Signing Day Presser Transcript (Part 1)

In Rich Rodriguez's opening statement at his signing day press conference, he provides commentary on his crop signees. Michigan's headman addresses the common question regarding which of the new Wolverines have the greatest potential to make an immediate impact.

Opening Statement: “Good to see everybody. I would like to announce our 21 signees for this year’s class (2008). There are still a few that may be joining this class at a later time. So I have kept my cell phone with me, if you didn’t mind. I got it on vibrate just in case it rings. I am very pleased with what we have so far. I do want to applaud Coach Carr and his staff. I think they did an outstanding job of identifying some quality student athletes. We had several commitments when I came onboard and most of them signed with us today. So I think their staff did an outstanding job. I think the coaches over the last 3 weeks or so on our staff did a nice job of securing some of those guys and bringing a few more into the fold. Obviously it was a tougher situation, any time there is a transition it is a tougher situation when you are limited. We basically had 3 weeks on the road, so you can imagine the last 3 weeks have been kind of hectic for us going all over the country, talking to these guys and their families, but I have been really pleased. We have a great university to sell. The administration here has been outstanding, from our President, Mary Sue Coleman to our Athletic Director Bill Martin, they have been great. Every step of the way it has been extremely positive.”

“There has been a few things that we have had to battle in recruiting, some negative publicity at times, but I think our guys have fought through that. I am pretty excited about today. Again, we have a few spots open. We had enough room to sign 25 and we have 21. We may or may not get to that 25 mark. If we don’t, we certainly will be able to sign them for next year’s class. We have a few needs, as we talk about it, ask a few questions. Obviously, probably the biggest pressing needs for us in making the transition from one offensive system to the other is the offensive skill position. We have tried to address this in this class. We will continue to address it in the very near future. Just for the sake, I will go through each guy and then at the end if you all have any questions or anything we will kind of go through there.”

“First is Ricky Barnum, 6’2”, 265, offensive lineman from Lakeland, Florida. Coach Rod Smith had been recruiting him for some time over the last say year or two. Obviously to bring a young man up here, he is an outstanding young man. He is a good football player, a good student. We are tickled to death to have him join our program. With Ricky, we will probably put in the interior of the O-line. All of our O-lineman by the way will learn all positions eventually, but Ricky will start off on the inside learn guard and also probably learn the center position as well.”

Boubacar Cissoko, a local guy from down at Cass Tech, Detroit, Michigan. He is an outstanding corner. He has been committed here for some time. A fast guy, very athletic, excited about him. He played in the U.S. Army game, you can read all that kind of stuff. He is really a neat story for him and what he has come from. Really being a late, I guess, comer to football the last several years and we are excited about Boubacar.”

Mike Cox is a running back at a prep school Avon Old Farms in Connecticut. He was here at camp. The previous staff identified him as a bigger guy, very explosive outstanding young man, can run. We think he has got a great future and again he is a bigger back so we were able to do a few things with Mike and he has been committed for some time and he stayed with the Wolverines.”

Justin Feagin is a quarterback. He is 6’, 190 pound athlete that we started recruiting more recently. Coach Smith again had been recruiting him for some time, knew about him and you can look at his stats. He ran for over 100 yards, passed for a 1000 yards. He is a very athlete guy. He is a guy that probably fits our system pretty well. He is again one of our biggest needs and still is, offensive skilled athlete and Justin fits that mold.”

J.B. Fitzgerald is a linebacker. He had been committed. We had to hold on to him. He is an outstanding student. He had been committed to here for some time, but as you can imagine when there is a transition, a lot of other schools jump onboard and tried to get him. Fortunately, we were able to hang on to him. J.B. was the Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of New Jersey. He is a big linebacker at 6’3”, 230 and he runs very well and we think he is going to be outstanding in our system here.”

J.T. Floyd is a defensive back out J.L. Mann High School, Greenville, South Carolina. Coach Gibson has been recruiting him. We really think a lot about J.T. He is a very explosive player, very intelligent football (players). Probably one of the smartest high school defense backs that we have come across as far as knowing how to play the game. I really like his focus and I think he is going to be able to make an immediate impact.”

