On Thursday and Friday, Michigan played host to a collection of talented in-state athletes looking to advance their recruitment with the Wolverines. The list of recruits on campus at the end of the week includes: juniors Matt Falcon (Southfield), Kalebb Perry (Mt. Pleasant), Lawrence Gordon (Saginaw Arthur Hill), Kyle Brunson (Farmington) and sophomores Will Rodgers (Saginaw Arthur Hill), Andre Jackson (Saginaw Bridgeport).
For some, like running back Matt Falcon and wide receiver Kalebb Perry, Michigan is already in hot pursuit of their talents. For others, such as running back/safety Kyle Brunson and cornerback Andre Jackson, the Wolverines are only beginning to court the local prospects. In both cases, these recruits are very much on U-M’s radar.
These seven athletes also pose an interesting vantage point from their time at Michigan since they had also taken in a Michigan State practice in quick succession. While it is no secret that the two in-state programs battle on the football field, they are also competing for the favor of these recruits at the same time. Brunson and Falcon visited Michigan on Thursday and Michigan State on Friday, whereas Perry, Gordon, Rodgers, Jackson and Mann saw both UM and MSU on Friday alone.
GoBlueWolverine.com caught up with each of these athletes to gauge their take on the two practices.
“At Michigan they had full pads on,” said Will Rodgers. “At Michigan State they just had shoulder pads and helmets since they didn’t have pans on. With Michigan’s practice, you could tell it was real intense and high energy. They were full speed and not wasting their time. With State, it was definitely a different atmosphere. They are very different teams. State is more calm and stuff, less intensity. They were more focused on the teaching and making sure everything is right. Michigan wasn’t wasting any time. They were teaching, but they were making sure it’s on the schedule.”
The revamped, faster Wolverine practice schedule is believed to be a by-product of offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier’s addition to the Michigan coaching staff. Falcon, too, noticed a faster pace to the Wolverines’ practice on Thursday.
“I got to see quite a bit up there since I was there for the entire practice,” said Matt Falcon. “It was really intense up there with a lot of energy. They are all really excited and they are on a mission. That’s what I got from watching [practice].”
The energy from Michigan’s practice was once again singled out, this time by Gordon, as the biggest difference between the two schools’ preparation.
“I think the tempo was most different,” said Lawrence Gordon. “Michigan State’s tempo is more like a learning pace and walking them through it. And Michigan’s pace was fast because they already knew what to do. It was fast-paced.”
As a defensive end, when Gordon was watching practice, he was naturally focused on one area of the Wolverines’ team— the defensive line. Last year, Michigan finished just 67th in the nation in sacks recorded. As a unit that was troubled in getting to the passer in 2013, an aggressive approach has been implemented to change results this year.
“I was watching the defensive line do their drills and compete,” said Gordon. “They played really good and paid attention to every little small detail. All the coaches wanted them to use vicious hand movements, that was the big thing.”
But the defensive line wasn’t the only position group that handled practice reps in a passionate manor according to Kyle Brunson. His favorite part of his time at UM was observing the competitive nature that the defensive backs invoked, especially when the pressure was on.
“My [favorite part] was probably watching the 1-on-1s with the defensive backs and the receivers,” said Brunson. “They are really physical and there was a lot of trash talking. It really kept practice hype.”
Brunson noted that the 1-on-1s were very competitive and couldn’t distinguish an overall victor from the drill, noting that, “it was about half and half.”
“We got to see them practice doing a lot of 7-on-7s and it was real intense,” said Brunson. “All the coaches were hype and all the players were hype. It was fun to watch the DBs. It was fun seeing Jabrill Peppers too.”
Falcon also enjoyed this particular portion of practice. He also noted the presence of Peppers, the highly touted true freshman.
“When they did skelly with wide receivers versus DBs, I liked that,” said Falcon. “Jabrill Peppers was out there matched up with Dennis Norfleet, and that was the part of practice that I really liked.”
Even for those who had not been privy to Peppers’ style of play, such as Andre Jackson, came away impressed by his performance. Several other members of the Wolverines’ defensive backfield impressed on the day as well.
“I really got to see how Jabrill Peppers was,” said Jackson. “I had never really heard of him, but I really saw what he’s about. He’s a very physical corner, and most of the corners out there were really physical.”
Jackson, who first popped up on Michigan’s radar at camp this year, was able to witness first-hand how the UM coaching staff preaches physicality to both recruits and their current players alike.
He wasn’t the only recruit from this group to camp at Michigan this summer, however, as Kaleb Perry also worked out at wide receiver in front of the Wolverines’ staff.
“It was great,” said Perry. “I got to know the coaches more as people. I did get to learn about how they are coaching and what they expect in a player and stuff like that, especially the wide receiver coach [Jeff] Hecklinski and coach Roy Manning—he’s the recruiter out of my area.”
Perry is currently building his relationship with the staff, but is starting first with Manning.
“We have a pretty good relationship,” said Perry. “I’ve only talked to him like 4 or 5 times. I’ve seen him a few times. He tells me that I’m doing pretty good and had a strong performance at the camp and stuff like that.”
These interactions help leave a favorable impression on the recruits, such as Jackson, who thoroughly enjoyed his time spent in Ann Arbor.
“Most definitely, I would love to come back to Michigan,” Jackson said.
U-M Practice Visit a Hit w/ In-State Recruits
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