University of Arkansas Football Head Coach Bobby Petrino QuotesSigning Day Press ConferenceFeb. 4, 2009
Opening Statement“It has been an exciting day for us. I’m certainly fired up, very happy with the outcome of our recruiting class. We battled down to the end. I’m really proud of the way our coaches worked at it. I’m proud of the enthusiasm and the confidence that they used in recruiting. It wasn’t always easy, but they continued to get on the phone. They continued to recruit with a lot of confidence. They continued to sell the fact that we believe that we can get it done here, and they continued to recruit with a lot of enthusiasm. And the fact is, it has allowed us to get young men to visit our campus. I’ve always believed that the minute we can get them on campus, we’ve got a great chance to sign them. The facilities, the administration, the fans, and the state of Arkansas itself, we need to get them here and let them see that. We have great support from our administration, great support from our professors, and our academic staff, who gave up time over the weekends to meet with the young men, bring them back to their college, and really make their weekend a memorable moment and allow us to sign a class like we did. I’d like to thank our support staff, people who did a tremendous job of working throughout the year, organizing the coaches out on visits, bringing the players in, and then our training staff getting doctors here so we could make sure we get physicals done. And our video staff did a tremendous job of everything they did there. A lot of effort involved in it, a tremendous amount of organization involved in it, and today is the final product, and we’re very proud of it. I do want everyone to understand that this is a piece of the puzzle. You know, you don’t just win because you sign a good class or you think you’ve signed a good class. This is a good start. Something I’m real excited about is to give the coaches a couple of days off. I’ll give them Thursday and Friday off, but when we come back Monday we’re getting to work. And they’re going to be very enthusiastic with the players that we have here. I do take my hat of to the players that we have here. They did a great job of recruiting. They recruited with a lot of enthusiasm. They recruited with a tremendous amount of effort. And I think the honesty that they portrayed to the recruits when they got on campus really, really helped. And the confidence that they showed in the coaching staff and in what we’re doing, and in the improvements that we’ve made throughout the season really helped us with this class. We basically identified two areas that we wanted to look for in recruiting, two categories that we wanted to grade each recruit in. The first category consisted of character, honesty and intelligence. The second category consisted of size, speed and ability. Included in that is competitive speed and burst and quickness. It’s not something that we just track; time is important, it is the competitive speed, the ability to change direction and the ability to burst. The third category is the football skill, the football instinct, and the athletic intuition. A lot of times when you see these young men, they grade really high in the first category and they have great character, great attitude, and very good intelligence. They also grade high in the second category where they’ve got the size and the speed that you’re looking for. Or maybe their football skill hasn’t quite developed quite yet. That is the guy that you really want to continue to recruit. That is the guy you go and take another look at him. You go and watch them play basketball, you go and see how he competes, because if you have the first two you can develop the football skill. You can develop it with the great attitude, the size and speed that you are looking for. But sometimes some of the best players that you get are young men that have only been playing football for two or three years. Some have grown up maybe playing basketball, or doing something else, and all of a sudden now you get into football and you can develop at a later age in football, at certain positions. I certainly feel good about some of the guys we got that did that.”
On Knile Davis“He is a guy we really like on video. He’s got size, and speed, great balance. I think that was one of the things I liked most about him his balance and the way he can change direction. He is doing a nice job here, he graduated early, enrolled in school, and is now in our weight program and I am really fired up about that.”
On Broderick Green“He fits into our category that we talked about since we’ve gotten here, the big running back. We’re excited about that. He’s shown a tremendous amount of burst in high school, speed in high school, he’s been working very, very hard in the weight room, our strength and conditioning staff is very impressed with his work ethic and his explosiveness. He’s a guy that has one of the highest vertical jumps that we have on the team, at 240lbs., that says a lot for his explosiveness.”
On Andru Stewart“Andru is a well-rounded player that can play a variety of positions. He can play cornerback, nickelback, safety; he did a nice job at all of them. We are going to start him at a corner position, and also compete to be our nickel or dime in those packages. He’s a guy we really liked, he is fast and has good speed, and he is a very good hitter.”
On Alvin Bailey“Alvin is a guy we are very excited about. He is physical, he plays the game with the type of effort and enthusiasm that you want an offensive lineman to play with. He’s got a little nastiness to him and I think we will put him as a guard. He played both guard and tackle in high school and did a very nice job there.
On Neal Barlow“Obviously, here we like his height. He’s going to cause some matchup problems. He is also a guy that can get across the line of scrimmage. He not only has good height and good change of direction and is able to burst off the line of scrimmage. We watched him play basketball and they were encouraged by his athleticism, ability to jump, and get off the floor. “
On Colby Berna“We offered a scholarship to him as a junior and I think he was probably our first junior commitment and has done a tremendous job of sticking to that and fighting everybody else off of him that came in and tried to recruit him. He is very talented and is a good athlete and is one of those guys that you know is going to grow and get bigger and stronger and get to the weight where you want them. He has the ability to play either tackle of center so when we bring him in those will be the two positions we look at him to play.”
