Defense was a huge priority for Brady Hoke the second he stepped on the recruiting trail for Michigan. That was made apparent when four of his first six commitments for the 2011 class were defensive players. Cincinnati linebacker Antonio Poole was one of those commitments despite not receiving an offer from the previous Michigan coaches. Poole was a name that frequently came up throughout the recruiting process and that fans were happy to see on the Wolverine commitment list.
As the days get closer for Antonio to step on campus and make an impact, he still has one more big game to prepare for. Along with Michigan signees LB Frank Clark and DE Keith Heitzman, Poole was selected to play in the annual Big 33 game that puts the best high school players from Ohio against the best that Pennsylvania has to offer. "You have to be nominated by someone like a coach, and then they choose the best players from the nominations," said Poole.
The game is his main focus right now, but it has given him a chance to connect with his future teammates Clark and Heitzman. "We've been focused on the game and trying to win, but we have been talking about Michigan too," he said. "Frank is actually playing defensive end, linebacker, and some safety; he's really athletic. Keith has been doing pretty good, too, they're both really good." Antonio will be lined up as a MIKE linebacker so there's a chance for all three to be on the field at the same time.
The Big 33 is an honor for Antonio and he's excited about being able to represent his state, but it's also an excellent opportunity for him to prepare for better competition at the next level. "I think this will help me get better, help me to go up against better competition and get myself prepared to make an impact once I get [to Michigan]," said Poole.
The preparation and competition is only one aspect of how he's getting himself ready to compete at Michigan. The biggest change for Poole was probably his new workout program he received once he signed his LOI. "When I first got the exercise book I didn't even know how to do some of them, so it was kind of hard," he said. "The running stuff I knew how to do that, and I think I've built up a lot of stamina from the workouts. I've gotten a lot faster and I'm up to 220 pounds now." The coaches will probably have him play around 225 as a freshman so he's almost at his ideal weight.
The Big 33 game has some great tradition behind it, and has seen some outstanding players in their past years. Both are aspects of Michigan that Antonio is recognizing by comparison. "This game is going to be on TV so it's a big stage. After this I'm just excited to get on the field and play in the Big House, even bigger stage. I want to bring the winning back to Michigan and the tradition back to what it was," said Poole. As a versatile linebacker that can play either WILL or MIKE, Poole will have every opportunity to compete for a starting spot to help Michigan back to prominence.
The Big 33 will be played on Saturday June 18th at 7:00pm EST. More information on the game can be found here.
This is important for this weekend, so this post will probably replace the "Weekly Update" Monday post. I'll continue to add to this, since camp will be from the 19th-22nd. Here's some updates, as they come in.
- Maika Polamalu - Troy's cousin, will be at Michigan on Sunday. Maika is a 5'11, 190 lbs. safety from Pottsgrove, PA. ESPN has a video interview with him. Maika is also teammates with ATH Terrell Chestnut, who has a Michigan offer, and is interested, but can't make it this weekend.
- Trae Waynes - Safety prospect out of Kenosha, Wisconsin will be at Michigan. He's a little under the radar, but has a lot of speed for his size, at 6'0, 165 lbs.
- Antonio Poole - Antonio is a linebacker from Cincinnati, Ohio. He's been hoping for a Michigan offer for awhile, and was invited to this camp by the coaches. That's usually a good sign, so he plans on being there this weekend. It wasn't 100%, but it sounded like he was going to make it up.
- Tony Posada - Offensive lineman from Tampa, Florida. Tony has Michigan in his top group, and will be up Monday to Wednesday with one of his coaches. This was an interesting quote from him.
There's always the possibility that I could commit, but the trip would really have to blow my mind, in order for that to happen.
- Kris Frost - Linebacker out of Matthews, North Carolina. As I reported before, Kris is extremely excited to show his parents around Michigan. This should be a great trip for them, and Michigan.
- Ray Ball - Offensive lineman, from Westerville, Ohio. Ray was recently offered by Kentucky and UCLA. He will be on Saturday, but won't be working out. He just wants to come up, and take a look around campus.
- Ed Davis - Linebacker from Detroit. Ed, as everyone knows, was just offered by Michigan. He also received an offer from Akron, and he wasn't 100% positive on the others. He said his coach had told him CMU, and a few others came in since the Michigan offer. I would expect more to on their way. Ed also just got back from a trip to Iowa, and is expecting an offer from the Hawkeyes. His newly found fame has led him to hold off on his decision, until what he said would be probably at the end of the month.
- Terry Richardson - 2012 safety from Cass Tech might show up to hang out. If he does he's going to bring LB Royce Jenkins-Stone, and LB James Ross. All three are very good friends, and very interested in Michigan.
- Kris Frost - Kris and his family made it in safely. They got a chance to walk around campus, and get to see everything they wanted to see. He left Michigan, and I believe is on his way home right now. (He's calling once he gets home, so I'll have a full update then).
- Jack Miller - Jack originally said that he'd like to make a decision by the end of this week. It looks like that might not happen. He's at Michigan right now, and told me:
I'm not sure about a commitment today; I'm visiting right now.
Sounds like a commitment probably won't happen, but my opinion is that there's a small chance he pulls the trigger tonight. This could be the final visit to get any other questions answered. If he doesn't do it tonight, I'd expect it to happen soon.
- James Farrow - James officially decommitted from Minnesota recently, so he's back in play. A lot of the people at the camp told him he was one of the standout DB's. He took on DeAnthony Arnett, and said he held his own. This is the third time he's gone against DeAnthony, they seem to be creating a little rivalry. I don't think he's on Michigan's radar yet. He's about to get an offer from Cincinnati, and possibly Va. Tech, though. Losing out on Dorsey could have the coaches look for another DB, and Farrow might be a candidate for that. We'll see.
- Jordan Diamond - 2012 OL from Chicago. He has had high interest in Michigan for awhile, and it still stays that way. He had hurt his ankle, so he didn't do anything at camp. He got a chance to talk to a bunch of coaches, including Michigan. They told him they already knew he was a good player, so they weren't worried about him not performing.
- Chris Bryant - 2011 OL, and Jordan's teammate, was at camp, and performed really well. Jordan told me that Chris has a really high interest in Michigan. If they offer, there's a good chance he'll commit. I spoke briefly with Chris, he's flying out to visit Stanford right now, so I should have more soon. I would assume his offer would be coming shortly.