(Photo of Scott Satterfield: Jeremy Brevard - USA TODAY Sports)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Starting on Thursday, several former members of the Louisville football program are hoping to be selected in the 2021 NFL Draft, highlighted by running back Javian Hawkins, and wide receivers Tutu Atwell & Dez Fitzpatrick.
Ahead of the draft, head coach Scott Satterfield took some time to meet with the media. He discussed the draft itself, and provided a wide array of updates surrounding the program.
Below is the transcript from the press conference, as well as the video:
Just to kind of give a follow up where we are right now with our team, and then we can get into those guys. We just finished up, really our last six-seven weeks phase has been our guys training in the weight room training, running, those types of things. We just finished that up this week, actually yesterday with kind of our own Pro Day, so to speak - where we test all our guys in the very same things that you would in an NFL Pro day, just to get a gauge. We had several guys that didn't participate just for one injury or another, or dinged up here or there. But some really good stuff from our guys that did participate in that. One of the guys, Hassan Hall, ran a very last time. I think our fastest time was Tyler Harrell, who ran I think it's probably the fastest 40 that I've witnessed personally since I've been coaching. The clocks were anywhere from a 4.19 to a 4.26 in the 40, so he can run, and we're going to try to utilize that speed this fall hopefully. I think another guy that really stood out was Trevor Reid, offensive tackle for us. He had a vertical over 33 inches, and ran right high 4.9, 4.98, 5.02 40 time. He's 305 pounds, and extremely athletic, he did a great job. Jack Fagot was another guy that tested really, really well. It was good, it was fun for our kids, and really just kind of gives them a measurement to be able to see. What I'm doing in the weight room, and how that's translating into my athleticism on the field. So many PR's, we had over 40 PR's throughout the team. There was a lot of great stuff, it was great to see and great to be able to put this down on paper for these guys. We missed out on this last spring because of the pandemic. We did it the first spring, and I just got the results literally 30 minutes ago. I like to be able to go back and kind of compare two years ago to see where we are, to now. It'll be interesting to look at that, so we'll go back and look at that as we have time over the next few weeks. We're still waiting on some legislation NCAA-wise as it pertains to scholarship and scholarship numbers. Some things are starting to come out now, they've been meeting nationally. One of the things that's kind of still up in the air, is this year - our super seniors - we don't have to count them in our 85-count. So, the thought was that was going to happen another year or two. But the way it's looking now, is that we may have to count everybody on our team as we move forward. So if that's the case, these guys that are that are coming back for that extra year next year, obviously we got to count them in our 85, what that'll do is limit our scholarships that we're going to have for this 2022 class. I know right now, there's a lot of talk out there nationally about recruiting, because that's the phase we're in right now. Commitments are starting to come in for some teams. We're being very selective with that, because we kept that in mind the fact that we may only have 10 to 12 scholarships as we look at it for the '22 class. Not very many, as you look at it compared to maybe 20-25, 27 depending on where you're at. If you have to limit that to 10, we got to be very selective. If you're looking at that, that's only maybe 5 per side of the ball. We're always going to try to sign offensive lineman, and we need a quarterback, It's very limited in our scholarship numbers. Fans and people out there are asking, "what are you guys doing?" Well, we're very active in our recruiting. They are opening us up, so in June, right now we're having two official visits in June on weekends, but then we'll have some one-offs in there as well. But two official visit weekends - the second weekend in June and third weekend in June. We're going to bring in probably 10 to 12 recruits each weekend during that time. We're also going to have camps this summer. We haven't seen recruits on campus in so long - a year and a half - so we can't wait for that. June is gonna be very busy for us, but I did want to let you guys know as far as scholarships, the number is going to be very limited. We're very particular in what we're going to be taking this year, as it pertains to scholarships. I know that's a big talking point out there that I've been hearing about. It's a big week for our program, and a lot of programs across the country as draft week for the NFL is upon us. Excited for some of our guys, I mean obviously that the headliners out there for us: Tutu Atwell and Javian Hawkins and Dez Fitzpatrick are three of the names that have obviously been mentioned by a lot of people out there. I'm excited just like they are about where they may land.
