National Signing Day press conference transcript

    Coach Dale Lennon

    Coach Dale Lennon
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    Feb. 6, 2013

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois football coach Dale Lennon unveiled his 2013 recruiting class on Wednesday. The class is comprised of 12 incoming freshman, eight transfers and five priority walk-ons.

    The SIU football program has also announced that it will hold its pro day on Thursday, March 28 at noon at the Saluki Football facilities.

    Below is a transcript of the National Signing Day press conference.

    2013 Saluki Football Signees' Bios Get Acrobat Reader

    Coach Lennon on the New Signees

    Ki-Jana Evans
    "Ki-Jana is a three-star athlete. In fact, coming out of Chicago he was the highest rated recruit that an FCS program was able to obtain. We're excited about Ki-Jana, we feel that he has a great future in front of him."

    John Gardner
    "He's another very talented individual, a two-star prospect. He played a lot of receiver, but he has the frame to play tight end. He'll put on some good size and be one of those tight ends that you can utilize in your passing game. I won't compare him to MyCole Pruitt, but he's definitely one of those guys that can give a vertical threat to your passing game."

    Raysean Golden
    "Raysean has three years of eligibility left. Any time you can come across a transfer with three years of eligibility remaining, we feel that's very positive. We think he's a perfect fit for the 3-4 nose guard position. He's very athletic. I like his motor. He has good quickness. He has good speed. His strength is right where you want it. I really like the way he plays the game."

    Antony Greenhow
    "He's currently ranked No. 5 in his graduating class, so he's a good student. He has all the accolades that you look for, team MVP, some MVP awards within his league and good leadership skills, so were excited about Antony being a member of our program.

    Kenny James
    "Kenny's a great athlete and a highly decorated football player. He plays both sides, and he currently ranks fifth all-time in receiving yardage at his high school, and there are some very good players to have come out of there. We feel that Kenny is going to be one of those playmakers that can give us a lot of dimension in the defensive secondary."

    Marcus Miller
    "He has great speed. He came to our camp last year and just nailed it on the 40 (yard dash). In fact, it was one of those situations where the timers clicked them, looked at the time, they all looked at each other and we made him run it again and he matched it. The time was so good I'm not even going to tell you because I still don't know if we timed it right."

    Brandon Minor
    "He's another highly-ranked linebacker, ranked two-star or three-star by some services. He was a four-time all-conference selection at linebacker, which you just don't see very often. His physicality is extremely impressive -- he's at a 400-pound bench already."

    Nick Neidig
    "It's not that we are in desperate need of a punter, but we do feel that Nick can come in and even challenge Austin Pucylowski, which is something Austin needs, somebody pushing him. We brought him in under the idea that he can redshirt and be the punter of the future for us."

    Austin Olsen
    "We think his frame is very encouraging -- 6-5, 260 and he's only 17. He's one of those kids that started school a little early, so we think he has a huge upside as far as his development is concerned."

    Garrett Pougnet
    "If there's a Johnny Football, this is it. We recruited him as a receiver, other schools recruited him as a safety, and there was one school that recruited him as a quarterback -- he's just that athletic."

    Chandler Shantz
    "He has the tools that you look for. He has size. He shows good ability to run. He can throw the football and make all the difficult throws, and the thing that impressed me more than anything is probably his accuracy. He's putting that ball exactly where he needs it to be."

    Dakota Upchurch
    "He's a tough kid. He's a man among boys when he's out there playing, especially in football. He's aggressive. I like the way he runs around. I like his athleticism. You're looking at a big frame of 6-6, 250 right now. I think his upside is very high."

    Khari Waithe-Alexander
    "The best way to describe him is explosive. As a defensive lineman, he makes a lot of plays on the other side of the line of scrimmage."

    Coach Lennon on Priority Walk-Ons

    Bryce Beschorner
    "Bryce is a very quality receiver, plus a good student. He's a young man who got a 33 on the ACT. He's going into engineering. He's just one of those guys that you want in your program because you know he's going to bring a lot to the table."

    Markese Jackson
    "He plays that linebacker position very well. You look at his technique, his skills, he's looking like a college linebacker. He stays low. He knows how to hit. He knows how to tackle the ball-carrier. I'm really impressed with his football skills."

    Josh Jahnke
    "We worked with him at camp. He puts up some extremely impressive numbers snapping the long and short snap, but really the long snap is what we're concerned with, snapping back to the punter. We think that Josh has the potential to play for us next fall."

    Cameron Walter
    "I like the way Cameron runs with the ball. He intends to major in aviation. That was probably one of the main reasons (he chose SIU) because Cameron wants to be a pilot." 

    Reed Watson
    "You have to watch the blocks he throws. He's not doing anything all that glamorous, but he's a tough, hard-nosed player who gets after you. He has all the qualities that you look for in your fullback." 

    Coach Lennon on Transfers

    Chris Davis
    "Just a high-quality athlete. In high school he played receiver and has very good ball skills, he also returns punts. He's just a well-rounded football player."

