“I was trying to think of the best word I could use to describe this class and the best thing I could come up with is just ‘special.’ I am extremely excited about this class and I know this staff is excited about it because they have done a tremendous job of putting this class together.
“As you look at everything about this class, signed one quarterback and the kid threw 52 touchdowns this season and that says a lot. I think he led the state of California in passing, which they throw the ball a little bit out there. We signed three tight ends in this class – one kid that measured over 6-6 and the other two were 6-4. We signed four wide receivers. The best word to describe them is “speed.” Every one of those guys can run. We signed four offensive linemen. We needed some length and we got two kids that were over 6-6 and then two that were 6-4. We signed a deep snapper for the future, which is going to be really critical to our success in the future. We signed three defensive tackles and the smallest one is 295 pounds. So we are excited about what that is going to bring inside for us. We added two defensive ends, one that is 6-5 and the other is 6-4. We have some height there and we are going to add some weight to them and they have a great burst of getting off the ball. We signed three linebackers and every one of these kids can run and hit. That was a big part of what we were looking for at linebacker. Then we got four DBs in this class and they can all run.
“The one position that we didn’t sign was running back and that was intentional. We didn’t go into this class feeling like we needed to sign a running back and so we didn’t.
“You have eight guys from Alabama, five from Mississippi (three natives, two at Mississippi JCs), four from Georgia, three from Florida, two from Louisiana and Tennessee and one from California. We were all over the place signing kids.
“This group of young men has a lot of class. I have been in each and every one of these kids’ homes. I met their families and they all have class and character, great athleticism, speed, size, integrity and another word that comes to mind is “desire” to be great. They all have high football IQs. In addition, they all had strong family backgrounds and it was really interesting getting to know each and every one of these kids and finding out about their families and support systems. They all understand the meaning of commitment. A lot of these guys were committing to us early on and they stuck with us from the beginning, even though were in there hammering away. They are winners and all have a desire to graduate.
“It will take four years, or three years, to really tell about this class, but I think overall what you are going to be saying four years from now, after these guys win multiple championships, that this is a very special class.”
On meeting the team’s needs
“I have always got more needs than we can meet to be honest with you, but I think we did exactly what we wanted to in this class. I probably, if I could go back, take another defensive lineman. But they only give you so many scholarships to give out.”
On any surprises during the day
“There were really no surprises. It went smooth all the way through. Guys signed when they said they were going to sign. We got the faxes in when they said they were going to fax them in. There were really no problems throughout the morning.”
On the ability of keeping the early commitments
“That is a tribute to the staff. This staff has done a tremendous job of building relationships with these kids and keeping those relationships going. There was a lot of talk, a lot of smoke, about this kid is thinking about this and these schools are talking to him, but every one of these kids has been solid all the way through.”
On how important it was in having a large recruiting weekend when you bring in most of your recruits
“That was the first time that we had done that and I thought it was a huge success. It was a great weekend, we had great weather and had all of those families, all of those parents and all of those players in and it was like that they were already friends. Most of them have built relationships through Facebook and all these other things and talked to each other. They were all excited about coming that same weekend. The parents were able to mingle with each other and build relationships, because they are going to be sitting next to each other for the next four years. They are going to be travelling together for the next four years. They will be tailgating with each other for the next four years. So they already have a relationship with some of the other parents, which I think will be a unique thing.”
On the how the recruiting shook out in terms of where these kids were from
“We’ve never just said that that is the most important thing. The most important thing is identifying the kids that can help us win a championship and then recruited those kids. It doesn’t matter to us certainly where they come from, as long as they can help us win and that they want to be at Southern Miss. That’s big. (The first job) is to find kids that want to be at Southern Miss. This year we just happen to have more from the state of Alabama and the state of Georgia than we do from the state of Mississippi.”
On Chris Briggs and the influence from fellow signee Jhyryn Taylor on getting him to Southern Miss
“They were high school teammates that know each other very well. Their families know each other well and it came down to a few schools for Chris and in the long run Jhyryn helped to make him feel more comfortable. Also, it is an hour from home. His whole family from the Franklinton area is going to be able to come over and see him play every week. He is another kid that has great length. He is 6-4, 190 lbs., catches the ball well and makes plays. I just think he will be another big wide receiver that will be able to make plays for us in the future.
On resigning Martez Thompson (who was a part of the 2009 signing class)
“We still communicated with him over those two years and we are anxious to get him back and finally we have him back on campus and excited about having him here. He had two really good years down there at Gulf Coast and the whole time that we were communicating with him we were also communicating with the staff down there and they were saying good things about him which just made us feel better about the decision we made two year ago.”
On how close these players are on playing right away
“I think all of these kids have the ability and I think it is going to come down to the mental part of it and where they are mentally when they get here. There will still be a lot of development. You take a kid like Rashod Hill, the offensive lineman from Jacksonville, Fla. He is 6-6 ½ and he weighed 270 pounds. Well, he’s playing basketball and he has played one year of football. I look at that kid and I predict that he is going to be 320 in a year and a half. Max Mason, the tight end that is over 6-6, is 210 to 215 pounds in that area. I think easily he will be 250 and maybe even bigger than that in a year or year and a half. There is still quite a lot of room for development and that is one thing you get when you have kids with length. They have room to get bigger. So we brought in some kids that had length that are leaner than maybe some that we have had in the past so that our new strength coach can develop those kids.”
On having ever signed three tight ends before
“Never in one class, no. We got into a situation where we have only two on scholarship for next year and it was important that we went out and got some, especially with the importance of (that position) is in our offense.”
On QB Ricky Lloyd
“Sunshine (which is his nickname), he probably is what everybody thinks of about a guy from California. He has long hair and got a big smile. You don’t ever see him when he is not smiling. We saw film on him about this time last year. Obviously we look at a lot of film on a lot of kids and that is one position that we do not make offers unless we see the kid in camp. We let his coach know that we would have to see him in camp and we didn’t know if we would ever see him again. He showed up in camp and tore it up. He really did some great things. Also, he has a very infectious personality with the smile he’s got and he is really a great kid. You watched him in camp and saw all the other players get drawn to him and they were hanging out around him all the time, which is a great quality for a quarterback to have. We made the offer to him. When he made the commitment, obviously we were concerned because of the distance but the kid never wavered. It didn’t matter who came in his house, who came to his school to see him. He always said he wanted to be a Golden Eagle and he stuck to that.”
On Jhyryn Taylor
“He can run, so we are excited by him. We really are.”
On finding a defensive coordinator
“Now that recruiting has slowed down, or I should say started up for next season, I can start focusing a little bit more on that. So that’s where we are on that right now. I have got some guys lined up to be coming in and we will see where that takes us from there. I am hoping to have someone in place, if it is the right person, in the next couple of weeks.”
On getting most of these players on campus for next season
“That is something I am very confident about by far. More so than the last three classes.”
On rating this signing class
“Probably people are going to think this class does not have the flash or the bling, but I am going to predict that this will be the strongest class out of all of them when the four years is up. That is my prediction.”
On ever signing a deep snapper before
“Never in my life, but I have never seen one in my life also. We are excited to have a guy and know that you are going to have him for the next four years and not be worried about somebody walking-on and trying out and hopefully having someone. We know that we have a guy now.”