Dana Holgorsen Signing Day News Conference
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia Football coach Dana Holgorsen addressed members of the media today concerning the 2014 Signing Class.
It’s been a successful day today. We got started this morning pretty early, and I was excited to see the first fax come in at 7:01 a.m. (Cornerback) Dravon Henry gets the first of the day award, and it was awesome to see that. Overall, it was a pretty exciting day.
We’ve done a lot of the same things as last year with this recruiting class. We had recruits from 14 different states, and this year we’ve got 11 states covered. Our overall numbers right now are at 22 for this year’s class. We had six guys come in at the semester. They’ve all been working out and doing a great job.
Skyler Howard, the quarterback, Ricky Rogers the receiver, (offensive tackle) Sylvester Townes, and (linebacker) Davonte James and Edward Muldrow are the guys that are in the program and are doing a great job for us. That leaves about 15 guys who signed on today.
I really want to give credit to our assistant coaches, starting with Ryan Dorchester, who headed this whole thing up and does a great job in house, as far as where everyone’s going, what our needs are and identifying our target. He organized all the weekends. That’s obviously a job in itself, and he’s done a great job with it. Tony Gibson, JaJuan Seider, Lonnie Galloway and Brian Mitchell, those four guys that were all added a year ago, did a tremendous job getting comfortable in their areas.
Three of them were already comfortable in their areas, and then Brian Mitchell got comfortable in New Jersey and Philadelphia, and he did a great job with that. He also did a great job getting junior college guys in Mississippi, California and Kansas. I really appreciate all of them and the staff and the players.
The players did a great job when these guys were on campus. Our job is to get them here, and then our players spend a lot of time with them. They were great over the recruiting weekends as far as selling them on what we have to offer and on the direction that we’re going.
When you look at the numbers, we’ve added 22 guys, and our numbers are right at 85. That’s been a topic of discussion around here for quite some time. We’re excited to get those healthy numbers. We’ve got 70-some working out in the offseason right now, which gets the coaching staff incredibly excited about the offseason.
Offensively, we took a little bit of everything. Clearly we have a need at quarterback. (Redshirt-senior) Clint (Trickett) and (senior) Paul (Millard) are doing a great job in the offseason at quarterback. Adding Howard to the day-to-day part of it has been good. Adding William Crest will be great as well. He has been coming here for the better part of three years and building a relationship with Geno (Smith). He’s been getting to know myself and coach (Shannon) Dawson, and when Lonnie (Galloway) got hired a year ago, his first job was to get to Dunbar High School and make sure that we got him. We have accomplished that goal.
We had a good surprise today in (running back) Donte Thomas-Williams out of North Carolina. He was one of our highest targets at running back. The guys did a great job of identifying him. He’s a big kid, runs fast and is talented. He has a ton of upside. I’ll give Galloway and Seider credit for dual-recruiting him. He’s been up here three or four times and that’ll work out good for us.
With Coach Seider being from the Miami area, he’s doing a great job recruiting South Florida. He got a great couple of receivers with Jacob McCrary and Lamar Parker. Those guys could have went to a lot of different places, and he got hooks in early and was able to get them as well.
On the O-line, we got a couple of junior college tackles in Justin Scott from California, who is originally from Detroit, and Townes out of North Mississippi. Townes looks a lot like (redshirt-sophomore offensive lineman) Adam Pankey. He’s 6’5” or 6’6” with a wide range. We will be able to see what he does this offseason and use him during spring ball.
Out of high school, we got offensive linemen Amanii Brown, Walter Rauterkus and Dontae Angus who are big bodies. They are huge people that are going to be part of our offensive line that needs to exist each and every year.
Defensively, we got three big bodies for the defensive line, that we really feel will come in here and develop. Again, we have to get the defensive line to the numbers that we have on offense, which is around 17. We need kids who will play and are a little older. We haven’t been able to do that since I’ve been here. We did get (defensive line) Tyree Owens, (defensive end) Jaleel Fields and (defensive line) Yodny Cajuste. We don’t know if they can come in and compete right away. If they can, we will give them the opportunity to do so. If they can’t, we will give them the chance to grow and be a force for us later on.
Linebackers, we got James, who’s here working out right now and Xavier Preston, a guy from South Florida with a wide range. They’re athletic guys that can run around and make plays.
I’m really excited about our safeties. Obviously that starts with Henry. Gibson is Mr. Pittsburgh right now and did a great job getting up there and getting him. To be able to get a guy like Henry, who is one of the better players in Pittsburgh and the whole state of Pennsylvania, and can play a lot of different positions is great. We will be able to use him to put together what we think will be one of the greater secondaries in college football. We will continue to develop and the younger guys will get better.
(Safety) Daejuan Funderburk out of Washington, D.C., also has a wide range and will grow. He does a great job of making plays on the ball. (Cornerback) Jaylon Myers, who is a junior college guy but has three years to play, he had eight or nine interceptions in the first five or six games. He definitely does a great job of getting after the ball.
The numbers are getting better. More of them will be here in June. I’m very impressed with the coaching staff.
