Feb. 7, 2007
Orlando, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - Head Coach George O'Leary met with the media on Wednesday to discuss the 2007 UCF football signing class that became official today with the signatures of 29 student-athletes.
"You start recruiting about a year ago and you look at what your needs are and obviously we addressed our needs as far as athleticism at the skilled positions - defensive backs and receivers. With the current class, 13 of the athletes signed are either receivers or defensive backs, so that was the thrust of the class. When you are looking at your recruiting class, you look at the home state and how well you did in state and probably in the three years I've been here, this has been one of the best years as far as talent and bringing in the right people for the program.
"Did we meet our needs? Yes, we did as far as bringing more athleticism into the program. Again, I think we signed 29 athletes. They were all signed by 10:10 this morning. As far as accountability and responsibility, they have shown great progress in that area. Overall, (I am) very pleased with the class. The assistant coaches did an outstanding job. The support staff did a great job. They did a great job with visitations. It was obvious that when the athletes came on campus and saw the facilites as far as what is happening at UCF, it was a great attraction to a lot of the athletes. I think the key with all of this is getting athletes on campus. I think that was something lacking in the past. I think with the addition of the stadium being completed this fall, things are on there way to being very positive in this program."
On going toe-to-toe with some of the bigger schools
"I don't get to much involved in that. I do think the talent level has improved as far as the schools that we have been competing against from past years, which is a good sign and that is where you need to be. Those are the people you are playing. I think the assistant coaches did a great job of securing talent and really selling the program. I think once they got on campus - the program sells itself. Especially with parents and we make a point of always having the parents with the athlete on campus. I think that is a very important part in the decision. I think with what we were looking for, we got a lot of talent. We got what we needed as far as speed and athleticism, especially with what we are seeing in Conference USA."
On the three quarterbacks
"The ideal number for quarterbacks (in your program) is five and that is what we will have on scholarship next fall. Joe Weatherford was a guy we had our eye on from the get go. For every quarterback, there are usually 12 on the board. He was always one that was up there as far as throwing accuracy and arm strength, so we are happy to get him. His brother (Drew) is up at Florida State, so he comes from an athletic family. (Michael) Greco is another one we signed, who comes from Pearl River Junior College and went to North Carolina State originally on scholarship. He has (three years of immediate eligibility) coming in, so we are really pleased to have him. And Nate (Tice) is a quarterback that I think if he ends up like his old man (current Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Mike Tice) he will end up at tight end. I do think he is a big kid that we will get a lot of use out of. We are happy with our quarterback situation. That will put us at five coming into to the program for fall."
On Muhammed De'Reese (RB, Titusville, Fla.)
"(Muhammed De'Reese) is an undefeated wrestler right now at 215 (pounds), which is a pretty good weight class. I think the big thing with Muhammed is that he is probably sucking weight right now to stay at 215. He is probably more of a 235-pound back. I think he is a fullback type guy that can carry it and slash as a runner. We were really impressed with him early and I think we were fortunate to get on him early because a lot of people came in late on him. Again, we are really pleased with him. We have a bunch of running backs back. Next year, we will have to bring in probably two or three."
On Darnell Williams (Athlete, Winter Park, Fla.)
"Darnell (Williams) is just an outstanding athlete. I list him as an athlete, but if you ask Darnell what he wants to play, he will say wide receiver. He is talented enough to play a lot of positions. Again, he will probably start off at that position, but I will leave judgment for the spring and see where our needs are."
On the Homestead High School tandem of Alphonso Bryant and A.J. Guyton
"Alphonso (Bryant) along with A.J. (Guyton) are great athletes. Alphonso will play in the secondary first. He was one kid, who came up on the first week we had visitations and he always liked the school. The big thing is that he is an outstanding athlete, who had to work academically to get his grades cleaned up and he did that. Right now, he is qualified and we are really happy about that. It also gives us more roots down in the south Miami area, which we need to get going. His teammate is A.J. Guyton. When you talked to people down in the Miami area - that was the kid they always thought was the best athlete. He is a kid that can play a lot of positions and probably more of an offensive player."
On Blake Clingan (Punter, Coral Springs, Fla.)
"Blake Clingan is a punter that can also kick off into the end zone, which was important to me. He is an outstanding punter. When you watch kickers you need to see them, it is hard to look at tape because there is a certain sound that you want to hear when their foot hits the ball. You can watch all the tape you want, but it really doesn't do justice. You want to get in and really see their foot make contact with the ball. Blake can certainly punt the ball and has a good enough leg to help us out in the kicking game. Mike Torres is still the kicker. I think he is working hard in the off-season to get things done that he needs to get done, so we will work from there."
On the defense and the help they will get from this signing class
"Defensively, there are a lot of young players that are back. We are only losing two players total that played a lot on the defense, so I think that just from a maturity stand point they will be better. We brought in three defensive ends, which we need to improve as far as the rush is concerned, get more speed on the edge. I think we brought in a total of six defensive backs, including safeties and corners, which I think were needed. We need to be a lot more athletic back there, especially with the game changing. Everybody is playing in space now and we need more guys that can make plays."
On Jason Pierre-Paul
"When I watched tape on Jason Pierre-Paul, I saw that he is a big-range kid 6-foot-5, 235. He does have some work to get done academically, but as far as the talent is concerned he was probably the most productive defensive end that I saw on tape and I saw a lot of tape on ends and tackles. We are really pleased to have him come in and hopefully things work out, so that he can get in here and help us out. He does have the ability to turn the corner and put pressure on the quarterback."
On the new facilities
"The first couple of weeks we didn't take them (recruits) into the stadium because it was still in the beginning structure of it. The last couple of weekend visits we did put hard hats on them and took them right into the stadium. When you walk through the locker room and walk out into the stadium, I think that they were impressed. There was no question about that. Just the overall facility itself, as far as this building, the dorms, the practice fields, the indoor facility, the stadium they left very impressed with what has been going on here and their parents did too."
On the recruiting class this year
"I think that each year we have gotten better. How much better? I don't know. I always say if you are playing sophomores then it is a very good class. Our first year here we had to play a lot of freshman and the second year we played 14 of them and last year we played seven. This year, it remains to be seen, but I think the skilled athletes have a better chance. I think when you specialize and get guys that can rush from the corner and they are not out there every down, then you can play more kids. The big thing is to leave spring ball knowing where our needs are."
On the new seasons start
"We start (practicing) March 21st and go every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and end up April 14. We will probably have some type of Spring game out on the practice field similar to last year."
On the mid-year recruits
"We brought four in (at the beginning of the Spring semester). Really, there were 25 that signed today and there were four that were already in school. They all came right out of high school. The key to all of those guys is maturity. A lot of them are 17 years old and it is a big change for them. You have to keep your eye on them."