After the dust settled yesterday, head coach Kliff Kingsbury, defensive coordinator David Gibbs and offensive coordinator Eric Morris, spoke at length about the 2015 class.
Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury
We've always been told that this class was capable of being up to 25 and Kingsbury mentioned that they didn't want to reach for a player just to have a player and they would look into transfers if possible.
Q. 19 or 20 seem a little light to you?
COACH KINGSBURY: No, it doesn't. I think we made mistakes the past two years of reaching on some guys late. That really has hurt us. So obviously we would have liked a couple more, but it didn't fall that way. We weren't going to reach and get some guys that can't play at this level. That leaves you some leeway to put some guys on moving forward. There's always transfers that are looking for a place. It gives you some flexibility moving forward.
Q. What does this group bring from your perspective?
COACH KINGSBURY: Hopefully the ability to play right away. Once again, we'll be going through spring with a light roster when it comes to offensive linemen. These kids need to be able to come in and be backups at best and hopefully starters. So we'll see where it goes. It's a good group. A couple of those guys committed early and hung with us, have the ability to play right away.
And stress? Nah, you don't worry about the ones you don't get, but you do celebrate the ones that you do bring in.
Q. What is more stressful, the night before a huge game or last night?
COACH KINGSBURY: Yeah, you know, I don't stress too much either way. I think this deal, you put in all the work, this is a culmination of three years' work when you start recruiting these kids as sophomores or even freshmen. It's more of a celebration. You're excited about who you get. Once again, you can't worry about the guys you don't.
We also get a bit of an insight on new director of player personnel and what Emmett Jones will bring to the staff.
Q. (Question regarding Coach Jones.)
COACH KINGSBURY: He's big in the player personnel side of things, mentorship role. He'll help on the offensive side as well. His main deal is a mentorship role. When you look at what he did at South Oak Cliff, going deep into the playoffs. Incredible mentor. Very well respected in that area. We're lucky to have him on our staff. I didn't know where that would go. I think it shows the level of respect they have for him, that they wanted to be around him.
Also, there seemed to be some consternation among fans because the coaches weren't named and maybe some of them were either going to be around or not going to be around and he talked about what Mike Smith would bring to the defensive line.
Q. How important was it to keep Coach Smith have some familiarity?
COACH KINGSBURY: Very important. He's a guy who loves Texas Tech. Wants to raise his family here. Wants to be here. He's a proud Red Raider. He'll do a tremendous job with the defensive line. I think he's going to infuse some real energy into that group, get them playing at their high level.
And if any of you are concerned about the depth at defensive line, Kingsbury knows and understands that this is an issue and acknowledged that they need to take a big group next year.
Q. Is there a position group where you feel you didn't get the numbers you wanted with this class?
COACH KINGSBURY: I think defensive line‑wise we have some real quality coming in. I think with the number of seniors in that group, next year we'll have to have another big group come in.
And last, but not least, Kingsbury was asked about Breiden Fehoko, and what he brings to the team.
Q. (Question regarding Breiden.)
COACH KINGSBURY: I'd say work ethic and maturity, the way he handles himself. When he interacts with coaches, other players, professors, a mature young man. He lives in the weight room. Wants to be great. Sometimes those are things you can't teach. We're excited about that. It will be a great leadership role for us moving forward with that freshman class.
Defensive Coordinator David Gibbs
Gibbs quotes and questions weren't very long and I think at this point, he is still not trying to sell himself as some sort of miracle worker and he doesn't trash what happened last year. Gibbs says that he's not going to single anyone out, they'll all be on a level playing field in the spring and summer.
Q. Out of this recruiting class, who are some of the guys you can see yourself plugging in right away?
COACH GIBBS: Good question. One thing I've learned down through the years, I know it's Signing Day, we have all these great high school football players, junior college players. To discredit the guys who are already here for two, three, four years, put time in the weight room, out there on the practice field, the game field, they'll have a chance to compete. We got some good players. Got some good high school players coming here. At the same time they got to beat these other guys out. Fitting in the right system and playing in the right scheme, some of these guys already here have an advantage. But I'm not going to single anybody out. Everybody knows who the three star, four star, five star, whoever those guys are. In my mind it's just like the NFL, you don't know who you're drafting. Just because a kid has four stars doesn't mean he's going to be the best player. We didn't get many on defense, but the ones we got are quality guys, quality players, and we're excited about them.
