When the #22nd ranked BYU Cougars made their way to Michigan last weekend, a recently dormant big game atmosphere returned with them. That created the perfect setting for the Wolverines’ first big recruiting weekend of the season. While much of the fan-focus was on Rashan Gary’s presence, the coaching staff was just as focused on the other prime target on hand, Boulder (Colo.) Fairview linebacker/defensive end Carlo Kemp.
From the moment Kemp arrived in Ann Arbor with his mom and grandad in tow Michigan began impressing him in much the way it did during his last three-day visit. The difference this time was they did so during a game week. That made for a much grander experience.
“We got in Friday afternoon, and we got in early enough so we could go and catch the end of practice, which was pretty cool,” said Kemp. “I think I saw maybe about 30 minutes of practice, which was awesome. After that everyone showered up and we headed to the hotel where everyone stayed before the game. We got to eat the team meal with the guys, watched a motivational video, and then coach likes to put on a movie, so they put on a movie. That got done about 9:30 and everyone else went to bed. (Meanwhile) me and my host Zach Gentry went out and walked the whole town. I got to see what everything is like…. campus life and what the night before a game is like… which was awesome.”
“Saturday we woke up pretty early and got breakfast over at the football facility,” Kemp continued. “We watched everyone stretch, warm up, and get ready. Then we headed over (to the Big House) and got to see a great game. Michigan basically played flawless is what I would say. Defense was great, offense was great, and special teams were great. It was 3/3 and that led to a 31-0 shutout. “
“After the game we went over to coach’s house for a little bit and hung out there,” said Kemp. “We got to watch some film of me and Rashan Gary. It was cool to get to see him and hang out with him the whole trip. After we were there for a little bit we went back out, me and Zach, and did another more in-depth tour of the campus. I basically spent all of my time (away from the coaches) with Zach. It was awesome getting to know him. Him being a freshman and him being in my position six months ago brings great insight into what the process is like, going through all of that, and how great it feels to finally be there.”
Looking back on the visit there is so much that stands out, but there were a few aspects of the experience that left indelible marks.
“Besides seeing 110,000 fans at the game it was definitely the family atmosphere from the coaches (and) how nice they are all of the time,” said Kemp. “At practice they’re not yellers, they’re teachers. They will yell like any other coach, but it’s not aggressive… it’s not harassment. They just want you to be the best that you can be. They’re teachers. They’ll break it down for you so you can get it right the next play. When you do they’re all jumping (and) they’re all excited for you. It really just felt like a family.”
“I got spend a ton of time with Coach Harbaugh, Coach Matty, and Coach Durkin. I spent a very good chunk of time with them. It was awesome to get to hang out with those guys again.”
The trip also provided valuable information for Kemp’s grandfather. The talented youngster made it clear that will rely heavily upon the advice given to him by the man he calls his best friend. Before the visit grandad had his doubts about the ease of travel from Colorado to Michigan.
“It was basically my grandpa that was like, ‘I can’t fly to the Midwest… that’s a four hour trip,’ Kemp said laughingly. “We were like, ‘okay… wait until you come out and you will see how wrong you are.’ At every turn my mom was making sure we were hassling him, just pointing out that (the flight) was two hours, and it’s a twenty minute drive from the airport to the hotels which are two minutes away from the stadium. We made sure he knew that he was completely wrong. We were giving him a hard time.”
And how did grandad feel about Michigan afterward?
“I think he loved it,” Kemp replied.
Even more important is how Kemp feels about Michigan. After his last trip he stated the Maize & Blue held an edge. He was a bit coyer about his leanings this time around, but he did share that the Wolverines only strengthened an already positive impression.
“When I left Michigan the first time I loved it,” said Kemp. “Going back just made sure how much I did love it. It was another great visit. There was no drop-off from the first one to this one. If anything it got bigger because I got to go to a game this time and see that atmosphere. I’ve never been a part of something like that.”
Next up on the docket is a trip to Notre Dame October 10th for the match-up with Navy. Official visits to Colorado and UCLA but haven’t yet been scheduled. From there the deliberation process shouldn’t last very long since he plans to be an early-enrollee.
When he makes it to those campuses it’s clear those programs will have a high bar to meet.
“(I’ll be looking at) how big football is (at the other three schools),” said Kemp. “Is everyone on board with football? What type of turnout do they get and how excited they get for football? Being out at Michigan… that was special. Every person on the street knows every football coach and every football player. The support for football out there is incredible.”
Game one highlights vs Grand Junction below.