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UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
February 1, 2017
COACH NARDUZZI: Be with his mom, but really, Ohio, Alabama, whatever you want to call it. One from the state of Washington, which was a transfer. And one, the longest way from home is Australia. That's what we've got there.
When a recruiting class gets put together, really we haven't even started to assess our needs for 2018, but you really just find out what you need. Really across the board, I'd say probably about 95 percent, I guess, feel good about really assessing our needs. We got what we wanted for the most part as far as our positions.
When you look at it, we got eight linemen, nine big skills, which include linebackers, tailbacks, even a quarterback in that category, tight ends, and we got eight skill guys. Very balanced class as far as what we took, big guys to skinny athletic guys who can run.
I'm going to briefly go through these and just give you some quick hits on each guy. At the end, we'll open it up for questions. There's a bunch of them. So I want to go through it probably as quickly as I can because I know you know who they are already.
Cal Adomitis is the first guy, long snapper from Central Catholic High School. We had him in camp. Again, I'm going to kind of -- somebody count up -- Chris, you can count up how many camp guys we had here. We had him in camp, saw him in camp. I always think a live evaluation is the best. Cal is a guy, again, that's following snapper Pat Quirin, who was the long snapper here the past two years, and you could almost say three. I wasn't here. I think he had some of the duties, not full-time duties. He did our long snapping. We're looking for a guy to come in here. We think Cal could come in here and earn a scholarship, and he's going to compete at that position.
Deslin Alexandre came from Deerfield Beach, Florida. A kid that's a midyear kid. He was in here late. Got into a major battle. He was originally committed to North Carolina State. A big athlete. We don't know how big he's going to get with all of these guys, when you talk about developing that potential, but Deslin is going to be a great defensive end for us right now. I see him, he's probably 250, 255 right now and only getting bigger.
Cameron Bright, our Alabama commit from Park Crossing. Again, had him in camp. Came over from the Akron area. Really, I guess, Cleveland/Akron area. We saw him in camp. We know what we're getting as far as that goes. Superb athlete as far as linebacker goes, fits into our scheme, and we're excited to go -- to have him on campus here in the future.
Max Browne, again, one of those guys that had a lot of faith, I think, in sticking with us through looking for an offensive coordinator/quarterback coach. Max is a guy that came on campus and fell in love with the place. Max is originally from Washington, Skyline High School in Washington. He was a USC transfer, big, good looking, well spoken young man. He's been nothing but really a leader and a tough guy in the weight room, which sometimes quarterbacks aren't tough guys, but when you talk to Coach Andrews, just in his short time there already, he's like Max is a tough dude, and your quarterback better be tough because he'll have the ball in his hands every snap.
Dontavius Butler, wideout from American Heritage High School. Saw him in satellite camp down there -- when you guys do your notes on satellite camps, whether they get canned or not -- but we were fortunate enough to see him down there live. And I also went to a practice after the season was over because they were still playing in the playoffs. I got a chance to see how strong his hands are and how athletic he was. He didn't come to camp here, but we were able to see him practice and see him at a satellite camp in the summer down in Florida.
Grant Carrigan, tight end from Pine-Richland. He's kind of a transplant into Pine-Richland. Dad played basketball here, was a good player. He's kind of moved around a little bit. Started off in Las Vegas. We've had him in camp the past couple years because his dad's coming back. As a matter of fact, we saw him in camp twice last year. He's another guy with a lot of faith that believed in what we were talking about, but came to camp, and we said, we need to see more. Then we got him back to camp. He had a sprained ankle -- and Grant did a great job. As a matter of fact, we only got him to camp once, but we saw camp tape up in high school, his head high school coach does a great job and was able to sneak us some tape during the season, preseason.
Kamonte Carter from Gaithersburg High School in Maryland, East Mississippi Community College. Had an opportunity to go down there and visit his college and really spent some real good time there, as well as our staff did. But he was a quarterback in high school, big athlete, great personality. A guy that was at Penn State at one point, and we're happy to have him here. I think he's going to be a great kid. He laughs and says he was second -- I don't know if you guys watch that TV show, Second Chance U, but he's got a second chance here, and we're looking forward really to getting him in our hands and developing as a person and as a football player. I really like who he is right now and can't wait to get him here.
