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February 1, 2012 at 7:57 PM

More Sarkisian quotes from signing day

As well as talking about each of this year’s recruits, which I passed along in the bios in the earlier entry, UW coach Steve Sarkisian also made some general comments about the class, social media’s impact on recruiting (“an absolute mess,” he said), and a few other topics.

Here are some of those quotes:

Opening statement: “Well, I think recruiting, just in general, has taken on a little bit of a shape of its own here in the landscape of college football. It’s changed, obviously, quite a bit. And we’re seeing that more and more now with what’s going on with social media, the recruits’ ability to tweet and Facebook and all the stuff that’s out there now. We’re coming to find out that, this thing, you’ve really got to have the ability to finish when it comes to recruiting. With all of the things that happened to us this past month, with staff changes and hiring guys and getting guys into place, our staff’s ability here this past week, and probably most notably here this last 48 hours or so, to close and to finish the way that we did, I couldn’t be more proud of the staff, for the efforts that they put into this and the efforts that it took, from not just the coaches but from everybody involved to make this happen.
When I look at this class, it’s a very complete class. I think it assesses a lot of our needs but yet brings in some very talented kids that aren’t just about filling a need, that are going to have some special qualities that will elevate our football team that make us better. It is also a complete class, when you look from the quarterback situation to running back to wide receiver, o-line, d-line, linebackers, defensive backs as well as specialists. I think it’s extremely complete. We cover a lot of bases. And at the end of the day, we’re better for it, and not just from a physical standpoint but a mental standpoint. These are good kids, they’re good students, they’ve got a competitive nature, they come from good programs, they’re used to winning. And ultimately, I think will continue to push us in a direction to where I think we’re headed, a championship-level football program. As we all know, I’m the first to let that know, sooner rather than later. We can get into specifics. I’ll touch on each player and each position group as we go. Couldn’t be more excited. Again, in a perfect world, you sign every kid you want and you get every kid you want. But the reality of it is, recruiting is recruiting, and kids make decisions that are best for them, or at least in their own eyes. And I can’t fault any kid for that. I believe every kid in the country, the best place for them is the University of Washington. They don’t always believe me. But the reality of it is you try to identify the kids that fit your personality as a football team, from a skill set. Some of them accept it, some of them move on and do other things. The reality of it is, you have to try to assess and then ultimately put the pieces together so your football team can get better because of your recruiting class. I think we did that in this class.”
On his emotions the last few days: “I’m tired. This recruiting has gotten to a point where we’ve had kids that we’ve had kids we’ve had committed to us for months and months and months and even at the end at the 11th hour you’re still talking to those kids every hour, on the hour. .So you can’t take anything for granted. It’s the nature of the game of the rules which we’re playing by. The same as last year, you have to recruite everybody, all of these 25 guys up until that fax comes in. that part is a bit exhausting. And you have to role with the punches. You’re going to win some, you’re going to lose some and you have to understand that kids are ultimately making decisions for what is best for them and you have ot move forward. You can’t get hung up if you do you might lose the next one, the next one, the next one.”

On the impact of social media on recruiting: “Kids are able to express themselves more on twitter. Fans are able to express themselves more on blogs and voice their opinion when they use to have to voice their opinions at the water cooler at the office now they’re spreading it to the world. Sometimes those opinions can get expressed from fans that aren’t necessarily fans of your program, but act as if they are and can place a negative opinion on a kid, so in my opinion it’s an absolute mess and we have to figure it out.”

On the staff changes and how positive they were for recruiting purposes: “I don’t know if they were directly recruiting related. There were some as we got into it. We assessed the staff and made the decisions we made and then had to hire a staff. It was one hiring good coaches, but then two we had to hire good recruiters. It’s not so much of what we do. We want to pound our chest on how much football we know, but if the players can’t execute it, then you don’t have the talent to execute it, then that part is a bit irrelevant. You have to have the players in place to do it. So, we went out and tried to identify some guys that I think were not just good football coaches, but were good recruiters. I think in the end, it did have a direct impact on what we were doing. It’s a credit to our new coaches that have come in to do some of the things they’ve done, but also guys that were on our staff that are still on our staff to hold this thing together until we could get some momentum here at the end to make this happen.”

