Head coach Charlie Weis
"Fortunately, for us it was a very uneventful day and that's usually a very good thing. As a matter of fact, by about 10 o'clock this morning we were already wrapped up. We were just waiting for the ‘Hawaiian Flash' to send his (NLI) in, but other than that we were already done. It's been an interesting couple of weeks. It's amazing how, in the technology-driven age, one tweet can cause mass pandemonium. But things settled down pretty nicely and I'm very pleased with how things have turned out."
"Before we get going, there are several people that I want to thank. First of all, I think Rob Ianello, our recruiting coordinator, did a wonderful job coordinating all of our efforts. He had a lot of help; our administrative staff was wonderful. Both the girls and the guys in the office did a great job in supporting the coaches; they grinded. Although, you guys might feel sorry for (tight end coach Jeff) Blasko, I wouldn't feel too sorry for a kid in his late 20's taking a bunch of trips to Hawaii. You and I may not feel the same way about that. But we put a lot of tread on our tires and went to a lot of different places and hopefully we're going to reap the benefits of several fine young men that we've brought into our program. There are several other people who I think need to be mentioned. (I want to thank) all the people from campus who have helped us in our recruiting efforts, whether its sports information or the professors that every time we had visits, they got involved and talked about the curriculum that we have, which I think is very critical to a young man coming here. Obviously, our academic support staff and the wonderful job that Paul Buskirk and his staff do over there; then Dr. (Sheahon) Zenger, (Senior Associate Athletics Director) Sean (Lester) and (Assistant to the Athletic Director) George (Matsakis) and all the administrators and the support they give us is great. Even people at the dining hall (helped us), because you bring the recruit over there and say ‘this is where you're going to eat' and they say ‘now that's what I'm talking about'. This was a very top-heavy junior college class and for them to see that they'll be living in the Jayhawk Towers and eating in the Burge Union that is a very great impression for them without us having to break out any bells and whistles. There are a lot of people to thank; I'm sure I'll miss some, but I just want to put a thank you out to everyone who helped."
On his status with other walk ons joining the team:
"There are guys that you have read about recently that they've come out and said what their intent is, they're coming too. But I can't talk about them today. Yes, there are some really good players (that are still coming); more than the ones you've read about, because some of them just didn't put it out on Twitter or other schools didn't put it out there. There are more than (walk on kicker) Michael (Mesh) that are coming that are in the same position. We provide a unique opportunity, because most people can see themselves getting into the mix (right away), even though we might not have a spot (on scholarship)."
"You'll notice that number I gave you - 25 scholarship players - leaving three spots; yes, we have action going on, but no, I can't talk about it. The action won't happen in days, but I definitely have action going on. Remember now, for each spot that I fill, that's one less potential guy I can take next year. This morning, just to elaborate for you recruiting gurus, I laid out a three-year recruiting plan for our staff. For the junior college kids, you have to factor in that you're going to get a large number of seniors hitting at the same time, so you never have your numbers dwindling where you're behind the eight-ball. I laid out a three-year plan for every position on the team. We didn't just cover next year; we covered the next year and the year after that - leading into the year after that. So for those of you who have written me off and said that I'll be here for a short period of time, I'm sorry to disappoint you."
"With the faxes coming in so early this morning, we actually got a jump on looking at tape of some (high school) juniors and some junior college freshmen. As you know, we have a junior day coming up next Saturday. I want to make sure that every kid that we have coming in, I've watched tape on so I make sure I know what we're talking about."
On what positions he was targeting:
"Well, we decided that we were going to take one or two quarterbacks; we were going to take one tight end; we were going to take no running backs; we were going to try to take five offensive linemen; we were going to take three or four wide receivers; and with the defensive secondary we were going to take four or five, at the linebackers we wanted to take three, and the rest of the guys were going to be defensive linemen and throw in a kicker to the mix. So realistically, if you look at the numbers, all those numbers were attained. There wasn't one number that wasn't attained with a guy that we feel is a quality player."
"Now, with those three numbers that were left, we wouldn't take some of the guys we took last year at this point. For example, if we were taking a college graduate, we're bringing in a guy in that we think could start and be a difference maker. So right now, if you told me that this guy was going to come in, he graduated from this college and he can come in here and he could be a starter, I'm listening. But other than that, I'm not really listening. For a junior college kid at this point, I'm not inclined to take him unless he has more than two years of eligibility left. What I would do though if the guy had three years of eligibility left, it's totally different than if he only had two years of eligibility. I feel good that we filled every hole, numerically, with guys that we think are pretty good players. Do we have a couple opportunities out there? Yeah, and one or two of them are pretty good opportunities, but you have to let them matriculate."
