Rodriguez Breaks Down the Class (Part 3)

Michigan headman Rich Rodriguez fields more questions about his 2010 recruiting class. In the third and final part of the interview Rodriguez shares his thoughts on recruiting rankings, negative recruiting in the Big Ten, his in-state recruiting haul, and more.

Question:  You kind of talked about some of the guys that you had to battle for all the way up to until this morning; is that kind of a growing trend in recruiting that you see more and more that most of your battles are done within the last week and is that kind of hard in getting a class?

Coach Rodriguez:  "It's probably not as many going to the wire as their used to be.  I would think five or six years ago there was maybe 10 guys you may be waiting on, as opposed to today that there is three or four.  Some of these guys you guys question, everybody else was still recruiting them too.  So we're not the only ones who research on them.  I'm going to bring it back and this is my last point on these guys.  These other schools do their research too and do not always believe when they say they drop somebody when they did not drop somebody.  Somebody is committed for somebody for over a year and they are still recruiting them last week – still recruiting them last week and they did not drop the guy.  It may have been until the guy decided not to visit there.  Make sure you get the facts…get the facts on everything and pass judgment.  I do not think back to your question…I do not think there is as many battles at the end.  There are a few.  What I think is different is that the battles at the end are more publicized now.  They're making a big deal on it because they're showing it on TV and they're pulling hats out and all that kind of crazy stuff.  Most of the time you know, but there is always a handful of surprises but not nearly as much as there used to be, five, six or seven years ago."

Question:  How much was affected with (Lane) Kiffin and (Pete) Carroll leaving and (Urban) Meyer uncertainty?

Coach Rodriguez:  "No doubt and that was affected in several recruits.  Mark I think that had more of an affect than anything else in some players de-commitments.  In fact one of the guys that you were all asking about, a coach leaving had a big affect on him.  We know that for a fact because one of the coaches that used to coach here and he was recruiting a guy and when he left, it made a difference, because again one of the major factors in recruiting is developing relationships and they get a relationship with a school so obviously they pick the school but let's not be naïve, they also pick the coach, particularly the coach that is recruiting them because they have developed a relationship.  When that coach leaves sometimes it makes them reevaluate it.  Am I going to be comfortable now?  If they have more than one coach leave it is like geez, I had a relationship with him and that guy left and I had a relationship with him – is there anybody else that I know that I feel comfortable with?  So I think that probably made more drama and more stories in the last 2 weeks of this recruiting then it would have been if there hadn't been that situation."

Question:  How much more of a shot does Devin Gardener have to compete at quarterback this year because he got in early?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I think that it helps that he got in early.  I don't know if 15 spring practices can really give you the whole thing, but I know it helped Tate (Forcier).  The difference is that Devin is going to at least have pieces around him that know, at least the veterans that know what we're trying to do offensively and all that.  Again until I see him in spring practice and how quickly he picks up the scheme and all that, I couldn't tell you but I know he is very competitive and he is one of those guys who is eager to learn so we'll see."

Question:  Having 11 commits from Ohio is that a conscious decision that you made or was that just where you found guys that you wanted?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah.  We recruit pretty much the whole State of Ohio.  We have our primary areas which are Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, the Midwest and the State of Florida and then parts of Texas and Louisiana.  Fortunately we have enough of a brand name, the University of Michigan we can go into other areas.  We try to cover pretty much the whole State of Ohio and Michigan and our central, what we call our core region."

Question:  Rich the Regents got an update on the NCAA investigation were you apprised of what was said in the meeting?

Coach Rodriguez:  "No."

Question:  Did that come up in recruiting?

Coach Rodriguez:  "It wasn't as much as I thought.  You'd figure some people would ask questions or try to use that in a negative vein, but it really wasn't an issue at all.  I do not think so."

Question:  How do you find out that one of the schools is negative recruiting you?

Coach Rodriguez:  "You see it all the time because the kids tell you."

Question:  Oh the kids tell you.

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah.  The kids or the parents will say that they said this or they said this coach and you deal with it.  But that's not nothing new.  That's going on and will go on for years.  I'm not going to whine about it.  That's part of the business.  You got to be prepared to deal with that.  Again, it usually backfires through.  I think most of the cases with we did, in our cases it did backfire.  It's like why would they worry about talking about you and not bran about their own school.  So I think you're always better off giving a positive thing talking about your own school and not so much worrying about the other school.  I'm not talking about, hey they run this system or that system, that's common in recruiting.  You can tell them what kind of offense or defense they run, but you got to be used to negative recruiting because there is no rules against it.  Not a big deal, just deal with it."

