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Feb. 5, 2014
Signing Day Press Conference Transcript - Recruiting Coordinators February 5, 2014
ANDY FRANK - Director of Player Personnel
Q: Can you talk about your role?
A: My role here is to assist in the recruiting process and help us recruit the best players in the country so our coaches have the best chance to win. Our staff came here to compete for Big Ten and National Championships. The way you do that is by recruiting great players, great people and student-athletes that you'd want to go to battle with week in and week out.
Q: What does your day-to-day agenda look like?
A: I'm am more of the organizer, I don't do any of the recruiting myself. We've got a great staff of coaches that are all very good recruiters, which makes my job a whole lot easier. I'm the logistics guy; I'm setting things up and trying to get these guys in the right places. I deal with all of the behind the scenes issues like travel and everything that it entails. Also I divide the country into recruiting areas. Coach [Franklin] talked about how we want to dominate the state and dominate the region and it's part of my job to figure out where we need to be, what the best places are for us to recruit and how to get the right people in the right places to let them do their work.
Our coaches can really recruit; everybody from top to bottom. There are a lot of staffs out there that there is one or two coaches that are the key recruiters and you'll see year in and year out those guys are signing fifty-percent of the class. With this staff our recruiting is going to be pretty well spread out. There will be times when there will be bumps and spikes in who signs the most guys, but everybody on our staff is going to recruit. We're going to recruit from a perspective of having an area coach recruiting, then also using a position coach, coordinator and our head coach. We want to recruit players with all of our coaches and have everybody on the staff recruit him so that he can say he was recruited by everybody on the staff and he felt like he was recruited by the entire Penn State coaching staff.
Q: Can you talk about the challenges you faced coordinating everything when you arrived?
A: Time was obviously the first challenge when I arrived. I got here and we had two weeks left and I was trying to basically squeeze a year recruiting into two weeks. Fortunately for us we were able to keep a great group of guys that were previously committed to Penn State when we got here. The first order of business was contacting those guys and going out and recruiting them. It was helpful for us that they we had a good grasp on the region and that they [the recruits] were all right here [in the region]. That made it easier for us to get our coaches on the road and make some home visits. We were able to meet their families and begin to build a relationship with all of them.
There were some guys that we were recruiting previously and then the next wave were the guys we, as a staff, had previous relationships with. They were a little bit farther away and we're obviously in a different shirt now and in a different place, but we were able to sell them on why Penn State is the right place for them and why Penn State with this staff is the right place.
Q: When did you arrive?
A: I couldn't even tell you. I just got here as fast as I could; I don't have a car here. I flew into town a couple weeks ago now and started putting things into place and hit the ground running. I go back tomorrow to get my car and drive my car back up here on and hopefully find a place to live. It's been a whirlwind.
Q: How did the transition from the previous staff go? Was there info that was still here on the kids that we're committed? How do you kind of get up to speed on all of those guys?
A: We were fortunate that we had a number of people that were still on staff. Brenna Mathers and Bob Snowpack were a tremendous help in the process. They had knowledge of being here and knowing what was going on, knowing the kids, knowing where we stood with all of them. Who were the kids that were coming to Penn State because this was the place they picked. Who had ties to guys on the previous staff and who might we need to reach out to and make contact with first.
The interesting thing is when our staff first arrived there was a point when [James] Franklin was the only recruiter on staff because he was the only person that was a Penn State employee. He was the only one recruiting for Penn State, so the first phone calls that all of the commits got were from him [Franklin] because there was no one else making those phone calls.
Q: How important was the first person they're hearing from is the head coach?
A: It makes a solid impact and you have to do it and you have to do it rapidly. You try to reach out to as many as guys as you can in one night and I think he got most of them on that first night and the rest throughout that next day.
Josh Gattis - Offensive Recruiting Coordinator
Q: Where do you think the strengths were in this class?
A: We were very pleased with how this class finished up. We walked into a situation where we had a number of talented guys already committed to us that we had to maintain. We were also able to add some talented late additions. We're excited about the quarterbacks and we feel like we have some depth there and some competition that we're able to build. We're excited about the wide receiver position. That was a huge need for us to get some guys that could come in and compete right away. They're very talented players and we feel like we helped ourselves a lot by being able to add to our depth on the offensive line. That was a huge area that we needed to focus on because you have to win games up front. We were very pleased that we got three talented running backs. We got a tight end that's unbelievable. We feel like this offensive class is one of the better offensive classes in the country.
Q: Having Christian (Hackenberg) at quarterback, how much of that was a selling point to these receivers?
