UM coach Al Golden discussed the 2013 signing class and other topics Wednesday evening.
Among the first questions asked was if the Canes were done. Golden's response: "I can't really comment on a specific story percolating. But we may have room for one more but that's about it."
Asked about report that running backs coach Terry Richardson is expected to be hired by the Jaguars, Golden said it was an issue he still had to discuss with his assistant.
Opening statement: "It's a class we're proud of. It was a class we really had to fight hard for. I don't think it's something anybody outside of this room understands what we were up against the entire year, fight for this class. I'm proud of our coaches for not making any excuses, hanging in there and bringing in a class that is not only excellent, but a great compliment to the class that played so well and so often for us a year ago."
"We started out targeting 16 guys, which is a really low number. Some of that is in part because of the self-imposed penalties. So, it was a tight number to begin with. But as you break it down we out searching for a big-time pro style quarterback and I think we got the best, if not the best in Kevin Olsen. We started out looking for one receiver in this class -- and that's tough when you're in South Florida and you got to let some of the best ones go -- but we felt we got the best one down here in Stacey Coley. That was a real great get for us. He's one of the more fluid receivers we've seen in a long time. We sought out to get one to two running backs. Obviously we're still uncertain of of Eduardo Clement's future because of his injury, but that number was set at one or two based on that. We needed a big back and brought in Gus Edwards and feel Gus fulfills that at 6-1, 230 pounds, a guy that can run between the tackles. We sought out to get two tight ends and we did that. I think we have two of the best in the country. We got one of the best in junior college in Beau Sandland. He's 6-4, 255 pounds. He's here right now. And Standish Dobard, also in this class from Louisiana -- two big time tight end prospects and real proud of coach Caroll. We sought out to get three offensive linemen. We got Alex Gall from Moeller High School, Hunter Knighton who will play center or guard for us, and one we're really pleased in Sunny Odogwu.
"On the defensive side we sought to get two defensive end and I think we accomplished that. No. 1 a pass rusher on the open side. Al-Quadin Muhammad from Don Bosco Prep we think he's one of the premier pass rushers in the country. He's 6-3 1/2, 240 pounds, long, rangy, animated, plays with passion. The other young man I'm equally excited about -- Ufomba Kamalu, 6-5, 275 pounds -- also a defensive end prospect. We needed some with a little more maturity so we went to Butler Community College to get Ufomba. We wanted to get three or four linebackers in this class and obviously we missed out on a highly sought after young man locally, but we did get Jermaine Grace who was the best linebackers, one of the premier two linebackers in the state of Florida. We also got Devanta Bond, a sam linebacker from Sierra Community College, and Alex Figueroa enrolled with us mid year. We got three of the fourr needs. We sought to get three defensive backs and we feel we got two guys who are proven defensive backs in Artie Burns, who can play corner or safety, and Jamal Carter. We also got a guy in Ray-Ray Lewis who can play corner, slot receiver or running back. We're excited about that. There's no question we lost our defensive tackle and that's something we have to address here moving forward. I think that should give you the overview of the class because you can get caught up in the numbers. We didn't take 23 or we took 28 guys. We took 32 last year. We're very pleased with that group. Out of the last two years 30 of the 48 or 63 percent hail from the state of Florida. I think we're right on wit that."
How concerned are you about the defensive tackle spot?
"We're going to have some options there. Again, it is what it is. You want to stay in there with the best kids in the country and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Getting Gus Edwards today, Stacy Coley and Jermaine Grace, those are three big-time football players we got down the stretch. We're in a business where everybody focuses on the guys you didn't get. But the reality is make sure the guys you get help your program, make sure they fit. In this case because we were so tight on numbers, again, this is as tight as you can be from a football standpoint. We're happy with the guys we ended up getting today."
You lost Jedd Fisch, added Mario Cristobal late. How did that affect things?
"I think it does. There's no question relationships are formed and then obviously dissolve at different times. I think that pales in comparison to what we've encountered from the sheer cloud or the presence of the word sanctions. It's something hopefully we can get resolved here in the near future and move on. We had one junior day a couple weeks back. We have another junior day Saturday. That's our third class where we're having to deal with an unknown. As long as we have known we can all deal with. The unknown is what's killing us. The unknown is what is allowing us to be exposed to attack."
You only signed five kids from Florida guys, four from South Florida. Is that what you want?
"Clearly I would have loved to hit on a couple more today, I don't think there's any question. Again, it's just the way it worked out. We needed tight ends. If there were 10 tight ends from down here going places then I would be concerned. We went out of state to get a quarterback. We went out of state to get offensive linemen. That's not uncommon. I always try to look at different rosters and make sure we're doing things the right way. The 2001 [national champion] roster was 55 percent in state. The rest was out of state. We're somewhere between 57 and 60 percent. I like to stay at 60-65, 70 percent. But again, you can't always predict how it's going to turn out."
So you operated on need base?
"It had to be. With 16-17 spots it was all about need. Obviously down the stretch here today we lost a couple Florida kids. You're not going to get them at all. But I really like the guys we're bringing in."
Were you disappointed with the Miami-Dade kids who went elsewhere?
"I'm a competitor like everybody else. I'm more proud of the guys we did get. Artie Burns, Jamal Carter, Stacy Coley, Jermaine Grace is an incredible talent. It's just the way it shakes out sometimes. We just got to move forward and hopefully get this NCAA thing behind us so we can roll. Right now we're fighting with one arm behind our back."
Can you talk about the situation with Booker T. Washingto and Denver Kirkland?
"The only thing I'll say and I don't believe in airing that out publicly so I'm not going to that. Again, there is a difference between pulling a scholarship and having none left. It's tough when you get to this point in the year. If it's any normal year, I can absorb going over one. But we had a hard ceiling this year because of the self imposed penalties and I was up against it. The commitments that i had gotten a run on commitments Wednesday, Thursday and you're out. So, that's all I can say to that in terms of just making sure we're on the same page. I was against a hard ceiling and I had no room."