Question:  What school was it?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I'm not going to tell you.  You mean the one in the Big Ten?"

Question:  Yeah.

Coach Rodriguez:  "I'm not going to tell you (laughter). Do not assume that it was Ohio State.  It wasn't Ohio State, Jim (Tressel) and his staff I have not seen them negative recruit.  They do not do it.  The Big Ten is very classy in recruiting, I will tell you that, very classy."

Question:  Last year you had a number of players that de-committed but this year not as much a problem was that a change in recruiting philosophy that helped produce that type of result?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I do not know.  I just think it was the way it fell.  You're always disappointed when someone de-commits.  Normally you're not totally surprised when this happens.  I think last year, we had a couple of guys who de-committed and all that…who said they were truly committed.  I've said this before, if a guy is committed to you and he is still visiting other schools, he's not truly committed he's just interested.  You got to understand that going in.  Guys have accused of us going after someone that is committed, if he is so called committed to your school he shouldn't be visiting us if he is truly committed.  I think sometimes you got to look at every situations differently.  What we told our guys is that if they are truly committed to us that they are not visiting other places.  We tell them that.  We say listen before you commit have something else to compare it to, make sure you know all the facts and all that for when you truly commit.  So we kind of maybe emphasis that a little bit more, but I think it was just one of those years when they truly committed they felt comfortable enough with their decision and we did not have to worry about it."

Question:  Is that also because most of the core of your class was from close and they were able to come in for unofficial visits and build a stronger relationship?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah no question.  I think the multiple number of times they were here, the more comfortable they felt.  I think that is key and any coach will tell you that.  The more you can get a young man on campus and the more you can develop that relationship with him and his family, the better you're going to feel about him.  With a lot of these guys, we've known them not just for a year but for a couple of years.  We knew when they committed that it was going to be pretty solid."

Question: Rich when you combine your needs at defensive back with the guys that you got today is that maybe the one position where you got better today than maybe more than any other position?

Coach Rodriguez:  "It's a fair question, but I probably couldn't answer again for seven or eight months, something like that.  Certainly it was a position of need.  I do not know how many defensive backs we have on scholarship now but our numbers are way low.  We've probably doubled our number of scholarship kids in the secondary just with this signing class, which makes you a little nervous because now the young guys have got to be prepared to compete but at the same time they're all going to have that opportunity."

Question:  Rich is it difficult to be swayed at all by this star system?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Sure it is.  Recruiting has taken on a whole other life form as you all know.  People get rankings and all that.  Some coaches complain about it but it's not all bad.  I think as long as the kids understand that that is still high school and when you come to college you still have to prove yourself and no matter what rating you have it does not mean anything once you get on campus you're going to have to prove yourself all over again.  I do not think it's created too much of an entitlement on most of the kids, but I think it has created some on some of the kids.  That's what you have to be careful of, but I do not feel that there is any sense with the guys that we're signing to have that entitlement.  Because we tell them we're not in into star rating, we make our own judgment based on film and what we see and what we know."

Question:  I mean even from a coaches standpoint to look at that and say, this kid is a four star kid, maybe we should at least look at him type, especially with the fans and all that stuff?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah, maybe what the fans think, I do not care.  We're going to watch him on film, watch him in person, get to know him and find out what the whole deal is, what the whole story is.  That's the thing that is important.  Meaning that sometimes you look at a guy who is a four star and five star and say, I do not really see it.  Sometime you look and say yeah I see it.  Then sometimes you look at a two star guy or a three star guy and say wow, he should be ranked higher.  Who gives those rankings, I do not know.  I do not want to dismiss the recruiting services because I think for the most part they do a really good job.  I think they do a great job of getting information as far as film out there, getting kids names out there and helping coaches get started on their job.  Their not helping coaches do their job, but they're helping coaches get started on the job and I think the recruiting services whether it is Scout or Rivals and all them have done an outstanding job of expanding that base that coaches can draw from and it gives some attention to the kids.  Once they get here and get into college, they all have to prove themselves all over again."

Question:  Following up on the regents things, wouldn't you be interested in knowing what is going on?  

