Feb. 6, 2013
DEKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois head football coach Rod Carey discussed his first recruiting class at a press conference at the Jeffrey and Kimberly Yordon Center on National Signing Day. Below are excerpts from the press conference.
NIU Head Coach Rod Carey
"As a head coach, absolutely I go in and I guess you could say, close, but it doesn't happen without a lot of people's efforts. Our assistant coaches work their tails off on this deal. They were traveling and they were going just as much, if not more, than I was. Our administration, they do a great job coming over in our weekends and kind of giving the overall vision with Jeff Compher and the other ADs. I tell you what, it is not a one-man show and I feel fortunate to be a part of it. With that being said, we did sign a really good class and I'm excited about it."
Comments on each individual signee
"Jackson Abresch is a defensive back out of Arrowhead High School up in Wisconsin. He is 6-1, 185 pounds, really good football player and excited about him."
"Mycial Allen is a safety, 5-11, 183 out of King High School up in Michigan. Really explosive guy and we are looking forward to having him on our team."
"Chad Beebe a wide receiver out of Aurora Christian right here in Illinois. He is a really good route runner and every time you say that you kind of get that impression he doesn't have any speed but the kid is fast too. Really excited about him."
"Joel Bouagnon. I want to make sure that I say that exactly right because Joel is going to be a really good football player here. He is also from Aurora Christian out here in Illinois. 6-2, 225 really fits that mold of that big downhill running back. Really excited to have that back in our offensive repertoire."
"We have Tate Briggs coming to us. He is an offensive lineman that is 6-4 almost 300 pounds from Montini Catholic right here in Illinois. Really fits that road grader, which I really like. When I say road grader, really flat back and runs off the football."
"Nick Calhoun another offensive lineman that is 6-5 almost 310 out of Lords Academy up in Wisconsin. Late bloomer type and really came on as a senior. Big kid, really looking forward to having him here too."
"Nick Cieslak, quarterback. Really dual threat quarterback out of Kettle Moriane High School in Wisconsin. He throws the ball well, really moves around and does some nice things. Really excited about him."
"Justin Corbett a safety 6-2, 205 from Lincoln-Way East High School right here in Illinois. They were state runner-ups this year. He played a lot of offense but he is a safety for us. Really feel fortunate about him."
"Sean Folliard is a linebacker 6-2, 205 from Prairie Ridge right here in Illinois. He is on our team already. He graduated early so he is already working out. He could not wait. I was talking to him before the Orange Bowl and before Christmas and he couldn't wait. He is so happy right now."
"Jake Heckel, a tight end, 6-4, 235 from Waukesha West a high school out of Wisconsin. He is a really good physical kid that played defense as well. I love those guys that go both ways. Really shows their toughness."
"Blake Holder, a wide receiver, 6-2, 195 out of Streamwood from right here from Illinois. He is really a smooth route runner when you see him on film. I'm really excited about him. I think he has a chance to come in and help us early in his career. Looking forward to that."
"Jordan Huff, a running back, 5-11, 205 from St. Paul Episcopal down in Alabama. I'm excited about Jordan and again he fits that big back mold but also fits that little back mold. He can do everything. Really excited to see what he can do when he gets here."
"Robert Jones, a linebacker, 6-2, 210 from Monsignor Pace High School down in Florida. Really a guy who as gifted as he is on film, you get to know the kid, and he's a worker. You love that about guys that play linebacker."
"William Lee, a defensive lineman, 6-2, 280 out of Arsenal Tech out of Indiana down there in Indianapolis. He is different. We are really excited to have him around. Different in a good way in case you were wondering. I'm excited about him."
"Ben Maruska, an offensive lineman, 6-5, 290 from Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin. Again, fits that late bloomer mold that we are really excited to have. Coach Jorgensen, the offensive line coach from there, I've known him for close to a dozen years. A really successful high school coach as a head coach, now he is kind of in retirement, just coaching the offensive line. Fine offensive line coach. You know when Coach Jorgensen has his hands on a guy like this, the guy is going to be a good football player."