On where he thinks he's helped the team the most:
"If you look at the volume of front line guys, of front line junior-college guys on the defensive side of the ball, you can have a whole bunch of starters coming out of that group. Look at the secondary, and the defensive line. I don't want to down-play anyone, because they're all in the mix. On the offensive line, obviously we needed to bring in three JUCO guys, and that was our intent to bring in at least three JUCO guys. Would we have taken another one? Yeah, we would have. If another one wanted to come and play, we would have taken another one, but you're not going to win on every battle."
On the plan for year one vs. year two:
"A lot of them (the signees) are here already and that helps. It helps with the fact that there are going to be tweaks in what we do on offense and defense that everyone's going to have to learn. I've had a couple months to study our team and it wasn't just the offense I studied. I studied our special teams and I studied our defense. I've already enlightened the staff on what directions we're heading. I told them, ‘We'll get to Monday, then we'll start worrying about the problem of football.' Today, it was ‘let's just worry about recruiting and come Monday we'll start fixing the problems football wise'."
On what he's learned about recruiting junior college players:
"You have to be flexible, that's one thing, because every (junior college) was different. I mean there's some schools where you walk in and ‘this is the academic advisor, this is the person who's in charge of the graduate office, they control the AA degree.' Some schools you walk in and it's a mini version us. Other schools, you walk in and it is a fire drill. You talk to somebody and the next time you come in, that person might not be working there anymore. You're really grinding and sometimes from the outside, you're looking at it and say, ‘well this is a problem. So and so is not this and so and so is not that.' Trust me, I'm doing everything with both Paul Buskirk and David Reed; I'm doing everything with both academics and compliance. I don't do anything on my own. I do everything like a team, where we all work together. We say, ‘this is the best way to do it' or ‘this isn't the best way to do it'. It's important to know the stop date for when you can enroll in a class, ‘is it close to happening yet?' ‘When is the date when the kid is better off not coming, and staying in junior college so he doesn't get too far behind in a semester?' We've all taken classes before, you come into class a month down and now you're trying to play catch up. Sometimes it's better holding them and saying ‘Okay, come in June when it's a more natural break.' It's not always just exactly what it looks like on the surface; there are a lot of underlying factors there, but you have to be flexible, you have to go in and you have to do your due-diligence."
"The rules are changing so much this year, too. Now coming into this year, the academic requirements are going to change. For example, next year for junior college class, to be eligible, they need to have at least a 2.5 grade point average. That's what the transfer rules are in the state of Kansas. You can get a guy in the state of Kansas in the junior colleges, you could probably get a guy in with less than that, but now nationally, with Kansas included, they need to have more than a 2.5. If the kid has a 2.3 for example - which is low - you could bring him in, but you can't play him and you have to sit him for a year. Why would you take a guy when he doesn't have three years to play? Now you're bringing in a guy who's sitting in a year and have only one year to play him. The whole nature of this business, you have to be flexible and understand the due-diligence of what you are doing because each school is different. There isn't one of them that's exactly the same. Not one of them."
On getting players to come over to KU from Hawaii:
"The whole thing is, when you're sitting over in Hawaii, you're already going this far (across an ocean), what difference does it make to go that much further? I've already used that tactic in the past and really, wherever they go is really irrelevant, because they already will have to go on a long flight. They have already packed it in, they're going on a long flight. So to be honest with you, the mentality on the islands is not like anywhere in the United States. Those kids will go anywhere where they trust you, because it's a very family-oriented mentality and they have to feel that they are part of a family."
On Coach Weis' reputation in Hawaii:
"When you've done people right, when you follow through exactly with what you say you're going to do, people notice that. When you tell people ‘this is the way it is' and that's exactly the way it turns out, then you go over there and they trust you. And if they don't trust you, you really don't have much of a chance. Obviously kids get impressed by a lot of different things, but when we go over there, the door is already open. We don't have to work our way into the doors, we are already in the door. And it's just the question of whether we can get them to come or not."
On if he'll continue to recruit a lot of junior college players in the future:
"That's a great question. Absolutely, you have to work this way. I know you want to work to where you're taking less junior college guys and more high school guys, but we all know there are multiple holes to fill here (on the current team), that's no big secret. You only get those (junior college) guys for two years; most of them for two years, a couple of them for three years. You have to be concerned with your numbers if you keep taking JUCO guys; you're going to be sitting there with 70 guys on scholarship, because you're in a year where you have 35 seniors and guess what, you can only take 25. So you took 25 the year before, how are you going to replenish them?"
