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UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN MEDIA CONFERENCE
February 1, 2012
JUSTIN DICKENS:¬† We're ready to get started.¬† Just want to thank everyone for coming.¬† Coach Hoke will come up and address each of the recruits, the 3 early enrollees and the 22 letters of intent that came in today.
After that, he'll take questions.¬† After he's done, we have the assistant coaches in the back that will be available to talk about the recruits.
COACH HOKE:¬† Thanks for coming out in your interest or your job, whichever way it is for you, with what we're doing here at Michigan.
First I want to thank the people within the athletic department, the professors that are on campus that give up their time on Saturdays to meet with these young men who come on campus and their families.
The representation that they bring with them in how they treat these kids is something that I don't know if other universities get.¬† So I really want to think them.
This class we're very excited about.¬† I know none of you will ask the question, is this a good class, because it is.¬† We don't try and recruit bad classes.¬† But I've been asked that before, so I was hoping to save anybody an embarrassment.
Really, the exciting thing is I think we hit some needs and some areas of need that we needed to address.¬† Some of that from maybe the lack of scholarships that were at some positions.¬† The other part of it is the style of offense and style of defense that we want to play.¬† So I think that's a big part of it.
Excited about the kids in the class.¬† The integrity and the character in our research and our detective work or whatever you want to call it of really trying to find out about the kids is something that we're really proud of, and their families and the integrity that this class has.
I want to go through them, and I think you got a handout.¬† I'm going to go through them relatively quick.¬† The coaches are back there, and they'll spend some time with you afterwards when you look at positionally.
But the three guys who came early, Kaleb Ringer and Joe Bolden and Jarrod Wilson, the two linebackers and a safety.¬† They've been here since the semester started and they're doing a great job from an academic standpoint issue.¬† Just talking with the winter conditioning, those three are doing a tremendous job there.
Blake Bars is a big offensive tackle out of Nashville, Montgomery Bell High School.¬† He's a guy that we really liked early in the recruiting, and, you know, gives us more size up front in what we want to do.
Ben Braden is an offensive linemen out of Rockford.¬† Ralph Munger, his coach, is one of the legendary coaches in the state of Michigan.¬† But, again, another big‑bodied guy who has got a lot of range and a guy we really think is going to be, like all of them, good players and will play for Michigan.
Jehu Chesson, receiver 6'3" receiver out of St. Louis.¬† Guy that we targeted early.¬† You can imagine we target most of these guys early.¬† But really he's got a lot of the range to him.¬† Like his hand‑eye skills and how he handles the ball.
Jeremy Clark is a big safety out of Madisonville, Kentucky.¬† Guy that we had in camp and watched run around and watched his film and thought he was a great fit.
Amara Darboh, again, another lengthy receiver out of Des Moines, West Des Moines, Iowa.¬† Guy that we thought could go up and get the ball.¬† Had good numbers, if you want to call them there that, when you look at speed and his length and everything like that.
Devin Funchess out of Farmington Hills.¬† I think on here is says 205.¬† He's more 220 now.¬† A very athletic tight end; a guy who can play your move tight end.¬† A guy you get down near the red zone you can put him on the outside.¬† Catches the ball extremely well with his hands, but you can put him in the red zone and throw the ball up to him.
Allen Gant from Sylvania, Ohio.¬† That name might be familiar.¬† His father, Tony played here.¬† Played for Coach Schembechler.¬† Allen is a big safety.¬† Guy who has got a knack for the football.
Matt Godin from Central Catholic, a school that in this state is coached extremely really.¬† Tom Mach, who has been coaching there a long time, has produced a lot of great players.¬† Matt is a big defense lineman that we're really excited about.
Willie Henry from Cleveland, Glenville High School, is a young man that we kind of got on late.¬† Very happy we got on him late, to be honest with you.¬† He's very athletic and he's a young guy who is a very good football player.
