Head coach Matt Wells held a press conference Wednesday to discuss the 2014 Signing Class.
Feb. 5, 2014
LOGAN, Utah -
Utah State football head coach Matt Wells held a press conference Wednesday to discuss the 2014 Signing Class. A complete transcript of Wells' remarks can be found below.
Head Coach Matt Wells
Opening comments on signing class:
"The first thing I want to say is that I'm really proud of our staff. This is a really great signing class. It's a little different than last year. This has been something we've been working on for 12 months. I remember this time a year ago we'd just gotten done looking at a bunch of 2013 kids. There are several on here that we offered on this day a year ago. It's kind of neat and satisfying for us as a staff to see the culmination of our efforts come down to signing a kid and getting to talk about him publicly."
"Our staff did a tremendous job. There is a great chemistry with our staff and coaches with teamwork. It very closely resembles our players on the field. We team-recruited a lot of these guys. Each coach is assigned a geographic area and then recruits his position, but we did a lot of team recruiting where we doubled guys up, especially late in the year. A lot of these recruits that we're going to talk about are products of that team recruiting. I'm really proud of our coaches."
"When I say team recruiting, I also mean when the kids come on campus. It's a team effort from our strength coaches, our trainers, our doctors and our equipment guys to the graduate assistant, the administration staff, JT (Jason Thomas) and his staff and all the way through today with Doug Hoffman and his staff and the job they do to put this thing together. It's a team effort on this campus. President (Stan) Albrecht and (Vice President and Athletics Director) Scott Barnes are very highly involved in our recruiting process when these kids get to campus. It makes a big impression on parents and the recruits as well. It's a team effort. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention everybody who had a hand in signing these guys."
"The biggest thing I look at is that this class is a direct reflection of our program and the blueprint that we have used to build it over the last several years. A year ago I sat at a podium next door and talked about the blueprint for Aggie football and how it wasn't going to change. I think this class shouts out that it's not going to change. You look at it and we have nine signees from the state of Utah, seven kids that are sign-and-send mission guys, we've got nine players that are going to add to our Polynesian pipeline. There are eight junior college kids that are going to come in and fill some immediate needs from a depth standpoint and a productivity standpoint. We lose several key seniors off of last year's bowl win team. Those are the things that I see have been met and that jump out to me. When you look at this class from an overall perspective, you see the four kids from Florida, four kids from the state of Texas, and really every one of these kids have gone all the way through the process with us, whether through the full year or since the summer. There was really only one kid that we really got on in the last 10 days. That was something that just happened really short here, though it was researched thoroughly."
"In the big overall picture, we had big needs at defensive line and big needs at linebacker. I think both of them were met from depth standpoints. There will also be some guys that will be added to that that we won't talk about yet. We won't release that yet, but they're going to add to us and be able to play immediately next year. You look at the height on that list and except for the running backs and the corners, there's a lot of length. We've added athleticism and length to our program. We've got two running backs and two wide receivers that are junior college kids that will fit right in. They'll walk in and immediately play a role. What role that is will be determined once they get here, but both those junior college receivers will do that. We've got a long, athletic tight end from Florida (Marcus Mosley) that had a lot of things going on and a lot of opportunities. Then there's a quarterback who will fit here really nicely. He fits exactly what we want from a quarterback, and I'm talking things that you can't read on paper. We're excited about him."
On signing just one quarterback and if it had anything to do with Darell Garretson's success:
"Very rarely are we going to bring in more than that. In direct answer to your question, no, it didn't have anything to do with Darell. We'll always bring in a quarterback in every class as long as I'm here. That's a key position on the football team. You have to have somebody special. Darell played really, really well. He was 6-1 as a starter and not a person in this room thought he could be 6-1 a year ago at this time. The job he did was awesome."