On the impact of new coaches and how different it was to have those guys on the recruiting trail: “I think it was helpful. You know, change in recruiting for whatever reason, I think perks kid’s interest level for whatever it is. You look at some of the new staffs around the country, when you can pitch something that might be a little bit new that is this is what we’re going to do type of mentality; across the country, you’re seeing that. I think that can perk interest. There is an energy level that gets revived. There are things in that nature that can help. So those guys did a tremendous job in getting to that point. Not to discount what our previous guys did. The Johnny Nansen’s, the Jimmie Dougherty’s, the Joel Thomas’, Danny Cozzeto’s of the world. What those guys did as well to make that happen. So there is a give and take in both. We were in somewhat of an awkward situation for a time when you bring in five brand new coaches and we didn’t have a full staff meeting with all of our coaches until yesterday morning. Together, one room, at the same time. So, it was a bit awkward at times. Guys were crossing paths, shaking hands, introducing themselves, but we were hitting it on the road, and quite honestly, we didn’t have an entire full staff meeting until yesterday morning, with our entire staff together. So, there was a lot of give and take that had to get done with the old staff members meshing with the new staff members.”

On if recruits being brought in change philosophy in any way: “I don’t think so as much. I think a lot of these guys are very versatile type players. We wanted to get a little bit bigger the defensive end spot than we’ve been. That’s why Pio (Vatuvei) was so big for us. You like at a Damion Turpin, two guys that are 265-270, potential defensive ends for us. To get a little bit bigger there. And then, maybe transition ourselves into maybe a Josh Shirley type, an Andrew Hudson and even a Cory Littleton type can play more of a hybrid outside backer, defensive end type player. So that we can do a little bit more of some of the 3-4 type principle things we’ve talked about. But one of the bigger keys was in the defensive backfield. Just to get more playmaker type players back there. Not necessarily the guys that just play corner, but player running back, played receiver, did punt returns. So, to show the versatility, to increase our ball skills, to get more interceptions. So, those two areas were probably the biggest in that aspect.”

On what getting longer at the outside linebacker spot does: “We tried to address this last year and I think we did with the Scott Lawyer’s, the Corey Waller types. The game of football is played in space. And you need to have length to play in space; to minimize that space. And that’s the two biggest areas of concern that outside backer spot, that safety spot. To have the length to play in those positions. I think we did it last year with Travis Feeney, Scott Lawyer, those type of guys, Evan Zeger. Obviously bringing in a Shaq Thompson type; 6-foot-2 safety. The length is a big key to us and I think we addressed that. I think the length on the offensive line, you look at the heights and Shane Brostek is probably closer to 6-foot-4 than 6-foot-3. Then 6-foot-5, 6-foot-5, 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4, I think we got longer on the O-line as well.”

On how quiet Shane Brostek was during recruiting: “I think if Shane Brostek was in the state of Washington or the state of California, he’s probably a four, arguably maybe even a five-star type recruit. He’s on Kona and his parents did a tremendous job of keeping him away from the media and that aspect. Focusing on the things that are important and that was his academics, that was his workouts, that was playing football. At the end of the day, we got a very quality individual, as well as a tremendous football player with a great work ethic”.

On the secondary having the potential to be one of the best in conference: “That’s what I hope. You throw in a senior leadership guy in Desmond Trufant and what he brings to the table coming back for his senior year. The excitement surrounding a Marcus Peters and what he did as a redshirt freshman and Travis Feeney. So there is a lot of excitement going on in that back end and I think coach (Keith) Heyward, with what he’s done at Oregon State and now coming here with the talent we have in place in that secondary, we’re obviously very excited as well.”

On the emotions of signing Thompson: “You know, I’ve had a very good relationship with Shaq from the beginning. When you’re recruiting a player at the same school, especially when their best friend is James Sample, there are conversations here and there, over the phone, different things that build to this. Then, obviously Shaq took an official visit to us in September, where that relationship only grew. Then I think it’s a credit to coach (Tosh) Lupoi and coach Heyward, since they’ve come on board, to foster that relationship. I really believe that Shaq and ours relationship started a year ago this time, or maybe even earlier quite honestly. So, there is a lot that went into it. So, for it to come all the way around full circle, for him to be on board and for us to be talking one night at 11 o’clock and for him to put a tweet out just to say hey, I’m going to the University of Washington, I think speaks volume. He could have had all the fanfare he wanted. He could have had every media member in the Bay Area there to see his announcement, but in the subtle way he did it, I think it speaks volumes to the type of kid that he is. That he was sitting on the couch with his mom and sent a tweet out to where he was going to school.”

On if he’s one of the biggest recruits he’s ever gotten: “We’ll find out. He’s got to produce now. We’ll see.”

On Ryan McDaniel enrolling early and if anyone else is: “He’ll be the only one.”

