Sam Webb: When did you know it was going to be Michigan? Was it the day he announced, or did you know a lot sooner than that?
Chris Partridge: “Officially, I knew a lot sooner than that. I kind of knew after he went to LSU. He went to Michigan and he loved it, and I was kind of waiting on – you know, then he went to Ohio State after; he went to LSU a couple weeks later; but after he got back from that, he came into my office and we sat down, and we chatted for a long time. He didn’t come out and say ‘It’s definitely Michigan’ at that time, but I knew based on what he was saying that once he let everything sink in for the next week or two, he would come back eventually and say that. And he did. You know, I know him pretty well, so I got a good sense; and then two weeks later, he came into my office and said ‘Coach, you know, it’s Michigan. There’s nowhere else like it; I love it; I’m comfortable’, and that was probably about three weeks ago.”
Sam Webb: What about the visits this past week? What was kind of the thought process there, and why ultimately didn’t he take them?
Chris Partridge: “So the thought process was basically, ‘Where would you like to go? You’re pretty secure on Michigan… you want to get this done before we start practice. Do you just want to be sure? Do you want to see somewhere else?’ And he was like ‘You know what, maybe I should, because I don’t want to go to Stanford anymore.’ ‘So where is the second best school you like?’ ‘Well, I love the Penn State coaches.’ ‘Ok, well, you know what, let’s get you out there just to make sure you’re sure’. And then basically what happened was, we were talking about it at the end of the week, and he was like ‘you know, I don’t really see myself ever going to Penn State, because you know, it’s just – Michigan’s so much better. Even if I like their coaches a lot, I don’t see myself going there.’ Well, then my advice was, ‘Let’s not waste these guys time then. It’s not the time to go on a visit just to go on a visit. If you feel you’re secure, you have my blessing, you have your mother’s blessing. We love the coaches out there, Juwan is already going there. Let’s just lock it down. Cancel the visit; let’s not waste any time, and let’s go.’ That’s why he ultimately cancelled it.”
Sam Webb: As far as letting the Michigan coaches know, take me through when he told them, and what their reaction was when he let them know he was coming to Michigan.
Chris Partridge: “He didn’t talk to them at all in the last, like, week or two. I communicated with them a lot, and I didn’t come out and say ‘Jabrill Peppers is committing to you on Sunday, but I told them and they said they’d tune in to make sure they have a little get together with the coaches and stuff. So he does it and he commits, and right before he’s about to go on air, he calls Coach Hoke, and tells him ‘Listen in, I’m going to Michigan; you’re about to watch it in five minutes… and you can hear the eruption in the background. There’s a bunch of guys that must have been together, and Coach Hoke’s wife was screaming, and they were extremely happy, and then we just went right down the chain of command. Coach Hoke, to Coach Mattison, to Coach Mallory, to Coach Manning. He just talked to all of them, said he’s ready, he’s on board, he’s one of the family, and they were all just ecstatic.”
Sam Webb: In the past we’ve talked a lot about Coach Hoke and your impressions of him. Talk to me about the assistants that you’ve interacted with and your impressions of them starting with Coach Mallory.
Chris Partridge: “First of all, as a group, let me start there. As a group, these guys, they’re incredible. I’ve had a great experience. We’ve had every school come to our school, we’re visible a lot of places, and myself and my offensive coordinator have met a lot of guys, and these guys, they just stand out how real they are, the whole group. How much they love Michigan football, how much they’re tied into their players, and how much they care about their players outside of football. They take pride in everything they do. You just get a great feel the more you know these guys, that they’re treating these players like their own kids, and that’s important to me because that’s what we do at our program, and that’s important to our players. That’s the feel that Jabrill and Juwan got from them. Individually, Coach Mallory, he’s been out every chance they got in the fall to come out, and they were out there, so every week, and spent a lot of time, talked a lot of football with him personally, you know, he’s a great guy, he comes from a huge coaching pedigree. He knows pretty much everybody. You know, he’s a Michigan guy, he went to school there, and he just – you can tell he cares about his players, he loves football, he loves Michigan.”
Sam Webb: How about Coach Manning?
Chris Partridge: “Yeah, Coach Manning is awesome, man. You talk about positive energy, just a good guy, you know, he has a great vibe, and he’s going to be extremely successful coaching, because he just takes so much pride in everything, and he loves it, he loves Michigan, and he’s just one of those dudes that the positive energy just kind of flows off of him, and feeds off him. Jabrill is the same way; that’s why they hit it off so well, but he’s going to be extremely successful, and he’s a good guy, and it’s been really fun getting to know him too.”
Sam Webb: And finally Coach Mattison?
Chris Partridge: “He’s a legend of the game. He’s coached Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and those guys, and he’s coached Woodson, and he knows all those guys. He’s a legend in the game of football, so anytime you can even talk to a guy like that pride, and he’s very down to earth. I love talking to Coach Mattison about our program… bragging about our program and asking advice, you know, just telling him about who we are so he can help us out, and tell me different directions to go, so that’s been a great situation, too, being able to pick the brain of a legend of the game.”