Coach Gary Pinkel
Feb. 4, 2010
COLUMBIA, Mo. – On Wednesday, the University of Missouri football program unveiled its 2010 recruiting class, and the 23-member class has been rated by Rivals.com as the most talented in school history, coming in at No. 21 according to the national rankings.
Following is a transcript from Head Coach Gary Pinkel's press conference where he discussed the newest batch of Tigers, and more about the overall recruiting process...
“It’s a very important day for Mizzou Football, because every class that we sign will have their impact on the future of this football program. There are a lot of people to thank – when you recruit, it’s a process that goes on for maybe a year and a half. What’s so critically important is that we have such great facilities here at Mizzou, but what really makes this place special are the people. Without mentioning all those that help us recruit, it just does not do them justice. We have great people here at Mizzou, and the University administration does a great job. We work as a team together. We’re certainly excited that we work so well with them and all the other people at our university. You can start with them, and talk about our faculty – the faculty does a great job selling this great academic institution that we have. The different people that we have staff-wise that have made contributions – I don’t have time to list the names, but if you go to our training room, our training room staff, weight room staff, and all of the men and women there help. Our academic staff, our dining staff, our video staff, our equipment staff, and Chad Moller and his staff – all those people make Mizzou what it is. All these people have their roles in selling what they do to help and serve our student-athletes. That’s what makes this a great place, and so I thank all those people. We’re excited about this class. In our evaluation system, this is a significantly higher-level total recruiting class that we’ve had since we’ve been here. We’re excited about that. We’ve worked hard, and I think the consistency of winning has been important. We’ve averaged 9 wins in the last 5 years, and in the BCS we’re the 15th winningest team in the nation in the last five years, as well as the 3rd winningest team in the Big 12. I think that consistency of winning in our program, and also the great results we’re having academically, makes Missouri a place that a lot more kids are looking at now. Counting the player that we signed in Kansas and the ones from Illinois – which we consider in-state, as they’re in the greater Kansas City and St. Louis metropolitan areas – we did a good job in the state of Missouri, which is our life-blood. We reached out to more states than we’ve done in the past, and I think that’s because kids that are interested in Mizzou contact us, which is something that didn’t happen in the past. We’re excited about our class – I think we hit on athleticism, speed, and we have a lot of quality kids that really want to be great football players and graduate from college and help Mizzou win at higher levels.”
On the balanced recruiting class:
“I think we hit our numbers everywhere we wanted to hit. What you do is you have your minimum numbers that you want to hit in all of our positions, and you’ve got to hit certain numbers. Do you always hit them? No, but you generally get close. What we then do is have three or four athletic spots, so that you can go in and get higher-level players and fit them anywhere we can. That leaves us open for the quality recruits that are still out there in December and January, and gives you an opportunity to have space available for those guys. I feel pretty good about that. As you all know, you might have a guy that may outgrow a position, so a defensive back won’t always stay a defensive back, but for the most part we hit our numbers.”
On the importance of having quarterback commits already enrolled:
“We have four players on campus right now, and those two quarterbacks are certainly very talented. I think they see the success we’ve had with our quarterbacks – when you see Brad Smith play and Chase Daniel play, both of them are on NFL rosters now. They see some good things that Blaine is doing, and I think that brings a consistency to a position that we’ve had some success with. That’s what kids do – quarterbacks like these kids are find that very appealing. It will be very competitive, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be, but certainly having them on campus already is huge. At any position it gives you an edge in terms of learning the system.”
On recruiting in Texas:
“I think we’ve done a good job in Texas. It’s documented just because of pure numbers down there – it’s Big 12 country, and we’ve had a lot of players come to the University of Missouri from Texas and graduate, then get drafted and play in the NFL. They leave with their degree, they’ve had success, and they’ve gone to bowls, so I think it’s another alternative for Texas players, more so than it’s ever been. I think a lot of things, certainly the bowls we’ve played in Texas, lend themselves to marketing the University of Missouri.”