Sione Houma from Salt Lake City is a fullback.¬† And within the offense, we really need to get ourselves some fullback‑type bodies.¬† Extremely strong, physical guy.
Royce Jenkins‑Stone, linebacker from Cass Tech.¬† A guy who committed early to us.¬† Very talented young man.¬† Will run and hit, and that's kind of what you kind of want linebackers to do.
Drake Johnson from Ann Arbor Pioneer, again, is a guy who's had tremendous numbers.¬† He's bigger back.¬† You know, he'll be a 215‑pound back, probably, 220.¬† Is a physical runner, and really hand‑eye skills, catching the football.¬† Had him at catch and got to really test him in some of those areas.
In the offense, you've got to have backs who are big enough to protect and big enough and good enough from an athletic standpoint to catch the ball out of the backfield.¬† Really like what Drake does.
Kyle Kalis, offensive linemen out of St. Ed's in Lakewood, Ohio.¬† He's a powerful, strong, grating type of offensive lineman that we want to have in the offense.¬† Very talented.
Erik Magnuson is an offensive tackle out of Carlsbad, California.¬† We been recruiting him for a couple years because we were trying to get him to go to San Diego State.¬† There is a lot of familiarity.¬† He had come to a bunch of practices and it was a great fit for us and a great fit for him.
Dennis Norfleet, from Martin Luther King, happened at the end.¬† One reason was when you look at it, we had a couple scholarships left that we had either sign over with or we would make sure that we could have him in this class.
The other part of it was our needs when we lost Darryl Stonum. ¬†This guy is a guy who returns kicks.¬† He's got speed.¬† He's a guy who can do a lot of things catching the football.¬† He runs the football.¬† He's an athlete.¬† We're really impressed with him.
Mario Ojemudia from Farmington Hills.¬† Very talented rush end. ¬†Very quick.¬† Like how he comes of the ball.¬† Again, well‑coached.¬† John Herrington over there does a tremendous job, and has for years.
Ondre Pipkins, or Pee Wee, is a big man.¬† He's a big man in the middle, which you need on defense.¬† Play three or one shade.¬† Very excited about him.
Terry Richardson.¬† Again, another Cass Tech young man who is well‑coached, Thomas Wilcher, state championship football team.¬† There's been a lot of connection obviously with Michigan and Cass Tech over the years, and Terry is a corner that we think is going to do a great job for us.
James Ross from Orchard Lake, St. Mary's, again, another linebacker.¬† Again, a guy who, you know, you see ball, hit ball.¬† Has a very good football sense and instinct when you look at a linebacker.¬† I think that's important.
Tommy Strobel from Mentor, Ohio.¬† Another defensive end.¬† Guy that we really liked from the getgo and early, and is really a guy that we expect big things out of.
A.J. Williams is a big tight end out of Sycamore High School in Cincinnati, Ohio.¬† Very physical young lad at the point of attack; but at the same time, he's tremendously skilled running routes and catching the football.
And then Chris Wormley, a big defensive end out of Toledo, Ohio, Whitmer High School.¬† Joe Palka, his coach, is one of the better coaches in the state of Ohio.¬† Just took the Saline coaching job not too long ago.¬† But extremely talented young man.¬† Very long, very physical.¬† We're excited that he's there.
So I think I got them all.¬† Those are the guys in this class.¬† We're extremely excited about them.¬† Can't wait to start working with them.
Q.¬† Brady, you emphasize the guys on the line of scrimmage either side so much.¬† Talk about that.
COACH HOKE:¬† Well, when we got here, we had eight guys on the offensive line on scholarship.¬† Usually that number is 14 to 16.¬† So that part of it, going to a 4‑3, I think we had seven or eight guys on scholarship on the defensive line.
Usually that's 12 to 14, so our numbers have been down there for one reason or another.¬† So we tried to address that.¬† As you know, John, that's where the game is played.¬† We got a tremendous quarterback, but he can't do anything if those guys up front aren't blocking at the line of scrimmage, and same thing defensively.¬† If we don't have who can be aggressive at the line of scrimmage.
