Justin Fuente: 'I don't want a freshman to assume he's going to redshirt'
Posted by: Chris Vannini on February 7, 2013
If there's one thing Justin Fuente can offer recruits more than some of the top schools in the area, it's playing time.
Memphis signed a big recruiting class, including five defensive backs. At his signing day press conference, Fuente explained he wants freshmen to come in and believe they can play right away.
"We're going to throw it out there and let guys go compete for jobs, he said. "I don't want any freshman to come in and assume he's going to be redshirted. I want him to prepare as if they're going to go play, and we'll see how it works out. We'll play them as much as they're ready to play, whether it be in the defensive backfield or at running back, quarterback or any other position. I think it's easier for the skill group to play earlier, just in football generally, than it is for offensive and defensive linemen to play early.
"I look forward to facilitating some of the competition that comes with depth. Competition is huge in anything, whether it be competing for playing time on the football field or a job in journalism or whatever it is. Competition brings out the best in all of us, so I'm looking forward to that depth and we'll see how it plays out."
The Tigers won four games in Fuente's first season at Memphis after winning five in the previous three seasons combined, and the program appears headed in a good direction.
One way to get there is through recruiting, and with Memphis being a hotspot for recruiting - with teams from all over the country coming into the city - Fuente knows he has to put a premium on getting the local kids, and then using that to get more.
"It's important for a couple things here at home. It's important we do a good job developing the relationships in the community with high school coaches and families," Fuente said. "Through time, you'll continue to gain that trust in the community. It's important that you zero in on some guys you think fit exactly what you want. The local kids that we sign, I want to turn them right back around and put them forward in the community to help younger kids as they come up through the ranks.
"It's important that the guys that we bring in from here are capable of doing that. That with good conscience, you can turn them around and put them in front of other young men and women and hope they can help make a little bit of a difference. There's no secret. There are good athletes here. There are a lot of people who come here to recruit players. You draw a bull's-eye on the guys you want to get, and you get some of them, like we did, and you don't get some.
"That's just the way it is. Through time, you'll continue to see us sign, evaluate and recruit the right type of guy to be a spokesperson for our program."
Chris Vannini is the lead writer for CoachingSearch.com and has covered Michigan State sports for The State News, The Oakland Press and MLive.com. He writes a weekly column for the Detroit Free Press on behalf of SB Nation. Vannini lives in Big Ten country, so his foot speed is far from SEC caliber, but his pulse on coaches is hard to match. Be sure to follow @CoachingBuzz on twitter and send your feedback to email@example.com