First off, let's clear up one thing. Sam McGuffie is a 5-star running back prospect. There aren't many true 5-star guys in any given recruiting class, and "White Lightning" is the only RB that we've seen in person from this class that is 5-star (maybe Socal's Darrell Scott is 5-star as well, but we've only seen his highlight film, which isn't a great measure ... and, at any rate, these may be the only two this year).
If anyone STILL needs convincing, turn down the volume and watch his YouTube MixTape (click HERE ... it wasn't just one 'the play' leap over a LB folks, there were several such 'hurldlings' during the spectacular junior season of 3,000+ yards and 44 TD's).
Okay, that's cleared up. Next, let's go back over his recruitment ... what kind of shot was Michigan going to have at this phenom?
Early on he told GoBlueWolverine what was important to him: "I want to play somewhere where they'll give the new guy a shot at the position, not just play the upperclassman and make the younger guys wait." Of course, Michigan had recently started Mike Hart as a freshman ... so it seems U-M would have a good shot.
Also, he said to GBW at that time: "I grew up with my dad being a big Michigan fan and the whole ‘Go Blue' thing. My dad had a Michigan sweatshirt on today. I love Michigan and I've got family up there (his dad grew up in Lapeer and his dad's father is still in the area."
Things looked promising.
GBW first covered McGuffie 'live' at a track meet back in very early March. He'd been to Junior Days at Texas A&M and Oklahoma, both of whom had offered him scholarships, and he had also picked up offers from Michigan, Notre Dame, Florida, Alabama, and a host of others. At this meet he told GBW: "As long as Michigan keeps recruiting me, they will be 'right there."
He also took as a challenge that people were saying, based on his film, that he was too small to play college running back: "People were saying I was only 170 pounds, I was too little, just a track guy, all that kind of stuff, so I went to work in the weight room." Sam's brother added, "Sam has spent all his spare time in the last year working out -- he's become a fanatic about it." Consequently -- McGuffie bulked up to 190-195 on his 5-11 frame without a loss of speed or athletic ability.
By the way, McGuffie also told GBW at the time that he did NOT think Texas A&M would be his choice in the end ("not A&M") ... and we at GBW actually didn't take much notice of that statement since so many other big-BIG-time programs were weighing in with offers.
By mid-March there was an interesting development in McGuffie's Michigan recruitment:
GBW asked him whether it was true that U-M had offered to let him wear #2? "Yes sir, it is." And did this move U-M to the top of his list? "Definitely!"
Actually, truth be known, Michigan had moved into the lead for McGuffie, and the Wolverines never relinquished it.
GBW checked back in with McGuffie about once a month: in April he reiterated to us that despite receiving a USC offer, U-M was still at the top for him: "Michigan is high up for me, very high. I told you that before. Nothing has changed as far as Michigan goes."
And he said it again in May, but there was one legitimate caveat: he had never been on the U-M campus: "I understand the Michigan coaches, and they understand me ... but I have actually never been to the University of Michigan before. So I have to get up there and get a good look, a good feel for things, before I make any final decisions."
At that time McGuffie was planning to make it up to U-M for summer camp week ... that didn't happen, but he came up the last weekend in June. This was a much-anticipated visit -- and GBW asked him afterward, was it what he'd hoped it would be? "It was everything I hoped it would be, and more. All the pieces were there. Everyone here made me feel at home here, like I belong, like family." And, as far as a decision, he said, "I'll be ready to say something when I get home. I'll probably get something set up for next week (the first week in July)."
That announcement ended up getting postponed four times, to the end of the month. This was partially to make sure certain family around him (not his dad and brother -- both U-M fans ... his dad, remember, is from Lapeer, Mich.) was comfortable that he'd given A&M a sufficient look (he visited there twice in July).
But, Sam's college choice had been decided on his Michigan visit, and it never wavered. What Sam said to GBW back in March -- "not A&M" -- finally made sense. And as he said at his TV announcement, the U-M visit did it for him: "I fell in love with the place ... I fell in love with Coach Jackson and the running backs staff."
And, he added -- it also went back to playing time: "Michigan is a place I can come in and make an impact as a freshman."
McGuffie and Stonum ... did they both know in March ...
The McGuffie Story: In the Beginning ...
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