The Michigan coaching staff may have been among the last people to find out which school Conway, South Carolina wide receiver J.R. Hemingway would be attending, but after being told of his decision, the timing of that disclosure probably seemed irrelevant.
"After I (announced the choice at his press conference), I called them," Hemingway said. "They were excited and they said they were looking forward to coaching me. They can't wait until I get up there."
The Wolverines had been considered by many to be the front-runners for Hemingway's services in the early stages of his recruitment, but that perception seemed to change as time went on. With competition from Notre Dame, Ohio State, Florida, Miami, and in-state South Carolina on the rise, Michigan's grip seemed to be loosening. According to Hemingway, though, the fierce competition could not overcome the connection he forged with the Maize and Blue while camping in Ann Arbor after his sophomore year.
"From me talking it over my parents, I felt (Michigan) is where my heart was all of the way from the beginning," he said. "Coach Campbell stuck with me from the beginning and so did Coach Carr. I couldn't really tell you what they had or did that the other schools didn't. I couldn't really tell you who was second or even third. My top three was Michigan, Florida, and Miami. It was tough. I stayed up days and nights trying to figure out which school to go to. It came down to Michigan because of the people…the players and the coaches there. At the end of the day, that's where my heart was, so I decided to go to Michigan."
As Hemingway's decision-date drew closer, many believed that distance from home would become more of a factor. But as he had been saying throughout the process, that ultimately did not play a significant role.
"I didn't worry about that," said Hemingway. "I used to go to camps and stuff away from home for a few weeks. That didn't really bother me. Going to Michigan's camp helped out some…me staying out there for a week that far away. It didn't really faze me that much."
One of the happiest Wolverines about Hemingway's willingness to venture away from home for college is future Michigan signal-caller Ryan Mallett. The 6-7 gunslinger kept in frequent contact with Hemingway leading up to his announcement and he already had an idea which school the wideout was going to pick.
"Oh…me and Ryan Mallett talk all of the time," Hemingway said. "Yeah, he knew (what the decision was going to be). I talked to him tonight. We were talking about trying to see if we could get up (to Michigan) together for the (Michigan State) game."
With his decision now out the way, Hemingway's football focus has shifted to helping his high school team, (which kicks off its season tonight), and taking his game to a higher level. Already a noted playmaker, Hemingway believes he is capable of even more.
"I make big plays when I need to make them," Hemingway said. "I try my hardest to catch everything that's thrown to me… high or low. Punt return, kick return, I try to make things happen on those as well. I just try to make plays when it's time to make plays."
"I'm going to keep working on every aspect of game," he continued. "I'm not singling things out. I just try to make everything better. I think that's going to help me when I go to the next level. I'm going to try to make EVERY aspect of my game better."
Hemingway is a top student as well, a member of the National Honor Society, and has been nominated to be a Carolina Panthers Community Captain.