Sam Webb: Kind of take me through his season and how things went for him on the football field last year.
Derek Chipoletti: “Darrion’s a great athlete. He’s 6’4”, 220 odd pounds, somewhere in the 220s, and he was great enough athlete to play safety as a sophomore at (his former) high School. So when he transferred over, we put him at safety. He was athletic enough to do that and excel at the position. He actually led the team in tackles from the safety position, so we said ‘why don’t we move him closer to the line of scrimmage this year?’ We played him as a linebacker, so he is just unique talent with unique size and speed, and just likes to hit people.”
Sam Webb: How big was he when he got there to play safety?
Derek Chipoletti: “He’s probably only gained about ten pounds, ten pounds of muscle. I mean, he’s gotten a lot stronger. He placed in the state weightlifting – or, excuse me, he was invited to compete at the state weightlifting championship. He’s just a heck of a kid. All of these things I’m telling you about, you know, how athletically gifted he is, he’s even a better kid, a better person, you know?”
Sam Webb: As far as recruiting, I don’t know if you can name all of his offers off the top of your head; but can you kind of give me some of the bigger ones that he’s picked up thus far?
Sam Webb: So you’re familiar with the Maize & Blue. What about Darrion? Did he have any familiarity with Michigan before they started showing interest in him?
Derek Chipoletti: “Not really. I don’t think so. He’s been raised in the south, but I think Michigan has done a great job recruiting thus far. I think you can’t send a better man than Greg Mattison, who does have Florida ties, and I’ve dealt with in the past for recruiting when he was at the University of Florida. So I kind of know the makeup of Coach Mattison. You have this fatherly figure in Greg Mattison, and he’s a very good man. Then you have a guy that Darrion that will really be able to relate to in linebacker coach Roy Manning.”
Sam Webb: Knowing him as you do, kind of take me through what are going to be the big factors in his decision when he gets ready to make it.
Derek Chipoletti: “With his family it’s going to be about education. They’re going to want Darrion to get a degree, and finish, and have a diploma when he’s done at the university or institution he goes to. So that’s number one. Number two, I would say a chance to play early. Obviously he has to go and compete, and he realizes that, but not going into a place that has an established superstar at that position, so I think that will be a big one. And then I think he has to feel comfortable with the staff. So I think those will be the three biggest factors.”
Sam Webb: Do you think distance from home is going to matter to him very much?
Derek Chipoletti: “No, I don’t think location will matter. I really don’t. He does come from a pretty close family, but when you’re picking a college you’re not just picking the next four or five years, you’re picking the next 40 or 50 years. That’s where that degree is going to get you, so I think his family understands that… and Darrion understands that. Those other three things will override location, in my opinion, from talking to him.”
Sam Webb: Have you talked to him at all about what his timeline looks like?
Derek Chipoletti: “I think he’s still enjoying the recruiting process. He is a very humble kid, and when I say that he’s enjoying it, I mean that it hasn’t become a problem yet. It hasn’t become a nuisance, which at some point in time it will for him. At some point in time he’s going to want to get it over with, and just concentrate on school and football and all that stuff, but at this time he likes talking to coaches, he likes finding out new information about the universities, and I think the bottom line is he’s going to want to see where he’ll spend his time at. I think this summer he and his family will try to make plans, make trips to do some unofficial visits, and I think after that, that’s when he’ll start to at least narrow it down.”
Sam Webb: What has Darrion said to you about his interest in Michigan in particular?
Derek Chipoletti: “I think Michigan was a definite…what’s the best word? There was a lot more reaction with the Michigan offer than some of the others, so I know Michigan is definitely up there with his interest level. I know they’re doing a great job of recruiting him; I think he likes them a lot. We’ll see how that ends up.”
Sam Webb: Can you give me an idea of some of the other schools that you believe might be up there right now?