University of Arkansas head football coach Bobby Petrino held his 2010 Signing Day press conference on Wednesday. Below is a brief transcript.
Opening Statement: "We’re really excited about the football team we have coming in next year. We started our day with the team for their first early morning workout. We had our workout at 5:30 a.m. in the indoor facility. It went very well and we’re very excited to have the experience back, the athleticism and size that we need to compete. That part of the day went very well and I’m looking forward to see what they carry over from the previous years and to have these players that we’re bringing in, it will really become the kind of football team we want and that we need to have here at the University of Arkansas."
"First off, I’d like to thank our coaches. They did an excellent job of working and were very well organized. Coach Horton did a great job from day one with the organization. The effort, energy and excitement they put into it all the way up to the last hours. The best thing our staff does is they work hard, they work with great attitudes and they continue to recruit right to the last minute and I think that’s what we need to make sure we do."
"I’d like to thank our administration and what they do for us in recruiting. They give us everything we need to show the recruits that they can become the best possible player they can when they come on campus. Between our facilities, updated technology and everything we do in the weight room is a credit to the administration. The benefit to the recruit is they can develop into the best possible player they can. Our support staff did an excellent job. There’s no question it was a team effort. Everything we do in recruiting is a team effort. Our faculty did a great job to come down here on Saturdays and have breakfast and meet with the recruits. They take them back on to campus to the college. They spend time showing them the classrooms and showing them the curriculum that they are going to need to know to graduate."
"The last part is the players on the team. With the energy that they put in to recruiting, they give up a lot of their time on the weekends when we have recruits in here for visits. We put a lot of pressure on our guys and tell them we need their help to recruit and I think they did a real nice job of it."
"As I’ve said before when we go out and recruit, we have three areas. The first area is character, attitude, and intelligence. Those three things are very important to us and one of the things we really value is how those three things add up for each recruit. The second area is the measurable, their physical size, strength, speed and agility. The third part is basically their football skill, instinct and athletic intuition. We look at how they play the game. We feel as good about this class than any of the three that we’ve signed. We really identified what we needed and went out and worked hard at it and we battled to the end and did a nice job. One of the first things we looked for was defensive linemen. They’re always the hardest guys to find and they’re very important in this conference. I thought we identified some guys in that area and I thought we closed it well in the defensive front. The second area that was really important to us was the secondary. I feel like with the spread offense, you’re going to play more than four secondary guys in a game. We just have to be stronger through the four quarters. The third area we identified was speed, versatility and athleticism. We wanted to recruit guys that had the ability to play different positions. We had 10 players in this class that won state championships. It’s important that you recruit guys that have a history of winning. Academically, we’re excited about the guys we have coming in. We have a very good class of students that are committed to their academics and we want guys in here that have the ability to get their degree."
2010 Arkansas Football Signing Class:
On Calvin Barnett:"Calvin’s a defensive tackle, 6-foot-3, 330 pounds out of Tulsa. He’s a guy that we competed hard for and it came down to the last day. We’re very happy to have Calvin with us."
On Jatashun Beachum:"We call him an athlete/running back. He’s a very good football player. He wants to start off at running back and we see him as a running back. He might grow out of that, though. If he does, he could either play linebacker, defensive end, or even an h-back, tight end position for us. He’s an unbelievable athlete for the size that he is. When we first put the video on him, he reminded me a lot of a guy I coached at Louisville by the name of Michael Bush. He has such great feet in the hole when he runs with the football."
On Eric Bennett:"He’s an athlete who played quarterback at Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa. He’s a very athletic kid. He’s a true winner; he has a state championship under his belt. He was a great leader on that team. For us, he’s either going to play cornerback or wide receiver. We were fortunate to have him in camp and he did an excellent job at both of those positions. We kind of have him penciled in at corner, but don’t rule out the possibility of him playing a little wide receiver. He’s also a guy you look at and say he can be a great returner for us. He’s really exciting with the ball in his hand."
On LaCraig Brown:"This kid just keeps getting bigger. When we started recruiting him he was about 260 pounds but he’s gotten much bigger. We pulled up to his house the other day and he was lifting weights out in front of his driveway. He’s a big man who can really move. We’re really excited to have him. We’ll start him off at defensive end but he could possibly grow into an interior lineman on the defensive side of the ball."
On Eduardo Camara:"He’s a left-footed kicker that we’re really excited about. We had him in camp and he did an excellent job. He’s very accurate, gets the ball up in the air, and can get it away quickly. We feel like we got a very, very good kicker."
