Coach Prince's Comments on the 2007 Recruiting Class

Kansas State Signing Day Press Conference

 

Head Coach Ron Prince

Opening Statement...

“First of all, I’d like to recognize the efforts of the fellows over at Fort Riley who are getting ready to ship out pretty soon that we’ve been able to have a relationship with over the past 13 months, or whatever it has been. We’ve been able to talk about leadership and the sharing of ideas. Many of you have heard that we’ve worked out with those guys a little bit and taken in some P.T. They are getting ready to ship out for a very dangerous duty. We just appreciate everything they have done for us, and we’ll try to make them proud this fall.

 

Secondly, I’d like to thank those people who put quite a bit of effort into this year’s recruiting class. I think Matt Wallerstedt did a fantastic job of putting this thing together, holding this thing together, and finishing strong. As we go through some of these names, you’re going to see his name and initials coming up a lot. I thought he did a terrific job with that, along with the other coaches on our staff.

 

I’m really excited about this class. In last year’s class we really addressed our issues defensively, knowing that so many people in college football are playing with three and four wide receivers now. As you could see in the national championship game, they really were getting in some bad personnel match-ups from time-to-time with excellent athletes. I think we addressed that last year, and I think many of those things paid off for us. We had some good depth in the secondary and good depth on the defensive line. Because of that, we were able to stay fresh for a bulk of the year, even though we did have some injuries that nicked us up. The players that we added offensively last year did contribute for us even though they were young players Josh Freeman, Jeron Mastrud, Leon Patton and so forth. Many of those players were first-time players and were able to contribute. We were really happy with that.

 

This year we took a similar look at things, sticking to our plan even before last season, of going heavy on the offensive side. We would look for the type of players, the skilled players that are capable of doing something with the ball in their hands offensively. I don’t believe that if you don’t play good defense you have no chance to win, and the kicking game is ultimately where it is decided. Last year we knew that we would be short-handed, as far as depth, on the offensive side of the ball and would do the best we could to develop those players. This year, we made a conscious effort to recruit some guys that could either upgrade the roster specifically or provide the type of depth we had on defense last year.

 

With that, I think we upgraded and added some significant defensive players this year that we’re very excited about some guys who can contribute this fall for sure. We added some speed in this class. I think that you could see in the world championship game, guys like Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison can make game-changing plays. Those are the type of abilities that we are seeking. It is very difficult to go 12 plays, 87 yards all the time. There are too many good defensive coordinators out there. It’s just challenging in a league like this where the defenses are so good. So, we’re looking for offensive players who can do something with the ball when they have it, and looking for guys who can obviously protect our quarterback and make the necessary holes for our runners. We were looking for fast guys, or at least those guys who are functionally fast at virtually every position. It was very apparent to me that in those games where we were able to play fast, to run and hit, we were able to control that game. Defensively, if we were able to put pressure on their quarterback and make fast plays down the field, they could never get comfortable offensively. Yamon Figurs made it able for us to play that way on offense Leon Patton and James Johnson did the same at times. We want to make it so that we can play that way into the distant future.”  

 

On key defensive additions...

“There are a couple of guys I want to highlight, specifically on the defensive side of the ball. I am really excited to have the opportunity to have Gary Chandler on our campus. When I first arrived, I wasn’t very familiar with Gary until I was able to watch film of the Shrine Bowl a couple of years ago when he was senior in high school. There was a situation that someone was running that film on a monitor and I couldn’t help but ask Who’s that guy?’ They said it was Gary Chandler who had committed to K-State, and that’s when we got excited about being able to pursue him down in Coffeyville and see if he was interested in coming back to K-State. I think that was one of the very key gets’ for us in this class, particularly with the graduation of Kyle Williams. Gary is a veteran player who is very familiar with K-State and has a passion for it. We are really excited to be able to add his talent to the secondary.

 

To be able to add Chris Patterson was a terrific opportunity for us. I was familiar with Chris from high school. We had a coach on staff at Virginia who was from Chicago a number of players from that area came to our camp. I got to know Chris at that time when he was a junior. He signed at Oklahoma and went on to a junior college. There was an opportunity for us to become involved with Chris, and he decided to come to Kansas State. That is a terrific find for us. He’ll play outside linebacker. He has a terrific ability to rush the passer and gives you an immediate star-power at the position to be able to pressure the quarterback and obviously has the ability to cover. That’s something that is really significant for us, and we are very excited to have Chris Patterson, a player with such a great resume, who wanted to come play for us.

