Tommy Bowden Signing Day Press Conference Transcript


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Tommy Bowden Press Conference

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Complete 2005 Football Recruiting Class Bios


Coach Bowden Signing Day Press Conference 02/02/05

 

What does it mean to get a guy like Antonio Clay at the end?

 

Bowden: I think from a national perspective it gives you a boost. We would have
been real happy had we got him or not. I think the way it unfolded shined a
little brighter light on the class simply because of the drama involved of the
last day. Had Josh Miller waited this late it would have been the same clients,
had Rendrick Taylor waited this late it would have been the same clients, Corey
Lambert, I go down the line of a list of guys that had they waited for the last
day the would have had the same pocket of cliental recruiting them.  I think
that was a pretty good indication of the class, but I think the way that
unfolded made that a little more dramatic.

 

When was the last time you got a guy on the last day like that?

 

Bowden: Once you have been in this profession for a while things like that
happen. A guy gets up and walks away, you're used to that. So until all of the
faxes get in you never really feel comfortable, so there's that anxious four or
five hours, we started at 6:30 this morning and the last fax got in at 11or
11:30.

 

Why do you think you did so much better in-state this year?

 

Bowden: I think a couple of things why we feel so good about the class. Number
one it goes back to the players. When a prospect comes on campus, they usually
choose a school where they feel comfortable. And I think our present players
made those guys feel comfortable. Number two i believe, the last fifteen games
we beat Miami, Florida State and Tennessee, all of those teams have won national
championships over the last seven years, and I don't know if that has been done
here at Clemson in a while, if it has maybe only once, within that time. I think
that showed prospects that we are close. Two years ago who had heard of Utah,
Louisville, Boise State, California, and when you're a player going from 7-4 to
11-0. Number three, the staff did a good job, we've had some turnover. I
thought our staff did an excellent job of evaluating; we had a bunch of early
commitments and holding on. And I listed number four, I don't know if its number
four, but I think that the commitment of Terry Don Phillips, and our athletic
administration, we started to do some things around here aesthetically with this
building and our locker room, and that was a factor. And every where you saw
Terry Don Phillips the last year you saw Robert Ricketts behind him doing things
that kind of gave us an image, a perception, that was upgraded. So, I think the
combination of those things all tied in to help us be successful. To do those
things aesthetically, what Terry Don and Robert did the last eight months to tie
us over until the West Zone Project gets started, I think those things are very
important when you have the success that we did this year.

 



Which players will have immediate impacts?

 

Bowden: I am usually asked that question every year, I try to tiptoe around it
as lightly as possible because there are surprises and there are
disappointments. There are several guys that I think have the opportunity to
have immediate impact. I would rather not name them by name but there are
several guys. When we signed Jad Dean, it was pretty obvious, he came in an that
was a position he could come in and be affective immediately, that was a
no-brainer. There are some guys that I think will have an opportunity to impact,
but I would rather not go into them one by one.

 

How were you able to maintain all your commitments when you had three coaches
off the staff and a grad assistant recruiting?


 

Bowden: I'm glad you mentioned Billy Napier name because he did fill in when we
were short on numbers. But again I think when you take the four things I just
mentioned and you tie those things together, and to be honest with you, from a
coaches perspective there’s stability with Terry Don's commitment, all the
administrations commitment to this staff and myself last year about this time
which is a pretty important piece of the puzzle. But again, the four things I
mentioned earlier, I think are very instrumental in holding it together. I think
it says a lot about Clemson University, because there were a few hurdles we had
to over come. There were some high profile guys that committed early and never
deviated and I think those guys had something to do with it, like I said Josh
Miller, Rendrick Taylor and Barry Humphries could have been high profile or
dramatic and build it up for a nice media day. Those guys committed early, lost
some luster on their behalf and their families, but I think they probably pulled
some guys in.

 

Talk about Billy Napier and the job he did.

 

Bowden: He comes from a coaching background, and has had a very successful
career with Furman, he's been around us now for a couple of years, and he’s wise
beyond his years. He's a little more mature for his age, and is going to be an
excellent college coach. I hope we keep him around here for a while.

 

Talk about James Davis and what stands out about him.