On how early the school received all its commits:
“It was in prior to Christmas, and there’s no question that’s the earliest we’ve had a recruiting class committed. There was no scrambling at the end to try to fill a position. We had a lot of high-level guys on our board, and we were fortunate enough to get a lot of them. When a player’s committed, I think it’s your responsibility to still recruit him as if he’s not committed – that’s wise. We care about our recruits and care about our players, and so we still sell to them. I don’t think that changes. I think what’s happened without question in college football is that in January a lot of staff’s are doing JUCO recruiting. It used to be that in January you were putting all your time into finishing that recruiting class, but now at least for our coaches they’re out their junior recruiting. Everything’s changed about the recruiting calendar in general. What’s changing is that we have around 80% of our players committed by Christmas. I think what’s been a plus for us is that our staff has had a lot of continuity, so we’ve had a lot of coaches recruiting in places for a long time. They know where players are, so if you do a good job in that area you’re on top of that stuff all the time. It’s all about relationships and trust.”
On receiving de-commits from other schools:
“Some players change their commitments, and we’re fortunate that we’ve probably been on the plus side of that significantly more than the other side. That’s why kids still have to ultimately make the decision. Sometimes once a kid makes that decision, they then decide that they maybe should have gone in a different direction. I don’t want to speak for Tyler [Gabbert], but he’s not the only one that’s done it. Ultimately our philosophy on that is that if a player is committed and still accepts recruiting, then we’re going to recruit him. That’s what we’ve always done, and always will do.”
On why the school recruited two quarterbacks:
“We recruited two, because we lost one last year. We’ve been down a number for the most part – you generally want to have five, or at least four, which is sometimes hard to do. With losing a freshman a year ago, what was really responsible for us to do was to make sure that we could get two quarterbacks – and we got the two right one. We were fortunate to get two really high-level players.”
On why high-level receivers want to come to Mizzou:
“Success breeds success, and I think most kids look at statistically our quarterbacks’ and receivers’ success in the NFL. It’s all been a plus, and I think we got three very high-level players that are going to come in and compete. Any player who comes in here starts at the bottom – with Jeremy Maclin we already had eight X-receivers and so he came in and was number nine. With any player, that’s how we do it. It’s all about competition – go and get it, and if you can get it, you play. We have no pecking order, we don’t say that just because you’re a senior you play. It’s all based on competition, and our players respect that. The more quality you have, the more competition you have all over the field, which makes you a better team.”
On having offensive line recruits that start as freshmen:
“With offensive line, you have to have the strength and the size to have a chance to compete, and obviously the knowledge – it’s one of the most difficult places to play. I think that what’s happened – I go into all different high school’s all across the country, and it’s just amazing how big their strength and conditioning programs are now. You see all the great things that Coach Pat Ivey is doing here at Mizzou, and that filters down into high schools. They’re doing things that we’re doing, and that I never thought in a million years they’d be doing – that’s how far advanced they are. I think when kids get here, they’ve been lifting weights for three or four years. These kids come in more developed than they ever have been, and I think that lends itself to all positions having kids that can come in and compete as a freshman.”
On expanding recruiting to other states:
“Our philosophy was that we would build this program in-state like most any school does. I think we’ve gotten better as the years have gone on, and it’s certainly been a plus for us. Our philosophy was then that we want to get in Oklahoma, and into Big 12 country, and Texas has huge numbers of athletes there. They have very good high school football also, and so our philosophy was to go in there and supplement. I think no matter where you’re at it’s about trust. We have players from Texas that go to school here and go back to their high school coaches and tell them what the program is like at Mizzou. They see us winning, they see our graduation rates, and they see players that are getting drafted. I’ve got really good coaches that are impressive and care about people, and it’s just a matter of building relationships so you can get trust. It’s another opportunity for kids and that’s how you do it.”
On building a relationship with St. Louis:
“When we first came here, there were things that I was probably naïve about. I didn’t realize that the general feeling of St. Louis toward the University of Missouri was as bad as it was. There were a lot of dynamics in that, and I thought we would just draw a line in the sand and say, “This is our new program. Trust me, it’s going to work.” I found out really quickly that all the bags just got piled right on our back, and what we had to do for a great length of time here was the same thing we did in Texas – build trust. Cornell Ford has done a great job there, this is his tenth year there and he’s good at what he does. He’s smart and very relationship-oriented. Everything we do here is starting to filter back there through the players. That’s been really important. When a guy goes back home, he talks to his community about the things we’re doing here. Slowly a bag would fall off, and then really slowly another one would, and that’s what we did. The dynamics were a lot different from Kansas City to St. Louis. We did a lot of things, and right now I think we’ve built a reputation not only in the city of St. Louis but in the state that we do the right things for kids. Most of the high school coaches trust us that we do that.”
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