Wednesday afternoon, Vanderbilt Head Coach James Franklin met with the media to discuss the team's 21-member signing class of 2012. Watch Franklin's press conference and hear what he has to say about this year's signing class.
Head Coach James Franklin
"I've described it like we've been in a heavyweight championship fight for the last 365 days, and each one of those days was a round. And this coaching staff fought and competed and sold all the wonderful things Vanderbilt has to sell, and it's gone extremely well. I've enjoyed going into the high schools and getting to know all the high school coaches and players and it's been amazing how well we've been received. I think people in this part of the country, in SEC Country, really appreciate and respect what we've been able to do in a very short period of time. But I think everyone also realizes we have a very long way to go and have tremendous respect for this conference and what it stands for."
On the six signees from inside the state:
"It's very important for a number of different reasons. We're going to take a national approach to recruiting and I think we have to do that based on our academic requirements, and things like that, to find enough quality student-athletes that fit our profile, we're going to have to take a national approach. But, I hope and think you're always going to do your best job recruiting in a three or four hour radius of your campus because you have an opportunity to evaluate those prospects, you have an opportunity to get to know them as people better, and they have an opportunity to evaluate us. You can build a better relationship with those kids, so we're always going to try take a lot of pride and do a good job of recruiting locally and securing those types of kids, but we're going to go wherever we have to to find players.
I think the other thing that's very important is, we also have a challenge of filling our stadium up. And I expect our stadium to be sold out next year at every single game, rain, sunshine, overcast, morning game, night game ... sold out. And I think when you recruit locally and get high profile guys to jump on board and believe in what you're doing with your program, that's going to help us, because now that community not only has the Vanderbilt alums in that community but another reason to come support Vanderbilt and the community that kid came from."
On whether the incoming players will play early:
"I said this last year and you guys all thought I was crazy, but once again, we plan on playing all these guys. Once they get here, if they're not ready, then we'll redshirt them, but I want all these kids to come in with the approach that they're going to play and contribute. That's one of the biggest things that we have to sell right now, playing time. I don't know if we're going to be able to sell that three, four years from now but right now we can. Whether they come in and are starters and have significant roles or whether they come in and will be in the two deep - that's probably where we need help the most, our depth."
On how hard it is to hold onto player commitments leading up to signing day:
"The funny thing is, I think, in the beginning of the year everyone says, `well you've got all these early commitments, can you hold onto them?' Well we held onto them but we didn't really steal any people at the end, so I take a lot of pride that we were able to get guys on board that jumped on our bandwagon and jumped on what we were selling very early on. They believed in our vision, they believed in our plan and our dream for what Vanderbilt could be, and at that point we didn't have a whole lot to show for it and those guys stuck through with us. Multiple offers, negative recruiting that goes on, and for the most part, most of those never wavered.
A guy that probably symbolizes that as much as anybody is Brian Kimbrow. I remember sitting last night, about 10:30 and I got a text from him, and it was an amazing text. I have it right here, it said, `what's good coaches? I know you wont' be able to respond but I want to say thanks for taking the opportunity and believing in me.' This is a day and age where a lot of recruits are entitled, and they take the scholarship for granted. You're talking about a guy who's talking about appreciating believing in him ... that's what we're building this program around, a bunch of guys that are fiercely loyal to Vanderbilt, fiercely loyal to us as a coaching staff, and they appreciate the opportunity of what Vanderbilt's going to do for them. I take a lot of pride in those guys."
On Coach Tim Corbin's presence in this process:
"That's my guy, Corbs is my guy, he's my homie. They made a video when I was interviewing for the process, and they showed it to me and I took it home to my wife, and it was "Why Vanderbilt," and Corbs spoke on it and I called Corbs afterwards. I think football and baseball, they're really two different animals, especially in this league, but what he's been able to do, there's been some tremendous lessons that I've been able to ask his advice. He's been an unbelievable mentor since I arrived on campus, and he's been very involved - he loves football. They're coming out with us tonight, him and Maggie.
He's talked to individual recruits, he's come and spoken to recruits and come to dinners, and been very involved. We've taken recruits to some of his games in the spring. Tim's a guy who gets it. He's not just committed to his baseball program, he's committed to this whole Vanderbilt family, which is kind of how we look at it. We just hit it off right from the beginning and I think what he's been able to do with his program, where it started to where it is now, there are a lot of parallels to what we're trying to do, so he's been a really good resource to us. And his wife, Maggie, is awesome too, I love the whole family.