Woodley - Why Michigan?

The biggest signing event for U-M yesterday was the landing of the top player in Michigan, and perhaps the whole Midwest -- Saginaw's Super Linebacker Lamarr Woodley. GBW's Sam Webb was at the presser, and will have his story, and great photos, up today (Thurs.). For now, here's some of what Lamarr told Sam, plus Woodley's 'recruiting story'.

What was the deciding factor for Michigan over MSU?

"I was just more comfortable at Michigan. I felt I fit in there." Simple as that.

Was the possibility of playing time on a great Michigan team next year a factor?

"Michigan had playing time to offer right away, yeah, but so did Michigan State and USC. So that was important, but not the difference between the schools."

Lamarr had made numerous unofficial visits to Michigan over the past 2-3 years, for football and basketball games. This past fall we'd say "Hi" to him during visits, and observe him closely. It was obvious that he feld relaxed around the program, but also, yours truly worried, that he did not have 'close buddies' on the team.

He made his Michigan visit back on the Dec. 6-8 weekend, and at that time he first tipped his hand -- he told the Michigan coaches "not to worry." However, we did not report that then, because we knew that once MSU hired a new coach they would be given a chance. And that was the case.

Lamarr's 'lean' to Michigan never completely went away, but until just late last week it was not solidified into a 'sure thing' either. Michigan State made good use of all their in-home and in-school visits with Woodley, and even got Lamarr to take an unofficial visit to a basketball game just last week. THAT had Michigan fans worried.

However, Woodley's mother was certainly firmly in Michigan's camp, in no small part because of the drug scandle at MSU this year, which has had her worried about her nephew (and Lamarr's cousin) on the team, Jeremiah McClauren. When we talked to her back in the summer she told us, "I want Lamarr to stay close to home, where I can watch him play. I like both the Michigan and Michigan State programs, they are both good schools." But on Jan. 25 she told us, "Myself, I like Michigan. I like the program, I like the way the people are there. I like how they are academic-wise, they show interest, and they keep the parents involved. They show care for their kids, on and off the field. Thats what I like. They say that no matter what that they want Lamarr to get that degree, so he has two things going for him, not just football. As far as Michigan State getting back in it. I worry about what's been going on up there. And I worry that it's not all cleaned up ... that is not one of my favorite places right now." And she also knew that he was leaning in her direction: "I think he knows where he's going ... I think he's been knowing for a while now."

Finally, late last week, after all his visits from coaches were over, Lamarr made up his mind for sure -- that he'd be a Wolverine!

Post script: Lamarr's mother also told us last week: "Lamarr, Jerome (Jackson, who also signed with Michigan yesterday), and Demarcus (Laury, Lamarr's cousin, a junior running back at Saginaw who split playing time with Jackson this past season) have talked about playing together since middle school." And Demarcus' own mother told me last week, "Yes, Demarcus has been a Michigan fan ... I think Demarcus is liable to go wherever Lamarr goes."

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