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Tulsa Football signs 16 to National Letters-of-Intent

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The University of Tulsa head coach Philip Montgomery called the first-ever early signing period for collegiate football ‘a success’ as the Golden Hurricane signed a class of 16 student-athletes for 2018.

“We really didn’t know how things would work out with the early signing period. It’s new to all of us,” said Montgomery. “I thought overall our coaches did a great job in identifying the right fit for our university with this class, and we were focused in on trying to sign most of our class today.”

Tulsa’s class includes five junior college student-athletes and 11 high school seniors, while 10 are defensive players and six on offense. Among the signees, six will be mid-year enrollees, including all five junior college signees and prep quarterback Davis Brin.

JC transfers Malik Welch, a cornerback from Long Beach City College, and Blinn Junior College defensive end Cullen Wick will each have three years of eligibility remaining. Tulsa added Navarro JC linebacker Yohance Burnett as well as a pair of players from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M – defensive end Cade Baumann and offensive lineman Judge Hartin. Baumann and Hartin, who are both from Oklahoma high schools, helped lead NEO to a 9-3 record and a fourth-place national ranking in 2017.

Brin leaves Boerne Champion (Texas) High School after throwing for 6,524 yards and 57 touchdowns in his career.

“We’re excited about the entire class, but we’re certainly pleased that six of the 16 will be able to get acclimated to school in January and participate in spring practice,” said Montgomery. “This will be a huge spring for us, and having this number of newcomers getting a jump on what we’re doing is important when we get started in the fall.”

Among the 11 high school signees, three are from the state of Oklahoma and seven from Texas. The three Oklahoma student-athletes were all listed on The Oklahoman’s Super 30 list as the state’s top college prospects.

Running back TK Wilkerson, who is from nearby Skiatook High School, rushed for 1,785 yards and 24 touchdowns on 262 carries for a solid 6.8 average per carry. From the western part of the state, the Hurricane signed Jones High School tight end Dalton May and Del City linebacker Anthony Goodlow. May was a four-year letterwinner and as a senior caught 16 passes for 273 yards, a 17.1 average and three TDs. In his prep career, Goodlow, at 6’5”, played safety, linebacker and defensive end for the Eagles, and as a senior totaled 105 tackles, 30 TFLs, 19 sacks and 13 QB pressures.

Receiver Imiee Cooksey had two-year career totals of 71 receptions for 1,262 yards and 19 touchdowns at Haltom High School. Tulsa also added X’Zauvea Gadlin to the offensive side of the ball. As a lineman, Gadlin played four of the five offensive line positions in his three years as a starter at Mansfield Summit High School.

Tulsa added five prep defensive players from the state of Texas, including tackle Jaxon Player, cornerback Jabari James, safety Kendarin Ray and linebackers Grant Sawyer and Justin Wright.

Player totaled 117 tackles, 22 TFLs and eight sacks as a senior while helping his Waco Midway team post a 14-0 record. James and Ray are two extremely athletic players who will start out on defense in college after playing quarterback in high school. James put up over 5,000 yards of total offense in his final two seasons at Fort Bend Marshall High School, while Ray passed for 1,598 yards, rushed for 1,953 yards and totaled 35 TDs in his final two years at Brenham High School.

Sawyer played tight end and receiver on offense and on defense was credited 104 tackles and five interceptions as a senior safety. Wright totaled 91 tackles and 15 TFLs his senior season at Abilene Cooper High School.

2018 Tulsa Football Signees

(Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Cl. Hometown/Previous School)

