Detroit Cass Tech defensive lineman Joseph Barksdale had become very familiar with the University of Michigan over the past few years. As former camper, game day visitor, and unofficial visitor during the summer, he had already seen a great deal of the campus so he had to offer. However, when he made it to Ann Arbor for the football program's annual junior day this past Saturday, there was an aspect of the trip that pleasantly surprised him.
"We went to the academic center and it was fantastic," Barksdale
said. "It's arguably the best academic center in the NCAA right now. It
seems to be a product of trial and error. They did a lot of research by going
to lot of different academic centers across the country and asking people if
they could do something differently, what would it be. They basically took all
of those ideas and put them into one big building.
It's state of the art. I guess it's the newest and biggest academic center in college right now."
According to Barksdale, his mother was similarly impressed by the facility and the education available in Ann Arbor. "That's not the first time she's seen (the campus), but it's the first time she's seen it in detail," he said. "She LOVES it! For real. That's all she talked about the whole time home. She talked about what great academic and athletic facilities they have."
Later in the day a number of coaches also spoke with the 6-5 315-pound prospect about the athletic opportunities they have available. They made it a point to make sure he knew he was one of their priorities for 2007. "They said, 'we want you here and we're going to whatever we need to do to get you here,' " Barksdale recalled. "They were telling me that if I had questions about anything at all, I could give them a call anytime. Coach Carr gave my mom his home phone number in case there was anything we needed to talk to him about personally."
When not speaking with coaches, advisors, or other junior prospects, Barksdale also found time to talk a few players that have already donned the winged helmet. Kevin Grady was at Saturday's game to host a recruit and receive an award from the Michigan High School Athletic Association in recognition of his record setting days as a prep. The sophomore to be shared a few words with Barksdale while the two were in line at the concession stand. Another player that he exchanged pleasantries with was former receiver Braylon Edwards. The Wolverines #1 all time pass catcher was sitting courtside for the contest and had well-wishers and autograph seekers visiting him all game long. Barksdale was one of those that made his way over, and the two Detroit natives had a brief conversation about the youngster's recruitment.
"I talked to Braylon and he said he remembered trying to tell Michigan about (former Detroit Cass Tech standout) Vernon Gholston before Vernon got that star status," Barksdale said. "He said it looked like they were trying not to make the same mistake with me."
Now that his Michigan junior day experience is behind him, Barksdale is prepared to get out and see what a few other schools in the region have to offer. "Michigan was the first junior that I had scheduled," he said. "I'm going to go to Ohio State's next month. They said that they plan to offer me when I come to their camp this summer. Michigan State has a junior day too. Tennessee invited me down to their junior day, but it's in Tennessee (laughing). I couldn't make it."