Feb. 6, 2013
Coach Bob Davie Opening Statement:
"I think the word is out. You go around and it's kind of amazing ... that New Mexico and Albuquerque are kind of hidden gems. ... If there's one consistent thing to this whole recruiting piece ... is when people get here they're amazed. Unanimously it's a whole lot better than what they thought. The overwhelming feedback is what a great place it is, what a nice place it is, and how nice the people are.
"It's exciting, and as I look at this class ... I think some things to me, just off the top of my head, became pretty evident. Number one is we have some credibility. I think when you go in these homes and these high schools there's credibility to what we're doing here. I think the second thing that's obvious is that the culture and chemistry of this program has been significantly changed. You can't go out and recruit the kind of players we've recruited unless the players on campus, particularly the older players, speak so well about the program and the coaches that are there. The coaches all have an agenda in it because we all want the student athlete to come, but the players on our team are just guys talking to other guys. So I think the thing I'm most proud of is how we made the transition in the style of program it was to the style of program it has become. I'm really appreciative of our players, especially our older players, for what they've done in the recruiting (aspect). The third thing that jumps out to me is that we've established some go-to areas. Last year I think we signed 12 players from Texas and this year it was 11. So that's 23 players in two years, and with that I saw the level of competition of people we were recruiting against go up. You look at (what schools) we beat to get some of these players, and ... who beat us to get some of those players we didn't get. I think we've raised that bar, and I think that's only going to get better.
"As far as comparing the class, that's impossible. We'll see how it all works out. The only comparison I can make is last year at this time we signed 25 players, and of those 25 players 20 played in a game for us last year. All 25 of those players are still with the program, all 25 are eligible ... and I think the average GPA of those players we brought in was a 2.67. I'm confident enough to say that this is a stronger class top-to-bottom only because we had so much time to evaluate, (and) so much more time to rank and have fallback plans.
"So I feel good about (the class). I doubt there's a coach in the country that will stand up today and say they don't feel good about (their class), but I think we've taken another step."
On what kind of evaluations they go through when looking at recruits ...
"Do they have a chance to stay here, be successful here, and graduate from here? Is it the right fit? ... I said this last year but Albuquerque, New Mexico is not for everybody. Our style of coaching, our style of discipline, our style of responsibility and going to class is not for everybody. I think as we go on the retention of players in this program will increase. I'm really excited that all 25 of the players we brought in (last year) are here. We know what the retention level was the three prior years. I think the evaluation process means, in the long term, are they guys that can accept the style of coaching you're going to give, and are they guys that can be successful with the way you're doing things? Our offense is a little bit different. It takes an unselfish player. You go recruit a receiver who expects to touch the ball 67 times next year, then he shouldn't come here.
"We know exactly what we have in this program now and exactly what we need to go from four wins to more wins and we can fit in exact pieces more. Last year we were just trying to get 25 guys, to be honest, and we were very fortunate because there is some talent in that class.
"So evaluation is everything from A-to-Z, but the biggest thing is do they have a chance to really be successful, be happy, with your style of how you do things?"
On whether the team addressed a lot of its needs with the recruiting class ...
"I think so. We signed three quarterbacks. That's always the easiest thing for people to see. We have a junior college quarterback that's here on campus, which I thought was really critical, and then we have two other quarterbacks coming in, both from the state of Texas and both we're really excited about because of their style of play. ... So we addressed the quarterback situation. There's going to be a lot of competition there.
"The next piece of it is (we got) two junior college offensive linemen, which was very important for us. You all know the numbers last year on the offensive line, but we got two older guys who will both be here in June that we're very excited about. The defensive back position, probably the biggest position (of need) on the team, we have already made a decision (that) Saqwan Edwards wants to move to corner and will move to corner. Obviously he could be a starting receiver on this team next year so that's a big move with a lot of thought put in to that decision by us, SaQwan, and his parents. But the defensive back position is critical, and I think we got some good athletes that will hopefully come in (and contribute)."
On whether his recruiting "wish list" came true ...
"I think so. You don't always get everyone you want, obviously, but I think through organization of the recruiting plan we had, we ended up coming away satisfied. ... We came away with 25 players, all quality players, all pretty balanced as far as position, I think it was pretty good, I really do."
On whether their recruiting plan specifically targeted players who excelled on both sides of the ball ...
"I think so, particularly the skill position guys, because our receivers are running back-style guys. You look at Romell Jordan from here in town. You look at Teriyon Gipson from Dallas Kimball. Those two guys are in that running back-type slot category. And all those defensive backs, (especially) those guys from California, Markel Byrd and Bijon Parker, are kind of in that mold as well.
"Another position change is Trajuan Briggs, a transfer from Cal who counts as one of our 25 (players signed), is going to be a linebacker for us. So both Trajuan Briggs and Saqwan Edwards are coming over to defense for us."
On whether the team might take a step back this season due to youth ...
"I still feel the same from an experience standpoint just because we are so young. You can just look as our defensive line, as exciting as it is with some really young and talented players, but they haven't played. A year ago at least we had B.R. Holbrook (at quarterback) who had played, but now it's (sophomore) Cole (Gautsche) and a bunch of young guys. We're just young. There's no question we're light years ahead of where we were a year ago in every phase. It's just we're going to be a young football team. There's no way around that."
On the defensive linemen the team signed ...
"I hate to talk about this because it's so premature, but if there's one player on that list that you just kind of want to watch and see what happens is big Sam Mabany from Denver South. His story is unique. His mom came over from Sudan 10 years ago. She brought her two boys over and escaped. He's every bit of 6'7 and growing. We got him early. We were on him last spring, and I'm just curious to see how it all plays out with him. The upside is as high as any player I've been around, but it's just going to take time because he's so young and so raw."
On potentially signing more junior college players ...
"I wouldn't go beyond the five we have. ... I would just rather go the high school route and build this thing and have guys that are going to be here for a longer period of time. (Rashad) Rainey came in here (last year) and started right off the bat for us with no spring ball and has one year of football left. Dave Orvick, no spring ball, has one year of football left. You just can't develop them the way you want to develop them. But there are certain needs you have to go that route. Like quarterback. I think we had to get one quarterback. ... Each junior college player has a different path, and we research that path, but I wouldn't want to go more than five."
On local signee Romell Jordan from Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho, N.M. ...
"Great story ... Romell Jordan has been over here on our campus in camps, watching us play, and is a guy we felt very strongly is a great fit for us. He's a great kid, and we're really excited to have him. He never wavered from the commitment and he's a really good player. You put his tape on and it matches up with anybody we signed in this class. I'm really glad to have Romell Jordan."