Feb. 2, 2011
DEKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois head coach Dave Doeren spoke at NIU's 2011 Signing Day press conference to announce his first signing class as head coach of the Huskies.
"I'm excited for Signing Day today and to announce our class for this coming season. It's been since my date of hire, Dec. 14th, our mission to this point to put together the best group of young men we could get. I feel really excited and very proud of the men that are joining our team, our family."
"There are a lot of different stories that went into this. Before I get into it, I wanted to formally introduce our staff and talk about each member of the coaching staff and where they're going to be recruiting in the future."
Matt Canada, Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
"Matt used to be with us on Coach Novak's staff. He was also at the University of Indiana where we competed against each other. Matt was a big part of putting together our offensive class.
"The one thing I will say about our class, we didn't recruit by area. We recruited together. Our staff worked hard together. They crossed over by position. Guys recruited all over. We bounced in and out of houses. We tried to get as many members of our staff into living rooms and in schools as possible to make the kids feel as comfortable as they could with all of us because of the short window of time. It was a collaborative effort."
"Matt is our quarterback's coach. He will recruit the middle part of the state of Illinois and all of the quarterbacks that we recruit from this point forward will be in his stable."
Jay Niemann, Defensive Coordinator/Safeties
Rod Carey, Offensive Line
"Jay Niemann is from, most recently Hardin-Simmons. Jay and I worked together at Drake University back in the day. Jay is an Iowa native, played at Iowa State. He will recruit the northwestern part of the state of Illinois, some local areas around here and the state of Iowa in the future. "
"Rod comes to us from North Dakota. I interviewed a lot of line coaches. Rod will recruit Wisconsin and Minnesota for us where there are a lot of big guys. Rod will also be in charge of our walk-on program, which is a vital part of our success here. A great example of that was this year's tailback Chad Spann
. He came here as a walk-on and had a fantastic career as a Huskie."
Eddie Faulkner, Running Backs/Special Teams Coordinator
"I hired Eddie from Ball State where he was the offensive coordinator and special teams coordinator while he was there. Eddie, an Indiana native, will recruit the state of Indiana, a bordering state for us and the city of Detroit as well."
Kevin Kane, Tight Ends & Fullbacks
"Kevin was with me at Wisconsin. He played for me at the University of Kansas. He's a Kansas City native from Rockhurst High School. Kevin will recruit that beltline of Missouri from Kansas City, I-70 all the way across the state of Missouri to St. Louis and up into southern Illinois."
Ryan Nielsen, Defensive Line/Recruiting Coordinator
"Ryan will be our recruiting coordinator. Ryan came here from the state of Tennessee. Before that, Ryan was at Ole Miss. Ryan has been a special teams coordinator, a special teams coordinator and a defensive line coach his whole career. Ryan played at USC when I was a coach there.
Tom Matukewicz, Linebackers
"Tom stays here from our previous staff. Tom has great roots in the Jayhawk Conference. Tom will be in charge with all the transfers we recruit, junior college-wise and the state Florida, the southern half in particular. Tom will handle all the transitional things that occur with our football team.
"He's going to be a life skills director for our players. He's personally going to take the responsibility of these incoming transfer players and helping them transition onto college life."
Bob Cole, Wide Receivers
"Bob is going to recruit the panhandle of Florida and be our Chicago Catholic league liaison and recruit those schools for us. I know he's already been in there and building great relationships with those coaches."
Richard McNutt, Cornerbacks
"Richard is a Chicago native and I know he's excited to be back in his roots. He will recruit Chicago and because of where he's been as a player, at Ohio State, and coach at Kent State, Toledo and the Cleveland Browns, he'll be in Ohio for us."
"Those guys collectively helped myself, our graduate assistants and our operations guys. Our administration played a large part in speaking at many of our events. I appreciate what Jeff Compher, Christian Spears and Lindsey Hicks did to help us put this class together."
On the number of recruits Doeren wanted signed when the day began
"We're right around where we thought we'd be. There were a couple guys dangling here and there. We got a guy we weren't sure on, didn't get another. We're right around where we thought we'd end up with."
On if Doeren was surprised he was able to sign a full class
"We actually still have a couple [scholarships] left. We've got around the numbers I expected to get. The guys worked hard. The guys sitting in this room have been grinding it. We've been on the phones, we've been flying, going through snow and waiting in airports, and it's because of hard work. This was a product that wasn't hard to sell. I wish we had more time with a few more guys to get in and know the families better. It's not a hard product [to sell]. They've done a great job at this place academically. The facilities speak for itself. It's a winning program. The players have a tight family when you get them on campus. It allowed us to do our job."
On if Doeren had followed some of the recruits when he was at Wisconsin
"There were several I knew about. Florida, St. Louis, and Kansas City were my areas when I was there. I had been recruiting in those states, some of them for 10-plus years. So I knew where everybody was. The Illinois guys, that wasn't an area that was mine, so I really relied on some of our other coaches. We also went off of guys that Tom [Matukewicz] had invested time in here and already educated them on our university. As the coaches I hired came in, they had guys they really liked too. Several of these guys were guys I knew about."
On what the four St. Louis-area recruits mean to this signing class
"They mean the same thing everybody else does. I'm fired up they're coming. Honestly, there's no one guy that's more important that the other. They're all going to do they're jobs. It's funny, when we got into St. Louis, Devonte' I think was the first one we were talking to. Devonte' was asking who else we were looking at and he said, `I know him. I know him too.' When he came up here he was like, `We need to get all these guys coach.' It kind of snowballed. The way it all worked out, they were all buddies because of all the different all-star games or pictures they had taken together. It's a tight-knit bunch of guys there."