We got a punter from Australia, Kirk Christodoulou. Christodoulou is a kid with an explosive leg that right now is hitting the roof in the indoor, and he wants Coach LaSala and Coach Junko to see if they can raise the roof a little bit. He's a guy that we hope to compete this year with Ryan Winslow and take over the punting duties. Andre Powell did a great job of FaceTiming him in Australia. I don't know what time of night they were FaceTiming, but did a great job of communicating with him, and with his connection, it might be a guy you talk to at the end here just to find out a little bit more about that.
Again, alphabetically, right in the middle of the pack here, A.J. Davis, which we had an opportunity to witness his signing here on national TV, on ESPN. A.J.'s a guy that we worked hard at. I know Coach Conklin was down in there. Last guy that signed his papers this afternoon. He's got a teammate that's coming with him. I think Damarri Mathis also helped him a little bit, give him a nudge, and talked about who we are as people. Again, another major battle we were in until the end. I think on ESPN they mentioned just three schools, but there was -- there were some schools he axed out of there way before that that he came down to the best people. So glad to have him.
Jerry Drake, again, another guy we battled Oklahoma. There was rumors, when he came back from Oklahoma, he committed to Oklahoma. Michigan State was in on him and offered him. We were able to slip in and get a visit before Michigan State did, I believe. From Palm Beach Gardens, Florida -- again, really originally from Alabama. Moved into Florida to go to a better high school. Their coach did a great job there.
Owen Drexel, another tough, tough guy. Earned a scholarship in camp. Came to camp here on campus.
The No. 1 center in New Jersey, from Montclair High School, New Jersey. Recruited that high school for a long time, and Coach Fiore, the head coach there, he was a guy I called him after he committed and said, thanks a lot. Finally got one out of there. A great high school. They do a great job. We're happy to have Owen here.
Paris Ford, really been recruiting him since we walked in the doors here. Rob Harley has done a great job, was really his recruiter as well as the defensive staff. We try to team recruit as we go. Paris is a guy that's been just a loyal, loyal guy since he committed to us. Had a lot of people tampering with him, calling him, FaceTiming him, doing whatever the last week. He had several schools that came in last couple weeks really to come in and try to switch him, turn him, flip him, and Coach Steele and really the whole administration in Steel Valley High School here in Pittsburgh did a great job of securing him. He had coaches that tried to get him out of school, and he said no thank you, and didn't even walk out. In the past I've had people pick up the phone and say, Coach, I've got to talk to you. Kenny Pickett was one of those guys. Paris didn't even have to pick the phone up. He was there the whole time. I thank him for that.
Gabe Houy, big athlete, offensive lineman. Again, we saw him in camp. We've got one of his previous players, and Coach Render has done a great job of developing offensive linemen there. Came from Brandon Ford's high school. We're happy with where Brandon's been this year. Gabe has been just the same as his counterpart. But big 6'6", 265-pound athlete. Basketball player, very athletic. Again, saw him at camp. We feel pretty good about that.
Kyle Nunn, again, a very rangy 6'3", 200 pound -- when I raise my head, you always seem to click that camera. A big athlete. We're going to put him at the money linebacker. He's a great blitzer. Again, we saw him at camp, and he's going to continue to grow. He may be a 250-pound D-end before it's all said and done. Kyle came to camp.
Kenny Pickett, talked a little about him already. We had a chance to go out and watch him throw in the spring. Our quarterback coach was out there. Had a chance to really get that, I guess, on campus throwing, that all quarterback coaches want to see. We were able to secure him. I think it came down to us and BC at one point -- North Carolina came in near the end when we didn't have a quarterback coach intact -- and stayed with us. He's in town. He's tough. Doing a great job in the weight room right now. He's athletic. He's smart. I can't wait to watch him play. Some of the future there.