Coach Rodriguez:  "Sure, we're all interested in it.  I'm sure I'll know in due time.  They'll let me know.  They won't keep me in the dark.  They'll let us know in due time what's going on and everything like that and we'll deal accordingly."

Question:  You talk about building guys up would that be what you point to as far as not having a ton of guys that are 280-290 on this roster?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah, as far as building up the D-lineman up, some of them are already pretty good size, but I think it is important…even though a lot of them come from great high school programs, when you come here and work with Coach Barwis and his staff and get the nutrition and again they are still developing.  They are young men, 17, 18 years old.  So most of them haven't met their maturity date yet, so they are going to grow and it is important that they grown the right way and put on the right weight.  Patrick Omameh, her is an example, a couple of years ago he was in our first half recruiting class whatever it was, a two star guy, Pat Omameh is 250 pounds and now he is 295 or something and he still looks like he weighs 250 and strong as he's ever been.  He started last year a few games and I think he's going to have a great career.  I think building them up the right way is important and once we're confident that we have them in our program we can do that."

Question:  Rich how important was it to get Dorsey the final day and when did you know that you had it sealed up or where you on the edge of the seat as he announced?

Coach Rodriguez:  "There was several of them.  Demar was one of three or four guys that we were unsure of this morning because again there were multiple schools still working it all the way until…until they sign the schools that are recruiting will keep calling them just like we would do.  Until they sign the letter of intent this morning, you're battling the other schools that are calling them every five minutes like we are."

Question:  Is there any chance that you will be offering anybody that is not signed or are you waiting academically?

Coach Rodriguez:  "We're pretty filled.  We may have a spot for one more, but I do not anticipate that, but never say never."

Question:  Because you end up going over 26 how do you deal with that?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Again, we have one or two, one in particular that we think may not qualify, so we're ready to place.  We're able to count one back because we did not fill up the allotment from last year and count one back and count towards last year's class as opposed to this year's.  This is about as big a class as I've ever had.  So we are pretty excited about that part."

Question:  Rich you mentioned it yourself and a couple of other analysts sort of speak have talked about fast and athletic this class is; can you talk about what sort of emphasis that you put on the athleticism of the class?

Coach Rodriguez:  "I had a question earlier about the change in philosophy.  There really is no change in philosophy of recruiting, I think everybody wants big fast athletes that like to run and hit.  We're no different…there always wanted here and everywhere else.  We do need to get faster and I think that's obvious, particularly defensively.  We need to get more competitive and what I mean for that is that we need to have competition at every position.  So if a guy goes down with an injury or something happens, the next guy in there is not as much of a drop off, there is not as much of a worry as far as that goes.  It is very nerve wracking as a coach, you think that you have to have the perfect play called.  I'm not saying that we did, but you'd rather just have guys go out there and be athletic enough to overcome a bad situation or something like that.  Speed is something…you can make guys faster but you can only do that so much.  If a guy can run a little bit when you get him, you hope that he can run even faster after he is in the program."

Question:  That kinds of relates to ceilings then, do you go after guys with higher ceilings as opposed to…?

Coach Rodriguez:  "That whole thing about potential, sometimes if you do recruit just on potential that is a dangerous thing.  You got to get guys that can play.  Some guys you can look at the situation, maybe he's young, maybe he hasn't had as much experience in the weight room or something like that and you can see more potential in him and all that.  You want to have guys that can have production.  So if you recruit just on potential, I think it is a dangerous thing.  You better get guys who can play that have shown they can play."

Question:  On his feelings on his recruiting haul from the state of Michigan.

Coach Rodriguez:  "Always like to have a couple more.  I've always said that it is easier to recruit locally whether it is Ohio or Michigan, because you do not have to worry about them getting homesick and they're going to know you better because hopefully they've been to the campus and surroundings more.   We've got get the right fit for not only our program but for what we need in our offense or defensive schemes but also the right fit for the University and guys that want to be here."

Question:  Only one offensive lineman in the class and three last year; are you satisfied with the numbers in that area?

Coach Rodriguez:  "Yeah because we got three last year and a couple the year before that.  We'll probably take a couple…this year there will be a little bit more emphasis on it.  I would have probably taken one more but it would have taken a spot away from a receiver or something like that.  I did not want to take a spot away from defense because our numbers were so short.  It wasn't a huge need but certainly next year's class will be a bigger need getting some O-lineman. 

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