Michigan's Newest Commitment!

GoBlueWolverine has confirmed that Louisville Central High School TE/LB <b>James McKinney</b> has made a verbal commitment to play for the Wolverines in 2005. GBW spoke to McKinney's uncle, Neal McKinney, as well as Central Head Football Coach Steve Serotte.

"Yes, he made a verbal commitment this past Tuesday to Coach Hermmann to play football for Michigan," said Neal McKinney, uncle of newest Wolverine James McKinney (2003 Michigan Camper, 6-3, 280 lbs., 2.5 GPA).

James lives with his uncle, who has an Ann Arbor connection. "I lived in Ann Arbor and went to Pioneer and Huron," Neal McKinney said. "This was back in the 70's when Bo was coach and Michigan had the number one football and basketball teams in the country. I still keep in touch with many people in the area."

Both McKinney's made the trip to Ann Arbor this past Saturday to see Michigan's triumph over Ohio State. "I tried to make James aware of what to expect when we went up there," Neal said. "The game was again for the Big Ten Championship as it always was when I lived there and the whole town shuts down for the game. Once we got there he saw what I was talking about and he was pretty overwhelmed." The elder McKinney said they had a chance to speak with the Michigan head coach. "We had a sit down with Coach Carr in his office and he told James that he wanted him to come play for Michigan. He said he thought James could really be an asset to the Michigan program and he had a scholarship offer right there."

As with many recruits who are coming of age now, McKinney's first memories of Michigan were of the Championship season of 1997, and one particular player. "He saw Charles Woodson play and has had an interest in Michigan ever since," Neal said. "Then we went up to the camp last summer and he was able to see the far reaching arm of Michigan football. There were kids from all over the world there. I told him that Michigan has a wide reach not only in football but in academics as well. I'm a teacher and I really stress upon him the importance of academics so he knows what he needs to do."

James also visited Michigan for the Notre Dame game. Notre Dame was one of the schools looking to land the talented player. "He had developed a good relationship with Coach Willingham and it was really down to Michigan and Notre Dame. I think in the end it came down to the fact that Michigan was winning," Neal said. "That his father, who has passed away, and I used to live there was a factor as well, along with the relationship he's developed with Coach Hermmann and Coach Carr."

James plays a variety of roles for Central but is being recruited by Michigan primarily as a tight-end. Central Head Coach Steve Serotte told GBW that he uses McKinney everywhere, "He has a lot of ability so we use him on offense as a linebacker and as tight end on offense, but sometimes when we've needed a tackle we'll put him there."

Serotte said McKinney has a lot of potential that the Michigan coaches obviously saw. At 6-4, 280 lbs. he has room to grow. "He's grown up a lot over these last couple years. He's a smart kid and he's focused a lot more in the classroom this year. I think Michigan recruited him primarily because of his potential. He had an average year for us this season. As time has gone on he realizes he needs to play a lot harder, he's got the hands, the size, great feet. Has he reached his potential? No, but he's been through some really rough times and he's grown a lot and I attribute that to his uncle."

When a junior makes a commitment there is always the concern that thing will change, Serotte said he won't allow that to happen. "I give him a lot of credit for making that decision. I've stressed to him that his word is his bond and he can't go back on this. Since he's given his word to Michigan I won't allow any other people from other programs to talk to him. In today's world your word needs to mean something."

McKinney will wrestle this winter to improve his strength and conditioning. Both his uncle and Coach Serotte said he may perform in the shot-put and discuss this spring, but that's not certain. His uncle said James will take the ACT this weekend.

James is away with family for the Thanksgiving holiday. GBW will catch up with the newest Wolverine early next week.

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