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Steve Addazio Talks National Signing Day

What did the head coach have to say?

Boston College v Virginia Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

STEVE ADDAZIO: ...few weeks with the new signing period on December 20th which added a new twist in here. It's been as frantic as I think I've ever seen it. But the end result was I believe that we have signed a terrific class; one of the best, met all of our needs, brought some great future Eagles in here that will represent Boston College. They're good students. They're high character. They respect the mission of Boston College and what we're about, service for others, wanting to excel on the football field, wanting to excel in the classroom. And that fit is really important. I think we've hit on our class as well as meeting the needs of our roster. So, that's been very, very successful. We brought in a bunch of state champions. We brought in a bunch of captains of their respective football programs. And I couldn't be more excited about future young men we're going to have a chance to work with here. By position -- or by state, four from Massachusetts, four from New Jersey, three from New York, two from Connecticut, one from Florida, one from Indiana, one from Maryland, one from Pennsylvania, one from Rhode Island. Pretty -- you know, pretty good break down. Five linebackers -- or four linebackers and a hybrid, three defensive backs, three offensive linemen, two defensive tackles, two quarterbacks, a running back, a specialist, one tight end and one wide receiver. Talk about each guy briefly, say a couple of words, open it up for questions and then you guys can go from there.

As we go about this process, camp is huge for us. A lot of these guys are guys that we've had in camp. We have to be able to identify, evaluate and develop here at Boston College. That's the key. People rank recruiting classes, and they certainly can do that. But the real ranking of recruiting class comes down to the productivity of that recruiting class, productivity relative to your team, productivity relative to your conference, productivity relative to me to going to the next level. And I look back at some of the classes that we've had here. I look back at '16, which was a class ring in the 80s, and there were probably seven guys that are starters on this football team. I look at a football team that's had an Offensive Player of the Year as a freshman, two of them on the All-Rookie Team, nine players that were All ACC. Guys like Tom Sweeney, no offers. I mean just keep going down the list of guys that have been impact players that have had -- Chris Lindstrom as we've talked about, no offers. So, I think the key here is identification. I think the key is fit. And I think the key is development. And that's -- over the years that has never changed here. And I know because I recruited against Boston College back in my early days at Syracuse and all the different stops I was at. And I could go back through all the guys. I knew them all. Not all, but most of them. And this is a place where it's hard to measure development because you're dealing with very smart, high-character, disciplined guys that want greatness. So, when you can get them in camp and you can coach them and work with them and get around them and get a sense of their intangibles, you can do a great job of figuring out who will develop. Recruiting is a very inexact science. We put a lot of basis on guys that put starts on guys, like we think maybe they know exactly what they're doing. Maybe they do, maybe they don't. Okay. I think the proof is in the pudding. I've been at every level, every conference. I've seen guys that were projected to be these great players don't materialize and I've seen plenty of these other guys that have exceeded expectations, Matt Ryan and Luke Kuechly and a whole host of others. Barry Gallup is here. Barry's been here longer than anybody, recruited here longer than anybody and can attest to that. I'm talking like -- who am I talking about? Am I talking about Doug Flutie? Who do you want to talk about here? And that won't change and you'll be talking about the group of guys that we have on the field. You guys have seen our field. Our field is loaded with maybe the fastest, maybe one of the most athletic group that's been through here certainly at minimum in a long, long time. And then you look at guys, even currently, John John (John Johnson), no real offers in the NFL; Justin Simmons, no real offers in the NFL. So, we have two corners right now, just for an example -- only us and Alabama got two corners playing the Senior Bowl. That's it. So, I'm excited about where we're headed, what we've done. I'm excited about this class because I think in this class there's going to be another host of guys like there was obviously in the last class and obviously in the class before that'll impact this football program.

Let's talk about David Bailey. David Bailey, you know, from Ridgely, Maryland is a running back, big back; big, powerful, great-looking guy. I mean, I think as I've said here, to have a chance to have big backs come in in the style of offense we're in, I love. Great ball skills. I think he's got a tremendous future ahead of him. Really good athlete, basketball player. You're talking about a 6'1, 240-pound guy that might be 250.

