Feb. 3, 2010
DEKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois head football coach Jerry Kill discussed his new signing class at the 2010 Signing Day press conference on Wednesday at the Jeffrey and Kimberly Yordon Center.
NIU Head Coach Jerry Kill
"First of all, this recruiting process is quite a process. In our particular class we feel like we have a very good one, but it wouldn't have happened without all the people that contributed to the process. I want to thank our administration, which was involved with it, the professors here at the university, and certainly our coaching staff. We had a group effort to bring these youngsters to our place. When we have them here for the weekend, I think we do as good as a job as anybody. We were very fortunate to have the work and those people that are so loyal to our football program and our university to help us. So it was certainly not just football, but our university that's helped us so we appreciate that."
"I think we have fulfilled the needs in our recruiting. It's always a need thing when it comes to football and where you have to plug in things that you're losing. We feel like we have done that very well. We worked up to every single minute, even this morning to where we had a few things happen in the process, which was good. We're excited about the class. Again, I think we've done a great job. You never know how your recruiting is going to go. We felt like we had a great class last year, and once we got them here and they performed, we felt like there was no question that we did. This one certainly on paper looks good. Hopefully they'll perform as well as they look on paper and hopefully we've done a good job."
"I know the question will come up, `Coach, you've got 25 kids or whatever." We'll scholarship the ones we have available and we'll also try to recruit nine or 10 guys we feel will earn a scholarship. I would tell you that we have four guys that were non-scholarship players that started on our offensive football team this year. So we'll continue to recruit and hopefully we'll bring in a class of about 32 freshmen. That's kind of what we'll look at. I will tell you again that I appreciate the work the coaching staff did. Coach Fleck, who has left us to go to Rutgers, did a great job. But the guy I'm going to plug a little bit up here is Coach Phelps. He stepped right on in and did a great job carrying the stick for us and we held in on kids and then he snagged one late last night, so it's a good thing. He's done a good job."
On the strengths of this class
"It gives us depth and I think the strength is what we've always talked about. I think there is a great deal of speed in the class without a doubt. There's a lot of athleticism. We need offensive linemen. The offensive linemen fit what Coach Limegrover wants. He wants smart kids, he wants kids with some length and some size, and he wants competitive kids. I think he feels tremendous about this group. In the skill positions, we want speed. When we played South Florida, it was evident what they brought to the table at linebacker. So you kind of get a way of looking at what you need. We feel we addressed that. We feel like we've got some guys that can really run and that was important."
"The kicking game, getting a kicker and a punter, was very important that we did that and addressed those needs and we've done that and a deep snapper and etcetera. I think we've fulfilled our needs. We've got athleticism. I always say there are two types of things and this is one of the questions I ask the youngsters. There are football players and there are ones that like playing football. I want a football player. Not one that just likes playing and at this level I have to get a football player. You've got to get someone that's serious about being a football player and also getting a college degree. I think we've done a good job at addressing those needs."
On recruiting NIU Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics Jeff Compher's son, C.J.
"I'll be honest with you. I had to take all those things [C.J. being the son of Kill's boss] out of it. I've got to look at what's best for our football program. I've got to do what our needs are. You look at local kids, and it happens to be his son. At the same time, in C.J.'s situation, it's a specific need for us. Right now, at the H-back/tight end position, which is kind of a combined position, is a position that when I took the job, there wasn't that type of position. It fills a specific need. We know we're getting a smart young man. We know we're getting an athletic young man because we've had him here. You can't miss on stuff that you see. We always talk about it. At the end of the day, in recruiting you've got to take things that you know. I know a lot about C.J. and what he brings to the table and that's why it's so important to get those types of young men. It's a great fit for us and I know he'll do a great job for us."
On how much h-back they used last year
"Not as much as we'd like to. We've really only had one true recruiting class and this is our second one. We're still adjusting to get what we need to do and what we'd like to do. We're really getting closer and closer to where we're at. We're excited about that."
On surprise signings
"There are a lot of surprises with recruiting. Probably the biggest one was Greg Barksdale. Coach Phelps got a call late. He was committed to Wyoming and was going in that direction. I think he felt that, at the moment of truth, when you know you've got to go that far away from home, I think he decided that wasn't the direction he wanted to go in. We knew a lot about him and recruited him. That was one that changed late in the situation. That's how it is with a lot of kids. It goes back and forth. We went down to the final wire on several kids. We could have been up here today and last list could have been eight or nine short of what we got. Some of the people that we were recruiting against and how things were going to fall, you just don't know. We've been in that, what I call, the "war room" since 7 o'clock this morning hoping that things would come out. I've been at places where we didn't know about a kid and at 9 o'clock and they changed their mind. We had some of that but we were fortunate; most of ours was for the good.
On the positions Marckie Hayes and Michael Santacaterina will be playing at NIU
"I'm going to recruit athletes, and I'll put them on the field where we feel like they're needed. Recruit athletes, recruit length, make them play. Both those youngsters will probably play defense for us. One will probably be a safety and one will probably be a corner."
