For the last several years Michigan has hosted what has become a summer recruiting staple for the program call “The BBQ at the Big House.” This will be Jim Harbaugh’s second such event, but it could turn out to have the best visitor list yet. One of talented recruits helping make it so renowned is Gadsden (Ala.) 2017 offensive tackle Toryque Bateman.
The four-star tackle recently released a top five of Memphis, Miami Fla, Missippissi State, Michigan and Tennessee, but admitted the Wolverines are at the top of his list.
“Well, for one the entire coaching staff I talk to them pretty much a lot, and the family feeling,” Bateman told The Michigan Insider. “They know that Alabama is so far away, so they are working on this Alabama pipeline and it makes me feel good to know that I am one of the few Alabama players that they actually really really want.”
Some feel an offer from Alabama could really shake up all of that positive momentum, but that isn’t quite true according to Bateman.
“If Alabama offered, honestly it wouldn’t change much because it will be second hand and second nature,” he said. “It’s not really going to change much.
“When Michigan offered I was young at football. I was pretty much new and they had seen something they had liked in me and ran with it. They didn’t sit around like some of these colleges. Michigan seen what they saw and thought why not go ahead and offer him? When I went down there, it made it even better because I was blown away and they were very excited to see me and have me up. It was just an A+ for me and them.”
One of the biggest factors in the Maize & Blue’s standing for the 6-foot-8 300-pounder’s services is the bond he ha forged with offensive analyst and recruiting coordinator, Bam Richards. Having that Alabama presence in Coach Bam up in Ann Arbor has given him and his parents a major sense of comfort.
“At first, the relationship with Coach Bam was good,” said Bateman. “He is like a mentor and have been there done that, so why not listen to him. He has given me a lot of pointers and we have talked a lot and just really created a bond over the years. When he went on to Michigan, it made it even better because I have an Alabama connection at Michigan now and a person I really know coaching up there too. My parents look at wherever I go, then that will be my new home for the next three to four years, so they want a good place. They really really like Michigan because they care. There are a lot of colleges that it is a business and business only, but Michigan is a family. They genuinely care and I believe that is what makes them like Michigan.
“(Coach Bam there) gives me a lot of comfort. He has actually been building a relationship with my parents, so they are getting to know him too. It is actually really good because he is a figure that my parents know and a person that I actually know really well. It is not like that coach and player, but kind of like son and uncle. He’s real cool, straight forward, and doesn’t hold anything back. If you are doing good, he tells you and if there is something you can do better at, then he will tell you. He’s not really negative and everything he does is positive, which one thing I like.”
Another Wolverine coach he’s really connected with has been offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Tim Drevno.
“I feel like Coach Drevno being a laid back guy is a good thing, (because) I’m laid back too,” said Bateman. “I’m quiet until I get to know you and I believe me and Coach Drevno could get along really really well. His experience is even better because I don’t want to really go to any college where the coach really doesn’t have that much experience, but Coach Drevno has a lot of experience and I would be fortune enough to have a coach if I commit with that much experience.”
In addition to the strong relationships Bateman has built with with Coach Bam and Coach Drevno, he’s also enjoyed getting to know the headman himself.
“Coach Harbaugh is awesome,” said Bateman, “I love Coach Harbaugh, man. He’s awesome and he’s like one of the players. He’s not that head coach, he’s Coach Harbaugh. Kind of like Coach Bam and Coach Drevno. He’s just like one of the players. The rap video pretty much explains what I said, he’s not afraid to build a relationship with the players and him doing the rap video is kind of him stepping it down. I’m sure the players loved it and I loved it.”
Add all that up and there is clearly a great deal of the excitement going into Bateman’s second trip up to Ann Arbor, but he’s focused on not letting that excitement cloud his judgement.
“Going into this visit I am not going to expect anything,” said Bateman. “Whatever happens, I don’t want to be expected. I want everything to kind of be neutral. I know we are going to the BBQ and we will have fun, but everything that happens, I want to be like I didn’t expect that to happen. If I do pull the trigger, it will be like I am ready, I feel it and let’s do it. That is kind of how it could happen. I plan to enjoy myself and I am an offensive lineman, so I’m going to eat at least three to four plates. I love all BBQ (laughter).”
Another part he’s looking forward to is seeing the new Jordan gear the Wolverines will be sporting in the fall, which is a brand he knows all about.
“Michigan going to Jordan is big because that is all I wear,” said Bateman. “That is all I wear besides Levi jeans and stuff like that. That is really all I wear.
So is there any chance he decides to pull the trigger while at Michigan?
“It is a possibility,” said Bateman. “On a scale of 1-10, maybe 50% at a 5. If I am blown away once again, then it is a big possibility.”