Opening Statement Coach Rodriguez: "You'll have to excuse my voice. I have a little bit of a cold and I've been on the phone quite a bit the last couple of weeks, so we'll get through this. Very excited as probably every coach in America is today with the new members of their football programs. I thought our staff did an outstanding job developing relationships and signing some guys that will be great fits for our program and I think we can help them have great careers here both on and off the field. What I'll do is briefly because of the redundancy and you guys can all read. I'll just talk about all the guys briefly and then let you know who the primary recruiter was on the staff and then if you want to talk to them a little bit after that. I'm a little bit reluctant like most coaches are – everybody wants to rank a certain recruiting class or kind of put a stigma or something on the guys coming in and really it sounds like coach speak, but you really need to wait a couple of years and then determine how good the class is. I've had recruiting classes before that weren't ranked anywhere in the top 25 and 30 and they wind up leading the team to a top five ranking in the country and winning a BCS Bowl. So I think you have to be careful about all that but obviously if we signed them, we think they are great fits here for our football program, for our university and we're excited to have them."
"There are a lot of people that I need to thank. Our football staff both the coaches and our administrators. Our administration at the school, we did a tremendous job from the academic center to admissions and everybody that talked to our young men when they visited on campus. The people in the community…I'll tell you it makes a big difference. We always feel that if we can get a young man on campus we have a great shot to get them, not only because of our facilities and those things but also because of the people that they interact with. Whether they stop at a store to buy something, or they are at a hotel, or at a gas station, or a restaurant, the people here are extremely friendly and that really helps. The whole deal on most recruits is that a lot of time they made a decision on where they feel comfortable with and not just with the coaches, which is a big deal but also in the community. This is a great community to feel comfortable with. The people that are involved in our recruiting in all those areas helped and just the fans in general. When they'd see them at a basketball game or something it really helps, so that was all good."
"The guys first off that have been enrolled here this semester; I believe there was seven – Devin Gardner. Devin got in a few days late, so he has been only doing just academics to get caught up, which he is now and he will be participating in workouts starting either today or tomorrow. He's a big strong guy. A guy that can have a lot of success in our type of system and he is very eager to learn. He is very, very competitive. Having had him at camp and watch him play, he's a guy that is extremely competitive and obviously has a lot of skills. So we're excited to have him and he's a great addition. Some people say you have two young freshman quarterbacks why would you go after another one and why would another one want to come. We want guys that want competition and certainly we're going to try and foster that. We want to have guys at every position that are competing for playing time and when you have quality guys at every position doing that your level of play is going to increase. So Devin will give some competition to those other guys at quarterback that he already knows. Devin's primary recruiter initially was Tony Dews and then Coach Rod Smith, because Rod coaches the quarterbacks of course and was heavily involved. So those two guys were primary recruiters for that."
"Stephen Hopkins is a big back. Fred Jackson was his primary recruiter. He is also going to be his position coach. He's a big back out of Texas. He's got good skills. We like to have in our offense…we can play two tailbacks at a time and there are a lot of times when we like to have one big back in there in certain situations and we feel that Stephen fits that bill. He's enrolled here already of course and has been working hard. I think he is going to fill an immediate need for us."
"Jeremy Jackson, a familiar name. His primary recruiter was Fred Jackson (laughter), surprise there. I would hate to say that was the easiest commit we got, but you still got to recruit him and I told Jeremy this back then. I told him we're not recruiting you just because your dad coaches with us. I said now that helps because we know what type of character you have and what kind of family you come from, but he stands on his own merits and he's a good football player, a very good football player. A hard worker and I think he is a great fit for our offense. We need some big strong receivers and guys that will go get the ball and can make plays downfield and Jeremy fits that bill. He won't be coached by Fred, but I think he will at times as well. He has been part of the Michigan family for a long, long time. So he knows this place, but he has helped us recruit other guys and I think Jeremy is going to have a great career here."
