Michigan Was Always #1 for Fitzgerald

Princeton Junction, NJ LB/TE J.B. Fitzgerald had settled on a top three of Michigan, Florida, and Rutgers before selecting the Wolverines in front of a live national audience last night. The truth is, the Maize & Blue was always on top. The newest member of the 2008 class sat down with GoBlueWolverine last night to go in depth about his decision to don the winged helmet.

Have you ever had a secret you were dying to tell everyone? The kind that consisted of news that you were so happy about, that you just couldn’t wait to share it. The kind that causes excitement to build up in your stomach like flood waters about to crest over the top of a dam. Last night, J.B. Fitzgerald opened that dam’s shutters.

“I’m blue,” an ecstatic Fitzgerald exclaimed early Thursday evening! “I just felt so comfortable being at Michigan. I’d been there for three unofficial visits, and each time I felt more and more comfortable. Really, I would have felt comfortable playing football at Florida, Michigan, or Rutgers. It would have been really hard to just base (the decision) off of football. I really just looked to life after football. I really want to walk out of college with the best degree. I felt like Michigan would give me that.”

Fitzgerald’s Maize & Blue feelings didn’t manifest themselves over night. While the other schools certainly gave the talented youngster something to think about, he has known which one he would attend for quite some time.

“The first time I went down there I kind of left wanting to commit right there on the spot, but I held off,” Fitzgerald recalled. “I’ve loved the school ever since they started recruiting me. I just fell in love. They’ve been #1 ever since. They’ve had a lock on that spot. Rutgers came close. It was really hard to not go there because I grew a relationship with Coach Schiano and Coach Jackson, but it was the right choice choosing Michigan.”

“(The Michigan coaches) were really excited when I told them I was coming,” he continued. “Coach Szabo was really pumped about it. I told Coach Carr, and he was really excited as well. I’ve gotten a couple of letters in the mail from Coach English and some of the other defensive staff, and they’re all pretty psyched up about it.”

The staff members in Ann Arbor aren’t the only ones celebrating the Garden State youngster’s choice. His parents are equally excited. They took great pains not to influence their son’s decision in what they perceived to be an unfair way. The list of criteria he established reflected the values they had always instilled in him, so none of the schools that made the cut were unacceptable in their eyes. They were there merely to provide the guidance and advice that any parent would, but were careful not pressure him by making their wants an issue. That, however, doesn’t mean they weren’t privately rooting for one particular program.

“They’re ecstatic I chose Michigan,” Fitzgerald said. “My parents are very happy about the decision. My dad wasn’t shy about saying (Michigan) was his favorite school in the end. He was really really happy, and so is my mom.”

A growing trend with Michigan’s 2008 class of recruits has been the involvement of the commitments in reaching out to help lure other prospects into the fold. According to Fitzgerald, many of the Wolverines-to-be made overtures toward him during his decision making process.

“I had been talking to Elliott Mealer quite a bit,” he said. I think we hooked up a couple of months ago. Really I started trying to reach out to a lot of the Michigan recruits and talk to them about their decisions so I could try to grow relationships with them. I talked to Mike Martin a lot. He’s a great guy. Brandon Moore and I just started talking. There are a bunch of those guys that I’ve been talking to.”

Now that he is officially part of the family, Fitzgerald plans to join the recruiting party as well. He too will be working the phones to espouse the virtues of Michigan.

I absolutely will be calling other guys,” he said. “I feel it’s my job now to help recruit some guys and build on the great recruiting class we have now.”

If the Wolverines have the recruiting success they desire the rest of the way, they could end up adding a few more linebacker prospects to the class. There is already a clear plan for how Fitzgerald fits into the picture, but the newest Wolverine indicated he wouldn’t mind changing things up a bit if that’s what’s best for his new team.

“They want me to play the MIKE spot,” said Fitzgerald. “They think I can come in and contribute right away. If I’m ready, it’s going to be full speed ahead, but if I’m not I wouldn’t mind taking a year to redshirt and get used to the program. Coach Szabo likes to get his best linebackers on the field, so if I’m one of the top three and they have a MIKE, I’m sure they’d just move me around. I’d be fine with that.”

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