(On how much growth he's seen out of Atwell, Hawkins and Fitzpatrick since arriving at Louisville)
A tremendous amount, really. I could go into all three. When we first got here, on Tutu, everybody's talking about his weight right now, but when he got here, he was about 140 pounds. I mean, he was little. All three of these guys, with a whole new staff coming in, new culture and the way we do things, obviously all news, it took some growing by everybody - really our whole team - but particularly those three guys. They had to grow up a little bit, and figure out "what are these coaches doing? What are they telling us? What are they saying?" All three of these guys, to their credit, really bought into what we were doing, and they excelled. You think about Tutu, he ended up putting on a lot of weight, he played last year at 162. Ironically, he just tweeted out today on the scale that he's 160 pounds. He's filming himself, and down to the scale he's up to 160 right now. So, that's plenty big enough, he's fast enough, he can go out and make plays. But he grew up a lot, obviously broke the school record as a receiver, catching so many yards in that first year. Hawkins was a guy who was down in the depth chart, maybe third or fourth on the depth chart when we first got here. As we get into August, he kind of was a second team guy, and all of a sudden after about the first scrimmage, he moved up to first team, and then he broke the school record as a running back. Just kind of came out from out of nowhere and had a great season, and then last year had a great season up until the point that he decided not to play anymore. He was great for us. I think Fitzpatrick grew up more than anybody on our team. When we first got here, he was a little bit immature by the way he handled his business and by the way he did things. Then after that first semester, kind of thought, "Okay, let's go," and had a really good, solid first year, and then decided to come back and work on his craft. Did everything as an unselfish player. I was telling Rocco (Gasparro) earlier, I've had some calls from NFL teams just this week that are interested in him. The thing that stood was his willingness to go block from the wide receiver position, which is kind of ironic. If you think about wideouts, you think about how much production can I have catching the football, and how many yards and touchdowns and all that. Well his willingness to go block safeties, corners and linebackers are what has piqued interest in some teams, which is awesome for him. I think that'll give him a chance, because he obviously can run and catch and all that, but his willingness to go block is something that he has created value for himself with that. I think that in itself is going to help him as it propels him to that next level as well.
(On the recruiting dead period lifting)
To get (recruits) back on campus is huge. Obviously, we want to show off (our facilities). We got five football fields we can practice on, and prepare to play, and our weight room, and everything that we've done inside of our facility here, which we obviously want to show off. But we also want to get around the guys. I think one of our strong selling points is just how open everyone is. All our coaches, everybody in our building, just being around them and the atmosphere that they feel, that you can't get from a zoom call. You get a feeling when you're sitting in a room, there's so many times - it's the downtime to me, is where you learn a lot about people. We're just sitting around goofing off before you go to the next thing, that's where you learn a lot about people. You don't get that on a zoom call, so I think for them to come into our program, and to be in our building, and hanging out with all of us, is what sells our program. We also get a great feel about what makes them tick, is this what we really want to bring into our program? We're extremely excited about that, being able to bring them on and be around them. We have talked about how we've added a bunch of people in our recruiting department, all great people that are, in their own unique abilities, are going to provide a lot of great things for us as we head down this road of recruiting. We can't wait to show all this stuff off. It's going to be great for us to get them on campus, and to be around us, and to see what we have to offer. We're excited about that. We've lined up a bunch of players and families already in the month of June, and we'll probably have players in here every day throughout the whole month of June, not only just camp days, but every other day in between. We're excited about it.
(On their additions in the transfer portal, and if they are still looking to add more)
There are guys that we've have added onto our team that are going to be here this summer. Once they get in here and all that, we'll certainly be glad to talk about them. But to answer your question, yes we are still actively looking at some certain spots. There's a ton of guys out there, but we just don't want to get a guy just to get a guy. We want guys that have experience, that have played the position where we have positions of need. Nose tackle for us was a position of need that we certainly wanted to address. I think safety right now is the next spot where we have a position of need. We got some good young players here, but maybe there's a guy out there, that has some experience, that has played a bunch of ball, that can come in here and give us some depth at the safety position. The biggest need right now for us on our football team will be that spot. We have some scholarships available for that, so we'll see what else is going to be out there. We know right now as teams are finishing up spring ball, and spring games, and having their exit interviews, that we're starting to see more and more guys that are getting into the portal, kind of seeing where it's at. For us, it doesn't have to be a guy that's played at the Power Five level. We don't mind looking at those guys, who may be at a level down, that have started for three or four years, All-Conference where they came from. That's the kind of experience we want to bring in, people that have that experience, that have played some good ball, that maybe in high school got overlooked for whatever reason, but they have a chip on their shoulder, and they've continued to excel and play. That's what we've been looking for. Tre Clark's a great example of that. He was a guy who went to Liberty, and he came here, and shoot, All-ACC corner. Maybe one of the top corners in the league this year. He's a great example of what we're looking for.
