COACH HOKE: Thanks for coming out, weather being as it is. But I know there are hearty folks here in the Midwest, and it's not that big a deal. Wanted to thank you for the interest in Michigan football. We appreciate that. Our team appreciates that. I can tell you we're excited about these student-athletes that are coming in here to wear the winged helmet, coming in here to represent the greatest university in this country. We really think these guys are going to be guys that have an impact on this program as we go further, and guys that are made of character, and guys who come from families that understand what Michigan means and representing Michigan. So we're really excited.
We have 19 guys signed at this present time. There may be an addition later. But as we went out with our recruiting two weeks ago, I think the staff did a tremendous job. The first thing we had to do and prioritize was get to know the kids who are on this team right now, meet with them and be with them, and get them started in the workouts. Find out as much as we could.
Then it took us some time to look at where we were and what kind of football team we want to be. When I say that, I'm talking about you look at it schematically from an offensive perspective and trying to match our needs and what we needed there.
Then also when you look at it from a defensive perspective and then the kicking game, because there are obviously some things that we wanted to address there.
12 of the young men are defensive players. One thing I know from coaching the Big Ten, being here at Michigan, you have to play defense. Defenses late in the season, really, because of the elements and because of what you may face in the weather, you've got to be able to keep people out of the end zone, and you've got to play defense. So 12 of those young men are defensive players. We took five defensive backs, three defensive linemen, and four linebackers. All of those guys, we think have the right stuff when it comes to a physicalness and a toughness that we want to play defense with.
Offensively we thought we had some needs and needed some development to help us offensively on the offensive front. As you all may know, I'm a defensive coach by heart, but I'm a guy who believes where the game starts up front on both sides of the ball. So we really went after a couple running backs because the one thing about taking running backs, most of the time they're the best athlete on their high school team, that's why they're back there. If you recruit a running back, and somewhere down the road he may not be your number one back, but he's a guy who wants to play the game and has a passion for it, then they make outstanding safeties or outstanding corners or slots or linebackers, depending on those backs. So we will always take a couple backs here at Michigan. That will always be a big part of it. We took a quarterback. And that quarterback is a guy who we feel athletically and with the style of offense and the pro style, but being athletic enough to do some things in the pocket, it was important. We thought that was a big part of it.
Then we addressed our kicking needs with a young man who we were recruiting at San Diego State very hard to try to get him to stay in San Diego. He came out here. He's a fourth generation. His dad say Michigan graduate, so it was a great fit, also a guy that's very athletic.
So when you look at the class overall where we're at, that is kind of where we tried to put our emphasis. Tried to really engage ourselves with those positions and engage ourselves with those needs.
I'll go through these guys kind of quickly, to be honest with you. The one thing you'll find more and more out about me, this is about a team. It's not about one player. It's never going to be about one player. It's going to be about Michigan football. It's not going to be about a coach. It's going to be about Michigan football.
Not to make light of any of these guys, because believe me, one of the greatest questions I always got was did you sign some good guys, and my response has been we tried to do it a little different and really sign bad football players. So we did not do that. We signed good football players who are going to be great for Michigan and great for this team.
First guy I'll talk about is Greg Brown. Greg is from Fremont Ross High School. Michigan's had a great connection with that school. Greg started school here in January. Has been engaged in some of the winter conditioning and some of those things.
The next guy, Russell Bellomy out of Arlington Martin High School in Texas. He's a quarterback. And I know you'll talk to Al Borges a little bit later. Al looked at 15 quarterbacks, probably the second day he was on the job, from all over the country. 15 quarterbacks that we kind of narrowed down to four.
Then as we went through the process a little bit, Al made some visits, did the things that you need to do in dotting your I's and crossing your T's. The quarterback position is rather important because that guy touches the football every play. Between the center and him, that's where the game starts.
This is a guy we identified. His folks came up for a visit. It was a great visit and they fell in love with Ann Arbor. They fell in love with Coach Borges and the style of offense, so we're excited.
Brennen Beyer, is a young man from Canton, Michigan, from plummet high school. He'll be a defensive end for us. He's an athletic guy who plays with unbelievable toughness at the point of attack. He's a guy that had been here and Coach Rodriguez and his staff had really cultivated that. He's a guy that we think will be a tremendous player here.
