A Maize and Blue Day in Saginaw!

I was at Saginaw High Wednesday morning for the Signing Day press conference of Lamarr Woodley and Jerome Jackson. Afterward I was able to speak with Lamarr, Jerome, and Coach Durrett. Also, a brief look ahead at junior running back Demarcus Laury.<br><br> Pictures Added!

The media presence was very dense at Saginaw High School yesterday. TV, print, and Internet media from all over Michigan were there. Many people questioned why Lamarr Woodley, Jerome Jackson, and the other future college Football players from "the High" were encouraged to hold off on making their commitments for a Signing Day press conference. The Assistant Athletic Director, Dan Szatkowski, gave a very informative and understandable answer.

"We saw this as an opportunity to present this school and this community in a positive light. Many people have a negative perception of this area. By getting all of the media into the school for this press conference, we are able to show what kind kids, school, and community we have. We felt like it was a good thing to let the entire community celebrate with us and give the rest of the state some positive images of Saginaw for a change."

I think that their goal was accomplished, as it truly was a school/community wide celebration. After the press conference was over, I was able to grab Lamarr, Jerome and Coach Durrett for some one on one interviews. Here are the significant portions of my Q&A with all three.

Don Durrett, Jerome Jackson, and Lamarr Woodley

Jerome Jackson

What schools were the other finalists?
"Purdue, Michigan State, and Minnesota."

How close were the other schools?
"They were real close. I think that everyone who goes through this probably changes his mind every week. I know that I did."

When did you finally make you decision?
"Like I told you a few weeks ago, I've know that I wanted to go to Michigan for a little while now."

What have you been told as far as playing time?
"They said that they would give me an opportunity. They have Chris Perry coming back. But, in all the games I saw…only Chris and BJ Askew were getting carries. So, I think if I come in and work hard that I'll have a good shot."

What's your biggest strength as a player?
"I think I bring a lot to the table. Every time I get the ball, I run hard. I catch, I can block and I have good size. I have good speed (I run a 4.45 40). Plus, I'm not going to let anyone outwork me. That's never going to happen."

Lamarr Woodley

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. When they told me that I could get hurt and still have my scholarship…. I really had to look at that. I could get hurt right now walking out of the door. And I'll still have my full ride scholarship."

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. Most of Michigan's linebackers were hurt last year and it not certain how healthy they'll be when they come back."

Would you really have gone as far away as USC?
I really would have. Like I said, they need linebackers too…and that's the school where all the linebackers go. Junior Seau and Chris Claiborne are guys that I know. Also, Pete Carroll runs a pro defense, so if I would have gone there I would have been really prepared for the pros."

What Linebacker spot do they have you slated for?
"They want me to play the SAM linebacker…Victor Hobson's spot. [But] I'll play wherever they put me! I'll play special teams! WHEREVER they put me, I'll play!"

What is your biggest strength as a player?
"My biggest strength as a player is going sideline to sideline. I read the plays really well and I take good angles. I also rush the passer really well."

What type of player is Jerome?
"I'll tell you what…. he's really gonna compete for his spot. He isn't going to let anyone outwork him."

Coach Don Durrett

Tell me about Jerome as a player.
"Well, the first thing he's a hard-nosed person and he does things from the heart. When you get someone that runs from the heart, that person will out do most other athletes. Plus, his work ethic is outstanding. He stayed after practice to run extra sprints. He never stops. He plays hurt. He actually played hurt half of the season. He has the inner drive to go pretty far."

What about Lamar?
"Lamar is just an athlete! He's a natural athlete! He needs to work on his conditioning though. He has the speed, but they're going to have to bring it out of him. He does enough to get by. But, when he actually starts to put in more work, the sky is the limit for him because he can do it all."

What Linebacker position do you think he's best suited for?
"You have to play him outside. He's versatile enough to move inside, but I think he'll best on the outside. He's such a good athlete that he could play fullback if they wanted him to."

Football aside, what kind of kids are they?
"Jerome is serious and Lamarr is a jokester. Jackson is going to keep Lamarr in place. That's the way it's going to go."

Finally, I was able to ask both Lamarr and coach Durrett about on of the top juniors in the Saginaw Valley, RB DeMarcus Laury (5-11 205 lbs., 4.4 – 4.5 in the 40). Lamarr gushed about his teammate.

"DeMarcus is my little cousin. He's the same type of player as Jerome. He has the attitude that he isn't going to let anyone outwork him or knock him down. And, he's going to try to take your head off!"

Coach Durrett added, " Think Jerome Jackson, but quicker."

Could DeMarcus continue this new pipeline from Saginaw to Ann Arbor? It's a long way from Signing Day 2004, but one would have to think that Michigan looks pretty good here.

DeMarcus and Lamarr

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