On Daunte Carr:"He was committed to Stanford so we know he’s a very good student. He’s a very quality young man. He plays free safety, is big and physical and can really run down hill and tackle. He also played receiver and made a lot of big plays catching the football. He’s the guy who also has the ability to grow into an outside linebacker or fall into that nickel position. We really like his size and quickness and ability to tackle."
On Luke Charpentier:"He’s a very good offensive lineman. He’s played all three positions along that offensive front. We see him as either a guard or center for us. He’s real big, physical, strong and very athletic. The one thing that stands out when you watch him is his toughness."
On Cam Feldt:"You know we’ve had Cam committed for a couple years now. We offered him right after camp when he was a sophomore. He’s been on our campus probably as much as any player that we recruited. Cam is a guy that just grinds and works extremely hard. He’s very talented. His dad is a football coach so he knows a lot about the game of football and understands offensive line play. Certainly he would be one of those guys that would have the ability to come in and contribute right away."
On Courtney Gaston:"He’s a big guy that can really run, with very, very strong hands, very strong arms. He’s a guy that has endless potential. I think he has the ability to read, run downhill, tackle and cover. That’s something we talked about a lot during recruiting is, we get longer at linebacker and taller at linebacker, your ability to cover is a lot better because quarterbacks don’t like to throw the ball when you have length and size in there. He’s a guy we think will be a very, very good football player for us, and we’re certainly happy to have him. He was also a rodeo guy. I don’t know if he won the state championship, but he is a very good rodeo guy."
On Brad Hefley:"He is a tight end/defensive end, he played both. When we actually started recruiting him he was a middle linebacker and a tight end, a very good football player. He’s gotten big. Again, we had Brad in cam. He spent a lot of time down here, he’s been to a lot of our meetings and he’s come to as many home games as he could. He’s just a guy I think that has endless potential. He’s big and physical, he can run, catch the football and then when he flips over on the other side of the ball he has the ability to rush the passer and play very physical on the point. He’s one of those guys you can play on either side of the ball. Certainly our tight end coach is fighting for him and our defensive coaches like him on defense."
On Javontee Herndon:"He’s a wide receiver/cornerback out of Jacksonville, Fla. and Bolles High School. He’s very, very impressive. He’s very fast, can really run with the ball after the catch and makes a lot of plays with his feet. I’ve had a lot of success recruiting Bolles High School. There’s a couple of guys on our staff right now that played for me, that were graduates from there. It’s a great school, a great academic school. The Sharpe brothers, one of them works over in the weight room for us, he’s our assistant strength and conditioning coach, and one is an intern for us over here in the football department who finished his NFL career and came over here to work for us in the fall. We were happy about that, so we have a little in there. You are going to find out that this young man is a very, very good football player."
On Zach Hocker:"He can do all three phases and we’re real excited about that. He’s a young man that can really punt the ball. He has to work on his technique and continue to improve on that. He’s kind of grown up with the idea that he’s a kicker and a kickoff guy, but really, really has a lot of talent in punting the football. He also has the ability to kick the ball through the endzone just about every time he lines up and that will certainly help us on the kickoff cover team. He is a very good kicker, so we’re excited to have a guy that can actually do all three. We certainly will be counting on him to contribute and compete for a spot right away."
On Julian Horton:"I had the pleasure of being able to watch Julian his sophomore year just about every Friday night. He played with my youngest son, Bobby, and is a very, very impressive young man. He can elevate, catch the ball in his hands, run with the ball after the catch, he can jump over and play cornerback. He plays the ball real well in the air at corner. He had a number of interceptions playing corner his sophomore year when I got to watch him, and one of the first things I did when we took the job here was make sure Julian understood that he had a place to come and play college football. We offered him, I think, when he was just a sophomore."
On Maudrecus Humphrey:"Certainly one of the top programs in the country; he has been very well coached. He is also a tremendous track athlete. His mom was a very good track athlete, I think she holds some records at UAB. His dad was a very good football player at the University of Alabama. We are very excited to have Maudrecus, he is a guy who can really run after the catch. He runs excellent routes, and he has Colby Hamilton type hands. He can extend his hand away from his body catch balls, elevate and catch balls. He is only going to get stronger and faster. He hasn’t spent a lot of time in the weight room because basically when football is over he is running track. He has been running track his whole life. I think his goal at the high jump is 6’10" and it certainly feels like he is going to get that."
On Jeremiah Jackson:"Jeremiah is a very good football player, very strong young man. We will start him off at defensive end. He played both defensive end and defensive tackle in high school. He has a very good ability to rush the passer. He is a very strong and physical guy. I am very excited about him, there is no doubt about that. He is going to be a good football player. He is young, he just turned 17, he is only going to get bigger and stronger."
