Feb. 5, 2014
DEKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois University head football coach Rod Carey spoke at a press conference today at the Jeffrey and Kimberly Yordon Center to talk about the 2014 signing class. Below are excerpts from the press conference.
Head Coach Rod Carey
"Obviously we're really excited about the class. A lot of hard work went into it. Really, 13 months of relationship building with these guys for our entire staff. Last year's class we were really proud of as well. We did that one shorthanded. But this one, all the guys that we're bringing in know all of our coaches and there isn't any familiarity that has to be developed there. We've had 13 months to do that, so we really feel fortunate about that and really happy about that.
"It is exactly how we do recruiting when you look at the breakdown about areas. You know we're going to always take care of the Midwest here and Illinois, what we consider our backyard. We're certainly proud of everyone we have coming in from that area. With that being said, we also are reaching out into the national stage with our play on the field and with our recruiting. That shows up in this class as well. We feel really fortunate to have the guys from far away that we do and really believe they're going to fit and be good contributors not only on the football field but also to this community, which we're really excited about as well.
"You talk about the position breakdown. Obviously there are three real positions that we really felt we had big time need on and that was defensive back, wide receiver, and quarterback. D-line is in there as well but we feel like, we addressed that and we have some good football players in our system in all those positions. Really, those are the three areas we were concentrated on and really, in my estimation hit homeruns in all three of those areas, along with the D line you can say as well."
On the number of recruits from Florida
"Yeah, it's a hot bed in recruiting. I think everybody nationally recruits down there. I will say this, I told these guys a year ago I think that the Orange Bowl would really have an effect a year from now. I think you're seeing that in that, not that that was the only reason by no means that these guys are here, but I think that door opens for you a little bit with having that. I always view recruiting as kind of a year-out type of process cause we start the relationship so early with kids."
On the difference in recruiting this year compared to last year
"I really view it the same because I got hired so early that I really went through the on-the-road phase. So as far as that phase that was kind of round two for me as far as being a head coach. As far as the relationship developments starting early last year that was really the first round and I think it went as much as you could say as expected. There are always things that are out there that you're not expecting, but that's recruiting in and of itself. Recruiting isn't a business it's about people. Any time you have a lot of people involved, I think, there are good things and there are bad things like any good thing and we feel fortunate about the guys we have cause it's all good.
On the expectations as a head coach recruiting versus the expectations on him as an assistant
"That's a good question. I don't know that there's anything that caught me by surprise. I think what was going on was expected. You are really trying to really kind of herd the whole flock you know what I mean and kind of get around and be everything to everybody, which was an expectation. You want to be that cause that's what you need to be. You can't just focus on one thing, so that's probably the biggest difference. I don't know that it was a surprise."
On the impact of NIU's appearance in the Orange Bowl on recruiting South Florida
"I think that that opened the door, not just down there but across the rest of the regions including our own back door here. That really opened the door for conversations that maybe we hadn't had before with other people. I'm just going to tell you that was an effect, that wasn't the reason we have this class we have. The reason we have this class is because of the relationships we built, because of what's been done here before me, because of what we did this year, because of all those things wrapped into one but that certainly had a part in it."
On if he can involve his players from Florida to help recruit Florida players
"You can't do that NCAA-wise. Obviously, there are relationships that are already preexisting but we can't direct those guys on our team just say, "Hey go out and talk to this guy." That kind of has to happen naturally. I think in some cases it did this year really just hearing it kind of after the fact from my seat that, "Oh yeah, that's great he talked to you" but you can't really cross that bridge."
On Thad Ward's impact recruiting South Florida
"Well, I think Thad did an outstanding job, I think coach Kane did an outstanding job, I think coach Diersen, the three guys that we have down in Florida, all did a great job down there. Not to slight any of our other assistants. I'm only as good as the people around me, and we have a heck of a staff. They all did a great job in this class."
