Feb. 3, 2010
Video: Mack Brown Signing Day press conference [Feb. 3, 2010]
Brown comments on the 2010 signees
General statement: We are obviously very excited about this class, I've been asked over the last couple of days, "Is this the best class that we've ever had?" We feel like it definitely has the potential to be because from top to bottom it covers every position and that's a very difficult thing to do. We also have learned through our many years in coaching, and our 13 recruiting classes here, that a lot of recruiting is determined on how they finish, so in four or five years, we hope that all of these guys will have graduated because we're working really hard to improve our graduation rates and they've steadily gone up over our years here, but we also feel like that a lot of these young guys have the potential to play next year. We've been in the top five four of the last six years, we've been in the mix for a couple of national championships so we have some great players on campus, but we feel like this group will continue in that tradition and, as I said, many of them we feel like will be able to play next year.
We offered 30 scholarships, we had 25 official visits and signed all 25 guys, so we congratulated our (players) downstairs today at 2:00 because they did a great job recruiting. When we get the guys on campus, our players are the ones that really make a difference. It's a very strong class academically so we hope that it's a class that can finish as a group and do a great job over its time here.
There are three out of state players in the group, a lot of people have asked about that. (Will Russ), the kicker from Shreveport is a young man that you will see can kick off very well, he kicks off out of the end zone and that's something that we felt like we could help with Justin [Tucker] next year because he and John Gold will have the brunt of the kicking game on their backs, and we wanted to make sure that we gave them some relief. Evangel [Christian] is a school where we've had great success with both (Chase and Cole) Pittman and Phillip Geiggar and Stevie Lee, and even Phillip Deas for us at North Carolina, so it's a school that we feel like we have a chance to go in and recruit.
You start looking at Jordan Hicks, he's only the second player in the history of Texas football, I was told today, to come from Ohio. Jordan's mother, Kelly Justice, worked for Jeff Madden at Colorado in the strength program so he came to our camp two years ago. So most of these recruits we've been recruiting for two, two-and-a-half years, it just doesn't happen, and Will [Muschamp] will be coaching Jordan, so he did a great job with him, but our contact with him was Jeff Madden. Jordan was a young guy that has liked Texas the whole time and we felt like because of the trust Kelly had built up with coach Madden for many, many years that we had a great opportunity. Then you start looking at the other young man, Demarco Cobbs, from Tulsa, Okla., his mom is from Corsicana, Texas, his granddad lives now in Lewisville, Texas, so there were Texas ties as well. Usually when you look at the out of state kids that we have, there's usually some tie and that helped us finish well.
There are also three early enrollees, and that's Connor Wood, quarterback, Case McCoy, quarterback, and A.J. White, defensive back. All three of those young guys were in a ceremony downstairs at 2:00 today in front of the team and all their parents were here, and they were able to sign their scholarships today and have some kind of ceremony because one of the things you lose by coming in early is your opportunity to sign in front of your friends and your teammates and your coaches, so we always feel like it's a special opportunity for them to sign in front of their teammates and their current coaches and it's always fun. As we're going to do here in a second, we show all of the highlights of the guys to our team and they hoot and yell and shout and say, "Yeah, you better hit the weights" and "You're going to lose your job," so they have a lot of fun with it at that time, so it was fun.
Some people have asked about how we recruit and what we do. So you will know, each coach on our staff has an area he recruits, and he goes out and finds the player. For example, Mike Tolleson has the Fort Worth area. So, he found Reggie Wilson and Darius White. Bruce Chambers has parts of Dallas. Bobby Kennedy has the other parts of Dallas. Bruce found Mike Davis, and Bobby Kennedy found Jackson Jeffcoat. Then, they bring the video back to the position coach. If the position coach likes the young man enough we get a transcript on every young man. It goes to Brian Davis. It goes to our admissions office. They give us a yes or a no, or here's what he has to do before he gets accepted to The University of Texas. Then, the position coach takes it to the coordinator on either side of the ball, either Greg or Will. Then, that side of the ball, if it's Connor Wood, Case McCoy, the offense as a staff would watch it. Then they bring it to me. They bring a transcript to me. They bring the video to me. They write comments, each one of them. They have to watch them in different areas first, in different rooms. So they can write down what they think, so everybody doesn't sit in and just agree. We want to make sure we have opinions, because recruiting is difficult. It's hard to evaluate what a young man is going to do four years from now. We don't have the advantages in recruiting that the NFL has in the draft and they still make mistakes. What we're doing now with Junior Days is we're taking young men off watching them two years without getting to know them as well as we used to, so it's much more difficult. Then I have to make a decision on whether we take a young man or not.
