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February 3, 2016
Q: Coach mentioned being in scramble mode for the end. The three defensive guys that you took in the last couple days, why were they guys that you felt would be good fits?
TS: Well, when you talk about playing good defense upfront, we took two junior college defensive tackles, we felt like those guys good create an immediate impact. Those guys could come in and contribute right away. With TJ Johnson, we felt like he had really good length and that's something we need more of on the back end. He's a good athlete that challenges routes. He's a good tackler so we felt like he would best fit the position.
Q: You got to coach Brenon Thrift a little bit at Gateway (High School). What will he bring to the table? Is he a guy that's going to need a little more development or is he a guy that will come in and help out?
TS: We're not looking for him to come in and be a developmental guy. We're expecting him to come in and contribute. Hopefully he will get into the rotation up front at the defensive tackle position. He's a high-motor guy. He's really passionate about the game. He's a real smart football player. He studies the game. When you get guys from junior colleges and guys that are removed a couple years, they are a little more mature than the high school kids. They'll bring maturity to the locker room, understand work ethic and attack it in a professional manner.
Q: With some of the uncertainty at the end of the recruiting cycle, does it change anything about how you approach things?
TS: The one thing that we recruit by is to recruit these guys all the way to the end. Even when you have a guy who is committed in the prior months - I'll use Miles Sanders for example - he's been with us for a year and a half. You have to continue to recruit these guys because the moment you slack off, there are opponents that are coming at those guys. Our motto is to recruit until the fax comes through and that's when you can take a deep breath.
Q: How has the recruiting process changed from when you played?
TS: I think a lot of it is social media. These kids are just trying to out-do each other. They're trying to be creative in how they make announcements on how they choose a school. They're just trying to be creative and it's just a sign of the time. We just have to continue to recruit forward and have alternative plans.
Q: Defensive tackle and linebacker were perceived as big news for this class. How do you feel about how you were able to do that?
TS: Defensive tackle we truly upgraded the position. We have a lot of good talent upfront. We got different kinds of guys. We got some motor guys. We got some bigger, stronger and athletic guys. We got (Tyrell) Chavis in there. We got some quick athletic guys that will resemble the game of Anthony Zettel type guys. I feel like we did a really good job with seven guys up front. For linebacker, we brought Cam Brown in. He's athletic and gives us a good length at the position. We probably need to find one more guy. We have some injuries to deal with right now, but we feel like Cam Brown is going to come in and hopefully have an immediate impact.
Q: (Are the de-commitments) a sign of an alarming trend or what would you tell fans that are feeling uneasy? How do you move on from that? What does that kind of show?
TS: Like I said, it's a sign of the time. Guys are going to change their minds. You look at the media here and that's what everyone plays on, that's what the kids play on. Fortunately, kids have more resources to make more decisions and they play on that. I don't know if there's anyone thing that's negative against us, but there are over 300 decommits across the country so it's just a trend. We're just going to keep recruiting kids. The bottom line to it all is that we want kids that want to be here. Those are the kids that will help us win games on Saturdays.
Q: Is there more of a rivalry building with Pitt? Even though you guys haven't started playing them again yet?
TS: In my opinion, no. We talk about dominating the state and we have more top 10 recruits. We got the best player in the state of Pennsylvania. We got the top two players in the state of Pennsylvania, (Michal) Menet and Miles Sanders. We got the number one kid, the best kid out of Pittsburgh and Miles Sanders is going to be a great impact. We're getting the kids we want. We'll continue to recruit hard and be selective. Penn State's not a place for every kid out of Pennsylvania, but Penn State's a great place for the kids that we choose to bring to Penn State.