Cade Baumann DE 6-4 240 Jr-JC Walters, Okla./Walters HS/NE Oklahoma A&M

Davis Brin QB 6-2 190 Fr. Boerne, Texas/Champion HS

Yohance Burnett LB 6-1 220 Jr-JC Pearland, Texas/Dawson HS/Navarro JC

Imiee Cooksey WR 5-11 185 Fr. Haltom City, Texas/Haltom HS

X’Zauvea Gadlin OL 6-4 290 Fr. Arlington, Texas/Mansfield Summit HS

Anthony Goodlow OLB 6-5 230 Fr. Del City, Okla./Del City HS

Judge Hartin OL 6-4 280 Jr-JC Madill, Okla./Madill HS/NE Oklahoma A&M

Jabari James CB 6-1 170 Fr. Missouri City, Texas/Fort Bend Marshall HS

Dalton May TE 6-4 240 Fr. Jones, Okla./Jones HS

Jaxon Player DT 6-0 285 Fr. Waco, Texas/Midway HS

Kendarin Ray S 6-4 190 Fr. Brenham, Texas/Brenham HS

Grant Sawyer LB 6-3 200 Fr. Argyle, Texas/Liberty Christian HS

Malik Welch CB 6-1 190 So-JC Inglewood, Calif./North Torrance HS/Long Beach CC

Cullen Wick DE 6-2 250 So-JC Hallettsville, Texas/Sacred Heart HS/Blinn JC

TK Wilkerson RB 6-2 210 Fr. Skiatook, Okla./Skiatook HS

Justin Wright LB 6-2 215 Fr. Abilene, Texas/Cooper HS

2018 Tulsa Football Signee BIOS

Cade Baumann DE 6-4 240 Jr-JC Walters, Okla./Walters HS/NE Oklahoma A&M

A mid-year transfer from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M … will participate in spring drills … was credited with 39 tackles and seven sacks for -27 yards in 2017 … helped lead his team to a 9-3 record and conference and regional titles in 2017 … was a first-team all-Southwest JC Conference all-league selection his sophomore season … junior college coach was Clay Patterson … was a four-year letterwinner at Walters High School … started four years on offense at tight end/receiver and was a three-year starter at linebacker … was the 2015 District 2A-3 MVP as a senior … also lettered three years in baseball, two years in track and one year in basketball … high school football coach was Faron Griffin … chose Tulsa over Army and Louisiana-Lafayette.

Davis Brin QB 6-2 190 Fr. Boerne, Texas/Champion HS

Will enroll in January 2018 and be able to participate in spring drills … was a three-year letterwinner at Boerne Champion High School, and two-year starter at quarterback … completed 463-of-799 passes for 6,650 yards and 58 touchdowns during his career, while rushing for 795 yards, a 4.9 average and 15 touchdowns on 162 carries … threw for 2,548 yards and 24 TDs and rushed for 414 yards and six touchdowns as a senior … named first-team Academic All-State as a senior … was the District 26-5A Offensive MVP as a senior … was chosen to play in the San Antonio Sports All-Star Football Game … threw for 3,535 yards and 30 touchdowns his junior season … earned first-team all-district and all-area honors as a junior, while being named the San Antonio Quarterback Club Player of the Year … passed for 567 yards and four TDs his sophomore season … also lettered two years in track, while tying the school record in the high jump with a jump of 6’4” … high school coach was Keith Kaiser.

Yohance Burnett LB 6-1 220 Jr-JC Pearland, Texas/Dawson HS/Navarro JC

A mid-year transfer from Navarro Junior College … will participate in spring drills … collected 64 tackles, four sacks, three TFLs, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble in just eight games in 2017 … named honorable mention all-Southwest Conference as a sophomore … junior college coach was Cody Crill … was a three-year letterwinner at Pearland Dawson High School … started both as a junior and senior at outside linebacker/defensive end … earned District 22-6A all-district first team honors as an outside linebacker in 2015 … high school coach was Eric Wells … chose Tulsa over Houston, Louisiana Tech and North Texas.

Imiee Cooksey WR 5-11 185 Fr. Haltom City, Texas/Haltom HS

Was a two-year letterwinner at Haltom High School … caught 40 passes for 837 yards and 14 touchdowns his senior season … had career totals of 71 receptions for 1,262 yards, a 17.8 average and 19 TDs … hauled in 31 passes for 425 yards and 5 TDs as a junior … high school coach was Jason Tucker … chose Tulsa over offers from Air Force, Bowling Green, Colorado State, New Mexico and North Texas.

X’Zauvea Gadlin OL 6-4 290 Fr. Arlington, Texas/Mansfield Summit HS

Was a three-year letterwinner and starter … played in 31 games his final three seasons of high school, and totaled 130 knockdowns … played four of the five line positions with the exception of center as a junior and senior … had 70 knockdowns his senior season, while helping his team post a 10-2 record … earned second-team all-district honors as a junior … was an Academic all-district selection as a sophomore and junior … during halftime as a sophomore he played trombone in the band … also lettered in basketball … high school coach was Channon Hall … his uncle, Orion Stewart, played at Baylor University and is with the Washington Redskins … chose Tulsa over New Mexico State, North Texas and Tulane.

