had Carlyle, and I think Nebraska probably was the same way. And that’s difficult. That’s difficult.
So the communication process can be a little frustrating at times.
BOB DAVIE: We’ve been down there every week and you’re allowed to see him once a week and you’re allowed to be in the school once a week. So we’ve been there every week and seen him in person. But if you don’t see these kids in person, it’s hard to get in touch with some of them, just because it’s hard to get through on that phone.
Q: Any concerns about the NCAA penalties?
BOB DAVIE: Once we got the decision, it actually gave us a little boost. It’s just that maybe the door had been shut on some other kids that the door would have remained open if the decision would have been made earlier.
I mean, because December 20th, you know, for us, particularly here with the weather the way it is and the way school was this year, you know, our kids didn’t come back on this campus until almost January 20th. So we only had the first two weekends in December and our next visit date wasn’t until January 20.
So it really affected us this year because of the school being on vacation for one extra week because we lost that January visit. So those two December weekends which were critical, but without the decision from the NCAA at that time I think it impacted what visits we received.
So once we got the decision, we got a little boost. We got a little boost. I think the coaches and everyone got a little juice. But we rallied pretty strong. It ended real positive. And the ones we lost, we lost to schools that you can deal with losing them to.
Q: You didn’t feel like Holiday had concerns there would have impact in the years to come with the NCAA stuff?
BOB DAVIE: No, I don’t think so. I think what getting Carlyle Holiday and Abram Elam did was finish this recruiting class off on a positive manner on signing date. So I didn’t have to come in here like last year, when — you know, we had that list of 21 guys, but all the conversation was about someone who wasn’t on the list.
So it’s nice to come in and just talk about the 18 you’ve signed and not have to deal with the situation that just happened prior to walking in. So I don’t know that it — you know just makes you feel a little bit better.
Q: Given the situation a year ago and the fact that there were — how were you feeling when you woke up this morning about that situation?
BOB DAVIE: I was glad we had two in the bank. You know, I wasn’t — I thought of that as well coming back last night. I mean, if it would have come down to coming in here this morning and waiting for a phone call from Carlyle Holiday, I mean, I will never get myself in that situation again where I’ve got all my eggs in that one basket, particularly with the distance you’re dealing with.
So having those two quarterbacks, first of all, be in our summer camp. Matt LoVecchio makes that commitment to us in the summer, that was huge. And Jared to be able to get that commitment from him in December was big, and it made it a lot more — a lot more — you know a win/win situation because you felt like you added two guys. So I wouldn’t have wanted to be in the situation coming in here today banking on that one commitment, that one signee.
Q: Are you saying that the quarterback job is open at this point?
BOB DAVIE: Yeah, it’s open. You know, because I think that’s probably what’s best for Arnaz, and Arnaz understands that. Arnaz was just like these guys. I think it came down to Nebraska and Notre Dame for Arnaz Battle. He understands how this process works. It’s open.
But let’s face it, Arnaz is a little bit ahead in this race. He’s been in the system and he’s got spring ball. I’m impressed with him. He’s stepped up a little bit now. I see him doing some good things for us in a leadership capacity right now.
BOB DAVIE: I tell you, Addazio is a grinder. He’s a Northeasterner all the way. He’s one of guys that will argue with the guy at the toll booth, the operator at the toll both. I mean, he gets his way around Jersey. I’m impressed with Addazio. He went in and did a great job for us. To go out and get Jason Sapp in Connecticut. That was a tough signee. Lorenzo Crawford had committed to North Carolina, to be able to come in and get that turned around. Mat LoVecchio, to get that done early. And we were into some other guys.
And I think New Jersey is good for us. Good area for us. Good academics. It’s fairly close in comparison to some other places. You don’t deal with the weather. Because if you’ve flown in and out of Newark, that’s not like going in and out of West Palm Beach now, so they have a little bit more of what reality is.
So I think that’s a good area, but as always, this comes down to the relationship those assistant coaches have with those kids. Steve Addazio did an excellent job of recruiting. And I’ll say this about our coaches: It’s an unselfish group. It’s not like: How many guys can I sign or how can I make the biggest name for myself out there with the recruiting gurus on who is the best recruiter. This is about how can we go out and sign the best guys we can sign.
