Feb. 5, 2014
Hoke Press Conference | Signing Day Central
Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke
Opening remarks ... "Number one, thanks for coming out. I know the weather wasn't as inviting as we'd all have liked. But, that's Michigan and that time of year. Thanks for coming. Today is about the 16 kids that have joined the Michigan Family. It is an exciting day for them, and it's an exciting day for us. A lot of hard work by numerous people in this process, and for most of these guys, this process has gone on for two years or a year and a half in recruitment. It's a great day for a lot of families and us and we're excited. Every school has a blueprint as far as what they look for in their student-athletes. We hold these guys to high standards, their character, their integrity, and the guys that we want in this program, we are excited about the guys that are here. There are seven of them that started school in January and have done a tremendous job acclimating to the University academic life, to the conditioning with Coach (Aaron) Wellman, and the things that they've been doing in the weight room and in the winter conditioning, and also how they've adapted from a social standpoint. It was good to be off the road so you could be around those guys. I was talking to the group of them last night and they're all hungry, and they're all happy to be here, and they look forward to spring ball because that's when the competition really heats up. As far as the class itself, there are nine states represented in this class. I really think the coaches did a tremendous job of finding guys who truly fit the profile of a student-athlete who understand the value of a degree and also understand playing in the winningest program in the history of college football. They are very competitive. This truly has been a very close class, from their parents to just the kids socially, for about eight to nine months. It really is a neat group of people."
On the importance of recruiting the right players with a small class ... "This is a small class. I believe it's our smallest one to date. But as you go through the process and the evaluation you want to make sure because you've got to be right. That's part of it. I think what our coaches have done and what we've done when you look at needs, and either needs for next year or two years from now, I think that the numbers that we used and how we came up with it really fits what we wanted to do."
On the challenges of recruiting high-profile players ... "Here's the one thing that I don't like and I think this has got way out of whack. It doesn't seem like it is about the kids anymore. It is more about different services and the Internet and all the stuff that puts a lot more pressure on kids. I think it's harder for them as they continue to grow and go through the process. But every guy in every situation is different, and the difference can be, yes, people are still going to try and contact. High school coaches play a role in that because some of them won't let that happen."
On what makes Jabrill Peppers a versatile player ... "I think number one is his attitude and his mentality. Obviously he is gifted athletically and his competitive nature is another part of it."
On when he became aware of the Brendan Gibbons investigation ... "I put a statement out on Monday."
On the challenges of recruiting with social media ... "Well, there is no question that it has changed. It's changed and will continue to change. In some ways it is easier, when you talk about getting film or the networks and all those things. You have a little more access which helps you a little bit more in some evaluations. But at the same time, I think it's harder on the kids. Sometimes, yeah, kids probably ask for it a bit. They like to Tweet and do all of those things. But also, I think there are a lot of adults that can be faceless and nameless."
On the importance of key players signing early and helping with recruiting ... "I think that every class is different. You have different guys and different personalities. Mike (Ferns) really took a lead from Shane (Morris) the year before. He got close to guys. Wilton (Speight) got involved with it, and Drake (Harris), to be honest with you. They truly like each other and they had been up here enough on unofficial visits. They truly like each other."
On the differences in recruiting in- and out-of-state players ... "That's part of it. There are fewer numbers. But the other part is, where state-wise, how many players do they have that we feel are Michigan quality, and do they fit in to what we want to do."
On hearing about negative recruiting late in the season ... "You get negative recruiting every year. I don't get involved with all that's out there and social media and that kind of stuff. I know certain guys that shut it down pretty well and certain guys don't."
On Jabrill Peppers' taking on a role similar to Charles Woodson ... "I think that we need to let him get in here and be a corner for a while and let him get acclimated to everything about college football. Do I think he's very talented? There is no question. Can he return kicks, could he? I don't think there is any doubt about it. Could there be a plan somewhere for him offensively? There could be. But let's let the kid walk on campus, go to a class during the summer, and be a freshman, and then let what he does speak for itself."
On the difficulties of recruiting during a down year ... "(Peppers) is definitely high profile. Did he waver some? I don't know if it was waver so much as he had to step away from it, to be honest with you. 7-6 is not good enough here. We know that. We've got to become better. But if you look at the class, they've stayed together the whole time."
On what he saw in Juwann Bushell-Beatty and Ian Bunting ... "Well number one with Juwann, he is a big 'ol road grader as a right tackle, and we were really impressed with how he moved his feet. He was a basketball player to start with, and that's what he really was. And then he started playing football his junior year as much as anything, a little bit in his sophomore year, got in the weight room. His father is 6'9." His dad is a huge man. With him, all of his best football will be in front of him. I really believe that. With Ian, we were going to take a tight end position. We had three or four of them we recruited, offered, looked at, and it just so happened that three of them were in the Midwest, three of them in the state of Illinois. It happened fast when it happened, when Ian said he was coming. From an athletic standpoint, he's got range, he's got length. I know, being in his home two weeks ago, he's lost a little bit of weight because of basketball, but he's got a big frame to put on a lot of good weight."
On the difference between learning offensive and defensive positions ... "I think they are about the same. If you're going to all lock-down man coverage for a corner, you find the guy and get on him. That's pretty easy. Offensively, it can be line him up and let him run fades or let him run go routes. That's easy, but it's everything else that comes with it. He has football instincts. He'll catch on to things pretty easily."