(On how big of a jump Trevor Reid has made from the end of the season to the end of spring ball)
Oh man, huge, huge jump. He was a guy that last fall, was still learning, still trying to figure things out mentally. He's still really coming into his own, physically as well, but really more mentally just trying to come into his own. This spring, Coach Bicknell comes in, and we kind of talked to him about, "Hey look, Trevor Reid's one of these guys, man, that he needs to be a player." He's long, he's athletic, he can do it. In a few plays he had in the fall, he did a very good job. But what he did this spring, we just put him at left tackle, You're starting, you go. Go play ball. He made some mistakes, but man, he got so much better after 15 days of playing at left tackle. This summer will be very crucial for him mentally just getting all that down. Physically he's changing his body, he's continued to get stronger. He's a guy in my opinion, over the next two years - two years from now, we're sitting here on this call, he's going to be one of these guys we're talking about. I think his future is so bright, that he could be a guy that's gonna be a Thursday night kind of guy two years from now as we sit here this week.
(On what about Trevor Reid's game grew the most)
He's got great feet, he's always been able to have great feet. When you have really good feet, then you can pass protect. You can move back, you can move in those quick defensive linemen, and be able to maneuver with them. I think the thing he's really grown in, is run blocking. Coming off the ball right away, knowing who to block in the run game, and then latching on, driving that guy down the field and finishing those blocks. To me, that's where he's gotten a lot better. Understanding the run game, and knowing where he needs to go with that. I think this summer, that'll be huge for him. As we head into August camp, I think he could have a really, really solid year for us as we head into the fall, at left tackle. He gives us a lot a lot more plays - you think about him now, he was a backup last year. We feel really good, I mean there's about eight guys we feel that can get in there and play right now up front - the most depth we've had since we've been here. You think about even the last game - Austin Collins and Josh Black started the last game against Wake Forest, and offensively we had a pretty good day. Luke Kandra is another guy who's had a great offseason. He tested great, man. He actually ran the fastest 40 of anybody up front, and his shoulder's as wide as my desk. It's unbelievable how big Luke Kandra is. He's a guy who's very young, and he's gotten better and better and better. Very excited about him. There's obviously other guys that have done some great things. Bryan Hudson. Michael Gonzalez, we got some guys that we can play up front on top of the ones that started last year. We're excited about the guys up front.
(On what it's like to see Atwell, Hawkins and Fitzpatrick get their shot at the next level)
I'm obviously really excited for those guys. When we first got here, we're like, "Okay, what do we have? Where are our strengths, weaknesses, and what do we need to really emphasize on?" As you work through the spring practice of that first year, and then jumping into that fall in August, we obviously started seeing those guys show. Tutu, Dez and then Hawkins started showing in August, and I'm like, "Alright, we got to get the ball to these guys." What we focused on that very first year, was how many times can can Tutu get touches, Hawkins is going to get his carries - if he stays healthy he'll have a big year - and to their credit, man, they just stuck with it. They stayed healthy, and they were able to get great production. The second year, obviously, Tutu got dinged up a little bit, Hawkins didn't play the last four games, to Dez's credit - he finished out and played the year. They played themselves into this opportunity. I'm excited for them to be able to see that. NFL guys, they got their criterias in what they're looking for, this and that. The biggest thing - I'm talking to some of these NFL people - the biggest thing is what's inside. The biggest thing is what's in their heart. How hard are they going to go? Are they going to come to work every single day and go hard? These guys, when they were here on the practice field, they went hard. You can tell anybody that has some ability that comes in here and puts the work in like that, they're going to be able to produce, and they did. I was telling these these guys that are calling, "Listen, they're going to get better and better as they move on." Wherever you think they are right now, if you like them, then it's going to be good if you get them, because they're going to continue to improve. They're going to play with a chip on their shoulder. Those are the kind of guys you want in your program. I'm excited for them, and I think wherever they go, they're gonna have some great opportunity to really help their organization.