“Before I go on, you all asked the question, everybody says who is going to play as a freshman. We are going to try and get every one of these guys ready. Our policy is that if you are good enough to play and win with early, we will play with you. If you are not good enough because it is a mental thing or a physical thing, it is our job to get you ready. We recruit guys with the intention of getting them ready to play right away. They usually determine that on how quickly they learn or how physically ready they are. Obviously some positions are probably easier to jump in and play earlier than others, but also considering who we have back experience wise at certain position. We never go to a guy and say, ‘Well you are definitely going to be red shirted’ or go to the guys and say ‘you are going to be the starter from day one’. Those guys all know they have to earn it and learn it. There will probably be more freshmen that play this year and maybe next year than possibly in the future simply because of transition and schemes that is kind of typical. A lot of these guys will probably have an opportunity to play early in their careers; we will see. J.T. Floyd is one of them, very good athlete and defensive back.”

Taylor Hill is a linebacker out of Youngstown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney, a very successful high school program. You can see they were state championship runner up. They had several guys go division I. He can play multiple positions and will probably learn all the linebacker positions. He has got great speed. We have known about Taylor for several years. Tony Gibson was the lead recruiter on him.”

Rocko Khoury was a lineman here in state (Michigan). He has been committed to us for some time. He is a big guy. He can play tackle. He is an outstanding student, a 3.5 GPA. He was also here at the summer camp, which is if you notice a lot of our early commitments that were guys that were here during camp. We have had and Brad and the staff here have done an outstanding jobs of leading one of the probably premier summer football camps in the country. It is a key factor for us in recruiting as well. The camps hopefully will continue that and it has been a big factor in our recruiting class. Rocko was a guy that came to camp as a big offensive tackle and we think is going to have an outstanding future.”

Kevin Koger was another guy that was committed. He is a guy that I have known about for a few years. He is an outstanding athlete at tight end. He also plays basketball. We think he is going to be a nice player in our system. He does all the things that you want to do in a tight end. Another guy that is not that far away from here, down in Toledo (Ohio), and we think he is an outstanding player.”

Mike Martin is another local guy, defensive lineman from down the road at Catholic Central (Redford), 6’2”, 285. A very tough, intense football player. He also won the state championship in wrestling last year in his first year a wrestler. I was able to visit him a couple of weeks ago to watch him wrestle with his mother. I went to go get popcorn, by the time I came back, he had already pinned a guy in 20 seconds. So a little bit later on I went to go get me a Diet Coke and 20 seconds later, he pinned another guy. So I didn’t get to see a whole lot of it, but he was pretty impressive. He is (a) very explosive football player and really excited about Mike Martin and his future.”

“Also a lot of these guys and you all will meet them obviously over the next 3-4 years. Outstanding young men, great guys to talk to, guys that understand what it is to be a student athlete at the University of Michigan and guys that I think will represent us well. Mike is one of those guys that you can see has a personality about him that is very infectious.”

Elliott Mealer is another guy that has been committed from just down the road across the border in Ohio, offensive tackle, 6’6”, 280, outstanding athlete. He was also a very good basketball player. Many probably have known about Elliot’s situation. He was involved in a tragic accident on Christmas Eve, which claimed his father’s life and his girlfriend’s life. His brother Brock is at U of M Hospital now doing his rehab there and just a great, great family. Part of the thing that really stood out to me when this happened was how all of the commitments and the University of Michigan people reached out to Elliot and his family. I was really touched by the commitments when I talked to them after this happened. They had already tried to contact or talk to Elliot. I think he and his family felt that from the start and will continue to feel that. As the future goes, I will probably ask all of you when we try to do some things after I check with compliance for the family. Because this is a family that has been through an awful lot and really proud of what Elliot has gone through and the way he is hanging in there. It is a great story. Anyways, the Mealer family is obviously part of the Michigan family and we are going to do all we can to support them. Elliot is an outstanding football player.”

Brandon Moore, a big tight end out of Trotwood Madison (Ohio) where we signed several guys. Again, he was another guy that was here, committed, 6’6”, 225, another really good athlete. He has a 4.25 GPA. I don’t know who the heck is going to coach him. He will probably be coaching us. He is a great young man, a very good athlete, a big frame and he is going to be able to put on some weight and some strength and be an outstanding player for us.”

Patrick Omameh is another guy that we kind of got on late in the last couple of weeks in recruiting him. Coach Tall was the lead recruiter there. I am really excited about him. Here is a guy that the last couple of years, grew a couple of inches, gained 40 pounds and went from a 6’2”, 230 pound to now a 6’4”, whatever he is listed at 260 athlete that can really run. He is another guy that is a 4.0 GPA and that makes Coach Frey a little nervous, but he is an outstanding student, very, very good athlete. There were a lot of schools that came on Patrick late including us and we were fortunate that he signed with the Wolverines.”

