CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois football coach Dale Lennon unveiled his 2014 recruiting class on Wednesday. The class is comprised of 18 incoming freshman, three transfers and seven priority walk-ons. Below is a transcript of the National Signing Day press conference.
Coach Lennon on New Signees
“When you watch film on him, he plays the center field very well. He kind of reminds me of Mike McElroyand his abilities. He has those instincts where he makes good breaks on the ball and we are excited to have him as a safety."
“This guy definitely fits into the mold of being a multitalented athlete. Not only is he a tremendous football player, his high school team won three consecutive state championships and he has been named All-State several times. The accomplishments go on and on for him; plus he's a state champion in the discuss.”
“He was under the radar because of the location of where he lives and the level of football they play. When you watch his tape, he dominates and it's fun to watch. It's like a grown man playing out in the schoolyard with some grade school kids knocking them over.”
“He could play several different positions, and we even considered defensive back, which is something he was open to. We want to start him off at the receiver position because he made an impression during the season.”
“The numbers that he put up are phenomenal; he set school records in just about every category that a quarterback could do. His one of those competitors that I really love watching compete on the field.”
“He's very impressive on film. He just hits people. He's very aggressive and very mobile. We've seen plays where recovers to tackle someone from behind.”
“We did a satellite camp in Chicago—the only camp he was able to make—and he was one of those guys who flew under the radar. He didn't get to many other camps in the summer but we really like what we saw from film on him. He's very athletic and we think he's another player that will develop.”
“His numbers are amazing. He was one of the top receivers in the state of Texas. Darrell is an athletic playmaker, which shows up on film. You'll see on film that there are times when he gets the ball and he just makes something happen.”
“He really fits the mold of what we were looking for. He did it all on the football field for his high school team. I envision using him a little bit like how we use Tay Willis. He's just one of those talented players that has good speed. We could use him in slot position and he's used to carrying the ball.”
“In our outside linebackers we look for speed and he has that. He has that burst where he can close fast on the ballcarrier. He has the size where I think he can be the physical linebacker we need for our 3-4 defense. He's relatively new to the game so I believe there is huge upside to his development.”
“He’s another highly decorated and noteworthy linebacker. He's a physical presence on the field and has a very aggressive game. He's very athletic.”
“He plays at the safety position but we feel we could play him at the corner. The film on him is at the safety position, where you see he has good feel and isn't afraid to stick his nose in there for a tackle.”
“When I watch film of him on the line, he moves the line. That's the thing we look for. He has the mentality of maintaining a block. He stays on a block and continues on a block long after the play is done.”
“We’ve had our eye on Kendric for a while. He also played some receiver at the JC level. He’s a very talented safety who could give us some immediate help in the secondary.”
“He impressed us right away. We saw him run the 40, and we knew he was somebody we had to keep an eye on. He had an incredible career at Tilghman and put up some impressive numbers, so we think we have another kid there who has a lot of good football in front of him and has the type of talent that you want in the secondary.”
“He’s highly talented and highly recruited. He can make all of the throws. He has the frame. He can do the deep corner throw and those out throws. Those throws that are difficult for a high school kid to make, he can make those throws, so we’re pretty excited about Sam coming here and competing at the quarterback spot.”
“We’re projecting him as an outside linebacker as kind of an edge-type player for us. He runs around. He makes plays. He’s disruptive. He has a good knack for the football, so we’re excited about Denzel being with us."
“We like his athleticism, especially the size potential there. Finding those tall corners that are capable of running, having those quick feet, being able to change directions, and break on the ball, that’s what we saw in Jefferson.”
Coach Lennon on Mid-Year Enrollees
“He started at Southern Miss and had some extensive playing time at the center position, so we think that’s a position that he can step up and contribute here in spring ball.”
“He’s a very talented quarterback. You look at his high school film, and he had that dual threat of running and passing. His numbers are very impressive, and we think he’s a guy that can fit in well to our offensive scheme here.”
“He had a great high school career. He had good numbers and was highly decorated. His dad played at the University of Minnesota so there’s some familiarity there with his background.”
Coach Lennon on Preferred Walk-Ons
“He played quarterback for Carterville. He had a great season for them and led them to a high level of success, and had some impressive numbers. We’re going to put him at the receiver position and let him make the team at that spot.”
“He’s also out of Carterville and he put up some incredible numbers at the running back position. He has those natural instincts that you look for in a running back, a good hard-nosed type player.”
“We’re going to put him at receiver. I like his feet, and I like his athleticism. I think he has a high ceiling as far as what his talent level can present.”
“He’s one of those guys who I think has a high level and has a lot of room for improvement. He’s a little thin, but I think he’ll grow into his body and be a pretty good player down the road.”