Kyiev Bennermon, defensive tackle, 6'3, 290, out of Poughkeepsie. Had him in camp; extremely coachable, quick twitch, explosive guy on the defensive line, a position that is always critically important interiorly.

Ryan Betro out of Lawrence Academy, one of three; 6'4, 295-pound guy. I actually saw him the other day. He's actually 280 pounds -- I'm sorry. Let me back up. He looked like he was 275-80 pounds. He's actually 300 pounds. He'll come in here 310, 315; explosive, athletic, very, very impressed. We had him in camp, very well coached. Paul Zukauskas, a former double eagle, great player here, as his head high school coach and has done a fabulous job with him.

Hugh Davis, the linebacker out of Indianapolis, Cathedral High School, voted Mr. Indiana. Fantastic player. Covers the field, athletic, tough. We've had great success with guys here out of Cathedral. We'll continue to do that. Great program.

Going down the list, I know I can't take forever talking here. Nick DeNucci, linebacker out of Pope John, another great program. Nick is a very athletic, fast linebacker, got great size, can really cover the field; very impressive guy.

Vinnie DePalma out of DePaul, state championship team. Vinnie is a big, strong, physical, fast guy. Vinnie will be here early, enrolling in December, very, very impressed with Vinnie. Again, high character, great work ethic, great student, tremendous upside.

Finn Dirstine out of Lawrence Academy, offense lineman, 6'5, 320 pounds, big, massive guy. Had him in camp, very coachable, very smart guy. Great work ethic. He's a mountain of a guy, now, and was a guy that was highly, highly recruited and will be an impactful player here. So, we're excited as heck about Finn.

Jehlani Galloway, wide receiver from Classical in Rhode Island. Jehlani has been committed to us. He's very, very loyal to his commitment here. Very athletic receiver. Great parents. And just really epitomizes a BC guy. I think he's going to be an impact guy here. We're very, very excited about Jehlani.

Aaron Gethers, cornerback out of Bishop McDevitt, another place that's had so many great players. I'll tell you just a quick story about Aaron, I love about this kid. We didn't know how fast he was. He looked fast. He looked great on tape. Said, well, nowadays you try to get a guy to come to camp and run for you, they start balking; they're afraid to get on the clock. He goes -- I think it was here, whatever it was. He goes, "I'll go out run right now. I said, no, you can come to camp and run. You run what you say you're going to run, I'm going to offer you. Came in, lined up, beat what he said he'd run. And I love guys like that because they're competitors. They're not afraid. Today everybody thinks it's like the combine. I'm not going to work out, I'm not going to do the bench press. I like these guys that show up, boom, they say something, they back it up and they do it. He's got speed, he's got athleticism. He's got great competitive excellence to him. Played at a really high level of high school football. Excited about Aaron. Dad was a hell of a player at Penn State. Just a great family.

Elijah Jones from Cardinal Hayes. Elijah plays wide receiver and defensive back. He is a long, great athlete with tremendous speed and ball skills. Really, really excited about his future. He's so athletic and so fast. And you're talking about another guy with real size here. Okay. And we're into that. I mean Elijah is 6'2, 6'3. I mean it's hard to get those guys. And so, another great high school program. And a lot of upside there.

Johnny Langan, quarterback. Another Bergen Catholic. A long line of guys come out of Bergen Catholic here. State champion. One of those guys that will put the team on his back, go win a game, reminds me of Tim Tebow a little bit that way. He has that mentality to him. He's athletic. He's tough. And he's a leader. Those are the things you look for in a quarterback. And we're very, very excited about Johnny.