Obviously we look at the young men in the state of Texas first. If a young man in the state of Texas is equal ability with a young man outside the state of Texas, we take the in-state player first. We have always done that. We think that's very important. When we start looking at out-of-state players, we have to figure out why he'll come. If you look at the three this year, Jordan Hicks had a direct tie with Jeff Madden from many years ago. You start looking at Demarco Cobbs, his family grew up in the state of Texas and he grew up a Texas fan. You look at Will Russ, the young kicker; Phillip Geigger is on the staff. Phillip Deas who played quarterback for us at North Carolina is on the staff. We felt like we had ties with all three of those young guys. That's how we recruit each year. What we've already done for next year is we've put down the number of scholarships we think are going to be available. Obviously if a young man leaves, if he flunks out of school, if he gets in trouble and we ask him to leave, whatever happens, that changes your numbers. When you're talking about juniors now, how many you have, it's very hard to anticipate what numbers you're going to have this time next year. It's a very difficult thing. It' something I have to work with very carefully. Then what we do is we have to meet each young man that comes in and his family. On Junior Day I'll try to sit down with everybody personally, and I'll talk to each one and their family, and then we'll offer some scholarships.
Obviously, we had 25 official visits and we got 25 kids. We're not into offering guys that we don't want. We're really not into recruiting guys that don't have interest. If a guy tells us we're one of five, we usually move on, because if he's in the state of Texas and he doesn't care about Texas enough to be one of five, we feel like he probably isn't that interested in us. If he's got a couple of schools he's interested in, then we'll be patient for a while. We also need to feel like it's who you sign, not about who you lose. If you lose a guy that you were really, really close to, the coaches who lost guys today, it kills you. It's a whole lot worse to be number two in recruiting than number five. Because if you lose today, you not only lost the guy you lost, but you lost the guy you would've taken if he hadn't come. Actually you lose two or three players when you lose a guy late. That's why we've tried to do our recruiting earlier for guys who want to come. We are very fortunate we didn't have drama at the end. All of our guys were honest with us. All of our guys told us exactly what they thought from the beginning. We really felt like none of our guys wavered. That's something that's very, very important to us.
When you hear something that our staff supposedly said outside our staff about recruiting. If I felt like our staff was talking to anyone outside of our building about recruiting, I would fire them. Our recruiting is very private. The conversations we have with the young men are very private. That's why when rumors pop up, we know that if we've talked with the parents that day that the rumors aren't true, and they'll call us. You usually have to have a high school coach that agrees with the commitment. So we'll always call the high school coach before a young man commits. We want to talk to mom and dad and make sure they're all comfortable with it. We will not take a young man's commitment on our campus or on the phone without the approval of the parents and the high school coach. When they all commit to you, you feel like it's solid. A young man may get excited on your campus and commit, but it doesn't last. As I've said, the worst thing you can do in recruiting is have one back out on you, because it absolutely kills you and hurts you for the future.
On if they've known all of the signees for two years: Will Russ, no. We've known about him, but we recruited him later. I really wasn't sure what to do. I thought maybe going into the season that Hunter (Lawrence) might redshirt, because you had Ryan Bailey. Then Hunter had such a great year that we couldn't do it. We had to start looking at kickers again. We had to look across the country. We felt like Will was the guy we wanted. Most of the young guys we've been recruiting for a minimum of a year-plus. All of the guys except Will, I saw video on this time last year. A lot of the guys come to camp even as sophomores. Like I said, Jordan Hicks was two-and-a-half years ago. We've known about Jordan for a long time.
