Football inks eight mid-year signees

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas football head coach David Beaty got an early start on the 2017 Jayhawk signing class as he announced that eight student-athletes signed letters of intent Wednesday on the first day of the mid-year signing period.

Beaty welcomed freshman linebacker Kyron Johnson, sophomore cornerback Hasan Defense and juniors Peyton Bender (quarterback), J.J. Holmes (defensive tackle), Willie McCaleb (defensive linemen), KeyShaun Simmons (defensive linemen) and Shakial Taylor (cornerback) to the Jayhawk program as mid-year signees.

Thanks a lot for coming in today. Got a couple of things we wanted to talk about one more time before the year ended. I appreciate you taking some time out today to come in and spend some time with us.

It’s a really great time of the year and I know all of us have been really busy for five or six months, and it’s going to be a really about time for some of us to be able to spend some quality times with our families. We certainly hope that you and yours have a happy holiday season, and we just thank you for your loyal coverage and staying with us throughout the year. Certainly hope everybody travels safe as you travel to wherever you’re heading to go see family.

It’s been a very difficult week for us and our program here. Obviously with the loss of a true warrior by the name of Cole Hayden. Cole had a true passion for several things in his life, but especially football. He had a great passion for that. You know, just reminded me by watching some of the videos that Shanda (Hayden) posted on her Facebook, you could see the passion come alive for what he had for that game.

He touched so many lives in that short length that he spent here on earth, and I know our hearts are truly broken for Shanda and Steve (Hayden). But as they move forward, we are going to be here to support them every step of the way and just would ask that you would continue to send your thoughts and prayers their way for that family. Shanda and Steve, we love you. Anything we can ever do, you know we’re here for you.

I know some of you have asked a little bit about what’s going on with services and there’s going to be a celebration of his life Friday at 10:00 a.m., in Ottawa, and if you need any further details with anything like that, you can certainly refer to Katy Lonergan. She can help with you that.

Just before we get into moving around on some new guys that joined us today that we’re really excited about, what a great group of guys that we’ve added.

Just wanted to touch base on having multiple players this year recognized in post-season honors:

Dorance Armstrong, obviously is a guy that was a unanimous selection. I believe it was the first time that we’ve had a unanimous selection at KU since we’ve been in the Big 12 which is obviously a great accomplishment.

Really excited for Fish (Smithson) to be named first team in that coach’s poll. I thought that was tremendous for him. Man, just a great example of a guy that just continues to persevere, and all he did was produce. That’s the thing I loved about the fact that those coaches saw fit to recognize him is because he did it week-in and week-out. Posted great numbers for us, and I know we’re really excited for him. I think he’s going to be moving into the East-West Shrine game here soon.

We have a number of guys playing in those post-season games, seniors, which that’s a good sign, when you have seniors that are leaving and they are all getting invited to play in these games. And there’s several of them, I know of at least four or five right now that are invited to play in one or more of those games, and really excited about that, man.

So really excited for these seniors as they move forward, not only as they move forward in their football career but as they move forward in their lives. They are going to be great members of our society, which is something that makes us as proud of anything.

Mike Lee I think was honored today in a couple of different publications. That’s something we’re really proud of, that guy playing at such a young age, man, we’re really proud of that kid, and was really good to see that he was recognized for his play this year. So excited about him.

Just a lot of guys that we have coming back, which is going to be the future kind of looks bright for us when it comes to that, because we have a lot of guys that we can talk about. It’s going to be good.

Just want to talk a little about our guys that we signed today. What a great day for us. We’ve been able to add some really quality players to our team, and the thing that I really, really take away from this is the fact that we’re able to add quality players that are good men that come from good programs that are coached by great coaches and have great families, and we’ve gotten to spend time with all these folks.

But they are going to be able to help us now and be able to help us in the spring and we start getting ahead by being able to get these guys on campus. And it just kind of goes hand-in-hand with what we’ve been doing here to get our roster back where we need it to be by getting those guys here and getting some training underneath them.

Several guys we signed today. The first guy I’ll talk to you about is a quarterback named Peyton Bender. Peyton actually went to high school in Florida he hails from Georgia. Peyton is a guy that played at Itawamba Community College in Mississippi.

