When looking at the criteria that Darryl Stonum laid out for his final decision, it wasn't hard to see where he was leaning. With three finalists left standing (Michigan, Florida, and USC), and only one visit taken to one of the campuses on that list, his ultimate choice doesn't come as much of a surprise.
"My decision was Michigan," Stonum said in a recent conversation with GoBlueWolverine. "When I came back from the visit (to Michigan from June 15th through the 17th), all I thought about how was how comfortable I was. That's what really made the big difference. I just felt that Michigan made me the most comfortable. If I would have gone on the other two visits, I wasn't going to be any more comfortable than that."
Having two former teammates already in the program definitely made Ann Arbor feel more like home, but they were only partly responsible for creating that atmosphere. The other members of the Michigan program were ever bit as responsible.
"Brandon Herron and Troy Woolfolk being there was a bonus," said Stonum. "Going into the recruiting process I didn't really pay attention to it. I said to myself that I've got to look out for me. One of the things I really liked was when I went up there, everybody treated me like I was part of the team, All of the coaches took me in like I was part of their family. It was a big family thing. Going so far away home for college, I wanted to feel comfortable, and I feel comfortable at Michigan."
Stonum's decision isn't news to everyone in Ann Arbor. Many were made aware of his choice days ago. There are only a few that are just finding out right about now.
"(The players) already know about it," Stonum said earlier this week. "All the teammates know. Everybody is all excited. Ryan Mallett is excited. Coach Jackson told him all about my speed and playmaking ability. He knows I can make him look good (laughing). He's excited to get me the ball. The coaches are the only ones that don't know. I told the guys to keep it on the low."
In Stonum the Wolverines have secured a bona-fide big play threat. Capable of going the distance in a blink of an eye, the 6-2 180-pound speedster is not shy about discussing what he will bring to the Michigan offense. At the same time, he also acknowledges that there are facets of his game that must be improved upon.
"One of my definite strong points, as everybody knows, is my speed and playmaking ability," Stonum stated confidently. "I feel that when the offense I'm playing in is struggling, I have to step up and make plays. I'm able to do that with a fade route, a five-yard stop route, a slant route…anything. It's just playmaking ability. One thing I need to work on… and I haven't really had a chance to because everybody in high school plays like twenty yards off… is getting off the jam. In college I'm going to get jammed a lot, so I have to work on getting off. I already have some moves to get off the jam, but sometimes when guys get their hands on me it's still kind of hard for me. I'm pretty sure I'll get better with Coach Soup (i.e. Michigan receivers coach Erik Campbell) coaching me."
Now that he is officially a Wolverine Stonum has also officially changed college allegiances. A self-admitted Texas fan growing up, the Houston-area star once longed to be a Longhorn. Meanwhile, Mack Brown & company got off to their customary hot start on the recruiting trail this season. They, in turn, didn't offer until much later than many of the other schools on his list. With his college future now set, Stonum has buried any prior feelings of resentment he had against his childhood favorite… sort of.
"Being a Texas player and having your own in-state school not recruit you for a minute…I took that as an insult," Stonum admitted. "But I got past it. I don't hold grudges. But just know that if we ever play Texas…. (laughing)."
At this point, all of the youngster's attention is focused on turning in a stellar final campaign. Despite the loss of Herron and Woolfolk to graduation, Stonum feels his team still has what it takes to have a special season.
"We're looking good," he said. "I'm not worried about it at all. We've got another quarterback. He's about 6-4, 225. All we've got to do is work on our timing and that's what we're doing right now in 7-on-7. We're going to be all right. Our defense is going to do what they have to do. We're going to be all right."
Stonum plans to graduate in December and enroll at the University of Michigan in January, just like Ryan Mallett did this past January.