Gus Malzahn NSD Press Conference Transcript

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Opening Statement…“I’m very excited about this class, 18 signees and a total of 23 when we add our early signees. We had eight from the state of Alabama, which is very important to us, and nine from the state of Georgia. We really feel like we met our needs.

“I’m proud of our staff. They worked really hard developing relationships and they really worked hard to bring the right type of guys to Auburn: hard-nosed, high character, very talented young men. One of the big things I really appreciate also is the loyalty of our commitments. In this day and time that’s very rare. We had guys that were committed to us even before the season that could have taken other trips and they chose to stay very loyal to help us recruit. I’m very excited about that. That will go a long way in the future.”

On Kalvarez Bessent…“A corner from Camden County, Ga. Very athletic. Coach Smith identified him as one of the best corners early on. He hung in there and kept recruiting. We feel we have a guy that can help us immediately. He’s got very good ball skills and is a good cover guy.”

On Raashed Kennion…“A very long, athletic guy. Coach Garner had him in camp and offered him. I really think that he has a lot of great potential moving forward.”

On Sean White…“A guy that Coach Lashlee loved since day one. Talk about a guy who’s a winner — won the Elite 11 competition, was the MVP of the Under Armour game and just has the it factor. He had the chance to throw for us in the summer and has been committed to us for a long time. A guy that could have taken other trips, could have opened it up, but hung in there with us — we feel really good about Sean.”

On DaVonte Lambert…“We really feel like he’s got very good pass rushing skills. He can play the run, his motor is extremely high and we’re very excited about him.”

On Nick Ruffin…“One of the top corners on our board early on. Coach Smith and Coach Craig did a great job recruiting him. He is long, he is athletic and he’s got very good ball skills and character. We’re very excited about Nick.”

On Justin Thornton…“A big, long defensive end that can rush the passer, from Mobile. Coach Craig did a great job recruiting him and I feel like he’ll have a great chance at being an impact player.”

On Kamryn Pettway…“Just a big, physical, hard-nosed guy. We really feel like he has great potential. He’s a big man and he can run, he’s got very good ball skills and can give us a lot of versatility.”

On Stephen Roberts…“He’s a guy that we identified early and our coaches stayed on. He’s a hard-nosed guy, a very good tackler who will do whatever. He played quarterback for his high school when they needed somebody. We feel really good about Stephen Roberts.”

On Jakell Mitchell…“He’s going to play our three back. He’s a guy we identified when he was a junior; he runs a very similar offense. He can block, he can catch, he’s got a little bit of running back skills. He played a bit of wildcat when he was a junior and then hurt his knee. We feel the sky is the limit for this guy.”

On Devaroe Lawrence…“A teammate of DaVonte Lambert. He’s got a great motor, very athletic and is a very good run stopper. Coach Garner feels like he’s got a lot of potential. We feel very excited about him.”

On Myron Burton Jr…“A guy who came to camp and really stood out to us. He was at the front of the line, very physical and he played with that edge. He was on our mind early in the season, Coach Craig stayed on him and we ended up offering and he committed. We feel he’s got a lot of potential.”

On Tre Williams…“Really one of the keys to this class. We felt like he was the top linebacker in this class and he’s a guy that’s been with us, committed to us, had opportunities to go wherever he wanted and stayed with us. He was really a big key to this signing class. He’s a great person, a great individual and he’ll make an immediate impact.”

On Roc Thomas…“He was the top running back on our guys’ board. Our offense staff identified him early; they recruited him extremely hard. Once again a key to this class, he was very loyal to us. He could have gone anywhere and he chose to not go anywhere and stay with us. We really feel like he has the ability to come in immediately and make a huge impact.”

On Dontavious Russell…“He is a defensive tackle. He has family that went to Auburn. He is a very big athletic guy. He is a high character guy. We are very excited about him.”

On Deshaun Davis…“He is a linebacker from Mobile as well, just a hard-nosed physical guy that just has the nose for the football. He hurt his knee his senior year; if he would have played this year he would have been very highly recruited. We really feel great about him. He did a lot of great things for us on the recruiting end of it.”

On Braden Smith…“He is an offensive lineman. We got on him late when Greg Robinson declared for the draft. Coach Grimes did a great job of developing a great relationship in a short period of time. Came on a visit and just hit it off. Auburn is his type of place. He is very athletic, one of the strongest guys in the entire country. He will really fit in for us. I think he will give us the ability to help early.”

