Bo Pelini Signing Day Press Conference Transcript

By NU Athletic Communications
Photo by -

Opening statement

“Recruiting is a team effort these days. There are a lot of people that put a lot of time and effort into what comes with the culmination today and I want to recognize my staff. You guys all know them. They’re all here and they’ll be in the back and be available to answer any questions after this press conference that you guys might have. Some names you might not know, some people that were very instrumental and additional football staff that had a big part in what happened today. Just recognize the following names: Tim McFadden, John Osterhout, Curt Baldus, Matt Schilling and Dusty Alves in our video department. Vince Guinta, I want to especially recognize who is one of our in house recruiters. He does a lot of administrative work and really busts his butt and really did a heck of a job for us. I appreciate all of the effort that he put in and he was a very big part of what happened today. Wince Morris, Eric Burney, Nate Clouse, Scott Johnston and some of the student assistants who, once again, put in a lot of time in leading the guys around and helping with a lot of the things that happened on our official visit weekend. They are Mia Mauer, Megan Cunningham, Angela Finn, Ali Norman, Marnie Maxx and Kim Boehler. Our assistants downstairs, who once again are very helpful with everything we do—Linda Leupold, Joni Duff, Teri Riggins. Our academic support people—they are a big part of our program. They’re able to show guys it’s a big a very big plus in our athletic department. That’s headed up by Dennis LeBlanc and his staff--Katie Jewell, who was a very great resource for us all along the way. Kim Shellpepper, Alvin Banks and Keith Zimmer and also our compliance staff headed up by Gary Bargen and Josh White. All of those people had a very significant role in our class. I want to give special thanks and recognize Coach Osborne for everything he did. He met with about every recruit that came through here. Obviously before I came on board, he went on the road recruiting up until the point when we were full. He was very instrumental in helping us through the transition and was just a great resource and tremendous asset for us all the way through the recruiting process.”


We’re excited about the class that we brought in. What is recruiting? You recruit talent, you recruit potential, but that’s about what it is. And what becomes of this class we’ll find out a year from now, two years from now, three, four years down the road. It’s going to be up to them--each individual recruit and our staff to develop our talent and to develop them as apart of our culture and a part of our program and to integrate into what we want to do. We’ll act up to the talent that is already here. We have good talent on this football team. How good yet? That remains to be seen. There’s a lot of hard work that has to be done by both the guys in the program and the gentlemen we signed here on signing day. There’s a lot of work to be done. We’re looking forward to it. Like I said, there is a lot of talent and potential in this class and we’re looking forward to working with each of them.


One member of our staff I’m going to recognize today is Ted Gilmore. He’s our recruiting coordinator and I leaned on him. And really, he and Coach Shawn Watson who were here before I got here, they were a tremendous resource for us and really led this recruiting class and I appreciate their efforts and everything that they did from the time I took the job up until now. Coach Gilmore, I cherish him and the role that he’s in. He does a heck of a job and he’s the man, as far as heading up our recruiting, hopefully for a lot of years to come.


On recruiting in Texas

“Well we had some ties down there. Obviously Coach (Tim) Beck coming on board was a great resource for us in his ties down there.  It was a group effort. Everything is. Coach Watson has great ties down there as does Coach Gilmore. We were able to get in on some men who had good talent. We have to be able to recruit Texas to be able to have success in recruiting and it’s going to be an emphasis for us. It’s one of the secondary areas when you get outside—obviously our primary area is now and always will be the state of Nebraska. That’s where it has to start, begin and end. But then Texas is going to be a primary area outside of the state of Nebraska. Our success there hopefully is just a sign of things to come.”


On recruiting for specific needs

“I honestly get into that that much. We really don’t know what our needs are at this point. We’re a new staff. We’re still trying to associate ourselves with what we have and what we need and that’s going to be a process that’s going to be ongoing. Addressing specific needs—we wanted to get talented football players, guys that have potential to come in and play winning football and we were able to accomplish that.”


On recruiting for certain positions

“We’re looking for good football players right now and we’ll try and place them where we believe they fit and we think we were able to accomplish what we wanted.