On Shauntez Bruce“We are excited about Shauntez, he actually played tight end a lot last year at that time he was about 290 lbs. and was running down the field catching passes. He is very talented and very athletic and is light on his feet. “
On Ryan Calendar“He is a tremendous athlete, and he was another guy that committed early and really had a lot of schools try to come in on him and make a push and he did a great job of holding to his commitment, but man is this guy an athlete. He could play tight end for us. He can run down the field, jump and catch the ball in his hands. He played a lot of outside linebacker and blitzed off the edge and really shows a tremendous amount of speed and bursts and change of direction. He is only going to get bigger, he has played three different sports all his life, football, basketball and baseball. He hasn’t spent as much time in the weight room, but you know he is going to get bigger and stronger and going to get better. “
On Rudell Crim“Rudell is a young man that Paul and I have known for a long time. We were recruiting him out of high school when he was a running back. It is a school where we got two of the players I signed my first year at Louisville and they did a great job for us. He played high school football with Michael Smith and they are very close. He has a very close family and that helped us throughout the recruiting process. I believe he was the number one ranked defensive back in junior college. He can play a lot of positions. He believes in his mind that strong safety is his best position and we like him there. He played corner his freshman year and did a tremendous job. He gives you a lot of flexibility.
On David Gordon“David might be as fast as I’ve seen on video. I’m really excited about his speed and stride. I joke around to our defensive coaches all the time that he might be too fast to play corner. He played some running back this year and made a lot of big plays. He has real good instincts at corner. He was impressive in our camp. He is not only a great athlete, but he has a great work ethic and he is very coachable.
On Cobi Hamilton“We battled hard to get Cobi. We felt all along that we had a good chance. I had to relax and set back and let it play out. He’s a great football player. We wanted to get taller and longer in this class and continue to work on getting faster and Cobi fit that category. He’s very tall and long and he can take it all the way for a touchdown any time he touches it. I think he’s going to be a very good football player for us.
On John Henderson“I think John is a very good football player. One of the things we were looking for was energy and John fits into this category. He wasn’t on campus for more than an hour or two and knew every recruits name and portrayed a tremendous amount of energy. He’s very quick and has a possibility to play the nose and the three technique for us.
On Ricky Hughey“We list him as an athlete. He can play a lot of different positions. This year he played wide receiver and they also handed him the ball. He played defensive end. We had him at camp and we liked him at wide receiver. We thought he might grow out of that position as a guy who is really big and long and who could really rush the passer. We will get him here and figure out what position is best for him.
On DeQuinta Jones“He is probably the last commit that we got this morning. We are really happy to have him. He’s big and can change direction. He can rush the passer. He has great hands and the thing I think that showed on video is that he has a great motor.”
On Anthony Leon“We are very excited about him. He has a great vertical jump and has great physical ability. He will change our look in the secondary as far as looking bigger and stronger. He fits that category I’m talking about getting taller and getting longer and faster on defense. That is something I think is real important on defense to make it harder on quarterbacks. Sometimes the passing lanes don’t look as open. He was a very good player out of high school.
On Kevin Lowery“Kevin played offensive line as a junior and we really liked him. As a senior, they flipped him over to defensive line and we liked him a lot. We were able to get out and watch him in person and he’s another guy that plays with a tremendous motor.”
On Brandon Mitchell“I’m fired up about Brandon. When we first started this process we had a quarterback committed and didn’t know if we would take two quarterbacks or not. We actually stumbled into Brandon a little bit when one of the players who had committed to us had a head coach who was coaching an all-star game. He told Coach Robinson you need to get down and see this guy. He picked up the offense in three days, he can throw the football and he can run, but most importantly he’s very sharp. Coach went and saw him and started the recruiting process. He gives us a little different flavor because he can create some plays with his legs and speed. In this day and age with all the speed you see on the defensive line and in this conference he really excites me with his ability to do that.”
On Jerry Mitchell“Jerry is a guy that came up here in the summer came on his official visit early during the season, committed to us and again he held on and stayed true to his commitment. We’ll start him out at corner. He’s played both cornerback and safety I really like his long arms with good speed. He also did some returning and he’ll be a good player for us.”
