When the Michigan coaches hit the recruiting trail this week, one of the primary objectives was establishing a fresh target board for defensive backs. Former Wolverine commitment Gareon Conley still figures prominently in the mix, but it’s clear that he will not be the only corner pursued. One of the new names on the radar is little known Birmingham (AL) Parker CB, Marquis McCullum. At 6-1, 185 lbs., with a forty time in the 4.5s, McCullum fits the big corner mold that the Wolverines covet. The obvious question is how does a big athletic defensive back with cover skills exist in virtual obscurity?
“First and foremost the main reason he is under the radar is he was in a car accident at the end of his junior (season),” McCullum’s father Rashid explained. “He got rear-ended by a drunk driver. He was in the back seat, so he caught the brunt of the accident. He was unable to attend any camps or any combines going into his senior year. There was no bone damage and no ligament damage or anything like that. Of course if that wasn’t clear Michigan would definitely have some hesitancy and reluctance regarding recruiting him.”
The Wolverines’ are no strangers to the hidden gem types. Michigan commit Channing Stribling also wasn’t a high profile target when the Wolverines first saw him, and he hailed from one of the most talent laden programs in the country in Matthews (NC) Butler. The Michigan coaching staff saw enough of Stribling with their own eyes at camp to know that he was too good to pass up. They haven’t gotten to the offer stage with McCullum yet, but it’s clear that the youngster’s film has them extremely intrigued.
“He is naturally a corner,” said the elder McCullum, who himself was a defensive back for the Miami Hurricanes in the early nineties. “His high school needs him at safety sometimes, so in a few games he played safety. He had five picks, 83 tackles, several break-ups and three forced fumbles. He is already qualified. He has a 20 on the ACT, 3.0 core GPA and there are no character issues. (Michigan) saw the highlight film and that’s really what sparked the interest. They were like ‘whoa!’ They called immediately once they saw the film. They had someone here like the next day. “
“They were thinking, ‘wait a minute, what is (the catch)? There has to be something (laughing).’ That is really what they said. From there they said Coach (Mark) Smith is coming down for the character (evaluation). They said, ‘we see his grades, we see his skill set… we just want to look him in the eye and give him the eyeball test, talk to him see how he articulates... see how he carries himself, and we’ll go from there.’ One thing I really liked about them is they were very straight forward. They were all business and weren’t interested in playing any games.”
For Marquis, the last week has been an exciting whirlwind. Shortly after Michigan inquired about him, Rutgers began showing significant interest. Those are the only BCS programs giving chase at the moment, but that will surely change in the coming weeks. It’s a position that the McCullum wondered if he’d ever be in four months ago when he received what still qualifies his best offer from UAB.
“Before being frustrated, I was scared,” Marquis stated. “When we got hit we spun around a couple of times and we almost went off the bridge. After the accident I had real bad migraines and back pain, so I was really scared about (possibly) not being able to play the game anymore. I had to get some MRIs, CAT scans and things like that just to make sure I was okay. After a while… maybe about two months I was pain free as far as my headaches. Then I was just going through physical therapy for my back. I was out like five or six months. I couldn’t go to the Nike combine. I was really excited about going to it because I felt I had something to bring to the table. I was going to really compete and get my name out there, but the accident silenced everything. I couldn’t play spring ball. I was just out there with the team helping out as much as I could, but that was just getting water and stuff like that. I saw recruiters out there and it made me even more frustrated to see them out there not looking at me.”
The Wolverines are definitely looking now, and it appears that they will look closer in the very near future.
“When Coach Smith asked him (is Michigan a school he’d really be interested in), Marquis said, ‘it’s Michigan for God Sakes!’ Coach Smith started laughing and said, ‘oh yeah, that’s what Coach Hoke said at his first press conference.’ Honestly I didn’t know that he knew anything about Coach Hoke’s first press conference. He threw even me off with that one.”
“I really enjoyed the visit,” added Marquis. “I liked what Coach Smith was saying about the program. He was very straight forward and honest with me. The qualities my dad taught me to have and look for in men, that’s the same thing I found in Coach Smith. Also, Coach Hecklinski spoke to my dad and said they are going to try to get the defensive coordinator to get down here for a home visit within two weeks.”
Don’t be surprised if Greg Mattison isn’t only. Simply put, the film doesn’t lie.
“First of all they’re going to see my stature,” said Marquis. “I’m a legit 6-1. That big of a corner coming up on the boundary… I’m not going to say it’s intimidating, but it definitely makes a receiver bring his A-game. I like to have style on the field… that comes with the position. Plus I’m a real physical corner. I like to use my hands, I’ve got good feet and good hips, so if you make a move or change directions I’m right there with you. And I have the speed to go with it.”
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