Joey Luchetti, the third guy from Lawrence Academy, in no particular order. 6'6, 235-pound tight end. I watched Joey play basketball recently. I mean his body control; his athleticism is remarkable. It's remarkable. And I mean he is a big-time guy. We had him in camp. All these guys we had in camp. I mean he was impactful in camp. His ball skills, his athleticism, his toughness and his speed. This is a guy who can do a lot of things. This guy is a big athlete. Again, watch him handle the ball like a point guard on the basketball team. Amazing, absolutely amazing. So, we expect huge things out of Joey.

Jason Maitre, defensive back out of Everett; very explosive guy, big vertical leap. Another state championship program, great high school program, right in our backyard. Tremendous character. We've had such success with guys that have come out of Everett High School. This guy is a bright, bright guy, classy guy. And I think he's going to be a heck of a football player for us. I really do. He has great ball skills and a real knack for the football. So, we're really excited about Jason.

Thomas Shelmire, offensive lineman from Highland Park in Texas. He's playing for the state championship in Texas this weekend. And we had him in camp. Very explosive, and really well-coached guy. Interior offensive lineman, great skill set, very bright, really excited to be at Boston College, like all these guys are, and playing at a high level of high school football. Very competitive, high level. Playing for -- that's saying something, too, right. All these state championship guys. State championship in Texas.

Joe Sparacio, linebacker, like Vinnie DePalma, will be here in January. From Naples, Florida, 5'11, 220-pound guy, who is maybe the most explosive. Great measurables, great speed, great ball skills. This is a guy that I think, you know, will shock people. This guy is very athletic and he could -- he's coming here as a linebacker. He could play fullback. He could do a lot of things. He carried the ball in high school. He had great running ability, great ball skills. Those are those linebacker kind of guys, man. They can do a lot of things for you. And he and Vinnie will be here early. But what a guy. His dad is a high school coach. I've known his dad for a long time. When I was recruiting in the State of Florida, I was at Florida, and originally they're from Long Island. They understand the Northeast and really have a great appreciation for Boston College. Great young man. Tremendous young man.

Evan Stewart. He's a hybrid, strong safety, outside backer guy. And played at St. Joe's for Augie Hoffmann, who was great player here at Boston College. Great high school program in New Jersey. And just really -- also played in the state championship. And just a great player. His dad was a great player, played at Rutgers, big guy, linebacker. And this is a guy whose best days are ahead of him. He's very, very talented, very tough football player. Very versatile. Can play in the back end. Will be a big guy and will be able to translate down and play in that hybrid spot as I mentioned.

John Tessitore. John grew up in a family where Boston College was very important. His dad went here, Joe, we all know and love. And John is a very accomplished kicker, punter from Choate. And great work ethic. Tremendous loyalty to Boston College. Great to see a guy who dreamed about being an Eagle and that dream came true for him. And he has relentless work ethic and preparation just like you see his dad do in his career. So very, very excited about John and his talent level and character level and what he'll bring to our football program.

Matt Valecce, quarterback. Matt's from New York, played at Fordham Prep. This is a guy that is a big guy now. I mean he's 6'5, 220-, 25-pound guy, may end up being next year 235. He can flat fling it. He is a really good athlete. He's got great measurables, and he's got a powerful, powerful arm and very, very smart, kind of gets things immediately. Very impressive young man, extremely impressive, the way he carries himself. And again, another guy that understands and completely bought in, wants to be a part of what Boston College stands for. He is a student-athlete and a very, very -- like Johnny, he's a vicious competitor. So, we couldn't be more excited about Matt and his future here.

Tyler Vrabel, offensive lineman, from Saint Pius in Texas. Ohio guy. We all know his dad, Mike, used to coach over at the Houston Texans. And they say Mike was a late bloomer. Well, Tyler is probably along those lines. I've seen him over the last year. He's grown incredibly. His whole body has changed right in front of us. We had him in camp. He's a ball guy, now. Not shocking. He's a ball guy. And I think he's going to have a great future as a tackle for us here. I loved him, I loved his ability to pass protect, his feet, in camp. He's playing at a high level of football in Texas. They just finished last week, and I think he'll bring a mentality, a passion for the game like his dad had -- has. And so, we're very, very excited about Tyler.