On the offensive line signees competing for playing time: It'll be fun to watch them this spring. We'll have a lot of work with the young offensive linemen. We have an older group that will be in position to play. We've got some young guys that have to be ready to step up and compete with those guys now and be ready to play two years from now. One of our priorities for next year will be offensive line. In retrospect, I wish we had signed one more this year. We're thinner in that position than we are in some other ones. If there's one thing looking back at what I've decided in this class, I wish we as a group had recruited one more offensive lineman. We'll have to recruit a number of offensive linemen next year.
On securing late commitments: I really think in the end, there's a reason they wait. You have to be lucky. It worked for us (this year). There's no question that Demarco wanted to come last spring. I felt like here's a guy from Tulsa, Okla., and I want to make sure he wants to come. He started to look around and we let him and didn't say anything about it. We thought he was gone. Then he called us back. He really wanted to come. We made him make sure, from our standpoint, that this is what he wanted to do. Not that we chased him. Jackson Jeffcoat had a very unique situation. He had a godfather in Ken Norton, Jr., at Southern Cal. He had a dad who is a tremendous coach at the University of Houston. He had to evaluate if he wanted to play for his dad. Would his dad stay there? Because his dad is a great pro coach as well as college coach. Then the SC (coaching situation) changed. He looked at Oklahoma. He looked at Florida. He's a young man that had a lot of choices and looked around. His dad said this is going to be a long process.
We ask each young man to tell us if it's going to be a long process. If we're out of it, tell us. We do not want to be second. Get us out. If you are hanging in there with us, we'll hang in there with you in certain instances. Certainly you look at Jackson and Jordan this year it worked for us that we waited. Certain years what you can do is have your numbers in good shape and hold for a great player and see if there's a chance, because a lot of young people want to come early. That's great. Vince Young didn't take another visit. Cedric Benson didn't take another visit. Roy Williams didn't want to take another visit. A lot of guys just want to come. If that's the case, then we're all excited about that.
Jordan Hicks, we felt like since we had history with Jeff and Kelly Justice, his mom, that was a chance that we could hang in there and fight for it. Last year we lost some of those battles. This year we won them. That doesn't change. Lamarr Houston was a young guy that for some reason had no ties. He grew up in Colorado Springs. He calls us and said I'm either going to Texas or Texas A&M, because my whole life I've watched you guys on TV. He said I'm going to one or the other. I really got tired of him. We ended up saying forget it, he had USC and had six or eight. He called us back and said, "Will you take me?" Bobby Kennedy said, "Let's don't be stubborn here. He's really good and he wants to come." He wanted to be a running back. He wanted to be a linebacker. So I got him on the phone and said, "If you're coming you're going to be a defensive end." That's what we needed and that's what he wanted. He ended up being a great story for us. You absolutely don't know.
People wonder, you really need to recruit guys who fit. And you need to recruit guys who want to come. If you start making a guy come, he's going to have trouble here. School is tough. It's hard to play. Competition is tough. If he's not excited about being here, he may tuck his tail and leave. We want to make sure they want to come. Our job is to find the guys that fit here, offer them that opportunity. If you're one of five, that means they don't like us any better than the five on their list. I personally look very closely at their list. I want to know why they've chosen other schools. I want to see what they're looking for. If we're not like the other schools, we usually lose. That's another thing we can look at very closely.
On the talented defensive class: Probably the only time we had this kind was when I was at North Carolina. Probably the last four years I was there. We had 17 kids sign with the NFL. I think this class has the ability to do some of that. There's been so much talk about the defensive class. There's a lot of ability in that offensive class too. There aren't as many, but I'm excited about some of those guys touching the ball.
