Coach McNeill Signing Day Transcript

UABSPORTS.COM Head Coach Ruffin McNeill talked about the 2010 recruiting class Wednesday.
UABSPORTS.COM
Head Coach Ruffin McNeill talked about the 2010 recruiting class Wednesday.
UABSPORTS.COM

Feb. 3, 2010

Opening Statement
"It's a great day to be a Pirate. The same excitement and enthusiasm I had when Coach Holland and the committee announced me to lead the program are what I feel today. This afternoon when I saw that last fax come across the machine was an awesome feeling.

"The special thing about it was going into these young men's homes last week and meeting with their parents. They each gave us, including everybody at the university, the administrators and the Pirate Nation, their word they would be attending. They held true to their word and I'm excited to get them here. I can't wait to start getting them here and meeting with our current players. I'm looking forward to getting them around our family here in the summer, too. They were equally excited about getting here.

"It has been a great day. We're getting ready to finish this recruiting off today and then really dive into our current players who are here now."

On The Balance Of This Year's Class
"They [the previous coaching staff had] already had a list of 2010 commits. The first night after Coach Holland and the committee named me as head coach, I got on the phone with the players and their parents.

"The list was really built to fill our needs. We lost a lot of players from last year's championship team. These guys were recruited to fit those needs. I'm very pleased with the balance, especially among the offensive and defensive linemen.

"The positions that we really have to key on in recruiting now are duel-threat players who can be offensively or defensively productive in the systems we will now implement here. We want a guy who is a quarterback and might also be able to help us at wide receiver, which is what Michael Crabtree, who we had at Texas Tech, did.

"I'm very pleased with the dual capabilities of a lot of these signees. I'm very happy with that balance."

On The Recruiting Process
"After I met with Coach Holland, I had two priorities. First was to meet with the current players. Second was to call the commits. We got them on the phone and talked to the parents and eased their minds a little bit.

"My next goal was to get in everyone's home. That was the hard part, but it was fun. I caught a lot of planes, rental cars and taxis while staying in a lot of hotels. I also ate a lot of lunches. Everybody seemed to want to feed me. Everybody was very courteous to me.

"Probably the scariest thing was one day trying to remember what state and city I was in. I called Coach Holland that day and told him I forgot where I was. Still, it was a fun challenge. It was a whirlwind, but I knew what to expect having been around it for a little bit. Every home was receptive and every kid was excited. That made the trips a lot easier."

On The Reaction Of The Recruits
"They were excited. At first I would say we were happy to see one another, but then there was that feeling-out process. I tried to make sure I provided a comfort level for them. I explained who I was and that I was honored to have the chance to be an ambassador for this great university. I wanted them to know that it's an 'us' and 'we' thing. I made sure that each home understood that.

"Once we established that with each home, family member and parental group, the conversations just took off. I told them what I believed it and the process we'll take academically here. I also talked about my philosophy of service and asking what can we do to make East Carolina better today. That was very important. I know the parents appreciated that.

"The next thing the recruit wanted to know, if he was on offense, was what the philosophy would be. That's when the excitement, even in the offensive linemen, picked up. Defensively, we'll attack. I know the offense gets a lot of the publicity, but we've got some special guys on the defensive side of the ball, too. The defensive recruits were excited about the systems as well.

"The third thing that people sometimes forget about is special teams. We want to be attacking in that phase, too.

"The conversations went from philosophies and academics to my beliefs and visions for the team and then to what we wanted to accomplish on offense, defense and special teams."

On Selling East Carolina To Recruits
"I've been coaching 29 total years, five in high school and 24 in college. I've been a part of the lives of about 3,000 college football players. I've been in a lot of homes. There is probably not a state I have not had to go into.

"This last week was the most comfortable delivery that I could ever possibly have. I was selling my alma mater. I have the opportunity and chance to be an ambassador for this university. I take that responsibility really seriously. It was easy to sell this university because this is my school, too.

"Going into the homes, I was selling something that I could speak about in terms of degrees and playing football. I could tell the recruit I've been on that side of the fence and this side of the fence. It was an easy pitch, straight from the heart and what I believe in. It was the easiest time, by far, I've ever had going into a recruit's home. It was fun."

On Differences Between These Recruits And Those At Texas Tech
"I love the bunch we have here. At Texas Tech, we did a similar job of making sure we fit our needs. It takes a team to make a team. There is a certain guy in this offense who we need at the X, Y, H and Z positions. But I like these guys we have to fit our offense.

"Defensively, we'll need a lot of athleticism because we want to do a lot of pressuring. The same is true of special teams.