So you know, you look up at our list of guys, and I probably could have gone through it in a more organized fashion. I kind of went down it as opposed to by positions. But you can see guys from a lot of different parts of the country, different positions. What's the commonality? Most of them come from really good academic schools, fair amount of Catholic schools. Guys that fit the kind of guy that we want at Boston College. They're talented. They love ball. And I'm excited to have a chance to coach them and that they're a part of our football family and will represent us extremely well.

So with that, any questions?

Q. You always talked about layered recruiting over the years. One time you had a shortage. Is this what you were trying to accomplish with this class a little bit?

STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah. You know, we had some real holes when I got here in terms of just our rosters. You've got to keep your roster consistent. If you don't, it'll come to bite you like it did in '15 for us. So, we've systematically since I've been here gone about replacing and making sure we stay on task with our roster. And that's hard to do. Sometimes things happen that you can't control. In addition to that you also have to have the ability to take your best available. You're not going to bypass a guy that you think is going to impact and help your football program just because I said we're taking three linebackers and all of a sudden we're taking no -- whatever. I'm making it up. Right? But that position you said you weren't going to take, you got a chance to get a guy that is impactful, he's a really good player; you take him. So, you have to have the ability to stay on task with your roster but then also have that opportunity to take the next best available. I think we've been very systematic and deliberate in how we've rebuilt this and re-recruited this roster, keeping in mind really good fit, toughness, passion for the game, athleticism, speed. And length. And people talk about that. I hate even saying that. When I hear people talk about it, I'm sick about it, but when I got here, one of the things we wanted to do -- and we did it in some cases and I guess maybe in others didn't get it accomplished; I don't know. But we wanted to get in our defensive back field corners a little bit taller, a little bit bigger. In some cases we did, some cases we didn't. You're never going to bypass a really good player tall or not. But that's kind of what we've done here. So it's been systematic, and by design. And I think -- obviously, I run the recruiting, and I have all the boards upstairs. And I try to stick really close to making sure we're on task and we have the right amount of guys in the areas of positional needs because it's a percentage game. And if you need two, you can't be recruiting four or you're going to come up short.

Q. Coach, have you seen your approach through the years kind of change with all the different changes that have come out in recruiting, and especially this year with the early signing period? Like what are some of the challenges that you've had to face and that you've had to adapt to with all the different NCAA rules?

STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, I think here's the key. Right? And I think that's a great question. I'm going to take it a little bit different for you. I think if you're into football, you find this interesting maybe. You have to know where you're at. Every place is uniquely different. And you know, that's where it comes into fit is important, because you've got to be able to -- and I'll get specifically to the rule changes. But you've got to be able to understand how to get the players that you need to get to make your program move forward. Like here, you have got to get targeted properly early. And that's called identification and then evaluation. You've got to get them on your campus several times, you've got to get them to camp. If you don't get guys to camp here, you're going to make too many mistakes, because you're projecting on guys. And you've got to have a good feel for those fits. You've got to have enough contacts -- you can't walk into New Jersey and go recruit in New Jersey. It doesn't work out that way. You've got to have longstanding credibility and contacts. And that goes for all of New England. And then you have to have a good plan here and the ability to hit the Catholic schools nationally because there are good tie-in fits in there. So I think you have to have a good plan and you have to go ahead and execute your plan. So you need to have that understanding. You can't chase people that don't fit or you don't have a great shot at. I always used to say, you know, be careful; you go for the one, you miss the two and you get the three. You're going to find yourself in a hole. You have to identify and recruit properly at the quarterback position. When I got here, we had one established quarterback. That's where it ended. And that was a process and a half, because the first year it was a mad dash; what it was. And so you need to be able to do that. We've got a couple of really good talented young quarterbacks that are currently on our team with a couple of really talented guys coming in. That position will be good for a long time. That's important. So anyways, the plan is important.