Nick Coleman, great, great guy down there, coaches their offensive side of the ball. He was really helpful to us when it came to recruitment of him and just can’t thank him enough for all the things that he did for us.

Coach Dubuc down there at Cardinal Gibbons was a great, great help for us, and can’t say enough great things about this guy because of the people he’s been around.

Peyton started his career at Washington State. Maybe a lot of you know about that, but he played under Coach Leach and obviously we have a lot of respect for Coach Leach. He already has a very good understanding of what the air raid is about. Been able to visit with him quite a bit and he could pretty much step in right now and run our offense without hesitation because he under knows it, terminology and everything.

Very talented guy. One of the things that drew me to Peyton right away was his quick release. His release is about as clean and as quick as I’ve been around in a long time. I mean, he and I have talked at length about the guys he reminds me of when it comes to his release. A quick release does a lot of things for you in this game, and particularly in this league. Windows open and close so fast, and if you can’t get the ball out quick, it makes a huge difference.

We know that Peyton is going to be a guy that is going to be able to come in and compete for a job, really early here. We need him to come in here and compete and push Carter (Stanley) right now, and I know Carter won’t give that thing up easy and I know Peyton is going to want to come in here and try to win that job.

So it will be great competition and it will be a good addition to our team. Not only is he a terrific talent but he’s a great, great leader. I love his poise on the field. His mom and dad, but Mike and Kelly Bender, are as cool of folks I’ve ever met. We’ve had so much fun recruiting them. I’m telling you, they are a great, great family to add to our Jayhawk family.

I’m really excited about Peyton getting here. He’s been coached by some terrific guys, not the least of which obviously is Coach Leach, and he has a good feel and he has already played college football at this level in this offense. Really excited about him.

Hasan Defense. He’s a cornerback that we signed out of Kilgore College down in Texas, junior college. Hasan is a guy out of St. Augustine, Florida. Played at Atlantic Coast High School. Got to go down and sit with his mom and dad, what terrific people. Got to spend some time, his dad is an official in some of the smaller divisions down there in the southern part of the United States, and man, he has a lot of information and insight about football.

So it was a fun visit getting to sit and visit with him and his wife. Really good family here. This is a guy that gives us some length, a guy that can really run, and a guy that’s played against really high-level competition when it comes to receivers in that league down there in Texas, that junior college league. There’s a lot of terrific players down there. We recruited a lot of them and just watching him, he was one of the better players in that conference, if not one of the best cover guys that we saw in the conference down there.

Really terrific kid, and I think that he’s a guy that’s going to help us fill that void that our two senior corners left. I think that he can come in and compete to win that job. So we were looking for that obviously at that position.

J.J. Holmes, a big defensive tackle that comes to us from Hutch Junior College or community college. Rion Rhoades, man, what a great guy he’s been to our program over the years, and man, he was terrific in helping us recruit this guy.

Kenny Perry did a terrific job recruiting both these guys, Hasan and J.J. He is a good-looking 6-3, 235-pound guy that might be — 335-pound, he might be 355 right now. But man, comes from a terrific family, I mean a terrific family.

His dad, John Holmes, Sr., Pamela, both of them are terrific people. They own a tree-cutting business down there in Florida kind of on the Gulf coast. Got to spend a lot of time with them this last weekend and been on the phone and been in their houses, and that is just a hard-working family, ten kiddos down there and every one of them are part of that family business. When he’s home, he’s working.

And that’s what I like about this kid is the home that he comes from. His mom, this terrific lady, she works her tail end off down there. And man, they built a really thriving business down there on that coastline. And just so much upside in this kid because of the type of things that he was raised with in his home, and obviously what Rion brought to the table with him.

Big, strong, fast, productive guy. Great first step, very powerful. We think this guy can be a guy that really can do some things a lot like Daniel Wise. The guy weighs more. He’s bigger than Daniel and he is strong and he is very, very talented. This as a great gift for us. The guy was hard to get.

I thought Kenny did a terrific job recruiting this guy. You don’t get players without dudes that can recruit and Kenny Perry and the rest of this staff, man, Kenny Perry recruits his tail off. He did a terrific job on getting these guys here.

