[Information provided by: Louisiana Tech Athletics]
RUSTON, La.– Louisiana Tech head football coach Skip Holtz announced the 2013 signing class – his first at LA Tech – in front of a packed house at the Lincoln Parish Library Special Events Center Wednesday afternoon.
Coach Holtz announced 21 players in all are part of the 2013 signing class with an even mixture of high school and junior college players, offense and defense players, hailing from five different states.
"It is great to finally have signing day," Holtz said. "When you look at it, it is about a six-week body of work this staff has put together, and I am just really proud of the job this staff has done with this class. When you look at the talent and some of the needs that we have from a position stand point; when you look at the students in this group and the people in this group; I think this staff has really done a nice job putting this group together."
Louisiana was the most represented state with eight signees overall, split almost evenly between the I-20 corridor in the north and the I-10 corridor in the south.
The Bulldogs are bringing in two former West Monroe High School players in Paul Turner (transferring from LSU) and Xavier Woods.
"Paul Turner is a dynamic, exciting, electric player," said Holtz. When you look at what we were talking about with that I-20 corridor and having Paul Turner transfer in from LSU; I think that is a chance for him to come in and really be a special player and come in as an elite athlete along with Xavier Woods as a freshman coming in. But, I think those two from West Monroe High School are two huge additions. I think that is part of, hopefully, the beginning of building a bridge from here to Monroe with the great programs that are over in that area."
Tech gets some immediate needs with four offensive linemen and four wide receivers in the class replacing six graduating starters. The Bulldogs also inked three linebackers and two defensive backs, filling some immediate needs there.
"Well, we needed offensive linemen," Holtz explained. "I believe there were 10 junior college players in this class, and when you look at the two offensive linemen, I have always said any time you take junior college players you need to try and take high school players with them. "When you look at the two offensive linemen in the junior college players, you are going to look at immediate help from them. There were two wide receiver junior college players that were transfers with Paul Turner and Kevin Gary. We had one defensive lineman. You had two in the secondary; two safeties in the secondary. But, the biggest need was the three linebackers, which is where I think the biggest need for next year could make a difference."
Spring practice will begin for Louisiana Tech on March 15 and conclude with the T-Day Spring Game on April 13.
For complete coverage of Bulldog Football, please follow @LATechPWalsh on Twitter or visit the official home of Louisiana Tech Athletics at LATechSports.com.
Louisiana Tech Football 2013 Signing Class
Name HT WT Pos. Hometown (Previous School)
Chris Aye 6-4 290 OL Houston, Texas (Cypress Ridge HS)
Jonathan Barnes 5-8 150 K Baton Rouge, La. (Woodlawn HS)
Mitchell Bell 6-4 310 OL Houston, Texas (Navarro JC)
Nic Bickham 6-4 230 DE St. Amant, La. (St. Amant HS)
DeAngelo Brooks 6-1 290 DT Shreveport, La. (Kilgore JC)
Tre Carter 6-3 285 OL Buena Vista, Ga. (Georgia Miliary College)
Kevin Gary 6-0 178 WR Snellville, Ga. (Georgia Military College)
Hakim Gray 6-3 250 DE Keachi, La. (North Desoto HS)
Carlos Henderson 5-10 165 ATH New Orleans, La. (McDonogh 35 HS)
Michael Jacob 5-11 165 DB Allen, Texas (Allen HS)
Eddie Johnson 6-3 230 WR Midlothian, Texas (Navarro JC)
Tony Johnson 6-3 250 LB Sulligent, Ala. (Southwest Mississippi CC)
Cam Manning 6-3 265 OL Southlake, Texas (Carroll HS)
Thomas McDonald 6-3 180 S Houston, Texas (Navarro JC)
Logan McPherson 5-10 172 P/K Fort Payne, Ala. (Fort Payne HS)
Terrell Pinson 6-3 210 S Tupelo, Miss. (Itawamba CC)
Trent Taylor 5-9 175 WR Shreveport, La. (Evangel Christian Academy)
Nick Thomason 6-1 230 LB Muscle Shoals, Ala. (Northeast Miss. CC)
Paul Turner 5-11 186 WR West Monroe, La. (West Monroe HS)
Mitch Villemez 6-1 225 LB Hardin, Texas (Blinn JC)
Xavier Woods 5-11 180 DB West Monroe, La. (West Monroe HS)
Head Coach Skip Holtz
"It is great to finally have signing day. When you look at it, it is about a six-week body of work this staff has put together, and I am just really proud of the job this staff has done with this class. When you look at the talent and some of the needs that we have from a position stand point; when you look at the students in this group and the people in this group; I think this staff has really done a nice job putting this group together."