"Ricardo Miller is another big receiver. He spent most of his high school career in Florida, in the Orlando area and then moved up here a year ago with his family and played over here at (Ann Arbor) Pioneer High School and had a good year. He's a big strong physical guy kind of like Jeremy. He has got a great personality. The guys that have met him, he's always got a smile on his face and he's very eager to learn. He's kind of like Jeremy and Devin and the rest of the guy, very, very competitive so he is going to have an opportunity to help us at that position. Rod Smith who recruits Florida as a secondary area was his main recruiter."
"One offensive lineman – the last couple of years we've taken a few more linemen. This year we did not have as much a need for a lineman. We would have taken maybe another one, but we were very excited about Christian Pace. He enrolled early and we have a need at center and at guard and Christian is a very athletic tough individual, good student and played at a great high school program at Avon Lake in Ohio. Christian's main recruiter was Coach Tall. We signed several guys out of Ohio and Christian will be playing both center for us at first and then learning the guard position as well. Of course, he is enrolled early."
"Jerald Robinson, another young man, another big receiver. Coach Tall recruited him out of Canton (Ohio). (He was) one of the first commitments that we got. I really liked him after his junior film. He has a great senior year. Another big, strong physical guy that could probably play safety as well. We think Jerald is like Ricardo and Jeremy is going to have a chance to help us, particularly because they enrolled early and are going to learn the system in spring ball can help us at receiver. He's got great ball skills and is an outstanding athlete."
"The last guy who rerolled early was Austin White, another local guy. Most of you that follow high school sports here in the State of Michigan have known about him for several years. He has had outstanding high school career. He comes from a great family. Another guy that we had in camp and we liked Austin's ability, but he's like the rest of them…the thing that stood out to probably me was watching him in camp how he wanted to take every rep. He would take a rep at running back, put him in the slot receiver and he'd want to take a rep there. He was always jumping in the front of the line. He was a guy that was always wanting to prove himself. That type of attitude is kind of contagious and so Austin, I'm very excited that he's here. Coach Rod Smith was his primary recruiter on him. Austin of course being local was able to come over here quite a bit, so we established a good relationship with him. I'm very excited about him. He's got all the kind of skill set that we need in our running back position."
"The next group that signed a letter of intent today, obviously as you know we try to meet needs first. You never want to turn down a great player at any position on either side of the ball, but you certainly got to go in with a focus on your needs, what do you need. Where are you lacking numbers at. Our defense last year I think had less than 25 scholarship players when normally the breakdown is somewhere between 38 and 40 scholarship players, so our numbers were way down. We knew going in that it was going to take us a couple of years to get caught up. So we won't get caught up totally balance wise, number wise, scholarship wise this year, but we will within another year. Again, this is just our second full recruiting class. Our needs certainly need to be met on defense and both on the front line, linebacker and certainly in the secondary."
"Richard Ash and it starts up front…he was one of those guys that we felt was critical for us in the recruiting process. Rod Smith did a great job of recruiting him. He is a big defensive tackle from Pahokee. Obviously we had a few guys from Pahokee that helped show him around when he was up here and he had relationships and I think he felt comfortable from the start. We still had to battle for him, even though we felt good about it, we still had to battle them all the way through this morning to make sure that big Richard signed. He is athletic enough to probably play defensive end, big enough to be defensive tackle and played in an outstanding high school program and we are very excited to have big Richard up here as well."
"Courtney Avery, Bruce Tall was the primary recruiter with Courtney. He is a defensive back/athlete out of Mansfield, Ohio. He had an outstanding high school career. He played quarterback on offense, cornerback on defense. He was a 1000 point scorer in basketball. He is an outstanding student, just a great young man and we kind of noticed him…Coach Tall noticed him about a year or so ago and we again, he is another guy that we kind of tracked and he jumped in the fold early and had even a better senior year. We are going to try Courtney at corner first. He's a good enough athlete to help us at several positions. Again, he was an outstanding basketball player and excited to have Courtney in the fold."