Next guy that we signed is a receiver that we really had a plan on from the entire way, and it was really the only one that the plan really worked. We wanted to keep him under wraps. If it wasn’t for Coach Wagner out there, it wouldn’t have happened, but he did a terrific job in helping us. Rob Likens did a great job recruiting this guy for us.

Kerr Johnson is a receiver right there out of Santa Rosa Junior College, and we were looking for a specific type of guy for a specific type of deal that we needed within our offense. He was the guy that we were looking for, and we weren’t sure if we were going to keep him under wraps or not. But with the help of Coach Wagner, he did exactly what he told us he would do; he helped us.

Today we signed Kerr, and not many people knew about that. And he is a terrific, very productive player. This guy is about 5-11, 180 pounds, but he’s got arms that belong on a 6-4 guy. He’s got big hands. He reaches away from his body when he catches the ball. He’s got a great catch radius. He’s got terrific quickness; the guy can really run and the first guy doesn’t tackle him.

We were looking for guys that can run after the catch. This guy, you go back and watch his highlight tape and watch him pull away from guys, watch him run in vertical balls and being able to stiff-arm a guy while he’s still moving forward, and watch how he splits defenders. Man, that’s what you’re looking for. You’re looking for guys that do that and guys that have enough speed and quickness to get open over the middle of the field, and he does it time and time again on his tape.

He was a first team all-conference guy as a freshman there. I think he was an all-state player in high school. Man, this dude flew under the radar and I’m glad he did. Man, we’re lucky we got him. I’m really excited about Kerr being here. I think he’ll be a really productive player for us.

Next guy is a high school kid, Kyron Johnson. Comes to us from Arlington Lamar High School. Kenny wanted me to make sure y’all know that’s his high school. He went to Arlington Lamar. Terrific tradition at that school, one of the greatest high school coaches in all of the country, Eddy Peach, coached there for years and years and years. He’s got a number of guys that have worked down through that lineage, and Kenny is one of them. But I’m telling ya, man, just a terrific player.

His mom, Stephanie, has been terrific throughout this thing. Broderick, his dad has been terrific. We spent a lot of time recruiting this guy. Got him committed in the summer.

When I think of Kyron, I think of blazing fast speed. He’s gotten bigger. He’s probably closer to 6-2 now and he’s probably 205 right now. This guy will be 230 pounds, and he can run and he’s already got that length, which is really, really good.

The thing that really caught our eye with Kyron, we went to a practice one day and he’s playing inside linebacker and they throw a bubble to the right, a little swing pass to the right. And he runs past about four defenders and just blows this poor kid up. You know, you see that play and you’re like, you know, man that, was pretty good. And you watch him the rest of the day and he is all over the field and he can fly. He comes to our camp and he runs a low 4-4 or high 4-3 on some clocks. This guy can fly. He can really run. In this league, it’s about speed.

So length and speed is what this league has turned into, and you need guys that can do that. He can not only be a great player inside, because he’s very strong for a guy his size, but he can cover folks because he can run. He can move light side-to-side. He’s a mid-year high school guy, so he’ll be joining us in January.

We’re going to like this guy. He’s a very mature young man. So it be would be nice to see him be able to contribute for us as a young player. We’re going to need him. We don’t have many guys that can run that fast on this team, period, particularly at that linebacker spot. Not many people — that dude can run. We’re looking forward to see him play on special teams, as well, along with Hasan, Kerr. All those guys we think are going to be great additions to our special teams units.

The next guy, Willie McCaleb, we got on for a while and Willie is a very dynamic player. He can do a lot of things for us. But he’s a guy that we tried to keep under the radar for a while because we knew he was a dude that was going to be able to blow up. He was committed to Troy for a long time, and he went to Northwest Mississippi Junior College. His coaches were very helpful to us.

You know, we’ve got a GA on our staff, Micah Davis, who did a terrific job recruiting this year from within our walls and that’s hard to do for a GA. But he did a really nice job of doing what he could do to make sure we identified players, and he did a really nice job bringing a couple of guys to us that we thought could really help us.

Willie is one of those guys. We really needed a guy to play opposite Dorance. You know, we’re losing Damani (Mosby), and being able to find a guy that already has playing experience at the collegiate level and a guy that is dynamic enough to draw some double teams and some chips away from Dorance, that’s going to be critical. That last game, they did exactly what I would have done. I would have chipped him the whole time, too, and that’s what they did. When you have that, you’ve got to have a guy on the other side that can be able to be productive.