On what stands out about this class: I think character. They didn't waver when we asked them hard questions. We said earlier, to hold a guy for a year is a tough deal. Obviously when you sign four receivers, every school that you're competing with calls all four of them every night and says, "Are you sure? You want to go in there and compete with those guys? Why don't you come to our school?" These guys across the board hung in there strong. You want guys that aren't afraid of competitions. Those guys are usually confident enough because they're smart. This group was that way. Nobody asked me a question about the other guys on the field. They didn't care. They just wanted to play. I think it was the most fun I've ever had recruiting. They were easy. They were honest. We all set up the visits with the schools. They're happy to see you. It's fun. The coaches were great. You never know. Some years you have difficulty with recruiting. We'll start it over on the 13th. You never know what's going to happen. This year there were a lot of ties. Everything fell in place in and out of state.
On Will Muschamp's impact on recruiting: People have asked about Major and Will coming. Both of them are young and energetic. Major has history in this state, so his name is really good. Will has gotten a tremendous amount of publicity - some because we've named him the future coach, some because we've had really good defense. I think it's helped that it's the first time since Gene Chizik that we've had the same guy on defense for two years. Obviously Gene was a great coach. We thought Greg Robinson did a good job, Carl Reese for many years. There's been more publicity since he stayed and we made the announcement. I think that future coach hasn't worked everywhere. Right now it's working here.
On the effect of Muschamp being coach-in-waiting on Hicks' and Jeffcoat's decisions: I don't think that had anything to do with either one of them really. I don't want to hurt Will's feelings. Jordan came here because of Jeff Madden. I'd like to say it was me or Texas. If Jeff had been at Colorado, he'd have been at Colorado. If Jeff had been at Ohio State, he'd have been at Ohio State. Jim Tressel did a great job of recruiting him. Florida recruited down to the end. Mom and young one like me, they liked Will and they trusted Jeff. I think that's why we got Jordan. Jackson, I think after the SC change, mom and dad are going to be in Houston, he's got the ability to play basketball and football here; I really think he wanted to stay close to him, but he thought it might not be the best to play for your dad sometimes. That's a difficult thing. I really feel like Will and Major have done well, but Texas has done well anyway.
On Jackson Jeffcoat playing basketball: Rick (Barnes) talked to him in recruiting. The (basketball) staff talked to him in recruiting. They were very involved in helping. What we talked about the other night, his dad was adamant about it. You have to wait and see how you feel. See how much you play in football. See how tired your body is. See how your mind feels, and see how you are able to play. Hopefully we'll be in January bowl games, and they start in October. It's something he wants to look at. You take Marquise Goodwin. Marquise Goodwin is unbelievable. He comes in here in August. He didn't work out with us in the summer. He didn't have football conditioning. I had spoken to him one time, and he walks on the field and he's an instant player and a hit. He makes great grades - not good grades, great grades. Now he walks off the football field and starts winning track meets. It's unbelievable. To think you can do that is unusual, but he's done it.
I've really seen that most of the guys in-state that commit to us and don't look anywhere else and know what they want usually do well. That's something that Sally and I and the staff have always talked about. It's amazing. When Vince Young decided this is what he wanted, even on bad days he didn't care. This was all he wanted. I think there were some Miami hints that he might be looking there, but he didn't want to go anywhere but Texas, the same with Cedric Benson. His coach called and said, "If you want Cedric Benson, you've got him." It's one of the good and bad things about this job. When they call and want to come, you've got to make a decision right then. If you say, "I'm not sure," then they get to a point where they're not sure. There will be 375 on the average who sign (from the state of Texas at FBS schools) and we get 25 of them. Normally we get 18 to 22. It is a very difficult situation to determine who you take. Our staff works so hard. Will (Muschamp) works really hard in recruiting, as hard as any coordinator I've seen. Greg Robinson was a guy who decided he wanted Roy Miller. I've never seen a guy go after somebody as hard as Greg went after Roy Miller, and he got him. Roy was a great player for us, and he's back. I think this staff understands that there are a lot of great coaches around the world. The best ones have the best players. They understand that the better players we get, the better ability we have to win. They're already so organized for the Junior Day. There will be some guys who just want to come to Texas. Again, if there are 375 out there right now we're looking at and we can take 18 next year, how do we make that decision on the 13th? That's a hard thing.
