Curtis Johnson weighs in on first full recruiting class - FOX 8, WVUE,, weather, app, news, saints

Curtis Johnson weighs in on first full recruiting class

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New Orleans, La. - Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson had less than a month to commit to his first recruiting class at Tulane but in 2013, he had a full preparation period and it showed in the class.  The following are Johnson's thoughts on the group, as transcribed by Tulane:

Opening statement…

"As everyone can see, I'm pretty much smiling today. It's been a great day. And you know, I'm a Christian guy, and this is a miracle class that we've put together. Being that we weren't very successful on the scoreboard last season, and other teams knocked us about a lot of stuff in regards to what we went through this past year, this is probably far beyond my imagination to say that we've put together this class."

"First of all, I'd like to say one thing. You all don't know what we went through, but these coaches have been fantastic. I also have to thank the parents who have entrusted us with these young men: Shandrica and Sherman (parents of Sherman Badie), Frazilia and Richard (parents of Richard Allen), Tracey and Eric (parents of Eric Thomas), Kathy and Jerry (parents of Brandon Godfrey), Lakethia (mother of Jason Stewart), Darline and Benjamin (parents of Chris Taylor), Lewanna and Willie (parents of Tanzel Smart), Kenneth (father of Kenneth Santa Marina), Dedra and Eldrick (parents of Eldrick Washington), Kim and Phillip (parents of Tanner Lee), Stephanie and Raul (parents of Sergio Medina), Meeka and Joel (parents of Jarrod Franklin), Juliana and Curtis (parents of Quinlan Carroll), DJ and Ron (parents of Tristan Cooper), Erica and Kim (parents of Eric Bell), Ericka (mother of Leonard Davis), Lisa and Robert (parents of Luke Jackson), Tansy and Parry (parents of Parry Nickerson), Geraldine and Rohan (parents of Nico Marley), Nadine (mother of William Townsend), Rhoda and Paul (parents of Ade Aruna) and Cynthia and Chris (guardians of Ade Aruna).You don't understand how these parents were beat up by us. (Johnson laughed)"

"Who I really have to thank is our school. We have a great product to sell, and it hasn't been our football. It's our school. The professors, our president and our athletic director have done a fantastic job of holding up our standards. Now, if we continue to get classes like this, we'll hold our standards too by winning some games. We are great in business, we are great in law and we are great in a lot of other things. We just have to get better at football. I think this class is the start of it. These football coaches have been high and low everywhere, and like we said last year, they are local, and we've got a great local class. I love these guys, and I love these coaches, and I want to thank every one of them because this is a special class."

On the highlight of the class…

"I think we kicked up the ability in this class. It's just a marvelous class. We have guys from all over the country calling our guys last night, and I woke up this morning, and my beautiful wife looked at me and I said ‘where is the hiccup going to come from?' I knew there was going to be a hiccup. I knew someone (verbally committed to Tulane) was going to sign somewhere else, but we thought some that we weren't going to sign ended up signing with us.

On the recruits that had offers from other schools…

"Tanzel Smart from Baton Rouge got bum rushed. Kenneth Santa Marina, you know, Alabama let go, but everyone else came on to this kid. He stayed strong with us. His dad did a great job. Sherman Badie over at John Curtis (Christian High School) got bum rushed by everyone and he just stayed, and Ade (Aruna). This kid's last 48 hours must have been terrible, but we just kept on plugging.

On negative recruiting…

"I don't think there was really any negative recruiting. Truthfully, we only won two games. When you want to steal (a recruit), they (other schools) didn't care that we had a devastating injury (referring to Devon Walker), they didn't care that we had a new staff. The bottom line was that we just didn't win very many games. But the bottom line is that this is a great class."

On the four kids from John Curtis and their experiences with always winning…

"Purposely, one of the criteria this year was to get winners. Earlier, we got the Montana kid (Nick Montana). One thing that was impressive about him was that he has won. We got the four kids from John Curtis (coming off a national championship). We got the kid from Plant High School in Florida (Tristan Cooper) who has won. We got Nico Marley who has won. I think the winning attitude will inject a little sense of urgency into our program. It'll inject a little sense of ‘hey, here we come." It'll inject a little bit of swagger.

On how big of a priority it was to sign big offensive and defensive lineman…

"It was vital. I've always believed from day one that you are going to win the game in the trenches. Our offensive line recruits are fantastic. All of them are big, all of them are strong and all of them are very physical. And then, they are all smart kids. On our defensive line, we got very, very, very athletic kids. We got a defensive lineman from Belle Chasse, Quinlan Carroll, who power cleans 250 pounds. I don't think we have a guy who can do that currently on our team. Chris Taylor (offensive guard from Baker, La.) is a power lifter that can bench 400 pounds and can squat 600 pounds. These are the kinds of guys we need to get accustomed to seeing. And we got them on our football team now.

