Feb. 3, 2010
HEAD COACH Kevin Sumlin
"Today is a big day for Houston athletics and particularly football. We're real fortunate today. We've gotten every National Letter of Intent that we were looking for with the exception of one, but I can't comment on that one. It has some issues but it has been sent here. I'll talk about that later today when I can.
"The class we have signed addresses many of our needs. There are two quarterbacks, a running back, four wide receivers, one tight end, four offensive lineman, four defensive lineman, four linebackers, four defensive backs, two athletes and a kicker/punter, who is one of the best in the nation. Two of the guys are already on campus - Sammy Brown, who is a terrific linebacker, a 6-foot-2 230-pound playmaker and Matangi Tonga.
"A lot has been said about team recruiting rankings within our league and nationally, I don't pay as much attention to that as how well they play. Lots of coaches believe that you don't know what type of class you have until two, three or four years down the road. We have been very fortunate since we've been here. Our staff does a great job evaluating players, communicating with coaches and people in the community. I think that has been realized and reflected in our back-to-back Freshman of the Year award winners (Bryce Beall and Charles Simms). Last year we doubled up with Freshman of the Year and Newcomer of the Year (James Cleveland), that speaks to the quality of recruiting our staff does."
On concentrating on recruiting defense:
"No, we did not do that. We played six true freshmen on the defensive line last year; those guys are going to mature. We brought in two junior college players midyear. I look at midyear players almost as the NFL looks at free agents - as offseason acquisitions. Last year, we had four junior college players who contributed, we signed a fifth but unfortunately injuries prevented Jacky Candy from playing. Two of those guys started at offensive tackle, another was the aforementioned Newcomer of the Year, James Cleveland. Devin Mays returned a kick for a touchdown and is one of the fastest guys on the team. Tonga and Brown are two of the better junior college players in the country and they're coming here to start. They're going to be thrown into the mix very fast. Marcus McGraw is back as well as Phillip Steward, who started eight games as true freshman.
"Last year playing six true freshman was a positive and negative. We weren't as big as we wanted to be but at least they gained experience and we had bodies there. If there was someone here that could have played defense instead of one of those true freshmen, they would have played. Take Zeke Riser for instance. He started all 14 games at defensive end last year and he weighed 240 pounds the first game of the year. The other day at workouts, he weighed in at 262. He probably shouldn't have been played last year but we're going to be one year bigger, stronger and faster all across the line."
On Alton Demby:
"He's a very good player. I think Rivals ranks him as the third fastest safety in the country. He's the prototypical safety that we're looking for. He's built for speed and comes from a local high school, which is one of the best in the state (North Shore High School). He was recruited by a lot more schools than people realize. He's also a tremendous kick returner and it's probably obvious that I like those guys. He can probably play corner but he was in a situation in high school where he was playing safety. But with his closing speed and instincts, he has a chance to make an impact sooner rather than later. Maybe he could emerge as nickel back, he's pretty thick, can cover well and also has good tackling skills. The thing that impressed us first was his kick returning ability during his junior year."
On Demby being a `mama's boy':
"Yea, he is. I'm glad he is, that helped us get him here. I know for a fact because there were a whole bunch of teams that wanted him to leave. I'm very grateful he's a mama's boy because she made him come here."
On the Pearland Dawson commitments:
"Xavier Brown was the first commitment of our class. He committed about 10, 11 months ago and led the recruiting process for everyone. He probably had a better junior season than his senior season but he's still an exceptional running back.
"Darian Lazard is a guy who we offered early but decided to look around at some other schools. During the course of his great season, where he almost led his team to the state finals, he looked our way. He's a guy who we look for, a tremendous player in the Houston-area. I'm not sure where he's going to play yet because he can go so many ways. He's a winner, a good student, a leader and the sky is the limit for him."
On the incoming players who played quarterback:
"We have two quarterbacks who are proven winners - David Piland and Terrance Broadway. We also signed a couple other guys (Darian Lazard and Aaron Johnson) who played quarterback in high school and those guys have shown they are winners and competitors as well. We don't know where they're going to play yet. I talked to them about that and they don't care, they just want to come here to compete and become the best player they can be. A lot of people get too caught up in where someone played a position in high school. You take your best player in high school football and you play him at quarterback, where the best player can touch the ball every snap. We're fortunate to have a number of those guys who are multiple, natural leaders and proven winners."
