Feb. 5, 2003
Arizona Football Signing Day
Head Coach John Mackovic's Remarks
General comments on the 2003 recruiting class:
"We were competitively in some tough races for a lot of guys, but we filled our class. Our coaches hustled their butts off. They got out there and did a good job of presenting our program, they did a good job of answering questions, and they did a good job of following up. They did a good job of finding good fits for us."
"Many of the youngsters coming in can help us and will help us win this year. I'm not certain how many will play. The junior college players are a little older, and they should be in a position to play. We have two young quarterbacks, and both of them are going to get a speeded up course on getting ready to know and understand our offense. We will give them an opportunity to learn our system and everything that goes with it. The fact that we have a young quarterback corps just opens some of the opportunities for them."
"When we look at the whole class, you see that we had three mid-year enrollees - David Sharp, Tom Robinson and Zeonte Sherman. We signed a number of players from California, Texas and Arizona, as well. I am real pleased, and we have a nice spread across the board."
On the program's recruiting challenges:
"Without recounting everything, we had some actions of our own players that were detrimental to us, and that cast a number of questions nationally and locally with fans, players, high school coaches and everybody. We had a lack of real enthusiasm on the part of some people close to us that was not known. We had negative recruiting; in part many of them were questioning what was going on. We had to live with those things, and we had to answer."
"How did we do that? We were honest and up front in everything that we did. We answered all questions, and we addressed the situation. We did not shy away from anything, and we did not wait for someone else to raise an issue. We addressed it ourselves, and we thought that was the right way to do it. We asked them (recruits) to give us an opportunity to come meet our players. Our players did an unbelievably terrific job because they are the ones who were able to tell the recruits what was really going on here. Those that did come to visit went away with an appreciation for who we are and what we're doing. A lot of people didn't know, and they had to find out for themselves."
On the program's recruiting success:
"I think that our coaches did the best recruiting job of anybody in America this year. We had so many obstacles thrown in our way, and we had to overcome so many things to have the kind of class that we have. I doubt that any other staff could have done a better job."
"It is extremely successful, and I don't think anyone gave us very much of a chance. We beat the odds, and we will continue to beat the odds. We knew what we had to do, and we went out and did it. That just proves we have some pretty tough guys around who know how to get the job done."
"All of the things that were said and done cast the question of the stability of our football program. That's a lot to fight off, which is why I think our guys did as good a job as anybody in the country."
A Look at the 2003 Signees
Michael Beach - cornerback
"We expect Michael to come here and be a defensive back for us, probably a corner. He's a terrific all-around athlete."
Brent Bolden - halfback
"He is big enough frame-wise that he can play either halfback or fullback. He would be someone that we can cross-train to play both positions. He's a sprinter."
Tommy Briggs - tight end
"He is a junior college tight end. He is a big guy, a solid performer, and he is going to be a good all-around end because he can run and catch. He also has three years to play two."
Phil Clark - offensive lineman
"He also has three years to play two, and that's good with him coming in the fall."
Cedric Cofer - defensive tackle
"Cedric is a defensive tackle with an interesting story. He found out that he had severely fractured his leg, and he missed his senior year. He had six stress fractures in his lower leg. Everything just healed together so well, but it was highly unusual. In spite of that, he was highly rated in the services in Texas coming into his senior year. We watched him as a junior and felt strongly that he could come and develop."
Lionel Dotson - defensive end
"Lionel Dotson is a defensive end and one of the top 100 picks in the state of Texas. He is highly rated by several services, and he has a frame to be a big defensive end and be a real power end for us."
Wilrey Fontenot - cornerback
"This guy is a flyer. He had three kickoff returns, one for 68 and two of them for 90 or more. He is a big-time track guy as far as running. He can play the bump-and-run man-to-man coverage. He also will be a terrific return guy for us."
Ismael Garcia - offensive lineman
"He is an offensive tackle/guard; he can play both. He is one of the better athletes that we've been able to sign in the last couple of years. As a senior in high school last year, he ran the mile in 9:43. At 335 pounds, that is one heck of a run."
Peter Graniello - offensive lineman
"He is a big 6-foot-6, 280-pound tackle. He participated in shot put, and he is a good student."