On going 25-for-25 on official visits and signees: I don't think (it's ever happened). In fact we don't look at it in the staff meeting. I knew you all would want to know so we brought it up the other day. We think we offered 30. Not all of them we followed up on. Some of them weren't as interested so we didn't care. The 25 that came in all signed. I don't think that's ever happened before. You can bring in 56 I think, and we never do that.
On losing out-of-state players in the past: I think what we've learned from that is when we lost John Brantley and we lost Ryan Perrilloux, we not only lost them, but we lost other quarterbacks. What we have to do is protect The University and our football team. Obviously if mom and dad are close enough that they can see him play every high school game and they want to see him play every college game, if he's very close to his high school coach and his high school coach loves Texas high school football and therefore The University of Texas and they can drive home and their parents can come and see them, then it's an advantage. They're less likely to back out and change their mind. With a guy like John Brantley, his dad played quarterback at Florida. His uncle was an All-American linebacker at Florida, and he lived 35 minutes from Florida. Gene Chizik was close to the family. I think it was the year Gene left. Sometimes you feel like you have a tie and it doesn't work. There's absolutely no doubt that the further you get from home, you need to have ties or you need to have a reason that the young man would come, in my estimation. Everyone loves the out-of-staters. It's like the second-team quarterback. Everybody loves them, because it's what they haven't seen and what they don't know about. We've been doing pretty good with a few out-of-state players and a lot of in-state players. That's what we will continue to do. We probably look at maybe six guys out-of-state every year. Depending on the need and depending on what you've got in-state that year. This was a great year with ability that had grades. If we can't find a certain position, it scares you to death. Then you have to start looking outside.
On Demarco Cobbs playing running back: He and I will make that decision. We're obviously in a position where we want to run the ball better and we've been talking about it and we haven't done it, so we're going to find a group of running backs and if we aren't satisfied coming out of spring, Traylon will be a tailback for us, and we do feel like when you look at Demarco, he can play safety, he could play outside linebacker, I think he's about 215 [pounds], he could play wide receiver, he could play in the flex position inside or he could play tailback. There are so many things he can do. What I honestly told him, because he's a quarterback, is just trust me and when you come in we'll let you play a couple of different spots when you start. He wants to play next year, so I'll try my best to find a place where he can get on the field and help us. He can return kickoffs or sure, I haven't seen him catch punts, some can and some can't, but those are things that he might do as well.
On monitoring recruiting numbers: It's one of the harder things that we have to do as a staff and I'm the one that has to do it. Every position coach would like to sign 13 guys at their position so they go crazy, so that's why you have to have one person make those decisions and that's why I'm the only one that can offer a scholarship and it has to have my approval, because if an assistant coach gets in a high school and gets excited and they say well these guys have offered him, so we're offering him too, and then he doesn't fit in our numbers, so I'm the one that works with the numbers and I'm the one that has to make it all fit.
On a minimum number of recruits: I don't remember honestly. I have trouble sleeping every night based on what changes, like when a guy leaves, that gives you one more opportunity and you didn't know that at the time. You just have to look and try to figure out where it fits and how it fits and it is one of the lesser talked about things in recruiting and one of the more difficult things. For me to sit here and have to have a magic wand, we have to decide two years from now or some next year what positions we need the most for the 13th. We have to decide how many at each position we can take, the you have to offer those and then you all (the media) call every one of them and tell everybody who we've offered and who we haven't, so you make them mad before they get home if we don't offer them. So if we don't offer them, we lose them, that's just the way it is here. If we come back, they say, "Well you didn't want me, you didn't like me," and of course every other school as soon as they walk out of here calls them and says, "They didn't offer you, they don't want you, they offered these other 18, I saw it on the Internet." So it's just a different deal now. We're having to recruit in public because of the ability of people to call them and we can't talk to them, and boy, the juniors love to talk. The seniors usually cut you off, but the juniors love to talk.
On the wide receivers from Dallas: We've got three - John Harris, Darius White and Mike Davis. We think they all three are really good, they're tall, they can run, they can do things with the ball. In your running game, blocking downfield is not often talked about with wide receivers, but it's really important and all three of those guys are big enough to block downfield, but we also feel like they're mismatches in some cases on corners so they can play outside. Usually your inside guys or your flankers can run your screens and those will be more things that Chris [Jones] will do.
