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February 1, 2012

Will Muschamp

WILL MUSCHAMP:  Real pleased with how recruiting went.  I think any time you get to this day, it's a culmination of a lot of hard work and effort by our staff.  I think our staff did an outstanding job.  You've got to improve your program where you know you need to improve your program.
Of the 23 players that joined our program today, 14 are line‑of‑scrimmage players, mid skill and big skill guys.¬† We saw very easily in our season this year, we struggled on both lines of scrimmage, consistently being able to run the ball and stop the run.¬† I certainly feel like we've addressed our most pressing need, was on both lines of scrimmage, developed play makers and depth on both lines of scrimmage.
So I'm really excited about the guys we've got in that group, and also eight skill guys which includes a quarterback.  We'd like to sign a quarterback every year.  I think that's important.  A kicker in Austin Hardin, a guy that came in and did an outstanding job for us, and we're real pleased about him coming from Marist.  We'll know about this class in two or three years.
I'll say the same thing this year as I did last year.  Football is a developmental game, develop the players.  Really excited about Jeff Dillman and Jesse Ackerman and our strength staff, our coaching staff, but the job that they do in getting our players in here and doing a nice job with them, and we'll know a lot more about this class in two or three years at the end of the day.
So this is a developmental game.  So we'll be able to address that.  It's not about winning in February.  Okay?  It's about winning in the fall and developing your football team and addressing your needs, and I think we've done that.
Six mid‑year signees, Willie Bailey's on campus, Jessamen Dunker, D.J. Humphries, Damien Jacobs, Antonio Morrison, and Latroy Pittman are all guys that are in the program right now.
Of course, we've been going as a staff really the last month, so we haven't spent a whole lot of time with any of those guys, but good that they were able to graduate and get enrolled at the University here, and certainly we'll help their progress as far as going into spring practice.
We pleased with our staff.  Outstanding job and appreciate all the support from our administration and the people that touch our program as far as the recruiting process, because it takes a team effort to get this thing done and certainly not any one person gets it done.  It takes a whole team effort.  So real pleased, and I'll go ahead and open it up for any questions.

Q.  Can you talk about the work you guys did in North Carolina?
WILL MUSCHAMP:¬† I think D.J. Durkin, first of all, is kind of our area recruiter for that area, and I think he knows now that he does a really nice job recruiting, period.¬† But it was a full team effort.¬† You look at Bryant Young, Dan Quinn, Tavaris Robinson, myself, defensive side of the ball, we're really‑‑ we hone in on the guys we want and the guys we feel like can come and make a difference in our program, and we go after those guys.
So we were able to ‑‑ you look at Jon Bullard, Rhaheim Ledbetter, D.J. Humphries.¬† Alex McCalister is a guy that came to our camp, broad jumped over ten feet, close to a 40‑inch vertical leap, a guy that's 6'6", 220 pounds, and his best football is ahead of him.¬† That's a very, very explosive athlete and a guy that hasn't played a whole lot of football.¬† So real pleased with the job we were able to do with those players.

Q.  And I guess the news today was kind of flipping Fowler.  How big was that coming on late?
WILL MUSCHAMP:  Well, again, you recruit through this process, and sometimes when you get there to signing day, you're leaving it up to a young man and his family to make a decision, and I think Dante had a good fit here at Florida as far as his position was concerned, his opportunity was concerned, and we're excited to add another good pass rusher to our program.

Q.¬† Can you talk a little bit about the quarterback situation?¬† Was it Coach Pease that wanted to add a quarterback or was it‑‑
WILL MUSCHAMP:  It was, but we had made the decision.  We had recruited a quarterback through the year, and when he had committed to another school, we had made the decision we were going to recruit another quarterback at the end of November.  And of course Charlie left for Kansas the 1st of December.
I do think that position is different than every other position as far as identifying the critical factors, number one, but having a good feel for that quarterback coach, coordinator position, to have kind of a guy that he wanted to recruit.¬† And so when we tired‑‑ I held off on all of that.¬† Obviously evaluated the tape and got everything ready, and the moment we hired Brent, he and I sat down and talked about what we needed to do at that position, and pinpointed Skylar from the beginning.

Q.  Would you talk about Brent Pease and how he came in here and it just seems like that he was an instant fit and was an instant success on the recruiting?
WILL MUSCHAMP:  Brent does an outstanding job.  He's a really good football coach.  He's a guy that knows what he wants within our philosophy of what we want to do offensively.  We've identified those things.  We have an outstanding recruiting staff and he certainly has blended in well.