On in-state recruiting

“Well, we believe there’s a tremendous amount of talent and it’s a good time to really address that we really were excited—you guys have a list of 18 walk-ons who decided to join the program. Along with the scholarship guys we had outside of the state of Nebraska, we have really 30 guys that have committed to us coming as walk-ons. Some of them don’t have all of their paperwork done and that type of thing, so we were only allowed to announce 18 of them. It goes to show that the commitment by the state of Nebraska, by the coaches, by the young men that decided to come on as walk-ons, and by the program that we’re committed to getting the walk-on program back on its feet and it is a huge part of our future. This year’s class has tremendous talent and I think it’s just going to make our recruiting class that much better. We feel we have talent and potential both with the guys that are going to be on scholarship, but there is also a lot of potential coming in on that walk-on program.”


On the importance of the walk-on program

“Most of those walk-ons are coming from the state of Nebraska. Those are people who come from towns, come from areas who have a deep love for the state of Nebraska, for the university and for our football program. The more people you bring into a culture that have strong beliefs about something and have a strong commitment and want-to, it’s going to make you stronger in the future. I’ve heard Coach Osborne talk a number of times about some of the players who came around here from different areas across the nation. When they came in obviously they signed on and they had a belief in where they were coming. But when you surround them with that type of kid, who grew up living or dying whether Nebraska won or lost, and you look around and some of those talented guys and some of those guys from across the nation, they became that much more committed to the program because they were surrounded by people who had an extreme level of commitment. That’s what it’s all about. When you walk out on the field, you have to have a belief in what you’re doing and commitment and a deep love for who you’re playing for. Like I said, you have to be playing for the University of Nebraska.”


On Coach Pelini’s level of surprise with 18 walk-ons

“Well we have more than 18. Like I said, those names will be released at a later date. That doesn’t surprise me because I know that the coaches in the state believe in what we have going on and in the program and the kids, I think there is a great level of commitment all across the board and I think all we can do is build on that and keep it going. I think the stronger the walk-on program is, the more we can keep it strong, the better off our program is going to be for a long period of time.”


On how the momentum has changed throughout the recruiting process

“I didn’t really pay attention to losing recruits, that’s for the recruiting services to worry about. We don’t pay a whole lot of attention to that. You have not gained or lost anybody until that fax comes across on singing day. That’s just the nature of recruiting today. We had a plan, we stuck with our plan, and just keep working our butts off and things turned out well for us. How well? Well find out in the future.”


On if he is still involved with any players that have not announced today

“Yes, we’re not done. Were still involved with two gentlemen and it remains to be seen. I can’t really comment any further than that. One I am sure is coming, and another one, we’ll see.”


On the importance of recruiting high school players instead of junior college players

“I believe that there are no quick fixes in life. You are going to get out of something what you put into it. I’m not saying that you can’t ever recruit junior college athletes, but you have to have a specific reason, a specific need. We’re not at that point yet with our program.  We don’t even know what we have on campus. Like I said, we were out there recruiting potential and talent. We were able to get that accomplished. I believe we have a top-notch staff. A staff I will put up against anybody in the country. We’re going to take that talent and potential and develop it from the grass roots. You hear me talking a lot about defenses, you don’t have anything unless you have a foundation, and that’s what were trying to do.  We need to first establish a foundation in our culture and how were going to go about things, and then were going to build on it the right way.  We are not looking for the quick fix, but we do know that there is talent on campus, there is talent in our recruiting class, and we’re looking to develop that talent the best we can.”


On how this class will help his assistants in the future recruiting

“I don’t put much stock into recruiting resumes. What does that really mean?  I know that we have good, high character gentleman who are out there recruiting and beating the bushes. They all have good experience, they all know talent. We are all on the same page of what we want to accomplish, and we know that we have a tremendous product to offer. That’s a great resume, and that’s across the board on our staff. I am proud of the guys that we have, and I think the job they did stands for itself.”