 

Also, maybe a sleeper to some, was Xzavier Stewart, a defensive tackle from Morgan Park in Chicago. Coach Tibesar did a great job on uncovering this young man, sticking with him, and getting him interested in coming to Kansas State. He had just a terrific senior year making a real impact on the scene there in Chicago. We’re very pleased to have Xzavier in this year’s class. He’ll be a terrific nose tackle here for us. And then we have an exciting young man who is very mature and has a great story Michael Abana. We were able to get this young man as late as this afternoon. We’re excited to make him a part of Kansas State. This is a very key accomplishment for our staff to be able to get a player of this skill level and size. We think he can help us immediately. There are plenty of others on defense young players that will be able to make a contribution in the near future. These players I have mentioned are some that we think we can work with and get into the mix immediately, even though their arrival might not be until August.”

 

On key offensive additions...

“Alesana Alesana was one of the key signs for our staff. Tim McCarty did a great job in recruiting Alesana. It was really exciting for our staff to work in recruiting such an athletic player as Alesana is. His team went all the way to the championship game in California and has a terrific reputation up and down the coast. He is an extremely athletic tackle who can play both left and right sides due to the style of offense that they played. They would adjust their offensive line to the strength of the formation. He has that kind of skill level to do both. He is a run-and-hit kind of offensive lineman. You’ll enjoy watching him. He’s an older kid, so he brings that maturity that a normal 18- or 19-year-old would bring. He enrolled at mid-year and is here with us.

 

I’m very excited about Penisini Liu. He’s an offensive lineman from Sacramento City College. Once again, he’s a very athletic offensive tackle who has the ability to play either tackle or move inside. This is a relatively young player. I believe it is only his third year to play football. Despite all of that, we can really see some good plays on tape and good athleticism.

 

Eldridge Sims from Compton College, is another situation where the coaches did a great job of getting involved with him early. All three of these players were heavily recruited, and our coaches just did a phenomenal job of getting film and working with these players and showing them what Kansas State was all about. Those players were very excited about what we had returning and what style of offense we like to play.

 

I wanted to be able to add some fire power at the receiver position. With the departure of Jermaine Moreira and Yamon Figurs, adding two wide receivers to the class really doesn’t add any depth, it just replaces the two we had. The same is true on the offensive line, replacing Mike Freison and Greg Wafford. We had to do more than just stay at the status quo, and we felt like we did that. By adding Deon Murphy, a very fast receiver with a reported 4.3 second 40-time or less, he can contribute quite a bit here with his deep-ball ability. I think he was excited about the way we used Yamon last season in both the offense and kicking game. I think that made a big impact on him and he sees himself doing some of those same things. Ernie Pierce, a wide receiver from Santa Barbara, is a young man who has more size. He has a terrific resume, and we’re excited to bring these two veterans in who can contribute to our offense immediately and have been in those games that they’ve competed against players of a higher caliber.

 

There are two young receivers, right out of high school, that we’re excited about. They will give us a terrific chance and will both have a chance to see the field this fall. Lamark Brown, from St. Louis, is a terrific athlete with great size. I think he is as big as 220 pounds right now, and at 6-3, he is a terrific target. I couldn’t be more excited about his skills and who he is as a person. He can do some terrific things once the ball is in his arms. A young man that might not have been on many people’s radar is Danny Hogan from Roosevelt High School in Dallas. Danny was one of those players we were able to get involved with and once you see the highlights and tapes, you will be excited to watch this young man play.”

 

On speedy recruits...

“We wanted to make sure not to just plug the holes that we had with our departures, but to go a step further because of what our roster will look like in the coming years. Then we added some fast players. Whether they’re defensive backs or running backs, these are the guys who just give you a chance. They have that elite speed that if they’re 100m guys, then they run a 10.6 or less. These players give us the chance to upgrade the speed of our team a team that we hope is fast already. Players like Dee Bell, Justin Woods, and Jeremy Reed at the running back position are those guys. We lost three running backs off of last year’s roster, and these guys have the pedigree, the speed, and terrific bodies. At other positions, Reggie Haynes, Richard Evans, Kendrick Matthews, and Jerrell McDaniel are players who can play defensive backs, wide receivers, or maybe running backs. They are accomplished players with the ball in their arms and have the confirmed speed.”