Willie gives us that juice off the edge on the other side now to do it. And I think when you see Isaiah grow, he’s going to be a guy that’s going to be able to do that, too. But now we just add some depth and a guy that is a very sharp, very mature guy for his age.

Man, we’re going to like Willie McCaleb. He can run. He’s big enough to play that six technique for us and hold that C-gap. But man, the thing I really like him is the dude can rush the passer, he can do it. There’s no doubt about it.

KeyShaun Simmons, another Mississippi guy. Micah Davis and those guys found this dude down there, and another dude that is, man, I’m really happy he’s here, because he is truly a guy that can play six, five technique, or even move down to a three we think. He’s probably 6-2 and some change, and he’s every bit of 285 pounds right now and he might be able to get a little bit bigger. I don’t know how much bigger we want him to get.

But this guy is a guy exactly what we were looking for us from a six technique. We are seeing a lot more tight end in this league, or at least some off-the-ball tight end stuff, and you’ve got to have anchor points in that C-gap and man, this guy really helps us kind of answer that issue. And he’s another very, man, very mature guy at a young age.

Kerr Johnson was a qualifier for us out of high school. Peyton Bender was a qualifier out of high school, really excited about that. The last guy I’ll talk to you about is a qualifier out of high school. When we are looking at junior college guys, we want the majority of those guys to be qualifiers to help us, because we know they have been there and we know they are success-oriented.

KeyShaun is another very mature guy that we are looking forward to having here. He’s very athletic. He does a lot of things. He played basketball. I mean, I watched that dude shoot the basketball at our official visit, we had this little deal we were doing and man, he’s athletic. For a big dude, he’s a very athletic guy and he can rain some threes; the dude can hit them. He can move.

But I really enjoyed getting to know his mom. Stephanie was here this weekend. She was just as sweet as she could be. His dad wasn’t able to make it but man, he’s got a bunch of brothers and sisters at the house that are good folks. But man, we are really excited about him coming here. He is a good-looking guy. He reminds me a lot of a bigger Daniel Wise, is what he reminds me of. But this guy is really big and really strong. Really happy to get him here. Once again I thought Micah (Davis) did a great job in identifying that guy.

Lastly, another guy we really needed, we lost two really productive corners for us, and we really needed to replace those guys with some guys that have experience. We have some youth here but we needed some guys that have had some experience.

And Shakial Taylor we signed out of Mesa (Community College), and Shakial actually is a kid that’s out of the southeastern part of the United States. He’s down there from Florida and he actually started against us, his first collegiate game was (Kansas) against South Dakota State. He was one of the corners for South Dakota State. Just in talking to him, he felt like after he played that year, he knew if he could play as a freshman, that he thought he could play Power Five football, and he wanted to have a chance to do that.

So he transferred to Mesa, and he wound up going there and having a fine career. And he and I were talking this morning, he was like, “Coach, it’s so crazy, my first game was played right there on that field, and now I’m playing for you guys.” And he was so grateful; to hear that in his voice is exactly what we were looking for.

But big, long, tall, rangy guy, long arms, has plenty of weight on him but can really run. Has been very productive throughout his career. He started for South Dakota State as a true freshman out there. He played in a lot of games for those guys up there and then had a really good career at Mesa.

Once again, another qualifier out of high school that is something that was really important to us. I got to talk to his mom on the phone. She wasn’t able to make it on an official visit but I talked a lot with Ulexis, is her name, and she’s just a sweetheart.

But her mom, his grandma came on the visit, Ms. Gray, and she is a real football lady. One of her sons plays for the Houston Texans right now, so it’s a very athletic family. Robert Nelson is who it is and he got his first start this week. So she left here, and went and watched them play and watched him get his first start. So she was really excited about the weekend. I think she wants to come back and hang us and eat all the good meals that we had, because we had some good meals for them this weekend.

