Novi (MI) Detroit Catholic Central running back Wyatt Shallman committed to Michigan during the Greatest Mid-February Weekend in the History of Mid-February Weekends, giving the Wolverines one of the top in-state athletes in the class of 2013. Shallman plays running back, defensive end, and defensive tackle for CC, but he'll come to Ann Arbor as a tailback. I caught up with Wyatt over the weekend to discuss his commitment, future role, and physical style of play:
ACE: What made you decide a couple weekends ago that it was the right time to commit to Michigan?
WYATT: There's a couple things that went into it, but my dad and I went down to Michigan and talked to Coach Jackson real in-depth. Just hearing his side of it and talking to more of the coaches made the difference.
ACE: What did you get into when you talked to Coach Jackson? What did he tell you that firmed things up for you?
WYATT: We just talked about positions and how he sees me playing. It checked out with the things that I want to do.
ACE: Specifically, I know there have been a lot of questions when it comes down to position, how do they plan on using you when you come to school?
WYATT: At running back, and that's what I want to play, so that's why I liked it.
ACE: What do you think are your biggest strengths on the field, especially when it comes to being a running back. What do you bring that isn't necessarily what your more traditional running back might bring?
WYATT: There's not too many running backs who are 6'3", 250. I think I bring a lot of speed and power for that size of back, so I think that's what I bring to the game. I'm a one-cut running, so I think I'm going to bring back the power game to Michigan. I don't dance too much, that's what I think I'm good at.
ACE: You said you're weighing in at about 250 right now. Have the coaches said what size they'd like you to be at when you come to school?
WYATT: No, we haven't really talked about that. I think they like the size that I'm at and the speed that I'm at. I could always get faster, but if I can keep this weight and get faster, why not?
ACE: Going back to your commitment, you committed during what ended up being a crazy weekend of commits. What was it like seeing a large part of the class come together during that weekend?
WYATT: It was pretty crazy. You don't really get too many weekends like that in recruiting, so it was pretty exciting to see all the big names go up there on the ticker. Just seeing my name on ESPN was pretty sweet.
ACE: It seems like you guys have become a pretty tight-knit group of players. Which players do you keep in contact with, and what's it like being with a group that's already so tight-knit with 11 months to go before signing day?
WYATT: It's pretty interesting to have that. I keep in touch with Khalid Hill and Shane [Morris] and Kyle Bosch a lot. The reason I keep in touch with Shane is, you know, we play them, so that's always interesting. Khalid is just a nice kid, and then Kyle I've been texting a lot. It's an interesting thing because back even a couple years ago you really don't even know anyone until you get to the school, and now with social media and all that stuff you can really become friends with people before you really get to meet them and hang out with them a lot. It's a blessing in disguise because you get to come in with that unity on the team, but you're not quite a team yet. It's great.
ACE: You also had your teammate Matt Godin committing last year. Were you talking to Matt at all before you made your decision?
WYATT: He gave me advice on how to handle the recruiting process. He didn't really force Michigan on me, which I liked. He just said, "you've got to make the right decision for you and your family," so that really helped a lot. It just happened to be Michigan and that's where he happened to go, so it all worked out.
ACE: Looking forward to next season, you guys have a little bit of unfinished business at Catholic Central. What's the goal for next year both for the team and for you personally?
WYATT: For the team and I, it's always a state championship. It was a disappointing season last year to get to the state title game and lose in that fashion, but it's put a lot of oomf in our steps and we've been working out every day for the past two months now just to get ready for the season, so it's kind of a blessing in disguise to lose like that. Now we know what it takes to get to a state championship and we know we have to work a little bit harder to win it. It'll be an exciting season for our team, we have a lot of people coming back, and we have some great talent. Me, personally, I just want to go for 1,000 yards rushing, do great on defense, and just help my team win a state championship. That's the name of the game so that's what I'm trying to do.
ACE: You mentioned working out every day with your teammates, and I also saw that you've been working out with Mike Barwis, too. What's it like getting into the weight room with Barwis?
WYATT: It's pretty crazy. He's an intense dude about it. It helps a lot, and it's cool—I do a lot of the power lifting and conditioning at school, so when I go to Barwis it's more of like the tuner muscles and that sort of thing, and the fine running motion. It's pretty interesting to pick his brain about all he knows about the subject and certain little nuances of everything. It's interesting to talk to him about all of it, and like I said, he's a crazy guy, he likes to get after it, so it's pretty exciting to lift with him.
ACE: Talking about Michigan's coaching staff real quick, what set them apart from the other coaches you interacted with when going through the recruiting process?
WYATT: They're just a great bunch of guys. They're really lighthearted, but they like to get down to work, and that's the way I am. I love to joke around, I love to have fun, but once you have to do it you have to get down to work and that's the way they are. That's what I'm really excited for. It just felt right, it felt like family. I want people who want to help me grow as a man and not just a football player, and I really feel like that staff can help me, so that's why I liked them and I'm excited to get in and work with them.
ACE: What else about Michigan stood out to you?
WYATT: Just their tradition; they're always going to be one of the top college football teams ever. You can't really contest Michigan and what they've done in college sports. It's a universal name, you can go anywhere and people know about Michigan and what they do. That's always been an attractive thought about Michigan, so that's why I've always kinda liked them. Also, it's a great school. You can't get too much better than a public Ivy, you can really set yourself up for later in life. Even though the reason why I'm going to Michigan right now is for football, I have to get ready for after the NFL, so it's a great place to be.
ACE: I've seen quotes from you, and I remember you saying something along these lines when I interviewed you last year, about the physical aspect of football and your enjoyment of "smashing heads," as I think you like to say. What is it about the physical side of football that you enjoy so much?
WYATT: There's not too many sports you can play where you can basically maul people and not get in trouble for it. Football is one of those sports. You can't walk around in public and just hit people as hard as you want to, you'll get arrested. Football lets you do that and that's why I've always liked it. Ever since I was a little kid I've always liked to hit. My dad, he played college football for Grand Valley, he's always loved it. I just grew up loving it. It's truly an arena where men can show their skills and test each other against other men and really show what you've got, so that's why I like. It truly is the gridiron and you've got to go out there and be a man amongst boys.
ACE: That seems almost like a defensive mentality when it comes to football. Would you say that's something extra that you bring to the offensive side of the football when you're playing, that willingness to hit people and bring that physical side to it?
WYATT: Yeah. I've learned a lot of my physicality just from playing at Catholic Central. We're a running football team, we hit you. I've always thought if you play offense like you're on defense, they can't really stop you, because you've got both sides of the ball going at you, you can't really get too much better. If you hit people like that—I think you want to shell-shock a defense into not wanting to hit you, so that's the whole mentality about it and that's what Catholic Central teaches, so that's what I've kinda come to love.