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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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. 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.
Signing Day Full Transcript: Coach Hoke
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