The name Michigan opens a lot of doors.
Place the name Jim Harbaugh next to Michigan, and together they open even more.
Just two weeks into his new job as head coach of his beloved Wolverines, and Harbaugh’s star power has already commanded interest from numerous prospects committed to other schools. One of the most recent examples that phenomenon is Manvel (Tex.) standout William Lockett. The three-star cornerback committed to UCLA in August, but when the Maize & Blue came calling he couldn’t help but listen. And when Harbaugh showed up to his school Wednesday he couldn’t hide his giddiness.
“It was exciting,” Lockett admitted. “He’s a really good coach and everybody knows who he is. It was crazy to actually get him in person instead of seeing him on the TV screen.”
It turns out that Harbaugh wasn’t just there to say ‘hi.’ He wanted to let Lockett know that a Michigan offer was on the table for him. That definitive show of interest was enough to convince the Bruin pledge to schedule an official visit to Ann Arbor this weekend.
“It is just Coach Harbaugh… his history,” he said, explaining his decision. “I know he’s a good coach and he’s going to win. The coaching staff that he’s bringing with him to Michigan, they all have experience in the NFL. They all know what they’re doing and they all know what they’re talking about. The program is still Michigan, which is a big deal. I was really excited about that.”
The news wasn’t at all exciting to the UCLA coaching staff, but the brass from Westwood didn’t react tersely to Lockett’s decision. Far from it actually.
“They came to visit me (Wednesday also) and they know that I’m going to take a visit,” said Lockett. “They respect that because they know that they have to respect Coach Harbaugh.”
That said, respect doesn’t mean concede. Jim Mora & company plan on holding on to the six-foot, 185-pounder. The Bruins clearly covet his prototypical size and aggressive style. So too did Oklahoma, Missouri, Washington, Michigan State, and a host of other Power-5 programs that offered him scholarships.
“I would probably describe myself as a physical cornerback,” Lockett said. “I’m fast. I get to the ball quickly. I’m physical at the point of attack, off the line. When the ball is in the air, I doubt the receiver is going to come down with it. I’m all over the field. I can play safety, corner…I can play nickel back. I’m very versatile, very physical, and very fast. I feel like I shut down whoever I’m going up against at that time.”
That’s just the type of player Michigan is looking for to help replenish its depth-depleted cornerback ranks. But it’s going to take a lot more than “need” to convince him to take his talents to Ann Arbor.
“I’m not going to say there’s anything in particular that could change my mind,” said Lockett. “I’m going to be looking at how the feel is. How do I feel at Michigan? How does the school feel around me? How do I feel being around my host… and just do I feel comfortable going to that school? “Playing time. Could I see myself getting on the field as early as possible? Another thing is coaches. How do I feel with the Michigan defense back coach? (Do I) see myself building a relationship with them over the next four to five years? I know Michigan is a great school, especially for what I want to major in, which is business. I really just want to sit down with my mom… my mom met with Harbaugh today... (and talk about) if I could see myself going there, playing there.
“Right now I’m committed to UCLA, which is PAC-12. Michigan is Big Ten. I‘ve I just got to feel if I can transition to that kind of football that kind of environment.”
Lockett insists temperatures won’t factor into his environmental assessment.
“Everybody likes the California weather, but if I make to the NFL I’ll have to play in the cold regardless,” he said matter-of-factly. “I really don’t focus on the weather that much.”
Once Lockett returns home he doesn’t plan on wasting much time bringing his recruitment to its final conclusion.
“It really depends on how the visit goes this weekend, but I probably won’t make myself wait until signing day to make my decision,” he said. “If I know what I’m going to do I’ll probably make that decision some time next week, end of the week next week.”