Desmond Robinson Saturday was at home 1:00 in the afternoon, and I called Desmond Robinson — and, you know, we’re allowed to be in those homes until midnight Saturday night. Desmond Robinson is home with his family at 1:00, getting ready to go to the basketball game. I called Desmond and I said, “Desmond, you’ve got to get to Tulsa,” and he goes out, gets on a plane and flies to Tulsa, Oklahoma and is in that young man’s house until one minute before midnight.
That’s just an example of how unselfish these coaches were and just working their tail off. And I know other coaches work at it and other staffs, by there’s no way this staff could have worked harder at recruiting than we did.
BOB DAVIE: I think so. And key to me, is who do you lose them to. You’re right, you’re going to lose some to Florida and Florida State. But we’re down there in the fight with them. You know, I think that can be a good area for us. It’s really — it is, by comparison is fairly close when you talk about going to California or you talk about going to the West Coast. You know, we lost some guys, but were in some battle the right down to the indicate. You know, I think Urban Meyer went down there and did a good job and we’ve got a chance to have some success down there, I think.
BOB DAVIE: You know, playing basketball, maybe. Trying to picture Troy Murphy lining up a defensive — Swannigan might play a little defensive end. Don’t tell Matt I said that. He’ll be coming after Jabari Holloway and those guys next.
It’s hard to find. Those Grant Irons — I mean, Darrell Campbell, Darrell Campbell, thank God we got Darrell Campbell. But a year ago, Darrell Campbell is 6’4 230 and a wiry, tall guy, but you could see that he had those long arms and just — now he’s 6’4, 270. But try to go find a Darrell Campbell now.
Cedric Hilliard a year ago, it’s ready hard to find those guys and those are the guys that we have to develop because they are so hard to find. And I think basketball takes those guys, and there is such a premium in recruiting those guys. It’s just hard to get them.
BOB DAVIE: You’d like to think you do. You know, but how do we know for sure? I mean, let’s be honest. And that’s why I think more than saying these guys are, that’s hard to say that. I’m saying the evaluation process we use to get them, I think, is as good as we can do. And with the academic restrictions we deal with here. You know, all I worry about is let’s do go see what we can do. You can’t control all of it. I can’t sit here and say that every one of these 18 guys are just true Notre Dame men.
But I can say that the evaluation process that we use gives them a chance to be. But how are they going to react living over here at Dylan Hall for the next four years, all the rules on this campus, all the pressures that come with playing here, all the expectations that come with playing here. There are so many things that are going to unfold, but I feel good about it. I feel good about the guys that we have in the program. I really do. Are we going to be perfect? No. But I think we’ve got a process that we’re going to start getting some rewards for this.
Q: Will having only 18 guys signed, will that have an impact on who you keep, and do you have an idea who you’re going to have around?
BOB DAVIE: It’s not going to impact that at all. We could have gone to 20. 20 was the highest we could go. Once again, you know the process. These are the guys that they are going to apply for a 5th year and go through the process of applying. Mike Gandy, Jim Jones, Danny O’Leary, Lance Legree, BJ Scott, who — I think we will move BJ back to defense. I love BJ’s attitude, and he’s a great 5th-year guy to get back, because he’s a leader.
Jay Johnson, I think Jay Johnson came on strong at the end of the year. He’s healthy for the first time. He’s going to apply for a 5th year.
Another guy is Anthony Brannan. I put Anthony Brannan on scholarship last year. He was a walk-on, and I’ve told him I’m going to keep him on scholarship next year. I just like the way he practices. He was on special teams. He’s up to 215 pounds. I talked to him today.
So if we end up with 18, we’ve got two scholarships. Once again, there’s another Anthony Brannan out there, one of these walk-ons. I’ll put two walk-ons if we have two, but we may ends up getting one or two more here in the next day or so, so I just don’t know.
Q: What about special teams?