On Doeren's ability to convince Andrew Ness to come to NIU
"I've known Andrew and his dad for three years because they came to the camp at Wisconsin. So it wasn't a deal that I had to educate them on what I'm all about. There was a great deal of comfort between us. They wanted to meet Rod Carey. Once I got Rod in the fold and the fact that he played center in college, which is what Andrew plays, that really put it together."
On if Devonte' will have the blocking skills to step in and play early
"There's a lot of film catching the ball, but there's a lot of film on him blocking that's not on this highlight film. Devonte's actually lined up at fullback and led on Iso's. That's something that he knows is part of his job. I know he's excited to be a versatile player."
On the impact coach Matukewicz had on the recruiting process
"He was a big help, there's no doubt. The biggest part of what Tom did, the two weeks that I wasn't here when I was still working for the other school, he put all this stuff back and forth. Tom was helping me here, helping me there. He really bridged my efforts to the university. He was phenomenal working and doing the things to keep this thing afloat until I returned. Once I did, it was very organized. He, Ryan [Nielsen] and Jay [Niemann] spent four days straight in that cave there watching film while I was getting ready for the Rose Bowl putting together the defensive side while Matt was doing the offense."
On the importance of signing versatile guys
"You're always looking for value when you're looking at guys. What do they do other than play one spot? Anytime you get guys that have value as a returner, they can cover kicks or they've block punts, then you know they're not just going to play one position. It adds value to our football team. Special teams is a huge part of what we're going to be about. It's field position. It's points on the board. Those are things we've got to take great pride in doing. When you recruit guys that love that part of the game, it makes it even easier."
On Jamal Womble's opportunity at NIU
"He's a guy that will tell he's very happy to have it and he wants to do something with it. When Jamal and I met, we talked about how small the window is now for him to prove himself and he knows that. He'll look you right in the eye and tell you how excited he is to have that opportunity."
On if Womble will get some carries early on next season
"He's going to have to earn them. We hope so. We didn't bring him here to stand around. But there's also two good backs in the program coming back and he's going to compete with those guys. If he's healthy, if he's learning everything and doing things the way coach is asking him to, he'll have a role in our offense."
On if Doeren meant what he said about NIU being the next TCU or Boise State
"I wouldn't have said it if I didn't believe it. We're here to win games. We're here to play and do everything we can as competitors to make it the best football team we can. When you're in the position we are as far as BCS, non-BCS, those are the teams you want to emulate right now. So, there's no doubt this program wants to people to talk about us on Saturdays as the next giant killer. We want to be in those discussions."
On if this class will enable NIU to become the next TCU or Boise State
"Yes. They're very good football players. They're guys that love playing football from winning programs."
On the next step for Doeren and his coaching staff
"We've been concentrating on our players as well. We've been meeting with them when we're in the office. We've been talking to them in the weight room, hanging out with them. Our attention will go to getting ready for the next part of what we do, the offseason program. Our coaches will take off for a few days and reintroduce themselves to their kids and wives, refresh their batteries and come back ready to grind and get our guys back in shape with coach Ohrt."
On if any of the recruits will step in right away next year
"There's always a guy or two that can do that. I'm not going to put that on anybody. Everywhere you go, you see one or two guys that jump in, either by depth or by ability, but they'll have to earn that. I know a lot of the guys want to."
On how difficult it was to put the recruiting class together in less than a month
"It was a lot of work. Every recruiting class is difficult. There's a lot of guys fighting over the same players. The most difficult thing was we didn't get to get into the schools as many times as some of the other people. The kids we were able to get on campus were extremely impressed with what we were doing."
On why NIU was an easy sell
"The bowl win was big. Having 11 wins and being ranked in the Top 25, the APR that the university has, the 11 straight semesters with a 3.0 GPA, the Yordon Center, the facility, the commitment to build an indoor practice facility, all those things made it easier to talk about with our recruits. There wasn't anything we couldn't talk about in a positive light and that's big when you're selling a product."
On if Doeren's tenure at Wisconsin helped
"I think it did. A lot of these kids knew me because I was there and what I'd done. Some of them knew me from before that even because of my relationships in Kansas City and St. Louis when I was at Kansas. Being a Midwest guy and having success definitely helped."
On the balance of offensive and defensive recruits
"We had certain targets from a numbers standpoint. There probably would have been a few more guys on defense, if we would've gotten everybody we were trying to get. We wanted to try and have a balance that way and even up the class."
On if the lack of Illinois signees this year will be a trend
"You'll see more Illinois kids in the future. Part of the problem when we got here was a lot of Illinois kids were committed elsewhere. We tried to get in on many of them. Some of them, to their credit, stuck with who they were with. A couple of them came our way. When you walk into a place as late as we did, we were trying to find as many guys as we could. Many of the ones in state were committed elsewhere that we felt could play here."
On the percentage of recruits that were committed to the previous staff
"There were a couple. Cameron Clinton-Earl, Matt McIntosh, Jhony Faustin, Boomer Mays and Rasheen Lemon were all committed [to the previous staff]. Jamal Womble was committed, then opened it back up during the transition, then recommitted after I got here and talked to him."
On if this class exceeds expectations in terms of quantity
"Quantity wasn't what we were looking for at all. It was about quality. I didn't want to take guys just to take them. When we set out to do this, we wanted guys that we felt fit what was here. We did that. There were several other guys that we felt were good enough to be here, but for whatever reason we didn't get them. It wasn't about how many we could get, it was about getting the right ones."