Saban Talks About Tide's Football Signees
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. Â- University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban met with the media Wednesday afternoon to talk about the Crimson Tide's 2008 football signing class. Here is a transcript of Saban's signing day press conference.
"A little over a year ago, we stood up here and made a commitment to this institution to make the University of Alabama in a position to be successful as a football program in the future. Certainly, this recruiting class was a positive step in that direction. It shows a very strong commitment to this institution by the players that we were able to recruit. I think it shows a very strong commitment to the program and the people we have in it that are here to help the players be successful. I also think it's a very strong commitment to the current players on our team that these guys are going to be quality teammates to them and that's important to us. Our players did a fantastic job of helping us recruit this class and certainly we want these young me that come in here to want to be great people, they want a good education and be great students and they want to be quality football players and reach their full potential and be as good as they can be at everything that they do, which is certainly what we want our current players to do. I think this class will be a quality group of teammates for the players we have on our team.
"A lot goes in to putting together a successful recruiting class. Our administration here has been fantastic and supporting our recruiting efforts, in terms of the contributions that they make, weekly speaking, speaking at junior day, and we really appreciate their efforts and help. (UA President) Dr. (Robert E.) Witt is always very helpful and supportive in all of our recruiting efforts. Our own athletic administration has been helpful. (Director of Athletics) Mal Moore is a significant contributor to each and every recruit and their visits and how he represents us and supports what we are trying to do. The faculty and staff here; the academic visits they make are very positive. Our academic support program is helpful. We have countless numbers of people who volunteer their time and energy in a very positive way to help us attract the quality young men we were able to attract in this particular recruiting class.
"I think our coaching staff in the way they evaluate and put into a process the recruitment of all the players, those that we got and some that we didn't get, but their time, energy and effort is probably more than you know, more than you can imagine in terms of what we all try to do together as a group to have success in recruiting. Recruiting is the lifeline of all of us in this profession, in terms of our success. When you have good players who can make good plays and you have quality people that are great competitors, things just seem to work out a little better sometimes. We have some great playmakers out there. I think that's what we all want to see and what our fans enjoy. Our coaching staff, the sacrifices they made in terms of time, commitment and travel, is fantastic. There are numerous people, in terms of our support staff, whether it's a medical person, strength and conditioning program, when we sell, we sell everything about this University and everything about this program. There are a tremendous amount of people that should get a lot of credit for any success we had in recruiting this year.
"Probably, just as important as anyone else, our fans should know that their positive energy, which we always talk about, and the atmosphere that they create in 92,000 people being at the (2007) spring game. That's something that I still hear people talking about all the time. It's something that was very impressive to all these young men that were there, who heard about or saw it, because it reflects a spirit, a tradition, an energy, a positive attitude about what we can build here. Our fans contributed tremendously in the atmosphere that they created at the football games that we played in Bryant-Denny Stadium as well as the way they supported the team when we played on the road. I can't thank our fans enough for their positive energy and their enthusiasm and I think that every fan out there that contributed that in a positive way should know that it effects and it affected a lot of players that we recruited. In a lot of ways, this is your recruiting class for all the support you've given us over the last year and what we've been able to do since we've been here and we certainly appreciate it.
"Our players themselves, who sacrificed their time to develop relationships with their future teammates, their attitude about this program and the future of this program was contagious and helping this recruiting class be successful.
"Just a special thank you to everyone who contributed, there are a lot of people who are responsible for this. As it always goes, these guys had great high school careers and have great potential. The challenge for us is to continue to help develop these young men in every way so they can be more successful in life for having been involved in this program. That they can graduate from school and be the best possible football player and have great careers here and have great success and their future is affected in a positive way because they made the selection they made today to come to the University of Alabama."
When did you know about Julio Jones and Jerrell Harris and what was your reaction?
"We are pleased and happy to have both of those guys. They are both outstanding players and they will both make tremendous contribution to the future of our football program and our football team. They are certainly the type of young men we want to have in this football program. They will be quality players for us and we are looking forward to working with them. I knew when they announced today. Sometimes you get little hints and inklings from people and players. Jerrell gave me a little bit of an idea last night, but you never know."
There are a number of guys listed at multiple positions. Is that a philosophy of yours to look at those kinds of players or did it just happen that some of the better players were that way this year?
"I think there are always players that may project into a different position that he played in high school or may develop into a different position or grow into a different position. I think you will always see some of that. The greatest factor after they get here and we start working with them that we determine what they are best suited for, but we always give players the opportunity to play what they want to play. When I was a college football player and I was a high school quarterback, I wanted to play quarterback and I was given that opportunity. My freshman year, part of spring practice, when they asked me to move to defensive back, I was willing to do that because I had a chance. I got an opportunity to do what I wanted to do, which was important to me and that's the way we handle and manage our players here. If a young man has a desire to play a certain position we want to give them a chance to do that and then talk to them about what might be best, in terms of his ability to play and contribute to the team, and maybe even develop a career as a football player and that's how we try and manage it. If you have good players, most good players can play more than one position. I don't think it's unusual for guys to play multiple positions."
What is your role in recruiting and are you the closer?
"I' don't think I'm the closer. I just think I do a lot of hard work and due diligence like the rest of our staff does and try and develop the best plan to have the opportunity to sell our institution and be positive about what we have here in our program and focus on the things that we can control, which are the things that we have in our program. I am very involved in the evaluation of the players. We have an evaluation system, which involves the recruiting coach, the position coach, sometimes the coordinator and always the head coach, if we're going to make a decision to offer a scholarship to a potential prospect. We're involved in all phases of it. I like it. I enjoy it. I like developing relationships with the families and the players we are recruiting. We enjoy it. I think we have a good recruiting staff. We all did a pretty good job of developing the kind of plan that would help us get a pretty good group of players this recruiting season."
Alabama had a good bit of success in Mobile. What was the key to that and how important is that city?
"Well, I think it's important to do a good job recruiting everywhere. Mobile has a lot of fine programs and lot of good athletes and certainly had some outstanding players this year. We are very pleased and happy to have some of those players come to the University of Alabama and join our program. (Assistant coach/linebackers) Lance Thompson did a good job recruiting that area. I think (former assistant coach) Ron Middleton contributed to it when he was here and I think (assistant coach/running backs) Burton Burns contributed to it after Ron left. We do it as a team. I don't really think that an assistant coach or head coach gets a guy to come to school. I think it's the University itself, the relationships of the people and the players, it's the overall philosophy of the program that you have and the philosophy of the program that you have. We team recruit a lot of guys. We have a lot of guys involved. I think Lance did a great job of setting the table and developing a plan for how we would have the best chance to be successful in that area and I think we all worked hard to try and make it happen and it worked our pretty well for us today."