U-M Sets the Bar for Washington (Part 1)

Before Saint Stephen, SC OL Quinton Washington traveled to Ann Arbor for an official visit last weekend, Michigan probably wasn't a significant threat in his recruitment according to Timberland high coach, Art Craig. However, after spending the weekend in Maize & Blue land and witnessing the largest comeback in the history of the Big House, their chances have improved significantly. (Part 1 of 2)

Sam Webb:  From your perspective, compared to all the places you have been to, how did Michigan stack up to them?  How did Michigan stack up to your expectations?

Art Craig:  "Honestly, I was almost a little overwhelmed.  I felt such closeness to it.  I actually got up at 9 o'clock that morning and walked around downtown and went down there a little bit.  There was a little shop there that sells…I actually wore a Michigan shirt in the game.  I found myself there in the third quarter cheering for them.  I am a graduate of the University of South Carolina, but I just felt… and I told those guys… I told the recruiting coordinator when it was all over, I sent him a little text message when we got back.  I said as long as they are there, I will pull for them from now on even if they don't get Quinton.  I mean it was a fun experience.  I don't know if that half explains it, but I just thought again, the players, you could see Quinton having a good time with the coaches.  I felt like the coaches talked to us even though they really didn't have to.  I mean Quinton was there; they really didn't need me at all.  They had Quinton there, but I thought the respect they showed me…the whole atmosphere was just more than I could have imagined.  Like I said, I have been to almost every stadium in the southeast and I was just really, really impressed with what they're doing, what direction they are trying to go.  Their strength coach is going to turn that thing completely around.  I don't think there is any doubt in a couple of years you are going to see a top five program in the nation. I think it might be in a year or so."

"My wife, I was so excited on the phone when I was talking to my wife; she was like ‘are we moving to Ann Arbor or something, did they offer you a job or something?'  I said that if they did (laughing).  I tell you what I liked also.  The place was clean.  It was just a nice place.  I know there are parts there, just like anywhere, that you don't want to go to, but I guess the biggest thing, it was a refreshing place to be.  That is why I think I was so giddy about it.  It was above all my expectations.  Michigan is a place where they work hard to make sure that the kid's graduate and have an opportunity to move on to other things when football was over.  I just thought it was amazing.  Then on top of that, I didn't realize we were going for the 500th game to be played there and to watch…when we walked into the stadium, there were people in the stadium chanting Quinton's name.  ‘Quinton wear the Blue'.  They honored the Olympic athletes and you were able to sit on the sidelines about two to three minutes before the game and just to watch the game and watch the kids and see the electricity there, I think was a lot more than he had imagined.  I have had the opportunity to see several college games before, but I just thought the atmosphere up there was pretty amazing."

Sam Webb:  Can you talk about Quinton's game.  What are his strengths?

Art Craig:  "Quinton has been with me for four years.  He started out as a freshman for us.  When we got him as a freshman, he was already at 275-280.  Some of the guys were like, ‘put him on JV.'  I was like, ‘look, he is going to dominate on JV and then it is going to take a year or two to teach him how to be tough.'  We just threw him in and he started game one his freshman year.  You expected him to struggle, but he never did.  I knew he was pretty good when we were at a scrimmage, the first scrimmage that he had ever been to as a freshman, one of the assistant coaches on the Shrine Bowl came up to me and said, ‘have you sent us film on your tackle yet?'  I had another tackle that was a senior and I said, ‘the left tackle,' and he said, ‘no the one on the right.'  I said coach, ‘he is a freshman'.  He was like, ‘my goodness, he is going to be pretty good.'  Then his sophomore year what helped him, we were able to go to the state championship game, he was pretty much showcased a lot then.  Last year, what is so amazing about the film that you guys have seen on him, he played all year long with a high ankle sprain.  Anybody that knows anything about a high ankle sprain knows that is one of the most difficult things.  Most people don't play with them.  Realistically, he probably shouldn't have played as much as he did for us, but he was so valuable to us.  What they saw (on his highlight film), was really just half of what he can do.  I think what sets him apart is his feet are so good.  You know he has got a 27" vertical at 305 pounds.  He won the state championship in the heavyweight division as a junior and you usually don't win as a junior.  You usually don't win the state strength meet, bigger guys like that, usually your older guys are the ones that do that.  I think that is impressive on our part.  I am being honest with you, I have coached for 21 years and we haven't had anyone here that I can compare him too.  I know a lot of your other teams, the Alabamas and the Tennessees and they think just like Michigan doe, that he will come in and really compete as a true freshman.  A lot of offensive linemen don't compete as true freshman to play, but I think he is going to be able to do that.  He is so strong.  He benches 400 and he squats 600 and he power cleans 275.  On top of that, he has got a 3.3 grade point average right now.  As good as athlete as he is, he is even that much better as a person.  I mean he has never had a referral at school for trouble, absences, or anything in four years."

Sam Webb:  So he is the full package then?

Art Craig:  "He is going to be a great addition to somebody's program.  His mom and dad are great people.  He has got both mom and dad at home.  I really can't say anything bad about him. That is him in a nutshell right there."

Stay tuned to GoBlueWolverine for part two in which Coach Craig lays out Washington's decision criteria and where Michigan stands on his list.

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