"That's why I had to lay out for the staff, ‘here is who we're losing next year, here is who we're losing the year after that, here are the numbers that have to follow'. For example, next year you might lose only a few (defensive backs), but you're going to take more than you're going to lose. (You do that) because the following year, you're going to lose five of them. So you can't just look at it one year at a time, you have to look at the next year too, because you might not have spots for them the next year. You replenish some of them this year so next year when you lose five, you only have to pick up three instead of picking up five. It all factors into your numbers next year and the year after that."
On having reservations about recruiting junior college players:
"I'm going to answer that in two parts and I'm going to factor my wife in this answer too. I'm going to blame part of it on her. First of all, you have to make sure we're okay with academics and we're okay with compliance, because with this being flexible and having these different sets of circumstances, you need a lot of people doing leg work for you that you can't do anything about. I'm not the academic guy, I'm not the compliance guy, so you have to lean on them and you're asking them to do a lot more work than they normally would have to do in the past. That's the first thing you have to do, you have to feel comfortable that you all are on the same page, which I do feel comfortable about. If they say, ‘Don't mess with that guy,' you have to listen to them. There might be one player that several people in this room say ‘I hope we can get him,' and we couldn't touch him with a ten-foot pole, because he has no chance of making it here academically. I can't come out and say who that is or ‘I hope we get so-and-so, I hope we get so-and-so.' Why would you ever bring a kid into Kansas that had no chance to graduate? Then you're being a hypocrite."
"The second thing, I get to factor my wife in here, I hope your listening, honey. One of her big things with me, when we talk about like when I was at Notre Dame vs. going to the NFL, was that you are counting on 18 year-old kids that you're recruiting vs. grown men when you go to the NFL. You kind of get a happy medium here now (with junior college kids); these aren't 18 years old kids; these guys have been weathered and already have had a little bit of a rough life; everything hasn't been handed to them. In junior college, it isn't like you are treated like you're an 18-star guy going to one of the best schools in the country. You're going to junior college. You've paid the price for a couple years and are now much more grown up and they've got it figured out. Physically, they're more developed and they're more ready for the real world. So it's that happy-medium between the 18 year-old kid and the 23 year-old young man; it's that happy medium in-between. If your taking nothing but high school kids, even the highest-rated guy, there's only a couple of them that end up playing as freshmen, the rest of them are over there on the bench with me. What good is that going to do me (right now)? You say ‘go develop them,' develop them for who? The next coach? I'd rather be coaching the players myself if you don't mind. So that's why we take this tactic."
On Dexter McDonald now vs. two years ago:
"I think that he realizes that when you leave a place, you want to blame everything on that place. Everything was their fault. No one wants to blame things not working out on themselves, but I think that he's been humbled where he has a greater appreciation for where the program is at right now and he really believes that he can contributes both on and off the field. Once again, it's different now. He's not an 18 year-old kid anymore. It's really different now, he's coming in and he gets it. He's ready to go. He left here with a bitter taste, but now he's one of the happiest people we have around and I think it will pay huge residual dividends."
On filling the holes that still exist:
"After laying our recruiting board out now that you know you get to 25 kids, throw (Michael) Mesh in for 26, and a couple of the other walk-ons in areas that you needed another real body. That doesn't include more kids that we just had at walk-on tryouts yesterday; we had another eight-or-so kids that we are going to bring on for spring ball in addition, right there. Now all of a sudden, your numbers are such where you have more depth across the board. Look at the secondary last year: the secondary didn't play great, but how many guys would you have had any confidence in going out there and playing? That is going to be different now. We talked about dime (in our coaches meeting yesterday). That word was never even uttered last year. We were trying to get four (quality defensive backs) to be out there, but yesterday we talked about dime. And we talked about quarter, and quarter is seven DB's. We talked about these packages and I said ‘these are things in the spring where we might practice with some guys we won't be using because the other guys aren't here yet,' but it is the first time we were able to have these conversations. You can go out on third down, where they want to put four and five wide (receivers) out there, and put a whole bunch of DB's out there. Now have no matchup problems, whereas when you are matched up with nickel against five wide receivers, you have a linebacker covering a wide receiver. You have a bad deal. See, I'm giving you football (lessons) in here, too. This is great."
On if there is one guy that will stand out this class:
"There are so many of them. It really wouldn't do justice to single out anyone. From your standpoint, you want Marquel (Combs) here, but not so much from my standpoint. I gave you (Mike) Ragone last year; I hit it right on the head. From your standpoint, you guys all want Marquel here. That's all I'll tell you."