"Comparing the recruits is very similar to Texas Tech. Offensively, we fit the mold and defensively, I know what we need. We have those guys on defense who fit the rangy, athletic, change-of-direction and play-making mold.

"I'm very pleased with the athleticism and balance of this group. I challenged them all to prepare to start. There is no entitlement here. Nobody is entitled to anything. We're not predetermining redshirts here at all. I told each home and family that. We'll evaluate where we are after the spring, but I asked them to prepare to come in to start and play. I mean that. I was very pleased."

On Recruiting With Donnie Kirkpatrick
"Donnie is a good driver who knows his way around North Carolina. We've always known each other. We've been adversaries on the field many times.

"Riding around with him was excellent. We had a chance to get into a ton of high schools looking for juniors next year, too. We got to know each other very well."

On Which Recruits He Expects Could Make An Impact Next Season
"With many football teams, not just with our offense and defense, offensive linemen will need the maturation process the most. They need the weight room, scout team and demonstration team. Every once in a while you get a freshman who can contribute early at that position. You don't want to predetermine redshirts, but normally that position requires some developing. I know some guys in this class have the size and athleticism, but that'll be determined when we get them on campus.

"The athletic guys in the group, as with any program, tend to have a chance to contribute pretty early. I'm anticipating some of those guys being able to do some things on offense, defense or special teams. We'll make sure we're smart in choosing those guys and make sure they can be very productive for us."

On Dominique Davis
"As you know we had a junior college quarterback sign a national-letter-of-intent in December. The NLI was for the spring of 2010. The quarterback did not enroll at East Carolina for this spring semester. As a result, the NLI is null and void. The quarterback is now considered a recruit. With that said, NCAA regulations prohibit any further discussions or comments about this young man."

On Making It To Each Recruit's House
"I made it to every single home, except for the guys who are already here and enrolled. Desi Brown was a North Carolinian who moved to Missouri. I was not able to make it to his home, but John Wiley and Brian Mitchell did make it to his home."

On Having Seven Early Enrollees
"It's a big boost. It gives them a jump. They've already gone through some of the off-season process with [Director of Strength and Conditioning] Coach Mike Golden. They have been a part of the group learning their way around campus, finding the bookstore and other little things that we don't think about. I think the adjustment period for those guys will be beneficial. I'm anxious to see those guys as they prepare for spring practice."

On Wanting To Get All The Recruits
"I went in thinking that I needed to reel in all of them. From that Monday morning to getting snowed in at Maryland Saturday, I wanted to get all of them. I knew all of them were very important.

"Coming in like we did with 10 days, there was not much time to evaluate. We got a quarterback in that we had some previous knowledge of. We also got Lamar Ivey in from Eastern Alamance. It was a whirlwind, but I wanted to reel all of them in."

On Next Year's Quarterback
"I'm still evaluating everything. We have not been on the field with them. We're ready to see how they react here when we start spring practice. A lot of things are going to have to be done on the field. That is an important position and we know that. The guys who are here now understand that it's a wide open job. It is not predetermined. There is no entitlement. What I really want to do is make judgments on the field.

"The biggest thing to me is what's on tape. I don't really want to know what somebody told me he can do. I'm ready to watch him on the film and on the field. Once we do that, then we'll make the evaluation on who should play there. That's a position Lincoln Riley and his staff are really looking at and evaluating now."

On His Coaching Philosophy
"I watch games from the defensive point of view. I see what the opponent's defense is doing. I don't bother Lincoln. I see what the defense is doing. I knew they weren't ready for a few of those plays.

"I made all fourth down calls and all time out decisions, just like I will here. I'll be the only one who speaks to officials here, too. Going into that game [Texas Tech's Alamo Bowl], we had a plan. I told Lincoln before to have some plays ready. We had a thought process lined out. We'll do the same thing here."

On Coaching At East Carolina
"I love the kids here, they're awesome. We're not coming into a program we have to build. Those kids know how to win. You watch them work in that weight room. The group of men really pushes themselves to the limit. That makes it easy.

"There will be some things we change in personnel philosophies, but they players are ready to make that move. We've had some discussions the last couple days and have gotten to know each other a little bit better.

"It's a great feeling to be here. I said the first day I feel blessed. I know I'm blessed to be here. I'll do the best job I can each day to make East Carolina better. The coaches I bring in will think the same way. Everybody who has been assigned to me will think the same way. That is not negotiable. There are certain things that are up for discussion, but that thought process is not one of them.

"Right now the guys are meeting academically and making sure everybody is on the same page. That's part of the process, too. They are doing their due diligence.

"To me, it's the greatest feeling I've ever had. I'm so proud to be here. I take my responsibility very seriously. It's a `we' deal here and it'll always be that way as long as I'm here."