On players who could see early playing ... "You hesitate to say because you say it and then everybody thinks it is gospel. When the guy doesn't play, they start questioning the kid. We really got away from this being about the kids playing the game. It's not going to go back, it's not going to get any better. But, I think there are five or six guys who might have an opportunity (to play early). The guys who come in early, in January, they get a better head start on the others."
On if there was a position they did not address like they wanted ... "I think we hit the sweet spots where we needed help and where we needed depth. I was pretty proud of being able to keep that all together. We were real happy with that."
On the linebackers in the class ... "Well Michael (Ferns) is here, he's in school right now. Noah (Furbush) is a guy who we played with as a shorter guy, around six foot, six foot one, but the length that Michael and Noah have, as well as the athleticism that Jared (Wangler) has are great. Jared was a safety. He also was able to go down into the box more. I like all of the guys. I like their attitudes. I like how they attack the game. Noah played with a cast on his hand all year and took it off with a hedge trimmer by himself. He thought he should do that, but I wouldn't recommend it. He just wanted to play. And Chase (Winovich) is a guy who's really athletic. It will be interesting to watch him play. That goes for all of them, to be honest with you. He's a very good athlete with good length. He'll remind you a little bit of Jake (Ryan), that type of body type."
On which linebacker spots the freshmen will play ... "I don't know if we know. You can go about choosing your SAM linebacker two different ways. You can go with a guy who's got long arms and a lot of range playing over a tight end. If you're playing more 4-3 you don't have to have that kind of guy. Or if you are still playing in an under front, you're SAM can play a little wider, like the Vikings used to play. The width will help him in his leverage against the ball. We've got to see them run around a little bit and see what they do best. We do think that Chase could be the SAM, we've thought about that. Noah can be a MIKE or a WILL, Ferns is a MIKE and Jared is a WILL. Or, Jared, because of his athleticism, can be a SAM."
On the process of investigating student misconduct ... "I have no idea."
On Drake Harris being ready to play ... "Physically, he's improved. He's doing more and more. I know we ran yesterday and he's feeling more towards 100 percent all the time. We're hoping he'll be ready for the start of spring."
On how Drake handled not playing last year ... "I think he handled it pretty well. I don't think he liked missing football, missing games and being hurt. I don't know if anybody enjoys that. He's ready to play football again. He's excited."
On Brady Pallante earning a scholarship ... "We were looking at a lot of different inside guys. As we kept looking at him, he had something special that a lot of them didn't have. His hand placement and how he moved them. Personally, it was one of those things where Greg (Mattison) and I looked at it and said we need to bring this guy in now. He was a state champion in wrestling a year ago. I think wrestlers play with pretty good leverage and know what they are doing inside."
On this class being ranked lower than in previous years ... "I would say the size of the class has something to do with it (the lower rankings), but I really don't think I care. I think of the guys who have been pretty good football players here and at other schools that were three or two stars. I don't know how much stock I would put into that. I think the class fits what we needed to fit."
On the wide receivers in the class and how they complement one another ... "I think with Freddy (Canteen), you've got a guy who is truly a slot guy. His ability to get out of breaks, his quickness off the ball. He is very talented, he can pick the ball out of the air. With Moe (Ways), you've got a bigger body. You've got a guy who can run and get down the field. His ability from an athletic standpoint at getting up is what you want to look for when you're in the red zone. I think all three complement each other and we were excited to have all three of them."
On Freddy Canteen providing more size to the slot position ... "(He's) a bigger target. That's always good for quarterbacks. With his bigger size, he also has the athleticism to get in and out of breaks."
On having any nervous moments in the recruitment of Jabrill Peppers ... "I think I'm always nervous. He and I talked a few times yesterday."
On if he feels they recruited the right players in the past ... "If we recruited them, then we feel like they are the right guys."
On Brandon Watson ... "Well when they came into camp, we saw the competitiveness that those guys have. Him and Freddy, we lined them up against each other and watched them go at it. His athleticism, the toughness and for a corner, he's already a bigger guy. The neat part is you are in the homes before Christmas with the guys who came early. Being in there with the mothers and the dads and the grandmas, how they treat each other, it's really neat. That's the fun part about recruiting. After January, getting in the homes with all of the families, their commitments to their sons, to their next journey is really neat."
On how challenging the offseason has been for him ... "I don't really listen to outside people. I think the guys who are in Schembechler Hall, the guys in our offices, the guys who are in the meetings, the players, those are the ones that you listen to. Everyone's got an opinion. Whether you're here or not, you're going to write what you think, so it doesn't matter. My point is that stuff doesn't matter to me. If you get worried about that, then you're going to do a poor job coaching a football team and making sure the young guys on that team learn how we are going to do things."
On if it worries him that some people think the University is trying to hide behind something ... "That's your opinion."
On Wilton Speight having time to develop without the pressure on him immediately ... "Don't sell Wilton short about competing. I guarantee you. I sat with him last night. He can't wait until spring football. He can't wait to get out there and get under center. That's one reason he came here, to compete."
On peoples' opinions ... "Peoples' opinions on everything. Don't misunderstand one situation for another."
On if people deserve more than just a statement about Brendan Gibbons ... "Did I give you a statement?"