Feb. 6, 2002
On the 2002 recruiting class: "We have a terrific group of signees, and it is very representative of exactly the kind of group that we expected. We were able to meet our position needs in every area. The junior college transfer players will give us immediate depth at certain positions, and we will have some players who are a little older and who know college football a little better. I also expect that a number of the freshman players will compete and play this year. As a group, we want to get the freshmen worked into positions where they will be able to play. I really am looking forward to what they can do."
"One of the things that you find out when you recruit good players is that players know there is going to be good competition. One of the things we told them at the end of last season was 'don't be afraid to have good players come here because if we are going to become the team that we want, you have to be pushed and they have to be pushed.' We need competition."
"I am pleased because this is as good a class as anyone might have expected. We did a great job early, and we had a number of commitments in December. We are excited about it, and I think that our efforts show that we are serious about football, and we want everyone to know it. We are going to do everything possible to put a championship team on our field in the near future."
On the recruiting process: "I want to pay a real compliment to the people involved with our recruiting this year. The coaches did a terrific job of identifying the players early, establishing a rapport with the players and seeing the process all the way through. When everything seems to get a little crazy at the end of the recruiting season, the coaches really stood in there. I also want to thank our staff, especially our secretarial staff and student assistants, for all of the work they did behind the scenes."
"Our players did an unbelievable task. What really makes a difference is the relationship the players have with the team on campus when they come to visit. They were able to get a feel for who we are and where we are going, and they got to feel the excitement and enthusiasm of the current players. Some of our best-known players really did a good job throughout the recruiting process, and they went out of their way to meet with the recruits."
On the quarterback position: "Clearly, we are going to have three quarterbacks. Nic (Costa) is going to get a lot of work in the spring, which is good because he needs that. Jason (Johnson) knows what to do in his place, and it's not that Jason is going to get 25 percent of the work. It is good to be able to give Nic 50 percent of the work, which we couldn't do last year. Ryan O'Hara also will get a lot of personal attention when he arrives this summer. Although I'm not saying that he will play at this time, it is not out of the realm of possibility. We recruited him with the thoughts that he was good enough as a true freshman to come in and play. I think that having three quarterbacks who can work into it is better than having five because when you have five, they are not all going to stay."
On the defensive front: "The players that clearly were recruited with the intention that they had the best chance to come here and play were the defensive linemen. When you look at our numbers, anyone who is in that defensive group have a chance to get on the playing field this fall. The defensive guys up front were targeted because we lost four defensive ends after last season."
On the offensive line: "We are not going away from our style of play. They will run, and we will continue to trap. With our pro-style offense, we need to have good pass protectors, and pass protectors generally are tall, have long arms and have leverage."
On recruiting efforts in Arizona, Texas and California: "We were involved with a number of players in the state (of Arizona), and for different reasons, players went to other places. It isn't because we did not show an interest, but it was that it didn't fit for us and them. Recruiting is a matter of matching, and it didn't fit in many cases. We passed on some players (in Arizona) whom we felt did not fit with what we needed or what we wanted. A couple of in-state players made commitments to other universities, and we did not go in and try to get them to visit. We backed away and honored their commitment."
"We have a great network into the state of Texas in addition to our great network into California. With our network into Texas, we have coaches who are well-known and who know the state, and we have players from Texas who are on our team and doing well. In California, we have a history of many players coming here and playing. One of the reasons that we were able to go into Texas and recruit high-quality student-athletes is because we have coaches who know the Texas system."
A Look at the 2002 Signees
Akin Akinniyi - Linebacker "His family emigrated from Nigeria to the U.S. less than 20 years ago. The family is very well-educated, and they certainly appreciate where their roots are located. Akin has lived in the U.S. all of his life. It was fun to talk to them about how they perceived and saw things about Nigeria's history. They have a terrific outlook about America."
Danny Baugher - Punter "Danny is a USA Today All-American punter. He is a young guy whom we evaluated along with many others at that position. He really fits the bill for us. He will come in and be competitive. He also can kick off and kick extra points and field goals, so he is a triple-way kicker. His strength, however, is in punting."
Tanner Bell - Offensive Lineman "He is a big offensive lineman, and you can see that we have held true to our word that we are going to build a team that's bigger. The only way you can get bigger is to get taller. He is a taller player who can fill out and grow, and he has a lot of athletic talent. He is an excellent athlete."
Marlon Brisco - Defensive End "Marlon is an outstanding defensive end who was highly recruited by other schools. He stayed with us. One or two schools made a real effort to try to dissuade him in the last few weeks, but he never budged. He has a big frame, and we think that he will fill out. He will be an excellent defensive end for us, and I don't see where he would ever move inside because I don't think that his frame would put him into that category. "
Beau Carr - Halfback "Beau is from a good school with top competition. He is a talented player and very committed to football. Coaches say that out of all of the players they have worked with, no one spends more time studying and getting ready to play football than Beau Carr."
Biren Ealy - Wide Receiver "We wanted tall, agile receivers, and Biren Ealy certainly fits that bill. He made a commitment to us very early. He did a great job in evaluating his prospects. Other schools would have recruited him more heavily, but he told everyone up front that he was going to Arizona. He knew what kind of system we have, and he is someone who is going to get attention early in our system."
Nicholas Folk - Kicker "Nick Folk is a kicker, and he also is a three-way man who can kick field goals, kick off and punt, but his strength is in the kicking area. He is a deep threat with field goals, and he has the leg and the potential to be a 60-yard kicker as he grows and develops. I project him as not playing this fall. He is the youngest of all the players, and he will benefit by not playing his first year. He is a stand-out soccer player but really wanted to be a football player. What I like about Nicholas and Danny (Baugher) is that they are football players first who have a specialty."
