Text From Oregon's Press Conference Announcing its Latest Football Signees
Feb. 7, 2001
QUOTES FROM OREGON HEAD COACH MIKE BELLOTTI REGARDING THE SCHOOL'S RECRUITING CLASS
'I'm very proud and pleased to sit here and announce the 2001 recruiting class for the University of Oregon. It is one that has great numbers and a great emphasis on defense. Based on our needs this year, we targeted the defensive line and did a great job of finding young men in that area who can come in and help us immediately and for years to come. We had some crucial gets, offensively, with quarterback Kellen Clemens probably being the most noteworthy in terms of being able to provide competition at that position for the next four or five years, and continuing our long line of great quarterbacks. Demetrius Williams, another standout on offense, I think was the first unanimous Long Beach Best in the West guy that we've ever signed, and I think that is a tribute to both Demetrius and our staff.
'We got some great help immediately in the junior college ranks, several of whom are in school already. Jose Arroyo a punter with, in my opinion, the best hang time, and the best get-off of any punter I saw this year on film. David Martin is a hard-hitting safety/linebacker who is already in school and participating. Courtney Miller a cover corner, who was a quarterback in high school, possesses great athleticism and is a three-for-three young man coming in. Junior Siavii, and Junior is not the right name, because he is a big young man - 6-5 and about 335 -- looks awesome on film, a great player, who I think will provide a big push in the middle. And then Darrell Wright is one of the most decorated JC players in terms of a first-team All-America honors and provides ample replacement for Saul Patu at a rush end position. He possesses tremendous speed and athleticism, and was the MVP for defense in the conference. I'm really excited about that group of junior college athletes who I think will step in and immediate help.
'High school-wise, I'm really excited about this class in terms of what it brings to the defensive side of the field. Obviously nine defensive linemen, three defensive backs and three linebackers. Phillip Goodman is an athlete, he could be a receiver, could be a fullback, a tight end or a safety. He has excelled as a receiver, played wingback in a double-wing offense, has played free safety, and we are excited with the athleticism that he brings to the program. Tim Day is a defensive lineman/tight end, starts for his basketball team, has exceptional athleticism and maybe somebody that people will call a sleeper. Roderkus Wright, Rod is a raw bone, 6-4-and-a-half, 260 pound defensive lineman that is an excellent, excellent football player. Michael Willis from Long Beach Poly, continuing our great relationship we have with Long Beach Poly and their excellent football program, is one of the fastest kids, if not the fastest kid, not only in this recruiting class, but will be one of the fastest players in our program. He possesses tremendous speed. Robby Valenzuela, an early commitment to us held up, a 280-pound defensive tackle that I do think will compete for playing time next year. Demetrius Spates and Justin Phinisee are two guys that both are quarterbacks, both are much heralded and awarded as quarterbacks but also will play cornerback for us. I feel like their athleticism and ability and they were very comfortable with that. In the offensive line, Jason Mohamed and Ian Reynoso can play either guard or tackle, they both run well, they both have tremendous size and they give us flexibility. Alonzo Mitz and Devan Long are Washington connections from Renton and Anacortes I think provide Mr. Inside/Mr. Outside but we're not sure where they'll play, they can play anywhere, and they are excellent, excellent football players. Randall Bowen is another defensive lineman, more along the inside mode, 6-2, 290 pounds, from Dominguez, and we're really excited about him. We went out of the country for some people, Nuvraj Bassi is a 6-6, 245-pound, 250-pound defensive lineman from North Delta High School in Vancouver, British Columbia. He really jumped out at us on film, and became a real interesting battle with Kansas State, Virginia a lot of schools that came in late after he sent his tape out. We're really excited about him coming to the University of Oregon. And then Justin Andrews is another linebacker, he and Ramone Reed are two real good linebackers that provide athleticism, speed, they can play inside or outside, played several positions in high school and I think will make up for potentially the loss of Michael Callier. We found out yesterday or the day before that his appeal was denied by the NCAA. I think I've mentioned everybody. I really feel like our class will stand up with any in the Pac-10, and I know that many of the Pac-10 teams are considered having great years and national recruiting classes. For us here at the University of Oregon, these young men wanted to be here, and that's very, very important to me. And they're also great athletes that we looked at on film and coveted very highly.'
ARE YOU WAITING ON ANYONE ELSE?
'We're waiting potentially on a couple people. Two or three people actually who may sign late or consider enrolling late.' (Terrance Whitehead's paperwork was received later in the day and officially added to the list of recruits.)'
ON NATIONAL RECOGNITION BY OHIO STATE AND USC OPENINGS, DO MORE PEOPLE KNOW WHO YOU ARE, THAT MAYBE WAS A BENEFIT?
'I think ultimately it was a tremendous benefit for our program. I will tell you that recruiting in the last three weeks has been significantly better for us than it had been in the early parts of the recruiting season. I do think the recognition that came to our program - not to me, but to our players and coaches what we accomplished and the fact that other institutions across the nation were interested in hiring me and/or many of my staff, and many of those who chose to stay despite other offers -- I think was a huge factor in this recruiting. Our six coaches did a fantastic job of covering the country, keeping the ship afloat., and finding and turning several kids that are key people for us and will be key people for in the future.'