On Markell Boston…“He is a safety from Georgia. He is a very good tackler and a physical guy that we got fairly late. He got better and better his senior year. I really think he will provide some depth for us.”

On Andrew Williams…“He is a defensive end from Eagles Landing. We have been recruiting him for a long time. He is a very big athletic guy that can run and rush the passer. He is very physical. Coach Garner did a really great job with him. He is also a guy that can give us some depth early on.”

On Xavier Dampeer…“He is from a junior college in Mississippi. He is going to provide some depth up front, especially in the center position. He did that last year. He is just a big strong guy that we really feel could help us.”

On Chris Laye…“He is a tight end from Georgia. We really feel like he has very good ball skills. He is going to be an outstanding player.”

On Derrick Moncrief…“He is a safety that is originally from Prattville and then went to Gulf Coast Community College in Mississippi. We needed some safety help. He is a big rangy guy. He has very good balls and is a very good tackler. We think he could be an impact player.”

On Stanton Truitt…“He is a wide receiver. One of the faster guys we have been recruiting, he has real speed and good ball skills. He is going to give us a lot of flexibility. He could also help us in the return game.”

On D’haquille Williams…“He is the number one rated junior college player in the entire country. He is a wide receiver. He has unbelievable skills. I got a chance to get to know him back in his high school days. I really think he will have a chance to be an impact player right off the bat.”

On entire class…“Overall, we are very excited about this class. We did fill our needs. We got guys that could help us immediately and also help us with depth. We had some depth issues this past year and anytime you think about depth, it definitely carries over to special teams. I’m very excited about this class. It’s been a very good day.”

On defensive help…“We definitely needed some help in the defensive backfield. We lost three seniors. We were fairly thin there last year anyway. We felt like we needed to get some guys that had a chance to help us this year. We definitely got that. Defensive line was a strength of ours last year. We lost some seniors, but we really feel like we filled our needs there. We got some outstanding impact players that Coach Garner is really excited about.”

On recruits from Georgia and Alabama…“We focused really hard on that. We started out with a focus on the state of Alabama, then obviously the state of Georgia is close. There are some outstanding players in both states. That will be a habit in years to come.”

On getting players for the secondary…“It was very big. Especially guys that can cover. We feel like we have guys that can cover. Also, if you look at this group they are long and they have length. They can run. They are good tacklers. They have very good ball skills. They will give us some versatility.”

On recruiting five junior college players…“Anytime you go junior college, you think about filling an immediate need. Sometimes it’s to start; sometimes it’s just depth. So after you evaluate from year to year, you have to fill in the pieces. We really feel like we got some guys that can help us immediately — if not start, they will at least give us some depth.”

On playing most of the 2014 signees…“It can very well happen. We think all these guys are talented enough to help. Anytime you’re talking depth, special teams, all those things are important. That’s the way we recruit. We’re going to recruit guys that we think that can come in and make an impact right off the bat.”

On players that Malzahn was unsure if they would commit…“That’s the thing that stood out about this group. Our coaching staff developed great relationships with these guys. They were the right type of fit for Auburn. So the unique thing, the guys that were committed gave us zero stress. That is rare. I can’t even remember a year like this. That says a lot about these guys, and that will go a long way in the future. I know the Auburn fans really appreciate that.”

On being able to share the ball with five running backs…“You can’t ever have enough depth at the running back position. You’ve seen this before when sometimes we’ll play two and three running backs. We feel very good about what we have. You can’t have enough running backs.”

How winning games in 2013 helped recruiting…“It probably did, but a lot of these guys committed when we came off winning three games. It was very tough. They really believed in what we were doing. That’s also tough to do, and they hung in there with us. Obviously we won and all that, but there’s a great appreciation for those guys who came on board before we started winning. Now that we’ve won, I really feel like that will help us in years to come even more than it did this year. So that’s what I’m really excited about.”

Is he confident in the signees who have been hurt…“There’s no doubt. First of all, they’re outstanding players. It was very unfortunate that they got hurt, but those guys are tough guys. They have rehabilitated extremely hard. They have a lot of winner in them, and there’s no doubt in my mind they will be outstanding players for us.”

