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By LARRY VAUGHT
Question: Do you have a recruiting policy now of making sure you or an assistant sees a player in person before a scholarship offer is made?
Joker Phillips: “We will not sign a guy unless we see him at camp or at his practice. We are not going to sign players based on seeing them on film. Everyone offensive lineman we signed last year and have committed this year, (offensive line coach) Mike Summers saw. I trust him more than some (recruiting) guy putting stars (for rankings) on the guy. Mike Summers knows what he wants.
“I trust all our coaching staff. That’s one reason we have good kids in our program, and that’s what matters to me. I see guys leaving programs and getting in trouble and knew it was coming, and their coach knew. We do our homework on kids. We want kids that will be good in the locker room. We will take chances on kids if we think there is a chance they can be saved, but some can’t be saved. If a kid is in my office and is bawling after he gets his scholarship offer, that matters to me because I know he wants to be here. I am excited about this recruiting class that just walked on campus and ones that are committed (for next year). Our staff is evaluating and not worrying about star ratings. Wesley Woodyard is in the NFL now. He had two offers — Kentucky and Burger King. He was probably going to work at Burger King. Jeremy Jarmon was a two-star guy. Randall Cobb was. You have to trust your coaches more than the stars.”
Question: What do you think of freshman punter Landon Foster?
Phillips: “We saw him in person on campus. (Assistant coach) Greg Nord and I watched him. Sometimes you get enamored with a guy, so the thing we did is ask him to come back another time. He came back the next week so we could see how he performed with other great kickers because we wanted to get the best one. He performed for us and is a great athlete. We feel like we really have another great punter. Reports we are hearing from Ryan Tydlacka, who has signed with the Philadelphia Eagles and has been back on campus, is that Landon has a lot of talent.
“You want to see a kicker on your campus because of the balls. A lot of times in high school they are kicking balloons. The balls we put in the game rotation are the ones the quarterbacks likes. They are going to be newer and harder balls than high school kickers use. I have seen high school kickers that only use one ball. I want our quarterback to feel comfortable with the balls we are using, so I want to see how a high school kid will kick that same ball.”
Question: Is redshirt freshman receiver Bookie Cobbins okay academically to begin preseason practice?
Phillips: “He is okay academically. He finished the semester up really well for us last semester and a lot of that happened when we took him off the field (during spring practice). I think he is competitive enough and has enough pride and that is an embarrassing moment for a guy when you take him off the field and his teammates have to see he is no longer there. A competitor will bow his neck and get things done and that’s what Bookie did. He spent a lot of time in our CATS Center with (advisor) Barb Dennison. The whole month of May was with (strength coach) Rock Oliver in the CATS Center making sure he was there and making sure he was where he was supposed to do.
“Getting a guy from a freshman to a sophomore is hard. A lot of times it is the first time they are away from home and they don’t really understand how to get themselves up or get to places they need to be. I think it is now kicking in for Bookie.”