"Each and every one of these kids, right here, I'm happy we have. There isn't one kid where I say ‘God, I wish we would have got that kid over him.' I'm happy with every guy on that list. So many of those guys on defense are going to be playing (right away). They aren't just coming in here, these guys are coming in and playing. I think, personnel-wise, overall, on defense (improvement) is going to be dramatic. I don't think it is going to be slight, I think it going to be dramatic. And the best part is, I think it is going to be solid for years."
On the mood of the defensive coaches after today:
"I've spent some time with the defensive staff here in the last few days, trying to give them an offensive perspective of how I envision things should change for our defense to make it a little easier. When today came and you can start plugging different players into that vision, things became a lot easier with all of our position coaches on defense. (Defensive coordinator Dave) Campo and everyone else all feel better today."
On how quickly things can change:
"I think recruiting classes are based off high school seniors. That is exactly what I think. I don't think one recruiting system really is factoring in a junior-college player playing at the top of their game right now. I'll give you (Marquel) Combs for example. Combs, they will list as a four-star player. How can the No. 1 player in the country not be rated with the most stars? (It's) because they are rating him based on what he was in high school, not what he is right now. That is why there have been some of our competitors whose recruiting classes have been de-valued when they have taken a bunch of junior-college players. I don't think people have the appropriate resources to be able to evaluate a class based off of the combination of high school guys and junior-college guys. Let's face it, if you sit here and get 18 guys that are ready that are five and four-stars by everybody, your recruiting class is going to be rated way up top. But tell me they are more ready than the 18 junior-college players that you just brought in, and I would beg to differ. I'll take the 18 junior-college players, because they are ready to play now. You have seen them on tape; you have seen them against college players; you have seen them physically and they are two years older, at least. You would like to think that things can happen in a hurry."
On if he has looked at Kansas State's model for JUCO players on roster:
"I'll be honest with you, when (Sheahan) Zenger offered me this job, and my wife and I went through our Kansas research, that had been well-documented, I went online; I looked at (Kansas State's) roster and I looked at our roster. I saw all their junior-college kids and I saw none of ours. I said, ‘well it's pretty obvious what the formula is, go do that.' And then when I saw Coach (Bill) Snyder before the game this year, I said, ‘I just want you to know, I learned a lot from your model and there is a lot of things I took from it.' And of course he laughed at me, which was not the first time I've been laughed at - in a joking way. It was a nice cordial conversation, but I meant it out of respect for Coach Snyder, because I haven't seen a guy work that system any better than he has, and that is the truth. What he has been able to do, he deserves major compliments for it."
On speaking at the Boys and Girls Club tonight:
"I was the backup plan for the President. The President is who they were trying to get to go speak at the Boys and Girls Club function this evening, because we had the ‘Kid of the Year' here in Lawrence. I am the scrap-heap on that one right there. I am really looking forward to it, because of the two things I will talk about: community service, and I am going to use Hannah and Friends compared to the Boys and Girls Club as my thought methodology there; the second thing I am going to do is talk about recruiting. I am going to talk about Signing Day and what I do in recruiting, what I am looking for as far as character and leadership. I am going to tell them a couple of things I do when I go into schools to try and find the answers to those questions. I am really going to talk to these young adults about becoming leaders with high character. That is really going to be the gist of my conversation. I hope I don't bore them tremendously as the fallback to the president - THE President, by the way. I wasn't talking about the Chancellor (Bernadette Gray-Little), I was talking about the President (of the United States)."
On changes to the roster:
"We'll worry about that the day before spring ball starts. There are several changes, but not flipping from one side of the ball to the other. All those are just internal changes (on offense and defense). I wasn't really sure what I was going to do with Colin (Spencer), but when Marquis (Jackson) went down and wasn't medically-cleared to come back and then I talked to a couple of the junior-college guys about playing corner and safety; I didn't want him to get buried because I thought coming in, he is too good of a prospect to get buried (on the depth chart) walking in the door. I think one of my plans that we are doing on offense, he might be useful whether it is this year or next year. It gives us an opportunity to get him ready to go."
On if he has noticed a change in the attitude of the current team:
"It was really funny yesterday. The team runs on Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. Watching that versus the first time I watched these guys last year, was actually comical. It was actually funny to watch. Not ‘fun' but ‘funny'. And I'm thinking about what I was looking at (last year) versus what I am looking at (today), and it lifted my spirits tremendously."