"I am really excited to get them here, but the signing day is also the end of recruiting for 2013, and it really gives us the opportunity to begin working with our football team, which is one of the things I am excited about. The recruiting class is important, but having the opportunity to get on the grass with our football team right now is probably one of the bigger priorities that we have."
"It is an exciting day. It is great to be out here and get around a lot of the people for the first time and a lot of the fans here of Louisiana Tech and have the opportunity to interact with them. Overall, it is just a very fulfilling day, but also a very rewarding day."
On recruiting in New Orleans with Jabbar Juluke:
"Coach Juluke has done a phenomenal job down there when you look at it. Carlos Henderson was the signee from down there in the New Orleans area who I think is a dynamic, exciting, wide-open wide receiver that has a chance to come in and be a difference maker in this program in what we are doing as an offense."
"I think Coach Juluke opened a lot of doors for us down there, but it is not just the ones that we assigned, but you look at the battles in recruiting and who we lost some of the people to, those are the type of people we want to compete with in recruiting. I think he did an excellent job of opening doors and getting us into homes and really continue to expand on the contact that we have down in the New Orleans area."
"I think he did a great job for his first year recruiting. I think there were some bumps along the way. I think he learned some things like when you get a commitment and somebody else comes in and takes him from you. Jabbar was like, "I am not taking that. I am going back into that home." I said, "Just slow down." He is extremely competitive, and I think he is a huge addition to this staff."
On it being hard to imagine him not having a full year to recruit in New Orleans:
"It is, especially when he just walked in there and was able to get in some of the doors that he was, but I think that is because of the contacts he has because of the respect people have for him and the great job he has done at Karr High School. I think he is a phenomenal person and when you get around him, you can see why he is so special and why people have such a high opinion of him."
On Paul Turner:
"Paul Turner is a dynamic, exciting, electric player. When you look at what we were talking about with that I-20 corridor and having Paul Turner transfer in from LSU; I think that is a chance for him to come in and really be a special player and come in as an elite athlete along with Xavier Woods as a freshman coming in. But, I think those two from West Monroe High School are two huge additions. I think that is part of, hopefully, the beginning of building a bridge from here to Monroe with some of the great programs that are over in that area."
On what stood out when watching Trent Taylor:
"Just his play-making ability. You look at Trent Taylor and it is not about his size. It is not about him being 6-3 or that he weighs 240 pounds, but it is his heart, the energy he plays with, the passion and the attitude, which we talked a little bit about, that he plays with. He is a great competitor, and when you watch his highlight film, it is really rather impressive when you look at what that team was able to do with him as one of the leaders. Hopefully, we can continue to make those strides in the college program as well."
On the importance of the I-10 corridor:
"There is a lot of great football that is played on the I-10 corridor from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, and it is where the largest population mass is. We have said that I-20 and the northern part of the state would be the first spot we really dug our heels in, but then we have got to get into the I-10 corridor with the population mass and the great programs in the Baton Rouge, Lafayette and New Orleans area."
"That is one of the reason why a guy a like Jabbar Juluke was so attractive was because of the in-roads he give you in southern Louisiana just because of the success that he has had in the high school program down there."