We’re finally at a point to where it wasn’t a necessity to fill up. Over the last two or three years, I’ve told (Ryan) Dorchester that if we don’t fill our spots, we’ve got to do something. Now that we’re hitting 21 and 22 signees, and we’re maxed out overall, we have to lose a couple of guys in order to gain some guys.
That opportunity will be there whether it’s due to grades or injuries. We will wait until we get to spring practice and spring grades. The guys we signed are good as far as eligibility is concerned, but they’ve still got to finish strong. If one or two of these guys don’t make it, we will have the ability to bring in a couple of guys. Keep in mind, we got Charles Sims and Trickett in June of last year.
On junior college signees
We took seven junior college guys last year, and this year we took six. Two of the six are three-year guys. Two of the other four have a redshirt year. We’d like to get it to where we don’t need to take a lot of them. What we want to get is to where we can get guys in the program for three, four, and five years who really know it. There’s a difference in a fifth-year senior and a first-year junior.
If you look at our sophomore and junior class, the numbers there are very high and heavy with guys that came here as true freshmen. We want to get guys who are developed and who have really put in the time. It means a lot to them to be here. It’s tough to develop that mentality and pride when they are here for a year.
There are guys here for three semesters, from a junior college, that are out before you know it. However, there are guys who are spectacular that way. You get a guy like (redshirt-senior offensive lineman) Mark Glowinski, who you redshirt for a year, and he ends up being a tremendous football player, because he’s been here for three years. (Senior running back) Dreamius Smith has been here for three semesters and keeps getting better. Players like (senior wide receiver) Mario Alford, who got injured and then
in December, he looked like a million bucks and right now will be graduating before you know it.
We want to use our junior college players but also get more high school players so we can have them for four or five years.
On the quarterback situation
I, as well as 1.8 million people, hope we can pick a starter out of these four. If you look at our situation, Trickett got hurt, and then got better and then got hurt. He’ll get better in the offseason with just mentality, and Millard will continue to get better. With that said, both of their performances weren’t good enough. Hopefully they get better, or someone will pass them up.
With that said, we’ve been very candid with those guys as that being the current situation. Howard is here and is studying hard, is throwing with the guys and is here a lot. I haven’t been able to coach him yet, but obviously Coach (Shannon) Dawson did a great job watching him through 11 games and getting him on campus. The film supports what we think he can be.
The good news is that his idol is Russell Wilson, and that’s good for a number of obvious reasons. He believes that he’s got the skill set to be able to be successful. I’m really excited about coaching him.
My conversations with Crest include him having a lot of opportunities. We get to coach him more this summer than we have in the past with the new NCAA regulations. We couldn’t do that before. We will get him ahead of what he would’ve been in years past, and he’ll make the most of the opportunities that he has to practice.
We should be in a much, much better situation come September 1st than we were a year ago. It’s our job to make sure that we get someone who will be ready to roll.
On William Crest
I hate saying too many good things about guys before they actually get here, but he’s just a very eager guy. He’s bright-eyed, he smiles, he lights up a room and people are drawn to him. His skillset is good. He’s athletic and has broad shoulders and a strong arm. What’s the adjustment period going to be from a mentality and knowledge standpoint? I can’t answer that question until we actually start coaching him. His skill set is great, as well as his personality, leadership qualities and home life. He’s a great kid, and people are drawn to him.
On Dontae Angus
Coach (Brian) Mitchell got in there and established a relationship and stuck with him. As the contact period came about, he started popping in there and we convinced him to come over last weekend. He came over with his mother and had a great time. Again, that’s where it comes back to our players. This past weekend we had 10 official visitors. We had a great Junior Day on Saturday, and all of the official visitors, juniors and team went to the basketball game. All of them had a great time. Angus hit it off with some of the guys.
We get excited for big bodies like that. They’re hard to find. He can play on both sides of the ball. We have him on offense right now, but we’ll see what happens.
It’s becoming more and more common across the United States for guys to leave their home states to go other places. Our philosophy here has been the same since I’ve been here.
We want to identify the local talent and try our hardest to get them. We focus on the surrounding states and go to the talent-rich states of North Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Texas. We try to develop our connections and get our foot in the door in those places. That’s been the norm, and I don’t see that changing.
We’ve got coaches everywhere, and we’re going to develop relationships in every area and get stronger.
On two quarterbacks for spring ball
That’s not ideal. We moved (redshirt-senior) Logan Moore there as well. We haven’t given him a fair chance at any position, so he will be a third quarterback in the spring to get reps. I don’t know how close Trickett will be. He won’t be ready for the first of spring, but he will be when we return from Spring Break, which will be 12 practices in. Whether he’s available I don’t know yet.
We will get a lot out of Millard and Howard. We’ve had springs where we went with two or less if I’m not mistaken, so with them healthy and Logan able to do some things, they will all get a bunch of reps.
Our numbers overall are good. Seventy-some guys on scholarship in the spring is something I’ve never been a part of. If we get 25 or 30 walk-ons, we will have almost camp numbers going into spring ball. We will play a lot of football. This will help us be able to see improvement in guys and they can show us what they’ve got.
On Millard playing baseball
That won’t affect anything on our end. Football pays the bills. He hasn’t and won’t miss anything on our end.
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