Chris Bryant, an offensive lineman out of Simeon High School in Chicago. He's a refrigerator with legs and arms. I mean, he is a big-bodied young man who is a physical guy coming off the line of scrimmage. And we want to be a physical offense in what we do.
You've got a guy that comes from a great program, and a guy that's got a real love for the game of football. Big Chris is a guy we are excited about.
Tamani Carter is a young man out of Pickerington, Ohio. He's a safety. He's from Pickerington High School. He was a guy that had been courted by different Big Ten schools and made a commitment to one in particular.
Coach Smith went in there and talked to the family and the opportunity that he saw to come to Michigan was a great opportunity. Came up for a visit and really was a match made in heaven because he's a physical guy and we want to play physical football.
Frank Clark, a linebacker out of Glenville High School in Cleveland. There's been a tradition with Glenville and was for a long time at Michigan. Pierre Woods was the first Division 1 player out of Glenville High School who played at Michigan, and is having a great career.
And Frank, in a lot of ways, and I don't want to put this pressure on him, reminds me of Pierre. I'd helped recruit Pierre, but when you look at his length and the way he runs, he's going to be a big old guy for us as a football player and a disruptive guy.
The next guy is Blake Countess. He's a defensive back out of Owings Mills, Maryland. A real athletic guy that it was some great competition, great competition at the end. He had been to Michigan a couple different times before we arrived. So he was one of those guys that Coach Rodriguez and his staff did a tremendous job. Chris Singletary being part of that work that was done. We really like what Blake brings to the table as a defensive back.
Justice Hayes as a running back. He's a guy who Fred Jackson has done a tremendous job with. We think he's the kind of back -- because he's 175 pounds now, by the time a year and a half or so, he's going to be 190-pound back and a guy who has very good feet.
He had 2600 yards. If you're a back, and you run for 2600 yards, that is saying something. So very excited about him.
Keith Heitzman, another guy out of Ohio out of Central, Ohio. Out of Hilliard Davidson High School. He's a guy that we really liked how he plays. And even more so when you got to know him, and you got to see him, and you know his family, he's a tremendous football player. I think he has a great future.
Delonte Hollowell, is a defensive back out of Cass Tech High School. He was a guy that Coach Rodriguez and his staff had done a great job with, and very talented guy. Good feet, loose hips. Has an ability to make up some speed, which you need in the back end every now and then because every play's not going to be perfect.
So really excited about him and he played for Thomas Wilcher. Obviously a great Michigan man, and Thomas has done a great job at cast.
Kellen Jones, a linebacker out of Houston, Texas, St. Pius High School. I remember watching the film, and Fred had been recruiting him. Coach Jackson had, and I watched the tape of him, and you're talking about a guy who went sideline to sideline, has a length to him, and really plays with great speed.
In this day and age, you've got to have that great combination. With the different offenses that you may see from time to time during the year, I think he does that as a linebacker for us.
Jack Miller is an offensive lineman, specifically a center out of Perrysburg, St. John's High School. One thing about Jack is his toughness, his intelligence and, I'm not just talking about the academic intelligence, there's a football intelligence that you need to play with, especially at the center position. Because a center is so valuable to making the calls, getting things right. Very intelligent guy, not just from an academic point, but also from the football side of it.
He plays for a tremendous guy, Doug Pearson down there. He's been coaching in the Toledo area a long time and does a terrific job, does a terrific job with developing guys.
Desmond Morgan, another linebacker out of Holland West Ottawa High School. I mentioned how tailbacks are usually the best athletes on the team. In this sense, he was a quarterback, and a linebacker, and a tremendous athlete. A lot of the things they did offensively with him with the ball in his hands, decision making, all of those things.
Then how he liked to attack the line of scrimmage from a defensive perspective is something that got us excited. He's a tremendous young man and we're excited about him.
Antonio Poole. Another linebacker out of Cincinnati Winton Woods High School. Antonio's a guy that we came in and thought we knew we had to do more things on the defensive side of the ball. He just jumped out at you.
The way he plays, his physicalness, and ability to go sideline to sideline. So, obviously we're excited about what he brings.
Tony Posada is a big 6'4", 330 pound offensive tackle, a guard out of Tampa, Plant High School. Tony is a road grader at the point of attack. To do the things that we want to do you've got to have those guys up front. The guys up front are going to come off the football and knock guys off the ball.