On Austin Moss“Austin is a young man that is a very good football player. His dad Mickey Moss is his head coach and being a coach’s son I appreciate when you go out and recruit a coach’s son because he grew up at it and he knows what football is all about and he has great instincts. He’s not afraid to pull the trigger and run through when something shows and make great hits. He’s a guy that will come in and I think compete for some playing time early. “
On Colton Nash“Colton is a young player he’s been a basketball player, played defensive end the last two years and he has played tight end. I think that there will be a little bit of interest at seeing which is his best position defensive end or tight end. He’s a very good basketball player that can get up and down the court and I was able to watch him practice in basketball. We are really excited about his athletic ability at that size and there is always a chance that he grows out of the defensive end spot and moves to a defensive tackle, he is very athletic at that size. “
On Anthony Oden“We are very excited that (Anthony) signed with us he’s going to play offensive tackle. He is an unbelievable athlete a year ago when we announced him he had been playing tight end and he would run down the field and catch the ball at 6-8, 298 so you know it’s a good thing we got him back and we look forward to getting him on campus early in the summer. “
On Ross Rasner“Really he did everything in high school for (Reicher). He played mostly linebacker, running back, quarterback, he ran the ball a lot and I think he was the player of the year in that area and he is a very good football player. He’s going to remind a lot of you all of Tony Bua because of how physical he plays and the way he can run and hit. We are real excited to have him and we plan on starting him off as a safety and then seeing where he grows from there, but he is very physical and he is very fast.”
On Lance Ray“He’s a guy we are real excited about and he fits into that category of continuing to get taller longer and faster, he does a great job with the run after the catch and we really like the way that he can get down the field. He has a great vertical jump, he is one of a couple of guys that we have that has over a 40 inch vertical jump and he shows a tremendous amount of courage going across the middle to catch the football. “
On Travis Swanson“Travis will come in and play offensive guard or center. He is a guy that we are real excited about, he has gotten bigger since he was here this summer in camp. He came to camp and did a great job in our summer camp competing and going against the defensive lineman. He showed a tremendous amount of athletic ability and he’s continued to get bigger. I think when he was here at camp he weighed 274 so he has worked real hard in the weight room he’s kind of a nasty player that likes to get after it and we are excited about what he will bring to our offensive line. “
On Austin Tate“He can run down the field, get vertical, has a tremendous amount of speed, has great hands and a real natural ability to adjust to the football in the air, I think that is the one thing that when you started watching him as a junior and you saw the way he could adjust to the football and jump and twist his body and judge it and slow down that he is going to be a guy that you picture coming in in his younger years and really contributing in the passing game and then growing into that tight end that can help you be on the ball blocking as well as passing. He has a great work ethic and he is a great athlete and he was also a three sport athlete”
On Robert Thomas“Robert is a nose guard, he is big he is physical and he is very fast. He is a guy that came into our camp and by noon Coach Allen was saying we have a guy here we might want to consider offering. He kind of came off the radar, but he competed extremely hard there and we got some of his video and we are going to have to trim him down a little bit he’s grown past that 300 lbs. right now since football has been over, but he is back in the weight room working hard now. He has a very good motor and plays hard and we are real excited to have him.”
On Zhamal Thomas“Zhamal was a young man that we thought we were going to get in here he signed with us at mid-year and wasn’t able to transfer at that time, and we stayed on him and he stayed committed to us and we are excited to have him, he signed with LSU out of high school and went there and transferred back to the junior college and is a guy that will be able to come in and hopefully be able to compete to play right away. He’s got the physical size and the experience where he should be able to come in and compete for some playing time."
On Terrell Williams“Terrell is another guy that came to our camp this summer when he came to camp he had been playing quarterback and wide receiver. We worked him out at wide receiver in the morning and were very impressed with his athletic ability and we moved him over and asked him if he would work out with the linebackers in the afternoon and he kind of got excited about that and went over and worked with Coach Johnson. He had a very good year this year, he won a state championship there and we see him as being a great football player for us. “
On Turell Williams“He played both (running back and linebacker) in high school. He did a great job running the ball, but every time we’d go in and meet with him and talk to him he talked about being a linebacker and wanting to play linebacker so he will come in and start out at linebacker because that is what he wants to do and that is his choice and then we will find out what his best fit is and where he can get on the field the fastest. He is a very physical runner and a big guy that is going to continue to get bigger and faster. “
On Ronnie Wingo Jr. “I thought our staff did a great job of recruiting Ronnie, it was a team effort, I think we sent almost every single coach on the staff to St. Louis to see him and we got to know his family real well and got to know him real well and we battled hard and were very happy when the fax came in this morning. He is a running back that not only has the size that we identified we were looking for but really has that second gear that he can make the long homerun for touchdowns. One of the games we watched this year I think he had six touchdowns and over 400 yards rushing, so we are real excited to have Ronnie with us.”
