Feb. 5, 2014
Colorado State Head Football Coach Jim McElwain
Press Conference Transcript--2014 National Signing Day
Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014
"Obviously throughout the country people are excited about (today), it's kind of a time of change in other words, we've issued out some great seniors, some guys who have done some wonderful things here at Colorado State and were really a big part of accepting change and what it takes to have a chance to be successful. I'm going to miss those guys and yet part of what we do is we bring a new class of Rams in."
"We've got a good group of guys here to teach them what it is to invest in themselves, give of themselves and affect the people around them in a positive way. They're going to get this opportunity with this new incoming class. You know, as we kind of look at the breakdown...we try to break it down (into) big guys, mid(-size) skill guys and then your skill guys. Answering needs, I think that one of the things that should probably pop out at you there is probably, you've heard me talk about explosive playmakers on both sides of the ball, whether it be in the secondary, whether it be in the return game, special teams or whether it be on offense. One of the things going in we really looked to try to get some explosive, athletic playmakers in some of those spots. I feel like, with some of these guys; look you guys are going to want me to anoint some guy as the next great whatever. It ain't happening."
"We're excited and we've recruited these guys because they fulfilled and met the criteria that we felt they had the opportunity to be successful at whatever position they end up, they have good character, they're academically in line to doing what we need to do to accomplish for them being successful for the rest of their life, and they're going to be assets to our program. You wish every single one of them are going to be that, yet they all have that opportunity when they get here."
"One of the things I get a kick out of when I get here is `who's going to play?' Well I don't know. I don't have a crystal ball. Last year, I think there was some crazy stat in there that the captain (Paul Kirk) dug up that I think newcomers played in like 110 games or something last year. I, as a coach, will never promise a guy that he is going to play as a true-freshman or as a newcomer, because I don't know. I never determine playing time. Each individual is responsible for (that), through their actions, and let us know when they're ready to play. But coming in as you look at it, we have some guys that have multiple skills, in other words, they played on both sides of the ball, they're multiple-skill athletes that do other things other than just football. I think they can really help us in our return games and give us some options there."
"As we talk about that, you're going to see some secondary guys in there as well, and some guys that really had maybe done more offensive stuff but really fit the criteria to be some lockdown guys on defense, and that's one of the things we need to get better at. In that mid-skill group, we brought in some guys that will be here for spring ball at the tight end spot. Obviously, we lost some numbers at that spot so we really feel it's important we elevate that and obviously bringing in Christian (Montes) and Steven (Walker) to help us in that spot, we'll see how that goes over spring ball, as we move forward there. As we look at the big guys, Jordan Finley is going to have an opportunity to get a lot of reps this spring because Ty Sambrailo probably won't go that often with that shoulder that we had re-done as a precaution for him. He'll be fine. He's probably one of the least guys who needs reps up front. We need to really reestablish that group and I'm really excited where that group is right now and what they've been doing with (Head strength and Conditioning) Coach (Mike) Kent and our strength staff down in the weight room, because you can see a lot of hungry guys that know `now it's my opportunity' that's what's exciting about that. You kind of talk about what we're looking for and how the numbers play out, our current roster is still in transition in some ways, we have a couple guys who through some things medically, that have happened, chose to go ahead and hang the cleats up in Austin Gray, who did an outstanding job with us. Obviously had to move from secondary to receiver, because of some of that; he'll obviously graduate here and he's going to be sorely missed. And Thomas Coffman had some things that went on. So where do the extra numbers come from just as you guys are trying to do the addition, right? That's where a couple of those come from, because those become immediate roster spots. With the addition of this group, I talked to you guys right when I got here about trying to create some balance within the classes, so you're not sitting in that always-turning-over mode. I just kind of did a little something as we looked at it moving forward, with this class of freshman, and our redshirt freshman, as we count the five classes; we're sitting at 23, 20, 18 at sophomore, 26 at junior next year some of those still have redshirts and then 13 no matter what this is their last year of eligibility, as we're moving forward. When you take over a program there is usually some attrition that occurs in some of those upper classes as we move forward I look at that really start to balance out, which looking at these numbers, makes me feel good about where we're at as far as consistently recruiting in that 16-to-20 number as we're kind of moving forward. I can't, before I take any questions, tell you guys what a long trail this is to this day, a trail that for next year had already started at our second junior and sophomore day. I have been on the phone with players already that have called in for next year's class. This never stops, it never stops. Great programs, programs that are able to sustain and really never go a day without taking care of this part of it, which is recruiting. We're really excited about the jump we've already made into next year's class, and actually the class after that. That's kind of how it operates, that's something we brought here since we've been here and we've seen it come to fruition with some of these guys that we've had relationships now for a couple years. Relationships is what recruiting is all about. With that, I think I hit most of the things, we'll go ahead and take some questions."
(On getting to the Colorado kids)
"There is no doubt. What we've been able to create is a buzz. When I first got here, quite honestly, my reception was better in different states than it was in Denver, because there is a certain thought or a stigma that they had stuck in their mind about what this place was all about. What I have found already, is guys wanting to jump on board. Where it was maybe an afterthought, now it's becoming a place to be, a point of destination. That's to the inroads our staff has made. We go to every high school in the state of Colorado in the spring and we touch every single school there is, it doesn't matter what they play, 11-man, eight-man, six-man, it doesn't matter. It's our responsibility, as I've said, to try and lock the borders as know this is a place that they can be successful, this is a place that the amount of graduates that we have down in the Denver area is staggering, which can help them for their future should they want to come back here and this is a place they want to live, and why wouldn't you; this is a great state and a great place to call home. A lot of those things are happening, like you said we have a great jump on next year's (class) and the class after that one already, and we'll continue to do that."
