Hecklinski / Singletary Class Review (Part 1)

In part one ,Michigan's recruiting brain-trust – recruiting coordinator / WR Jeff Hecklinski and director of player personnel, Chris Singletary break down the offensive line haul, recruiting strategy, the rationale behind taking one QB per class, and more. *With video**

Fellas, an outstanding class, 27 guys in it. I started off talking to Brady about the offensive line, and that to me was the thing that jumped out first. After you talk about Shane Morris, who was the catalyst for the class, you guys really seemed to attack the trenches, and not just with focusing on physicality, but like I said to Brady, it seems like you guys really emphasize attitude as well.

HECKLINSKI: Yeah, I think one thing, that as an organization, we're going to build this program on, is up front. We’re going to build it on the offensive line, and the five offensive linemen, and then the front seven defensively. So we're always going to have strong offensive linemen, and were always going to have a strong front seven that's going to be able to play physical and stop the run, and you attack that through recruiting. I mean, that's Michigan.

You know, Chris, you look around, you see different kinds of success across the country, but the consistent theme in the teams that when it big, regardless of what scheme they run, they have big, physical guys in the trenches, and again, that seems to be the thing for you guys.

SINGLETARY: Well, you look at – and it’s funny, Coach Mattison says all the time that ‘your best defense is a great offense’, and in terms of that you have to be able to run the ball. You know, you have to be able to bleed the clock, so you have to have those hauls upfront, and with the front seven you have to be able to stop the run. You know, you stop the run, you make a team one-dimensional. Now you know what's coming on third down, or second and long, and now you can, on the defensive side, do different things with your blitz packages, and things of that nature, and to be exotic; and then running the ball, that's how you take a team’s will. You know, you pound them, you pound them, you play action, you go deep, and that enables Coach Borges to be real creative with his offensive game plan.

Chris, just tell me, what is the importance and significance of attacking home, then region, then national in that order, as opposed to the other way around?

SINGLETARY: From that standpoint, what you want to do is you want to take your home base, which is the state of Michigan. You want to cover ‘the mitten’, as we call it, and attack it from Ann Arbor all the way up, all the way to the west side, you know, you want to get to the east, and just make sure you canvas it. And then you want to get the Big Ten region, in a four to five hour radius. You want to make sure you turn over every rock, every stone, to find that kid that might not have been found, and make sure you exhaust all your resources there. And then what Michigan enables you to be able to do, because of the academics and the reputation, is be able to go to the homes on the west coast or the east coast, attract those kids that have an interest. Not only from an academic standpoint, because this is a great school, but when you wear the most recognizable helmet in football, whether it’s college or pro, every kid knows what Michigan is about, so we have a great resource here because of what the school gives us to go to homes, and you just have to implement it and go with it.

That was an outstanding description. See, people should be receptive to that kind of message (laughter).

SINGLETARY: I don't know who should be receptive, let's move on.

I'm moving on, I am just trying to spread some knowledge is all (laughter).

HECKLINSKI: You're trying to stir the pot.

I’m not stirring anything (laughter)!

HECKLINSKI: You're stirring the pot.

Alright so, quarterback recruiting. Shane Morris, we just got done talking to Shane, You identified Shane Morris, and you identified him early. What were the characteristics you saw in him, even before his junior season, that made you know that that was the guy for you?

Well, I think from a physical standpoint, you're looking at arm strength, and smooth release, and mechanics, and foot works, and athletic ability, And those things are pretty obvious with Shane when you look at him on film, but where he comes from, who he has been coached by, the leadership capabilities that he has, and to be able to do the things at a young age that he did at that point, which was very impressive, and you know, it's just fit everything we wanted in a Michigan quarterback, so it was a pretty easy decision, to be honest with you.

Now, we have a lot of armchair recruiters out there that say ‘hey you should try to having Shane is great, and he’s the headliner, but you should try to get more than one quarterback and each class if you can’. What's your take on that? What's kind of the Michigan take on quarterback recruiting as far as numbers in the class?