"I think Kent Myers is a special player, I really do. That high school (Sachse HS) is a very good high school. That high school became great when he became the starting quarterback. He threw for a ton of yards. His touchdown to interception ratio is huge to me. The kid is stingy with the football. You look at his tape, not just a highlight tape, but thoroughly investigate him down after down, and you will see what he did on third down, it's impressive. He's got moxie. He has great character and a great family. I think he's got a bright future. He carries himself well. He's very similar to Darell and Chuckie (Keeton) in those ways. I'm very pleased with signing Kent Myers. He was the first kid we went after right after the bowl game and we got him. He's been loyal to us through the last 10 days."
On out-of-state recruiting in Florida, Texas and California:
"Those have been areas that we didn't really change a whole lot, we were just really aggressive about what we wanted from Florida, Texas and California. California is a little different from those two with a lot more junior college kids. We put three coaches in California, two in Texas and two in Florida. You emphasize where you put your guys and time and effort. We've got connections in all three of those states. What you're seeing is a result of a lot of the previous connections that our staff had when they walked in her a year ago."
On flipping players, such as Joe Tukuafu, from other schools:
"I'm really excited about Joe. He's been on our radar for a long, long time. He'd been committed, as everybody knows. More than anything, Joe made that decision and he feels like he fits here. It's the best situation for him in his mind. To get a guy like that from a powerhouse high school like East with the job that they do and the kids that come out of there is a major boost for Utah State and our recruiting efforts in state. Joe is a product of team recruiting. That's Mark Weber's school. He's been recruiting him for a year and then Frank Maile had a huge hand in the process as well as some of our graduate assistants. It's a team recruiting effort right there."
On the impact of Aggie alumni Robert Turbin and Bobby Wagner winning the Super Bowl:
"I think it helps. I don't think it landed anybody, but it generates publicity. It's branding, marketing and imaging. That's really important in recruiting. Recruiting is presenting your product. I don't think we have to sell Utah State. Presenting Utah State is really easy for us as an administration, professors and coaches. All we do is present our university and the things we can offer them from an academic standpoint. If everyone this spring graduates on time (we have seven left) that's six-straight years of every senior football player graduating. That's a big deal."
"I think the football success speaks for itself in 20 wins and back-to-back bowl wins the last two years. That stuff starts speaking real loudly. When you look up on Super Bowl Sunday and see two Aggie players playing and what they've done, it's huge for us. It sheds a great light. I think the thing we all said when we were walking into those homes before the Super Bowl was, 'Hey when you flip on the TV, those kids aren't ex-Aggies, they're alumni. They're graduates. They left here with their degrees.' You put all those things together and the exposure that they give. I saw a picture tweeted out the other day of Robert Turbin at practice wearing his Utah State sweats, that's huge. Then with the performance Bobby Wagner had in the game, which was unbelievable, it's great. Those kids care about Utah State. They come back and they're around and visible. Everything matters. None of that is going to sign a kid, but it all matters and it's all important."
On the impact of a Mountain West Championship game appearance and bowl win:
"You're going to have to ask those guys, I don't know that. We've been in three-straight bowl games, we won a division championship and we won a conference championship last year. We've got three rings in here and a lot of wins in the last two-and-a-half years. Kids know we're winning football games. We're doing it the right way. We're winning a lot of games. They know where we finished and I think it speaks volumes in this state."
On Logan Rice and having a Cache Valley native:
"What's scary good is that Logan reminds us a lot of B.J. Larsen and Jordan Nielsen and the other valley kids who are tall, long and skinny. In about 24 months they're not going to be skinny anymore. Logan's got a lot of athleticism, length and reach. He's light right now and underdeveloped. We'll get him in here, add weight to him and get him strong. I think he's got a bright future here."
On the junior college players all listed as defensive ends:
"Edmund (Faimalo) reminds me a lot of Al Lapuaho in that he's a combo guy. He can play the four-technique and the nose. We'll see if Siua (Taufa) can do the same thing come spring ball. We listed them as defensive ends, but I think we listed Gasetoto Schuster as a nose guard and he'll stay inside. There are a couple of those guys that I think can be combo guys."
