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Nick Saban Signing Day Press Conference Transcript



Feb. 1, 2012

Opening Statement

“We are very pleased with the group of players that we were able to attract this year in this signing class. I think there’s a tremendous amount of people that contribute to this process every year. First of all, our staff does a wonderful job of developing relationships with these young men. We get a tremendous amount of support in the University community all the way from Dr. Witt, who helps us recruit, to Mal Moore, who does a fabulous job. We have a lot of faculty and people around here who sacrifice Saturday after Saturday to have these guys see what their academic future holds for them here. We certainly appreciate those efforts. I think our fans that create a wonderful environment and atmosphere for our players to play in every time we play a game and we have recruits there. They (recruits) are excited about the opportunity to play at The University of Alabama. All those who have done so much to create the tradition here, the hard work they’ve put in, all those things contribute in a positive way to us being able to have a successful recruiting year. I think we filled some needs with this class. We started out with a goal of explosive players on offense, running back and receiver, those kinds of guys. We felt good about the guys we were able to attract from that standpoint. We are obviously losing a lot of very good defensive players. Even though we have some good defensive players here, we felt that it was really important to have a really good year on the defensive side of the ball. We feel good about the five defensive linemen, five linebackers, four defensive backs, that we were able to attract in this class. Certainly the fact that we feel like we got a great specialist, in the kicker, that we got this year, and how he can contribute in the future, was very positive. We were also able to get some offensive lineman even though we have a lot of people coming back there. That’s a developmental position that these kind of guys are certainly the kind of guys that you want to have in your program to be able to develop for the future.

I say this every year, but recruiting is not an exact science. No one knows for sure how these players are going to develop in the future. That’s certainly something we work hard on here, as coaches and teachers, is to help these players develop. How adolescents are going to respond two or three years out, nobody can really predict that. We do feel like these young men were recruited here because we felt that they could be successful at this institution and we also know that sometimes programs are judged just on how many games they win. I think we pride ourselves on the kind of program we have here by helping the people that are in our program have the chance to be successful in life because they were involved in the program. That comes on the personal development side of people making good choices and decisions about what they do and what they don’t do so they can take advantage of their gifts. On the academic side, in terms of the history of academic success that you create for these young folks, the fact that we had 38 players this past year make SEC honor roll, which I think is a record all time in the SEC, is pretty significant. When they ranked the top 10 finishers in the BCS and match them up with the graduation rate, Stanford is first and we are second. A lot of those things contribute to helping players be more successful in life. We certainly want to help them develop as football players and we’ve had some success doing that in terms of the team’s success we’ve had as well as the number of players that have gone on to contribute and be able to develop careers as football players and play in the NFL. We are excited and pleased. Our coaching staff did a fabulous job, not only in recruiting these guys, but the evaluation process that is always critical, especially early on to decide who the people are that can be successful in your program.”

On whether or not Landon Collins will make an impact as a freshman
“We feel like Landon Collins is an outstanding player, he’s a fine young man who was in our camps the last couple years.  He has leadership qualities, he’s a great competitor, he’s a good student, he’s a very bright young guy who I feel is going to be very successful here.  We give everybody an opportunity to play as freshmen.  The more mature guys that learn more quickly are the guys that have the best chance to contribute as freshmen.  Landon’s demonstrated all these qualities, but we certainly want to bring him along at his own pace, and when he’s confident and ready to go, I’m sure he’ll be a good player here.”

On the new SEC rule limiting the number of signings and how it affected the signing
“I think that this is going to be a rule in the future that is going to be an NCAA rule, but I do think that it was a much more difficult management, to hit the number right on and not go over at all.  I think that sometimes for whatever reasons, whether medical or academic reasons, maturity reasons, there seemed to be so much of a negative reaction to the whole idea of what you all call greyshirting, but I think basically what we did was, because of the cynical attitude people have towards whether coaches are really doing what’s in the best interest of the young people that we coach, which I sort of resent, to be honest with you, because that’s one of the things that we pride ourselves in, we actually took some opportunities away from guys that really wanted to come to Alabama that we couldn’t sign, and they couldn’t come here because we couldn’t offer that option to them.  I don’t really see how that’s good for the league, but it is what it is and we’ll manage it in the future.   Everybody said they don’t want anybody to over sign, but the fact of the matter is, if you only have 20 scholarships to give and you sign 25 guys you’re still oversigning.  But when you have a large class of seniors, which we did, and have a lot of scholarships available, then it’s a little more difficult management.”

On the two junior college defensive backs, Travell Dixon and Deion Belue
“We were pleased that we were able to get both of those guys.  We felt that with DeQuan Menzie graduating and Dre (Kirkpatrick) deciding to go out early for the draft, that you always have to assess if you have potential starters at those positions.  We only usually recruit junior college guys here if we have a need, most of those guys have been very successful, and Deion Belue is a guy that we recruited out of high school, because we thought he was a very good player.  Travell is a guy that we thought was one of the best junior college corners out there, so while we don’t know how they’re going to progress in our system, in our program here, we’re excited about the ability that they have and how they may contribute, and how it gives us a little more experienced, a little more mature player to play at a position where we have a need created by the guys that we lost.”

