There's a saying that goes, "I don't know exactly what I want, but I'll know it when I see it." Those could have been the words uttered by Flower Mound (TX) Marcus RB Stephen Hopkins heading into his Michigan visit last weekend. Upon arriving on campus he was expecting his recruitment to come to an abrupt end, but it didn't take long for him to begin seeing a decision on the horizon.
"I got there, we met with Coach Magee, we saw the facilities and everything… it was just really comfortable," said Hopkins. "We talked to everybody we need to talk to. The coaches were normal people. They weren't above you. They were just normal people that you can talk to real easy. I've been to Texas A&M, Connecticut, Nebraska, Alabama, Arkansas, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech… I've been a lot of places. The atmosphere (at Michigan) definitely blew them all out of the water. I felt the most comfortable at Michigan. Aaround the campus, around the coaches and around the players, I felt a lot better. All the facilities are nice, but nothing compares to the Big House, for sure."
Hopkins was accompanied on the visit by his father, who also quickly gained a very favorable impression of the Michigan coaching staff and atmosphere in Ann Arbor.
"They were real," Mr. Hopkins stated. "I say that after seeing a number of different staffs… (the Michigan coaches) were real. Everybody says they're family, but dealing with this staff was like dealing with a family reunion. It was like we knew each other already and we talked about a number of different things, not just football and not just academics. We talked about some personal stuff. We played around. You know how guys talk and play around? They kind of crack on each other -- it was like that. I felt like I was with my brothers instead of with a bunch of coaches that I'm just meeting for the first time."
Comfort was definitely an essential part of the criteria, but establishing it would have been all for naught had the Wolverines not been able to effectively answer Hopkins' questions about fitting into the offense.
"They told me that I would play a true tailback," Hopkins said. "Some people were saying that I might not be play tailback all the time, that I'd play fullback some. I didn't want to play fullback. (Michigan) told me that I would play tailback. At first they compared me to Brandon Minor and bigger guys that played in the system. They've had bigger guys. They said that I had the speed and quickness that I could definitely fit into the system. I watched the spring game and saw those guys running, and (the decision) was easy. Coach Jackson is just a great running backs coach. I have confidence that he will make me a better player and he'll give me a chance to do all that I can. He's a funny guy, but a serious guy. He's proven over the years that he's had a bunch of great backs that have gone on to be great NFL players, great college backs"
After surveying everything the Maize & Blue had to offer, all Hopkins had left to do before pulling the trigger was take a little time to make sure it wasn't all too good to be true.
"I wanted to (commit) (Friday) night, but I decided to take my time and think about it," he later admitted. "I called my mom and talked to my mom (Friday) night. She was happy for me. She was excited for me. I did what I wanted to. It was very easy decision. It wasn't even that hard. "
The news left a coaching staff in obvious need of talented options to replace the three senior tailbacks elated.
"Coach Jackson went crazy," Hopkins said laughingly. "He was just how much he had been waiting and that I was a guy that he really wanted with a passion. The reaction was pretty good. Coach Rodriguez just gave me a hug (laughter). He gave me a hug and said welcome to the family. He was excited too."
With his decision now behind him, all of Hopkins' athletic focus has officially shifted toward ending his career at Marcus on a high note.
"My recruiting is done," he said when asked if he planned to take any other visits. "I picked my school and I'm staying with that school. I'm relieved. A weight has been lifted off my back. Now I can just concentrate on my senior year, getting better as a player, getting ready for next year, and getting my team better since I'm a captain now."