Q.¬† Also, would you talk about‑‑ you pinpointed the defensive line in particular that you wanted to get stronger there.¬† Would you talk about some of the recruits that you got on the defensive line that you're excited about.
WILL MUSCHAMP:¬† Well, I'm excited about all of them, but I think all of those guys certainly can come in and contribute in some form or fashion.¬† Obviously we talked about Jon Bullard earlier.¬† He's a guy that's 6'5", 285‑pound guy that can really run.¬† Went and watched him play basketball last week and he gets up and down the court very well.
Bryan Cox is a guy that's kind of come in and was sort of was an outside linebacker and moved to Fort Lauderdale this past year and played for St.Thomas and played both inside and outside, but is a guy that's got great length as far as his arms are concerned.  He's a very tough kid.  I really like his toughness and what he brings to the program.
We obviously have addressed Dante.  We needed to address our pass rush.  I think we've addressed that.  And a guy that certainly can get on the edge.  He's got natural pass rush ability, knows where to put his hips in the rush.
Jafar Mann's is a guy that's an inside player.  We needed to add more girth inside and more depth inside, and he certainly is a guy that played on both sides of the ball at Stevenson, but excited about him.
Alex McCalister is more of an outside‑backer type, a guy that, again, he came to camp, really impressed us, and that's when we really liked what we saw with him.¬† He's a guy that I think has got a tremendous upside as a player.¬† He's been a basketball player most of his life and a guy that we really liked in camp.
Of course Dante Phillips has been a guy that's been committed to us for a long time, but you're talking about a 6'7", 295‑pound guy that can move.¬† He's got great feet and change of direction and strike and punch and power.¬† So we're really pleased obviously with him.
And then Quinteze Williams is a guy is 6'5", about 290 pounds.  Probably about 270.  He will be 290 very soon.  But he's got a great frame and is an outstanding athlete and comes from a great program there, Sandy Creek right outside of Atlanta.
Again, very pleased with this class as far as those guys are concerned, and if you watched in our league this year, the two dominant teams were very good on both lines of scrimmage.

Q.  When you recruit, how much do you use your depth chart and say, Hey, we had some depth issues and talent issues last year, you can come right in and help us out.
WILL MUSCHAMP:¬† You know, I really think the way it is in recruiting nowadays, there's not a whole lot of secrets, and I think people do‑‑ obviously, I think every kid and their family or whoever is close to them, narrow down the recruiting process of maybe the schools they're looking at.¬† And as they kind of narrow that down, they probably pay a lot of attention to the depth chart.
You know, we don't really address the depth chart a whole lot.  I get very concerned when a player asks me about the depth chart more than about once.  If they don't want to compete, they don't need to come here.  They're going to compete.
We don't make any promises.  We promise an opportunity and that's it, an opportunity to come here and if you're the best at your position, you'll play.  If you're the best in your position, you'll start.  I don't really care where you're from or what grade you are.  We owe that to the University of Florida.
You know, we don't really talk in terms of that a whole lot, but I do think kids are obviously pretty aware of it in a situation where they look at it.  I think it's good for a young man to ask and say, Who do you have at the position.  I think that's important.  But when they ask about the 15th time, you start wondering.  It's not changing, they're all still here.

Q.  You got D.J. and Jessamen on the offensive line.  Can you talk about what those two guys bring and how much it helps that they're already question.
WILL MUSCHAMP:  Well, there's no question.  When they're able to go through spring, especially knowing my philosophy as far as playing early, the further your position moves to the ball, the harder it is.  So them being able to go through 15 days of spring practice is going to be huge.
But they're just both two very good, big athletes, move very well, great feet, change of direction, very flexible, can bend, both powerful guys.  So real excited about both players.

Q.  You also got two pretty good tight ends.  Can you talk about each of those guys and maybe what reassurance they might have needed after Charlie left that the system would remain the same and fit what they were doing.
WILL MUSCHAMP:  I think from the standpoint of when we recruit, it's a philosophy of offense, defense and special teams of who we are, it's not a person.  So I think they understood that.  But I think they complement each other very well.
Colin is 6'5", 265‑pound guy that can stretch the field.¬† He can do a lot of things for you at the point of attack.
Kent Taylor's a guy that can stretch the field, match‑up issue, is a guy that can really go and get the football.¬† Outstanding athlete, outstanding baseball player.
So both guys are guys we're really excited about.