On what he looked for position-wise when recruiting:
"Well, we needed offensive linemen. I believe there were 10 junior college players in this class, and when you look at the two offensive linemen, I have always said any time you take junior college players you need to try and take high school players with them."
"When you look at the two offensive linemen in the junior college players, you are going to look at immediate help from them. There were two wide receiver junior college players that were transfers with Paul Turner and Kevin Gary. We had one defensive lineman. You had two in the secondary; two safeties in the secondary. But, the biggest need was the three linebackers, which is where I think the biggest need for next year could make a difference."
"One of the things we talked about, especially late, was if we did not feel like a young man could come in and help this football team next year, then right now let us hold that scholarship, because right now there are not a lot of those to go around. So, let us make sure. I would rather sign a young man at Christmas a year from now that has a chance when we have a year to recruit them than I would just go and give them out this year just to say we gave them out. Then you are out recruiting a young man."
"The junior college players are the biggest ones, but there are other freshmen that are going to have an opportunity to make an impact on this team."
On whether missing out on high school linebackers hurts this year's recruiting class:
"Well, the class is not over. That is what I said. That is why we have saved a number of scholarships because there are always some that show up late that you have the opportunity to take. It is probably the thing that is the biggest or the one thing I would like to change is being able to close a couple of those high school linebackers out at the end. If we could have, I would have like to take a few more linebackers, but we just were not able to close it out in the period of time we had from a recruiting stand point.
On recruiting without knowing what positions you needed:
"No, it is the numbers. There is a whole formula to the numbers with how many offensive linemen are on scholarship or how many linebackers. It was not so much big, strong needs as much as it was where we have our numbers because it is very difficult right now for us to identify what all the strengths and weaknesses of this football team are. That is one of the hard adjustments about walking into a program in your first year is having to evaluate your team, and we have not had a chance to practice with them at all. Yet, you are sitting in a living room recruiting young men, and that is one of the hard things that people talk about in a transition year."
On how many first-year freshmen could possibly start or see playing time:
"Again, I would say it is very hard for me. I can tell you there are some great, talented freshmen that I think are going to have a chance to come in and compete. I have always said that freshmen play because upperclassmen give them the opportunity to. I will have a much better feel to that question when I come out of spring ball."
"Some of the questions we have going into spring ball is to find out how many starters we have. And everybody says that is foolish because you know you have 11. We need to find out how many we have on our team. We know we have to start 11, but I do not know how many we have on our team right now on the offensive and defensive side, and that is all going to be about level of competition. That is one of the things I am so excited about going into spring ball."
On how easy it was to sell the quarter system to recruits:
"It really was a very easy sale. I have never been around the quarter system, but when you look it is not just being on the quarter system, but it is also not being in the semester hours. So, when you look at it, I think it is a great opportunity for a young man who does not have to take 12 to 15 hours during the fall."
"I think when you look at our graduation rate being one of the top 30 in the country, I think one of the reasons for that is not only the great faculty and job they have done and the quality of character of the young men and what they are doing academically, but I do think the quarter system is something that is very beneficial for student-athletes, not just football players, but for student athletes across the board to have those three quarters along with the summer rather than just the two semesters. I think it is very beneficial."
On whether any of the signees stand out more than the other:
"You know, there are a lot of them I feel good about. I could go through almost every player and talk about strengths and what we really like about each one. There are probably some that are more ready to play than others. I was really impressed with obviously the two young men from Monroe we talked about. I was really impressed with Eddie Johnson, who is really the only tight end we have on this football team right now at about 6-3, 6-4 and 235 who I think is going to give us some flexibility. I think a guy like that has an opportunity to play just because there is nobody in front of him, so he is walking to the front of the line just by coming on campus."
"I think it is going to be as much about opportunity with the younger players because there is a bunch of talent with this young class and I am excited about seeing what they can do on the field. I will make the decision on who will redshirt and who will play after we are in fall camp for about a week to ten days. That is when we will start to make our decisions based on how they come in, how they pick up the system and how ready they are to play physically, because we still have a lot of time between now and when this team is going to report."