When Justin Hilliard traveled to Ann Arbor late last month it was all about business. The 2015 standout set out to impress the Michigan coaches during their annual summer camp with a goal of earning a scholarship. Not long after turning in an impressive performance that day the Wolverines did indeed step forth with an offer. That left him wanting to learn more about his newest suitor... a desire which satisfied when he attended last weekend's Barbecue at the Big House.
"It was more informal," said Hilliard regarding his latest Michigan visit. "We got to see the campus and talk to the coaches for a while. It was a really good visit. First we just walked around and met every coach and everything. I talked to them for a long time. We talked about where I might fit, and we just talked about everything. I met Coach Smith's wife and pretty much most of the coaches' wives and families. That was pretty cool. Then we started to take a tour on the campus and got to see what the campus is like and everything. Then we got to eat, talk again, and took a tour of the stadium… and that was sweet."
One of the more memorable aspects of the trip for both Hilliard and his father was the academic presentation.
"They showed us around and told us about the business school and what you need to get to get into there and everything, and also really to motivate you to do better in school," stated Hilliard. "(I also liked) their program on life after football. They put ten million dollars into their program just to help out student athletes and football players get a job after they're done with football. That was pretty cool."
So too was the opportunity he had to interact with the other recruits in attendance.
"I talked to a lot of the 2014 commits, but I also talked to two commits in my class… the Massillon kicker (Andrew David) and George Campbell," he recalled. "I think most of the committed guys definitely did (recruit me). It was pretty unique. We were all together and there were a lot of committed guys who I guess were trying to recruit. I think that was the big thing of the barbecue really."
The camaraderie was palpable, and not just amongst the players.
"(My dad and I) talked about the parents program and everything," Hilliard said. "I think he was impressed by how close the families of the Michigan (commits) are. He liked (the visit)."
Needless to say the barbecue experience definitely helped the Wolverines chances the Cincinnati St. Xavier star's recruitment, but it's far too early to say where they fit on his long list of suitors. That said, an obvious question is when he eventually comes up with a list of favorites, is Michigan likely to make the cut?
"Oh yeah… most likely, yeah," replied Hilliard. "It won't be (trimmed) by a significant number, but it will be to a more manageable number. I haven't done it yet, but I'll probably be narrowing it down soon though."
"(Recruiting) is probably going to quiet down, but the next thing will probably be some games or something. Michigan and Ohio State… I'll probably get up there. Maybe Arkansas, Notre Dame, and Penn State too."
From there his deliberation over his future is likely to last a great deal longer.
"It will probably be in the summer sometime after my junior season," he said.