BOB DAVIE: I tell what you helps, the first thing that helps is Brock Williams being back. Brock Williams is now back, part of the team, 190 pounds. Tony Driver is part of the team. Terrance Howard is back from that hamstring that he was out the last four weeks. Albert Poree is back working now. He’s had his knee, he’s had the cartilage. We got a bunch of guys back that we don’t have. That’s the No. 1 thing.
But, yeah, just overall athleticism, definitely impacts those special teams. And then, who is going to be our kicker? Who is going to be our kicker? Is Cedric going to be able to step up? How about David Miller, is he going to step up now? He’s got an opportunity. And you hope Hildbold gets stronger. He’s consistent, but he needs to get stronger and Setta is going to give him competition at punter.
I think we’ve got a chance to be better on special teams, but the kicker is what’s going to be the key.
BOB DAVIE: It looks like that was for not. And I’ll tell you about that trip to South Carolina. And you guys all travel, you’ve got thousands of stories.
We landed at Spartanburg at 6:00, rent a car. Steve Addazio drives just like one of those Northeasterners, like a madman. So we get on that interstate and we’re going to Columbia, and we talk to the young man’s parents that we’re going to see. So they say it’s snowing like crazy in Columbia. We couldn’t land there. That’s why the electronic went down is because of the heavy snow, but it’s clear in Spartanburg. It’s only 60 miles.
We go the first ten miles, we’re fine. And I’ve never seen anything like it. We are in 12 inches of snow immediately, and we hear on the radio that there’s a complete blockage on the interstate and they are diverting people off the interstate. It’s backed up 10 miles and no one is moving. So they divert us off in this small town in South Carolina, and there are 12 inches of snow, and it’s shut down. We’re sitting on this small road in this small town. Can’t go anywhere. Traffic is backed up in this small town, and it’s a snowstorm at like 8:00 at night. And they are throwing snowballs at us.
And I’m sitting there in this car, and because we had to get the rental car to Atlanta. This whole trip is going to end up in Atlanta now. Here I am, the head coach at Notre Dame. I’m in this rental car about as big as this table, because the only car they had going back to Atlanta was this little Thrifty rental car. I’m in 12 inches of snow in South Carolina, 8:00 at night, with Steve Addazio, and I’ve got people throwing snowballs at us as we sit in this snow.
Now, we finally, we finally get to the hotel at 12:30 we’re talking about 60 miles. It’s six and a half hours in that car, never got out of the car. You couldn’t even get out of the car to go in any place. We get into this Marriott. We have not eaten. I had not eaten since noon — had not eaten since noon. So we go in and all the food service is down. There’s no place to eat. They had these little boxes of cereal like you have the little buffet in the morning with the little box of cereal, but they had no milk.
Now it’s 1:00 with these little boxes of Fruit Loops eating these Fruit Loops, and finally some worker has pity on us and says, you know, you’re the coach from Notre Dame, aren’t you I said yeah. He says, “I shouldn’t tell you this. They said there was no milk, but there’s a couple little cartons of milk back there. Let me take care of you.”
So the guy comes out and he’s got two bananas and some milk. And Addazio, we were like — we were the kings of the world sitting there with a banana, kind of keeping an eye on it so nobody would come in because there were other guests there that were hungry. So 1:00 in the morning, we’re sitting there eating that cereal.
Q: How many homes were you in?
BOB DAVIE: I was in the home of every — I would say every one that has visited, probably 45 homes. I was gone every day that you could be gone as the head coach.
BOB DAVIE: Tell you what, I hate to jump up and down about guys, because it’s just so early. But I tell you, Jovan Witherspoon is an exciting player. I really like him. And I love his attitude. He came to our Boston College game. We did not get on him until about September, probably, September October. We were a little late because he was listed as a linebacker at first, and when we saw the tape on him during the season, we fell in love with him.
And I went in his home in early December, and Urban Meyer and I came back and said we have to get is this guy. I mean, he is — he has a potential to be a big-time receiver.
And then when you get to know his dad and you realize that he understands work ethic and he understands what it takes to be a player. I’m really excited about him. You watch his highlight tape, it’s exciting.