On some being ranked lower than they should be: “Yeah, I would say so. Erich Wilson’s surprising to me that he’s not a higher ranked kid, for whatever reason. Probably Kendyl Taylor, quite honestly. I think he is a fantastic player. Shane Brostek I touched on. Taylor Hindy, I’m glad we were able to kind of keep him low profile that way. I don’t even think he is ranked, quite honestly, which is pretty cool. Pio, I probably think of a little higher of him than maybe other people do. And Cleveland Wallace. I think he’s a dynamite player. A guy that I know there were some other bigger schools that came in at the end and we were able to hold on to him there, which was pretty exciting.”

On Brandon Beaver’s signing and how it came about:“We’ve been close with Brandon for quite some time. We’ve had a good relationship with him, coach Nansen did a tremendous job with his father and his mother and they are very good people and you know, ultimately the silent commitment is a silent commitment. You know but you never really know until it is done and we are just excited to have Brandon as part of our football program.”

On if he was disappointed losing the in-state guys: “I think naturally in a sense, sure, I would loved to have gotten all of those guys. But again, the reality of it is they are doing what’s best for them and they are going to tremendous places and I wish them the best of luck. They are all good kids. But we ultimately have to do what’s best for us and what fits us and I think that the recruiting efforts by our staff were focused and balanced across the board and there will come a day when every kid in the state of Washington dreams and hopes of playing for the Huskies. We’re just not quite there yet and we’ll get there it’s just, we are not quite there yet. But there will be a day when we will have to turn some kids down, unfortunately. But the reality of it is those kids are going to tremendous places and wish them the best of luck.”

On what can be done about social media and fans interacting with players on social media: “I don’t know. I really don’t know exactly what to do about it, but I don’t like it — I can tell you that. I don’t like it, it just kind of tastes bad to me, for whatever reason. I feel for these kids. They are trying to make a decision that is a lifelong decision and they are making this decision in the ultimate team game, which is football, where it takes 11 guys every snap collectively to do their job and they are forced into a very personal decision and one that puts themselves out there and puts us in a position where we have to try to break them, back down and put them back in that lockerroom. It’s unfortunate in a sense but I guess in another way it’s good for college football that fans have that much excitement about college football and care that much about college football. So we will try to figure it out and what is best and where to embrace it and where to try to find some limitations on that end. So it’s challenging and I feel for the kids and their families for those that have to read things negatively written about them and I feel for the coaches in a sense that maybe some things are written better about a kid as a potential player than what the feeling is is not exactly what it is, he’s pumped up maybe more than he should be. So there are a lot of challenges that go into it and we are kind of in uncharted waters, we’ll have to try to figure it out. I’m sure I will call my old boss, (NCAA) President (Mark) Emmert and we’ll try to figure something out because I think that it is getting to a point where it’s not out of control yet but there are some factors that are and we’ve just got to try to figure it out.”

On if an early signing period would take care of much of that: “I think it would help. I’ve been an advocate of that here for quite some time. We have it in a lot of our others sports and football is not one of those, but I don’t think an early signing period could help, and an earlier visitation period where maybe we did some spring official visits could help. Those are a lot of topics that are on the table for discussion right now.”

On Big Ten schools offering four-year guaranteed scholarships: “It’s been another topic that’s been on the table for discussion. In my opinion, the way it is structured now it essentially is. The only reason a kid’s scholarship isn’t honored is if he doesn’t hold up his end of the deal from a social or academic standpoint. If a kid is getting in trouble with the law, or a kid isn’t getting it done in the classroom. It doesn’t have any bearing on his athletic ability. If a kid can’t play, that’s our responsibility not the kid’s responsibility. So if that makes people feel better, that’s fine, I’m all for it.”

On staying friends with guys like Lane Kiffin and Jim Mora through all of the recruiting stuff: “I think one of the challenges in recruiting, especially, is it potentially can get personal. And that’s unfortunate. And I think that is one of the keys that it doesn’t become personal. One kid isn’t going to make or break our program — I’m a firm believer in that. And when one kid gets in between coach’s personal relationships that’s when problems can occur. I’ve been on the phone with Lane today probably four or five different times, I was on the phone with Jimmy Mora just the other night. So I will never let that happen with me and I fight for that not to happen because it’s not worth it. One kid isn’t going to make or break our program and I truly believe one kid isn’t going to make or break another program. I just don’t think it’s worth it for that to happen to that magnitude. And unfortunately it does in some instances.”

On how an assistant coach can sell a program when he hasn’t even been on campus yet: “His credibility is easy. He can go into his track record and what he has done as a position coach or a coordinator or whatever he has done — that part is easy. Conveying the power of the university and what a university of a young man, generally we will never send in a coach who is just brand new into a home by himself. There will be another position coach in with him or myself who can represent the university in a fashion that can talk about the university and all the positives that the University of Washington brings with it.”’