Ray Gurley - tight end
"He is a junior college player who is currently at Pima College. He's a receiver type, and he is a big end who can run and catch the ball. Both of the tight ends coming in are tall, and they can run and catch the ball. Both of them are physically big enough to be able to play."
Kris Heavner - quarterback
"This is a young guy who used to drive down to Austin and see my teams play there. I've been watching him for over two years since his sophomore year in high school. He is a three-sport star. His high school basketball team is doing very well. They are Class 2A, so it's not the biggest division in Texas, but it is very competitive, and he is a standout at that level."
Chris Henry - halfback
"He is a running back with speed, and he has fast times. The one thing he said was, 'You just put me where I can get on that field and play.' We have him listed at halfback, and that's probably where he'll play. He was a standout linebacker in high school."
Marcus Hollingsworth - safety
"Marcus Hollingsworth is a safety; he was first-team all-conference, and he also played quarterback. He played a little bit of everything, and he is an honors student."
Anthony Johnson - wide receiver
"Anthony Johnson is a star basketball player. His team is 21-1 in basketball. He can absolutely shoot the lights out, and he has a great rotation. He is an exceptional athlete; he can run, he can jump, and he can do everything. He is going to be a lot of fun to watch."
Ryan Kilpatrick - defensive end
"Ryan is a four-sport player, and he plays everything. He really can do just about everything. He was their tailback, and he punted. He also played center and forward in basketball."
Richard Kovalcheck - quarterback
"He played in a pro-style offense, and he can throw the ball very well. He has done a lot of things. He's been an honor roll student, he takes advanced placement courses, he has coached a 12-and-under flag football team, and he's done a lot of work with disabled children and community service."
Dane Krogstad - linebacker
"Dane Krogstad is a linebacker, and he has a lot of ties to Tucson. He is a really good athlete. He played tight end, but we project him as a linebacker."
Jason Parker - defensive end
"Jason Parker is a big defensive end, and he is an outstanding basketball player, as well. He is a speed rusher. He is from the same school as (current UA defensive end) Marcus Smith."
Ryan Patterson - cornerback
"Ryan Patterson is a junior college player who played at Pima College. He knows us very well; he is a very good friend of Bobby Wade, and he went to school with him. He is a cornerback, and he will come in and compete for playing time."
Tom Robinson - offensive lineman
"Tom Robinson is an offensive lineman who is going to come in the fall. He will be a center."
David Sharp - defensive tackle
"David Sharp is a defensive tackle and a junior college player. We really needed help with some veteran people at a couple positions and up front defensively was one of them. A couple of friends of mine at some other schools who were trying to recruit him felt that he might be one of the real sleepers for us as far as being a much better player than projected."
Zeonte Sherman - defensive back
"Zeonte Sherman can play safety or corner, and we are going to try him at both spots."
Clifton Stanford - defensive tackle
"He is an inside player, and he actually is a pretty good guard too. We are going to play him at defensive tackle. He comes from a good, solid football program."
Syndric Steptoe - athlete
"Syndric Steptoe is another flyer. He has earned all kinds of honors and awards speed-wise in track. We have him listed as an athlete, and I see him as being a Bobby Wade type player in the sense of being able to run reverses and some things like that. He can do a lot of things with his speed. He has played everything."
Marquell Stinson - linebacker
"Marquell Stinson is a linebacker, and we needed help at linebacker. He comes from a good, solid program. He is a junior college player, so he will be here in the fall, and his age and experience will pay off."
Marcus Thomas - wide receiver
"Marcus Thomas was the player of the year in Arizona. He ran for more yards than anybody could imagine, and he had 48 touchdowns this year. He said he would like to try wide receiver first, and I said that was fine. There's nothing like having someone who can run down the field before he catches it 10 or 15 yards down the field and turn them into some long runs. He definitely has lots of talent when he has the ball in his hands."
On wide receiver Marcus Thomas and quarterback Richard Kovalcheck:
"Marcus is an accomplished ball carrier. He is tough; he is a physical player, and if he can be that way as a receiver, it really will be a benefit. I think he can be a physical runner down the field."
"Richard comes from a passing offense. Anytime you come from an offense at a high school where you throw the ball a lot, you have a little bit of a leg up simply because you're used to having the ball in your hands and doing it. Richard will come in having thrown the ball quite a bit. He will at least have some things already built into it."