On Cobbs being offered a scholarship as a quarterback: I think everybody offered him like we did. Everybody sees what you saw, and we all have to figure out what he does best. The only thing he told me is, "I want to play early. I'd rather play offense than defense if that chance is available," and that's it. He really doesn't know where he wants to play or what he would play best, he just wants to play.
On looking at other kickers: We looked at three national kickers and all three were interested within the last two weeks, and it just scared me to death to see Justin (Tucker) trying to do all of it. Justin could sprain an ankle on the opening kickoff against Rice and we can't kick field goals. It just scared me to death. I didn't think it was fair to our team or our school not to go ahead and sign somebody. We never mentioned it to Hunter [Lawrence], but I really thought it would be a situation where Hunter could sit and Ryan could play and Hunter, you saw it. Hunter just came in and was killing it. He did that all year from day one. Ryan didn't change, but Hunter was better. He was one of the best kickers I've ever seen this year and that was from day one. Two years ago, there were times when Hunter kicked the center in the rear on field goals. I mean it was unbelievable just to see what happens.
On evaluating positions before spring practice: What we do is every coach sits down with every kid, and I've got a number of them I want to bring in, and we talk to them about where they are academically, where they are socially, the trust we have in them on and off the field. All the positions are reopened, some of them may change positions, but if they do, they have to want to. All the fans say, "I can't believe he doesn't move him." Well if a guy doesn't want to play and you move him over there, he's not going to play. He'll pout on you, so he needs to want to move if he moves.
On Traylon Shead and the other running backs: People will ask a lot about Chris Whaley. Chris had an outstanding fall. He wasn't ready to jump in and play when he got here. He'll be interesting to watch this spring. All of us will watch him, but he's in great shape and he had an outstanding bowl practice. One of the best things for us is we've been to 12 straight bowls so you get 13 to 15 extra practices and when you play on January 7, you play so late that a lot of the young guys get a lot of work, so it's like another spring practice, so we've been able to watch a lot of the guys that maybe we wouldn't have been able to watch if we hadn't been to a bowl. He's one that we will watch this spring. People talk about him being from Madisonville; can he transition form where he was to where he is? That's something that we'll see more this spring because we didn't get a chance to watch him. We had older running backs and we needed to go to work. Offensively we were going through some transitions this year and we didn't have enough time to experiment. I think the same will be with Traylon. What you do with running backs, and if that's what we do with Demarco, it will be the same thing, you bring them in, you hit them, you put them in scrimmage situations. The most difficult thing, people do not like to hear it, but the most difficult thing for young running backs is pass protection because Demarco has never protected for a pass in his life and really and truly the passes at Madisonville, Chris ran it every time, and if they threw it, [the pass] was sprint out so he's never protected, and that's a hard thing to do. You see our linebacker, you see Roddrick Muckelroy coming at you in that first practice trying to run over you and you've never protected a passer in your life. And you have to be careful with your quarterbacks. If you are a back in there that can't protect, and a linebacker runs over him and hits the quarterback's knees, you lose your quarterback for the year. All of those are the most difficult things for running backs. We talked about it some downstairs, but a lot of the guys in high school are flashy and they get sloppy with the ball sometimes, so our kids were talking, "Look, ball security." So those are the things that probably young backs need to learn more than anything else. You talk to our pro guys; the game is much faster at this level than it is in high school. The collisions are much bigger, so who responds to that immediately? You just don't know. Cedric Benson, we all talked about him as a freshman, Cedric really wasn't ready to play until we put him in at Oklahoma State, and he fumbled the first time he touched it and we just had to hang in there and say, "Okay, we're going, it doesn't matter what were going to do." Vince [Young] wasn't ready to play as a freshman, you wish you'd had him back, but he wasn't settled enough with the offense, so guys just come at different times, so I can't answer how he'll respond when he get here.