On Darius Winston“We are very excited to have Darius, I remember sitting up in a small office up stairs and I was with one of our graduate assistants watching video and we were trying to find somebody on the video and all the sudden the number 23 keeps popping up and I said ‘who are we looking at find the number’. Obviously, we weren’t looking at number 23 but it kept popping up so I said ‘let’s get on the phone and find out who this guy is’, and immediately we called Tim (Horton) and Tim knew everything about him, aunt and uncle’s names, where his mom worked, and said they were already on him and recruiting him, but he is a guy that can really play the corner spot and we don’t look for him to play anything else. We want to get him out there and let him cover, he can come up in press coverage and bump and run, he can play off, break on the ball, make plays with his hands and he is a tremendous tackler, and I think that is what stood out as much as anything is how physical he is playing that skilled position.”
On recruiting nationally“It was important. I thought we did a great job in the state of Arkansas. Every home I went into we got the young man in the state of Arkansas. We did have to expand. We are going to go into Texas every year. We are going to go into Florida, Alabama, Georgia, but we also identified some areas we need to get players and recruited nation-wide at some of those positions. We went back to some of the contacts that some of our coaches had. We went to California, because that is where Willy Robinson grew up in the valley. Coach Horton was adamant about getting back into St. Louis because there has always been a good tradition there. I think what we did a good job of as a staff is last year when this day was over with we sat down and said how do we get better and where do we go. You always try to identify the positions you think you are going to recruit, but you have to have some flexibility.”
On recruiting defensive backs“We first identified a need for offensive and defensive linemen and I think we did a good job of hitting that . It was an emphasis in the secondary. We wanted to get bigger, faster and more physical there. Last year, we played with a lot of young guys there and they grew up and got better. They are going to compete extremely hard. I think the competition we will have when everyone gets here on campus will make everybody better.
On playing freshmen“Last year, we knew we had to play more freshmen than we would have liked. It would be nice to get back to playing six to eight a year. The one thing that you do as these guys sign today is starting tomorrow they need to prepare themselves physically and mentally to come in and play as true freshmen. They need to challenge themselves to get into condition to play. We will need some to contribute, but I don’t think we will need 16.
On recruiting a punter “There is still a good chance we will sign a punter. One thing I learned from Coach Smith a long time ago is patience is a good thing. We want to make sure we did a good job of identifying those guys and getting to know them and we will continue to recruit them.”
On the LSU win helping recruiting“I think it helped a lot. It helped our players’ mindset going into the offseason. It helped us getting out on the road recruiting. The best part about that game is since it is on the Friday after Thanksgiving I think everyone in the country watched it. I think every house I went into they watched the LSU game. They saw the last catch and they saw us compete. They saw how much enthusiasm our players played with.
On having a class ranked inside the top 15“This is part of the process as we build the foundation for our program. Recruiting is certainly a big part of that. You see us ranked No. 14 nationally. One thing we try to say as a staff is for us to beat them on the field we need to compete and beat them in the recruiting process. We want to be ranked. It is important to us and the guys who look to come here next year. We are trying to build momentum. Now we have to work extremely hard at the next phase, which is to get our football team better.
On surprises on signing day“We had been on DeQuinta Jones forever and he showed a crack and we tried to make it bigger. I think that was a big get for us. We worked hard at it. A lot of the guys we had been recruiting for a year and that really helped us. Our guys building relationships with their coaches and being on the phone. Our coaches did a tremendous job during the season. It wasn’t always easy to show excitement through the recruiting process, but we did it and fought hard and it certainly paid off.
On recruiting“There is no question we can recruit the best athletes. We are going to compete and work to do that. You have to be able to take some right hooks and get up and go again. You know you aren’t going to be able to get them all. We want to compete just like it is a game and go in there and compete for the best guys. I truly believe if we get them here on campus and they get to see the city of Fayetteville and the surrounding area their eyes open up. They see what we have here. We use all the visits we have and get them to campus. They get the opportunity to see what the people and our fans are like here and we will compete for the best. I truly believe our student body and the fan base, the professors, the academic support staff are behind Razorback football.”
On playing true freshmen“There are guys that will come in and compete. They are eager to get our strength and conditioning manual. They believe they will come in and play right away and some of them will. You look at three things with a true freshman. Are they physically ready to play? Are they mentally ready to play? Do you have the need? If someone fits into those three categories they will play. You also have to take into account the elite athlete. If a guy has the ability to play at the next level they will play and I will hope they are here for four years.”
On recruiting“I really never thought about how well we would do. We wanted to make sure we filled our needs and we wanted to go out and compete against everyone else. I’m proud of the coaches. I’m proud of the way they recruited. We went out and identified the players in our areas and found players that could help us win and compete for a national championship. Then you team recruit and it is well organized. I’m happy with the class. Now our expectations get higher.”
On Coach Smith and his coaching duties“Coach Smith will coach outside linebackers. That way we keep all the continuity with the defensive front and inside backers. Coach Robinson will handle the entire secondary, which he has done most of his life. Coach Smith will be able to have input on both ends with guys up front and in the secondary, which I feel real good about.”