(On strong recruiting grounds being receptive to him)
"No doubt. It's amazing. Now we haven't gotten them, but they're mentioning us, you know what I'm getting at. To me that's the step in the right direction. Then we'll flip it and get one of those guys and say `you know what, we don't need to go out of state' we've got what you need for you right here. But who's responsible for that? Not them. That's my responsibility. And as we continue to grow and this university expands on a national scale, which we have, all of that makes it easier for some of them to say' kind of like I did when I took the job when you might have asked me `why did you go to Colorado State?' and my answer quite simply is `why not?' because they have everything there to be successful."
(On seeing the number of kids from Colorado who sign with D1 schools, and the percentage of those who sign with Colorado State)
"I think obviously you want it to improve. And yet understand what recruiting is as well, there's certain needs you have to fill. So in a given year, there are certain spots that you need to answer for each class. But our deal is to go out and get the best kind in the state of Colorado. And we're proud of the guys who chose to be part of our family this year."
(On team balance, by class)
"Part of it too is obviously we had some guys last year who had to play as true freshman that actually pushed themselves up into a class that was thin, from an eligibility standpoint even though their class rank was the same. So by doing that and pushing some of those guys in those needs, I think it really shows, if a guy is ready to go this is a place where they can come and play. Will you ever get there? Guys, I'm not sure you ever get there in life. You always push to create balance, you always push to create consistency in everything that you're doing. I feel really good moving forward, that we're not sitting there kind of having to take a huge bulk in one area."
(On recruiting speed)
"Yeah, that's was something we needed to do. The one thing I like about multi-sport guys a little bit--no, not a little bit, a lotta bit--is that they're willing to put themselves out there. And when you think about track, you can't look around and blame that on anybody. I always get a kick out of these guys `oh, I run 4.3'... well good, what do you do in track `oh, I don't run track'. How about showing how fast you are. In this case we have some guys who aren't afraid to go out and show how fast they are, and go compete. One of the keys to success is the willingness to put yourself out there and compete."
(on offensive line recruits)
"Time will tell, usually it is a little easier for a skill guy to play earlier because it takes time for size, nutrition and strength and all of that. We've had some quality guys in our program who have been able to do that because of the guys that were starting. When you look at it, is it a panic? No. We have guys here that are ready to compete and it's time for them to play. We needed Jordan (Finley) to get in here for this class, this spring. It will be interesting to see how he adapts and competes for a position this spring. Moving forward I feel great about the guys we have here."
(on the leadership of OL Ty Sambrailo)
"He's been doing an unbelievably job of leading with his right arm, because his left is in a sling (laughs). He has already elevated (his leadership) and we have talked about this. Leadership cannot be forced, once you try to force leadership, you either have it or you don't, and each one of us choose how we are going to affect the people around us; are we going to affect them in a positive way or are we going to bring them down? Ty knows the importance of spots and he has built a great relationship with the guys that are going to step up and play. From what I understand, they've already been up here working on cut ups and he has been the pipe-piper."
(on being comfortable with the depth on the defensive line)
"I feel good about our depth there; I feel good about the quality there. There are some guys that haven't played yet, but are now on their second year, maybe third year, that are ready physically and are ready to take the step to play a ton. With the offenses today that is a spot that you need depth because you need to rotate those guys in-and-out."
(on QB Coleman Key)
"I'm excited. I'm not trying to hold back on that. He is a guy that committed to us early. I think our offense fits what he is capable of doing. He did a great job of making sure to find the place that is really going to accent his skills. I like the fact that he is a multiple sport guy. At that position you see so many times guys that just travel around and all they do is Elite 11 competitions or quarterback camps, whatever. Those kids can throw the heck out of it at a target but when it's time to compete and understand situations that is where it gets lost. That is what I really like about Coleman."
(on how to keep all the quarterbacks happy)
"I let them eat Karen's (his wife) cooking; they love it. They are the happiest dudes in America (laughs). Each one of them knows that at that position having just one is not just enough. Garrett (Grayson) made it through a season and that doesn't happen all the time, and we still need to create the competition that is needed to make these guys successful. Whenever you have it, you maybe take a step back, and I don't think you can have enough good quarterbacks on your roster."
(on whether McElwain wanted more offensive and defensive linemen in the class in an ideal world)
"It worked out as always we are recruiting guys and yet at the same time, I'm really comfortable with where we are at. I was concerned a little bit with getting a pass-rusher. Getting Jordan (Finley) here, I felt good about the o-line spot. More competition may have been better but I feel we're pretty good there."
(on whether freshmen are needed to step in and play right away)
"Whether some of these guys come in and play right now, I don't know, time will tell. There is some good skill here. I know when our guys look at the clips of who we are bringing in there is a little elevated work in the weight room. That is really what it is all about. I'm more excited about how our guys are looking forward to accepting this group into the family and teaching them the way of life."
(on inking all recruits by 9:15 a.m. MT)
"It helps. To get it done early is awesome. Now they are going to start making it even better where you can get it electronically through email. I don't have to have dreams about no paper in the fax machine (laughs)."
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