On the freshman quarterbacks wanting to redshirt: No. In fact, I think that when one decided to come early, they both decided to come early. I really think both want to compete with Garrett and Sherrod. I don't think if you sat down and asked them, I think they'd both say, "Absolutely not, I'm coming in here to play." That's the attitude you want, so I don't think they'll blink at all.
On this class being similar to 2002: The disappointing thing looking back at 2002, some of the kids didn't make it, and this is a class I hope everybody makes it. That's unrealistic, I know, but I really do. We've gotten smarter, we're taking good students, you never know what's going to happen to a young guy, but the challenge I'll have with this class is, "be as good at the end as everybody thinks you are and don't come in here and be arrogant and listen to your ratings and stand around and think you're going to prove something," but if they earn the right to play next year, they'll play. In high school they've earned the right to be considered a great class and I think that's fair. What we want to do is we will have a formula for them at the end with graduation, with how many games you win, with how many plays you play in your class because they all get pride in their class, they have their little chants and that stuff. That's fine, but what you have to do is pull together as a team, and this team will need to give up the recruiting, the stars and the numbers and the class rank and get to work. Part of it will be what they do between now and June. They have a better chance to play now than ever before because of summer. I can't stress that enough, it's just unbelievable what the NCAA did by allowing kids to come in at summer. They're more used to school, they're in better shape, they're comfortable with the other players, Jeff's been able to put them through the heat of the summer, so they're in great shape, not good shape. If they'll come in and do that, they have a better chance to play. The kids can teach them. We're not around them in the summer but our kids are smart, so they can take them out there and they do all their seven-on-sevens, and I think they even have pass rush, so they do it all. Young kids that come in have a better chance than ever before to play. In the past, you might not even see them until August and you may have a big guy gain 20 pounds and he just takes himself out of a chance to play, and I don't see this class doing that. What we have to do sometimes now, is we should win enough games that we're at a point where some guys can play that may not even be ready to play all the time if they're willing to do that to get more ready to play the next year, and we may do that with some this year. [We] have some defensive backs this year that will be graduating next year and others that may leave early, you never know. So I have to prepare for all that with numbers, and you just don't know, so if that's the case, we may have to play more young defensive backs this year than before just to get them in the game and get them to play. Same thing with the offensive line, I'm not sure sitting here, I think we lose four senior offensive lineman, three or four, so we've got to have somebody ready to play for those guys next year. We can't sit here, at Texas, you can't just be putting guys in, you need to have played some. We may go back and try to look at playing a second offensive line some in the game.
On how high the ceiling is for Jordan Hicks: I think it's unlimited. He's smart, he's tough, you saw him catch, you saw him run, you saw him hit and he's real smart, so I think he's got a chance to be real special.
On recovering from a loss like the National Championship Game: I don't think I'll ever recover from it. I don't think I've ever been that hurt with a football game, just to see those kids. I thought we were in great shape. I thought we had a chance to win. They were prepared, they were in shape, they were excited about the game, the crowd was unbelievable and then to get behind like we did, at halftime, I was so proud of those kids because it looked bad at halftime and we were just honest and said it is what it is, it doesn't look good.
On talking about things that happened: To be fair, Colt was so down after the game and I felt worse than he did, I think, and he was talking to me about how bad this was and how sad it was, and I said well 45 wins is pretty good, so let's not feel too sorry for ourselves. I told our players, I thought it was great respect for our team that the media and the coaches voted us second and really and truly I thought we probably controlled pretty well what we could control after we got in trouble and that was fight and confidence. I think what got me the worst was with six minutes left I thought we'd stop them and get the ball and win the game because we have so many times, and I was disappointed they drove down the field. It bounced out on third down and it probably wouldn't because the defense was playing so hard and then to have the turnover at the end. I mean with 3:50 left, I still thought we were going to win and I think all of our kids did. I still haven't been able to watch it. I will before spring, but it's funny when people come up and say how disappointing and I want to say yeah, no question, 13-1 and No. 2 is not what you want, but we've come a long way if that's disappointing and I do think, I didn't realize today when John told me, I think four of the last six we've been in the top five. What we told the guys downstairs today is that our expectation and our goal now is to win all the games every year and last year we were a second away from it and this year we were three minutes and 50 seconds away from it, so understand that we can do it, and we can do it every year. It's hard to do, but don't lay around and say we lost Colt or we did this, go back to work and let's keep our mouth shut and it's a great time to be at Texas and the recruiting class today is a sign that they all think it's a great time to be here and it's our responsibility as coaches to make sure we keep working and keep the energy to give them a chance to win all the games every year because that's what we're here for. I remember, not only Bill Little, but a lot for people told us the day we walked in (to this job) that we just want Texas to be significant again. If you'll just get us back to where people care, that's what we want. We've done that and it's important for us to win. If you would have told me at the start of the season that we were going to lose like we did, I wouldn't have believed it, but it's probably good we're all disappointed at 13-1. As my mother said, there are 118 that would like to have your problem, so grow up boy, and I think that's part of the deal.
