Tom, excellent work sir.
An Interview with Je'Ron Stokes
picture via Philly.com
This past weekend was huge for the final push in Michigan recruiting class. The next couple weekends could be equally big for the Wolverines. One of the big names taking a visit is PA WR Je'ron Stokes. Stokes is committed to Tennessee but looking around in the wake of the Vols coaching change. I spoke with Je'Ron Stokes about the upcoming visit, here's what he had to say...
TOM: What are the main reasons that made you decide to start taking visits?
JE’RON: My main reason was that I just wanted to be sure about the decision I make. I’ve been committed for so long, and so early. I’ve only gotten to see one place. Things changed, and this is a business decision. The quarterback situation, I thought was wrong, but the coach has a lot on his plate, and he wants to do what he feels is best for the team. It was kind of a 50/50 thing, after awhile it didn’t bother me how he handled it.
TOM: What is your official status with Tennessee?
JE’RON: I really don’t know. I’m still committed, I just want to take some visits and make sure I’m making the best decision.
TOM: Has Lane Kiffin done anything to try and keep you at Tennessee?
JE’RON: Oh yea, he’s spoken with my family. He’s making some good efforts; I’ve met a few of his staff and everything. It’s kind of like starting a new relationship
TOM: You’re visiting Michigan this weekend, what are you looking to get out of the visit? What other schools do you plan on visiting?
JE’RON: Everybody’s going to have good academics; this is the highest level of college football you could play in. So I’m looking for relationships with the people, players, and coaches. The town, just how the overall atmosphere. I’m going to visit Illinois, Penn State, and maybe Georgia. I probably will take a visit to Penn State; I’m not 100% on that yet.
TOM: Is there anything specifically that you’re excited to see, or that you want the coaches to focus on?
JE’RON: Not really, just want to see everything. Just kind of see the whole package.
TOM: Are there any other recruits that you’ve developed a friendship with recently?
JE’RON: I met some people at the All American Game, Jeremy Jackson, and a lot of people. Too many to name. Will Campbell too, he’s a funny guy.
TOM: Since you were concerned about Tennessee’s lack of a quarterback, have you spoken to any of the QB’s from the schools you’re visiting? Have you talked to Tate Forcier at all?
JE’RON: I haven’t. I know the new quarterback at Penn State, Kevin Newsome, but other than that no. We worked together a few times. I’m going to talk to the quarterbacks at the visit, and get a feel for them just as players and people.
TOM: The schools that are left rank them in order of who excites you the most, or who you are most curious about.
JE’RON: Honestly I don’t even know, I’m curious about all of them. I really can’t do that right now.
TOM: When do you think you’ll make your decision?
JE’RON: Most likely not until signing day.
TOM: If any of these visits blow you away, do you think you’ll commit on the spot?
JE’RON: No, I’m going to take my time. I’ll talk to my family about everything, and make sure it’s right.
TOM: With your recruiting, are you kind of blazing the trail for your brother Malik? Do you think he’ll follow, or do his own thing?
JE’RON: Where ever God leads him. He’s going to make the best decision for him, where ever he wants to go. We played together in high school so it’d be nice, but I want him to do what’s right for him.
He was being very quiet, and wasn't revealing very much. I realize you can't know by reading this, but I gathered a lot from how he answered the questions. He was being polite to Tennessee, IMO. It seems like he didn't want to say anything rash, just in case.
Yeah, quiet murmur behind the scenes is that Tennessee is very much on the outside looking in with Stokes.
Seems like THE candidate to perpetuate the "snake oil" concept.
It seems that too many high school recruits are unable to do this. Or, I suppose, choose not to.
With what I have read about the way Coach Rodriguez and his staff have approached recruiting. Admittedly, we only get bits and pieces, but it seems that when we have lost recruits it is often after an honest discussion with the recruit about positioning, or playing time or whatever. That hardly seems like "snake oil" salesmen - which of course implies deception. Moreover, we are hearing more and more about a family atmosphere, about a tight-knit team, and about fun.
Tom, I also appreciated your approach to interviews with recruits - always wanting the kids to find out what is best for them rather than getting them to go to Ann Arbor at all costs. We seem to get lost sometimes in the rush for stars (Rival or otherwise) and I appreciate your coolheaded and supportive approach for these young guys.
Please keep up the good work and keep reminding us of the correct priorities. I predict we'll end up with a top class and sincerely hope we do it the right way. Go Blue.
I think we at least got a few things out of the interview.
1. He's likely not going to Tennessee.
2. Academics don't mean shit to him. He said he thinks all the academics are basically the same so he will not bother to differentiate between the schools. This is wrong on a number of levels but he should feel free to select his school however he wants. I hope we don't spend too much time playing this angle in recruiting him.
3. He seems to have moderate interest in Michigan but is very tight-lipped. I guess I'd have to hear his inflection to see if he was hiding more Michigan love behind those words.
I thought it was kind of nice reading an article where the kid doesn't pay a bunch of BS lip service to how important academics are to him. I'll wager that 95% of the kids who are good enough to get multiple Div 1-A BCS scholarships are not the least bit concerned about school as they are all convinced that they are going to get PAID in the NFL.
On what grounds do you say that?
I may be wrong, but I don't think he meant that he isn't concerned about academics at all, but that all the schools he is looking at are up to his standards with academics.
A lot of people think that recruits see UM's academics as a big deal. The fact is, few of these kids are going to be doctors or investment bankers, so Tennessee and Michigan are essentially equal when it comes to academics. What they look at more is how well these schools handle the academics of the athletes who may have no business getting in without football. I'm not saying Michigan does a poor job here (I don't have a clue), but that a school like Tennessee might do a better job of getting a quality education for a kid who got a 2.8 in high school.
Actually, if he's not as interested in Tennessee, the academics at his others (Illinois, Penn State, and maybe UGA) are all quite good. Not as good as Michigan, but not garbage either. Particularly Illinois. He has three of top 5 Big Ten schools for academics (the others being N'western and Wisconsin), and one of the two non-Vandy SEC schools worth a damn (the other is *gulp* Florida).
But yeah, his comment does make it seem like we don't have to play it up to him all that much.