Michigan head football coach Rich Rodriguez heard more than his fair share of criticism from select media and Wolverine faithful during his first year in Ann Arbor. Fortunately for the Wolverines, that memo has not gotten to the people that matter to most -- the recruits.
Rodriguez continues to impress recruits and bring in the talent that will fit his system – talent capable of getting Michigan back to where fans feel they belong; competing for National Championships.
Duncan, SC RB Marcus Lattimore, considered by many to be the number one back in the country, likes Rich Rodriguez. He does not know much about Maize & Blue at this point, but he does know about Rodriguez. That alone has put the Wolverines in good standing in his recruitment.
"I have always liked Coach Rodriguez," said Lattimore. "I liked West Virginia when he was there, now I like Michigan because he is over there. I don't know what it is -- I just like the guy. I would like to meet him."
Upon further inspection, Lattimore revealed that his interest Michigan is based on more than just the coach.
"We have the same offensive system that Michigan has," he stated. "I have seen their great facilities up there already on their website. They also have good tradition in football and academics. I would like to major in sports management and have the opportunity to be a G.M. of a football team or an athletic director. Michigan has a very good sports management program."
"You can put this out there right now," Lattimore added emphatically, "Michigan will receive one of my five official visits. I want to come up for the Michigan vs. Ohio State game."
While that is very favorable news for the Wolverines, there is still a long way to go in this recruitment and a number of schools fighting for his services. Also listed in his veritable who's who of suitors are Alabama, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Clemson, LSU, Georgia and Florida State just to name a few.
Two schools worthy of keeping a keen eye on in this recruiting battle are Georgia and Florida State. Georgia is home to where most of his mom's family resides, and Florida State is his childhood favorite. That distinction made his recent interaction with Seminole coaches Bobby Bowden and Jimbo Fisher an even more memorable experience.
" Man it was great meeting those guys," he said.
This summer expects to be very busy meeting other coaches while visiting as many schools as he can. The five-star tailback has already visited Tennessee, will be visiting Georgia on March 21st, and North Carolina March 28th.
On those trips Lattimore will have the opportunity to see if the coaches meet his set list of criteria.
"I want a coach who is straight forward, honest, and someone who will get the best out of me," Lattimore reported. "Someone that I can go and talk to, how would I fit into your football plans. I am meeting and talking to coaches on the phone I am really enjoying the process."
Much of that enjoyment is based on the genuine surprise at being such a coveted commodity. Despite rushing for 305 carries, 2325 yards, and 30 touchdowns and possessing arguably the best combination of size, speed, and power in the country, he didn't expect his recruitment to become what it has.
"I just feel blessed with all that's happening to me," Lattimore stated. "One day when I received an offer in the mail, my mom started crying. She said, ‘can you believe that this is happening?' I can't believe it, but I just want to stay humble and keep working hard."