Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Pelini Breaks Down Class of 2013

By NU Athletic Communications

Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pelini met with the media on Wednesday afternoon to discuss Nebraska's 2013 Signing Class.

Pelini touched on a number of topics during his press conference which spanned more than a half-hour. Among the topics Pelini discussed were adding depth on both lines in the 2013 recruiting class, his thoughts on new NCAA recruiting legislation, and the many positives about the University of Nebraska that Pelini and his staff can sell to prospective recruits.

Read the transcript of Pelini's press conference below.

Opening Statement

“I am excited about this recruiting class, I appreciate everybody’s effort. There were a lot of people that worked really hard to make this class what it was. We signed a total of 26 guys that includes 13 different states plus Canada, so obviously that requires a lot of work. We have 15 walk-ons that are coming, 13 that are good to go, and two others that are a work in progress as far as school admissions that type of thing. I’m excited about this class, I think it adds a lot to our football team, not only with talented football players but tremendous young men, a lot of character type of kids that I want to coach, and kids we want to represent our university, the state and our fans.

“At this time I would like to also announce that Braylon Heard and Chase Rome are not going to be a part of our football program anymore. With this group we have going forward, our goal this coming year is to win it all, I think this is a good step forward.”

On how much the coaches addressed the lines this recruiting class

“Well if you look at what we have done with our defensive line, six guys this year and four guys last year that gives us 10 in the last two classes. I think these guys will make a big difference for our football team and how we play defensively so I am excited about this group.”

On how many of the defensive line recruits Coach Pelini wants to play right away next year

“Six, if they can. I don’t know, time will tell. It will be different for every guy. It depends on how they pick up things, how they work from now until the season starts. I think all six guys have ability and potential to contribute, that’s what through all these rankings and other stuff you have decide, across the country you are looking at potential. I saw a thing the other day, they were talking about the top-100 quote-un-quote ranked guys from either two or three years ago there were 46 guys that didn’t play, so you are talking about potential this time of the year. Now we have to make an impact on these guys and get them developed to play championship football. There are a lot of things that go into that moving forward.”

On the running backs in this class and when Coach Pelini wants them to play

“Once again if they are capable they will play. I think they are both very capable. They are outstanding young men that come from great families. They are strong character kids who obviously have played winning football. You look at those two guys and they are talented young men who have the potential to come here and make an impact, that’s why we recruited them. In my opinion we got two of the best in the country, no question in my mind.”

On if the number of prospects recruited from different states will change (13 different states this year)

“You know every year is different, I don’t know. I know one thing—we will turn over every stone and evaluate hard. We are particular on who we go after and why we go after them. There is a lot more than ability, it’s obviously how they play on film, and the type of character they have, it is the intangibles and leadership, guys we believe will fit into our program. Like I said, that is important to me and it is important to our staff, I think we found 26 guys that we wanted in our football team. There were some kids that we recruited early on that we decided we didn’t want in our football program. At the end of the day I feel good about the group that we have. Once again I appreciate the coaches, not only the traveling and the work they put in but our recruiting staff, the secretaries that fly people places. It’s a team effort to put a class together like this. I think this is a tremendous class that has a lot of potential in it, and today is really a culmination of a lot of hard work.”

On how the last month has been for Coach Pelini and his staff

“Yeah recruiting in general is a whirlwind, and let’s face it all depends on the young man. Let’s face it, to some kids commitments don’t mean a lot, but to some they do. With some kids a commitment you know as a coach if it means a lot or it does not. Until you get that fax, you know that commitment isn’t official. At the end of the day you have to keep recruiting them until the very end, our coaches were on the phone with each and every recruit. Once again there are some kids that say ‘yes’ and they are committed, there are others that you don’t pay much attention to the commitment and you know you have to keep recruiting and have backup plans if things change. Things change daily with recruiting, and we have a pretty good understanding of that.”

On if he has seen anything that has happened this recruiting season before (de-commitments & recommitments, etc.)

“I don’t know if it is about an early singing day or what, I think at the end of the day the coaches, the administrators and the NCAA should go sit in a room together and until that happens and we have good one-on-one interaction so we all know what is going on, and me personally I think the high school coaches should be a part of that. Until that happens, it’s not going to get fixed; you know this isn’t any different than any other year. It just maybe it happened here locally because we took more guys so there was a lot more situations that brought it to light on how crazy this is (recruiting). In my opinion this system needs tweaks and be fixed, where it is heading right now with some of the rules I think it is going down a gravel road. I say that because when I walk into a high school there is a head coach there and I see how concerned they are with the rules that are affecting their young men it tells me that it is probably not going down a good road.”

