2008 Vanderbilt Football Signing Day Press Conference Head Coach Bobby Johnson Quotes
Head Coach Johnson's Opening Statement... "We're excited about our recruiting class that we brought in today. I think our assistant coaches did a fantastic job of meeting our needs and bringing in players that we feel are very useful to our program. We don't look at them any other way except how they will help our program and how well they'll do here academically at Vanderbilt. We're thrilled with them.
"It took an awful lot of hard work. My job is the easy part of it. The assistant coaches do all the work. It was a good process. We enjoyed it, and enjoyed the people that we've got signed. We think they're going to fit in really well at Vanderbilt. We look forward to getting them here when they report in the summer."
On the recruiting class focusing more on defensive players... "We did lose a lot of defensive linemen this year. We lost some outstanding linebackers. We felt we needed to be diligent in replacing those guys. We weren't afraid to take some different people at different places and be able to move them around. I think we have some versatile athletes. They can fit offensively or defensively. Some of them can play defensive end or defensive line. Some of them can play linebacker or defensive back. We feel like we're not only working on defense, but we're working for the whole team too."
On this recruiting class continuing the momentum the program has built over the last few years... "We wanted to make sure that these players fit Vanderbilt. When I'm talking about that, not only our athletic needs, but their academic performance here and their survival here academically. We feel good about our program.
"I don't compare our recruits to other people's classes. I don't care who other people sign. We care who we sign for Vanderbilt. The only time we start comparing them is when we get ready to play them in football. We'll worry about Georgia's recruiting class when we play Georgia next year. I can't control who they sign and they can't control who we sign."
On if any of the signees will be ready to make an immediate impact next season... "We really don't know. We thought (wide receiver) Earl Bennett was an outstanding player. We had no idea he was going to contribute as much as he did as a freshman. We've had guys who stayed in the program a couple of years and then blossomed and became good players for us. There's no doubt in my mind that the key to our program is retention. You keep them in your program and you teach them what to do. You make them better players and make them bigger, faster and stronger. When they're performing as redshirt juniors and redshirt seniors, you should have a fine player there. All the players we signed today are very capable of that. By the time they've been in our program for one or two years, we feel like they'll be able to step in and really contribute and help our program."
On recruiting players from the states of Florida and Georgia... "We do think Florida and Georgia are both tremendous football states. They're both very large states. Football is important in those states. We just go where good programs are. Sometimes that is in Tennessee. I think last year was a big year for us in Tennessee. It's not that we prefer some states over other states. We just go where the players are."
On what players will be able to contribute their freshmen year... "I think wide receivers will be able to help us. John Cole played in an offense that threw the ball a ton. He's used to catching passes. He's very fast. He has a chance to be able to step in and maybe help. We'll find out. You would think coming from the system that he does and the ability that he has to run fast, that he would have a chance."
On getting to the position where you can redshirt all incoming players... "That would be great. All those things never go exactly to plan. We would have liked to have planned that Earl (Bennett) would have been here one more year. Those things can't be counted on. We always look at redshirting as a way to maximize a player's playing potential and the number of plays he's going to play. We want to maximize the number of games he plays. Each situation is different and each position is different. We never have a number in mind where we say we're going to redshirt...it just works out that way."
On John Cole... "He had good numbers coming into his senior year. He added a whole bunch of them this year. I think he set every Kentucky (receiving) record there is. We had him in camp, saw him participate here and saw him perform. We knew right away that John was a guy we would like to have in our system."
On the importance of camps in recruiting players... "I think it's huge because a lot more athletes are committing earlier. When we take a commitment, we're going to say we're going to give you a scholarship and not take it away. We're going to be very careful when we want to offer a scholarship to a guy. If we'd been able to see him in spring practice, that would be ideal and then again at summer camp. That's two opportunities for us to evaluate his talent and to be around him. We can see how he fits in and he can see how we would fit in with him. Camps are huge. That's why they are so popular now. Camps have gone from four day instructional camps to one or two day appearances."
On the linebackers in this class... "DeAndre Jones is a great player. He had an excellent year at Memphis University School. I think he's an outstanding player. He made a bunch of plays. We also believe that Tristan Strong and Dexter Daniels will both be outstanding linebackers. Dexter was the state player of the year in Alabama in his classification. Any linebacker that we sign we believe can fit into that great tradition that we have here for linebackers."
On not signing a running back in this year's class... "We didn't feel it was a need. We got everybody back except Cassen Jackson-Garrison. We got three guys we redshirted last year. We really didn't need anyone. We felt like if we ran across a guy that was a great fit for us and a fantastic player, we would entertain the thought of signing a runningback. Now we can make that a high priority for next year's class and really concentrate on getting a great back."