Jason Pinnock, DB out of Windsor, Connecticut High School, a corner. Project him as a big old corner, big 6-foot corner. I know you guys like those corners. Really had a great connection with him. His dad played for Bill Mallory at Indiana. As soon as his dad came on campus, it was like wow. We have relationships from years back. Coach Hill and Coach Conklin did a great job with Coach Salem, triple-teaming that guy up in Connecticut.
Charles Reeves from Steubenville High School in Ohio. A big 280-pound tight end that really hasn't played in the line of scrimmage very much, but, again, mostly played wideout as a junior. And Charles, if you're listening to me, I don't know if you hit anybody as a junior, but he became a physical, physical guy. We knew he could run. We knew he could catch. But then he became real physical, and he's a mammoth guy. We can't wait to get him on campus.
Where am I at? Going to lose track. Tyler Sear. Is anybody checking these off to make sure I don't miss anybody? Coach Junko, I knew somebody was on me. I did miss somebody? Damarri Mathis? I'm glad you asked me. Where's Damarri at? I scrolled by him.
Damarri Mathis, corner. Lakeland, Florida. Lakeland High School. Friends with A.J. They came on the same trip with his teammate. I got to thank him and give him a hand for, again, staying on him, the entire team, and giving us the ability to watch him put that Nike hat on today. So appreciate that.
Am I on Tyler now, Coach Junko?
BOB JUNKO: Yes, sir.
COACH NARDUZZI: Thank you. Tyler Sear from Neshannock High School up here in PA. What you loved about Tyler was he's tough and he's a competitor. You watch him compete in seven-on-seven, and you're like that's a tough guy. He can play tight end, D-end, do a lot of different things. Really smart kid. He can play both ways for you. He can be one of those interior linemen that does a little bit of both for us. We're excited to have him.
Todd Sibley from Archbishop Hoban High School in Akron, Ohio. Another guy, he came to camp and fell in love. Brought his dad one day, and the next week he brings his mom. Before you know it, he's a guy that's done a great job on the recruiting trail really trying to sell the University of Pittsburgh to the rest of his classmates. Todd is going to be a great tailback for us in the future.
Michael Smith, wideout from Vero Beach High School. Another high school I've gone to for years and years and years and finally got one out of there. He was a basketball player, and the football coach got him to come out and play football. He had six catches as a junior, so no one really knew about him. He blew up in his senior year, especially at the end when everybody started -- everybody throws up early. So sometimes you get some of these late guys. I think this kid has unbelievable talent, a late bloomer. Again, basketball player turned football guy. Big 6'1", 205 pound guy that is an athlete. We're happy to have him.
Darian Street, a kid from Bethlehem, PA, Liberty High School. Again, you guys are probably familiar with his brother Devin. There was a lot of familiarity with him and his family and the relationship he had here. Devin had a chance to come on and visit with him. Darian is a superb athlete, made a lot of plays, wanted to make more plays. I'm not sure he had a guy that could give him the ball and deliver him like we're going to be able to. The sky's the limit for him. We've got three really tall receivers. We're happy about that.
Albert Tucker, linebacker from St. Thomas Aquinas High School. Probably one of the top, if not the top high school in the state of Florida. I think they signed, Coach Salem told me earlier today, 19 Division I players signed out of that high school. You talk about football, 19 is unbelievable. That's almost the entire football team. But Albert Tucker is a guy that we saw in satellite camp. So you guys probably wonder, gosh, maybe we should go back to that satellite camp because it's hard for guys to come up there. We'll continue to evaluate the satellite camp deal. It was good for us in South Florida. We like to camp out there and maybe a couple other places in South Florida if able by NCAA rules.
Jaylen Twyman, he's the silent assassin, if you guys didn't already know. He was the silent assassin way before that unbelievable meal that I had that his mom Stephanie made for me and Coach Powell at the house. Really midseason, he was like, Coach, I'm coming. Hey, Jaylen, I've heard that before. I can't trust you, bro. We've heard it over and over again. He was a guy that's been loyal throughout the whole time. He said, I'm coming, I'm coming, I'm coming. He wanted to take some visits and get around. He was actually even at Toledo last weekend, because he's such a great kid, trying to help one of his teammates get a scholarship. All along, he said, Coach, I'm coming. I can show you text messages back from two months ago. He's going to be a big old D-tackle. Like I said, the silent assassin. Hope he's getting after people. He's definitely a man of his word, and he's going to come in and work his tail off.