And I'm really excited about Tony. I look small compared to Tony. That's another reason I recruited him. That's kind of funny. You can laugh a little bit. Between him and Chris Bryant, you've got two guys that fit the mold of what Michigan offensive linemen are going to look like.
Thomas Rawls, a big back out of Flint Northern. And Freddy Jackson has done a great job of recruiting through Flint and Saginaw for years, and has brought a lot of great young men, talent and guys who represented miff Michigan in a positive way. And really like Thomas' physicalness as a running back. His size and everything that he'll give us back there.
Chris Rock is a defensive end out of DeSales High School in Columbus, Ohio. We had a guy named Grant Bowman who played here years ago. Was a tremendous football player for us from DeSales, and that program, traditionally and Patrick is here from there now. It's a great program. This guy, I think his best football is in front of him, and I'm excited about him.
Raymon Taylor, the defensive back out of Highland park is a tremendous athlete, and a guy who has tremendous ability to play the ball in the air. Tremendous ability to line somebody up and go through the middle of them like you're supposed to play the game, so he's a guy that we expect a lot out of.
Matt Wile is the kicker out of Francis Parker High School in San Diego. He signed his letter today and I talked to him. It was 75° and sunny. And I said, that's okay, because we've got White stuff here too. I just didn't tell him what kind.
But he's a tremendous kicker, tremendous leg, and he can do both which is always a plus. He's a guy that we knew we had to make some inroads in in that part of our game.
So I think that covers everyone. Chris, did I miss anybody?
Q. Can you talk about you've got six from Michigan, seven from Ohio. Do you plan to work kind of inside out with your recruiting?
COACH HOKE: Well, we are going to, you know, two things. Michigan is always a national brand. It's a worldwide brand for what the school represents. The great alums who are out there, all over this country, all over the world.
But as far as we will approach the recruiting, we'll approach recruiting in the state of Michigan first. And work our tails off to compete and battle for the guys in this state who fit the mold of what we're looking for as a Michigan player, a Michigan man.
And then we're going to branch out from there. The state of Ohio is an important part of it. Illinois, Indiana, Western, PA. I don't think there is any doubt that's where we're going to start and how we're going to recruit.
Q. It's been a few years since you've recruited with the black M on your chest, and many of your assistants haven't had that experience before. What was the feed back? Were you surprised? What was the action, respond from parents, coaches, players on the recruiting trail?
COACH HOKE: I tell you, it was awesome. Went into Hilliard Davidson, and there were cookies made and pictures taken. And you're in the heart of Ohio country there.
I think for the guys that haven't had that opportunity. I think they would tell you the same thing. The response and the excitement about a Michigan coach being at a high school is clearly out there.
Q. Is there a difference between the guys that you got commits from and the guys that were already committed? And is there a chance that this class will grow or is it shutoff at 18, 19?
COACH HOKE: There is a possibility that this could grow by a few. We're still working, and we start working on the 12 class first thing this morning, while finishing this thing up and there is no question.
As far as the discernable difference, I think the foundation that Rich and his staff had laid was a pretty good foundation. It will be a little different as we progress with quarterbacks and backs. It will be different because of the style of offense from an offensive line perspective, from a tight end perspective and those kind of things.
From a defensive standpoint, they've transitioned so much from the three, three-five or whatever you want to call it, to the four-three and all that kind of stuff. That there are some need that's we need to look a different way there. I would say probably there is, but I don't think so much in this class.
Q. Did you meet with every kid that you signed? And what was your favorite experience through them? Did anything stand out?
COACH HOKE: I think there were only two -- I think there were only two that I didn't get into their homes, and I've got to think about that a minute. That's about right. I think there were only two of them.
But it was every home visit, all of those things were very good. Obviously the ones who were committed had a relationship, which they should have, with the guys who are here before, and the staff that was here. So you want to go in and make sure that, number one, they feel comfortable with you as the head coach much and the assistants and who is going to coach them and all those things.
I think the other part is they understand what direction you want to take this program. And what the expectations are going to be from an academic standpoint from socially, and the pride they have in their name and all those up type of things that go along with it, and how we're going to play the game of football.
Q. Can you talk about the particular challenges of working in such a compacted timeframe without months or years to work on guys, but really weeks?
COACH HOKE: Well, we've done it at three different schools now because of the timing of being with four of the guys that have been with me through the process. You just go work, and that sounds pretty straightforward, but that's what you do.