On what bothers Coach Pelini with the new recruiting rules

“I think first and foremost it is going to affect the kids in high school. They are going to be concentrating on things they shouldn’t be concentrating on. That is academics, being the best football player they can be, that’s developing as a young man and enjoying his high school career. The more time a kid is sitting on his phone texting and on the telephone and all the other things that are taking away from that are doing the kids, the high schools and high school coaches a disservice. That’s just my opinion, as far as early signing and if a kid commits that is it, those are things that need to be talked about and resolved. I am sure there are coaches out there across the country that disagree with what I am saying. I should say this though, it could affect the players on your campus already, because the more time you have to spend with the bells and whistles and all the things you have to try and figure out how to get kids on the campus and stay, is the less time you have to spend with the kids that are already in your program. You have a tremendous responsibility to help coach and help guide the young men. You are already limited to 20 hours a week.”

On how recruiting affects a coach

“Well you only have so many hours in a day, I could go into this into a really deep level, but to me it isn’t going to affect me much. You are going to have to change some things in your staff and how you go about things to make the most and give yourself the best opportunity to obviously keep up with the Joneses. At the same time I know this—my first responsibility is with my wife and my kids, second of all, obviously it’s my job to coach the kids on campus first. Obviously part of that is to recruit, and believe me we are going to do what is necessary to put together the best class possible.”

On what happens that makes the kids want to choose Nebraska

“I think the perception outside our state and outside of people familiar with our university; obviously the tradition people understand that, but what Lincoln has to offer, the University and what the state has to offer. We have said this more than one time when we get a kid on campus and they are able to see the facilities and more importantly meet the people, interact with the people in the city in downtown and see the passion that surrounds this program really helps sell us.

“Also the aspect of kids coming in to see what Dennis Leblanc and his staff can do, and Keith Zimmer his staff. Not just what we can do for them in football, but what this whole university does to develop these young men. Which is more than just developing them into a football player; everything we try and do is as a group, that means the athletic department gives to our student-athletes when they walk out the door that is the most important thing, they will be ready for the challenges ahead in life once they graduate from college, and at this university, in my opinion, it is the best out there in developing kids and making sure they are going to have the opportunities to reach every goal they have and beyond from football. When kids come in here, and just as importantly when the parents come in and see that it sells itself. I think they see there is no place like Nebraska when they have the opportunity to see it up close.”

On the last 24 hours with Tre’vell Dixon (de-commitment to recommitment)

“Obviously I coached down in Louisiana for a number of years, the mother – Paula-- wasn’t on the visit. He was probably to a certain extent being pulled in a number of directions and wasn’t quite sure. I think he knew all along that this was the best place for him, but a kid that grew up in a small town that is a big step. I give him a lot of credit for being able to sign his name and go out there, outside of the box and know he is going to get on a plane and go a long way away from home to play football and to get his education. It wasn’t an easy thing to do but at the end it is now our responsibility to make sure we make that the right choice for him in what we do for him.”

On Josh Banderas being an ambassador for this class

“You know sometimes it’s a shame when guys commit early like Josh and Johnny Stanton, you go down the list with young men who committed early and stayed committed the whole time through sometimes that gets lost in the shuffle. The focus goes on the end of the class and who committed late, who is committing and who is de-committing. When there is a big core group of guys that committed early and stayed committed helped us finish off this class on Facebook and stuff like that. It shows there is a group of kids that took a leadership role in this thing and I think it will pay off for us because I think they will be leaders for a long time to come.”

On what Coach Pelini saw in QB Johnny Stanton

“He is a tremendous football player like the rest of these guys; he has great potential and a lot of character. He is a tough kid that can do multiple things from the quarterback position, he can throw, he is tough, he can run inside and outside, you add him to the stable of quarterbacks we have on campus I feel real good about it.”

On how the three players that enrolled early have progressed so far

“They have done well. Coach Dobson is saying nothing but great things. If you look at a guy like Courtney Love he is already very developed in kind of what he looks like and what he is capable of doing right now, but he is still being trained in a big-time program for the first time. David Knevel is a guy that was behind, he is being exposed to a lot of things for the first time, but he has come a long way in a short amount of time, and D.J. Singleton is the same. Those guys that start early, that’s not an easy thing to do to start mid-year. You kind of go in and it is those three guys trying to interact with a football team that all knows each other. In our program we have a lot of good young men that take these guys under their wing and show them the way. They fit right in and haven’t missed a beat.”