Last couple here. Carson Van Lynn, D-lineman from Worthington Kilbourne High School in Columbus, Ohio. Big 6'5", 6'6", 240-pound athlete. He can play defense. I think he can play offense, do a lot of different things. The sky's the limit as far as what's going to happen when he gets with Coach Andrews and eats and has the nutrition that we have here at Pitt. So we're excited about what we've got there.
And then last but not least, Carter Warren, big offensive lineman from Passaic Tech High School in New Jersey. Just a gigantic offensive tackle. One of the greatest personalities that you'd like to have in your meeting room every day. He's a guy that we covered him, we loved him, we tried to get him on campus, can't get him on campus. But him and his mom and dad cut a vacation short -- which we know how vacations are. It's hard to cut them short and cancel those reservations for wherever you have -- I think it was down South -- but cut their vacation short, made a sacrifice to come see us. Fell in love with it, got him on campus. He committed and just visited a couple weeks ago. We're happy with those guys.
Coach Junko, did I miss anybody? Only messed up one. With that, I guess I'll open it up for questions from you guys if I didn't answer everything already. I gave you everything I got.
Q. Did you plan to target Florida so heavily?
COACH NARDUZZI: We didn't go out to target Florida. That's a great question. I talked about our backyard. We want to recruit. To me, the closer we are to home, if we can get 25 guys from Pittsburgh, if they're all there, they all want to come, we're going to take those, but we're going to work from the city of Pittsburgh out. On the outskirts, you go east, you got New Jersey and you got Maryland, Virginia. That's really close to our backyard. So it's the neighbor's yard. We've got to go there. You go west, and you go into Ohio, those are going to be our major hotbeds here. Again, it starts in Pittsburgh.
But after that, we're not going into the Carolinas. We got into Georgia a little bit, and I think it's going to take us a couple more years to really solidify ourselves in there. But Florida is a spot I've always been in. There's a ton of players. I think, if you're going to go back and look at the end and do a recruiting analysis, you're going to find that Florida is in the top two or three in the country as far as the amount of players that sign out of that state and play football 12 months out of the year.
We've probably got five coaches, someone in Dade County, Ft. Lauderdale, someone in Space Coast, someone in Orlando area, someone in the Jacksonville/Panhandle area. That's going to be our area we're going to go down there. Whatever we can't find in our backyard, we're going to go down there and fulfill our needs down there. That will always be the case. Florida should always be good for us, and it's good for a lot of people.
Q. You mentioned Max Browne stuck with you through the coordinator change. Did you have to do a lot of convincing for your other offensive recruits in that regard? If so, how difficult was that process?
COACH NARDUZZI: You know, that's a great question. It wasn't difficult at all. As a matter of fact, I might have had -- like the last weekend, someone said, oh, yeah, by the way, do you guys have a coordinator yet? It wasn't even brought up. It was brought up by the quarterbacks early, which I think I brought it up to them. Hey, guys, relax. We're going to be okay. I want to keep them involved in the process as we went forward.
But it wasn't a question with anybody. This might have been one of the easiest classes to stay on throughout the process for most of those guys. I think they had faith and trust in what we were going to do and who we were going to be.
Q. You have a couple of kids that played in the All-American game. It's obviously a great showcase for all of you, but a chance for colleges across the country to see them play. How touch and go is it as a recruiter from the month of that game to today in terms of hanging on to your recruits?
COACH NARDUZZI: It's always touch and go. Some guys are tougher than others, and there are some out there that got away, which are the toughest ones of all.
As I look down through it, late guys, we know A.J. was a guy, a late guy that we were constantly on. Kamonte Carter, another guy with a lot of action. Damarri Mathis, a guy in Florida jumping on there late, trying to find out where he is, what he's doing. Going down the list, a lot of those early. Michael Smith, because he was a late bloomer, had a lot of people coming in there near the end. Jaylen Twyman, again, was committed to us a long time ago, but wouldn't tell anybody so you never knew what you were going to get there.