Dann O'Neill another offensive lineman. As you can see that was a big key for us. We had several guys graduate this year and we had to sign a big class of O-lineman and we got 6. Dann is the biggest of the bunch, 6’7”, 295, an outstanding athlete, a tough guy. He is going to have a great career. Big Dann, they have a couple of all star games, which are pretty neat. They are on TV and I think the kids have good experience with. Dann did an outstanding job at that against some of the best players in the country and again he is the biggest guy that we signed and he should be really good in our system.”

“The part about these offensive linemen and a lot of people ask what kind of lineman do you want. Everybody wants big guys that can move. It doesn’t matter whether you run a West Coast offense, spread offense, I-formation; you want big offensive lineman that can move and be tough, physical, smart and we would rather get the guy that is 280 and build him up to 295-300 then to get a guy that is 350 and make him drop weight. In this class, we got those guys with big frames and we can add some muscle and speed hopefully and strength and move on from there. Dann has got a great future, we believe.”

Terrence Robinson is another guy that we basically identified a couple of weeks ago in our need to add some slot receivers in our system. Terrence played running back, he played slot receiver, he played quarterback, and he did a lot of things. He is a very explosive athlete. He will be one of the fastest guys in this class and we are looking at him to play multiple positions on the offensive skilled positions for us. As mentioned, he is a fast guy, very, very productive and real excited about Terrence. He can move. That is the one thing that we identified is that we need to get some fast guys at the offense skill position and Terrence is one of them.”

Roy Roundtree is another guy that we got a little bit later. Recently for our need for offensive skill, he is a wide receiver. He can play all fourwide receiver positions for us. He is very productive at Trotwood Madison (Ohio). He caught 49 passes this past year. He has got great hands, great ball skills and can do a lot of things for us.”

Michael Shaw. Mike is a guy that we have known about for a little bit. He is another very fast guy, offensive athlete that can play a bunch of positions for us. He is a guy that you are probably for sure going to want to get the ball in his hands, because he is very explosive. He will probably be one of the fastest prep players in the country. You can see he gained over 1200 yards rushing, 300 yards receiving and very, very excited about Michael. Enjoyed him on his visit, a very consciousness young man and think he has a tremendous career.”

Brandon Smith from New Jersey. He is a defensive back, looking at him to play safety. He played multiple positions in high school, played quarterback, wide received, linebacker, DB. He is just an outstanding athlete. We think he is going to be…you know we have a need on defense at our safety position. We had a couple of guys graduate; Brandon is going to have an opportunity and complete right away.”

Daryl Stonum. Darryl is already enrolled here this past January as a wide receiver. He is a very fast guy. I wanted to mention him because he is in this recruiting class, and he is going to have a great opportunity this spring to learn the system and be an impact player for us. He is a great young man. He has been working hard. He has been in our program with Coach Barwis and he will learn the system this spring.”

Kurt Wermers is another offensive lineman, 6’5”, 260 that can probably play guard or tackle for us. He will learn multiple positions. He is a very intelligent football player, 3.4 GPA. He is a tough guy, gets after them, very intense and he was already committed and fortunately he stayed committed to be a Wolverine and we think Kurt…this offensive line class is going to be something special. I mean you got six guys there and all are very, very good athletes and guys that fit the system. As I mentioned, when we watched the film and I watched all the film on the prior commitments and the guys that we wanted to add to the class and they were all guys that we thought were great fits for what we wanted to do.”

“I don’t have a write up on Spoon, Marcus Witherspoon. I don’t know if you have it in your deal. I am not going to blame it…you have it on yours…I don’t have it on mine. I am not going throw Dave under the bus though, Bruce already did that. Anyway, big Spoon was one of the best linebackers on the East Coast... big guy 6’2”, 225 and probably will be able to learn all three linebacker positions for us. Very athletic, runs well, strong guy, loves to play the game of football and very excited about Spoon. I think he is one of the best prep linebackers, he and J.B. on the entire East Coast and we were fortunate to bring them over here. Coach Fry did an outstanding join of securing those commitments.”

“I really want to applaud my assistant coaches. Those guys do the bulk of the work setting things up and I just kind of come in and try to close the deal and add our philosophy to it. But I got a great staff and the nice part about it is that we have an outstanding class already here. We will hopefully add one or two or three more in the very near future and we got to get off to an early start for next year’s class. I think I have a bunch of guys that are great recruiters. Again, we have a great University to sell and I hope that you all will help us with all the positive press that you will put out there each and very day.”

The Michigan Insider Top Stories