Now, the rules. You know, you put in here these rule changes right now. And you better be early and accurate. Early is fine, but if you're inaccurate and early, that'll bury you. We used to have that at BC anyways because I think that was critical here. But now with the rule change everybody's got to be that way. And it stresses some people, because they want to take their time. And you've got to be able to make decisions; and in order to make good decisions fast, you have to know exactly what you're doing, because you can't afford to make a bunch of mistakes now. So that rule -- look what happened here, we signed our class. I don't know what happened in the country. I'm assuming -- I talked to a lot of guys I'm close with -- plan on signing if not all their class, a very majority. So it's like, okay, that's done. So like what I see now is now January becomes -- I can be on the road in January. The head coaches used to be on the road in May. They took the head coaches off the road in May by rule. So now January becomes the old-school May. Right? That's really what's going to happen here. It's the old-school May. And that was how many years ago now? I'm losing track of time here. Four or five years ago that rule evaporated. And here you go. So everything is going to accelerate now. And then you're talking about official visits in May. That's accelerating.

So right now we're rolling out of this. We're majorly into the 19s, and you better be hitting this thing running as fast as you -- it has totally changed strategies, totally changed -- you better be organized, you better be fast moving and you better make good decisions. Now, we'll see how this rolls; right? Like everything else, it'll get evaluated. Next year -- if it ends up being 95 percent of the guys signed December 20th, will that hold? Who knows. Does next year it become 60 percent? Does it become 100 percent? None of us know. But the landscape has completely changed, guys. It's a whole different deal right now and very likely can lead to mistakes and bad fits if you don't do your homework properly and you're not on top of everything properly.

Q. Coach, so I've been covering recruiting for five or six years and I've never seen before something that happened this year with you guys where you had your whole class committed by August and you didn't lose anyone throughout the whole season. How were you able to identify kids who would stay committed and how were you able to keep them committed and did that allow you to get a head start on ^ 2019, 2020?

STEVE ADDAZIO: My philosophy has always been get them here early, get them here frequently, get them into camp. And if you really get the right fits and you're recruiting the right guys, A, that match Boston College, B, have enough talent to make you better, to increase your roster. If you really do your homework, you're going to get the right fits. Then you build that relationship. How do you build a relationship? You got to get around them. You got to have them on campus. You build a relationship with them and with their parents, and you build a bond. I think you got to do that early here. So that relationship can ward off people that are coming to poach your players. And so I don't think that's changed. It's a relationship business. But the early building of it, I think, is critically important. And then just, you know, sometimes during the season some guys do a better job than others of just staying really connected to your guys. And I think when you do that, you can sustain -- plus, I think there was a great energy in our program this year. Our players are as good a recruiting tool as you have. I mean there's a great vibe on our team. When guys get around our guys, they love our players, and they love the fact that they love BC and our football program. So that's really -- people overlook that sometimes. That's really important. So you know, early in the season there was still a great vibe on our team. Everyone -- football people could sense that, wow, this thing is going where it should go. Okay. And that's evidenced by why you say we hang on to these guys because they're coaches and they do that. And of course, as things popped, and you know, we went on that back half of the season as we did, it validated that. And I think -- I don't think; I know. These guys are -- they are so excited to get in here and be a part of this, and that's what makes it so much fun. So that's kind of -- you know, that's kind of how that rolls.

Football is momentum. Whether you're talking about in season game or you're talking about recruiting. Momentum is huge. And you know, it's so important. We help control the narrative of Boston College football. Everybody. Coaches, sure. Players, sure. Alumni, fans, absolutely. You want to have a great narrative? You have great energy. You want to claw away at that, all you do is hurt your opportunity to recruit and create negativity. Okay. And what I see here was a group that got behind this football program, created momentum and drove momentum. That's what good football programs do and good supporting communities around their football programs do. Okay? Everyone can point out, you know, what they think is wrong, but I love it when you get these people that can point out what's right. And they're so positive. Positivity is incredibly important. And right now the positivity in our program it's at the high, high, high in the energy level of it all. And I couldn't be more excited about that.

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