|This story originally published on TheInsidersRecruiting.com|
Pennsylvania's Marques Slocum is a huge prospect (lists at 6-6, 310) who decided that Michigan was the place he wanted to call home for awhile. This talented defensive/offensive line prospect finished his senior season at West Philadelphia Catholic with 78 tackles, 30 tackles for loss and eight sacks--all of these numbers coming in eight games before he suffered a hairline fracture to his right leg and a pulled left Achilles tendon.
"My commitment to Michigan started way before this recruiting season. I've liked them since I was young and when I took an unofficial visit there last summer I had a lot of fun," says Slocum. "I picked Michigan for several reasons. Statistically, they've won 42 Big Ten national championships and they've been to back-to-back Rose Bowls. They're on television every week and they play some great rivalry games against Michigan State, Notre Dame and Ohio State. They've also got a good recruiting class going and I wanted to be part of it. I wanted to contribute to winning another national championship."
Slocum says he also felt comfortable with the players, coaches and educational opportunities he experienced at Michigan when he took his official visit there on December 10. "I felt real good with both Ryan Mundy (safety) and Alan Branch (defensive tackle). They were real with me and are real cool people. Both Mundy and Steve Breaston (wide receiver) are from Pennsylvania.
"Everybody was real laid-back that weekend," he says. "I was shown the academic side of Michigan, which I really like. I especially liked the computer animation building. Going there, I'll be able to learn about every type of art there is within two years' time. I want to be an artist and it's a good college to begin that kind of profession. On that official visit I was also there with James McKinney and Carson Butler (both signed with Michigan). I felt really good with the two of them as well.
"That weekend I remember was a down weekend for Michigan. All of the students and campus life was quiet because everyone was studying for finals. But all of us recruits that weekend were really having fun just talking with each other and communicating. There were like ten of us in a dorm room playing Madden, on the Internet and listening to music. We were all talking about life in general and just having a good time.
"I formed a close bond with coach (Bill) Sheridan (defensive line). He's the kind of guy that really makes you feel he'll take care of you. He told me a story about when he first started off at Michigan as a grad assistant. After a brief time there he moved around a bit, at one point I think he was up in Maine. But he told me that before he'd been able to secure a job at Michigan again and come back, he thought to himself that if he were to ever get back to Michigan it's a place that he'd never leave again. He's only been the defensive line coach for two years, but I wanted to be a part of Michigan so that I could be coached by him and help him be a great coach."
Michigan State was also highly touted in Slocum's decision process, but they just never had the appeal that Michigan had for this big time recruit. "I never really liked Michigan State until I took an unofficial visit there. As a Michigan fan they're a huge rival for me, but I decided to give them a chance. They were my number two school though. Michael Bazemore (defensive end/Philadelphia West Catholic) was really getting on me to go there when I was there for my unofficial last summer. He actually recruited me to go to West Catholic when I was in the eighth grade.
"Michigan State seemed like a great place to play football and after my official visit there (November 12) I was really high on them. I told my high school coaches that I wanted to commit there, but they really encouraged me to take some more officials. When I tripped to Michigan I just saw a lot more coming out of their program than at Michigan State. I mean Michigan State hasn't been to a bowl game in three years. I was also one of the only big-time recruits they were looking at and that was odd for me. I didn't want to be the only big name there. I really wanted to be recruited with some other good guys."
There were several teams Slocum had in mind to also visit. "Maryland was my number three, but I kind of just threw them in there. They didn't really have a spot in my top choices until Miami kept trying to push back my official visit date, which was originally set for December 17, because they didn't have my SAT scores yet. I ended up committing to Michigan and not really wanting to go to Miami.
"Looking back on this, I probably should've taken more time in making my decision. I totally threw out places like Virginia, North Carolina, LSU and USC. I just wanted to get this process over with, and Michigan, at the time, was kind of where I wanted to go. I was tired of all the phone calls. They all seemed like great places, but I didn't want to be bothered anymore."
Slocum also formed a good relationship with Eugene Monroe (Virginia signee), and other recruits at the Army All-American game. "At the All-American game, I talked with Eugene about Virginia. He told me that he was going there because he really loved all the coaches. I just took them off my list because of the fact that they just kept signing so many people. I mean I was scared of them rejecting me because they were on me pretty hard too.
"I also bonded with McKinney and Zoltan Mesko (Michigan signee), the kicker. Zoltan is the biggest Michigan fan in the world. He was pulling out facts about Michigan football history I had no idea about. I had a real good time meeting all of the Florida guys at that game too like Fred Rouse (FSU signee). I liked a lot of the other guys there too like Dace Richardson (Iowa signee), Dan Doering (Iowa signee) and J.B. Paxson (Purdue signee).
"All of the guys there showed up with great attitudes and were ready to work hard," continued Slocum. "I had such a good time in San Antonio that I ended up staying an extra two days. I really like the River Walk over there. During the whole time I was there, I didn't really associate with the guys on the West team, but after the game I spoke with DeMarcus Granger (OU signee) for a bit. He's a cool person. I had a real good weekend there."
Slocum also had some interest in the Trojans although both of their ends somehow didn't seem to meet for the past several months. "With USC, we basically had a miscommunication. We basically both didn't know that we were into each other. The way that I understand it, coach (Todd) McNair (RBs) told my mentor, Will Cooper (a team-mate with McNair at Temple and a police athletic league officer who introduced Slocum to football), that they didn't want to waste a lot of time with the East Coast guys if they weren't interested. The letters stopped coming. At one point though, they wanted me and Callahan Bright (Florida State signee) out there on November 27, but I was notified about it too late and I already was doing something with my family that weekend. Things could've been different I guess, but I can't live life thinking in those terms or a lot of the stuff that's happened to me in life could've been different."
Slocum eventually decided to erase a couple of official trips from his travel list. "I had official visits set up with North Carolina on January 22 and LSU on January 29," he says. "I was thinking of taking them after my commitment to Michigan but I decided that I didn't need to. I really like coaches (James) Webster (special teams) and (John) Bunting of North Carolina. Anytime we ever spoke they were always up-front with me and genuinely good people. They had kind of a weak season but ended up doing all right though. But their season didn't influence me on not wanting to take that trip.
"And the coaches at LSU kind of stopped calling me and then I didn't really know if I wanted to go there. I finally decided that taking any more official visits would've been a waste of time."
Slocum eagerly anticipates his college environment. "Man I'm used to cold weather. I like going out in 20 degree weather and playing ball. I'm really geared up to play at Michigan. In fact, I just printed out my training schedule that the coaches want me to do. I like the strength and conditioning coach, (Kevin) Tolbert. He's got a good program going for the players. I like how they don't use a lot of free weights at Michigan and how they replace them with high quality machines. There better on you're joints in this game especially as you get older."
The recruiting process had this young man's head spinning at times but he's thankful to have gone through it. "It was hell…a lot of it was for me. When you're young and you see all of the older guys around you getting all the attention from recruiting coaches, you wish that you were in their position. But after going through it all, it just got so crazy. I mean in the last month of my recruiting I had coaches from Penn State calling me every week to go there for an official visit. It just got so crazy. But I would tell people now that for the most part it was a good experience and I've got some good memories. I had some big name schools calling me up and seeing me. It was great overall."