 

On recruiting areas...

“I think there is a good mix of kids from our regional area, which was very important to us. We had a great opportunity to pursue players at the junior college level. But then I thought we got some guys from some unusual places. We were able to get a kicker from Nebraska Josh Cherry. He does a terrific job. He’s got a very strong leg and we’re excited to have him on board. From what we gathered from the national scene, he was one of the very best kickers available. We got a long snapper in Corey Adams who was the very best long snapper in the country. Then we got four players from the state of Illinois, which is unusual two from East St. Louis and two from Chicago. They come from a variety of places from the Dallas area and Houston area to Darhnaz Tigner from the Florida area along with Reggie Haynes. They come from all kinds of areas, but they all have a couple of things in common. These are kids that allow us to have a fast, strong, tough, disciplined team. These are kids that really are hungry and driven. They are unspoiled kids from unspoiled areas, and understand that they are coming here to pursue their degree. That’s obviously what we’re looking for. Overall, I’m very pleased. It’s like a lot of things; you can never be too thin or have too much money. There were some really terrific kids out there that were interested in K-State, and I’m excited for each and every one of these players who said Yes’.”

 

On recruiting fast players...

“I could tell quickly that speed could make up for any mistakes that we might make. Against Louisville last year, they were a faster team. They could run and they could hit at every position. I think that you could see that served them well throughout their season. Obviously, the Rutgers team could run and hit. From our standpoint, it had served us very well in the Texas game to have players who had the speed to close distance. For years, I’ve watched Florida State, Miami, and Virginia Tech turn touchdowns into eight-yard gains on defense. Seemingly, you have them all blocked, but they stop you short of a first down or keep you from a long gain. That’s something that we wanted to make sure we had the ability to do and to continue to do. Leon Patton was able to show a few times this year why being fast is important, as well as Yamon Figurs did in the return game. We had three different players return kicks last season for touchdowns and we had players who could go in and block kicks. We can be the fastest team in this league that’s what we desire to be. We want to be able to run with the very best of teams. We want to make sure that we can develop our players and make them strong enough and disciplined enough to play those teams that we need to beat in our own division who maybe play another style as well.”

 

On the size of the recruiting class being so large...

“We have a number of players in this class who were confirmed in their interest in Kansas State early on, and then we had those players who were really just learning about Kansas State. In some of that dialogue, we were able to impress upon those players that they really needed to improve not only their physical skills, but their academic skills as well. There are probably some players in this class that will need to go the two-year school route, get in the incubator, and develop. We will see which players that happens to be, but I think we’ve got a pretty good idea which ones those will be. From a tactical standpoint, those players that go to the two-year schools will hopefully return with us and come onto our roster again someday. That was a really good marriage for us, and we’re really excited about it.”

 

On Michael Abana...

“He played in a four-down system last year at Santa Monica. We played out of both a three-down and four-down look last year, which is something I think you have to do when teams try to spread you out. I think he will be able to play in both styles as Junior Moran does now. I think he brings that versatility. Michael is a rough-and-tumble guy. When you watch the tape on this young man, he plays with an attitude. He’s a very aggressive player and has a terrific build for a young man, and we think that will only improve. We like the style in which he plays, and I think he gives us an option in either of those two looks.”

 

On the versatility of the players in this class...

“I think versatility is very important in this class. That is one of the things that I think you can make a mistake on in college recruiting, as apposed to the pros that have seven draft picks a year. They have to define things a little more than we do. We are still developing players, and for most of these players Mother Nature is going to tell us what type of player they are. Quite frankly, some of these kids are coming from places where they aren’t very spoiled. They don’t have three meals a day and don’t have proper weightlifting equipment. So, some of these kids are going to get bigger and faster in a hurry. That may allow some of these kids to play certain positions on the field. Just getting a lot of really good players is something that I was concerned with. I think we had some very particular needs at both offensive line and wide receiver that we wanted to address. We also needed to add a long snapper and kicker. Other than that, I wanted what the NFL calls best available.’ We wanted the best available football players that we could find. There are some other players in there that are projected because of a special talent that they already possess. They’re so fast or they stand out in a certain area. You feel like you can develop them at a certain spot, and that’s the name of the game in college developing players, not just going out and signing free agents.”