    Ken Malcome
    "Our reputation with running backs helped us -- he was aware of some of the guys that had come before, and he wanted to go somewhere that he could have the opportunity to play. We're excited to have Ken in the program, and we're looking forward to see where his level is at this spring."

    Jamarcus Robinson
    "When you talk about moving the pile, he moves the pile. He has that type of ability. Just watching their morning workouts so far, he's in very good shape, and he's working hard so this spring will be good for him and he'll be competing for starting time once spring comes around."

    Kitray Solomon
    "He reminds me a lof of Eze Obiora. He has a similar body type, he kind of looks like him to a degree. He's very fast. He's that speed rusher at defensive end. Watching his film, you like the pressure he can bring off the edge."

    Keith Suggs
    "What helped us with Keith was having Ethan Wirth here, who transferred from Toledo. We feel that Keith has that potential to be a strong contributor pushing for a starting spot."

    Brandon Willingham
    "I think our reputation with Coffeyville was very beneficial there. He contacted us. A couple things had fallen through. He had some D-I schools that were recruiting him and at the last minute came up a little short. Brandon immediately called us and everything worked out well. We feel that he is a high-quality corner who has the speed and quickness to do the things you want your corners to  be able to do."

    Tay Willis
    "The best word to describe him is speed. Plus, he's very strong. He's 5-8, 170 but he has a 335 bench with that type of speed. We'll see in the spring if he's the fastest guy on the team, but he has the potential to be awarded that honor. He reminds me of Larry Warner. He has good stop and start. He can cut on a dime and get to full acceleration."

    Q: In the recruiting process when you have a player like Garrett Pougnet, do you tell him right up front that he might switch to wide receiver instead of playing quarterback or is it just an ongoing conversation in the process of recruiting him?

    "Well, coach Schmitt recruited Garrett, and in our very first meeting with him we told him number one that we liked him as a football player. Then we told him we are looking at him playing wide receiver. He is one of those guys that has potential to play multiple positions such as safety and quarterback."

    Q: Are still recruiting for wide outs or are you satisfied with what you have now?

    "Well, like I said, everything is an ongoing process. So to make a definite statement at this point in time wouldn't be fair at any position. We have two receivers and we were looking for three. One of them decommitted. That sometimes happens when recruiting."

    Q: Are there any incoming freshmen who could play next year?

    "I've been pretty liberal the last couple years with playing true freshman. Really the bottom line is if they're at a position where they can contribute significantly to the football team, we will play them right away. If they are comfortable with that though. That's the whole thing. We want to make sure that first year is a productive year if we play them, and if there is an individual in this class that is capable of doing that, we'll play them early. We are not counting on any incoming freshman to play right away. The only one that is a maybe is the long snapper, Josh Jahnke. We want him to compete, and if his times are as good as we think they are, he is going to have the opportunity to be our starting long snapper."

    Q: Could you see Dakota Upchurch playing nose tackle or is he a defensive end in your mind?

    "He is a defensive end as is Brandon Williams. Right now we're happy with our nose guard position."

    Q: Three mid-year transfers are cornerbacks. Can you talk about that?

    "They are defensive backs. I know they are listed as cornerbacks and that's where we have them plugged in at this point in time. The big thing is that we wanted to increase our athleticism in the secondary and that's something that we did."

    Q: Do you think you have improved your speed on offense with this class?

    "Well, I think we have improved our speed overall on offense and defense. This is a talented group of players that we're bringing in that have the qualities that you look for."

    Q: Are you satisfied with what you have coming back at safety or are you still looking?

    "It is going to be competitive. Here's another thing that I wanted to accomplish. I wanted a very competitive football team. I don't want any player coming in to spring ball thinking they have tabs on their position. If you want to get better, you have to be pushed. I think you are going to see that with this team. We want quality at every position to a point where every player has to raise their level of play just to have a chance to get on the field. That is what we're working towards. We want the two player to come in and there will be no letdown."

    Q: Now that you have been here with a full recruiting class, has that helped you out on the recruiting trips?

    "Yeah, I think what has helped us is that we have learned through the last five years. We have learned how to recruit the area, learned how to present ourselves, and communicate with the coaches. We've learned how to get a jumpstart, finding the guys earlier and building those relationships. That's the thing I've been most encouraged with is that we have gotten better as a recruiting staff at SIU. Also, defining the things that we do as far as the three different signing periods. It's not an all-or-nothing like it used to be. This is an ongoing process that you're always looking to improve your team." 

    Q: Has it been harder the past couple years since the wins haven't been there the past few years?

    "When you win it's easier. You have to sell the positives of the school. SIU is a great school to recruit too."

    Q: Since you only have one tailback coming back with experience  How big was it to get somebody like Ken Malcome?

    "Well that was a concern. We wanted a mid-year transfer. Adding Malcome and (Tay) Willis with Mika'il McCall, that's a pretty good backfield. That was a big area of concern. Getting Ken Malcome was a big plus for us."