The opportunity to meet with every guy on this team and talk to them on our team, and do that part of it was important. I know some of the guys got to watch some tape, a little tape. But it was really jumping in on what our needs were we felt, and how they would fit, and trying to get out there as best you can, and trying to fill some needs.
I get to introduce one more guy. So now we have 20, see. It would grow.
Chris Barnett, tight end out of Hurst, Texas, LD Bell High School is a guy that we need tight ends and offense. There are only two guys on the team who are tight ends. Because the tight end will be an important part offensively of what we do.
Chris is a guy that we identified as one of the top guys in this country from an athletic standpoint, getting vertical mismatches, to blocking down on the five technique and the power play, and finishing through him. So that's exciting news. That was one I was waiting on, so that's good.
Q. You just talked about Chris Barnett as a kid that could probably help you pretty quickly. Are there other positions, without going into the kids specifically, that you're looking to get help quickly here?
COACH HOKE: Yeah, sure. And that's a good question. I'm going to answer it a little differently, maybe. Number one, when we recruit, two things. There is no entitlement in this program, and our guys know that.
If you were the starter a year ago, no matter what you've done, you've got to prove it every day, and be evaluated every day, and you have to do it every day. And that goes from class social football and always will.
Well, when you recruit guys, you recruit guys -- and I've never told a guy he's going to be red shirted, and I've never told a guy that you're going to play as a freshman. There's always going to be opportunities. And that specific question, I think there are guys who have an opportunity.
I think when we look at our back end and see where we're at, back end defensively, I think there may be a couple of guys that, depending on how they develop, depending on how they get themselves ready and all those things that go along with it, there might be an opportunity. I would feel the same way about the linebacker position.
Q. You started answering my question a little bit. But can you talk specifically about the defensive backs and why you targeted that position so much?
COACH HOKE: I think from an athletic standpoint, and when you look at what you want to do defensively, some of the man free stuff and manned coverage stuff that I know will be part of our package, the physicalness that we'll want to play with the safeties which is part of playing the defense that part of it is a big decision.
Q. Did you recruit guys with a certain scheme in mind that their skill set could fit?
COACH HOKE: No question. We're going to be a four-three defense, either an over or under front. We're both applicable, if I said that word right. It's going to start there.
Believe me, there were some other guys that we've also tried to recruit there. Some haven't made and some have made decisions so we'll see where it goes. But, yeah, it's got to start there.
Q. In your conversations with Greg Madison, why did you decide to go with the four-three?
COACH HOKE: That's something we've both been familiar with. We're a little seasoned. We've played a lot, I mean, coached a lot. So when you look at what Greg has done in Florida, Greg has done at Baltimore, we don't differ too much at all, if at all, in philosophy. I think it's a great fit for what we want to do.
Q. Tony Posada is a kid that's expressed in the past that not only he didn't have college aspirations in high school, even to go let alone play football. What's that like to tell a recruit not only coming to school but playing college football?
COACH HOKE: I think all kids 17 to 23 or 18 to 23, there are a lot of different thoughts that go through guys minds. Obviously, put Tony. Part of that is and was, I think maybe not having the confidence that he wanted to have in himself or maybe should have had.
As he continued to develop and get better, I think from all angles, he started getting interest from colleges and all of that. I think his mindset changed.
Q. Filling out your staff, do you have guys in mind, and when will you announce that?
COACH HOKE: Yeah, we should be done by Monday.
Q. Do you have guys in mind?
COACH HOKE: Sure.
Q. Have you had a chance to be around the guys? I know you've been on the road recruiting a lot. But how has the team bought into the new strength and conditioning program?
COACH HOKE: Well, you really don't have a choice. So them buying in one way or another, there are no choices because we're not going to change. We're going to do what we do. We've done it going on nine years and it's been very successful. They've been great.
We were able to watch them run yesterday at 6:00 a.m. and we look forward next week on Tuesday. We start full-time active duty in coaches stations at 6:00, and it's going to be fun. It it's going to be fun.
Q. Of these 20 players, how many of them did you guys recruit? How many of them did you retain, and the other logistical question, how many of these 20 are or will be enrolled here this winter?
COACH HOKE: Only one is enrolled this winter, that's Greg Brown. I think 12, 10 to 12 guys that we've cultivated as a staff.