On the two quarterbacks being recruited:
"There are two guys in particular that were quarterbacks in high school. We have an advantage on getting these guys out here in June and getting them involved with Coach Larry Jackson. His ability to get them out there and see what they can do strength-wise and everything else, like running through cones, is what two-a-days are for. We've proven we're going to put the best players on the field whether they've been here for five years or five days. It's our ability as a staff to figure out the best place for those two guys. Aaron Johnson is one of the better guys in East Texas; he comes from a winning program and is a smart guy, just like Darian Lazard. We can't have enough of those guys in our program; we will figure out where they belong on the field."
The summer bridge program has been big for us because freshmen are now entering college in June, before the season, I think that is why you see so many young guys playing. Since they come to school in June and July, they are able to make the transition a little bit easier, than back in the days when my dad drops me off and there's a hundred guys there and you go and get a playbook and get something to eat. You don't know anybody and you run out to practice and everybody yells at you because you don't know the plays. You have only been there for twenty-four hours. It gives you a chance to get acclimated to college life, know your surroundings, know players and know other students and really ease you into college life. It makes it a little bit more comfortable.
These guys are all excited about that, and as a staff we are excited, we have gotten to know these guys. I heard somebody in my office a few minutes ago say well it's not like the old days where we all just waited around and were hoping for some surprises today. Well I don't like surprises. So the way it is right now is we like to get our work done, and hang on to the guys who have committed to us and hopefully it will be about this surprising every year.
" Terrance is a dual threat. He is one of the better players in the country at his position. He can move and he can throw. He will give us a different type of guy, other than David Piland. When we set out and said we were going to get two quarterbacks, we were looking for a prototypical drop back guy and a guy that can move around. It gives us some flexibility.
On Terrance Broadway also being an Athlete:
"The two guys, he and David Piland, are the quarterbacks of this class. I have talked to the other two guys all through recruiting saying this is where you are we love to see what you can come in here and do. Whether or not you are going to become a wide receiver or defensive back. Terrance and David have strictly been the quarterbacks for us."
On Junior College players:
"Jackie Candy had an injury and he'll go through spring football, but it'll be interesting to see from the NCAA from a waiver standpoint because he was two-years to play two-years. We'll have to have a waiver so he can play another year, and if not, we'll have to approach it as him having one year to play. We could have used him last year."
On the players that were already committed:
"This class was done before football season except for two guys, which is why I was never really in a hurry to hire anyone as a coordinator. The players had indicated to me that that wasn't a big deal in their decision making."
On what he was looking for in recruits:
"We touched on every position with depth. If you look at it, we are a four-deep team. We have four receivers, we have four defense linemen, we have four defensive backs, and a couple quarterbacks. We have a good running back and we got a good tight end, which we needed. The goal after what happened last year was not only to continue to upgrade in talent, but also get depth, which we were successful at."
On the players being heavily recruited this year:
"It's going to be hard every year with the quality of players we're getting now. It's hard at the beginning and hard during the process. It's a credit to parents and it's a credit to some of the coaches at their high schools. There were a couple of cases where the high school coaches just said `This kid is committed to the University of Houston, he's made his decision, and this is where he's going to school.' Over the course of time, if you're able to recruit a kid in the right manner and give him the opportunity and not force him to make a decision, he's able to sit down with his parents and his coaches, make a decision and then it's done with. It's better than to come in and try to confuse guys at the last minute."
On whether it should be more difficult for freshmen to play: "I've watched freshmen playing in the National Championship game, so it depends on who you're recruiting. There's a limit of the number of scholarships and you're always going to upgrade your talent. I watched a bunch of top 20 teams play a lot of freshmen this season. I don't think you're ever going to see in any program a whole class of freshmen redshirting. The best players are going to play."
On offensive prowess helping recruit offensive players:
"It's helped, we've lead the country in the past couple of the years. The whole energy of the program has helped. We were able to get a couple of defensive players we wouldn't have been able to get a few years ago. Even our kicker watched us struggle early in the year and now he has the chance to come in and play with our punter graduating. It's not just offense; it's our whole program right now. Every player we signed today is a candidate to play."