On the five in-state recruits

“I don’t really want to get into speaking about anybody specifically today. Like I said, we are recruiting talent and potential, and we are proud of every recruit that we have. What they become in the future, that remains to be seen. It will be a group effort between us and them coming in and working their tails off. Obviously, we recruited them because we think that they are tremendous football players, and we’re proud that they are coming to join our program. We’re excited that they are here and that goes across the board on the whole staff.”


On if he tells his assistants to just go out and be themselves while recruiting

“Absolutely. I would not have hired people that I didn’t believe could get the job done. I have seen them, and they have been associated with recruiting in a lot of different ways over the years. They are able to evaluate, they know talent, they have tremendous energy, they communicate very well, and it all adds up to being a heck of a recruiter. They were a tremendous asset all the way across.”


On if there is a limit on the amount of walk-ons he will take each year

“I’m not going to put a limit, or put myself hostage to any numbers. We’re looking at adding quality football players to our program. Every year that is going to change, it is going to be different. It depends on what’s out there. If there is somebody that wants to walk-on on our football program, and has the potential to be a tremendous football player, we’re not going to turn anybody away. Where that number goes in the future, I have no idea. I can’t look into the crystal ball and figure that out, but I do know they play great football in the state. There is a tremendous commitment from the people and the state. The more guys we can bring in from this state, the more ownership the people of the state of Nebraska are going to feel for this program. It is extremely important to all of us involved.”


On if his time at LSU helped him recruit players from the south

“Yes, you kind of recruit where you have ties. You have to go to where the good football players are, and it just so happened coming from LSU I knew some of the guys out of the state of Louisiana, and so did some of the guys on our staff. They had associations with coaches, and areas, and had relationships built. That is a big part of recruiting, having established relationships and being able to build relationships.  That is why I feel so confident with the guys I have on this staff. They are great communicators, they are high character, they are good people. When it is all said and done, high school coaches are going to feel good about sending their kids to play for these gentlemen the more they get to know them. It just so happens that those were some of the areas where we had established relationships outside the state of Nebraska.”


On if he recruited the South to find more speed

“Obviously, you want guys that can run.  I know that there are a lot of guys in the state of Nebraska that can run.  I think it is a little bit overblown, people think all of sudden you go down and cross into Louisiana and Florida, and all of sudden you can run.  I look at every kid individually, we look at the tape and try to evaluate what they can do. We base our decision on each individual that we want to recruit.”


On one thing that he needed to focus on this recruiting class

“Good football players. Guys that play with passion, play with an attitude. We were looking for the best guys, not necessarily need-oriented, but guys that could come in and play.  You have to address it that way when you don’t know what you have, when you don’t know specifically what your needs are.  Where we are right now?  I’m not sure.  We haven’t had much association with the players on campus, so we were just looking at tape and trying to find good football players that we knew were going to help us somewhere. We were able to do that with our guys through scholarships and we know that we were able to supplement that with the walk-ons.  I feel strongly that there is going to be a number of walk-ons that came into this group that are going to play some important football for us in the future.” 


On how big of a role the incoming linebackers will play after four linebackers graduated

“Once again, that remains to be seen. I can’t really answer that. The one thing I’ll say is walk-ons, scholarship guys, it doesn’t make a difference to us. We’re bringing in good football players. Nobody’s been promised a thing here. It’s the same as the guys who are on campus here, and people that have played in the program. Everybody is going to be given an opportunity, and the bottom line is the best players are going to play. We’re going to roll the ball out there and let them compete, in the classroom, on the field, in the meeting rooms, and the guys that we feel we can go out there and win with are the guys that are going to play. Who that is and who that’s going to be six months from now or a year from now, that remains to be seen. I don’t know how that’s going to play out. But I feel like we have the talent and potential and a lot of guys that have the want to come in here and compete and take this program to another level.”


On the biggest unknowns in the kids he recruited

“You don’t know how they’re going to respond to coaching. There’s a tremendous amount of unknowns. Up until they come on campus and you start working with each individual, and they start understanding exactly what you’re looking for, what your expectations are. I think we made it pretty clear what our expectations are going to be once they get here, but that’s a ways down the road until summertime. Obviously there’s that unknown between now and then, and how they respond to having signed. There’s a tremendous amount of unknowns, but that’s part of the beauty of coaching. You have to get them. You have to put them inside your culture, and what you believe is important, and try and guide them in the right direction, and try and eek out as much of their potential as you possibly can. That’s the challenge that we all took on when we got into this profession.”