Q.  Is Matt Jones sort of the prototype of what you're looking for in the back now, and does he kind of face maybe more pressure than some of the other freshmen that come in and play right away and contribute at a position that's kind of shaky?
WILL MUSCHAMP:  No, I feel good about the position, but in that situation, the only pressure that they're going to have is what they put on themselves, and if they work hard and come in here in shape and they accept the responsibility of being a University of Florida football player and learn what to do and how to do it, they'll be fine.

Q.  Can you just talk about him and what you liked from him?
WILL MUSCHAMP:  Toughness.  Toughness.  At the end of the day, it's toughness.  He runs behind his pads and he's one of those guys in the fourth quarter you get tired of tackling.  That's what we need.  We need more of those guys who are able to run up in there when it's 4th and 1 and know that you're going to move the pile by turning around and handing it to somebody.  That's something that I didn't always feel as comfortable with this year.

Q.  I know you don't want to talk about guys that didn't sign here, but are you a little disappointed that you weren't able to add as many playmakers on the outside of the offense as you had hoped?
WILL MUSCHAMP:  No, we'll be fine, no.

Q.  This is your second class, but it's the first year where you had a whole year to recruit kids and get to know them and build relationships for a whole year as opposed to just a couple weeks last year.  Talk about what that's going to do for your program, being able to bring in guys that, you know, that fit what you want.  They only know your beat.  They're going to come in and kind of be the foundation for your program.
WILL MUSCHAMP:  Well, again, I've never looked at it as being somebody's players.  At the end of the day they're University of Florida's players, so I don't view it that way, and it's our job to fit them into what we can do to make them successful and put them in situations they can be successful.
But there's no question from a recruiting standpoint, there is a trust factor, and when you build relationships with people, and that's really what recruiting is, you're just building relationships with people and you're presenting a great product in the University of Florida, a great school, great opportunity, great tradition, and I think a lot of young men see that.

Q.¬† How important is it getting closer to that 85‑man limit after the problems with numbers that you had this past season?
WILL MUSCHAMP:  Oh, there's no question.

Q.  And how many scholarships are still available?
WILL MUSCHAMP:  We just have a couple.  We're right at it.

Q.  And then as far as D.J. Humphries, his weight, what's a good weight?  What's a good expectation as far as getting good weight put on him for next fall?
WILL MUSCHAMP:¬† I sort of always‑‑ when I was younger in this profession, I used to always look at a guy, well, he needs to weigh this, he needs to weigh that.¬† Really what I want to do now is evaluate each player with our staff, with Jeff Dillman and come to on optimum weight what a person should be because it's hard to really say until you see him perform, until you see him move around and you see their endurance levels and their stamina and all those sort of things that are important to really put a weight on somebody and say you need to weigh this.
Well, some guys may carry it better, some may not carry it as well.  I think I always want to see a guy move around before we really want to put a number on what they need to weigh.

Q.  Is the list that you put out today the complete class, and if not, how many guys are you still recruiting?
WILL MUSCHAMP:  That's the complete class we have at this point, and I can't comment on anything.

Q.  And looking at Jessamen Dunker, he would look like he's as big or bigger than any of the linemen you already have on the roster.  Is he already big enough to play on the line in the SEC, and what do you like about him other than that?
WILL MUSCHAMP:¬† Well, certainly from a size standpoint, yes.¬† But I mean, again, J.D. is a guy that's played football for two years, so his best football is going to be ahead of him.¬† He's going to improve leaps and bounds from spring to fall.¬† How much he will play and how much he will contribute will depend on spring practice and how he develops through the summer, through our off‑season program to spring practice, to the summer and then into the fall.¬† But as far as his size is concerned, sure, certainly he can help us.
But again, the developmental part of that and being a good football player and an offensive lineman on top of it, that will all be determined in time.

Q.¬† Some schools are starting to offer four‑year scholarships.¬† Did you do any of those?¬† Are you still on the year‑to‑year scholarship basis?
WILL MUSCHAMP:¬† Right, we're on the four‑year.

Q.¬† You're on the four‑year now?

Q.¬† So they're not year‑to‑year?