On the focus of this year's signing class
"I think given our situation on offensive line two years ago. If you remember, we signed five offensive linemen, and then we didn't sign any last year. This year we came back and signed two. I think that's where the emphasis was we kind of saw this coming two years out, we kind of knew our skill would be leaving us in a few years, now we're fortunate, offensively we didn't have a ton of skill leave us this year. In fact, none left us, obviously except or Jordan [Lynch], but the skill positions, so we wanted to get ahead of that with the wide receivers. We knew, if you look at last year's class with the DB's, we brought in and then this year again with the DB's that we're addressing that need before it really came to fruition and we feel like we're right on time with it."
On Landon Root
"Yeah, really you know just impressed with him. We had him in camp and he came up and really just performed very well in camp. Then once you get to know him and his family, you become even more impressed. That's really the whole thing for me on this, you guys, is guys that want to be at NIU I think is a key to our success forward and backward if you look at it. Landon, as we got going in the recruiting process he wanted to be here and that means more to me than probably any measurable that we can put a tape to or put a clock on."
On the quarterback competition
"No, I think him and Graham both quarterbacks that came in. Listen, we lost our quarterback so I think the competition is wide open. Now obviously they're going to be behind a little bit cause they won't be here for spring ball, but spring ball doesn't determine everything either so they're going to have an open competition at that position and I think those two are right in the mix."
On if all the needs were addressed with this class or are there some late signees possible
"I think there's always that potential. We did that last year. We brought one in, and uh, later, and that was just kind of one we were working on, and I think there's always that potential. You want to leave yourself that room to do that. I think with the rules today, of 85 scholarships, I think that you walk away from every class feeling really good about it but wishing you had about five more to give because of the relationships you have out there. That's just the way it is. It's like that for everybody though."
On if there will be any late signings
"Like I said, I think there's room out there for that, but right now this is the class. There's always situations that arise in college football, and with us and with PSAs that can happen later. This is really just the beginning, this date. If everyone remembers the rules, this isn't the beginning and the end. This is the beginning, you know, you have an NLI period in there, but you have guys you can sign to scholarship papers throughout the whole course of this thing. So it's really, as our staff views it, really just the beginning of what we're going to continue to do for this class. It's a good beginning, I'd say. A heck of one."
On if Ezra Safford is another Tommylee Lewis
"He's from Tommylee's high school, and they do know each other even though they're some distance apart there in years. If you watch his film, and all you got to do is put on his highlight film, God, he plays like Tommylee. He's his own person, I can tell you that, but a lot of the same skill set. We're really, really happy about."
On how NIU coaches find talent at smaller programs
"That is what I think today's recruiting, this National Signing Day has become, it all about the glitz and the glamour. For us, it's about the exact opposite because you go out and do your homework, you hit your schools, you talk to the coaches, and all of a sudden you'll find a guy like them. I think everyone would say they probably have, but I can guarantee you we have in the past, and I think we found another gem in Ty [Harmston]. That just came through coach Diersen doing what supposed to do and being out in the schools and developing relationships with people."
On how this class will maintain the high standard of play at the quarterback position
"I think you hit it right on the head. The expectations for the quarterback kind of mirror the expectations of our program, which we expect to be in the mix for the MAC Championship every year. Those are the expectations we have and the quarterback that plays that position for us has those expectations squarely on him, to perform at a level that can put us in that position.
"We always adapt. If you go back and look at Chandler, his senior year, our first year with him, we were not the same offense this year that we were then. We adapt to their strengths, and we adapt constantly. It's that old adage, if you're not moving forward, you're moving backward. We will find the guy that we believe can lead us, and we will use his strengths."
On how much stock Carey puts in the various rating systems
"I put none in it. I do not care in any way shape or form what third party recruiters say about the guys that we've signed or any other guy that anybody else has signed either. What I do care about is the relationship we have with our recruit along with their families, their head coaches and important people in their lives. We make our own assessments off of that. I think I understand why it is what it is today. I think it's great Signing Day is so big, but when it comes to the actual evaluation, I put none in it."