McNeill's Signing Day Press Conference
Feb. 6, 2013
GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina University Head Football Coach Ruffin McNeill addressed members of the media Wednesday about the 2013 recruiting class. The following are selected comments:
Importance of Relationships in Recruiting
"The biggest thing in recruiting is the relationships established. We began establishing relationships with some of these young men over two years ago. Some even date back to my first year here. Getting the players here for games and camps is always a key. We signed eight kids that attended one of our camps Each year we have been able to build and grow our relationships with high school coaches and recruits from each area. Every coach has a spot that they are responsible for in the state of North Carolina."
Advantages of having players already in school and working out with the team?
"It really gives those four players (Randall Anderson, Kurt Benkert, Tristan Mumford and Brandon Smith) that are early enrollees a big leg up. Being at a college is really a big adjustment. All four of them joined the program at the beginning of the semester. They have had the chance now to get their feet on the ground and begin working out with Coach (Jeff) Connors and his group in the weight room. The players have also been able to work with their teammates in seven-on-seven drills. Another big advantage is that they get used to speed of college both on the field and in the classroom. All of the players that enrolled early are assigned big brothers - an older guy on the team that really takes them under their wing - to make the transition go smoothly. One of the criteria that we want to make sure of when we recruit a player is that the environment is right for them to be successful. The environment is first on our list and after that everything else will naturally fall into place."
This recruiting class compared to previous classes?
"I think that it has added and advanced our football team. What you want when you bring in a recruit is to have them already more advanced at this point than the group that was brought in the year before. Whether it is in height, speed or strength you are looking for a better caliber of athlete to build on than you previously had. With maturity it all depends on the person, but athletically this class is at a position where we can start at a more advance point than we could in previous years. That is exactly what is needed to advance the program. Talent-wise it is big advantage for us compared to previous recruiting classes."
Loss of committed recruits right before signing day?
"It happens. We did the same thing to some other schools that thought they had a few of our players committed. It is all fair in love and war. You go after the best players that you can and you put in your best effort to get them, but sometimes a recruit will decide to go in a different or unexpected direction. We won most of them this year, but we did lose a couple at the end. Some of the times kids will change their mind and it is not because we were outworked or anything like that. I would much rather have a recruit change his mind or have hesitancy before they come here than in a game against Virginia Tech next year in September. We had a list of players that we just moved over to take the place of those that decided to go in a different direction. The guys that want to come to East Carolina will do the best here both on and off the field. When you get a group of players that are committed to the team and will do anything for a teammate, it means a lot."
Offensive and Defensive Line Additions
"For me, and I have always said this, if you are strong at the offensive and defensive line positions you have increased your chances for success. We learned after the first and second year that nicks and bruises are going to happen along the lines and it is imperative to have enough depth at those positions to overcome. Our goal is, when we have an injury to not just replace a player with someone that is as productive, but will be even better. Developing depth along the lines is very important. It is easier to play right away on the defensive line than the offensive line, but both are always places that that we feel like we need to add to."
Feeling when a recruits tells you the reason they chose your program was because of the family atmosphere?
"Environment is the first thing that I tell recruits about, but after that I tell them that I will not run this program like a business. If they are looking for hands-off or CEO-run operation, than this is not the place for you. I operate best in family atmosphere and that is what East Carolina means to me. The feeling of family runs throughout this university. Cohesion among our staff was something that one of our recruits noted as a key for him deciding to attend East Carolina. It was one of the reasons I decided to attend East Carolina in 1976 and it is that same feeling that recruits that we signed today are feeling."
Junior College Players
"We are not afraid to go the junior college route and I think the two guys that we signed fit specific needs. Those guys that we signed will provide immediate help at the positions of running back and on the offensive line. We try to recruit the best player that we can whether they were in high school or at the junior college level to help us be successful."