But it's touch and go with certain guys, and there's a lot of touch and go guys that we're not talking about today that are signing somewhere else. There's another dozen of those out there that we aren't talking about that someone else is, either went after, lost at whatever point. So it's always touch and go.
Q. Seems like these guys kind of prioritized Ohio a little bit. Notice you had a lot of success down there --
COACH NARDUZZI: In where? Ohio?
Q. In Ohio, yes. And you also had a lot of success down there when you were at Michigan State. Do you see a similar opportunity at Pitt to have a lot of success down there?
COACH NARDUZZI: No doubt about it. When I look at the number, getting four guys out of there, I want more. I want more right here. When you get them here, you've got more families coming to the games. I think the closer that support is to you, the better off these kids are to some point.
But we want to get more out of Ohio. We're going to take it by -- like I told you, we've been PA in 2018, and we're going to move to Ohio and really just digest what's in that area and figure it out. And then go to New Jersey and just hit all our local areas. But it's always been a good area for us. It's great football. Sometimes there's up years and down years in every area, and that's why you have to have supplemental areas to go to like Florida or Georgia, where there might be an abundance of athletes down there.
Q. At what point did you know you'd be getting A.J. Davis to commit, and what was the excitement like leading up to watching the announcement?
COACH NARDUZZI: We watched it in here. Some of the guys were in here. Some of the media was in here. It was a guy that went down to the wire, went down to that. We knew we were in the mix. We were 1 of 3. We had that conversation one day -- I'm a percentage guy. What's a percentage? Give me a percentage. For a long time, you got 33 percent, which ain't very good. You wish he'd at least give you 50 percent. One day you get 50. Then it was back to 33. Then it's 70, and you're feeling pretty good until you call him the next day, and it's down to 30. It's like where did that 3 percent go? It's all over the place.
He was a guy that we found out today on ESPN. That's fun. It's fun to do that. Now, it's not fun -- the little son of a gun, it's not a whole lot of fun going up into it, but it was actually fun today.
Q. With Carson, it sounds like you guys have maybe a higher number of two-way players.
COACH NARDUZZI: We do. But I think a lot of great players in high school f they aren't playing both ways, you kind of wonder why. St. Thomas Aquinas, when they got 19 signed, you got to take every school into account. We like guys that can play both ways. We like guys that don't come off the field and love the game. I'd be worried about guys that only play one way when you've got 32 guys on the team and they're only playing one way. It's like wow.
But you also have to take into account some high school coaches don't want it. They want to keep as many guys out. You have to know who you're recruiting, where you're recruiting, what's the head coach's style. But to me, the more that a guy can do, the more important he is to this program.
Again, we saw Jordan Whitehead playing both ways. Maurice Ffrench can play corner, play wideout. The more guys we have that can do that, I think the better football program we become.
Q. Pat, can you talk about Paris Ford and what you saw from him on the field this year compared to what you saw from Jordan Whitehead before he signed?
COACH NARDUZZI: You just see a quick twitch guy. I think what we saw this year is what we saw a year ago. I don't know if you saw this gigantic difference. And I think Paris is only -- I think the sky's the limit for him when he gets in the weight room and is with us 24/7. You just see a quick twitch athlete that will snap on you. He's physical. He loves the game.
Again, I don't know if we've got a guy back in the secondary right now that has the attitude he does. It starts up there. That guy loves the game. I think he brings a little bit different attitude to the back end. It's going to be fun to have him in those meetings. Coach Hill and Coach Conklin will be excited to have his personality in there and his desire to be great.
Q. You see a group of guys that potentially could make a big impact this year?
COACH NARDUZZI: You know, I don't have a crystal ball. I'd like to. This one looks like it, I could rub that baby down, but I will not do that to him or any of these other guys. The guy I say won't make an impact will make the impact. So I think every one of these guys, as I talked to them today, hey, get ready to go. Okay? Get ready to go. Get those things on the back wall in your mind and get ready to play.