“He’s just one of those very active-type players that did it all for his team, so we feel that he’s going to be another good addition to the program, definitely a guy that can contribute.”
“He’s one of those big bodies. You watch him play, and he just moves people around, so we’re excited for Bryce to come here and be a part of the program.”
“He’s one of those athletes that just made plays all over the place and caught our eye. We weren’t able to extend an offer, but we wanted him on the team.”
Q: With only one junior college transfer and two FBS transfers, is that an indication that you’re happy with the current roster?
“The current roster is good. I like the number of returning players that we have. The second thing is that we’re not done recruiting. Recruiting has become year-round. Once we get past signing day, we’ll see what’s out there and who can help us and what we need. I never want to bring someone in just to sit on the bench. We want to make sure that we’re very selective anytime we bring somebody into the program.”
Q: Does the balance between offense and defense in this class imply that you’re pleased with the current roster?
“You’ll see where we’re thin in this class. We don’t have a lot of defensive linemen (in the recruiting class). Well, that’s because we have a lot of D-linemen right now. There are times where you won’t put as big of an emphasis on a certain position during a recruiting season. We wanted linebackers. That was an emphasis. We wanted people in the secondary. That was an emphasis. We’d still like to add a nose guard, so that’s something that we’re still looking for. On offense, we didn’t sign a tight end, but we’re still looking for that. Those are people that could still join us.”
Q: Was there an emphasis on getting quarterbacks after the graduation of Kory Faulkner and A.J. Hill?
“We lost two senior quarterbacks, so we brought two quarterbacks in. In camp, the number that I’m most comfortable with is five. Visiting with Coach Hill, who will be handling the quarterbacks, a lot of our philosophies are similar. You want to make sure your players can get enough reps to show what they’re capable of doing, and five is a good number in pre-fall. Spring ball is going to be very competitive at the quarterback position, and it already is competitive just in the offseason. That’s what we want. We want that competitiveness.”
Q: With three senior running backs on the roster, would you look for a transfer?
“We’ve had good fortune with transfers at the running back position. We want to make sure we have a certain level of player that’s capable of playing for us at that position. For next year, we’re fine, but in two years, that’s going to be a priority for us just like it was a year ago.”
Q: Most of the preferred walk-ons have impressive numbers. How difficult was it to convince them to come here?
“We just sell the school. Anytime that we deal with preferred walk-ons, I always tell them, this has to be a school that you want to be at. The academics have to be important. This has to be somewhere that you can see yourself. I think that the individuals that we signed like the school. They look the football program and everything that they saw. They probably had some Division II offers or maybe other preferred walk-on opportunities, but they felt that the fit was right for them at this point in time.”
Q: Will you utilize Darrius Spivey-Nunn at cornerback or safety?
“We talked about that in our staff meeting this morning. Did we want to list him as a cornerback or a safety? The simple answer today is that we’ll just call him a defensive back.”
Q: Are you considering not redshirting any of the incoming freshmen?
“I never know until we get to pre-fall. I tell each recruit coming in, your mentality is to prove to us that you want to play now. It’s our job to determine if they’re ready or not. Just because of the depth of the team we have coming back, I don’t think we’ll need immediate help like we may have in other years. So I think we can redshirt the majority of the class.”
Q: Many of the recruits, especially the offensive linemen are very tall. Was that a point of emphasis?
“We wanted to make more of an emphasis on that. We look at North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Towson and other schools that have been successful and what they look like. We’re going to go out and try to get players at that level so we can do what we want to do offensively.”
Q: You used the term athletic to describe most of these players. Are you to the point that you’re not plugging holes, and you’re bringing in athletes?
“That’s what we’re doing. The thing that I’m excited about is the athleticism of this group. I think that they’ll be a good complement to last year’s recruiting class. That’s the other factor that you have to consider, how it complements the last year’s recruiting class and even the class before that. I really do like the talent that we have now and the young talent coming up, so I think that bodes well for the future.”
Q: Is that a goal to get a lot of local kids with the preferred walk-ons?
“I want local players playing for us. We’re trying to find the best talent that’s out there, and if you can get some of the local players earning scholarships and getting their way onto the field, I’m all for that.”
Q: Quarterbacks coach Nick Hill was Shamarc Bursey’s high school coach. Was Shamarc already committed before Coach Hill joined the coaching staff?
“Shamarc visited before we hired Coach Hill, but I purposely send Coach Hill over to the high school to make the scholarship offer to Shamarc because I thought that would be a pretty special thing to have your high school coach come back and offer you a college athletic scholarship to come play for him.”
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