Signing Day Press Conference Transcript
2009 National Letter-of-Intent Signing Day
Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini
Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2009
Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini
"I just wanted to say that I’m excited about the incoming class, both scholarship signees and the walk-ons. I want to thank my staff for all their hard work and everybody who is involved – the coaches, the guys who are out there hitting the pavement recruiting, academics, Coach Tom Osborne, really everybody who is associated with the athletic department and the football program and Megan Rogers. I don’t want to name everybody, but it’s a group effort. There are so many people who give up a lot of time and put in a lot of time for this day to come and to make everything work out the way it did.
"I’m happy with the class. Like I said last year, on the surface we evaluated a lot of kids and these are the kids we thought were the right kids to sign for the University of Nebraska. We’ll find out two or three years down the road if this is the right group and how good it is. You could talk about all these ratings and everyone wants to talk about this kid and that kid, but time will tell. This is the group we’re bringing in here, now it’s our job to develop this group and make them the best football players they can be. That’s how we proceed. Like last year, I’m not going to address any specific kid individually. It’s a group. These guys are now members of our football team and they’ll be coming in and they’ll have the opportunity to compete. Not one of them was promised anything. The only thing I offered them was an opportunity to come in here and play with a great university and to compete for a job. They know going in everything that’s going to be expected of them on and off the field and that’s going to be to compete every single day in every single area of their life as a student-athlete. All of these kids were fully committed to that.
"One thing I can say about the recruiting is that the evaluating process is ongoing. It continues from the beginning until end. If things aren’t going right and somebody is not right for our program, we move on. That happened in one instance and I’m not going to get into he said/she said or anything like that, but I know something was written. Everybody has their opinion and they can have their opinion, but at the end of the day, my job is to bring in the best young men for our program. Period. End of story. We want kids I think we can win national championships with and the kids that are going to represent our program in the right way and that’s what we’ve chosen to do. Sometimes hard decisions are going to be made and that’s not going to be the last time that happens in the recruiting process."
"I also want to take this opportunity to thank a group of men who were very instrumental in helping us do what we needed to do. Some guys who donated the use of airplanes, private airplanes at times, during the whole recruiting process over the last year which enabled us to get to places quickly....Those men were really available to us in a number of different instances and bailed us out. That’s one of the things about recruiting here, you have to get to a lot of places and cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time."
On the importance of recruiting in California and Texas
"We believe those are two states that are going to be very important to us, not only this year but in the future. There are a lot of players down there. Obviously the population lends to it. We’ve had good reception there. Those are just a couple of areas going in that we decided we wanted to concentrate on. We thought we had to make some hay in those states and we thought we were able to get something done this year. Hopefully that’s just a sign of things to come."
On scholarship players from Nebraska
"We evaluate everybody in the state. We signed to kids scholarship-wise, but we have a number of kids coming in walk-on-wise. If things work out the way they did this year, there are going to be a number of kids that will be scholarship players down the line. We had some needs to fill. If you talk to the coaches in this state they would tell you that we are recruiting the state of Nebraska."
On the number of defensive back signees
"We were a little thin (on defensive backs) last year. When we came in here the numbers were down, especially at the cornerback position. Next year we’re going to lose four safeties, so it’s an area we needed to address. We have a couple of guys that can swing either way, corner or safety, guys on our current roster and the same with a couple of young men who came in here. It just provided us with more depth and more versatility as we move along."
On moving away from junior college transfers and focusing more on recruiting high school players
"Obviously we’d rather move toward high school athletes because you get a chance to get them in your program and in your culture right from the start and develop them right from the beginning. I think that’s going to help us down the road, especially the guys that did come in are three-year guys. That’s important for us that they’re going to be in here. When we do take junior college kids, we’re going to look into it and specifically know what we’re getting. I thought these were two young men who could come in and have an impact on us and are the right kids for our program. Not everybody is."
On the country’s reaction to Nebraska’s recruiting process this season
"It’s good. Not great yet. It’s getting better. I think people are waiting to see. I think it got better as we got momentum. Obviously, Nebraska, at the end, carries a lot of weight. At the end of the day, kids want to win championships and they want to see it. The more we win, the better it’s going to be. That’s on us."
On the difference between last year’s recruiting process and this year’s process
"The biggest difference is that we were together for a year and we recruited these kids from start to finish. There were relationships built. It’s always a hectic process, but I think the process this year was a little smoother obviously because we were in it from start to finish together."
On recruiting players from big high schools with winning traditions
"It just works out that way. In high school, you get a few key guys, the guys that are winners and really good football players and they can carry a team a lot way. That happened in a lot of cases. We were in and out of a lot of high schools and a lot of ones who won and had a lot of success, but they didn’t have guys for us. I think it’s more coincidence, but you just notice the good players attract winning."
On convincing walk-ons to come to Nebraska
"I don’t know if it was easier to convince, but I think the proof is in what they saw. There were a lot of walk-ons who played for us this year and played some significant minutes. The kids just want a chance and an opportunity to play, especially the in-state kids. We represent in-state, out-of-state, and we’re really excited about the group of walk-ons that we believe will be coming here in the summertime."
On the interest of being a walk-on at Nebraska this year
"I don’t know if there’s more interest or less than last year. It’s similar. We were more selective. We couldn’t take as many as we did last year. The process was a little bit different. Jeff Jamrog really provided a lot of help in spearheading the organization of that whole thing. Obviously, Coach (Barney) Cotton, Coach (Ron) Brown and the guys that have been around. It was a group effort, but obviously those three guys really had a significant impact on the walk-on class."
On Antonio Bell
"Antonio was so close the last time. He kind of had a bad start when he started high school and he had to overcome it. He just missed it. He decided to take a couple of classes and take the tests again and he became eligible. Obviously, if we didn’t believe he could do it we couldn’t have stayed with him. He’s a great kid. He’s gone through a lot and I’m happy for him. He’s here and he’s doing well."
On young coaches Mike Ekeler and John Papuchis and their role in recruiting
"They were outstanding. They did really well. They had tremendous energy and they communicated well. They did excellent. Recruiting is recruiting and it’s about if you can deal with people and if you have a work ethic. It’s not rocket science. It’s not that hard. You have to be able to evaluate obviously. That’s important. We evaluate together, we identify guys, then it takes a while and persistence and hard work and the ability to communicate and establish relationships. I believe those are the strengths of our staff."
On what Coach Pelini is telling the signees about his expectations
"Go to work. It’s time. We’ve good conversations with these men. There’s a lot of character in the group. They’re hard workers. They’re the type of people we want to bring in. I like the group of kids that we have that are coming in here. I think they’re going to fit in well, both athletically and in a lot of different ways. I like the character in the kids. They’re a good group of kids. They know they’re not promised anything. They know what they’re getting themselves into and the type of competitive environment that we bring. They know what they have to bring when they get here. I think it’s been well communicated and we’re all on the same page."