BOB DAVIE: Yeah, you know, I don’t know how to answer that. I was worried about that. But we wasn’t after him hard, and I think he really likes Notre Dame. I think he really, really, really sees the big picture. He’s a great kid. Great kid.
Q: With his dad being an agent, is that some of a concern?
BOB DAVIE: I tell you, your mind really works. I hadn’t really thought about that. I hadn’t really thought about that. Now you’ve got me worried about that.
No, a hasn’t really thought about that. And you know what, meeting his dad, and he’s a first-class guy, first-class individual, and all my dealings have been — I’ve been tremendously impressed with that whole family, so I don’t have any concern with that at all.
Q: Looking ahead a little bit, what other –?
BOB DAVIE: Driver is going to safety. He’s at safety. Chris Yura is the running back. You know, he was — he is a running back coming out of high school and we put him at safety and he did some special teams stuff and we’ve moving him back to running back.
Courtney Watson, the linebacker, he’s up to 215 now, going to put him at inside linebacker.
John Owens, defensive end. Probably BJ Scott, the defense, but I really want to sit down with BJ and just make sure on that. Maybe Glenn Earl to safety. That’s where we are right now.
We’ve got some guys that are going to miss the spring, Jordan Black had the shoulder surgery. Andrew Wisne looks like will miss spring with shoulder surgery. Ryan Roberts with back surgery. Mahan will get some work in the spring, but we’re going to be careful. Other than that, it looks like the other guys are going to be back.
But when you look at it, it’s remarkable how we made it through last season. And you know, not playing in the Bowl game was the hardest thing I had to deal with, and then watching those games.
But in the big picture, being able to get these surgeries a month early and getting an extra month of off-season, I think — hopefully is going to be something that really benefits us.
BOB DAVIE: Going to keep Boiman at drop. I think that’s something really Rocky wants to do is be a drop backer. Thought of being a defensive end he’s not real excited about, although, he will in passing situations do that.
And I think that’s the same thing that’s exciting about Jason Sapp. Jason Sapp looks a lot like Boiman now. He’s about 6’3, 245 and a great looking kid and he’ll be a drop backer, but a defensive end in passing situations.
Q: Anybody from this area that you were looking at?
BOB DAVIE: You know, there really weren’t. We evaluated it closely. We evaluated every player in this area. That’s something we talked about this morning, as well, because any time in the end and you get in these battles as we did today with kids from a thousand miles away. You’d love to have that base of guys that are close, to just make it easier.
You know, from what I understand, next year in the Midwest, not only in Indiana, but Illinois, is supposed to be a much better year as far as potential prospects for us, and we’re going to really look closely at that and try to get those guys in the summer camp.
BOB DAVIE: There’s no doubt that the single hardest thing is the evaluation of these younger players. You know, there’s so many different levels of football. There’s so many different levels of high school coaching of football, and the academics play into it. You know, let’s be realistic. You know, academics are No. 1 with us. They don’t even visit this campus without the academics. It’s just so many things.
But the evaluation is really difficult, and that’s why you see that — you know, for instance, I was looking Texas A&M has ten players in this year’s combine, NFL combine, ten. And I went back and looked and I was talking to RC Slocum. In ’96 their recruiting class was rated 26th and they have ten players going to the combine. We have two players going to the combine this year.
You know, it’s hard. It’s a hard, hard process. And that’s why everything you do, you do it in a guarded way when you comment on these kids. Some of them jump out at you that are easy, but the bulk of your team are going to be the guys — and that evaluation is critical to getting those right players. So it’s difficult.
BOB DAVIE: We offered one more that we didn’t get that made a decision today to go somewhere else. You know, we signed three and we look the potential of all three. Curry from Sealy, Texas, Eric Dickerson’s home town. Captain of the football team, captain of the baseball team, captain of the basketball. I watched him play basketball. He knew I was there and he put on a show, just boom, jamming that thing. And he’s about 6’4, about 220 now, growing up, and I really like him. It was us and LSU, Nebraska on him. I like the potential. Great young man.
We talked about Sapp and Goolsby. Goolsby is a unique guy. He is an aggressive football player, aggressive style. Very confident. Brings a lost attitude. I was in his home last week, as well. He’s up to about 235. He’s 6’3, 235 and can run.
