Steve Addazio Press Conference Transcript
STEVE ADDAZIO: We’re real excited about the class that we’ve signed, and moving forward here in 2019. The highest rated class that certainly we’ve had since we’ve been here, and I believe the highest rated class since 2003. A lot of good football players, 10 high school captains, four players that won state titles, a great cross-section from our footprint. We’ve got five from New Jersey, two from Michigan, two from Ohio, two from Maryland, two from Connecticut, one from New York, one from Florida, one from Pennsylvania. Our breakdown was five DBs, four defensive linemen, two offensive linemen, a quarterback, a running back, two wide receivers and a linebacker/outside linebacker rush man.
So really, really good cross-section. I thought we’ve enhanced our team in areas that we needed to enhance our team. Certainly on defense, we really did a great job on defense and specifically in the defensive front, which is an area that we obviously had some replacements to have happen.
Talking about the class, start with Spencer Bono, a defensive end. He’s an Ohio kid, from Elder, which is the home of Ricky Brown and other guys that we’ve had here. He’s a 6’4”, 245-pound defensive end, great athlete, tremendous player from a great football program. Really loves ball. Great fit for us here in terms of the whole package academically, athletically, and really excited about Spencer. I think he’s a guy that has got unbelievable potential.
Ireland Burke, defensive tackle, 6’3”, 290 pounds from New York but at Pope John in New Jersey, Catholic school there, and a big-time interior run stopper, pass rusher guy, just a really good football player. We think he’s got unbelievable potential.
Jack Conley, offensive lineman, 6’8”, 280-pound kid from New Canaan, Connecticut, really got an unbelievable ceiling. Very, very good feet. Very good athlete. At times has been a punter, and he’s just got really good athleticism for a guy that big. He’s going to be a big dude. Another guy, great fit here. Obviously, academics are important to him, and playing at the highest level of college football.
Josh DeBerry, a corner from Detroit, six-foot, 175-pound defensive back corner, great ball skills, real physical tackler, and really has great film and has had a great career. Really excited about Josh.
Zay Flowers, a corner who’s from Fort Lauderdale. Dynamic athlete, great speed, great ball skills, plays both sides of the ball. Just a gifted athlete. Really explosive speed, dynamic guy.
Patrick Garwo, tailback, running back from PA, from Conwell-Egan, 212-pound, 5’10” guy. Great leader, really explosive. I mean, his tape is excellent. I mean, fantastic football player. Big, strong, physical running back, and we’re thrilled to death to have Patrick. I mean, bona fide player.
Connor Grieco, defensive back. He’s a 6’3”, 185-pound kid from St. Joe’s in New Jersey. Really talented guy. Long, long guy. Great size, great athleticism, toughness. Like the rest of these guys, really a perfect fit for us at Boston College, played for Augie Hoffman, former great player here, and really thrilled about Connor and his family. I think he’s going to have a great career.
Izaiah Henderson, defensive tackle from Mater Dei, New Jersey, 6’5”, 290-pound guy right now coming at mid-semester, and really a talented guy. I mean, if he walked in the door right now, you’d think he was already here in college. Really looks the part. Heck of a player. Great student, great guy, played for Dino Mangiero down there, a good friend of mine, and just a sensational player. Really excited about him.
Sam Johnson, quarterback from Detroit, a 6’4”, 200-pound guy. I love this guy. I think he’s got a tremendous arm. He’s got unbelievable character. I mean, he is the kind of guy that you want as a quarterback leading your team with his mindset and his mentality. Great family. He’ll be here early, as well, and really looking forward to that. I think the upside with Sam is just incredible. I think we’ve got a special guy there.
Steve Lubischer, defensive back from Red Bank Catholic, 6’1”, 192, great athlete. Played quarterback in high school. He’s on the basketball team there, having a phenomenal basketball season. Really, really got great speed and athleticism, great vertical leap. You know, will transition into that defensive back position. Dad played here. Really like him. Really good high school program. It’s a place that is a real winner, and he’s a winner.
Jackson Ness, defensive end from Upper Arlington in Columbus, 6’5”, 265-pound, probably a little bigger than that right now. I think he’s another guy that will walk in -- when he walks in the door now, you’re going to look and say, that’s a high school kid? Does not look like a high school guy. Super bright, super great fit for BC, really good football player, really good athlete, really going to make an impact at the defensive end position. Really excited about Jackson and his family.
Blerim Rustemi from DePaul Catholic, offensive lineman, 6’4”, 280 pounds. He’s going to be another 310-pound offensive lineman. Great-looking body, tough guy, great demeanor. Football is really important to him. Great high school program. Really like him a lot. I just think that he’ll come in here and really be what we’re looking for in the offensive line with toughness and athleticism. Excited about him.