"If you follow the recruiting trail (someone who) was probably new in the last several weeks, but he was on our radar from a year ago was Jibreel Black. He's a defensive lineman from Wyoming, Ohio. Coach Tall took over the lead recruiting on him in the last several weeks and did an outstanding job. Jibreel has got a brother, Larry (Black) that plays at Indiana. I believe he is a starting defensive lineman for them and he's an outstanding player. Jibreel is a guy that we noticed early on was one of the top guys that we had on our board at defensive line. He is very explosive. He can play end and can play tackle. He's got a great motor and every excited to have Jibreel in our program."
"Cullen Christian, goes by the nickname of Buc. Tony Gibson recruited him and he can probably tell you why they call him Buc. I'm not for sure why, probably heard the story. Cullen is a defensive back and again a position of need. He's got long arms and is a very good athlete, very coachable. I've been tracking him really for a couple of years now. He's played in an outstanding high school program (Penn Hills). We've watched him quite a bit and we're very excited about Cullen. He and all these guys…I've told you all before, we never promise or guarantee guys that they will start. I think most coaches do not do that. What we promise and guarantee them is opportunity. We tell guys that we're not going to recruit guys to be backups. We're going to recruit guys who can compete to play and how soon they play will be dependent on how ready they are physically and mentally and how soon we can get them ready. All these guys are coming in, some know that certain positions because of their height, weight, strength, they may have a little work to do, but all these guys are going to have a chance to compete. I'm excited, particularly those guys in the secondary and Cullen is one that will have that chance."
"Drew Dileo, the lead recruit on him was Fred Jackson going down into his old homeland in Louisiana. Drew played for an outstanding high school program, played slot receiver. He played on all kinds of returns, kickoffs and punt (returns) was an outstanding athlete. Again (a guy) that was committed to us for a while and had another great senior year, which is kind of nice to see. When you have guys that are committed or know that are very interested in you and they come out there senior year and play even better. That's what we tell me…sometimes I worry about guys that do not have to prove themselves. You always want your guys to prove themselves every day and Drew certainly proved himself this year had a great senior year. He'll play slot receiver for us in addition to returning punts and returning kicks."
"Demar Dorsey, Calvin Magee became the lead recruiter on him in the last several weeks. He was committed to another school for a long time and with some coaching changes and all that, he opened up his recruitment. We had him go up for a visit. He is cousins with Denard Robinson and if Calvin Magee was the lead recruiter, Denard was the second lead recruiter on him. Denard looks like he is going to have a future in recruiting for sure. He's a great recruiter. In fact, Denard keeps telling us that he is 100% on guys that he hosts on his recruiting visits. I think he may be right. Demar is a very athlete guy. He's very fast, has indicated he may run track as well as Denard is doing up here. So it'll be good news for our track program. He's a fast guy who can play corner and safety. We'll probably start him at corner first and then eventually teach him the back end stuff as well. He also returns kicks, runs very well. We're excited about Demar."
"Josh Furman is an athlete. Tony Dews is the lead recruiter on him. You see through his stats that he had a great senior year running the football. We're looking at him to play on defense, again because of our needs. He'll probably play a safety position, kind of outside linebacker/hybrid safety position. He's a big guy that can run. He led his team to the state championship game (Maryland). He had all kinds of yards. I think he had 400 and some yards in one game there. He's a great young man – excited to have Josh here."
"Will Hagerup With the graduation of Zoltan Mesko, one of the best punters in our history – he'll be sorely missed – we had a big need for a punter. Will Hagerup we think is going to fit that need. We thought that he was the best that we saw on film. He's a big guy, very athletic. I think he's going to be a guy that we are going to have competition but Will understands that I told him that we did not sign him for him to come here and redshirt. Will is going to come in and try to compete right away. He's one of those guys that is like those specialists are that works on his craft about every day. Every time I called him he was coming from a work out or he's getting ready to go do a workout some thing like that. Bruce Tall was the lead recruiter on Will. We're excited about Will. He certainly feels a position of need for us."