Anthony Goodlow OLB 6-5 230 Fr. Del City, Okla./Del City HS

Was a three-year letterwinner at Del City High School … started for three seasons … played safety, linebacker and defensive end … totaled 105 tackles, 30 TFLs, 19 sacks, 13 QB pressures, three pass breakups and three caused fumbles as a senior outside linebacker/defensive end … selected as the District Player of the Year his senior season … was named to The Oklahoman’s Super 30 as the 27th top prospect in Oklahoma … was a 2017 VYPE Oklahoma Top-100 selection … compiled 70 tackles, four caused fumbles and three interceptions as a junior safety … high school coach was Mike Dunn … chose Tulsa over Memphis, Navy, UL-Monroe, Wyoming and Eastern Michigan.

Judge Hartin OL 6-4 280 Jr-JC Madill, Okla./NE Oklahoma A&M

A mid-year transfer from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M … will participate in spring drills … was a two-year starter … helped lead his team to an overall 9-3 record, conference title and No. 4 national NJCAA ranking in 2017 … earned second-team all-conference as a sophomore … helped pave the way for an offense that averaged 524.5 yards of total offense, 253.8 rushing yards and 36.2 points per game … junior college coach was Clay Patterson … was a four-year letterwinner and starter at Madill High School … started all four years on the offensive and defensive lines … also lettered in wrestling, powerlifting and track … was a two-time state qualifier in wrestling … high school coach was Milton Cooper.

Jabari James CB 6-1 170 Fr. Missouri City, Texas/Fort Bend Marshall HS

Helped lead his Fort Bend Marshall High School team to a 10-3 record as a senior … completed 113 passes for 2,211 yards and 27 touchdowns as a senior quarterback in 2017, while also rushing for 425 yards and five TDs … completed 14-of-25 passes for 290 yards and two TDs in the state quarterfinal loss against College Station … as a junior, completed 90 passes for 1,385 yards and 20 touchdowns, and rushed for 1,082 yards and 18 TDs on 144 carries … high school coach was James Williams … chose Tulsa over Texas Tech and Louisiana Tech.

Dalton May TE 6-3 240 Fr. Jones, Okla./Jones HS

Was a four-year letterwinner at Jones High School … started three years at tight end and all four seasons at defensive end … helped his team compile a four-year record of 47-7 record, including a 13-1 record his senior season … was named to The Oklahoman’s Super 30 as the 28th top prospect in Oklahoma … was a 2017 VYPE Oklahoma Top-100 selection … caught 16 passes for 273 yards, a 17.1 average and three TDs his senior season … totaled 40 tackles, six TFLs, five QB hurries and 4 sacks as a senior defensive end … had 12 receptions for 193 yards and five TDs as a junior, while helping his team to a 15-0 record and Oklahoma Class 3A state title … was an all-city defensive end selection by The Oklahoman as a junior … was credited with 734 yards and 12 touchdowns on 38 receptions in his career … on the defensive end, had 233 tackles, 44 TFLs, 31 QB hurries and 18 sacks during his career … helped lead his team to the Oklahoma Class 3A state title as a junior in 2016 … also lettered three years in baseball … high school football coach was Dave Martin.

Jaxon Player DT 6-0 285 Fr. Waco, Texas/Midway HS

Was a three-year letterwinner at Waco Midway High School … helped lead his team to a 15-0 record as a senior and will play in the state championship game this weekend … totaled 117 tackles, including 79 solos, 22 TFLs and eight sacks as a senior … was credited with 252 tackles, 46 TFLs, 26 hurries and 17 sacks in his three seasons … also caused seven fumbles and three recoveries in his career … had a No. 3 ranking as a defensive tackle in the state of Texas by MaxPreps … high school coach was Jeff Hulme.

Kendarin Ray S 6-4 190 Fr. Brenham, Texas/Brenham HS

Was a two-year starter at Brenham High School, where he played quarterback… completed 105-of-219 passes for 1,598 yards and 16 touchdowns, while rushing for 1,953 yards, a 6.7 average and 19 TDs in his two years … threw for 1,039 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushed for another 1,163 yards and 11 TDs his senior season … high school coach was Glen West.