On kickers Tyler Anderson and Mathew Sims
"We've got both those young men that we have signed. They're probably as important as anyone else to our program. Those two guys have got to come in and do a great job. Tyler is more of a punter but he could kick. Mat is more of a kicker that could punt. To me they're both great kids, they fit into our program. I was worried about it. I drove our coaches crazy, it's hard to evaluate. Those are both great gifts for us. There is no question about that. They better do well."
On Jamison Wells
"Jayme will be a wide receiver for us. He's a great athlete. We recruited him hard a year ago. He came to the baseball program and he was going to do both but decided to do one. He came up to me with coach Mathey [NIU's baseball coach], and coach Mathey and I have a great relationship, and they visited with me. I think he had such a great state championship game and I think he started thinking, `boy I tell you what, I'd like to play football.' So we're going to work together on that. He'll be playing baseball this spring and we'll go back and forth we've done that before. He is a great athlete. He'll bring a lot to the table there's no question about that."
On immediate impacts of the recruiting class
"To be honest with you, we got in that room the other day and I talked to our players, I told them we have open competition. This is what I've been waiting for since I got here. I feel like we're bringing in some kids. We brought in a class last year and we got some kids that have been here before. We needed to build some depth. The only way to get better is you got to be deep and know how to compete."
"There's a reason USC has been where they're at. They've got competition every single day in practice. We have not been able to do that since we've been here. I feel like now, with this class coming in, we can go to practice every day and you better compete and you better practice hard, and you better be ready to go or you're going to get left behind because I really think we've filled in some depth."
"If you look at our class, for instance the running back. We recruited a national player of the year, offensively, and he's on campus right now. A lot of people say, `you have a couple of running backs.' We want the best of the best and if you have an opportunity to recruit the best running back in the nation coming out of junior college that's tremendous. That's a tremendous signee for us."
"We had an opportunity with the situation with quarterback. With Chandler having had some injuries and things happen, we decided as a group we may need a junior in there. We had a great opportunity to get a great football player. Casey Weston has led the nation in junior college per game throwing the football. He is tremendous and he can flat out play. Those are kind of things we looked at. You go into class and talk about guys that we expect to compete. You look in the offensive line, there's going to have to be a couple of those guys that step up. Which five of those are going to step up? It's hard to predict."
"Linebacker-wise, you talk about the class of just linebackers alone, they may grow. What you have to understand is you recruit them and they could grow. Stingily is 6-2, 240 today and might be 6-3, 270 tomorrow. There are seven guys in that class that are 17 years old. Males tend to grow from 17 to 19. Tyler Loos is only 17 years old and is 6-6, 270. He may be 6-7, 320 [in a few years]. You've got to think of what Ryan Diem looked like when he came here and what he's playing at in that National Football League. He's going to line up in the Super Bowl and look what he looks like now."
"You recruit length and I think we've done that. If you look at Barksdale, he's a kid that's a local youngster and a heck of an athlete. Jamaal Bass from Florida, I think he ran 4.51 electronic time in Florida, one of the fifth fastest times in South Florida as a linebacker. He was recruited by everybody in the country, but he got a lower bone in his leg broke toward the end of the year and some things fell off. But a tremendous athlete and very similar to what we were playing against at South Florida. Mike Hellams is a tremendous athlete from Bolingbrook. We know a lot about him. He can really run and do some great things. Stingily, I mean he's 6-2, 240, played tailback and linebacker. He probably thinks he's coming here to play tailback. He's asked me that about five times. He probably could be; he's that kind of athlete."
"I'm excited about the class as far as their athleticism. For example, Joe Windsor came to camp. He's from Kearney, Missouri, they didn't lose any football games and won a state championship. Most of these kids have won a state championship. They've been winners and that's a good thing to do. You want to recruit kids who know how to win. Joe is 6-1, 225 and his vertical jump is somewhere between 38 and 40 inches and he hand cleans from the floor 385 pounds. We don't have anybody like that right now."
"The class brings some strength. We've got some guys in this class that are stronger than what we have now. That's what we try to do every year. We got to do better than this class. Next year we get better and before long we got a pretty deep team. That's kind of what we're working for."
"The three guys that were here that I need to mention that you'll see in the Spring is Akeem Daniels, which is Kiaree's brother, is a young man out of Florida that we've had in camp and he's the fastest guy we've ever had timed in camp here. So we know he can run. He's a great punt returner, kick returner, receiver, slotback, and he's here on campus because he graduated early out of high school and he's here right now. Jasmin is here, the tailback, is already here taking classes and going to school. Demetrius Stone, a defensive back out of Coffeyville Junior College, who can play safety or corner. He's a unique guy that can do both and he's got three years left. Those three guys are here on campus and you'll see them in the Spring."
On two players from Kansas on roster
"I think it's like anything with recruiting. You got to work to find talent. Both those kids are going to be good football players for us. We know they're tough, we know they're hard-nosed, where they came from, the type of upbringing they've had. That's what we want on our football team. You hope, as a coach, your football team reflects you, and I think that's where we're moving. It reflects your personality. You have to look in those areas. For instance Tyler Pitt. If he was from the suburbs, I firmly believe he would have been recruited by every team in the country. You've got to search to find him now. We've always had a knack as a coaching staff, and we've been together for a long time, to find those diamonds in the rough. Our guys do a heck of a job working and it's a year around job. We'll go anywhere to find a good player."