Q. How many would you say you lost that you wanted?
COACH HOKE: Oh, boy, you're never going to bat a thousand. I don't know, two, three.
Q. The theory when you got hired in mid January is that this recruiting class would be difficult to put together? It looks like you put together a good class. Are the challenges less than you thought, are they more pleased than you thought it would have been with this class?
COACH HOKE: You know, honestly, our mindset and our goal was to get guys who were going to represent Michigan, and Michigan football. When I say that, guys who obviously fit the mold from an academic standpoint, fit the mold from a character standpoint, and fit the mold for what we wanted to see.
I don't know if I or we as a staff thought that it was going to be more difficult or not as difficult. I think when you are at Michigan and you are Michigan you've got an awful lot to talk about, and an awful lot to share with a young man and his family about the great things that Michigan has to offer.
I don't know if I answered your question. For us, you're just kind of going to work and trying to see what's best for Michigan.
Q. Previously you mentioned that running back is a position that could be moved to other places on the field. Have you talked to any current players on the team about switching positions from offense to defense?
COACH HOKE: No, I have not. We've got to get around these guys enough to see what they do. The one thing we're going to do is we will make decisions that are based on what's best for the program. 9 out of 10 times, if it's best for the program, it's best for that kid.
Q. Do you expect all 20 of these guys to qualify academically?
COACH HOKE: Yes.
Q. Have there been any roster attrition since you took over?
COACH HOKE: No.
Q. What is the status of Devin Gardner's pursuit of a medical red shirt?
COACH HOKE: Well, all that stuff doesn't get finalized until he's done with his normal eligibility, what would be his eligibility because the paperwork and all of that is submitted at that time. All of that paperwork, I know has been submitted, and you'll find out the Big Ten Conference. We'll look at it first, and then they'll go from there.
Q. You talk about starting up front on both sides of the line. The three offensive linemen about right. I don't see any defensive tackles listed either. Those two positions priorities for 2012?
COACH HOKE: Yes, no question about it. A couple of these guys that are listed as ends, at least two of them I think are guys that are going to be kind of like a Ben Huff was. When Ben came you know he's going to get bigger. They're going to get stronger.
You look at shoulders and you look at butts. That's what you do as a coach. That's where the power and all that stuff's kind of generated from. Then when you're looking for guys who can get bigger.
Q. You had talked earlier about already starting on the class of 2012 and did that this morning. But you're also preparing for your first spring practice with a new totally new group of guys. Do you feel you'll be able to commit the same type of resources and energy and time to early season recruiting as you would in normal years because of those challenges with a new team?
COACH HOKE: Yeah, there's no question.
Most of the guys, and it's a good question, but from say you're from an offensive perspective, all but one of these guys have worked together on an offensive staff. So they know the offense, the expectations. Yes, we have to teach it. Yes, we have to implement it with our players, no question.
Look, we're pretty good coaches when we have good players, and I can promise you that. We're going to take the time. We've got 24 hours in a day, so we've got time to make sure we're getting both done.
Q. You've talked about building more of a traditional Michigan in the trenches type of team. I think you have 18 of 22 starters returning. I don't know how much you've looked at what you're returning and what you're bringing in. Have you been able to assess how difficult or not difficult the transition might be right off the bat, wins and losses-wise and what-not?
COACH HOKE: Not really, because we haven't really had the time to some degree to sit down and evaluate from game to game to game to game, practice film, whatever cut-ups that we have that we'll look at of what we have.
I think our first real kind of assessment was watching them run around yesterday. Running around in shorts and T-shirts is a heck of a lot different than running around with pads on and with the threat of physical attack. I think it will take just a little bit of time.
When we start in hands on coachwise on Tuesday next week, I think we'll know a little bit more. It seems like when there is a transition, you.
Q. It seems when there is a transition, you can expect a certain amount of attrition. With how much time you've spent away from Ann Arbor, what have you been able to do to settle everybody that's on the team?
COACH HOKE: We've got an outstanding guy in the weight room who is really like a right-hand, to be honest with you. He does a tremendous job with kids because he's in it for the right reasons. As we get back involved more and more we'll be very hands on.
It's not going to be for everybody, and that's okay. I mean, there's no problem with that. I don't have a problem with it. We want guys who believe in Michigan, who understand what Michigan means, and what it means to wear that helmet, and how you're going to represent the traditions of the program.
Full Transcript: Coach Hoke S-Day Presser
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