Just terrific families. I think that’s the one thing that sticks out to me about this whole group is every one of these kids families really checks out for us. Because when we’re going and recruiting and we’re trying to add men to our program, we’re not just looking at them. We’re looking at their families, too, because that tells us a lot about them, and these guys, man, we have terrific families around them, which means they are going to be great additions to our team.

We are really excited about this group. We think we have a lot of good ones in here and the greatest thing for me is we have got them here already. So we got a whole semester with them before they have to get ready for fall camp and that’s terrific. So I’m excited about that.

Really good group overall. We actually addressed just about every need that we had at the midyear. There will be some other needs addressed on that February date, but we addressed just about everything that we wanted to get accomplished, we were able to get accomplished and my hat goes off to our staff. Our football coaches did a terrific job, not just them. I thought our support staff, Jeff Jordan and his group, did a terrific job of turning over rocks all over the place, all over the place to make sure that we could give ourselves the best pool of players to choose from, because that’s how we are going to get this thing turned around. You do it through recruiting and developing.

I know you have a bunch of questions. So let’s take it away from there.

Q. Was it pretty important to you that all the JUCO guys be able to get here in the spring?
COACH BEATY: You would definitely like for that to happen. If you don’t get all your needs addressed, then sometimes you have to look at May if you really think you need a junior college guy. But for us, the No. 1 priority is always to get them here in January if you can.

Q. Peyton Bender could have gone to any number of Power Five schools. Is there something that makes it all the more significant that he chose you guys?
COACH BEATY: Well, you know, for us, obviously it’s flattering that he chose us because he did have a lot of other options, he had a lot of other options.

The kid grew up in Georgia. He had an offer from Georgia here late. That was his dream school and he never flinched. I know for a fact that there was a lot of contact trying to be made through every avenue to get to Peyton and the great thing for us is that he never wavered.

Peyton was here for the Texas game. From the time that they left, they left at halftime, but from the time that they left, I was getting texts from him with him talking about what a special place this is and how excited he was to maybe have an opportunity here.

I think from that standpoint, it wasn’t just them. There’s any number of guys, people that were in the air raid, and man, we are all looking for that type of dude. And I think there was a lot of people that were trying to talk to him late and he stayed with us.

You know, I think a lot of it has to do with the relationship that we had with him. I thought a lot of our staff members got involved and all of them did a terrific job. You know, I really think what helped us is his family’s unit is very strong.

Mike and Kelly are as good of parents as you’ll ever meet in the world, and being able to spend some time with them and them get to go understand our family environment here, I think that really helped. I think they realize, because they spend a lot of time with us, realize that what they saw is what they were going to get. I think that was important to them.

Q. You mentioned that you want him to come in and push Carter obviously right away. Is it too early to know how broad that competition at quarterback is going to be or what you’re going to do with the rest of those guys, or does that have to play out before really you know what’s going to happen?
COACH BEATY: Yeah, it’s too early right now honestly. Man, really, I’m trying to get through today. It will be an interesting deal at all positions, not just QB.

We obviously finished up the year with momentum going forward and Carter has a lot to do with that. That kid is a tough sucker, boy. I’m not going to say it publically before we play against a team because they will blitz us every dadgum play and hit him. But the kid could barely lift his arm on Wednesday before we played K-State.

There was one play in particular in the game where his arm locked on him and he couldn’t get the ball out. We were trying to throw a shallow to Steven Sims, and if we can get it to him, he’s running for a long time; it was a third down play. But when he ripped his arm up, it locked up on him. He couldn’t get it going. That’s a tough dude. He played, that dude played through a lot of pain, for the last two weeks, and that was very impressive to me and us. He did a lot of things with his legs.

The great thing about Peyton and Carter is those kids are not afraid to compete. They are not afraid to compete. Peyton is a terrific player and he’s very talented and he already knows this positive. The way you get better is if you have competition, so you’ve got to have competition coming in.

But as we leave today, Carter left that field as our starter going into the spring. But you’re only as good as your — indiscernible — I’ve been saying that from the very beginning and we’re not going to come off of that.