Q.¬† And the Tampa‑St.Pete area you got quite a few players from there, you had some on the roster already.¬† Can you talk about that area, and is that one you feel like you have a pretty good stronghold on?
WILL MUSCHAMP:  Well, again, I think each year you look at for whatever reason some areas are stronger than others, and that was an area this year that had a lot of good football players, and we were very fortunate.  Derek Lewis, DJ Durkin, Brian White all have part of that southwest Florida area, and they all did an outstanding job.

Q.¬† Whether you believe in rankings or not, you guys have a top five, whatever it is.¬† Seven teams on your schedule had top 25 classes.¬† That doesn't include Auburn and Alabama.¬† Can you just talk about how tough it is to stay there, to be able to compete with‑‑ when you know that everybody else is going to have great classes, too?
WILL MUSCHAMP:  Well, I think when you're in the southeast, everybody asks me the difference, when you come from Texas to Florida as far as recruiting is concerned, and the thing that I would say is you really look at from the standpoint of Gainesville and then you branch out from Gainesville and you look within a driving distance area, there's some outstanding universities and programs that are well within a driving distance area.  When you're in Austin, Texas, obviously Texas A&M, three hours east.  You've got to look for Norman, eight hours north, and then to the east past A&M, LSU.
So my point being, really at the end of the day, if you had one factor that would determine in a young man's decision, it's probably playing close to home because they want their family and friends to be able to see them play, if you had to poll all kids, not to say it's true with every kid.  So when you start talking about going and recruiting in different areas, obviously there's a lot more opportunities and choices for a young man as opposed to just maybe one choice.
So you also understand in the southeast when you go look at the SEC, every year in the NFL draft and you look at the number of SEC players taken and they're all‑‑ most of them are from the southeast where football is pretty much paramount to what we're trying to do.
Again, I think that there's a lot of really good players out there.  I worry about the ones we sign, not the ones anybody else signs.  I've got to worry about them one time out of the year, so it's about our job to get them on campus and coach them and develop them, and I feel comfortable where we're headed with that.

Q.  You said you won't to be able to know about this class, how you'll judge them for a few more years.  What will be the ultimate determination of whether or not this was a good class?
WILL MUSCHAMP:  Well, I think obviously winning games, winning championships.  I mean, they're going to determine the class as they come in.  This past year we red shirted four guys.  Does that mean it was a successful class?  No, it wasn't; we went 7 and 6.  So did they contribute?  Did some of those guys have outstanding individual performances?  Will some of them continue to progress and maybe play two years from now?  Certainly.  So I think individually it's a different way you look at it as opposed to a team aspect.

Q.  And five more recruits on the defensive side of the ball versus offense.  Is that just the way it played out, or did you feel there was more of a need to get some more defensive guys this year?
WILL MUSCHAMP:¬† Well, again, I thought we really struggled up front with our depth on the defensive line.¬† We had to cross‑train guys at multiple positions because we didn't have enough guys to be able to play one position all the time without really losing some depth‑‑ I mean, losing some talent level as far as subbing some guys out, so we really needed to address that.
Really on the offensive line we got everybody back, we had David Young and that's it, so we added two offensive linemen.  Certainly that will be a little bit more of a focus next year.

Q.  And then Latroy Pittman, he was the first guy committed, stayed on through the coaching change.  What do you like about him?  What do you think that says about him on and off the field?
WILL MUSCHAMP:  Well, Latroy wants to be a Gator, so that's what it tells you, number one.  But a really good athlete and a guy that can possibly help us on either side of the ball.  Was an outstanding safety at North Marion and also a playmaker at the wide receiver position, so he's a guy that we're really kind of still determining where he'll start.

Q.¬† The four‑year deal, is that new this year, the first time you've ever offered everybody four, and why is that important for families and kids and for you guys?
WILL MUSCHAMP:¬† Well at the end of the day it's really not a whole lot different from a single‑year contract.¬† Instead of bringing them in in the spring and letting them sign that they have another year, I don't know that anybody tells them that they don't have four years on their deal when they sign a scholarship, so really at the end of the day it's not a whole lot different.

Q.  So if a guy didn't work out, you could still cancel the scholarship?
WILL MUSCHAMP:¬† You can't cancel him for athletic ability.¬† I mean, I don't know anybody that does that.¬† For medical reasons obviously, and obviously for discipline and felony type of issues, but none of that other ‑‑ it doesn't matter if you're on a four‑year or a one‑year.¬† That's going to be the same issue.