Grant Sawyer LB 6-3 200 Fr. Argyle, Texas/Liberty Christian HS

Was a three-year letterwinner at Liberty Christian High School … played receiver, tight end and safety … started three years on offense and two years on defense … had 104 tackles and five interceptions from his safety position as a senior … earned first-team all-district and all-state honors his senior season … was named the Team MVP as a senior … was credited with 168 yards receiving and two TDs on nine catches as a junior in 2016, and also tallied 90 tackles and four interceptions … completed his junior season with 90 tackles, seven pass break-ups and four interceptions … high school was Barton Hundley … was recruited by Houston, North Texas and Tulane.

Malik Welch CB 6-1 190 So-JC Inglewood, Calif./Long Beach CC

A mid-year transfer from Long Beach City College … will participate in spring drills … has three years of eligibility remaining … helped Long Beach CC to an 8-3 record as a freshman in 2017, while totaling 15 tackles, three pass breakups, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery as a freshman … JUCO coach was Brett Peabody … played his prep football at North Torrance High School … was a three-year letterwinner … started three years at cornerback and his final two years at running back … had 1,200 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns, including four TDs on kickoff returns, as a prep senior … totaled 32 tackles, one interception and forced one fumble his senior season … was a first-team all-Pioneer Conference selection and earned second-team all-area honors by the Daily Breeze as a senior running back in 2016 … rushed for 920 yards and had 236 receiving yards his junior campaign, while compiling 46 tackles, three interceptions and two blocked kicks on defense … high school coach was Todd Croce … chose Tulsa over Nevada.

Cullen Wick DE 6-2 250 So-JC Hallettsville, Texas/Sacred Heart/Blinn JC

A mid-year transfer from Blinn Junior College … will participate in spring drills … will have three years of eligibility remaining … was credited with 45 tackles and 7.5 sacks for -41 yards as a red-shirt freshman at Blinn JC … junior college coach was Ryan Mahon … played his prep football at Hallettsville Sacred Heart High School … earned first-team all-district honors as a senior … also lettered in basketball and track … high school coach was Pat Henke … chose Tulsa over Texas State.

TK Wilkerson RB 6-2 210 Fr. Skiatook, Okla./Skiatook HS

Was a four-year letterwinner at Skiatook High School … started two years at running back and also started at outside linebacker his senior season … helped lead his team to a 12-2 record as a senior … totaled 1,785 yards and 24 TDs on 262 carries his senior campaign … ranked as the No. 17 prospect for Oklahoma in the Rivals.com rankings … was a 2017 VYPE Oklahoma Top-100 selection … a finalist for the 2017 VYPE Mr. Football Award … was named to The Oklahoman’s Super 30 as the 26th top prospect in Oklahoma … rushed for 1,158 yards and seven TDs in 10 games as a junior … was the position MVP at the Rivals 3 Stripe Camp in spring 2017 … had career totals of 445 carries for 3,305 yards, a 7.4 average and 33 touchdowns … high school coach was Vance Miller … chose Tulsa over SMU and Howard.

Justin Wright LB 6-2 215 Fr. Abilene, Texas/Cooper HS

A three-year letterwinner at Abilene Cooper High School … in addition to playing linebacker, also saw action at tight end and handled the punting duties … compiled 91 tackles, 15 TFLs, six sacks, three caused fumbles and two fumble recoveries as a senior … averaged 40 yards per punt his senior season … was a two-time all-district 4-5A selection and earned all-Big Country honors as a senior … totaled had two interceptions, including one for a TD in week 4 against Wolfforth Frenship High School … head coach was Todd Moebes … chose Tulsa over Nevada, UL-Monroe and Texas State.

Tulsa Head Coach Philip Montgomery Press Conference Transcript

Opening Statement…

It's Signing Day, and we're feeling our way through the early signing period, obviously it provides some different dynamics to it, but we're excited about it. We're excited about this. We got a great start to our class and we'll finish that up throughout the month of January and into the next Signing Day, February 7th.

What a great start! A lot of these guys have been committed for a long time and to be able to go ahead and seal that up, make it complete and give those guys the ability to kind of move on and get to the next phase and be concentrated on what they're doing, so it provided some unique experiences for us as we went through it this year. We'll learn from it as we continue to go. We'll see how the month of January goes. Signed 5 JUCO guys, 11 high school guys, and we will have six guys come in here at mid-term and be a part of it.

Some of those numbers could vary as we continue to keep working through it because the signing period actually lasts until Friday at 11:59 p.m. So a little bit different from your normal February 7th deal where it's just that day and it's over. This is kind of a three-day span that they have the opportunity to sign. We will see if anything else kind of occurs in the next couple of days.