'The combination of the successful season and a tremendously successful recruiting season bodes vert well for the future of Oregon athletics.'
DOES THE BOWL WIN OVER TEXAS PLAY INTO THIS CLASS AT ALL
'I think it was huge. We always talk about the last game affects not just people's impressions but the coaches and players' psyche, the way they deal with recruits when they come on campus, the way we hold our head up high when we go out. That got us national recognition as well as the job search situation. Winning that bowl game against a great team like the University of Texas who has won three national championships - was participating in their 40th bowl game. I think it made a huge impact on a lot of people. Both those people that were committed to us, those people that might have been on the fence, and those people that might not even have been interested at that point.'
COMPARED TO OTHER CLASSES HERE AT OREGON, COULD YOU TELL US IF THIS CLASS IS THE BEST?
'I have no idea. The impact of a class is rarely shown the first year, but typically two or three years down the road. I think we'll all be able to make an evaluation of how much these young men are going to help our program. I am as pleased as I have ever been with a recruiting class in terms of answering our needs, both for the immediate future and the long term. This doesn't have the balance of some of our classes, but defensive line was a tremendous concern. We have five or six maximum scholarship players returning with very little experience, so we needed to create an opportunity for competition and also factor some experience in there. I think we've done this. Certainly we've maintained our tradition of attracting the best, highest-quality quarterbacks and receivers in the nation. The only thing we didn't do was recruit running backs because we have all of them coming back. That's a very positive dilemma to be in. There are people we've signed here that will play next year. Both as high school seniors or junior college athletes.'
DID YOU NOTICE YOU WERE ABLE TO GO AFTER ATHLETES YOU HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO IN THE PAST BECAUSE OF YOUR SUCCESS WITH THE WIN AT THE HOLIDAY BOWL AND YOUR TOP-10 RANKING?
'I'm sure it did, I don't think it changed our approach to people. We basically do our own evaluation process, we look at news services and internet services, but we formulate opinions based on watching films, talking to people in person, talking to coaches, and in finding, what I call, the right fit. I am really excited because these young men that chose to be here, want to be here more than anywhere else. All of them had tremendous choices that encompassed the full gamut of the greatest programs across the nation. I think we've always been able to do that, maybe in some cases it was easier, maybe in some cases they pursued us, but it's hard to compare. Sometimes we focus on the `what might have been.' I really prefer to focus today on what is here. My staff and I are extremely excited about the quality of this class.'
WILL ANY OF YOUR JUNIOR COLLEGE PLAYERS BE HERE IN THE SPRING?
'No. Jose [Arroyo] and David Martin are here right now. The other three junior college athletes will join us in the fall.'
WHAT DO YOU THINK SEALED IT FOR DEMETRIUS WILLIAMS?
'I think, according to he and his dad and mom, they debated the situation just about every way you could. Input from the coaching staff at De La Salle, they enjoyed coach (Nick) Aliotti, and I think the hiring of Dan Ferrigno (new wide receivers coach) made a significant impact in the recruitment of Demetrius Williams. They liked our program, the fact that we won. They liked the facilities, I know that those were things they talked about very positively that influenced Demetrius' decision. As in every situation, it's a difficult decision, one in which takes time because to do it right, you've got to consider the next four to five years of your life and everybody wanted to make sure. Obviously, he is sure now.'
WHEN DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT HIM?
'Last night. 10:30 or 11 o'clock.'
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO OFFER KELLEN CLEMENS?
'Kellen Clemens is an exceptional young man. He combines all the most positive traits I can think of in a quarterback. He has great leadership, the ability to lift the play of people around him. He took a program that by his coach's admission, was not was going to be as good, and led them to the state playoffs. He can throw every type of ball in terms of the long ball, touch throw, he has a great release point, has the mobility to make people miss, he played every single down. He kicked off, he did not leave the field. I wonder how good he can be when he just plays quarterback. For our offense, the mobility, the knowledge and background he already has in throwing the football, and the physical traits-he's a perfect match, perfect fit.'
WHERE WILL TIM DAY START OUT?
'I don't know, but I think we'll bring him in the first two days with our newcomers. We do a lot of crossover drills, run all the kids and see if they can catch the ball, see if they can backpedal, no matter what position they play see if they can drive a sled. I know he was set on playing defensive end, intrigued by tight end. His high school coach believes his best college position would be tight end. We did not have a high school tight end that we were recruiting, and it came up late that that was a possibility. I think we was excited about that, but I do think he can play either side of the ball. It will be a question of our needs, and the opportunity to get him on the field as early as possible.'
HOW MANY OF THE GUYS ON THE DEFENSIVE LINE DO YOU EXPECT TO BE ABLE TO STEP RIGHT IN?
'Certainly, we expect Junior (Siavii) and Darrell (Wright) to step right in. They're junior college athletes, they're years older, they have the experience factor and have been in the arena. Of the younger players, I really won't know until they get here. When I talk about five healthy scholarship players for this spring, and we play four down linemen, each one of those young men has the opportunity to walk in as the second-team player at several positions. I really expect the competition and their preparation, both mentally and physically, between now and the day they report to be the deciding factor. Every one of them has the physical ability to help us if they prepare. Then it's a question who picks up the techniques and schemes the fastest. But there's no question that several freshmen will be playing next year on the defensive line.'