How many scholarships were self imposed?
"Can I answer this question? I feel like I'm in court. I've been at this for two years. I can't answer that."
How many kids were silent commitments and how many were you sort of sweating it out for?
"All of them. That's the game we're playing right now. We're not coming from a position of power or leverage right now because of the sanctions. If we can get that lifted, we'll move forward. Again, it's really important the communication is good. I think we have a great relationship with the high school coaches in South Florida. We've got to continue to do that, continue to communicate. This is just an anomoly -- I hope it is because I hope we can move on from the NCAA -- it's an anomoly in such that this was out of my control. This wasn't like last year where we thought we were going to get 31 or 32 and signed 33, whatever the case may be. You can absorb one. I had no room to absorb one as we went into the day today and obviously when we went into the weekend last weekend."
Talk about the emotions of the Kirkland-Thomas announcement before Coley-Grace announced
"It's like the Godfather, right, it's the business we've chosen. It's up, it's down. It's the way it is. Don't worry about the ones you don't get and worry about the ones you do get can play and match your core values, the things you want to do. I know everybody is disappointed about the ones we didn't get today. But we're here to celebrate the Quan Muhammads and the Stacy Coleys, the Jermaine Graces and how about this Artie Burns. Nobody talks about him because he didn't do a hat show. This guy is a superstar. Let's talk about those guys and the impact they're going to have on Miami football."
What time did Gus Edwards send in his signed letter of intent?
"7 a.m. That was a good start to the day. We needed that."
Were the self imposed limits on visits?
"Obviously to some degree. I just can't say what.
"We visited 27 guys. We had to self impose penalties there. We visited 27 guys. What's our hit ratio? That's an incredible hit ratio. We're not allowed to visit 45 guys. Some in the coaching community that didn't understand the impact these things were going to have in recruiting and this was not in our control. Just to say you're going to take one receiver should say it all. I think we got the best one down here."
What happens if one or two recruits want to come in on signing day and you don't have space?
"If you have 25 you're not worried because you already filled your needs, so the guy who is doing the signing day thing is obviously - I don't want to say the bonus ball - or you have good information way in advance that he's coming. You put five hats out there, there's really not five schools waiting. You know or you have a 50 percent chance of getting it."
So if you think a kid is coming and he goes elsewhere you have one spot open then. Do you go after someone else to fill that spot at that point?
"It was late in the day, late in the process to do that."
How much more imperative is the development of the tackles you have here now?
"It's huge. With the cloud over our head to try and get a JUCO defensive tackle who already has a condensed time period on your campus, many weren't interested because of how tenuous it was."
How important is the defensive tackle position?
"We have to get better at that position. That starts with the guys on campus developing and continuing to develop more competition and keep our eyes and ears open for guys that become available."
How often do recruits ask about NCAA stuff?
"Just about every other question."
Is it hard to answer the questions?
"I can't even answer them in here."
Ray Lewis could be around the program now with his son at UM. Like that idea?
"It's exciting. To end like that, that's a story book ending for Ray [winning the Super Bowl]. And for Ray Ray to not only have passion and be disciplined and have a great work ethic and everything - but he kind of looks like Ray. It'll be fun to have him around."
Ray Lewis III comes to UM with the shadow of his father hanging over his head. How do you think he will deal with that?
"When I went to he house [for a visit] I told them Ray Ray was an incredible gentleman, took in the garbage can, did the dishes. This young man, you think he'd have every opportunity to be entitled and he wasn't."
Last year a lot of newcomers played right away. Do you expect that with this class?
"Last year was about signing basically a two deep everywhere because we lost so many seniors the year before. This group is more filling in now, giving us some symmetry and competition. … everyone gets a chance to compete for a starting job, it doesn't matter if you're a freshman or senior. There'll be a great number of these guys that will ultimately help us I'm sure."
Are you getting back to the symmetry you want in terms of the depth chart?
"We're moving in that direction. We're hamstrung a little because we have to artificially keep our numbers down."
You have 20 starters returning, was that an issue convincing guys to sign?
"We have 20 starters back on a 7-5 team. We get 10, 11 wins then you can say there's a little bit of hierarchy. We have a long way to go as a program. With a target of 16 or 17 we weren't going to be a top 10 recruiting class. That seldom if ever happens just because of the way the formula is. As I go down this list, I'm taking Sunny, Ufomba, Al-Quadin, Kevin Olsen any year. Grace is a fabulous player, Artie Burns. I'm thrilled about this group, can't wait to get them on campus."
Do you expect recruiting will only get easier now?
"If I say it now I may have to say it again when the (NCAA) cloud is removed. I don't know where we are in the process. I think all of us feel like there's closure coming, that it's there, that it's going to be a great day. I haven't had that experience yet at the University of Miami. I'm looking forward to going into homes and communities and not answer that question because it's either the first or second question. The first is how you doing, the second is how is the NCAA thing going."
What has Mario Cristobal's edition meant?
"Wisdom. He's got a poise about him, is connected to the community, South Florida high school coaches. A wisdom to see things like a head coach. I'm excited about him. I've leaned on him a couple of times [already]. We're excited about being here together. Now it's time to move forward."
You have an associate head coach and assistant head coach on your staff in Mario Cristobal and defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio. What's the difference?
"I don't know. I honestly don't know. But they have different roles in helping me with the administrative side. Mark deals with the weight room, Mario helps with the social, behavioral, discipline side. He's a good guy to have on the discipline side."
Did UM's academic standards impact recruiting at all?
"No. We just have to get to the point where we keep building this thing."