"Brandon Mays, a safety, 5-11, 182 out of Aurora Christian Illinois. I'm really excited about Brandon's versatility. Obviously he played both ways on that team as well."
"Zeb McLaurin, a cornerback, 5-11, 180 pounds out of St. Ignatius Prep there in Illinois. Zeb is a good football player that we look forward to him getting here and watching him cover some people and do some things back there in the defensive back end."
"Malik Mitchell, a wide receiver, 6-4, 181 out of Milton High School down in Georgia. He is all of 6-4. He looks me square in the eyes. I've shrunk over the years from 6-5 to 6-4, so I know he is 6-4. I'm really excited about him. He can go up and get the football. He is a long strider. You always look on tape for those guys that can cover in two strides five yards. He is getting about six, so really excited about him."
"Jamaal Payton, a linebacker, 6-0, 210 from Proviso West right here in Illinois. A really instinctual linebacker was able to be around him some and had him in camp. Really a guy that just kind of finds the football. That is really a good asset there at linebacker."
"Draco Smith, a cornerback, 5-9, 189 from Mt. Carmel right here in Chicago. Good football player and played both ways for them. Had a lot of stats. Really just the type of guy that we love here at Northern. A worker, a guy who wants to be here, and I'm really super excited about him."
"Ryan Stendler, a tight end, 6-4, 250 out of Homestead High School up in Wisconsin. Ryan a year ago right now was 6-1, 205. He grew three inches and put on about 45 pounds in one year. He grows about six inches and we will take that but he is good where he is."
"Aregeros Turner, an athlete, 5-11, 170 from Copley High School in Ohio. He is the guy that can line up in the backfield, in the slot, as a wide receiver. You just want to get this guy the ball. You see that on film. He has great speed. He has great elusiveness. We are really excited about him."
"Shane Wimann, a tight end, 6-4, 225 from Wisconsin Dells High School up in Wisconsin. A guy that you will see on his highlight plays, more slot receiver and things like that and what they did high school wise. We had him in camp and we really know he likes to hit people. He has great ball skills and really excited about him."
"We also have Josh Brebant who is the kicker out of Ohio, Copley High School again. We are really excited about him. He has a big leg. We're getting ready to move on with our next kicker as Sims ends his career here. Although, I'm not ready for him to end his career yet either."
"As you look at it, and I was just doing this on my notes, we have seven state champions in this class. That is a big deal to me and we have one state runner up. Guys that know how to win is a big asset. You can be as tall as you want, you can be as fast as you want, but guys that know how to win not only on the football field but in the classroom and in offseason workouts, that is invaluable to us. We loaded our guys up with that again and we're really excited about that.
Benefit of the bowl and the season with this recruiting class
"A lot of these guys were committed before the bowl. But how recruiting goes, there is always late movement. That late movement provided us to get some guys that I don't know because we were in the Orange Bowl and that is where we would have gotten them or would have gotten without the Orange Bowl, but we were in the Orange Bowl and we did get them."
Any guys who came in at the last minute
"My philosophy, and I learned this from Coach Doeren, and I think it was really good, is that part of the deal today is a little overrated because it gets hyped up to a point where you talk about maneuvering pieces. This is not about pieces this is about people. This is about people here. This is about people families. So yeah we got on some guys later in the process but we weren't going to take anybody that we didn't know. The guys that we were on later, like Turner, like Stendler, like Malik, those guys were later in the process. To say swoop in and get, I don't like that because this is about people still."
Any areas you were concentrating on
"If you look at last year's class, we had big guys. This year we had to get more skill and we had to get more defensive backs. You look at the position breakdown, six defensive backs in this class and the next is three for any one position. We had to get going with some skill and that is a natural thing. You know one year you are going to sign heavier guys and one year you will sign lighter guys that are more skilled."