I really don't say that in the recruiting process. The worst thing I think you can do to a kid is say, hey, you're going to play for us early. You're going to start. I guarantee you're going to start. We really don't have that conversation even if they want to hear that. I think what we try to do is say, hey, come here, you're going to have an opportunity to play. We're going to give you opportunities. We get into camp, spring ball, we're going to go ones, twos, threes, fours, fives if we have them. When we get into camp, we're going to go ones, twos, and freshmen. I've seen enough of threes and fours through camp. In order to get yourself into the ones and twos -- camp starts, these guys get a chance offense or defense to get in, show us what they have, we're going to coach them, and they're going to make major improvements from day one to day seven. They're going to make major improvements from day one to day two.
We have to give them the opportunity to play. That's how we get a Jordan Whitehead to pop out and play or Maurice Ffrench. I'm sure there's more I'm missing, but those are those are the two that come to mind.
Q. When you talk about Paris' attitude, will you need that, especially on the back end? Are you hoping that's something that sort of permeates the room?
COACH NARDUZZI: I think you want it to permeate the program, to be honest with you. I like guys that have a little stuff to them. I've got a little stuff to me. I don't show you guys all the time. I try to keep that closed up. But I want guys that love the game, to have some emotion. You'd better play the game with emotion. To say it best, he's a player that plays with emotion. Again, I look for that on tape. You can watch a guy run, but I want to see a guy that gets a sack and comes up and has some excitement to him.
If I see a player that makes a play and goes like that, which one do you want to see? I've seen that before, and I'm kind of glad he ain't here. But the moper, that guy, there's a difference -- Paris Ford is up here, and there's some guys down here. He's one of those guys.
Q. Pat, how would you just summarize the overall feelings of this class with your first recruiting class of this year?
COACH NARDUZZI: I'm not going to get into comparing. They all look good. In the end, we'll find out in four years how good this class is. You can rank them. ESPN can rank them, rival, scout, it doesn't matter. I've been a part of some horrible recruiting classes they say, and in the end, when you've got seven guys drafted here, in the end, whoever's in the Combine, whoever's got drafted, whoever is a free agent in the NFL is how you can determine what kind of class you have. Otherwise, you're just listening to me talk for nothing.
Q. Coach, you mentioned Charles Reeves is 280 pounds. In the fall, he was still at 265. Do you see a guy --
COACH NARDUZZI: He lied to you that he's 265, but go ahead.
Q. Do you see a guy (indiscernible) at the high school level. It's uncommon.
COACH NARDUZZI: He really is. He's gigantic. He's got a little cousin that's bigger than him and he's in eighth grade. He came walking out of the bedroom on a home visit, and I'm like, who is that, grandpa? He's in eighth grade. My gosh, he's a big athlete. Again, we got to develop him too. There will be a lot of development. We're going to find out what he's got, and we're hoping he continues to progress through his senior year, and we can't wait to get our hands on him.
Q. (Indiscernible) to compete for a junior college or was there something about Cam that stood out to you?
COACH NARDUZZI: We knew we lost some beef inside. The defensive line is a hard position to recruit. Probably, if you had to pick what is the hardest thing to pick up and get -- because there's not many of them. I think that's what makes national champions is that defensive line. I've said this before, it starts up front. There's a lot of skill guys out there that can play receiver and play corner. Whether it's a two-star guy or ten-star guy. Those D-linemen are hard to find.
So we opened up a net, tried to find high school players, didn't have enough on the board. So we started to reach to find out, okay, if they're not there, we don't want to go down to the bottom of the board, what's next? So that's kind of what we did.
We got a pile of guys. We called around and asked. Actually, one school, he was No. 5 on their board, but they got No. 1. There was some schools that he was down the line. 5's pretty good. So he was probably No. 5 on our board too. We were able to land Cam.
Q. Do you think there will be any more additions to the line this week or beyond?
COACH NARDUZZI: Could be. We'll keep ourselves rolling. There's a couple we could add. I don't know where. I don't know when. I don't know what. We'll always have surprises for you.