On looking toward the safety position…“Obviously when you go through spring, you give a lot of people opportunities to show where they’re at. Then your signees come in and you see who can pick it up fairly quick in fall camp, and you try to get some depth. All four of these guys that came in from the defensive backfield are going to have a chance to contribute early.”

How a full year of recruiting helped land the 2014 signing class…“It helped tremendously. It helped from the standpoint that we were able to develop relationships and get to know a whole lot about the guys that we recruited, as far as their character, their toughness, as far as everything that goes with them. We got a chance to develop strong relationships with their family. Auburn is a family, and we really feel like we attract the right type of people over a long period of time if we could develop relationships. Our coaches did an outstanding job with that. It’s very exciting for the future. We got some outstanding young men. I know a lot of people say that from year to year, but the character of this group is very high.”

On recruiting in the Mobile area…“That area is very important. They have a lot of great players down there and in the state of Alabama. Dameyune Craig did a great job down there. We got three players that are all impact players. That’s exciting for the future.”

The excitement of his staff…“They have a lot of excitement. These guys have worked extremely hard. Any time you get to signing day after an entire year or a little over a year developing relationships, you get to finally get that fact across that their hard work has paid off. You know you’re going to get to coach a guy that you really want to coach. It’s a real exciting time. Like I’ve said, the future is very bright here. On a day like this, it even becomes more real. So we are very excited as a staff.”

On Braden Smith projecting to be more of a tackle…“I think he gives us a flexibility to tackle. He can move to guard, he can really run and he’s stronger than your average freshman coming in. He’s very serious. The way you all see him on TV is the way he is. He doesn’t say a whole lot. He is football. He is working out. He is our type of guy.”

On possibility of signees not qualifying for grades…“Right now, we feel really good about all of them.”

On big recruits like Thornton and Kennion…“Coach Garner likes length and athleticism out there. Both those guys definitely have it. Once they get into the year-round weight program, you will see them swell up even more. They both have very good motors and can both rush the passer.”

On possibility of Braden Smith also participating in track…“We’re still working through that.”

Focusing on bigger defensive recruits…“Each year you look at the seniors you’re losing and you try to project depth and your needs. This is the first year where our guys really got a whole year to go after the body type and the type of athleticism that goes with each position. That’s what’s exciting for our coaches. They had a whole year to not only identify, but to recruit these guys. It’s very good.”

On players signing elsewhere…“You recruit guys year-round, but we are very excited about the guys we have. We couldn’t be happier. Like I said earlier, we’ve got a lot of outstanding guys that can help us win a lot of games. The future is very bright.”

Emotions in the War Room…“It’s a great feeling. The reality is that you’re getting guys you are going to get the chance to coach for the next three or four years and they are very good players. It’s a really good feeling.”

On losing recruit from local schools in back-to-back years…“We focus on the guys that are here. We got one of the best classes in college football, not only talent-wise but everything else that goes with it. We’re coming off a year where we came up 13 seconds short of winning the national championship. We’ve got a lot of guys coming back and when you add that to the group coming in, the future is very bright and we are going to win a lot of games.”

On impact of early commitments…“It seems like every year gets earlier and earlier with the commitments and our guys are working hard, which is a good thing.”

On Kamryn Pettway…“He fits in very well. He is a running back who is really almost in a fullback’s body. He’s very strong and has great balance. He’s going to give us a lot of things we can be creative with. He catches the ball extremely well and he can flat-out run. We’re excited about him.”

On Pettway possibly playing H-Back…“We’re planning on him playing tailback but he will give us some flexibility to move him around.”

The staff taking time off following recruitment…“We’ll come back in tomorrow. There’s aren’t too many days off in recruiting. We’re going to let our guys get away from the office and clear their minds. I’m very proud of them. It’s been a long year with playing in the national championship and then going straight into recruiting. We’ll take some time off and get refreshed and then we will get back at it again.”

On Ike Powell…“We’re very excited about him. He’s a guy that we feel like can help early.”

Thoughts on former high school coaches from the Auburn support staff becoming college coaches…“I’m very proud of those guys. I’m very excited for those guys. Being a former high school coach and seeing other high school coaches getting opportunities like that is a big thing. I think you’ll see more and more of that because those three guys will be very successful.”

Transcript provided by Auburn Athletics.