On if Roy Manning recruiting Turner at Cincinnati helped bring him to NIU
"You bet it did. It's all about relationships and that's why I say it's about people. It gets lost in this deal. You know, you watch that ESPN thing, which is great, and it serves it purpose and all that, but this is not a business. This is 18-year old men and this is college football. There was a relationship with Manning and him, you bet. Was that a big factor? Absolutely."
On how this class compares to last season's signees
"Athletically, it blows it away. No disrespect, but we signed a lot of big guys last year. Josh Ruka and Levon Meyers are good players, but they are not as fast as Malik Mitchell and `Ducee' Turner."
On if the number or scholarships impact the way NIU recruits
"We are careful all the time. Because you can sign 25, are you not going to know all those guys well? No. This provided us more time to get to know these guys even more? Yes. We feel real good about how much we know these guys. They are going to enter a NIU community that they have to get in and be involved with. We feel good about their ability to do that and become part of the student body and this football program and this athletic program."
On if some of the recruits will get a lot of playing time next year
"We tell them all that you get to expect to play. With the way numbers are in college football, with 85 scholarships now, every young man that you recruit and you get to know, I tell them expect to play and train to play. Then, from there we adjust. When I was going through it Coach Mallory told me, `you are going to red shirt.' Right now, I'm telling them expect to play. We'll see how it unfolds, but that is the expectation and we tell them all that."
On recruiting against bigger schools
"I think that is for you guys. I think like certain athletes back then like Michael Turner and them were pretty good. To say we are recruiting a better athlete than that I would be real hesitant to say that. Is it that guys have more stars now or whatever that means, I don't know. To be honest you can ask the guys I work with. I don't pay one bit of attention to that because I don't care. You put on the film it doesn't lie. I have no desire to know what a third-party recruiter says about any person that we sign. I have every belief in our staff and our evaluation and the high school coach they play for. It's tough to say when you have Michael Turner and Garrett Wolfe come here in the past."
On if some recruiting efforts based for 2014
"You have to be careful with that, because you don't want to go ahead and walk into a high school and talk about a junior when there is a senior there that the coach wants you to recruit. So you are going to recruit ahead. That is just how we do it today, but I still have a strong belief that you and recruit seniors this time of year. They should be a lot better than the juniors are right? You are supposed to play your best football as a senior in high school. Does that make sense? So you are recruiting those guys you are looking forward to 2014. So did we do that? Did we go out and do 2014 recruiting? You bet we did but our focus was on this class."
On if the coaching change influenced this class
"I don't think it did in a negative way. In a positive way, I'd say it absolutely had a positive effect on this class. Aregeros [Turner] is not be here if the coaching change did not happen. Malik Mitchell is not here if the coaching change does not happen. Are those positives? You bet. Way bigger positives than any negative we encountered."
On how he handled recruits when he was first hired
"Well, that is your job as head coach when you are going through transition. I remember when Mark Mahlhauser and I were driving back from Chicago from something we had to do for the Orange Bowl and I told him I got to go. I did my part and I got to go. I can't stay here. I got calls to make. We got on the road and called them all and talked to them all for a long time. That was my job early on to get me in front of them because you are involved with recruiting as an assistant but you are not overall as much. That was my job to get a hold of this class from my aspect."
The conversations with recruits
"I knew everyone that was committed, and I knew most of the guys that we were recruiting. So if I didn't know them, I would introduce myself. Second is go ahead and talk about why I got hired and why Mr. Compher hired me. What were the reasons behind it? Why I took it and where this program was going and where do we see it going with them. To kind of lay it out so they could hear it firsthand because you can read it. It was all over the papers and you guys did a great job covering us and that and we appreciate. But it was good for them to hear it firsthand."
On the changes to the NIU coaching staff
"It's a great saying, and I think I stole it from one of our administrators, it's not what you can change it is what you can keep. That's the truth. I'm the head coach and that's different. We have new assistant coaches. That's different. Some change you are just going to have change and with that comes a new energy and a new vibe and it's a good thing not a bad thing. Change that is going to happen here is going to be for the positive."