Extremely proud and excited for our coaches and for these young men that have just joined our family and to be part of Tulsa football.

Q. Signing junior college guys, that became a priority, I know after the Temple game you made it sound like you guys weren't planning to go in that direction…

We always look. It's unique to be able -- and our guys have done a lot of research and a lot of background to be able to find a kid out of the junior college that can come in and number one help us on the field and number two, gotta be able to withstand the rigors of our institution. You've got to find that unique guy and that's difficult to do at the JC level. We were able to find a few of them, be able to get them into school, but we put an emphasis obviously there.

We were very young last year, we will still be young. We're losing a pretty good group of seniors. You know you've got holes to fill and being able to bring some experience on our football team, guys that have had to maybe go a different route but got a lot of good experience in that way and give our young kids an opportunity to keep growing physically and mentally as they approach this game.

Q. Were any of those guys ones your coaches had relationships with previously or starting from scratch?

No, most of them we had been keeping our eye on throughout the process, and we got on a couple of new guys there. You know the way recruiting goes, you've got a long list and you start narrowing it down and talking to guys and vetting the system, if you will.

Most of these guys we all had relationships prior. Some of these guys we've had relationships over a year with and just kind of tracking. As you go through the junior college ranks, everything -- especially on their timeline -- changes really, really fast and a lot of the JC recruitment happens in the last month and things change in a hurry.

We've had relationships with these guys, being able to build those and really on to some great kids.

Q. You have a lot of experience coming back because you had to play so many young players this year. Do you foresee it making a challenge for the new guys to see the field?

Yeah. The thing you're going to know about our program, our players already know this, is we're going to play the best 11 guys that can step on the field at one time, so it doesn't matter, classification, experience, any of that. If you're one those best 11, you're going to be starting and playing. That being said, we had to play some young guys this year that got some experience. That was great. That's going to help us in the future. Being able to bring in a junior college player to kind of speed up that process, we gotta continue to keep growing, continuing to keep maturing and those guys can help us in a lot of different instances, so I think it's going to be a good combination of our young guys continuing to grow and mature as well as adding experience depth in the midst of that.

Q. You bring in another local running back in T.K. Wilkerson. What stands out about his game?

PHILIP MONTGOMERY: What doesn't? I mean, he's a big guy, he's a beast, he runs downhill, he's very physical. Most schools were really trying to looking at him as a linebacker rather than a running back. We got on T.K. really early and formed a relationship with him and his mom. Just great people. He keeps producing. You watch his tape I love the way that he attacks the line of scrimmage and when he's in the open field. He's got the speed to take it to the house, but if there is a guy close enough he may run through him and then go ahead and score.

It's going to be a great combination with the backs we have right now. When you look at a guy like Shamari that can dance and skirt through things, still got a lot of power about him, don't get him twisted in that but the running styles between him and T.K. and Corey and those guys, being able to have different levels and different qualities or abilities in your running back position can be very beneficial as you go throughout the season. We had that a couple of years ago, you know, really with D'Angelo and James, two different style of runners but productive and fed off each other well. Want to try to keep that consistency within your running back group.

Q. You were in favor of the early Signing Day. Having come through it as big of a fan as you were going in, did it meet expectations? Is there anything you would like to see tweaked?

PHILIP MONTGOMERY: We're want all the way through it yet, so ask me again in February, all right? I did like -- I do like the early signing period, still. What it really did, though -- I mean, it sped everything up. From the thought of -- most of the time for me I only get to get in somebody's home one time. Our assistant coaches can go once a week, for me I only get my one shot in there. Now you're playing the game, do I do that now, wait and try and do that later? When do I spend that time in? I did more home visits in the month of December than I've ever done because the process was sped up.

You felt like if you were going to get them to sign today you had to go in there and you had to treat it like this is the only Signing Day we have.

So we approached it that way. I think we came out on the right end of this deal. There's some guys I know we were going to have to continue to keep battling and battling and battling. Every year we've gone through that.

To have guys already signed and committed and locked in with us and us locked in with them I think can only benefit us in the long one.