Gibbs was specifically asked about Hinton and we'll let Gibbs do the talking here.
Q. (No microphone. On D'Vonta Hinton)
COACH GIBBS: That guy is a dynamic football player. One thing you'll know, he'll play this year as a true freshman. You can't keep that guy off the field. I tell everybody he's 5'9". If he was 6 feet tall the odds of us getting him in Lubbock probably aren't very good. One of the things you will know about that guy, he's a football player. When he hits people, they go backwards, which nowadays is a lost art. Tackling in college football is hard. That guy, he's a dynamic football player and also a great tackler. Excited to have him. He was going to come here regardless. Coach Curtis and Coach Kingsbury were the first to offer him. That young man is a loyal young man. I'm blessed to come here and get to coach him.
Offensive Coordinator Eric Morris
Morris actually had a ton to say and talked about where some of the players will start. Tony Brown and Quan Shorts will start at Z-Receiver. Donta Thompson will start wide, but thinks he has the frame to be 230. Keke Coutee will be inside. They had JF Thomas as the top rated receiver in the country and will start at the X-Receiver. Giles will be at H-Receiver.
Morris also talked about how the recruitment of Corey Dauphine was all Mike Jinks
COACH MORRIS: Coach Jinks, I probably trust his evaluation of high school talent better than anybody on our staff because he's been around that state so long. It's funny, we're recruiting another guy from that school. He called me. I was on the road. He said, Hey, look, I know we're looking at this other guy, I'm watching him do sprints now. This kid is better athletically than anybody we have on our team. I start laughing. What does he have going? He said, Nothing. He was so adamant about it, I said, Go ahead, pull the trigger. He did. Started building the relationship. Got him to commit early. The rest is history. I give all that Coach Jinks.
Not actually seeing the video, this is a bit strange in that he talks about JF Thomas, but then Morris segues into what I think he's talking about Stidham, but then after that, Morris gets into how the staff is still trying to establish a brotherhood in the locker room, which is interesting and then Morris points to Madison Akamnonu and Conner Dyer who want to be in Lubbock.
Q. (Question regarding quarterbacks.)
COACH MORRIS: JF is a great player. He's got a lot of dog in him. I think you can see that on tape. I just think now with those two being all the media, Twitter, Instagram, you get so much notoriety, all that stuff. That part from a PR stage, it kind of hurts you a little bit to have a guy committed so long, something crazy happens. Like we've said since we've been here, we want guys that want to be here and play hard for each other. We're still trying to establish that chemistry in the locker room with a brotherhood of guys in there that will fight for each other day in, day out. That's what we want. We feel like we got a lot of kids today that signed with us that want to be at Texas Tech and they have a lot to prove. A bunch of them stuck with us through a not‑so‑good season, which shows a lot about their character. We couldn't be more happy. A guy like Madison, all the Big 12 made long pushes at towards the end of this thing, thanks but no thanks. Conner Dyer, those are guys that are true Red Raiders, they want to be here. I think they're doing all the right things for this program. That's who we want in these seats during the team meeting.
Morris, and I think all of the coaches probably feel this way, opines about how kids today maybe aren't as appreciative of all of the benefits that players receive.
Q. Communicate in the same way but a different vehicle?
COACH MORRIS: I mean, it's hard for me to say because I was not heavily recruited. But some of these kids I think aren't as appreciative as what all goes into this, them getting the free education, now the cost of attendance going into it, the whole nutrition factor side of it. We're feeding them a couple meals a day, hot snacks all day long. I just don't think they appreciate it as much as what they did 10, 15 years ago. They're going to school for free. What a privilege and what an honor it is. It's almost like all the stuff has kind of gotten to them and they expect all this stuff should be handed to them when they get here. I don't think they appreciate it as much now. Just the whole experience, really the fact there's not many kids that sign Division I to play football.
And this was the last quote and you have to assume that Morris was talking about Stidham here.
COACH MORRIS: No doubt. You get to know these kids and you build great relationships with them and their families most of the time. Some of the stuff is hard to swallow. At the same time they're 17‑ to 18‑year‑old kids being influenced by a lot of different people, people in their hometown, their coaches, peers, parents. They're being pulled in a lot of different directions. You're the adult in the situation, handle it the best way you can. You develop great relationships with these kids. It can be tough to swallow at times.