Q.  Last year you had Marcus Roberson and Pop Saunders contribute early.  Do you see anybody in this class making that same type of impact?
WILL MUSCHAMP:  We'll find out in August.  I mean, that's hard to sit there and stand up here and tell you.  We don't make any promises to any of them.  We promise them all opportunity.  If they come in there and they play well, and our guys know it, and they know who the good players are, and you identified two last year certainly in camp, Pop going through last spring, our players on this football team knew they were good football players and they were going to contribute for us.

Q.¬† Clarifying your answer to Mark, did you offer four‑year scholarships last year, or is that new this year?
WILL MUSCHAMP:  No, that's new this year.  Let me clarify this:  It's not really a whole lot of different.  It's just what it says in the scholarship, which most all schools probably are doing.  But at the end of the day, instead of having a guy come in in the spring and sign a scholarship that says he's being renewed, you can't take a guy off scholarship for athletic reasons.  You can't say you're not good enough.  That doesn't happen.  Now, if a guy goes and hurts his back and he can't play football anymore, then obviously he still has a scholarship but he can't play.  Or if a guy comes to you and says he doesn't want to play at your institution anymore and he wants to transfer, then obviously he's not on scholarship.
There's not a whole big deal that all of a sudden it becomes a four‑year deal.¬† Really when you sign a young man, most situations that I've been a part of, it was kind of agreed upon it was a four‑year deal and a five‑year if he was red‑shirted and all that kind of good stuff.

Q.  Have you given some of the guys you're bringing in, do you anticipate there's going to be any position changes, and who might some of them be, if there are?
WILL MUSCHAMP:  You know, again, I think that will all determine where they can help our football team, and certainly I don't ever want to ask a guy to play a position that he doesn't want to play.  At the end of the day, they all want to get on the field.

Q.¬† I'm talking about guys that you currently got because you're bringing in guys that may be fortifying positions‑‑
WILL MUSCHAMP:  We're in discussions right now with guys that we may look at at some different spots in the spring, but we're going to do that regardless.  We've got to find out what they can do and where they'll fit and help our football team.  We're still in discussions.  We haven't made any concrete decisions.

Q.  The receiver from Tallahassee, I'm not sure how to pronounce his name, Raphael?

Q.  Can you talk about him and where that developed?
WILL MUSCHAMP:  We had him in camp.  We've recruited we're him all along and a guy that we liked.  He did a great job in camp.  He's a guy that had a bunch of offers.  We had been recruiting him all along.  That's why you have a deep board; when you get in a situation you want to go in and take a guy, you take the guy, and we're really excited.

Q.  Fowler was a guy who went on the record saying, I grew up a Florida State fan, hated Florida.  Is it easier to harder to recruit those kind of kids when they say I'm a certain fan of one school?  When you come in and give them information, are they finding it out for the first time?  What's that process like?
WILL MUSCHAMP:¬† I don't know.¬† You go and recruit the players and you find out pretty quickly, number one, who their childhood team was, but at the end of the day, it's a business decision.¬† You've got to‑‑ they've got to look at the situation, where they feel comfortable, coaching staff, their opportunity.¬† All of those situations come into it, and some can separate that and others can't.

Q.  Is it amusing when you walk in their house and there's Florida State stuff or other team stuff all over the place?
WILL MUSCHAMP:  They didn't have any Florida State stuff up.  Have you been in their house?  (Laughter.)

Q.  What's your plans for spring practice?  Is that going to be open, closed, or what are we doing there?
WILL MUSCHAMP:  I mean, I was planning on opening it, but Brent wants it to be closed.

Q.  So who wins out on that one?
WILL MUSCHAMP:  (Laughing) No, I'll be honest with you, I haven't even discussed that.  We've been trying to finish this up, and we haven't even discussed it.  I was kidding.

Q.  In terms of numbers, you had mentioned last year that you would reevaluate Neiron Ball in January and February.  Have you had a chance to do that yet?
WILL MUSCHAMP:  Well, I'm not, our medical staff is.

Q.  Have they had a chance to do that?
WILL MUSCHAMP:  No, they're going to do that in March, and they certainly feel like he's on schedule.  That's all I know to this point, and he looks great, but that's something that will be totally up to our medical staff.

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