Q. Did most kids seem happy and ready to sign early? Did you get the sense that kids' parents felt rushed at all?

PHILIP MONTGOMERY: I don't think so, especially for those that have been committed to us not for a long time. We started talking about the process really, really early, talking about the December 20th Signing Day, kind of just kept putting it out there a little bit here and there, and as we got closer, this is the expectation we have. You've been committed to us and we've been committed to you; let's get this thing wrapped in a bow for Christmas.

We approached it that way, went to him that way, most guys were like, hey, coach, you're right I'm ready, let's get it done. We were good in that sense. Is the process speeding up? Sure it is. But the flip side of it is, it's the beast -- whatever date you put it on, it's going to be that way. Now we're going to go through it twice.

Q. I know Bo is a big fan of Davis. What do you see from him as a quarterback?

PHILIP MONTGOMERY: He's a guy that can throw everything in the book, got a sharp mind, great feet, love what he's doing already with his mechanics. There are some things we want to speed up and things we want to keep adjusting but from a tech side of it I really like what he's bringing to the table.

He's a kid that has done a lot in a lot of different offenses, I think what he's doing right now in high school will translate into what we do. I know he's a winner, a guy that is hungry to get better, wants to succeed at everything he does, great student, great family and very motivated.

Those are the qualities that you're looking for in your quarterbacks, and this kid, I think, has got a lot of those traits and is going to be a great player here.

Q. I know it's rare for a freshman to come in and start at quarterback in a big-time DI school, but the fact that he's coming in in early January and what you know about his mental make-up so far, do you give him a chance to do that?

PHILIP MONTGOMERY: We'll see. As we get into spring ball we're going to see what everybody's got. Like I told the team before they left for Christmas, I told them I wanted them to go home, relax, rest, get a little running and lifting in while you're gone, but try to let your body recoup from a long season, but understand when we step back in on these grounds, it's time to go to work.

We got a lot of work ahead of us and every position is going to be open and we're all going to be fighting for spots. Competition makes us better and everybody has a chance to prove who they are and who they want to be. Whether that's the quarterback spot, the running back spot, left tackle spot, whatever that might be we're going to compete all the way through it.

Q. You mentioned for guys that had been committed to you, you had been committed to pushing to go ahead and get it done now. If there was a kid hypothetically -- there have been coaches that said if a guy was wavering now, that might change their mind, if a kid was going to waiver and didn't want to sign now. Would that affect how you viewed him as a prospect?

PHILIP MONTGOMERY: Honestly I think it does. If you've been committed and we've been committed and you elect not to sign, now, obviously you've got to have some reasons, what are we thinking here, what are we doing? But if you don't sign on the 20th, how committed are you, really? So we have to at least take into account, you know, something may be going on here so I need to be sure that, you know, I'm working my list, I've got guys that I feel good about that I'm continuing to recruit and stay on to make sure that I don't get that midnight hour call, hey, coach, I've decided to do something else and now you're left with where do I go from here?

I think all those factor into this early signing period and guys that have been committed if they don't sign, you as a coach -- our job is to do what we can to make this program the best program in America. So I have to protect what's on my shirt. So if you not don't sign then I've going to be out there look and making sure I'm ready if something does occur that I'm ready for what my next step is going to be.

Q. You mentioned Shamari. Now you have T.K. Wilkerson. How important is it for you to have home-grown guys on your roster?

PHILIP MONTGOMERY: I think we signed five, six guys already in this class, and we'll add a few more in this class that are from the Oklahoma area. There is great football here and, you know, we've got to do a good job of continuing to recruit this state well. Coaches do a great job and guys in this state have really come here and played well. Shamari is a great example and D'Angelo is a great example, and we can go down the list of guys.

It's great to be able to go out and recruit this state and do a good job of continuing to find guys that come here and really make a name for themselves and get a great education on top of it.

Q. I haven't had a chance to look nationally at where different teams depending on where they typically fall in the rankings, if you will, what their percentage is, verbal commitment versus what signed today, but it seems to me like this is a pretty impressive percentage, especially recruiting off of 2-10, even though you're not far removed from 10-3. Maybe talk about the work your coaches did to get all those guys to sign. It seems to me like that probably is something you would be proud of?

PHILIP MONTGOMERY: Yeah, I am proud. Our coaches have done a great job of building relationships. I think we've done that since we've been here. We've done a good job of evaluating talent, making sure that we're all on the right guys, guys that can come in here and help us, be the future of this program and still maintain the level of excellence that we have to have.