 

Bowden: I just watched the senior hi-lights tape, of course we approved all of
the junior tape, I just watched the senior tape yesterday or the day before and
its a combination of size, combination of speed, its got great vision, he makes
cuts without slowing down, he’s a  tackle to tackle runner. He’s got several
things I think are going to benefit him as he attempts to be an impact early.
It’s size, speed, vision, tough runner. Several things that indicate that he can
make an impact.

 

Is this the best lineman group you have recruited?

 

Bowden: I believe so, if you look at this thing from a size standpoint, Corey
Lambert is 6'7", Phillip Merling 6'6" or 6'7", Quentez Ruffin, Jamarcus Grant,
Thomas Austin, you go on down the line there's some size, some lean body mass
there. Athleticism as well as some skilled guys whether it be defensive or
offensive skill. I think without a doubt, from top to bottom, since I've been
here, I've had some good classes and some quality guys in different positions.
But from top to bottom, by far, the most productive class we have brought in.

 

Do you see mostly red shirts for this class?

 

Bowden: I think the program is most stable when can register most of the class
or lay a pretty strong foundation. Surely that would be the case here, sometimes
you sign a guy or two that has the opportunity to be an impact then you make a
decision that if he is good enough to play freshman year he's probably not going
to be here three years any way. If a guy comes in where we are offensive,
defensive or special teams and plays immediately he's probably better off
leaving three years any way. My philosophy has always been no sense in
redshirting for the next guy.

 

At what point did you know you had Antonio Clay?

 

Bowden: Yeah, when the fax came in. To be honest with you, I had a hint, I
talked to my father this morning he had a hint, I'm sure Coach Stoops had a
hint, we all had hints because we made attempts Wednesday morning to get in
touch and talk with him. We had a good feeling like the other five scholarships,
the other five schools that had scholarships there. Until it comes in with your
name on it, that's when you feel most comfortable, but I probably felt as good
as the head coaches of Oklahoma, Florida State, and Alabama.

 

Talk about Clay some.

 

Bowden: Athleticism, tall lean guy, makes a lot of plays. He could be the guy
because of our depth, we don't have a lot of depth linebacker. Because of his
productivity in high school is going to be able to come in and compete pretty
soon.

 

Is he going to play the new bandit position?

 

Bowden: I'll let Coach Koenning talk about that, he'll be around here and ya'll
be free to talk to him.

 

How do you pick the number of players at the position you signed?

 

Bowden: Most of that is determined by the number of players you have graduating,
that is a starting point, if you have five lineman graduating than go that many.
But you never want to pass up a great player, this year on offensive line we
signed five, very please with all those guys. Even the defensive position,
linebackers we wanted to tailbacks, got two tailbacks, James and Demerick. The
numbers are pretty much indicated by the number of players you have leaving and
after that you go to the best available player, you try to leave yourself enough
flexibility to never have to turn down a really good player. And that's what we
tried to do. We did not sign a quarterback but we signed two freshmen who we
were pleased with last year, had we not been pleased with them we would have
probably tried to go after one. But Charlie this year and next year I hope we'll
be real appealing to a quarterback out there that's looking for a place to come
in.

 

Talk about taking a lot of coaches together into the home this year.

 

Bowden: Some schools are doing that now.  It’s something we have done that in
the past, but it seems like more schools are doing now where you take the final
push the last two weeks and you might take a head coach, coordinator, position
coach, and recruiting coach and as many as four guys or more into a school and
try to make the rounds that way. There are a lot of schools doing that, and we
were surely one of them, but its definitely not something we invented or not
done in the past, it seems to have been done more this year and got more
publicity.

 

Do you have a number problem with scholarships?

 

Bowden: Usually most schools, like us, you over sign a counselor for the over
signing, most schools do that in college football, because of the large numbers,
most schools do what we do, I don't know of any who don't.

 

Talk about all commitments and decommitments you see now.

 

Bowden: I think a lot of it has to do with the entertainment perception now that
we have gone to. The different hats, different jerseys and deciding to do it on
Tuesday or Wednesday or in front of  TV, you know, there’s the commit, the soft
commit, the decommit, the recommit, the hard commit, there’s like six levels of
commitment. But again I think it all goes into the entertainment type deal.

 

Does that make it hard on the coaches?

 

Bowden: Oh yeah. It’s gotten to that recently from year to year.

 

With the changes in the ACC, has that changed your recruiting?

