The senior year for Plainsboro South (Princeton Junction, NJ) LB J.B. Fitzgerald couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. After announcing his commitment to Michigan back on August 30th, he and his teammates exploded out of the gates en route to a spotless beginning to their football season.
“We’re 3-0 right now and just killing it,” Fitzgerald said. “I think that we’re clicking really well offensively and defensively. I think we’ve only let one touchdown in during all of the first halves that we’ve played. We started out against three of the toughest teams in our conference and we won them all. We’re just going to keep pounding out wins and try to go for an undefeated season on the way to a state championship.”
The Michigan Wolverines weren’t nearly as successful in their first two contests of the year, and their struggles prompted other schools to test the strength of Fitzgerald’s commitment. However, the talented youngster insists that their attempts to reconsider will go for naught. That’s especially true after the unforgettable official visit he made to Ann Arbor last weekend.
“Rutgers is definitely still trying to recruit me,” Fitzgerald acknowledged. “It was such a close decision that I can see why they’re still trying to get me, but I’m pretty solid with Michigan. Going into this visit, I didn’t think I could fall more in love with the school than I already was, but this weekend really just did it for me. I hung out with Ryan Van Bergen, Brandon Herron, Steve Threet, and Vince Helmut. It was awesome! They pretty much just took me right under their wing. I hadn’t met any of them prior to the visit. They just took me in and treated me like I was their teammate… which I guess I am now.”
The interaction with the players was clearly one of the highlights, but the most impactful moment came when he stepped into the Big House on game day.
“It was game week and I got to experience what the atmosphere was like during football season,” said Fitzgerald. ‘That is the one thing that I hadn’t experieneed yet through all my trips to Michigan. It definitely surpassed my expectations. I don’t think anything can prepare you for 110,000 people. A few of (the fans) knew who I was. I know Sam (McGuffie) was getting recognized all over the place. He had to sign all kinds of autographs. I felt bad for him. They wouldn’t leave him alone (laughing). But it’s all good.”
Fitzgerald’s fellow commitments were similarly in awe. The Garden State star believes that the bonding he did with his future teammates during the trip will reap very positive dividends when they hit campus next season.
“It was awesome,” Fitzgerald said regarding the chance to get better acquainted with other members of the 2008 recruiting class. “We came in, and Sam and I just clicked from the very beginning. We just started becoming real tight right off the bat. Me and Spoon (i.e. Marcus Witherspoon) got some more time to hang out too. Really, we were all becoming a closer unit. That is great because once we get up there we’ll be able to get right down to it.
The Wolverines-to-be, (which also included a number of commitments in town on unofficial visits), began demonstrating teamwork this weekend, as they joined forces to try to convince Brandon Smith and Spencer Adams to enter the fold.
“We were on both of them the whole weekend,” Fitzgerald said laughing. “Spencer didn’t get there until Saturday, but as soon as he got there we were just trying to get him to commit the whole time. Brandon and I had known each other previously. We had been talking to each other all of the time through texts and phone calls. My defensive coordinator right now use to coach Brandon a couple of years ago. That’s really how we made the connection. We got even closer than we already were through the visit, which was awesome.
“I think Brandon realizes that there are two guys from his home state that obviously liked Michigan enough to commit, and I definitely feel like that is going to play a huge role in his decision,” he continued. “We’ll see what happens, but I definitely think he enjoyed his trip. Neither of them committed yet, but I definitely think we did some work on them. Hopefully we’ll see some benefits from that in the future. I just started talking to Spencer on the internet now and I’m going to try to keep working on him. I’m definitely looking out for the other guys too. I’m going to try to get in touch with Nick Perry and see what his deal is because he would definitely be a nice addition. I know Sam is working on all of the offensive guys, so I’m going to try to hold it down for the defensive guys.”