(On the team building exercises that they are able to take part in this season after not being able to last year)
It's so huge. It's like our secret sauce. When you have a tight knit group and organization, man, it's hard to break that bond, and we're as tight right now as we've ever been since we've been here. I had our leadership group over at my house last night, 11 players out there last night, a few staff members, and we're playing basketball, cornhole, we played for two and a half hours after we ate at the house. We're just hanging out. That's the kind of bond that you want, because when you face adversity, and you have that kind of bond, nobody flinches. Everybody just responds, and we're all responding the same way. There's no finger pointing, there's no what ifs, there's no "what are we doing?" It's, "I got your back, you got mine, let's roll." That's where we are with with these guys, and it's been so much fun to see everybody come together this spring, that we didn't get for those four months last year. It's a huge part of of our program that we have to be able to do. We'll continue to do those things for our guys. Right now we are going to get a break, we have a team meeting today, actually here in 10 minutes, and then they'll get a break back home. Then they'll be back here at the end of May. They really get a break from us, but they're going to be training hard when they're back home for these three weeks. Everything they've gained when they get back here, we'll be ready to rock and roll. I can't wait to get them back.
(On if he's talked to the team about getting vaccinated)
We're giving them a choice, we're not we're not mandating that. I know I've seen that out throughout the country. I've seen maybe a couple schools say you got to get vaccinated, most of those are private schools. But we've opened it up, and I don't know what the number is today - how many guys have been vaccinated - several said they're going to be vaccinated once they got home over this break. We're up over 40-45 players vaccinated at this point, and I think obviously there'll be some more that will get vaccinated. But I would say the majority of our staff has been vaccinated - coaches and those types of things. I think you know at this point, we'll see you know how it ends up. But what we're doing right now is a voluntary. If you feel inclined to get the vaccination, we think you should. We feel it's safe to go out and get it, and because there's incentive. We don't have to be tested like we were tested. You don't have to wear your mask, all the things. Our country is starting to open back up now because of that. Our governor just came out - outside less than 1000 people - you don't have to wear a mask. There's a lot of things that are starting to open up, and it's because of the vaccination. We encourage that for our guys to get it, and hopefully over break, a lot of them will do that before they get back.
(On how much Atwell, Hawkins and Fitzpatrick has set the tone for what Satterfield wants to accomplish offensively throughout the rest of his tenure at Louisville)
Anytime in the same year you could have a receiver break the school record - we've had some good receivers here at Louisville - break the school record, and a running back break the rushing record for running back, that's what we want. We want those kind of guys, that kind of production. We want to continue to be able to do that, elevate our offense, continue to improve on defense and those stats on that side, let's get some defensive players drafted as well. We're headed in that direction with some of our good young players. These guys set the tone for us when we first got here, and now that gives these younger guys something to shoot for. "I remember when Tutu was here, here's what he did, that's what I want to do." and same thing with Hawkins and Dez. They laid a great foundation for us in our program, and we can't wait to see what the next group is going to be able to do.
(On what areas of need they are pursuing in the 2022 recruiting class)
Probably the biggest area of need is in the secondary. We're looking to probably take three, potentially four guys in that secondary. So if you're only signing 10, I mean, that's eating up almost half your class. That's going to be a big need for us. I think offensive line, we're recruiting several offensive tackles right now. We got maybe five guys that are coming in for official visits this summer at the offensive tackle position. Running back, we always want to continue to bring running backs in here. I think that'll be another position of need, and then wide receiver. So as you look at that, that's about - it's gonna be close to 10 as you look at that. Quarterback, obviously we want to sign a quarterback every year. On defense, I'd say the biggest needs is the secondary: safeties, corners, those guys help on special teams as well, really particularly looking at body types. If we can get the 6-1, 190 body type, to me you can't have enough of those type of guys. If you get some length, guys that can run, then you can start plugging them in at safety, corner, our card position of outside backer, so there's a lot of versatility there. On that note, some of the guys who signed in this freshman class, it'll be interesting by the time we get to August, which guys were corners that are now safeties, and which guys that were safeties that are now corners, which guys are safeties that are now allowed backers. That'll be a pretty good story I think as we head into fall camp.
(On if he was impressed by Ashton Gillotte's testing)
Yeah, he's a real strong guy. He did one of the better jobs in the in the defensive line room. He ran the fastest 40 out of the bunch, he power cleaned 365, which was one of the tops on the team. He's extremely athletic. He's put on 25 pounds since he's been here in January, he's changed his body. He's gonna continue to get better, he's extremely fast and quick, he plays with great leverage, he plays about four feet off the ground and he's flat back, which is exactly what you want. He's gonna make noise this year as a true freshman. He's had a great four or five months right here, bigger things to come for him.
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