Feb. 6, 2008
Listen to Press Conference
Full Memphis 2008 Signing Class
On the mid-year signings
I think this is kind of a strange class; a strange way things have come about. I'll talk about our needs in a minute, but this class got going at mid-year with the guys that we signed. I decided to take at mid-year quarterback Arkelon Hall; DajLeon Farr, who is a transfer from Miami; Derrick Odom, who is a transfer linebacker from LSU; Rod Davis, who's in school now who we had recruited the year before, who were all four-star guys when they came out. Then Steven Joachim who is a wide receiver who we think can be just like the wide receivers that we've got; a 6-4, 218 pound guy. And then Colton Jenkins who was a mid-year who was a three-star guy Mississippi State signee. And that's what's different about this class. As I look through it, you've got Arkelon Hall who's a Washington State signee. DajLeon Farr is a Miami signee. Derrick Odom is an LSU signee. Rod Davis was an Ole Miss signee. Colton Jenkins was a Mississippi State signee, and you've got more in the class.
On the wide receiver signees
We said earlier that we would have to be really creative within this class. From a needs standpoint, I feel like skill again is what we've got to continue to try and add to. I really believe we're in the process of putting together one of the finest groups of skilled players that's ever been here. When you add a wide receiver to an already talented group. When you add Steven Joachim, Marcus Rucker, Marcus Hightower, Trey (Curtis) Johnson and Rod Davis, that is an awfully, awfully talented group of wide receivers.
On the quarterback signee
On the tight end signees
At quarterback, when you add Arkelon Hall who is an Elite-11 out of high school. A very highly recruited guy. Can make every throw that we need a quarterback to make. I decided that Arkelon was our guy at mid-year. He's obviously hurt us here at the end at getting the second quarterback, but I made the decision at mid-year that Arkelon was good enough to come in and help us get where we want to get.
Then at tight end when you add a player at the caliber of DajLeon Farr who was a four-or-five star guy, three rated tight end in the country coming out of high school in Houston, and then Donald Law from here who's a 6-3/6-4, 270 guy. I'm obviously excited that we bettered ourselves down the road at tight end.
On the running back signees
Running back, really interesting, we wanted a big back and we wanted a speed back. Brandon Ross is a big back. He's a 210 pound guy that's going to be a 220-225 guy, and then Greg Ray may be the most underrated player in the class. A really interesting guy; a legit sub 4-4 player who was the starting back at El Camino when the season started. He got hurt in the first ballgame and came back later and couldn't get his job back because he got beat out by a guy that went to Florida State and another guy who went to Oregon State. But he is the starting back. I tried to keep it quiet all year. He's kind of been our pick as a speed back all year.
On the linebacker signees
There's no doubt in my mind that we have improved ourselves from a skill standpoint. The next need we had was to better ourselves at linebacker, and we had targeted three players to make us better. When Derrick Odom became available from LSU, it was obvious. The guy had been recruited by everybody in the country coming out of high school two years before. We were fortunate enough to get him here. He's in school now. Ricky Holloway was our second choice at linebacker from Fayette-Ware who we think is a really talented football player, and then Tank (Tenarius Wright) from Whitehaven was our third guy. We missed out on our third guy, but we got two of our top three linebackers, and I think we bettered ourselves there.
On the defensive line signees
The next and the most immediate need was third down defensively we had to have a pass rusher. That has been kind of an Achilles heal, but we have to improve our defense by starting on third down. Colton Jenkins, a big, fast defensive end, was the first signee, and then we had our eyes really on the last two years on Demetrius Culpepper, a Louisville signee that went to East Mississippi. We were fortunate that he had a relationship with Steven Black, and we have kind of had Demetrius committed for almost a year now since Steven got here; a third down, pass rushing defensive end. And then the other guy that really is a guy that's here in school now is Dasmine Cathey who we signed a year ago that will resign.
On the local signees
I'm really excited from a skill standpoint that we have helped ourselves again by adding to the positions. There's a lot of guys locally when you talk about our local players from skill players from Duke (Calhoun) to Rod Davis was the next guy to (Marcus) Rucker and (Marcus) Hightower this year were the skill guys that we thought were the best in the city. We have been very fortunate to be able to sign those. Rucker is a tremendous player. Hightower is I think one of the most exciting players that has been through here in a while. We made them priorities from day one. We've continued to do good. Dontari Poe at Wooddale is the biggest guy in the class; a defensive tackle that's a really good run-stopping player.
On the 2008 signing class
We're excited about the class. I think it really started at mid-year when you look at...I don't keep up with all the stars but I've got coaches that inform me on who has all these stars and who doesn't. From the mid-year point on is when this class really got started there, and then I think we added local talent to it with the five guys we signed locally today that helped us.
On the defensive back signees
Mike Shepard is a safety from Citronelle, Ala.; a big hard hitting type of safety. Clay Lee is another I think steal in this class that we got committed really early, and his coach thank goodness is a guy who once they are committed nobody else can talk to them. So we were able to hold Clay Lee through. Clay Lee was probably one of the hardest fought guys that we got out of Orlando, Fla.; an outstanding player.
If we're short anywhere on this class, it's corner. I would have liked to sign a corner. We obviously have signed a lot of skill players on the other side of the ball and tried and make slot receiver type guys that were guys we could possibly make corners down the road. But we are short. I think if we're short anywhere, it would be at one corner. And to be honest with you, we're probably going to sign a corner within the next week. I already know who it is, but I obviously can't talk about him until we sign him.
What has Tim Walton's effect been in recruiting this class?
A lot of people know Tim. Tim had recruited Clay Lee. Tim is very familiar with Trey (Curtis) Johnson from Miami because Tim had worked with his father. I think Tim had an effect. Nowhere near the effect he will have a year from now. I think where Tim is going to have an effect already is going to be with the players who are already here. I think all of a sudden they've seen a real difference in the intensity level defensively that we have to have. It's kind of hard to put recruiting on him in a short period of time. I think he did have an effect, but I think he'll have a major effect a year from now.
Talk about the two signees from Whitehaven and what sold them on the program.
It really was skill. Our program kind of sells itself. I think those are two really, really special type of players. Marcus Rucker fits on the outside kind of on the Duke (Calhoun), Carlos (Singleton) type of player. A deep threat where (Marcus) Hightower is a slot receiver, running back, punt return, kick return guy that you'll see can score on any play. Again, we have some pretty good players there, but I think these guys will come in and we'll be able to just keep going with where we are from a skill standpoint. Because this is a smaller class we had to be pretty creative and pretty selective, but there's no doubt in my mind in offense at wide receiver we're trying to keep up with what we've got. You're always trying to better yourself, and I think we got some pretty good players.