On Drake Martinez, and his recruiting process

“They were really excited, but I tried to be a little hands off in that recruiting to a certain extent, and have a respect for the fact that I think Drake knew I wanted him here. He is young man that can play a lot of positions. We are starting him off on defense at the safety position. We knew he was talented but at the same time it is different for a young man when his brother is here. I didn’t want to make him feel pressured by us, or anybody because his brother plays here and it is expected he comes here and plays. In fact I was probably too hands off at times by giving him some space and when the times right he would tell me. It started to get a little too close so I got on the phone and we talked about it and tried and figure everything out. It became really clear that he knew this was the place for him and this was a tremendous opportunity for him. I’m thrilled because I think he has potential to be a heck of a football player.”

On if the family structure will became a bigger selling point in Nebraska recruiting

“Yeah I think so, I think that is important. Like I said we get the kids that we want, I think a certain type of young man gravitates to our program. We don’t go in there with a lot of bells and whistles, it is pretty black and white. It is pretty special here, I think if you hear the right things it is a place that sells itself to a certain extent. We want to make sure that we are making a relationship with the family. I sat down in every single one of these kids’ homes. They get to know me and I get to know them, we are on the same page as far as what the expectations are, there are no promises whatsoever other than we will give them an opportunity and we demand a high standard from them when the walk in, until they leave. Other than that you are going to earn what you get around here. I talk a lot more about things other than football when I sit down with these kids and their families on recruiting trips. In my mind that is the most important thing, because football will work itself out with each kid. The reality is, is that most of these kids won’t play in the NFL. You watch this thing on ESPN about recruiting all day and most of those kids you saw on TV the reality is most of them won’t play in the NFL. There is a lot more to this, than just on the field with these kids.”

On the number of the recruits signing late, and if he likes it that way

“Not necessarily. Every class and every situation in the recruiting process is different. Your needs sometimes become a lot clearer after the season than before the season. A lot of things play into this, is it nice to have some scholarships? At times yes… but there is times I wish we can fill them up before a bowl game. The reality is today is the signing day and whether you are all committed out at that point is going to change and will change until signing day.”

Continued… comparing to other schools that sign the majority of their recruits early

“That will never happen here, I don’t want that to happen here because I think you learn a lot about a player their senior year. I think some of the best players didn’t play their best football until their senior year. To me that’s why I would rather see the recruiting process slow it down some. I think there would be less mistakes and it would give you a lot better chance to look at kids during their senior year when you should be evaluating them.”

On the walk on class and if the past & recent success helped out

“I think our walk-on program speaks for itself, and sells itself. Jeff Jamrog and the coaches and the group that is involved with recruiting the walk-ons do a heck of a job evaluating and seeing who will fit with us more. It’s going to end up being 15, but we have taken more than that and we have taken less than that. We take the kids that we feel are right for us. It makes sense both ways, but we feel really good about this group. The reality is that most of the kids will play for us and help contribute to the team and it has been huge for us since I have been here.”

On if the team is open to open competition

“I am very consistent, and we as a staff are very consistent from day one until the day he graduates there is no kid that has been promised anything besides an opportunity.  We tell them ‘if you guys are going to play, you got to show it on film’ if you can’t put it on film, you won’t be out there playing. We tell this to kids on day one and that isn’t going to change any time. Are we going to lose some kids because of it? Maybe, but you know what at the end of the day is I am going to concern myself with the kids we start with on Aug. 31. There is not a kid on this team that we went in and promised him that he would play right away, that doesn’t happen here. One thing that we have in our program that is black and white is consistent. That is why we don’t have many problems. Is a kid going to leave every once and a while? That is just the way it is these days.  If you look across the country with kids leaving the program we are below the norm. We have had four kids in the last year or so and that is probably the average, we have been below the norm. If they leave in my mind they are better off somewhere else, and our program is better with someone else.”

On the talent in Kansas City, past, present and future

“It is pretty local to us within that 500-mile radius. There is good football down there. We have recruited hard down there. I know this coming year is a strong year in Kansas City, I know I have done some junior recruiting already. You talk about Kansas City, but we want to get deeper into St. Louis because we haven’t had a lot of success there but we want to continue to recruit hard. The closer we stay close to home base the easier off we will be.”

On the in-state talent next year

“Generally pretty good, there will be some evaluation that needs to go on but I am not going to through a number out there but there will be more than this year.”

On playing younger guys this coming season

“I can’t look into a crystal but we are going to fire our guns next year. I told every kid that we recruited to get their butts ready to play because that is going to be our mindset. We are trying to use every ounce of depth we have, our mindset like I said is to go out and win them all. I haven’t addressed it much in the past, but I think we are at a point in our program where I look back and the one mistake I did make was not playing some of these younger kids more. I made that decision maybe a little too quick and I have kicked myself for it. You live and learn. Sometimes you have to learn from your mistakes.












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