Q. Tempo is very important to you, and it seemed to me, you agree or disagree, that when Carter took over, the tempo of the offense increased, whether he processed quicker or whatever. Are you able to judge Peyton Bender in that vein, how quickly he can process and keep the offense moving, bang, bang, bang?
COACH BEATY: I can only go by what I see, but as I watch the footage from his time at Washington State and watching his footage from Itawamba, I think there’s no doubt, no doubt. Just in talking to the guys at Washington State, the quarterback that won the job there, it was him and the other one that were fighting, Luke (Falk). And that competition from what I understand was very, very tight, very, very tight, and they were happy to have both guys.

So I think that kid’s really talented. The key to tempo is first downs. You’ve got to string first downs together. You can go fast for three plays and then you punt it and everybody says, boy, that’s a great tempo you’ve got there. You’re right. You’ve got to put first downs together and that’s how you get tempo going. When you can’t put first downs together, you’re not going to have much tempo.

The thing I thought Carter did was our first down average per game went way up when he stepped in the game. When he took over against West Virginia, our first downs turned into something that we could deal with and that was important. That was important. So I think Peyton can do the same things, there’s no doubt about it.

Q. When you look at Peyton, does he physically remind you or does his style remind you of any air raid quarterbacks of the past, Graham Harrell, or anybody like that?
COACH BEATY: You know, he’s got a release, he’s got a release that reminds me of a kid that played at Virginia Tech. He transferred from Texas Tech, he started there, Michael Brewer. Saw Michael Brewer play when he was at Lake Travis (High School), and until I saw Peyton Bender, it was the quickest, most efficient release I’ve ever seen.

Michael Brewer’s release is as pretty as I’ve ever seen. Kid won a couple state championships at Travis. This dude was talented now. Didn’t work out at Texas Tech. I think he got hurt and went to Virginia Tech and got out of the air raid, but still played really well there.

But Peyton reminded me, when I saw his tape and went down and watched him throw, I was like, that’s Michael Brewer’s release. There’s not many people that have that. The thing that that does, is man, it gets you out of trouble. There’s so many times on this tape where he’s about to get hit and boom, that ball is out so quick, that long release, you don’t realize how much of a difference that makes. But he can get that thing out quick, really, really quick, very efficient. Michael Brewer.

Q. What’s your assessment of his arm strength and ability to throw deep?
COACH BEATY: Kid’s got a freak-ish arm. He can throw it. He can make every throw. Talented guy. I watched him make every single throw just right in front of me. He can do it. He can spin it. He can make every throw, post, out, deep comeback, over-route, post-curl, hitches, quick screens. That ball gets out so quick on screens, man. That ball makes a difference on screens, the ball getting out quick. The ball doesn’t get out quick, man, those screens are dead. He is very efficient. So compact, so efficient; that the ball is out (snapping fingers) before you know it, and that’s what we’re all looking for.

Q. Is it different for you when you evaluated Bender that you were able to go back and watch his Pac 12 film against the type of guys he’s going to play against in the Big 12?
COACH BEATY: Absolutely. When you’re evaluating a guy on a collegiate field in a Power Five conference and you’re able to look at that tape — I just go back to watching the tape against Washington, I think it was the Apple Cup. It was one of his early starts if not his first start.

Just watching him move that team down the field and how poised he was, just how poised and calm he was, as he’s making dig throws over the middle versus three down and three backers in the box, which is not easy, and him putting the ball in windows. And him being a true freshman I think at the time when he did it; I mean, he’s doing things that you’re like, okay, this dude’s a cool customer. And I think that’s really what makes a guy great.

Carter has that. Carter is a cool dude, now. He throws a pick-six against Kansas State, and I’m wearing his tail out on the sideline, and he’s like, “Hey, man, listen, we’ll go to the next one. That was my fault. We’ll go to the next one.” And that’s what you want to see. You want to see a guy that it doesn’t affect him; one mistake doesn’t turn into two. And that’s kind of what I’ve seen with Peyton.

Peyton does a pretty good job of taking care of the ball. His touchdown to interception ratio is pretty good. That’s an important deal for us because we have got to make strides in that turnover margin and most of our turnover issues, as you’re going to look at it statistically, you’re going to see some fumbles. But a lot of those things were on muffed punts and things like that. But it was the interception problem. That’s where we really like what Peyton did and just want to get the rest of our guys to that point.

Q. From a big picture perspective, are you hopeful somebody will step up and take that position earlier than last year?
COACH BEATY: Absolutely. We hope so. We hope so. Don’t know if that’s going to happen. But we hope so.