HECKLINKSI: You know what we have to do when we sit in those meetings, is do what's best for the program. The hardest thing about quarterback is there's only one that plays, and they generally can't play another position, so it just doesn't work when you say ‘okay I'm going to take an athlete, and maybe he might be able to play another position’, so when you target a quarterback, and just like Shane was in this class, they become leaders. If you bring in another one, or bring in two, sometimes that muddies the pot, and it creates actually separation. The other thing is we have a number of positions that we need to fill. There are only 85 scholarships, and so from that standpoint, when you're looking at needs, and you're weighing the options of a second quarterback versus another player that can help you at another position, it always comes back to ‘which one is going to help build the program and help build the brand?’ And we are always going to err on the side of a kid that's going to be multipurpose, multi talented, a kid that's going to help us in a lot of different places, be able to help us on special teams, especially high school kids who have played on both sides of the ball, and you look at our skill kids, and most of our skilled kids have played on both sides of the ball in high school. In fact, a lot of our kids don't come off the field, and that's very important to us because that speaks to their competitiveness, their football passion, and they're wanting to win and help their teams in any capacity.

Now, Chris, one thing that really sticks out to me as well is I look at this class and see a number of guys that participated in your summer camp. So how big of a deal is that for you guys, your summer camps? How much of an aid is that in your recruiting process?

SINGLETARY: Summer camps are a vital part of our recruiting process. It enables us to – you know, you see things on film like athleticism, but it's nothing like seeing it in person. It's nothing like Coach Heck, or any of the other coaches, having an opportunity to coach a guy, seeing if he's coachable, seeing if he picks up different techniques, seeing if he can adjust on the move. You know, really getting to know a guy. You get to know him on a personal side, he gets to know you, seeing if he's coachable. Those little things, those little intangibles, always help, and play into a part of really knowing a kid. You know, those are things you can't see on film, that you can't find out, and knowing how much football he knows, and also getting an opportunity to see what that young man's younger man's upside may be, you know, and I think when you look at the guys who came to summer camp, a guy that probably sticks out would be Da’Mario Jones. You know, a guy who came to camp and showed great flashes. He had a great camp, did well, and he was a guy that – coach talked about today at the press conference, that we kept coming back to. When we had those recruiting meetings, we kept coming back to ‘man, we had this young man here, we know what he's about, we know what he wants’, and when you have a young man who wants to be at Michigan, that outweighs a lot of things, because he is going to do everything he can in his power, academically, athletically, in the weight room, to be the best he can be. So when you really get to know a kid, and you're trying to split hairs between him and another one, that's going to outweigh it because of the relationship, and you know what you're getting. You know more than just what the film tells you. You know him.

HECKLINSKI: Another great example of that is Channing Stribling. You know, we had him in camp for five days, and I can tell you that kid competed for five days. He did everything, he covered every wide out, and we have kids that come in for one day trying to earn a scholarships, kids who have scholarships around the country, and Channing Stribling shut down almost every wide out we had at camp, and you could see that for his size, his athletic ability, his ability to move, and then his competitiveness on top of that. ‘You need me to cover someone coach? I'll go. Let me go cover them. I'm going to show you that I can play here.' And I'll tell you, those types of kids are the types who are driven to win, and those are the kids we want here at Michigan.

Chris Fox is another camper -

HECKLINSKI: As a sophomore.

SINGLETARY: As a baby.

And we talked about attitude, I started for a reason talking about attitude with you guys, and Brady as well, because it's dripping from every offensive lineman you guys recruited in this class, and he was – like you said, he was a baby when he was at camp, but he showed that kind of disposition in camp as well.

SINGLETARY: When he came to camp you just knew what you were going to have when he was a senior, and you could see the long-term potential, you could see the growth potential, and you could see that attitude that you need in the trenches, that mindset. You know, almost have that grunt mentality, and he did well. He had great athleticism, great feet for his size, and you just knew that this was a kid that we wanted to get on early, and the benefit of him coming to camp all the way from Ponderosa, Colorado was very beneficial to us and to him.

And then another couple of guys really quick starting out with Ben Gedeon, You know, I think he was there for one day, and that's all it took, because you could see that athleticism in him early on, in just that one day of work at the camp.

HECKLINSKI: Yeah, not only the athleticism, but the mentality. You talk about the attitude, we talk about the mental toughness of our kids, and the mentality of ‘Coach, what do you want me to do? What do you need me to do? Let me go play. I love to play. You want me to play running back? I'll play running back. You want me to play tight end? I'll play tight end. You want me to play linebacker? Great, I'll go to safety.’ I'll do whatever you need me to do. And that's what he did for his high school. He played running back probably more than he played linebacker, but that's great, because he did what his coach asked him to do and what his team needed him to do to win, and those are the kids that come to Michigan, and they win games for you.

Stay tuned for part two during which the duo discusses Michigan's philosophy on wide receiver recruiting, the progress that Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson have made, the inaccuracy that social media has introduced to recruiting, the running back haul, and much much more.

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