One of the biggest priorities remaining on Michigan’s recruiting agenda is fortifying its ranks at defensive tackle. The Wolverines have ratcheted up its pursuit of several targets at the position, and none more so than Concord (N.C.) standout Rick Sandidge. Among the Tar Heel State star’s most appealing attributes is his ability to play anywhere along the defensive line. He demonstrated that versatility this year when he slid inside from his native defensive end spot.
"It went pretty good,” Sandidge said of the move. “It took me a couple games to get used to it, but when I did it was real easy."
"The toughest was worrying about actually getting a double team, worrying about getting chopped blocked more, worrying about if the guard pulls I've got to pull with him. Really it's more about getting dirty because you're right in the middle of it."
Dozens of programs were impressed enough by his play to extend scholarships, but he recently narrowed his list down to a more manageable number of contenders.
"I made a top 11,” he said. “Ohio State, South Carolina, N.C. State, UNC, Virginia Tech, Michigan, Florida State, Florida, Georgia, LSU, and Miami."
Of those Sandidge recently reported that four of them are showing him the most interest.
"Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida State are recruiting me hardest and it means a lot," Sandidge said. "All four schools treat me like family and I really like the people at those programs. All the schools have good traditions, too."
Michigan is the only school of that quartet that he hasn’t yet visited. As a result, all he really knows about the Maize & Blue right now is its tradition. That will change next week when he takes his first trip to Ann Arbor.
"I've got to talk to the coaches (and determine if) I'll have a good chance at getting playing time,” he said. “They've got a good tradition, but for me the way I look at a school I don't care about the tradition. I care about the people that will be there the next three or four years that will be coaching me. The people that will be like a mother and dad when my mother and dad are back here in North Carolina."
To date he has gotten a preliminary feel for his would-be defensive line coach Greg Mattison, and more recently, Jim Harbaugh.
"I actually got on the phone (early last week) with Coach Harbaugh and I was on the phone with him for about 30 minutes,” Sandidge recalled. “We were just talking about life and school and how we need to get you down here and have a good time, grades, and stuff like that."
"I find him very funny, an outgoing guy."
If the in-person connection is equally good then the odds of Michigan making his next cut will likely go up. Then it will be about getting him back on campus for a recruitment that looks like it’s going to go the distance.
Said Sandidge, “I just want to wait as long as I can (to commit) to be honest."