"Carvin Johnson, a safety. Again going down in Louisiana, Fred Jackson is the recruiter down there. His high school coach has known Fred, myself and Calvin Magee for many years. I used to coach down there in Louisiana a few years ago and he called us and said, hey I got a guy that may be under the radar and this is a year ago, I think can play for you. You may want to take a look at him. We looked at him, we liked him and he had even better senior year and Fred did a nice job of recruiting him and suddenly a lot of other people started recruiting him too. Carvin led his team to the state playoffs. He has got great ball skills, very intelligent, tough, physical guy and fills a big need for us at safety. We're very excited about Carvin Johnson."
"Conelius Jones, nickname is ‘Trail', because that is short of his middle name. His middle is name is something trail. Gibby can tell you. Tong Gibson was the lead recruiter on him, but Trail Jones is a quarterback/athlete from Spartanburg, South Carolina. He is another guy that we noticed several years ago. He had a great senior year. He can throw the football and can run. Again at the quarterback position, as we know what happened a couple of years ago, you can't have too many quarterbacks. We've got to have quarterbacks and competing and he'll compete there first and if it looks like he can help us at another position he's willing to do that, whether it is receiver or somewhere else. Trail Jones is a big athlete. Again Tony Gibson did a nice job of recruiting him and we're excited about having him in the fold."
"Antonio Kinnard is a linebacker from the school that we have Isaiah Bell and Fitzgerald Toussaint already on the team. He's coached by Jeff Whitaker there at Liberty High School. He's a big tall linebacker at 6'4", 195. He's another good athlete. He's got a great future ahead of him. Antonio, we call him TK. TK has got a little work to do academically. He's got a chance, but he's got a little work to do. If he does not do it, we're going to help place him in a prep school and hope to get him back, prep school or junior college. Again from a great high school program ant Ike Bell and Fitz Toussaint played at, another good athlete. Tony Gibson was the lead recruiter there."
"Jordan Paskorz. Tony Gibson is the lead recruiter out of Western Pennsylvania, Hampton High School. He's a big defense end. It says 6'3", 235. He's probably closer to 245 now. He's got a brother who plays fullback at Notre Dame. I actually met the family because we recruited Steve a few years ago when I was at West Virginia. I did not get him, but I got Jordan. So we were one for two with that. He's a guy that is probably going to be about 255 to 260 pounds and got a big motor. He had a great high school career and again we're very excited about Jordan. Again fit into a position of need. We're replacing, I think one of the best football players in the country in Brandon Graham, which by the way, you all saw with congratulations to Brandon his MVP in the Senior Bowl. Saw him the day after, two days after down in the weight room with his big smile and giving everyone a bear hug. I'm so proud of him. When you lose Brandon, you can't replace Brandon with one guy, so hopefully we replace him with several. Jordan is going to be one of those guys that has a chance."
"Marvin Robinson and our lead recruiter for Marvin was Rod Smith. He's a safety that has been committed to us for a while out of Winter Have, Florida. He is friends with Ricardo Miller. Who by the way Ricardo, if Denard was one of the best recruiter here on campus, Ricardo was one of the best recruiters from this class. Ricardo did a great job of calling these guys. I guess he called him quite a bit and wanted these guys to be his teammates and Marvin was one of them. Marvin is a very athletic safety, runs well. He's got great size. He played at Lake Region High School down in Florida."
"Davion Rogers is another guy from Warren Harding High School. The high school is probably very familiar for you guys with Mario Manningham, Prescott Burgess, Carl Diggs, Alfie Burch. Many of you know Alfie is on the staff there, a Michigan man, helped us with Davion. Other guys at his school, he's a big, tall linebacker. We think he's going to be a guy who is going to be about 235 pounds eventually. He had an outstanding senior year at the high school, they all speak glowingly of him, his work ethic. Again big, tall athletic guy, we we're trying to get a little bit bigger defensively and a little bit more athletic and he kind of fits that mold. Tony Gibson was the lead recruiter for Davion."
