McNeill's Signing Day Press Conference
Feb. 1, 2012
GREENVILLE, N.C. – East Carolina University Head Football Coach Ruffin McNeill addressed members of the media Wednesday about the 2012 recruiting class. The following are selected comments:
On National Signing Day
“We’re excited about the entire 2012 class. We really like the quality of young men we got here. The character of your men is a high priority for us.
“We also like the athleticism of this group. The athletes within each position are exciting. We’re looking forward to getting them here with us and on board. It was a good day for us.”
On Going After The Best Players
“From day one we said we would go after the top player. We don’t care who is on that player or who is not on that player. We’ll go after the top player. When you are in battles for the top, there will be competition.
“We’re excited about this class. I’m looking forward to getting them here.”
On More Additions To Come
On The Hours Put Into Recruiting
“In recruiting, there are a lot of man, mind and body hours that are put in to get ready for today. When you go across the states like we did there is a lot of travel. Our coaches have done a great job building relationships with coaches in the communities we’ve recruited.”
On Selling East Carolina
“It was very unique and great to bring our recruits around those groups of people. This day is an accumulation of a lot of hours, time and sacrifice by a lot of groups.
“Our city of Greenville, our university, our brand, our environment, our academics and our athletics all sold themselves. We helped to promote it, but in the end it sold itself.”
On Adding Depth And Meeting Needs
“Also on defense, our 3-4 is linebacker-type scheme. We felt we had to continue to restock and replenish that spot. We’ll continue to keep that 3-4 package as long as I’m here; I plan on being here a long time.
“We felt we had to revive our receiving corps as well. We lost Lance Lewis and were riddled by injuries at that position last season. Those guys we signed in Lance Ray, Jabril Solomon and Quataye Smyre bring speed and are great fits in our offense. They catch the ball well and are solid running after the grab. They can all return kicks and be involved in our special teams. We feel real good about that group.”
On Playing True Freshmen
“One position that a redshirt usually happens to is the offensive line. The junior college needs we had to meet were within specific areas. We feel very good about the group we’re bringing in.
“Our defensive line was a spot where we had five guys redshirted as well as junior college transfers Leroy Vick and John Lattimore. Those two redshirts were a bonus for us. We felt solid along our defensive line. We met the needs for our other positions.”
On How Recruiting Has Changed Being The Head Coach Longer
“We had a chance to target them as early as sophomores. We recognized their ability and could follow up and send the Pirate letterhead into their homes as juniors. We eventually were able to call them and then reach the contact period. That was a major part of being here longer. We evaluated players at a young age and were able to identify them.”
On Being Close To Signing More Recruits
“I’m a product of this university so I’m a little bit different than some others who walk into homes. I know what East Carolina has done and can do. I felt good about those guys we were battling it out for. I think their best choice was East Carolina. I have no doubt about that. I hope we see them pretty soon.”
On Talent Versus Needs
“When you like a guy on film and he fits a need, you want to meet him and do your research. When our coaches are able to go out into the school and community, we learn a lot. The one rule I hate is that I can only get out to see a recruit one time. As an assistant, I was able to get out and meet a kid six times. Within those six times, we research and meet everybody from the coach, to the secretary, to the cafeteria workers and to the other students in the hallway. We want to meet with needs and talent, but also with a fit character wise.”
On Comparing This Class With Others
“Lucas Thompson coming aboard was a great addition. He was one of those guys who came up and enjoyed the experience and process here at East Carolina. The other signees in the secondary are full of talent and are really guys who can change the game.
“The linebacker position, we felt we had to restock that. On the offense, because of our thought process, we have to refill each year at receiver. On defense, it’s the linebacker spot.
“I feel great about this class.”
On Reece Speight
On Selling East Carolina
“We first want to find out what that player’s needs are. Once we find those academic, athletic, social and career goals, we generally find our brand fits those needs. We start with our environment, both on the field and off. We want to bring in here a group of men who are looking for success, challenges and hard work. The academic disciplines will be there for them. As a product of East Carolina, I’m able to sell what East Carolina has done for me, not just as a coach, but also academically.
“Athletically, our venue here is second to none. We play a great schedule year in and year out. It’s a place where you’ll be challenged on the field and off. The other thing I throw out to them is our sports medicine staff, one of our strong suits here. Of course with Coach Connors in our strength staff, you’ll find a guy who is going to prepare you to be successful right now and at the next level. The last thing I sell is community service. We push community service here.
“The decision is usually made after that. I’m selling substance, validity and what we have as a program. Some families are looking for other things, whether it’s glitz, glamour or something else. You’ll have to ask those guys why they chose not to come here. Those guys who did come here, they made the best choice.”
On Keeping This Signing Class Intact
“We’ve already begun our 2013 class and our 2014 class. We’ve identified players within those classes. We’re looking at needs and talents and looking forward to that next crop.”
On The Junior College Transfers
On Changes To Recruiting
“Along with the media exposure a young man can get, the workload on coaches has been limited. I liked the fact that you could outwork some guys.
“Meeting Coach Dye sold me on East Carolina. Seeing the university and Greenville the first time was great. The university has grown and changed since then, but atmosphere of our student interaction has not changed at all.”
On The Anticipation Of The Day
“I came in the first year and had to finish off that class. That group was pretty much established. I enjoy those young men very much. After I accepted the job, I had about a week to get into all the homes and visit. We sealed the deal on that first group. Then we were able to start researching and identifying guys. This class was a lot of body hours in airports and cars.”