Feb. 1, 2012
Read John Denton's Knights Insider |
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - UCF football head coach George O'Leary met with the media Wednesday to discuss the Knights' latest Signing Day class, which features 19 members.
For complete details on all 19 players, check out Signing Day Central.
Head coach George O'Leary
"With every recruiting class, you start off with what your needs are. We fulfilled our needs. It was an offensive class to start. We had to bring in linemen and we did. We had to bring in quarterbacks and we did. We had to bring in receivers and we did. I think we brought in a lot of talented players, there is no question. Defensively, we helped ourselves where we needed to help ourselves. It has been a great day for us, as far as filling the needs of the program."
On the size of this year's class...
"We went into this year saying we want to get some range. We brought in more size at wide receiver, which I thought was needed. We brought in more range at defensive back from a height standpoint. On the offensive line, the average is probably 6-foot-5 or 6-foot-6. I think we did a good job at securing the size we were looking for as far as height, speed and weight."
On Tyler Gabbert...
"He has some grass under his feet. He was basically at Missouri for a year and a half. His brother left and was the number one choice at Jacksonville. Tyler was running number two when he left Missouri. We saw him a year ago and thought he was ready to commit at that time. He said he just was not ready to transfer at that time. We are fortunate to have him on campus now. I went after a quarterback that had experience on the field. It was critical with Blake Bortles sitting there. I wanted some experience right behind him. My experience is when we go after players like that, we have always been successful with them. Tyler will be here in the summer for both sessions. We are looking forward to seeing what happens from there."
Immediate and future needs...
"We needed to get bigger overall. We've always had speed here, but we needed to get bigger. And we needed size with speed and I think we got that. I'd say there are six to nine guys in this class who can be three-year starters for us, maybe even more. Then, you surround them with some good, solid football players and you've got yourself a good team. I see some really stout guys and I think we've done well with this class.''
Do you see Chester Brown as more of a defensive player?
"I think he is a lineman. I asked him what he bench pressed. Normally kids say 300. Then I ask them how many times and they say once. To show an impression, we have guys that do that eight, nine, 10 times. When I asked him that question, he said 445 pounds. I asked him how many times and he said five. He has all the tools. He is a big person and a great kid. I was really impressed with him. Right now, I have him penciled in on defense, but he could easily go to offense. When you watch him on film, he has great foot speed and moves really good for a big guy. I could eventually see him playing either side. I think it is where we feel we will need help or depth help. From a strength standpoint, he can line up and play, which is key for the front people in Division I."
Thoughts on Drico Johnson...
"Any time you are a receiver or a defensive back, you have a chance to get on the field a little sooner than the linemen. I think the further from the ball you are, the easier it is to react and your athletic ability takes over. For inside linemen, it is strength and experience as far as getting things done. Drico will be given an opportunity. I saw Drico a lot in seven-on-seven and individual camps. He runs good routes. He has great ball concentration. He is a good size guy, which is what I wanted to improve on. I think we are at that stage where we need to get bigger guys outside."
On Phil Smith...
"He called because he wanted to play his fifth year. He is going to get his degree in May from Georgia Tech. He is coming here as a fifth-year player, much like Brett Hodges did. I am happy any time you can bring experience in. He was a three-year starter up there. Playing in that many games at a couple of positions, he has that maturity. He will help right away for us. The more competition you can bring in, the better we are."
What kind of impact will the mid-year enrollees have?
"Jeremy Davis is a corner that was a Miami recruit and he has great speed. I think the big thing with him is his strength level and can he improve it, because he has all the other tangibles. Jared Henry was one we were looking at for the safety position before he got hurt. I definitely think he is going to be a help. Breshad Perriman is a 6-foot-4 receiver that you are looking for. I am glad they are here. They will be given an opportunity in the spring to see what they can do."
Can you detail the recruitment of Cal Bloom (from Minnesota)?
"I tell you what, Cal Bloom, I give that kid credit. Three Big 10 teams were in his home trying to get him. He stuck to his guns and came down to UCF. He is a big 6-foot-5, 240-pound kid. I was amazed that when we started recruiting him that the Big 10 wasn't on him. That is Big 10 country up there. His folks came down, he came down and they stuck to their word. I was pleased. That shows something of substance in today's recruiting world where it changes every day. Verbal commitments don't mean much anymore. That is something that you have to deal with as a coach."
"When you watch him, he reminds me of a taller, probably a little bit faster J.J. Worton. That is what I see with him. For me to even say that makes him a pretty good player, as far as ball concentration. I have been very pleased with him and what he can do. I think we really helped ourselves at that position from a height standpoint, and from a playmaking standpoint."
On recruiting players on well-established high school teams, as well as the importance of academics...
"I don't think that has anything to do with it. I don't watch highlight tape because I have never seen a bad highlight tape; that is why they make them. I do watch tape. I like game tape. I like watching and grading them. Tapes don't lie. The eye in the sky shows you what they can do. Then the other things you have to check are height, weight and speed, and of course check academics. I compared last year's class and this class academically and there is no comparison. That is important right now, because with the NCAA and what they are going about as far as the new academic rules and how it is going to be enforced, I think it is going to be paramount that you bring kids in that understand they are going to be student-athletes."
On getting back to football and his thoughts on UCF's class...
"That is the best time of my day. I can go on the field and on the grass and no one can bother me. I thoroughly enjoy the practice field. You are out there with one thing in mind: getting better in football. Recruiting is never over. It starts now for next year's class. I think signing day is a sigh of relief for a lot of coaches and a lot of emotions, as far as you got a kid or you didn't get a kid. I have been at it long enough to know that we went after a class philosophy-wise that I think we needed to get. One that had more size, more range and had kids that were academically eligible. I told the coaches, with the changes in coaching staff and situations that occurred, I thought they did an outstanding job of securing the talent. I was very pleased with them. I think you will find that this class will end up being one of the better UCF classes. There are no sexy names that you want to see. Most of those guys don't make it anyways. The NFL did a study that 54 percent of the five-star players don't even make it to the NFL. And 91 percent of the four-star players don't make it to the NFL. It is not the stars; it is what is inside that uniform that is important. The stars are good to get a justification on why you should be looking at a kid. I think it still comes down to grading tape and doing what you have to do to secure the right people for your program."
Did anything surprise you about the recruiting process?
"It has probably gotten out-of-hand a little bit. Kids are changing hats and have two-sided hats. A lot has to do with the media, but again it is something the fan-bases want to see. As long as there is interest in it, you continue doing it. I don't think it has helped the kids. When they come on campus, they have a misconception of what is about to happen. Recruiting is over. It is always a surprise for a lot of them."
"Blake is a tight end that has good range, good speed and is a good student. His future is something he can control. He had a great a playoff series down there; I watched the championship game. Kelly Parfitt was the tackle next to him, a pulling guard really. I think they are both going to be guys that are committed to helping us win a lot of games, from a size and passion standpoint. Those are what you are looking for in program guys. They are guys that understand what is going to happen. They are going to be here. There are not any issues with them outside of football. You are going to find this class is that kind of class."