On Bryan Jones:"This is obviously a guy we are very excited about. A great football player; he is very physical. The great thing about Bryan is that he seems to never come off the field. He played offensive tackle, defensive tackle, some defensive end, kicked the extra points for field goals for them, he is just a great football player. Obviously we feel that he will come in and contribute and compete to play right away, much like D.D. Jones did a year ago. He is a special, special football player, and we are very excited to have him. There was a lot of energy and effort that went into recruiting him with the entire staff and we did a great job in the recruiting process."
On Jarrett Lake:"Kind of an interesting story, we watched him play as a wide receiver, run around, catch the ball, elevate, jump, catch touchdown passes. We brought him into camp last summer and we said ‘hey we would like to see you play linebacker’. He jumped right in there and was a natural, instincts, movement, size, strength, physical ability, really looking forward to his senior year. Eligibility-wise because of his guardian moving, he wasn’t able to play at Jenks this year. He was committed to Oklahoma and Coach McGee did a great job of staying on him and turning him around. We were on the phone with him all through the night last night."
On Braylon Mitchell:"Braylon is a guy who can play either one. He can be that big back that we like, that is very physical, catch the ball in the back field, and the speed to go the distance. He also can go on the other side and play linebacker. When we started recruiting him he was strictly playing running back, he came to our camp, and did a great job at our camp. Then this year they played him at linebacker and he did a very nice job, he certainly has the size and speed to play both sides of the ball. We are looking forward to him. He is only going to get bigger and stronger. He is going to be a very good football player for us."
On Denton Simek:"Denton has been on our campus a number of times. He was committed to another school but we kept recruiting him, and he called us back about a week or so ago and his interest rate went way up and we were able to get him to become a Razorback. He is a guy that we really like his length. He has great arms, great athletic ability, he did have an injury this year and only got to play a number of games but he is a guy we think will play offensive tackle for us. He is going to continue to grow for us. We really like his athleticism, and his long arms, he will be a pass protector that will learn run block a little bit better."
On Chris Smith:"Chris is a special player. He can rush the passer, as good of first step coming off the ball as I’ve ever seen out of a high school player. He can really bend, accelerate. When we were at his high school speaking with coaches and a number of players, some that signed today, one or two with division one schools, one thing that always came up is that Chris was that fastest guy on the team. A couple prospects for next year, wide receivers, other positions, Chris was the fastest guy on the team, that was something that we were very, very impressed with. He was able to come over to our campus in the spring and made an early commitment and we hung on to it."
On Darrell Smith"Darrell is a guy who had a connection to Arkansas. He had a previous coach down there that moved to Arkansas. Darrell came up here over the summer, liked it, we started recruiting, he committed right away, and I was like ‘why is this guy committing so soon?’ One of the reasons was he had already been here on our campus and he really liked what he saw. He is another guy who fought through a lot of people coming after him and stuck to his commitment. I am really excited about him. We talked to his coaches, we talked to everybody at the school and the first thing they say about him is how tough he is, how physical he is, and how well he runs. We are really excited to add him to our secondary."
On Alan Turner:"Alan is a running back and safety, 6-0, 185 pounds from Junction City High School. We are going to line Alan up at safety. He is very physical, very fast and very athletic. I think he will be a very good football player for us. We are real excited to have him and we can’t say enough about Alan."
On Garrett Uekman:"Garrett Uekman is 6-4, 241 pounds. He is 241 pounds. He is from Catholic High School in Little Rock. Garrett is a guy that as you watched his video you said this guy can really run and catch the ball. He can jump, he can elevate, he can get down the field; he can run the corner route and catch the ball over his shoulder. Can he block? Can he play tight end for us? In this league can he block for us? My first question was: you are telling me he is 241 pounds, are you sure he is 241 pounds? So he came to camp, he is 241 pounds. There is no question about it. He came to camp to prove that he could play at the University of Arkansas and he did a great job of blocking. He can really shoot his hips, run his speed. He doesn’t do that a lot at his high school. He basically splits out, plays a lot of receiver type schemes in his high school, but he is very athletic. He is a great basketball player. He is the kind of guy I know will come in and compete and have a chance to play early for us."