"Jake Ryan is a linebacker out of Cleveland St. Ignatius High School. Bruce Tall was the lead recruiter. Bruce is a Cleveland native. He recruited Jake and Jake has a brother that plays at Bowling Green I think, receiver. He plays at a great high school program, St. Ignatius for Chuck Kyle, a legendary coach that everybody knows – in the State of Ohio you know who Chuck Kyle is but you also know their program. A great high school program and Jake we thought had a great senior year. He was one of those guys…I always tell the coaches, there is so much recruiting that goes on now, but you got to save some spots for guys that kind of have a great senior year. You do not want to give all your scholarships out and all of a sudden a guy grows two to three inches and gains 25 pounds and has a great senior year. Well that is Jake Ryan. In talking to his family, he grew two to three inches in one year, gained about 25-30 pounds his senior year, became the middle linebacker and was all over the field. He became one of the best players in the State of Ohio, certainly one of the best linebackers. A year ago not a lot of people knew about Jake Ryan. Coach Tall did a good job of staying on him, following his progress and we're excited about having Jake in the program."
"The brothers are next, Terrence and Terry Talbott. Terrence is the corner and Terry is the defensive lineman. Obviously Terry grabbed the food before Terrence did at the meal table because there is certainly a difference in size (laughing), but both of these young men and again Bruce Tall recruited them…was the lead recruiter the last several weeks with them. We were sold on them after we watched them on film and after they came to camp. That's why camp is so valuable for us. You get to know the kids and they get to know us. Not only as coaches but as people because you get a lot of interaction at camps and one on one with them. So Terrence and Terry came up to camp last year and they worked out and did drills. We got to sit around and be with them a little bit and get to know them and it was really neat. They were eager to show themselves. A lot of times, particularly a guy like Terry who has got a lot offers, sometimes kids do not want to go work out because their coaches or somebody would tell them, hey do not go work out you already got your scholarship offer – not these two. They play at a great high school program. Jay Minton I've known for several years. He's a West Virginia native, does a great job with the program and he loves to have his kids compete. So his kids, Terry and Terrence came up and they got a chance to know everybody and see our beautiful place and so they committed. So we're excited about them. Terrence will play cornerback and then Terry can play both D-tackle and D-end."
"The next guy is one of the guys that kind of fits in the mold of Jake Ryan – Ray Vinopal. He's a safety from Youngstown, Ohio, Cardinal Mooney High School that won the state championship, another great high school program. Ray is a guy who not only had a great senior year, but he had a great high school career. He was probably the leader on their team. He just fits everything that you want in a football player. He's smart, he's tough. He was a team leader and he did anything and everything for that football team. He also was a running back and very excited about Ray, probably was under the radar a little bit. Again that's where I think people do not get too hung up in ‘stars'. I do not know what Ray's star rating was, but Ray Vinopal I think is as valuable recruit as we have because of what we've seen and what we think he is going to bring to the table. Very excited about Ray, he's a guy again that kind of came out of nowhere in some people's minds but not in ours and Tony Gibson did an outstand job of recruiting Ray."
"Kenny Wilkins is another defensive end, athletic enough to probably play outside linebacker, 6'3", 240. He played at Trinty High School, we know their coach, Ed Dalton, great guy, great coach. He does an outstanding job and we know that guys who play for Coach Dalton are going to be tough physical football players and got a big motor and Kenny has got a big motor, a great young man, very excited about him, his ability to contribute. Tony Gibson again was the leader recruiter again for Kenny Wilkins."
"The last man on the list was D.J. Williamson. He's been committed to us for a while. He is one of the fastest guys in this class, a wide receiver from the same high school Warren Harding (as Davion Rogers). He is one of those guys who can learn the outside receiver position and then eventually learn inside as well. Tony Gibson was the lead recruiter on DJ."
"I know that is kind of a brief synopsis, but I think that gives you an overhead on what these guys are. Again, the seven that are enrolled early, all of them have been working out, going to class. Devin, I guess just starts working out this week and they are doing pretty well. They probably have gotten homesick out of the way a little bit and talking to Coach Barwis, they all fit in very well with the rest of the guys on the team."