 

Bowden: Our conference has gotten tougher with the addition of Miami, Virginia
Tech, and Boston College. The objective is to win the conference, you want to
recruit the type of athlete that can win the conference, and that's the
objective and the conference has gotten tougher. I believe that most of ya'll,
the recruiting services for the last five out of six years, has probably ranked
a school like South Carolina ahead of us here in the SEC, which was seen as the
dominant conference. Now we go into the ACC which the media type people have put
on a parallel basis. I know when Coach Spurrier came in he talked about how well
the program was left under Coach Holtz, I recruited a lot of those players and
I've come in second to them. I think with this class we're closing the gap on
them. The objective is to win the ACC, but again being a state school, you
better beat your state rival. You have to be competitive with them. I know as
far as his background with the NFL, when it comes to recognizing the talent
level, if we can close the gap with them, we can close it Miami, Florida State
and Virginia Tech. So you are looking for the type of athlete that can obviously
win the ACC.

 

So you are saying USC has more talent than Clemson?

 

Bowden: No.  I think I referred to the recruiting services that said five out of
the last six years, has deemed it such, I think that was the statement.

 

Do you think that will be the case again this year?

 

Bowden: They're high profile, and they may beat us again this year, to be honest
with you. It will probably pretty close from the recruiting services evaluation.
Again, high profile guy from the NFL, but the true test is going to come on the
field. He's obviously done wonders with the guys he has signed in the past, so
I'm sure he'll do well again.

 

Do you wish people would rank classes in August not now?

 

Bowden: The best way to evaluate would be three years after a signing class
either starting or two deep, some are three years and gone like Justin Miller,
so after three years it would be the best chance to evaluate a class, whether
they’re on first team, second team, or they’re going to the NFL. That would be
the best way to evaluate.

 

How do you compare the negative publicity from last year to this year?

 

Bowden: There are going to be obstacles every year. Surely last year and this
year there were some, that's why I think the things that I mentioned when we
started the press conference with the players selling the program, the staff and
how the worked, the things that Terry Don and Robert have done with the upgrades
to our facility, I think those things were obviously an important factor. The
teams we beat in the last year and a half from a national perspective, I think
if you add all those things up, they overcame any negatives that were out there.

 

I would like to ask specifically about Antwon Murchison.

 

Bowden: We’re really pleased with Antwon, we watched him play basketball and
could see some of his athleticism. He's 6'5" 255 lbs, probably going to get a
lot bigger. Of course, he told us he was averaging 18 points a game, his coach
said 10. Averaged 12 rebounds and 10 points a game, very good basketball school,
good basketball conference. Any time you can get a get that athletic with that
size, and with Antwon, you meet his family, you see he has a pretty solid
foundation and support system. We really thought he was a guy with tremendous
potential for the reasons I mentioned.

 

As you look ahead and you get a guy like Antonio Clay and beat out Oklahoma
for him, how do you use that to your advantage next year?


 

Bowden: I have already had juniors on the phone with offers today, so it has
really already started for next year. Because we do have some momentum right
now, it usually boils down to things that happen at the end of the year whether
it be a television game, wins or loses, the west zone project starting. I think
8 months from now about three months from signing date, the things taking place
then are more instrumental than what happened today.

 

Will Clay get to wear 43?

 

Bowden: I don't know, I think that’s what he wants, that’s fine with me. He can
wear 43.

 

Is it hard to recruit to a small town like Clemson?

 

Bowden: We're off the beaten path a little bit, but that’s more of a plus than a
minus. As we talk to these guys for the next four or five years academics and
athletics those should be the most important priorities they have from secular
standpoint. In Clemson we have a social life, there are parties, there are
fraternities there is a college atmosphere around here but there are not a lot
of distractions but when you increase population you increase distraction.

Then you bring another element into their lifestyle, to me that’s a plus but
it’s used against us some. Its hard for me to pick out negatives, I'm used to
selling the positive.

 

How are you going to go into next year’s class when the west end will be
nothing but a pile of dirt?


 

Bowden: Hallelujah!  That would be great.  We need dirt moved, we need blocks,
we need windows, and we need doors. That would be perfect. Best thing that could
happen to us when the first game rolls around is we have to dress in double wide
trailers. I hope that we have to dress in double wide trailers against Texas A&M
because the thing is torn up, please.  That's what I'm hoping for, so that’s a
plus. I tend to see that glass half full instead of half empty.

 

How does the class look from a qualifying standpoint?

 

Bowden: All of them are in reach of being here in August.

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