So I think we have three good prospects. A little bit bigger than we’ve recruited and I like the idea of getting some size at that position. So we’ve got three guys that are all kind of the Rocky Boiman size.
So I’d like to have had four, but we didn’t, but it wasn’t something that I was just holding my breath on.
BOB DAVIE: You know, there’s no question about that, but it wasn’t just so much on today. I think the difficulty for me was over the holidays and you’re not around the players, our players, and you’re watching those Bowl games. But once you get the players back, when you get the players back and we know when we get the players the night before they were supposed to be back on campus, that’s what rejuvenates you is players you have on this team and our coaches.
So yeah, today helps. It’s a positive because this is a good group of players that we beat some good schools to get. So that means the attitude of our program is positive and it’s encouraging to young guys to come. But I’m just excited about the players that we have in this program, and I mean that sincerely. I think we’ve got this thing built back up to where we’re going to have a chance to be pretty good.
BOB DAVIE: You know, to be honest, there haven’t been as many kids in those areas as there have been in the south for us, you know, for whatever reason. I think as I mentioned, I think New Jersey can really be good for us.
I think we do a good job in Chicago. You look at Darrell Campbell coming out of Chicago last year, Nick Setta, and Glenn Earl. And then going back in this year with Goolsby, with Pauly, with Jerome Collins. We’ve done a good job in there. With the academics that we deal with, we can’t go after them all, but we’re on the ones that we can recruit. And I think we’ve done a better job in that area, I really do.
Pennsylvania, this year, we didn’t recruit one player out of Pennsylvania. Now, some of them we’ve tried that we couldn’t get. Because Penn State, one thing Penn State does is they lock them up early. Penn State had 20 commitments by the 1st of December. They are a school that has had a huge summer camp for a number of years. And it’s over early with Penn State. And In Ohio, it’s been difficult because Ohio State locks them up early.
This part of the country, with the summer camps, there are a lot of early commits in this part of the country compared to the south and compared to Texas. And we are in the middle of that. We are doing a better job, but once again, it makes it a lot easier when you’re recruiting from a car drive away rather than from an airline flight away.
You’ve got to go where the athletes are and we did it — we recruited hard on some kids in the south and didn’t get. Hard on some kids in Oklahoma, I mean, hard. It’s frustrating that you don’t get them at the end when you feel like you’ve recruited as hard as you can. That’s how it’s going to be when you’re fighting those state schools a long, long way from home.
BOB DAVIE: There’s no question about that because I know just like you mentioned, our percentages of signing those players is a little bit higher, just a little bit higher. You know, it’s not who you recruit, it’s who you sign. I mean, all this recruiting you do, all that matters are the 18. And the ones you didn’t get don’t matter. So it all comes down to who can we get, and I just know those percentages are higher. I think with Steve Addazio in New Jersey, Kevin Rogers having been at Syracuse, we’ve got a good chance to win that.
BOB DAVIE: There was some good players out there. We didn’t have great success out there. We just didn’t — we never got started. You know, some of the big-name players we were close to getting visiting, to get visits, but we never got them to visit.
We brought in a couple players from California, but really, never were in the hunt with guys from out there. And that is, when you talk about far, that’s far. That’s far.
BOB DAVIE: I can’t even comment on him. I don’t even know if he signed.
BOB DAVIE: I don’t know any more than anywhere else. I don’t know that that, I don’t think any more than anyone else, no. Just seemed like we struggled a little bit more out there.
And you know, you look back — not that, you know, who you have in the area is everything. I don’t mean this to be a negative as far as who we have in the area.
But a year ago, we had Mike Sanford. Mike Sanford had coached at Southern Cal and had a lot of ties in southern California. A little bit of: Who are your contacts, who are your ties, to get a kid to come that distance, even for the visit.
So a lot depends just on the personalities and the contacts of the coaches in that area. And you’re always going to get guys that have different backgrounds from different places. We’ve got a little bit more of a northeast flavor right now with Steve Addazio and Kevin and Jerry Rosburg.
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