Lutcher (LA) High defensive tackle Rolando Melancon makes no bones about what kind of player he is on the field. When he steps between the white lines, he gets after it.
"I had 85 tackles, six sacks, one TD, six forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and two interceptions," Melancon said. "I'm a big man that can move. On the field I'm just nasty!"
A few programs, including in-state power LSU, have long agreed with Melancon's self-evaluation and have stepped forward with early scholarship offers to prove it. That's why it came as such a shock when the youngster told Scout.com's Allen Wallace in early June that Michigan led for his services. (To view the story, click here). The 6-2, 270-pounder already had offers from LSU and Tennessee when the Wolverines got involved, and his only visit up to that point was to Baton Rouge. Still, the Maize and Blue rocketed to the top of his list.
"I came real close to committing," Melancon said. "My momma just wanted me to make sure that was what I wanted. Coach Jackson told me to take my time and make sure I was 100%. He told me when he came down a few months ago that I was the guy to get and that their love for me was unconditional no matter what."
Michigan's sudden emergence in this race can be attributed to how well it fits the specific criteria he has for the school he ultimately decides to attend.
"Academics come first," Melancon said. "Then, how early that I can play? I also want to talk some players and see how the coach is at my position. Then, mainly just the feel I have for the school."
Melancon is already aware of Michigan's academic reputation and he made it clear in his interview with Wallace that he sees the opportunity to play early in Ann Arbor as well.
"Michigan's roster has like five defensive tackles and four defensive ends, but by the time I graduate they'll be losing several of them and they said they will be looking for guys to come in and step up," Melancon said to Wallace. "They think I could play early and help out."
Another factor that will receive a great deal of consideration is distance…but not in the way that many might expect.
"Actually I'm looking away first," Melancon explained. "I'm trying to get away from here. I've been here all of my life…17 years. I want to see what else is out there for me."
Melancon indicated that he plans to take all five visits in the fall.