Q.¬† Can you talk about having a full year to recruit this class, how different that was from a year ago when you had been here perhaps a month?
COACH HOKE:¬† Yeah, well obviously it's a lot different.¬† I mean, you've got a chance to start on guys, and we started on the '13 class already.
Having a whole year to get to know families, to make those relationships, and to touch people and really find out as much as you can about a guy from the academic to the character side of it, you know, their love and passion for the game and understanding the value of a Michigan degree is all part of it.
Q.¬† Is this 25‑man group going to be the entire class, or are you anticipating any additions?
COACH HOKE:¬† Um, we'll see.
Q.¬† You talked about kind of the detective work and the character of the guys.¬† Over the years, what have you learned from recruiting from successes and failures that have changed your approach?
COACH HOKE:¬† Well, I think the biggest thing is you got to talk to the right people.¬† Look, it's not an exact science.¬† None of it is.¬† You do as much as you can with the people in the high schools, people within the community, you try and find out as much as you can.¬† I think that's all a big part of it.
You know, sad to say that, you know, some of the stuff, because of social media, you can find out a lot about guys.¬† So that's all part of it.¬† That's what's changed, and I don't think it's for the good in a lot of ways.
Q.¬† How many of these guys do you think might have an opportunity to play right away?¬† Are there certain guys you're looking at?
COACH HOKE:¬† No.¬† We'll see.¬† I mean, it's not fair to any of them.¬† You ask that question, well, all of them have an opportunity.¬† They got to take advantage of it.¬† They got to know the expectations.
Q.¬† Are these four‑year scholarships?
COACH HOKE:¬† Yeah, we went and made them four‑year scholarships.¬† We'll see where that all that goes with the NCAA with some addendums of how you would lose a scholarship.¬† Obviously you quit football, you're not going to be on scholarship.
Q.¬† You had a connection through Toledo the last few years from Kovacs and Koger.¬† You have two more kids from Toledo in Wormley and Gant.¬† Talk about the connection you have there in Northwest Ohio and what those two bring to the table?
COACH HOKE:¬† Obviously it's a lot closer to Ann Arbor than it is Columbus, so I think that helps.¬† But I think over the years, Michigan coaches, you know, and being here before, I think they've always taken a lot of pride in how they recruit Northwest Ohio and the relationship with the coaches that have been built up over many years.
Q.¬† When you came here, you made no bones about recruiting the Midwest.¬† I think I tallied 18 players from Michigan and Ohio.¬† How much have you been running into your rivals, Ohio State and Michigan State, and has that been tough sledding or better than you anticipated?
COACH HOKE:¬† You know, we're going to run into them and we're going to compete.¬† I guess the best way to answer it is we really like the class we have.
Q.¬† How much does your criminal justice background help you when you're investing?
COACH HOKE:¬† I don't know if that helps me much.¬† I've been investigating a few of you, so...
No, I don't know.¬† I don't know if that has a whole lot to do with it.
Q.¬† You were able to get so many early commitments.¬† How did that help build momentum for this class, and what was the key to getting so many early commitments?
COACH HOKE:¬† Well, I think the guys in the back.¬† Two things.¬† Number one, we've got a great institution.¬† A degree from Michigan, you know, a global education and what it all stands for, I that that's part it of.
Then I think, you know, winningest program in the history of college football, the facilities we have, the people at the university.¬† Having those early commitments definitely helped, because you see those guys working and recruiting guys that they want to play with.
Q.¬† You talked about all of them have an opportunity to play early, but are there positions where the need is such that the opportunity might be greater?
COACH HOKE:¬† Well, you know, we lose three starting seniors on the defensive line, so obviously that's an opportunity.¬† We lose a center and we lose a right tackle who both played a lot of football at Michigan.