Gilbert Harris - Fullback "Gilbert is a tall running back who likely will fit into the fullback slot. Because of the limited number of players who fit that frame, he definitely will be someone who will get early attention in the fall. He is an all-around player, an excellent runner, and he has soft hands. He has the frame to be a power-type fullback."
Keith Jackson - Offensive Tackle "He made a commitment to us, and he was under some pressure to change his mind, but he would not do it. He might be the highest rated of any of the offensive lineman according to some of these services. He has excellent feet, balance and movement, and we will see what he can do right off the bat."
Mike Jefferson - Wide Receiver "Mike is a tall wide receiver and an outstanding athlete. He can run and jump. He received some of the highest accolades of any student or student-athlete in the El Paso area. He brings a lot of dimensions to our team."
Matt Lamatsch - Offensive Tackle "Matt is a junior college offensive tackle and an excellent pass blocker. He came in with a small stress fracture, but doctors put a pin in, and if he rehabs, he should be ready for spring practice."
Spencer Larsen - Linebacker "Spencer is a tall linebacker with a good frame. He had a strong interest in us from the very beginning. It is very likely that he will fall into the position with Lance Briggs, which means that he may not play this year. It will give him a chance to learn a lot and be involved with some things in order to have a chance to move into that middle linebacker position in another year."
Kili Lefotu - Offensive Lineman "Kili has an excellent frame, and he is closer to 300 pounds at this time. He carries his weight well. He made a commitment to us right after his visit. We see him being able to do a lot of things."
John McKinney - Linebacker "John has a terrific burst, and he is a tackler who attacks. He was highly-rated although some people felt that he was a little under-sized. But, with his quickness and ability to play the ball and make tackles, we feel that he will grow into a size that will make him an effective player at our level."
Jason Martin - Cornerback "Jason committed to us last summer. He has quick feet, and we think that he can be a top-flight cover corner similar to Michael Jolivette. He has natural strength. He was a stand-out as a wide receiver, and could play wide receiver for us or anybody else, but we project him to play cornerback."
Javier Martinez - Tight End "We rated Javier as the best of the tight ends that we evaluated. He will give us depth at mid-year. He blocks with his size, and he also runs and catches. He is an excellent receiver, and his strengths as a blocker and a receiver will fit well into our rotation."
Lamon Means - Safety "Lamon is a tall safety, and when he tracks the ball carrier, he is just non-stop. He is a hitter, he is smart and very observant about the game. He makes good plays, and he is a student of the game. We will likely start him at the free safety area with Jarvie Worcester there."
Ra'Shawn Mosley - Halfback "Ra'Shawn is an exciting player with a wealth of confidence. He is a speedy, fast, shifty running back. We like everything about him, and we think that he can be a terrific receiver out of the backfield and be a return specialist. He will be someone who has the ball in his hands."
Luis Nunez - Cornerback "Luis is a junior college cornerback who can play bump-and-run man-to-man coverage, which we specialize in. He will compete for the position opposite Michael Jolivette during spring practice."
Ryan O'Hara - Quarterback "Ryan was our first commitment last summer. He attended our camp last summer, and I worked with him and really did not try to recruit him. I spent my time talking to him about how he could improve as a football player, and little did I know that he had done some research about what it would be like to play for me. He has a dynamite arm, and he runs like a deer. He has a quick release and can throw deep. He has accuracy and a high motivation to succeed as a football player."
Matt Padron - Tight End "Matt is big, solid and strong, and he did not drop a single pass all year long. He caught 21 passes. He is going to be a physical blocker in our system, and he will be adequate or more than adequate as a wide receiver."
John Parada - Offensive Tackle "John is physical, big, and he is an excellent prospect."
Paul Phillip - Defensive End "Paul was a top player at defensive end for San Bernadino High School. He is big and physically put together. Any of those six players in the defensive front group will get opportunities to play."
Gary Shephard - Cornerback "Gary is a bright student, and he is a student of the game of football. He is smart, tough, and he is a hitter who can run with people that cover and play man-to-man defense."
Marcus Smith - Defensive End "Marcus went back and forth slightly throughout the process, but (secondary coach) Steve Bernstein and (defensive line coach) Marty Long earned the Bear Down Awards for staying in constant contact with Marcus. He has the potential and the frame to be a big defensive end. He moves quickly, runs and jumps, and he is an outstanding athlete with impressive athletic ability."
Andre Torrey - Defensive End "Andre is a junior college defensive end. He will be here, but he isn't here right now. We like that he showed quickness off the ball. He is another player who will get a lot of attention during spring practice. He will be here, and he will get a lot of work."
Carl Tuitavuki - Defensive Tackle "Carl has to stay and finish this spring in order to finish his coursework, but he will bring experience and maturity to the playing field. I think that he will work into our lineup immediately. We recruited him with the prospect of playing immediately this year."
Juan Valentine - Wide Receiver "Juan signed with Arizona two years ago and did not qualify. He went to a junior college where he received his associate's degree in one and a half years and had an excellent grade-point average. He proved that he could do it and would do it, and because of that, we never hesitated about bringing him back to Arizona. There wasn't any question about him as an athlete. He will work in the spring. He is a little bigger and more physical than some of the other guys."
Tim Volk - Defensive End "Tim has a lot of accolades as a defensive lineman. He has a motor that runs and runs and runs. He is a high-energy player, and he will bring that to the field. He is used to the competition, and he will get a lot of attention."