You know, the snaps for guys will be — they will be pared down. We don’t have a lot of time right now. It’s not going to be — it’s not a wide open race, tell you that. It’s narrowed down to just a couple.

Q. What’s the significance of your contract extension?
COACH BEATY: Man, you know what, that was huge for us in recruiting. It helped solidify a lot of these people that we signed today.

I tell you, one of the things that the show of support that our administration basically displayed with that extension was critical for us. Because where we were at in our contract, is very much a hindrance when you’re trying to recruit. Dr. (Sheahon) Zenger has done it in every area. He’s made improvements and strides. He’s answered the bell to anything and everything that all of our programs have needed, and for us, he’s done everything that we’ve asked him to do here, everything. And he’s done things that we haven’t even asked him to do; which I take my hat off to him, Sean Lester, our whole staff over there. They have done a terrific job of giving us all of the support that we need.

We don’t have any excuses, I tell you that. They are giving us what we need and they understand what we are trying to do and how we are building this and they are giving us the time we need, which is exactly what we have to have. You’ve got to learn to set up before you can crawl and then you’ve got to learn to crawl and then you’ve got to learn to pull up and jog and then you start sprinting.

It’s a process, and I have an appreciation for our administration unlike probably many in this profession because I know they get it and they want this place to be great and they know that we are going to kill ourselves making it that way. We’re all on the same page, so it was really huge. It shows stability and support for our program and quite honestly on the road, any of the things that recruits are asking me about because some other recruiter told them, hey, ask them about this, those questions, we don’t have those anymore. Those are pretty much answered.

So those were hard answers to give because you’re just basically living without proof. But now we’ve got it and I just can’t thank them enough for showing that support because it helped our guys go out there and get their I won’t be done.

Q. Along the same line, there was a report Monday that another school had preliminary interest in bringing them on your staff. Had anybody reached out to you about that?
COACH BEATY: Man, there was only one place and there is only one place that I want to be. And like I told you, you’re going to have to have a backhoe to get me out of here. I don’t care if the Dallas Cowboys call, I’m not going anywhere, unless you take me out of here in handcuffs.

Q. Any coaching staff changes?
COACH BEATY: No, there hasn’t been. Our guys, it’s one of those times of year where, hey, we call it job season. It’s job season. I feel mostly for our wives more than anything, because they are sitting at home with the kiddos going: Is daddy going to come in with that look on his face or whatever. But look, I said it last year: If you don’t have guys inquiring about your guys, you’ve got the wrong guys.

But what I’ll tell you is that our administration here gets it. They have been proactive in making sure that we are competitive with the market. There’s a market out there and we’ve got some dang good ones here, and they have been proactive in taking care of our guys.

So from a market standpoint, our guys are in really, really good position, and I just want to say thank you again to Sean Lester and Dr. Sheahon Zenger for having the foresight and the forethought to make sure that we were not reactive; that we were proactive.

Our guys are taken care of here, and I know they are very appreciative. That’s going to be key. We have to keep — we’ve got to be able to keep us being able to stay together as a staff.

Now listen, I don’t know what the future holds. There are going to be some situations out there, some guys out there, that might be able to have places that better their situation and if they do, it’s like I said from the very beginning.

As long as they do everything we ask them to do here and they give us a fair chance to talk to them before, we want to help them do whatever they need to do with their families. But right now, I feel good about where we’re at and I’m looking forward to the future with all these guys.

Q. Now that you have a new deal in place, do you feel a little bit more pressure about producing wins next year? Do you feel like the bar has been raised for you and what you need to do?
COACH BEATY: You know, the pressure has never been higher from myself. I’ve never worried about the pressure from outside because it doesn’t match what the pressure I put on myself and we put on ourselves as a staff.

I mean, I know that sounds crazy, but that’s the truth. I expected to win the day we stepped in this room, period. We expected to win every game. We expect to win every one of them from this point going forward.

Now, it’s yet to be seen if we’ve earned that. But the pressure, man, you’re going to have a hard time putting pressure on me harder than I put on myself.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, enjoy the holidays. Thank you for everything. Y’all travel safe and we’ll talk at you a little bit later.

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