So as you look at it, I think that's all part of it.¬† Tight end‑wise, you lose two tight ends.¬† So I think that's part of it.¬† On paper and everything else that makes sense, but like the kids here in this program know, it doesn't matter if you're fifth year senior or wet behind the ears and a true freshman, the best player is gonna play.
There is an expectation for how you play at that position.
Q.¬† Going to the guys in Ohio you went and got, how did your relationship with those coaches previously, you know, growing up in Ohio and coaching in the state, did you come back to the same kind of guys...
COACH HOKE:¬† I had recruited it enough.¬† Obviously grew up there.¬† Ball State we did a lot of work in Ohio, so there is a lot of fellowship there and some relationships.
And then Mark Smith has recruited the portion of Ohio that he has for 25 years.¬† Greg has recruited Cleveland and that whole area and Columbus before, so there is some preexisting relationships that are pretty good.
Obviously the comfort level that they feel with you, your integrity and you character in taking care of their kids, I think they all understand that.
Q.¬† One more follow‑up on just the recruiting competition.¬† It is almost like the game outside the game.
COACH HOKE:¬† Right.
Q.¬† When Urban Meyer showed up at Ohio State in December, did that change things for you at all?¬† Did you get some push‑back from any of your Ohio recruits?
COACH HOKE:¬† No.¬† Nope.
Q.¬† With Norfleet, when did you actually start looking at him?¬† Was it after Stonum was dismissed?
COACH HOKE:¬† No.¬† To be honest with you, it was pretty much yesterday.
Q.¬† What was it that you saw in him yesterday that you didn't see prior?
COACH HOKE:¬† Well, you go through the process.¬† We're talking about numbers and building this puzzle.¬† We were going to have the numbers to be able to take a guy like him.
So, I mean, it happens that way sometimes.¬† Believe me.
Q.¬† How many of these guys would you say were committed long ago, quote, unquote, early commitments?
COACH HOKE:¬† Probably...
Q.¬† Or the opposite.
COACH HOKE:¬† 18, something like that, 18 to 20.
Q.¬† In an era of so many de‑commitments, how impressed are you that you were able to keep them all?¬† I think you maybe lost one.
COACH HOKE:¬† Yeah, that says a lot about Michigan.¬† Says a lot about our kids on this team and the guys in the program who they develop relationships with.¬† I think it has a lot to say about this university.¬† I think it has a lot to say about the guys in the back of the room and the job they do.
Q.¬† You talk about this class and that you were selling them on what you are going to do, the ones that committed early.¬† Will it be easier going forward given the season that you had on this next class saying, Here is what we're going to do?
COACH HOKE:¬† Say it one more time.
Q.¬† Having a season under your belt with the success you had as opposed to the guys that committed early this year saying, Here is the level we plan to win at.
COACH HOKE:¬† Right, right.¬† John, it's never easy.¬† It's competitive.¬† It's 12 months a year, 365 days a year.¬† If you're not writing a handwritten note, if you're not watching tape, if you're not calling a coach or having a kid call in to talk to you, then you're going to go backwards.
We don't intend to go backwards.
Q.¬† You called Ondre Pipkins by his nickname.¬† How well did you get to know him in the recruiting process, and how important is he in the kind of defense Coach Mattison wants to run?
COACH HOKE:¬† Well, any time you got a big defensive lineman in the middle that's always important.¬† You know, I think there is a great relationship that we've built to this point.
Q.¬† Do you have any stories from being in someone's house that he enjoyed or...
COACH HOKE:¬† Not that I would share with you all.
Q.¬† You talked about the four‑year scholarship.¬† How is that important and why did you guys go with that?
COACH HOKE:¬† Well, you know, you had to kind of figure it out.¬† You didn't know what everybody else was going to do.¬† I think sometime they're either going to go, Okay, we'll make them two‑year deals, you with me, and not four?
They were four a long time ago.¬† You decided you don't want to play anymore but you're still on scholarship, that's not fair to the school.