Q. You talk to any of these tight ends about moving inside?
COACH NARDUZZI: Not really. We want to play -- first of all, if we did move them inside, Jerry, then they'd be two years away from playing, like most offensive linemen. We have a shortage of tight ends, and we talk about assessing your needs, with Scott and Jaymar leaving, we need some guys. We need some guys to grow up and come in here and figure it out and play. Whether they come in in blocking situations, whether they come in to catch it, the guy that picks it up mentally, has that knowledge, is going to play at that position.
But I told those guys, we need one of you to come in and do it. I don't know which one it's going to be. Is it going to be the big guy? Is it going to be the little guy? I don't know, but we're hoping it's one of those guys.
Q. You mentioned you were asked about the coordinator, that the kids didn't really question you on that. What's it mean to have that trust, and what does that tell you about where you're at as a program?
COACH NARDUZZI: I think it's a credit to our staff, how they talk to them. We all speak the same language. If you tell the truth and you're honest with these guys, I guess it all comes back to you. If you tell them the truth, they're getting the same story because everyone is just saying what they know. It does mean a lot that those guys trusted and stuck with the word. They wanted to be here when we had stability at that position.
To keep that, I think they look at the position of need at that quarterback spot, and it means a lot that they hung on and stuck with us. I think it's a tribute to our coaching staff and really everybody in this building.
Q. Coach, you guys on the Paris Ford for --
COACH NARDUZZI: Say that again.
Q. Paris Ford was at 500 (indiscernible).
COACH NARDUZZI: Is that what it is?
Q. 474. (Indiscernible). Is there ever a moment -- I know you mentioned James Franklin --
COACH NARDUZZI: I did not mention James Franklin. You did.
Q. Was there ever a moment that you guys feared losing him?
COACH NARDUZZI: You know what, the last three weeks, no. After the All-American game he went to, you wondered because you're hearing these rumors and you're reading on Twitter, and you don't know really what the truth is and what's false. It's young kids. In our minds, no. But as a coach, you're not naive to wondering like, you know, is he cheating on me? You always wonder if you're getting cheated on. I don't, but in the game of football you do.
So you always wondered what was going on. What happened at the All-American Game? What did they do in the dorm room at night, at the hotel room? What were they doing down there? He had Miami buddies and all that, and I think they were recruiting him, not maybe the staff at Miami. Again, but there was never a time that really -- there was words, but you just knew where Paris was, and Paris always came right back, Coach, I'm 100 percent committed. That's how he always was, and that's what we got.
Q. Guys on staff in place, the third straight Signing Day for you. How much of a help is that?
COACH NARDUZZI: I think any time you're bringing new blood into the program, it's a big help. I don't like the old blood to leave. We look at what we lost and replaced it with, we lost a lot of veteran football players.
Q. But all the coaching staff you have right now?
COACH NARDUZZI: The continuity of the coaching staff? It's good. But if you lose one guy, it really hurts you. When you lose a coordinator two years in a row, it obviously hurts you. But you take a step forward and keep moving, and things will be good there. Just like it was. Things got better. We expect them to get even better.
Q. You guys are obviously losing James Conner to the NFL, but you still have a pretty good core of running backs remaining and Sibley coming in.
COACH NARDUZZI: And Davis.
Q. When you add Davis in today, what does it do to further bolster?
COACH NARDUZZI: Coach Powell is skipping through the hallways today, I can tell you that. Again, he worked hard on both those guys. Again, we had a need there. We had a need at running back. When you lose James, that's a bang-bang position as far as getting banged up. We needed both those guys. So it was great to land him. To be honest with you, if we didn't get him -- and we had faith. We kind of held on. We had another guy that warranted to come that had to go somewhere else. So it's nice when you can be picky.
A.J. had picked. There was another guy that wanted to come here that had to go a little further from home, and we could have had him too. That's the nice thing. I guess you see what's on the list today, but there were some other ones we could have had too. We were going to get two great tailbacks either way, but we're excited with A.J.
Coach Powell called it thunder and lightning. I don't care if it's thunder and lightning. As long as we've got a storm in the backfield, we're okay.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports