For months Itawamba JC DE Pernell McPhee had been mentioning his desire to trip to other schools. In the aftermath of the removal of the coach at the school he initially committed to, Mississippi State, it turns out that plan has had fortuitous benefits. Because he has stayed in touch with a number of programs and is currently armed with offers from Michigan, Alabama, Georgia, and a host of others, the 6-4, 250-pounder doesn't have to completely start the recruiting process over.
The recent charge from the Wolverines has been particularly compelling for McPhee because of the relationships he already has with a few folks in Ann Arbor. One of those is happens to be with his former Pahokee high school teammate Martavious Odoms. After connecting with his "Muck City" cohort while on his official visit to Michigan last weekend, McPhee's recruitment seems to have taken a major turn.
"I loved it," he said of his trip to the Great Lake State. "I love the snow! I love the snow, man. When I got up there Friday it was freezing, but I can handle it. To tell you the truth, I think (the Wolverines) are above Mississippi State."
Odoms' presence is only part of the equation. The pending arrivals of former high school teammates Vincent Smith and Brandin Hawthorne (who is also McPhee's cousin) are also positives. However, he made it clear that his relationships with others in the program will be the deciding factor.
"To tell you the truth, (the presence of former teammates) helps a little bit, but it's all about the coaching staff. That was my favorite part of the trip. All of them, man. But that basketball game was a great atmosphere."
Linebackers coach Jay Hopson has been the man spearheading McPhee's recruitment for the Maize & Blue, and it is that relationship that is most responsible for the Wolverines rocketing up the JUCO star's list. When asked if he had a special bond with Hopson, he didn't hesitate.
"Yes, sir," he responded emphatically. "I'm wide open, but Michigan is definitely at least top two."
While it's clear that Michigan has made a strong surge and that McPhee is extremely comfortable with the situation in Ann Arbor, he still intends to take more time before settling on a decision.
"I'm just going to take one more visit and I'm just going to see what kind of program it is, wherever it is," McPhee said referring to his yet to be determined visit destination. I've just got to pray to God, to tell you the truth. Just have him show me where to go."
GoBlueWolverine will have more on McPhee in the coming weeks.