Heading into a visit weekend featuring the top wide receiver in the state of Michigan, one of the most sought after defensive tackles in the country, a four star pass rushing specialist, a running back being courted by all of Michigan's closest rivals, and a slew of other top recruits -- Michael Ferns, a 2014 Wolverine linebacker commitment and creator of project 135, had his work cut out for him to ensure each and every prospect had the best possible time in Ann Arbor.
Similar to his approach as far as adding talent around him in the 2014 class, Ferns had a plan. No longer the only commitment in the class, Ferns called on his partner, quarterback Wilton Speight, with a special assignment.
"I made sure that Wilton got with the offensive guys," Ferns told GoBlueWolverine. "When a guy is playing receiver and a linebacker is coming to talk to him, it just doesn't have the same impact. ‘Hey come to Michigan, I play defense. I'll be tackling you and you'll be catching balls.' So we, sort of, got Wilton on anyone who was focused on offense."
Speight, who quickly began courting Grand Rapids Christian (Mich.) WR Drake Harris on twitter after committing to the Wolverines, had his shot to do the same in person during the record setting wide out's two day visit in Ann Arbor.
Ferns believes the Wolverines made a favorable impression.
"He had a great weekend," said Ferns. "I could tell he was a little shy at first but I think his dad is a Michigan fan. He was keeping close with the coaching staff. I think we made strides in trying to get him turned the right way."
Regardless of position, the main focus of the weekend was East Lake (Fla.) high school offensive tackle Mason Cole. Though Cole made his commitment to Michigan public Monday afternoon, after returning home to talk things over with family, Ferns had reason to believe the decision was all but a formality, hinging on the overall feel of the visit.
"I spent a lot of time with Mason, naturally, because I knew he was close and he had told me before that this would be the visit that would determine things," said Ferns. "So I made it my goal just to make sure that he had the best experience."
Hoping to add other commitments coming out of the weekend besides Cole, Ferns kept the phrase ‘project 135' on the minds of all of the visitors, throughout.
"135 ended up being just making jokes about it all weekend," said Ferns. "Anytime someone talked about trying to get someone to come to the team we made jokes like ‘hey, I've got about 50 shirts in the back of the car,' -- which I actually did. Like, I have a shirt in the back of the car if you want to just do it right now."
"I can make jokes about it but everyone knew I was a little serious."
With Michigan's 2014 class now totaling four members, Ferns and his comrades are assessing their next induction ceremony, hoping to give out another t-shirt in the near future, with a strategy in mind.
"I was really on Kyle Berger showing up for the weekend," said Ferns. "I'm going to stay heavily on him just because it's a linebacker thing. Just looking at him as a potential roommate and someone looking at the same college major as me. It's a lot easier for me to talk to him.
But I think we're also focused on working around more of like a skill position. We'd like to get a running back or wide receiver -- get a little more of a variety to what we have in the class right now."
Project 135: #4 in fold - Who's next for U-M?
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