On the quality of defensive ends coming in and working those new players in: We feel like one of our great advantages is we have a lot of great players, and they're unselfish and that's happened over years, it hasn't always been that way, but right now, they want to win more than they want to play and that really helps us. I think one of the things that Will (Muschamp) has brought to us that's really, really good is different packages, and therefore allowing players to have a role, and a lot of players. I do think there's a place for all of them that are ready to play and you cannot have enough pass rushers and it's something that we've got to continue to do. If you can't rush the passer, you're going to lose some. If you can stop the run and rush the passer, quarterbacks have bad days and that's just so key for us. We've got to make sure, right now we've got great corners and we can cover and we can rush the passer for the last two years and that's something that we haven't been able to do, and we've got the ability to do that right now. It looks like we've really helped ourselves with pass rushers again, so we'll continue to be able to do that. That doesn't help unless you can cover, so we've got to continue to develop corners and safeties that can line up and press and that's what we were able to do at North Carolina. When you can do that, you can stop the run, you can choke the quarterback and press off the receivers, you play great defense. If you can kick it out on kickoffs and they start at the 20 [yard line] or if you've got a great punter and play great defense, most people aren't going to drive it 80 yards on you, and that's why we've got to also run the ball better to play more field position. We've been able to score so easily around here, but we've also put a tremendous amount of pressure on our quarterbacks, and we feel like we've got to take some of that pressure off. We still want to throw it, we're still going to throw it, but we need to help them some and not make them win the game every week.
On adjustments in the running game: That's all we're doing. Right now what we're doing is we've got an evaluation on both sides of the ball of every play in the last two years. Looking at exactly what we're doing. We've broken down every running back. We've broken down every running play. We've broken down what's been good and what's struggled. We've broken down every protection, every blitz, who has covered well and who hasn't. Then we always will either go visit as an offensive and defensive staff different places or bring somebody here to get some fresh and new ideas. The bigger changes will be on offense, because we have to figure out what's best for our current quarterbacks. As I've said, I don't think we've transitioned in the running game from Vince to Colt like we did from Chris Simms to Vince. We've got to go back and look at who we are and what we're doing. That's kind of fun for us over the next month or so. Part of that will be a transition in spring practice. We have to look at it and see what we like and what we don't like, who we do what with.
We told the guys today, we were very direct and honest with them, we told them what we need to do. They understand it. We're going to move forward with it. They understand we're not happy with 13-1. They got that today. I think they're in full agreement with us. They understand when you look back at Colt gets hurt in '06 with his shoulder at Kansas State or we probably win the conference championship or go to the game. I don't even remember who played in it that year. It cost us a possible conference championship or national championship. We didn't play as well in '07. We had some guys where I thought we stood around. I didn't like it. I didn't feel good about what we had done. I felt like we got it straightened out at the end against Arizona State. Then the last two years we've played really hard and played really well. We've been within seconds of winning two national championships. So, we feel like we've got things in a good place. We're in a good spot and we're in a good run. We're not trying to make wholesale changes. We're trying to tweak some things to get better at what we do. If you're not careful at 13-1, you throw everything out and start over, you really mess up. What we've got to do we've got to tweak. It's some strong tweaks, but we've got to tweak. And like I said take more pressure off our quarterback.