On if he was surprised to see this many people at a recruiting press conference

“We had it on ESPN all day, and it was pretty national and they were pretty excited. It’s a big day in college football. I think you have to temper what the expectations are. Everybody wants to talk about what the No. 1 recruiting class is, and they want to put numbers on it, and talk about who had a good class and who didn’t have a good class. It’s hard to say. Talk to me in two, three years down the road, and I’ll tell you how good a class it was. And that’s going to be across the board. What people want to rank it today, or a week from now, it doesn’t really make a difference to us. We feel good about the gentlemen that we brought into our program. We feel like we had a successful day in bringing potential, high-character kids and talent into the program. Now it’s our job to go to work and develop that talent, both with the scholarship kids and the walk-ons that decided to come.”


On the strangest thing that he did or had happen to him in the competition of recruiting

“I can’t think of anything specifically. What I believe in and what the staff I work with believes in is honesty. We’re going to be honest with recruits, and like I said we have a tremendous product to offer. We’re going to be honest with our expectations. There are going to be no promises made, and we want to develop a relationship, and that relationship is going to be built on trust. That’s how our relationship with our players is going to be built once they become part of our program, so we want to make sure we get off on the right foot with them. If you promise things, or you try and sell a bill of goods, or try and give them something that you’re not going to be able to live up to in the future, then what? Then they come into your program, and you lose that trust right off the bat, and you might as well part ways at that point. We’re not going to approach it that way. We want kids that are committed to the University, and want to come play for Nebraska and have a strong feeling about it. They want to become part of our culture, and part of our program, within the standards we give them, and want to play championship football. That isn’t for every kid. Kids that we recruit and they go someplace else, we say ‘God bless them.’ At the end of the day, we’re going to have kids that are passionate about the University of Nebraska and what we have going.”


On what kind of roadblocks he faced by starting the recruiting process so late

“Anytime you get into the process late, and the staff is put together late, you have less time to build relationships. But I think the key was communicating. Like I’ve said a number of times today, our staff are great communicators. They’re high character guys who are going to be honest and straightforward, and that helps you get on the same page with a kid a little bit quicker than some other guys. We’re not trying to look for every gimmick out there to try and get kids to come. We do it the right way, and I think that’s why we had success.”


On if there’s more satisfaction getting an unknown player that they spotted rather than someone everyone else wanted

“Like I said, we don’t really base our assumptions or our evaluations on what other people think. We watch tape and we spend a lot of time looking at tape, and we see how they play football. We’re going to make the judgments. We don’t really get concerned with who else has offered, or what he’s ranked, how many stars he has. We’re concerned with whether he can play football and be successful in our system, and that’s how we approach it.”


On if there’s a message for the recruits by him not talking about them specifically

“Well, there’s no sense in singling kids out. Everybody knows about them, you can read about them. They are a part of our program, and they are part of the team. That’s how we’re going to approach it, and they know that, they signed on for that. When they became part of the Nebraska football program, it’s not about any individual guys, it’s about the unit as a whole. When they signed on, they became part of our whole team, and that’s special in itself.”


On what the coaches are focusing on now

“There’s a lot to be concerned with as our staff moves forward. We have time to be with our players, the current guys on campus and become more familiar with them and getting involved in their offseason strength programs, and getting them in good shape and heading in the right direction. We’re going to be able to be a part of that now and a more hands-on, and get ready and get on the same page. I know Coach Watson has a lot to do to make sure the offense is on the same page once we start spring ball, and us defensively, we’re probably a little bit further along just because we’ve all had an association together. But there’s a lot of work to be done as a whole staff. We’ve got to get going together and walk out on that field for the first spring practice and walk into the meeting room with our players, so we’re all on the same page and we’re ready to take a big step forward.”


More News Sponsor - First National Bank


Tickets Sponsor - StubHub