Bryce Sebastian, Brandon Sebastian’s younger brother. He’s his own entity. Wide receiver, at Cheshire Academy from Connecticut, 5’9”, 160-pound, real speed guy, burst guy, fast, tough, loves football. Great energy to him. You know, obviously a BC family, and very, very excited about his explosiveness and what he’ll bring to the table here.
Shitta Sillah, outside linebacker, 6’5”, 220-pound guy from Mater Dei, teammate of Izaiah. He’s a real edge, get-to-the-quarterback pass rush guy. You’ll see this guy being a pass rusher with tremendous athleticism off the edge at 6’5”, 245-, 255-pound guy. He’s really, I think, going to be just a sensational player here. Really think his ceiling, again, is so, so high.
Ethon Williams, wide receiver, six-foot, 195-pound kid from Maryland. Talented, got really good hands, really good ball skills, really mature guy, smart guy, really good football player, excited about him. Really think he’s got really great potential and really fits well into our team culture and who he is and what he’s all about.
Jalen Williams, another guy from Maryland from the Landon School, defensive back. Really another one of those -- he’s a sharp and mature and tough and all about the right stuff, talented football player, and I believe will have a great career here, as well. He’s a real BC guy, comes from a high-end school, too.
I think we’ve compiled a list of very talented guys that will become outstanding representatives of Boston College. They’ll be BC men. They’ll represent what’s important to us, that first and foremost you’re a tremendous human being. Second of all, you’re going to really respect and engage in your degree here, and then of course be able to play at the highest level of college football in the ACC and be a great teammate, and we know we’ve upgraded and improved our football team with this class. So we couldn’t be more excited about them and about the future of where we’re headed, and as we move them here and graduate really talented players and replace them with really talented players, we put ourselves in great position to continue to grow and continue to improve and continue to move towards our goal of competing and winning a conference championship.
Q. With so many graduates and seniors, do you see some of these kids college-ready by next year?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Yeah, you know, the way it’s been, every year there’s more and more guys that seem to have that opportunity. I don’t know what the numbers are, but yeah, I mean, there will be guys in this class for sure that will be challenging to play, and there will be a number of these guys that will end up playing as true freshmen. You hope that they can, and we believe that they can. And in certain positional needs, you hope that that’s where that occurs, right?
But guys today, especially the ones that come in sometimes early, mid-semester, have a great opportunity to do that, and I just really think that there’s a great shot for all that to happen.
Q. Tell us a little bit about Sam Johnson. Is he kind of that ACC dual-threat quarterback that everybody in the league seems to want to get?
STEVE ADDAZIO: I mean, he’s a thrower now. He’s a 6’4” or 6’5” guy that can chuck the ball down the field now. He’s got great presence. He’s very athletic, and I think that he’s a guy that will impact the game. But he’s a thrower that has athleticism. He’s not an athlete that can throw. I mean, he can throw the ball now. We had him in camp, and watched him make those throws, was very, very impressive. Really, really excited about Sam.
Q. What are the challenges with competing with other Power Five schools for these players or retaining some recruits or just talking to guys?
STEVE ADDAZIO: I think you’re always trying to expand in your recruiting and push, and you’re getting involved with more highly recruited guys. I think when you do that, you get in more risk of losing guys type of thing. But I think that’s all part of it. I think we’re pretty good at targeting the guys that fit our culture and match what we want here to keep -- that’s so important to us, the character piece of this, and I really want guys that really want to be here.
So I think that as you keep trying to expand/go after higher-profile guys, you’ve got to be really careful with that because what you don’t want to do is get out of your footprint and get out of your profile in terms of -- guys got to be able to make it here academically. Guys got to be able to want to be here and believe in what we have. So I think while you’re constantly trying to elevate, you’ve got to also make sure that you don’t put yourself in a situation where you’re not getting a good fit and a good marriage because that’s really so important at anyplace, that you have the right fit and the right marriage and the highest level of player that you can possibly be involved with to help you win the games that you need to win.
Q. How do you measure the intangibles, the leadership qualities and how do you strike a balance between those two and the guy’s ceiling?
STEVE ADDAZIO: That’s what it’s all about, and it’s hard. I think our staff does a great job with that. I mean, there’s not like a book or a page on that. I think there’s a feel for that, and I think it’s to be more right than wrong. You’re not always going to be right. We all know that. But to be more right than wrong and to target properly and to evaluate properly, and how do you evaluate character? Well, that’s hard, but obviously it’s a process as you would well guess it’s relationship based. The more time you’re with somebody, the more you get to know them; the more times they’re on your campus, the more people you get to meet around them, obviously their parents, their family, their guidance counselors, their coaches, whatever. Over time I think you try to do a good job.
Getting a guy is one thing. Getting a guy that’s going to be happy and be able to grow and succeed is our ultimate goal. It’s not just getting a guy because he has a rating, because that’s not who we are. We’re going to take a round peg and fit it in a square hole here.
So I think having a great understanding and a belief of who we are and what we’re about is really important, and then the ability to figure all that out and evaluate it is really important. So it’s a real process.