A: It's huge. He's been a great ambassador for in the recruiting process. Whenever you're able to go into a wide receiver's home and sell him on one of the top quarterbacks in the country; that sparks their attention. It's not just the play-calling, it takes the quarterback to be able to get them the ball. We tell all of our receivers and all of our talented players, that we're going to recruit great quarterbacks every year. That's our motto; we want to go out and sign the best quarterback every year, from a competitive standpoint, so they're able to come in and compete. The receivers know they're going to have great quarterbacks and great running backs. The running backs know they're going to have great quarterbacks and great receivers to help them out.
Q: Some people might say the tackles are a little undersized. Do you want them to be undersized? Do you want them to grow a little bit?
A: They all have great length, that's the thing we look for the most. That's one of the things you heard Coach Franklin say. We look for athletic lineman. Under our strength program with Dwight Galt, we have no concerns about their size. They'll get bigger and they all have great features. We're excited about the offensive tackles, because they're true offensive tackles. We're never going to sacrifice weight or size for the athleticism or length that's being provided at that position. We got four at that position right now that we feel like are going to be offensive tackles for us down the road.
Q: Could you break down the receivers in this class?
A: They're all different, though they all kind of look alike on paper because they all have good size. We'll start with Troy Apke, who is an unbelievable kid. One of the advantages of coming into this situation is we recruited all of these guys at Vanderbilt and I personally recruited most of them. I'm very familiar with a lot of their strengths and skill set. Troy's an unbelievable player. He's a very productive player. He's an all-state player from Pennsylvania and has tremendous speed. He comes from a football background. His dad played at Pitt. His uncle played at Pitt. He's a football player. He's a guy that understands the game of football and I'm really excited about him.
Chris Godwin from Delaware is one of the most accomplished wide receivers to ever come out of the state of Delaware. He's an all-state receiver, all-state defensive back and an all-state returner. He is just a winner. He is about 6-foot-2, 195 pounds and has great ball skills and is a really accomplished wide receiver.
Saeed Blacknall is a very talented player from the state of New Jersey and he is someone we recruited early on at Vanderbilt and developed a great relationship with. When we got the job here, he was one of the guys that we reached out to first. He has tremendous speed for a guy of his size and he has great athletic ability; he can jump and he can catch. He can do a number of things and we're really, really excited about him. Our first addition is already on campus, De'Andre Thompkins. He's a hard-working kid. He comes into my office each and every day asking for playbook material; asking for routes. We're really, really excited about him. He has a tremendous skill set with his speed, his elusiveness. He's a guy that's going to be able to help us out next year and compete for playing time.
Q: How is De'Andre in the return game? Is he a possibility there too?
A: We expect all of our wide receivers to be active in our special teams. That's an emphasis for us. There are three main areas on our team that we truly emphasize: offense, defense and special teams. We're going to recruit all of our wide receivers to be able to come in and compete on special team; whether that's going down to cover kicks or being a returner. There's a lot more to the game than just being a returner, but we want all of those guys to be valuable assets to us on special teams.
TERRY SMITH- Defensive Recruiting Coordinator
Q: How hectic has this particular recruiting process been?
A: Hectic is the proper word to describe it. I was hired in a little over a week and a half and got to two weeks ago, right at the end of recruiting. We really had to hit the ground running and try to retain recruits and make sure you are making contact with phone calls and travel and through social media. Then on weekends you have official visits on campus.
Q: How long are your days since you have been hired?
A: The days are endless. You are working well into the night because your mission is to accomplish your job and your job is to get the recruits. If the recruit wants to talk to you through midnight, you are going to talk to the recruit through midnight. You are evaluating film and, through the process of all of this, we are still evaluating 2015 recruits as well.
Q: What were your duties today in the war room? Was there anything in particular you were in charge of?
A: No, not in the war room other than to get the cornerbacks to call in to once we made the announcement that their fax had come through, I also had to get some 2015 kids on the line with coach and the rest of the staff this morning.
Q: What do you remember about your signing day?
A: It was nothing like this. We didn't do anything like this. You signed a sheet and mailed it away and that was it. This is just how it is in today's times and it is necessary to get the top players in the country.
Q: When do you start really zeroing in on 2015 guys and what is that process like moving forward?
A: We have always been conscience of those players. When you go out to visit the 2014 class you are always communicating with the high school coaches about who are the next guys, whether it's 2015, 2016 or 2017. We always have an ongoing list of guys and you always want to follow up. Coach gave us an assignment last week to evaluate the top players in the state of Pennsylvania. This is a priority state for us. So we have to make sure that all of the 2015 players in Pennsylvania have been evaluated and we are already recruiting them.
Q: How do you decide which prospect gets offered and how tough is that when you are all in different parts of the country?
A: We have a pretty thorough evaluation process. The position coach will evaluate the kid. The recruiting coordinator on that side of the ball will evaluate the kid and then the coordinator on that side of the ball will evaluate him along with the head coach. There is a lot of evaluation that goes into each player and they all have to pretty much say the same thing and meet eye-to-eye for an offer to come down.