On Marquel Wade:"Marquel Wade is 5-11, 180-pound wide receiver from Andrew Jackson High School. He is a very special player with the ball in his hands. Marquel can really make plays after the catch with his ability to run, his ability to return punts and kickoffs. He is real special. He is a guy who I think can be a great player for us. The last receiver that I coached from Andrew Jackson High School was a young man by the name of Arnold Jackson. He actually broke Jerry Rice’s record for the most catches in a career, I think it was 305 catches, at the University of Louisville, and Marquel reminds me a lot of Arnold. He is long legged, very fast, great hands and can really make plays after the catch. I think he is a very special player."
On Jacoby Walker:"Jacoby Walker is a quarterback who we already have on campus. We really liked Jacoby. One of the things that we were real impressed with about Jacoby is that he played from under the center and he played shotgun. We really liked his offense in the fact that he can already take a snap, drop back, get to the right mesh point. He is a very confident young man who is very knowledgeable about the game of football. I think that is one of the things that impressed Coach McGee when he went down and met with Jacoby for the first time. When you asked him questions, he could put your defense in his mind. When you asked him to draw something up on the board, he could draw it up. He really understands the game real well. He understands defense, he knows offensive schemes. He was very, very well coached at his high school and we are very happy to have him already on campus and he has done a nice job here. I think the one thing about Jacoby is that every person that has said something to me about our new quarterback is saying how nice a young man he is and how happy they are that he is here with us, and that means a lot. He is a very high character guy that will certainly be a good player for us."
On how this recruiting class will improve the defense:"I think we really helped ourselves on defense. That was certainly an emphasis. We understand that we are going to improve on defense, we have a lot of young guys coming back, but we needed to add some guys who could come in and contribute right away. On the defensive front, the size and the athleticism of the guys coming in on defense will certainly do that. We do feel like some of the guys in the secondary will come in and compete. The best part about it is that they are going to have to compete. The guys we have coming back with experience and that are getting bigger and stronger already and going to make them compete for playing time and have to take something away from. I am excited about that. I am excited about what we have coming back but also to add this recruiting class to it."
On Garrick McGee’s effect on recruiting:"Well Garrick obviously is from the state of Oklahoma, a Booker T. Washington High School graduate, a University of Oklahoma graduate. His father is basically a legend there as a football coach. One of the first things when I got the job here that was important to me was to try and get Garrick to come down here, bring him down to coach the quarterbacks and now to name him as the offensive coordinator. But he can walk in there and basically knows just about everyone in the city of Tulsa and that certainly helps. And then I think just his ability to continue to work hard and continue to keep recruiting. He certainly got a lot of help from the other coaches on the staff. We were able to get those guys over here. That is the biggest key; we were able to get them on our campus. I have always said once we get them on campus, we have as good of a chance as anybody out there because of our facilities, our support, our administration and our faculties. So it certainly helped that we were able to get them all on campus."
On recruiting the state of Arkansas:"I think it always changes according to the number of recruitable athletes you feel can come in and help you. I think we signed five from Arkansas. We feel real good about all five of them. They are very good football players, good students and they can come in and have a chance to compete right away. It is always going to change. I think next year’s class is a very good class coming up from the state. We are going to make that a major emphasis to recruit the state of Arkansas, no question about that. Unfortunately, our population is not a big as a lot of the schools that we compete against in the SEC. We have to expand beyond our borders to go find players. I think the way it ended up breaking down is that we signed five players from Arkansas, five players from Oklahoma, four players from Texas, three from Florida, two from Alabama, two from Louisiana, two from Georgia and one from North Carolina. So we certainly had to go different places to find players. I am real excited about the state of Arkansas and the football and the quality of coaching and like I said when I got the job, I couldn’t believe how many guys were throwing the ball in the indoor facility that they have and the job that they do coaching."
On the last few days of the recruiting process:"The last week gets a little bit wild. I think it continues to change. Recruiting is continuously changing, the early the commitments, the not staying committed, who the commitments are. The one thing we have to do is continue to work and have to have a good plan. We do a good job with our ranking system. We try to rank them and try to go get the number one guy on our list and then we work our way down the list. It’s quite the process. It’s a lot of fun, it’s a lot of stress but it’s rewarding when you stand up here at the end of the day."
On the class’s immediate impact:"We think it’s important for all of the signees to come in expecting to play as true freshmen. We don’t talk to guys about coming in and redshirting. I think it’s important that from today on, these guys put it In their minds that they need to be working on conditioning, flexibility, etc., so when it comes time lift and practice they don’t blow it off and think it doesn’t matter because they’re just going to e redshirted. Also, mentally we get to send them parts of the playbook and begin to introduce them to the terminology so they can start preparing to play right away. Then, we’ll evaluate them in the fall and see if they are indeed ready to play."