Hilliard's Dad Helps w/ Recruiting Blueprint

Justin Hilliard, Scout300's #45 2015 prospect, is being very deliberate in his analysis of the schools on his list, and his dad is there to help him with that process every step of the way. GoBlueWolverine caught up with the elder Hilliard recently to discuss his thoughts on Michigan, his son's decision criteria, his decision timeline, and more.

Sam Webb: What have been your impressions of Michigan and its staff so far?

Carl Hilliard (father of Justin Hilliard): "Hoke is a class act. I would say out of all the schools I've visited, the family…he pushes family. When we visited last time, Coach Mattison's wife came to see Justin at practice while he was there and was looking forward to seeing him. Most of the time they have events, almost all the time the coaches wives are around. So, it is family oriented coaching staff where they really push teamwork and family. But I would say the family thing is really heartfelt when you go. Also Mattison is a great guy and the switch between Smitty and Mattison from linebacker coach. They are great guys, and we know all three of their wives… and almost every member of the coaching staff's wives and their kids. They're always around. That is not normal at any other university that we visited."

Sam Webb: One of the things that I've gathered from speaking with Justin on a few prior occasions is that academics are the foremost consideration for him. Have you guys gotten the academic presentation at Michigan... and if so, what were your impressions?

Carl Hilliard: "A Michigan degree speaks for itself. It is a well-respected degree. We have done our homework on that. We've looked at the graduation rate of the football players. We've looked at the resources from the academic center that the students receive. So if he goes to Michigan there is support for the curriculum which is pretty rigorous; they have a very rigorous curriculum that is very challenging to their students. So academics are by far the most important thing, even over athletics."

Sam Webb: What else is on the checklist for him as you guys start to break schools down?

Carl Hilliard: "Academics, playing earlier, national championship, going to the NFL, preparing for the NFL, and the relationship with the coaches. But in this business, they always say don't fall in love with the coaches (laughter). Coaches come and go. One coach told us one time, don't fall in love with the coach because he is always looking for the next big job. I want Justin to know when he is looking at a university and the coaching relationship are great but if those coaches pulled out would you still like the place. He knows it is a business, it is a business."

Sam Webb: Is distance from home going to be a factor at all?

Carl Hilliard: "One day it is and one day it's not. So I don't know what it is but I will say my other son is going seven and a half hours away. Justin is used to it. He travels since he was eight years old. He also is on an elite select baseball team. He is used to traveling and being far away from the family and the family being split up. Mom is in North Carolina and dad is in Florida. Both boys are on elite baseball teams. So one day it doesn't matter and the next day it does. I don't know how it's going to work out. But I do know that that is not going to be the sole reason if he doesn't choose a school."

Sam Webb: Do you have to make any return trips to places that you have already been or is it just a matter of going to the places that you haven't been yet?

Carl Hilliard: "I think he was talking about last night that he wants to narrow it down to the top five by the end of May. Over the summer, deal with those five universities over the summer. But that is just preliminary, what we discussed the other night. I'm not for sure yet."

Sam Webb: It would seem to me that all of these schools really have good academics, all of these schools have wives that are involved in the recruiting process, that all of these schools have really really good football programs that compete. How does one school kind of distinguish itself from the rest with so many great options?

Carl Hilliard: "What Justin tells me, it's a feel. He would have to answer that question, whether he gets a feel…it is a feeling that you get, sort of like when you buy a home, when you walk into the home or you walk into a car dealership, you see a car that you like and you say that's my car. Or when you walk into a home and you say this is my house. It is sort of like, I think that's he's trying to tell me, that you can feel it. From the relationship you have with the coaches. Also he has been hanging out with the team too. So, not only is he assessing the coaches, he's assessing the players, the relationships and how they get along and how he feels when he is doing overall overview of the university, coaches, and the team. So when we go in we're not just watching a practice, he is doing a coaching assessment. He has so much to assess it against because he has been to a lot of universities. He has been around the recruiting circuit for awhile. He is at a point now where his jive radar, his jive radar goes up when he feels like he is being jived. It is a feeling that he said you would have."

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