Sam Webb: Let's talk in general terms about decision criteria. You said that you are going to narrow the list more and then evaluate those schools. What in very general terms, not talking about any specific school... what is it that is going to set one, two, or however many schools apart when you get ready to whittle things down again?
Maurice Jenkins: "Basically we have a matrix that we did on each school. Part of that matrix is the strength of academic institution and academic facilities. There are a lot of schools that give lip service to, ‘we have an outstanding football program,' but how does that football program relate to the student-athlete? In Michigan's case, they have an awesome facility there, so you can see they take the academics very seriously over there. We were very impressed with their academic facility. "
"One other criterion was that we wanted a team with national exposure that potentially plays in the (BCS) bowl games. "
"The coaching staff… looking at them. Jelani had a chance to see some of the coaches and build a relationship with some of them initially and so that is a criterion."
"The strength & conditioning program is real important to us too because that is the thing that keeps him on the football field. Right now at Good Counsel they have a real strong strength & conditioning coach. He is into developing the body and always trying to get better. Jelani definitely wants the best trainer at the next level, so he wanted to look at a program that can help him get there. So the strength and conditioning program is real important. They have a real strong strength and conditioning coach up there (at Michigan). "
"The stability of the program. Coaches are being hired and fired left and right. You want to go where you can see the coach being there during his duration. A lot of times there is a total regime change when another coach comes in, so stability of the program is very important."
"Diversity. Schools that he would like to resemble what society is like. The world…we're living in a global economy so we want Jelani to be in an environment where there is a respect for humanity and a respect for people in general. Those are the kinds of factors that came into play with (Jelani deciding to attend) Good Counsel. It's a very diverse school and kids like each other. That was very important when doing research on the schools… that there is respect for people from different cultures. That was a very important factor. Beyond the school gates, we looked at the surroundings. What is the city like? Is it a place that we feel comfortable with when Jelani is not on campus? If he wants to go to a restaurant, can he feel comfortable? If he wants to go out of the city and pick up some clothing, can he feel comfortable? Diversity is very important, as is a city that we feel is safe. We want an environment that is diverse where they have respect for different people."
"All of those are factors. He literally has a matrix that reflects all those things and he kind of goes through all of them."
Sam Webb: Do you think that Jelani will make his announcement for a school on signing day?
Maurice Jenkins: "It's not as if he is being driven by a specific formula timetable. We figure when it is right, he will know it is right. He won't hesitate or come in with some preconceived idea to wait until signing day or anything like that. We will kind of work our way through official visits and look at schools more closely then. If we find out when Jelani comes back and he is sold and everybody is sold that we will probably commit."
Sam Webb: Can you give me comments on a few of the other schools that Jelani is looking at?
Maurice Jenkins: "Again, it would be kind of early (to talk about other schools), because like I said…you know the 33 schools that have offered him. You got your Penn State, you got Notre Dame, you got the University of Southern Cal, you got Stanford, you got your Florida, you got your Miami…so all the major programs have offered him. What we said weren't going to do is make any formal announcements as to the 15 right now because we want the other schools to hear from us first so that it is not a thing that they hear through the media. I prefer to really not elaborate on that too much. If we start to talk about five out of 33, then people tend to think those are his top schools. Our goal is to do it the right way and the classy way and let the other schools hear it from us first and not through the media."
Sam Webb: Now you said you didn't have any formal date of making a decision, but what about a formal date for trimming the list down further. I know Jelani told me that he was going to be getting with you relatively soon and try to chop the list down some more.
Maurice Jenkins: "Right. Yeah we're looking to within a month to actually get it down even further than that. I mean again, I wouldn't say specifically that we will be at exactly five or whatever. This is a big decision. It is just a life changing decision, so we definitely just want to get it right."
Sam Webb: If you guys decide to get back up to Michigan for a visit, can you let us know?
Maurice Jenkins: "The plan is definitely to get back to Michigan either to one of the games or definitely an official visit."