George O'Leary Signing Day Quotes

Feb. 2, 2011


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By Claire Supplice

UCF head coach George O'Leary spoke with the media on Wednesday to discuss the 27 signees who had submiteed their information to that point. Here is a sampling of what he had to say.

Opening Comment:
"We're not fully signed yet but I think from what we've attained we've helped our needs as far as the program's concerned and the specific positions that we went after. I'm very pleased with the work that the assistant coaches have done as far as recruiting student athletes and there's no question that we've helped ourselves as a football program."

How much did winning the bowl game and being on TV so often help recruiting out?
"I think the exposure helped tremendously. Sometimes you don't like to play those odd night games but that really helped us throughout the country because you're the only game on that night and you've got great exposure, especially when you're winning. So that has helped tremendously as far as the TV coverage. I think what's happened really is the stadium has finally kicked in. I think that kids are coming to the games now making for a good atmosphere on an unofficial visit and I think recruits are excited now when they come and see the fans and what's taking place here."

What are expectations of mid-year guys like Toby Jackson and Jose Jose?
"The reason you bring mid-year guys in is because they're going to contribute in the fall. Otherwise there's no reason to bring them in. I think you bring some in because you're maybe shy in the depth for certain positions but, for the most part, junior college guys that you bring in you expect to be productive players that fall. That's why you bring them in. If you're bringing a guy in to sit, that doesn't make any sense. You would rather go after a high school player and mature them the right way and work them up in the ranks. I'm not a big junior college guy but I expect all of those players that we bring in to help us at certain positions. I think all of them will get good looks this spring and I foresee many of them being in the two deep and helping us in the fall."

Jose Jose has been here for a month and you wanted him to drop some weight for the line, is he doing what you want him to do?
"He's a very mature kid. He is very light on his feet for a big guy so he's probably going to play around 350 pounds. He is a two gap guy that can block two guys inside and I like guys that can help out your defense because it makes linebacker play a lot easier. He has all the tools necessary to be a very productive player."

Can you tell us about the decision to go ahead and welcome him back to the program after taking back his scholarship last year?
"I didn't wait for anyone's opinion when I released him. You read what took place and what I read, I thought was grounds for, with a new kid coming in, something we didn't want to be associated with. He went off to junior college and really wanted to be here. I did my homework regarding him and I'm pleased to get him back. I went through all the proper channels with the University as far as getting things done. He was accepted into school and came in with not guilty on everything. So I was pleased to have him back and I just think he was a typical teenager in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong company."

You've lost three key senior linebackers, how is that going to affect the team?
"Since we've been here, we've been sort of short on the semi-skilled guys whether it's the wide receivers or the linebackers - guys that really become heavy special team guys for you. When you look at a football squad ideally, you should have five quarterbacks, 15 offensive linemen, 10 receivers, seven running backs and full backs, and I always look at four tight ends. On defense you want seven defensive tackles, seven defensive ends, 12 linebackers and 14 defensive backs. That should be the make-up of your team and I always try to feed each of the positions and get the best players possible to help them all out. I thought linebacker was the position that we need to get more contact guys involved in that position and that's what we went out and did with this class."

Can you talk about the addition of Jeremy Davis who initially signed with Miami last year?
"He's a fellow that didn't make his test score. He had committed to Miami but then went off to Milford Prep and got his academics in order. He's a great talent. I had a long discussion with him about things I had heard and I was very pleased with my discussion with him. I do my due diligence with players as far as their past history and all of that, and I was pleased. I thought there's no question that he has a great passion for football but I wanted to make sure he had a passion for everyone else in regards to being a student-athlete and I was pleased with the answers. I'm happy to get him in because he's a great talent and because of the position he plays. At corner he can probably come in and give us a hand right away, especially in our conference. It's a spread wide open conference and you utilize your defensive backs quite often so you can never have enough of them."