On the athletics program’s relationship with Landon Collin’s mother and others in the community
“We have a good relationship with the people around Landon, and Landon’s got a great family, Landon’s a great person, we want to do everything that we can to help him be successful in the future.  We think he’s a fine young man, and he’s got a great opportunity to be successful here.   I just hope that everybody can be supportive of his decision. This is kind of a mutual partnership that we have with parents, when they send their sons here to develop in our program, where we want to continue to develop the principles and values most parents want for their young folks.  That’s exactly what we want for them, just like what I want for my own children.  It’s a partnership, and we need to have very good relationships to continue that partnership in a positive way, and I’m sure that we’ll be able to do that with Landon.”

On whether or not there were any surprises in the results today

“No, we knew pretty much what we were going to get, and we didn’t really have any surprises.  All those things kind of shook out in the last 48 hours as to how it was going to come down today. You almost needed to know that. We couldn’t send out a bunch of scholarships on a maybe, because if too many guys decided to come here we would have gotten penalized, so it worked out well from that standpoint.  The fact that we had a lot of guys commit to us a long time ago, sticking with those commitments was also a positive thing for us in terms of our management of recruiting this year.”

On the offering of multi-year scholarships.
“I guess I’m getting old, but I’ve been through the whole cycle of this multi-year scholarships deal.  When I was in college, which was many moons ago, you got four-year scholarships.  There were lawsuits galore, because we gave people four-year scholarships and they would violate a rule or something and someone would try to take their scholarship away, and there would be a lawsuit and all kinds of issues and problems, and that was why we went to one-year scholarships.  I think this is some people’s cynical approach, to think that coaches don’t have the best interests of the young people that they coach in mind, which I’ve already said I resent.  I think that every coach that I know has the best interests of his players in mind.  I don’t know of situations where players are not getting treated fairly in terms of what their responsibility is to what they need to do as college football players and student athletes, in terms of the rules, both academic and behavioral that they need to represent themselves and the University that they represent with.  I don’t really know if it’s a good rule or a bad rule, I’ve just been around long enough to know that it caused a lot of problems when we had the rule in the past.”

On how much pride Nick Saban takes in recruiting the best players for his defensive system
“I think that’s really a key to having a successful program on offense, defense, or special teams.  I’ve talked about this before, but I think the fact that we sort of develop a criteria for what we’re looking for in recruiting in terms of the character and attitude and intelligence a guy has, the physical abilities that he has to play the position based on the critical factors that we think are important, and the size and speed that they have to do it, and that’s what we look for in players.  I think that when we recruit players that fit our criteria they have a better opportunity to be successful, and I think we have a better opportunity to be successful in what we do.”

 On what the new cap is, and whether it would be better accompanied with an early signing period
“There’s certainly a lot of talk about that, and I think we have to be careful about an early signing period that would occur before the high school football season.  I think it might affect a guy’s motivation to play their senior year, and I certainly would not want to affect guys’ high school careers in terms of what they are looking forward to doing in college.  I don’t think that would be healthy for the game.  High school coaches do a great job of inspiring and of instilling the kinds of values that help these guys develop, and we have a tremendous amount of respect for what they do, and having great high school programs in our state helps us be successful.  Our high school coaches do a great job of developing our players, so maybe an early signing period right after the high school season would be something that would be beneficial, I know it’s been discussed quite a bit before, and I think that it probably would be beneficial.”

 Amari Cooper, defensive back

On choosing Alabama

“I just wanted to win. I wanted to be a part of a great program and a great team. I thought this team presented the best opportunity of winning.”

On what Coach Saban talked about

“He mainly talked about being a student and enhancing my personal development skills. I can be a better person. He rarely talked about football but I understood that being a better person would help me be a better football player.”

On changing nutrition habits

“You have to. Once you start working out as hard as we work out. You will know if you aren’t eating well because you will be tired.”

On Coach Cochran’s workouts

“They are really different. I’ve always been the type of player that worked hard and pushed myself, so I was already accustomed to them. He (Coach Cochran) is all about you being able to work your hardest and perform to your best every day. He says make today your best day.”

Chris Black, running back

On what he brings as a receiver

“Being explosive, being versatile and not being one dimensional. Being able to play the slot or the outside position.

On workouts

“Besides the first day everything has been great. The first day was pretty tough for all of us. We are pretty used to it. We focus on the task at hand. It’s just something we go through.”

Travell Dixon, defensive back

On choosing Alabama

“I choose UA because of Nick Saban’s track record with junior college players. The history Alabama has and the opportunity that lies ahead.”

On seeing other defensive backs succeed here

“I see myself going that way one day. I feel like that was a big boost, seeing (Mark) Barron and (Dre) Kirkpatrick. I feel like if they can do it, I can do it as well.”

On time in Tuscaloosa so far

“I’ve had to adapt you know. It’s been pretty easy so far, the transition. As far as workouts, it was a big transition I had to make quickly.”

Dillon Lee, linebacker

On decision to come in early

“Coming into a national championship team, they do things a certain way. I just wanted to come in so I had a clue what was going on.”

On his early arrival making difference in his game

“I hope a pretty big difference. It’s a pretty complicated defense, probably the most complicated out there, and I just want to pick up as much as I can and learn every day.”