Your recruiting message at USC used to be "come do something for the first time." A lot of those items were checked off after winning the SEC East. How has the message changed?
"All that stuff we had been talking to them about was validated this year. We did that. We accomplished it. Now it's a matter of taking the next step. We've gotten to Atlanta; now our deal is to win it. It's been proven, too, that if you win that game, you've got a good shot to play for the national championship. We've got to take care of business and win the thing when we get back."
Without naming any names, it has to be good to again be in the mix for another high-end, nationally regarded recruit. You landed Stephon Gilmore and Alshon Jeffery two years ago, Marcus Lattimore last year. There's a big fish out there again in 2011.
"Coach (Steve) Spurrier was talking about it yesterday with a recruit. On either side of him (at last weekend's basketball game), he had the last two Mr. Footballs in the state of South Carolina (Gilmore, Lattimore). Behind him, he had a Biletnikoff Award finalist (Jeffery). On the other side of him is this year's Mr. Football (Clowney). You want to be surrounded by great players, obviously."
What about the fact that they all happen to be from South Carolina?
"It's critical for us in this state to keep the best players in this state at home. Coach Spurrier and I were talking about this yesterday. You know, arguably three of the top five or six picks in the NFL draft this year are guys from this state, from the same area (Da'Quan Bowers, A.J. Green, Robert Quinn). They came out the same year, and we didn't get any of them. There's great high school football in this state; great players and great coaches. We want to do our part to get them to stay at home and go to USC."
Have you all addressed what you wanted to get in this class?
"I think so. We went into it knowing we were really, really deficient on the defensive line and offensive line -- particularly from a depth standpoint. All you have to do is come watch us practice. You look at the lines for the scout teams, and it wasn't good. We've got walk-on tight ends playing offensive tackle for us on the scout team. We've got walk-on long snappers playing center for us on the scout team. We've got walk-on linebackers playing defensive line on the scout team. We needed to sign some guys and get some depth, and that's what we've done. We've got a lot of linemen coming into this program. We're always looking for linebackers and cover guys. They always fill your core."
With the new limitations on 28 signees and 25 summer additions, has this been a particularly challenging year in terms of juggling the numbers?
"It makes it a little bit more of a challenge, but as a recruiting coordinator and in our office, we've got to be extremely detailed and organized and on top of things. Back in October, we knew our numbers were going to be tight and we started making a plan for it then. We're confident and secure in what we're doing."
I believe you all are currently at 31 recruits, with some guys counting back to next year. You might place a couple in prep school, too. Where do you stand now and would anyone have to grayshirt?
"There will be some guys we'll have communication with. We know and they know they have some academic concerns at this point. We'll talk to them. We have some guys that have some injury concerns. They'll require some rehabilitation to play. But make no mistake, everyone we have committed right now we want in this program. It's not a situation where we're turning anybody free or anything like that. All these guys, we're confident they'll be playing out there for us in Williams-Brice Stadium at some point soon. We're ready to sign 28 on Signing Day and get rolling."