It seems like there's a buzz that this is a very strong signing class, how would you characterize it overall?
"I was pleased with the coaches. I thought they went out and secured the talent that we were looking for. I don't get involved in all of these stars and media sayings, I look at tape. I'll have a better answer for you after their sophomore year because that's when you'll know if they're playing or not. Each year that we've been here, less and less freshmen are playing, and that's pretty much the way that it should be. We were unfortunate when we got here (in 2004) we were playing freshmen. Especially up front and at tackle, you really shouldn't be playing a lot of young kids there unless they're second team and you give them some work. When we first got here, there were a lot of young kids up there. Right now, if you look at the team coming back, Jah Reid up front is the only guy graduating, all the running backs are back, all the tight ends will be back, at receiver we lose three guys who were steady players, but we have kids coming up that are very good players and we just have to get them enough reps in the spring. Our quarterback situation I think is in good shape. Defensively, the secondary with the people coming back and kids coming in, we have a lot of athleticism there to help us out. Defensive line will be very good, but I'll know more after the spring. With linebackers, it's just who fits where. There are a lot of them there. What I like to do in the spring is see where, if any, freshmen have a shot or not."

Were there any guys on film that really caught your eye and led to an offering?
"They all did. I watch tape and I enjoy that. Obviously they have to have some range and speed and contact speed. If you don't have either of those I shut down pretty quick. I was pleased with a lot of players. It's hard to single any one guy out. It's amazing though because the guys you think are going to be great players disappoint and the ones who are supposed to be your sleepers amaze you. I think it's a very solid class. There's a lot of help in the class but well know more once they arrive."

What do you think about all of the signing day festivities?
"My honest opinion: I think its way blown out of proportion and it's paying a lot of guys money. You wonder why when these kids come to college they've got big heads. It's because they're holding their own press conferences. But that's what the fans are interested in so you give them that. I think when they get to college they find out that there's a lot of all-state guys and a lot of All-Americans and I always find that the freshman that play don't play like freshmen. The ones that are physically tough and mentally tough, the ones that can compete day in and day out (play). But it's great exposure for college football. Every year there seems to be something new coming out, something's that's being done and I think that's great for the kids, but they soon learn that the recruiting is over. I'm very happy with the class. We had majority of our signees in this morning by 9 a.m., but I think that basically we will end up with a class that's going to help us in several areas."

Talk about the position at wide receiver and one of the guys you signed there?
"I was very pleased to get Rannell Hall. He's a speed guy, a good sized guy and he ran track. He has a vertical stretch that your always looking for, plus he's athletic enough to make the underneath stuff go too and I was happy to get him. I watched him very closely. Breshad Perriman was a guy that got hurt after a few games, but again he's a 6-2 guy who is very lengthy and athletic. That's another thing you have to look at. The guys we're facing right now are all about 6-7, 6-8. They say the average corner in the NFL is 5-9, but those aren't typical 5-9 players. They are built like 6-3 guys. So the game is changing a little bit in college. You have to get rangier guys at your corner positions to take care of the size element out there. One school in our conference is getting 6-8 guys and when it comes down to the red zone, it doesn't look real good. But I'm pleased with the receivers, and they get a chance to come in during summer school so they'll learn all the basic stuff and the terminology they need to play."

Can you talk about the young defensive tackle, Demetris Anderson?
"I like the wide guys. He's a 6-3 guy, close to 300 pounds. (He's a) great kid. He was on campus last week with his mom. They're all freshman so you have to picture him in a year and what he's going to look like when those kids should be playing, a year or two from now. It's hard to throw freshman out there if they're not mentally ready to play. The kids coming in, I've been surprised at the strength that they're working with and they have good feet which separates them from the rest."

What separates UCF from all the other universities in Florida?
"We're banging on the same doors as everyone else and the one thing that we still have to fight is tradition. That takes time. But as far as facilities, as far as the things that kids look at, they come on campus and it's a `wow' factor with that because it's impressive. When you take a parent that hasn't been on campus and bring them on campus, they're very impressed with what's there and what's going on. They know that their son is going to be taken care of. The key here is time management. When you look at the facilities, everything they have to deal with (besides academics which is right past the parking garage) is within a 100 yards. So, that's impressive. All the schools have that but it may be a mile that way or a mile that way. It's not the same. So again the efficiency of everything here is what really impresses the kids coming on campus and I think we're outgrowing that reputation as a commuter school. I'm always talking about UCF. We're known right now throughout the country. When I travel and I wear a UCF shirt they know what it means and that's a long way coming since we first arrived. We've built on the momentum from last season."

When did that change happen for people to start recognizing UCF?
"I think the change came when we built an on campus stadium and the exposure on TV. You can't buy that. One shot with you on national TV is going throughout the country and that's huge for this program. When I first started traveling and I was going out to California, you would have to tell them where UCF was. They know where it is now because they've seen us on TV which I think is great."