On if he’s seen the fire dancing video of Psalm Wooching? “Is that awesome or what. We watched that on a Friday night before a game as a staff. I said to myself I gotta to have that guy. It probably took a little longer than I wanted it to. We had to make our numbers work. But that thing, I can’t wait for him to do it in Husky Stadium before a game or something cool that way.”

On so much being made of Lupoi’s relationship with Thompson and if it was really more than that to get him to Washington: “I hope it’s more than that quite honestly. I think the world of Tosh as person, a coach and a recruiter or I wouldn’t have hired him. I think the world of Shaq as a person, a player and the student that he is. Shaq’s not coming here to play for Tosh. Shaq’s coming here to play ultimately myself and for Coach Heyward and for Coach Wilcox, the defensive coordinator. I think those relationships as much as anything is the reasoning why Shaq is here, and his teammates and the relationships he forged with our players on his official visit as well as on his unofficial visits, and ultimately having one of his best friends on our rosters in James Sample. I think there was lot of factors in making that happen.”

On if he anticipates signing any more players: “I don’t know. We potentially can by guidelines. But we won’t take a guy just to take a number. If he fits the mold from a character standpoint, an academic standpoint, and ultimately an athletic standpoint then we will. But as of right now, no.”

On bringing in two quarterbacks: “We needed to. We needed to. Our numbers are a little scary right now, quite honestly. One, is that Keith (Price’s) offseason is big for getting his body right. We saw some of the physical things he had to deal with last year, but to get our numbers right. Quite honestly, we are light. You should have five on your roster. Right now, we will be sitting on four come the fall. They dynamic is we have to get these young guys ready to play – Derrick Brown and the young guys coming in.”

On making it work to bring in two highly-regarded QBs in the same class: “It’s about developing them. It’s about the process of getting them prepared to play in the national football league. It’s about the process of earning a tremendous degree. And ultimately getting the overall knowledge of playing the positions. We’ve had some really good success of guys coming into together and staggering them with redshirts and not. And guys that have never even started a game and getting drafted and now being one of the highest paid players in the national football league. There’s a lot of evidence that says you can bring in two guys and both can be very successful.”

On how important is athleticism in recruiting quarterbacks: “I think what’s so cool about our offense is that we’ve continually adapted to the quarterback we’ve had. I think that’s what is unique to our system. We’ve had a variety of different quarterbacks from a Carson Palmer, to a Matt Leinart, to a John David Booty, to a Mark Sanchez, to a Jake Locker, to a Keith Price now. Our system has adapted and adapted to change and fitting the quarterback to what he does well and his strengths and have the ability to not force things on him that he isn’t good at. I think that’s the beauty of our system. We are seeing with Keith Price now. Keith Price and Carson Palmer are two completely different players and both are thriving in our stystm. I think that’s the cool part of our system.”

On if he would take an elite level passing quarterback that wasn’t mobile: “Without a doubt, I think this system has been proven. Matt Leinart, and no offense Matt if you are watching, is not the most fleet of foot guy and he won a Heisman Trophy in this system. I’m attracted to really good players, really good quarterbacks that have a strong head on their shoulders, that are disciplined and dedicated to the position, that are great leaders, that are wiling to work. If they are 6-6, 240 or 6-1, 185, somewhere in there we can make this thing work. And it’s been proven.”

On using Thompson in non-defense roles: “Sure we’ve talked about that. He’s a tremendous tailback in high school. There is some potential for Shaq being used on the offensive side of the ball. I don’t know if Coach Wilcox necessarily wants to hear that right now. But as the play-caller, I’m kind of excited about flipping him the ball a couple time and see what happens. ”

On the freshmen QBs vying for the back-up spot: “We are going to push them both to compete for that back-up job. Both That process begins tomorrow. We have to get going. Ultimately, as we get into fall camp and the dust starts to settle and we start to play, one of them will be a little ahead of the other. I don’t know which one, honestly. As we move through fall camp, we are going to push those guys. And they are going to push Derrick Brown, and he’s going to push back. We’ll see what happens. One of those two guys could be our back-up come fall.”

On taking a kicker being predicated on Folk graduating: “Us taking a kicker for sure was. If Erik would have gotten his sixth year, then we wouldn’t have taken a kicker. But Erik not getting his sixth year then we needed to take a kicker. We got a couple of kids that are going to come in and walk-on that could compete for the job. I really wanted to address our kickoff situation to get more touchbacks and get a bigger leg guy like Coons, and that’s why we did what did.”

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