I always thought the one‑year renewables were fine, because in my tenure as head coach or being an assistant coach, I don't remember guys that their scholarship was taken because of academic [sic] performance.¬† You know, it was something socially; it was something academically.
So I don't know why the change.¬† I think the NCAA made a lot of decisions in that one meeting they had probably six months ago when the cost of education and all that, and they put the brakes on a lot of things.¬† We need to find out more about it and how conducive it all is.
I don't know if I made any sense, but...
Q.¬† You may have misspoke.¬† Did you mean you don't remember guys losing their scholarship because of athletic performance?
COACH HOKE:¬† Correct.
Q.¬† It was academics or socially?
COACH HOKE:¬† Correct.
Q.¬† They were getting in trouble?
COACH HOKE:¬† Correct.
Q.¬† Obviously you and your assistant coaches built strong personal relationships with a lot of these guys.¬† How important is the individual recruiting process when you don't have that time with somebody like Norfleet?
COACH HOKE:¬† Well, I think it always is a difference.¬† You know, the longer you're, you know, engaged and building those relationships and the information and the commitment, it's like going to the bank.¬† You're putting your money in the bank.¬† You're making the commitment.
Well, it's no different.¬† When you commit to people and they see that commitment, usually things go pretty well. ¬†I don't know if that made sense, but...
Q.¬† You mentioned social media earlier.¬† How much does that change how you look at a kid?¬† How much do you monitor that?¬† Did that change how you recruited any specific kids this year?
COACH HOKE:¬† Well, I'm not going to say any specific kids because they're 16‑ and 18‑year‑old kids.¬† They're not pros.¬† They're kids.¬† I think it has made a difference, because you don't, we don't know their situations, where they come from, the background they have.
I mean, we know a heck of a lot more about them than you all do.¬† But kids are going to make mistakes.¬† You don't know what kind of support group they have, what's been acceptable, so I thinkit's ‑‑ you know, I wouldn't Twitterif you‑‑ why would you would I want you to know if I'm at McDonald's eating a cheeseburger?¬† Because it would probably be three or four.
I'm not real big into any of it.¬† I don't Facebook, I don't Twitter.¬† I don't e‑mail.
Q.¬† You don't e‑mail?
COACH HOKE:¬† No.¬† If I want to talk to you, I'll call you up and we'll talk.
Q.¬† Something else, when you look at your returning players, how are they doing so far with conditioning?
COACH HOKE:¬† Great.
Q.¬† How is their health?
COACH HOKE:¬† I think health‑wise ‑‑ you know, and I don't want to get into that really, because this is about these kids today.¬† But they're doing a great job.¬† I'll say that.
Q.¬† Obviously your focus is offensive and defensive lines.¬† Do you feel like you have replenished the trenches so to speak?¬† I know you're always looking for guys...
COACH HOKE:¬† You're right.¬† We're always going to take guys up front.¬† You just think about the pounding of the game of football.¬† You know, most of it wears at the line of scrimmage, so we've always got to be recruiting three, four, five offensive linemen a year.
Same thing with defensive linemen.
So are we replenished?¬† No, but we're making progress.
Q.¬† Better than before?
COACH HOKE:¬† Yes.
Q.¬† Kyle Kalis took a lot of heat and flack from people.¬† Did you follow that and what's your reaction to that and his resolve?
COACH HOKE:¬† He's got tremendous resolve.¬† When you have a great rivalry, those things happen.
Q.¬† What you do think of Pipkins' video?
COACH HOKE:¬† You know, I finally saw it at his house.¬† What do you think?
Q.¬† Pretty good.
COACH HOKE:¬† Was it that good?
Q.¬† The walk was good.
COACH HOKE:¬† The walk was good?¬† Yeah, I thought it was pretty good.
Q.¬† (No microphone.)
COACH HOKE:¬† Given to him?¬† I told him he's got four years of hell.¬† (Laughter.)
No, he's a great kid.¬† Great kid.¬† It's good.¬† If you can't make fun of yourself, then you got problems.
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