Our guys, our coaches did a great job of going out and staying in rooms and staying in houses and making sure that those relationships held true and our commitments stayed solid and we were where we wanted to be at this point.

I don't know what the percentage is across the country of guys that signed and got it done. I would, again, like you think it was pretty high, but I haven't seen those. As far as rankings of classes and things like that, I never pay attention to that. I don't know who has two stars, five stars, anything else. We're looking for guys that fit our mold that are unbelievable football players but also have a burning desire to get a great degree that's going to carry them on in life. They've got to be good on and off the field here and we have to make sure we're recruiting the right people.

Q. How many do you expect to get?

PHILIP MONTGOMERY: Anywhere from 20 to 22.

Q. Have you ever offered someone the night before Signing Day and they sign the next morning?

PHILIP MONTGOMERY: Um --

Q. That's a quick turn-around.

PHILIP MONTGOMERY: It's a quick turn-around, and it's unusual. I don't think we've ever done that, especially under the circumstances that we are under here. You might have done that with a kid that had been to your campus and seen it and toured it, done all that.

Never done it with -- Justin signed sight unseen, hadn't visited up here and done all those things.

Again, that goes back to your evaluation and the relationship that you're building that we've kind of talked about. We've been recruiting you for a while, we've been on it, but this is the situation, and we jumped and we moved and he was ready to make that jump with us.

Q. If you're on some good Texas high school players, some of them are playing in the state championship on Saturday, so their season isn't over. They haven't had a chance to make a visit yet. I know the question was asked earlier if there is something that could be tweaked, is that one thing if you think back on it, the kids in Texas? Some of them haven't had a visit yet.

PHILIP MONTGOMERY: Some of that's true. For us, let's talk about Jaxon Player, our nose tackle that signed out of Waco-Midway. They are playing for the state championship this weekend. Fortunately for him we took his official visit during their bye week in high school so he came up, was able to visit and spent that time with us and had some quality time in that. There are some other guys that are playing state championship games right now that haven't had the chance to come up.

They were planning on coming up after their season was over, and they're still playing, so they didn't have the opportunity to do that; hence, they haven't had the opportunity to sign because, hey, I want to come up with my mom and see everything. You're fighting that battle, what are the keys to him of not signing? You just keep recruiting and hope your relationship continues to hold true.

Q. If you had to pinpoint a diamond in the rough or a sleeper kid that maybe not many were high on that you're glad you have in this class, I know it's early but is there one or two that jumps out as someone to keep an eye on that most don't know about?

PHILIP MONTGOMERY: I think there's a lot of great players on this list and not to take away from one guy on the other guy. You look at a Jaxon Player, a lot of people didn't want to recruit him because they didn't think he was tall enough, and I think he's going to be a dominant player at our division, our league, and plays with such a motor and plays relentlessly on the field, loves the game of football.

Then you take a guy like Jabari James, played quarterback in high school, is coming here to play corner, long, athletic, can run, has a passion about playing corner he's excited about being here.

You take Kendarin Ray. He's played extremely well all year long, but he's a combination of a McKinley and a Manny. Long, 6-2, 6-3 kid, his ceiling, we don't know what that's going to be. Great personality, great leader on this football team, playing every sport, so when he gets here, how is he going to develop, what's his body going to look like and how is that transition going to happen. I think there's a lot of guys on that list that you could go down and talk about those guys just like that.

Grant Sawyer, a kid that came to camp. He's a safety, he's going to play linebacker position for us and I sit in his home and I see how much weight he's put on and starting to develop. I think a guy that has a tremendous, tremendous upside. I could go down the list and talk about every one of them that way. It would be hard to pick out one guy that I think is the diamond in the rough that all of the sudden is going to make it happen.

Q. What is today like for you? You've done the recruiting and the home visits and as you're sitting back waiting for the letters to come in what's going your mind in this process?

PHILIP MONTGOMERY: I can say it now, it feels like Christmas. You're waiting to unwrap presents, now you're waiting for the fax machine or it to come across on your email. We've put time and effort into this. Obviously as fast as it's going this year with the early signing period, the season was a long season, you know, then we hit the road recruiting and we've been really diligent on the road, let's say it that way, and been grinding our way through it.

An exciting day. A lot of emotion involved in it. Momma is crying on the phone, us crying in the room saying, hey, this is a great, great day, so those are things that you love to experience, but I'm going to be real honest, I'm ready for a nap. I need a little sleep.

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