After watching our defense struggle yet again this season I couldn't help but think about a good (not great) big 10 defensive player who in high school had great grades, bloodlines and wanted to play for Michigan and yet couldn't get a scholarship offer for reasons i have never understood..
I live in Northern Ohio and in 2005 a very good friend of mine's son set an Ohio high school record scoring five touchdowns in a playoff game. He also played some cornerback when needed. As a season ticket holder who did a small amount of recruiting for Michigan in the early 90's I started bringing the boy up to games and alerted my contacts to take a look at him. In 2005 he was invited to several camps (Michigan included) and began to get scholarship offers. By 2006 he had received offers from every MAC and Big East program as well as lower tier Pac 10 and ACC schools but nothing from Michigan. After the 2006 season he was invited back to Michigan's camp when they were trying out QBs and he basically shut down every wideout they placed in front of him but still no offer. His dad, an ex-Louiseville Cardinal DB made it known that they were growing tired of the recruitment process and would commit early in 2007. Michigan was #1 on their list but they weren't going to wait his entire senior year to see if an offer would be forthcoming. I again contacted the football department and told them what I knew about the kid - good grades, good family and outstanding athlete - basically everything Michigan wanted in a player and yet nothing. No offer, no communication - nothing. So when Northwestern offered early in his senior year they accepted and shut down all recruiting. After that I called and asked why no offer - all I was told was "he's 5"10 and we want taller corners" and that was the end of it.
Today Jordan Mabin is a starting DB for Northwestern. If you remember, he was played especially well against us (motivated maybe?) and I cant help but wonder how we would look if we had bothered to offer a tremendous athlete with good grades who happened to be "only" 5'10.
At the top of his press conference Rich Rodriguez basically went through the list and talked briefly about each commit. A lot of it was coach-speak and praising the high school coaches, but there was quite a bit of useful information (as opposed to Lloyd Carr press conferences, which were awesome in their own way) on most of the players. One interesting thing in general is that Rodriguez let us know who the lead recruiter was for each player, and for just about everyone from Florida it was Rod Smith. I guess that's why need a de facto third QB coach. On to the players:
Coach mentioned that the staff is really tight with Youngstown Liberty coach Jeff Whittaker. It's not that stacked of a school, but seems to produce a bit of talent on a regular basis. He said that Bell would start competing as a safety, but if he can put on enough weight, may move up to outside linebacker.
Looking at depth chart would probably tell you this too, but Rodriguez said that Campbell will play defense only and will compete for playing time right at the outset. Campbell got the instant impact tag from the coach. Will said himself that his goal is to start his freshman year. Even though he is a really funny, kind of goofy guy, I get the feeling that he's super competative; I sure as hell wouldn't want to be a RB/QB playing against Michigan in two years. Campbell is now doing the full Barwis workout and says the toughest part was the running because since the all star game he's been relaxing and "got fat."
Coach said he could play either Safety position and will probably be moved around to positions of need.
Apparently in the Spring, Jason Forcier was in town and talked with Rodriguez. He basically said he'd recruit Tate for Michigan. I just can't help but wonder how different this last year would have been if Forcier hadn't transferred... Oh well. Obviously will come and compete right away for time at QB. When a reporter asked Rodriguez if he was confident that he'll end up with a really good quarterback he responded that "we'll have a really good competition." Tate says he works much more on accuracy and a quick release than arm strength. In some passing drills he claims he hit Mike Cox and Kevin Koger in the back of the head because they weren't expecting the ball to get there as quickly as it did. After his interview with the TV crews at the press conference, most reporters were surprised at how well he handled himself. He really seemed like a pro.
For some reason, I got the feeling that Rodriguez is especially excited about Gallon, but I'm probably just projecting my own excitement. Coach said he'll compete immediately at slot. Tim has made this argument that Odoms is a pretty good slot receiver, but the concept of the slot receiver may be more appealing than Odoms himself. Rodriguez also mentioned that he'll immediately be in the mix for returning kicks. Obviously, Coach didn't talk about grade issues in specifics, but he mentioned that there are about 2-3 recruits who haven't been approved by the Clearinghouse and that all of those recruits of realistic plans to follow that will allow them to qualify. Rodriguez didn't really seem to worried about grade issues.
Check out Varsity Blue throughout the day for the tidbits on the rest of recruits.