On his philosophy of redshirting players…

"I've made all of these recruits one promise. If they don't do the things that I saw on tape – tackle, run, hit – I promised them all that they will sit on the bench next to me. That's the only promise I made to them. This is not a redshirt program, and it never will be. This is a program that when you are recruited here, you are expected to play. We aren't wishing or hoping. When you come here, you are expected to play."

On whether or not the quarterback depth attracted others to sign here…

"Absolutely. I think Nick (Montana) and Devin (Powell) and Tanner (Lee) are all leaders. I think Nick Montana is a name, but I think Nick Montana is a winner. Nick took a chance on us. He came down here and saw this place and saw us and said ‘hey, I want to be a part of what you have.' Thank god for his mother, academics were really important to her. Joe (Nick's father) just wants Nick to throw the ball. He isn't going to throw it that much, Joe. We are going to run the ball too. But anytime you get a name like Montana, you think the pressure is on. But I think he is as cool as the other side of the pillow."

On losing some players at the last minute…

"Here is recruiting. It's no different than you guys (referring to the media). You get one story, but you someone else gets the other story. You just have to be able to fill in. We lost a kid from O. Perry Walker, but then we got Tanzel Smart. We lost one guy, but then we got another. You just have to be happy with what you have. I am very thankful for the class we have. With the size and the athleticism, it is just spectacular."

On whether or not Tanner Lee has a shot to play right away…

"Tanner has a real good chance of coming in. Here is what we are going to do. We are going to split the reps during spring ball. Then we'll evaluate the tape just like we would do with any position every day. It's going to be a strong competition and a heavy competition. I think in the past, for instance last year, we didn't have very many competitive positions. This year, the way we are recruiting and the way we are getting guys in, all of the positions are going to be very contested. The running back position is going to be very contested. Now that we have Chris Davenport (LSU transfer) and the defensive line is going to be a little bit tougher to compete with. We want a competitive program."

On giving the program a local feel…

"One thing that I wanted to do was hire some local coaches, and I've also wanted to get local players. I think Louisiana (high school) football is the best in the country, and it is coached very well. I think the players are fabulous. What we had to do was to get our foot in the door in places we usually wouldn't have gotten to, but we just kept working and working, and then those kids begin to come. We will always be a local program. Tulane will not be a national program. Now, we will have some national kids, like Nico Marley, Tristan Cooper and William Townsend (cornerback from Miami), but it will be a local based program. All of the coaches in our offices have a local recruiting area that they will use to build a better relationship with these local coaches."

On whether or not more recruits could be added down the road…

"If you don't know me, I am very greedy. Very greedy. I just have to be greedy. So there will be, as I project up until August, that you can say ‘how did they get him? He was going to one school but now he is at Tulane.' We are always looking for another better player.

On any roster or scholarship openings…

"We didn't sign 25 guys. We had 16 guys leave the program, and we signed 21. Our 21 number is good. We can take four more. Our 85 number is what we are concerned about."

About Ade Aruna…

"Let me tell you about this guy. He is a great basketball player. I learned a long time ago from Coach (Dennis) Erickson and Butch Davis that you need to find basketball players. He is big, he is a rush end and he can run like the wind. He told me when he came to our camp that he would run through the wall for me. He is a smart kid. When you can get a kid like him, you have to get him. Jon (Sumrall, Co-Defensive Coordinator) and Barry (Lamb, Linebackers/Special Teams coach) went up to see him and we ended up getting lucky."

On dealing with the changing minds of teenagers…

"If you are committed, you have three choices. You can say ‘I am committed.' You can say, ‘I am not committed, leave me alone.' Or you can say, ‘coach, just wait.' When you are committed, you (as a school) turn your scholarship over to that kid, and you don't visit anybody for that scholarship. I look at it like a marriage. If I wanted to get engaged to my beautiful wife, and she starts going out on dates again, what I have to do is look for somebody else too. But she didn't…that I know of (Johnson laughs)."

"Our philosophy is that it may hurt us (if a recruit verbally commits, then rescinds), but I think down the road, if a kid commits to us, they'll be pretty serious about it. There were some other kids that wanted to go on visits, but they said, ‘look coach, I'm serious about coming to Tulane.' If you love your wife, or if you love your girlfriend, you aren't going to go out on dates."

On anyone who came onto his radar in the last few months…

"He's not local, but this Jarrod Franklin (Baton Rouge) almost beat Evangel by himself. He was kind of on the radar. I was up late one night because I really can't sleep, and I watched the Evangel game against University High. When I saw that kid, I said, ‘we have to get him.' He's going to be a fantastic player.

On coupling the 2013 football schedule…

"I think it is a fantastic schedule. I don't know if it benefits us or not. We are going to play hard and we are going to be much better and much more prepared. What the schedule does is lets us know, early on, if we have a chance to win some games. We have a chance to win some games, and then we have three tough games on the road. I feel like after those three tough games, we'll know a little about ourselves and our team. I like the schedule. You'd like to be able to break up those road games, but we couldn't. But hey, I just like it."

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