On adjusting to the age change in LDS missionaries:
"We didn't miss a beat. It's the same thing Gary (Andersen) did when he walked in here. We've been sign-and-send ever since. We didn't miss a beat. It really didn't have anything to do with us as far as planning and timing and all that stuff. We encourage it, we open our arms to it and it's a vital part of our program. We've got 40-something kids in the program now who are a part of the mission program, whether that's guys who are currently serving, home or going out. I think it reflects in these seven kids right here and we'll have a couple more. It's a big part of this program and we open our arms to it. We're expanding the footprint."
On climbing up the Mountain West through recruiting:
"Length and athleticism are huge. You have to have a quarterback to win in this league. There's not a league out there you can't win without a real quarterback. We have some of those on campus and we just added another one. We look to compete for that championship again this year. We want to get down to that last series with the ball in our hands to win the championship. We need to replace linebackers and defensive linemen and guys in the back end. I think we met those needs. We got two junior college wide receivers that I think will come in here and play a role. Hopefully we'll expand on that role as the year goes on and we get into Mountain West play. There are a lot of parts to the puzzle that have yet to be solved, but I think the pieces are starting to come together. They don't all fit yet, but they're out there and we're getting them."
On the signees who are already on campus:
"They're going to get thrown into the fire right out of the gate. Chase (Christiansen) and Ian (Togiai) are two in-state kids that are tall, can run and will hit you. Chase played a lot of quarterback and really impressed us day-after-day here at our camp. Those guys are tough. They're in here right now working with Coach (Dave) Scholz lifting and running. I think they've got a bright future. Being early enrollees right now going through off-season and then into spring and summer, those two guys will have a chance to compete in training camp. This gives them the best chance that they can compete at a spot where we need a little bit of depth."
On adding depth to the tight end position:
"Landon (Horne) will come in and be a role-player right out of the gate. When I say a role-player, that to me is defined as simply being, 'You're on the field, how much you're on the field depends on you now.' We'd love to base out of 12 as best we can. He gives us that flexibility to add another H-back type kid. He's going to be a good player on special teams."
On the junior college wide receivers and the impact of the receivers as a whole:
"Both of those receivers turned down some good schools to come to Utah State, I'll just say that. That's only part of the deal. Can they still play and get in here and learn it? Those guys will be here all summer and are excited to play with our quarterbacks here. That helps recruit receivers too, in case anybody is wondering. It helps to have a good quarterback sitting in here when they come in on the weekends."
On the last-minute commits:
"There were some of those. It isn't just figuring out who they are and starting to recruit them late. Those kids have a lot of choices. The kids that do that have a lot of good choices and a lot of good programs. As they take their trips, it takes awhile to make the decision. The recruiting calendar this year, the way that it changed, had something to do with that too. We were really limited. We were up against the clock in our program. Because of the championship game in December, we didn't have anybody on campus. We had to move half of those visits to the next weekend and half of them into January. We only had 12 kids come on campus in December and we only used four days out recruiting that month. We were in an early bowl game and in a championship game. I want that problem every year. I will trade that and the exposure of both of those games and opportunities for that challenge."
"That's a challenge in recruiting now. I only got out two days in December and the other nine guys on our staff got out three, maybe four. They were missing practice to get out on those days. That put us up against the clock. You come in in January and only have three weekends. Usually there are four. We had bigger weekends and then only had two weeks and one day to go out in January. It was a crunch at the end. I think that's why you saw a flurry here for eight days or so of late commitments. These kids have real offers and have to go on trips. Some of them we made cancel trips and some we had to just swallow and take a deep breath and wait. Just like this weekend we had a half a dozen kids on this list that were on trips to really good schools this weekend. We had to wait until Sunday night and into Monday and Tuesday for them to make their decisions. I think that's what you're seeing. It's a result of the recruiting calendar and us playing really well and not having time to get out in December."