Q. How you identify areas of need?
STEVE ADDAZIO: It’s ever changing. It’s a moving target. I mean, you have projected numbers and then things pop up on you. Things happen all the time that don’t exactly go according to plan, and you’ve got to adjust. But you start with roster management. We want 15 offensive linemen. Okay, that’s a number. But we certainly can’t end up with 12. Is it 14? Is it 15? You have every position. You come up with basically what you want to get accomplished, and you try to work with -- if you don’t, at some point your roster is going to get out of whack, and if you don’t manage your roster in recruiting and you just let guys just go do their thing, at some point you’ll get out of whack. That’s my job as the head coach is to manage the roster.
Now, some head coaches are more involved than others. Obviously, I’m very involved. I watch every tape. I evaluate every prospect myself. I mean, I manage the board, I manage the numbers, and I try to keep the thing moving.
Q. How have you felt like you’ve adjusted to the early signing period?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, I think we’ve adjusted well. We go out there, we do our homework, we do a great job evaluating, we recruit guys, and I think we build relationships. We get them here early. I think we are aggressive and on target with our evaluations.
So we have our ducks in a row. Some places, believe it or not, don’t get their ducks in a row that quick. So for us, I think it’s been a good thing. It’s crazy hectic. Everybody is home before this date, so I don’t start until obviously I can, when the contact period starts, and the window for me to do that is (small). It’s almost impossible. So you’re trying to get ready for a bowl game. You’re trying to get in every single home, and it is really -- while recruiting is taxing, I find this to be, like, a lot. But it’s been good, and we’ve managed it, and I think we have a good system of how we’re going to handle this.
And now I don’t know what the numbers will be, but I’d say the majority of kids or programs will sign -- the majority of their classes are signed right now. And there’s really not that many guys that really go to the next signing period, so it’s become a whole different deal.
Q. How have you recruited the New Jersey Catholic leagues?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, Catholic leagues as a whole, obviously for us makes sense. Jersey is in our five-hour footprint, so that makes double sense. New Jersey is our footprint, Catholic schools are our footprint, and we’ve got a two-fer right there. So it makes good sense for us. Our footprint is obviously New England and New Jersey, and then we expand it deeper. But when you call real footprint, you’re talking about that five-, six-hour radius, and within there any private Catholic schools I think are always really good places to start for us, and then we’re in the Catholic schools nationally, in Ohio and all those other places.
But you know, certainly New Jersey always has and always will be -- let’s call that a home area for us. That’s not a new phenomenon in the last five or six years. I mean, it’s been that way for a long time, and it makes sense that it would be that way. We’ve got to continue to do a good job in locating and recruiting in these areas and what your competition, who you’re recruiting against in those areas. It’s been good for us. It’ll continue to be good for us.
Q. How has the on-field production bridged the gap between published recruit rankings in years past?
STEVE ADDAZIO: Well, I mean, at the end of the day, what we’ve done here recruiting-wise speaks for itself with the level of players we’ve had and have gone on, and I think in terms of the perception, our perception out there nationally is fantastic. People realize that we have a really good football program, that it’s a well-put-together football team. The rankings system of guys, I mean, I don’t think that’s ever changed here in terms of -- that’s no new phenomenon. Since 2003 this is the highest recruiting class. That’s a lot of years right there.
I think what’s important is that we keep in mind that we get the right guys for our program to succeed here, to be able to compete in the ACC, and to be able to compete in the classroom and to be able to really embrace the Jesuit Catholic values of Boston College. I always look at it through the eyes of what’s important to me, and I’m very, very cognizant of that, and I’d say that we’ve done a really good job of doing that, of recruiting to that, paying attention to that, and then, oh, yes, by the way, the actual development of these players and the talent level of these players, we’ve been proven to be way more right than we’ve been wrong.
I think as you win and go to bowl games and the vibe is very positive, all those things lend themselves to having a fertile, successful opportunity to recruit. And then of course our new indoor is a great testament and statement to where we want to continue to develop our players and commit to the best facilities for our student athletes.
All of it plays into this. You know, so the rating thing, I’m more interested in the marriage than I am the rating. I’m a big believer that when it’s a good marriage, it’s healthy, it grows, it gets better, it develops. It’s all good. And if it’s just about just a rating and it’s not a good marriage, then it ends up falling apart, and what good does that do? That’s way more counterproductive than it is productive.
There’s plenty of great players out there, and that just proves to it. That’s why there’s plenty of players that go on to the NFL from small schools, because this is an inexact science.Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Some people look for certain things more than other things, but at the end of the day, I want these kids that we recruit to come in here, I want them to develop spiritually, I want them to develop academically, I want them to develop socially. I want them to develop on the football field. And then I think we’ve had a success story, and that’s what I think it’s all about, and I think we’re doing a good job with that and hope to continue down that path because that’s the promise and the commitment and the responsibility I have here at Boston College.