Question: It sounded like Carvin Johnson wasn't really on the radar for a while. You guys seemed to sort of brought him into the radar it seemed like.
Fred Jackson: "Last night I'm battling two SEC schools to try and keep him here. Those kinds of things but the kid is a solid kid. He would knock your pants off. He is small and has got great ball skills. He's just one of those guys. He plays on the same team as Craig Steltz from LSU; the same coach said that they are identical kind of players and I think Craig is playing on Sundays right now just a kid that the coach knew was a good player. Once we decided to offer him…he had some offers before us but once we decided to offer everybody else…that's what happens, last night battling for the guy."
Question: How many of those guys are you seeing in this class that were under the radar and then you guys sort of brought them into the radar?
Fred Jackson: "Maybe three or four guys like that. But what happens to you is, I hate to say this but some coaches do this and it is not a good practice. (Former Wolverine) James McKinney… we offered him a scholarship and some people called and offered and did not know who James McKinney is, but I guess that is a bad deal but some people do, do that but seem people trying to shortcut. It happens a lot, it really does."
Question: Both Carvin and Drew (Dileo), both won state championships their junior year and both runner ups this year; how important is it to get those guys who have won and know how to win?
Fred Jackson: "I think that it is important, not saying you wouldn't take guy who hasn't, but at least the work ethic. Both of those guys are from a great high school programs in the State of Louisiana and if you are going to get guys out there, you do not know need to teach them how to work, you do not need to teach them what it's all about. To me is a tremendous advantage to have guys like that already. I know both of their coaches. I've been knowing both of them (coaches) for 15 years or so and they work as hard as any high school kids that have been worked. They'll come right in here and Mike Barwis will get on them and they'll understand what it's all about."
Question: Do you expect either of the two running backs you got to be able to play right away next year?
Fred Jackson: "Somebody got to play. We got some kids who played a little bit last year like (Michael) Shaw and Vince (Smith) and then you got kids like (Mike) Cox who did not play and then when you add Stephen Hopkins and Austin White, I'm pretty excited about this year because there is no heir apparent as to who is going to play. You put all those guys in the room and you talk about the position and what that position requires for them to be successful, it is going to be a heck of a day every day and that's what got me excited. I'm just excited the fact that competition is going to be so great."
Question: Could you have taken another or are you okay?
Fred Jackson: "No I'm good because we got a lot, not a lot but we got some guys who haven't really had an opportunity to show what they can do and now they will get that opportunity this spring and every day I come to practice this spring I'm going to very excited because I want to see who wants it the most. I'm going to put it out there for them and Fitzgerald Toussaint is a name that I haven't mentioned, but he also is a very talented young man. It is going to be very, very interested."
Question: It seems like they all bring something different to the table, is that what you like to see?
Fred Jackson: "You know what somebody asked me that last night and that's the honest the truth – it is the truth. They're not the same. Describe who he's like, but they not like anybody else. Is he like Brandon Minor? Is he like Chris Perry? No he's like who he is and you coaching. The thing about coaching that I've found out over the years with coaching running backs, if you try to compare something, with a kid with somebody else, way too tiring. You got to coach everyone of them different. It's like my drills. I can't do a drill that going to help Austin White and worry about what it is going to do Vince Smith, all those guys are different, they all different. It's a hard job sometimes but that's why you love it. I hate to say it, but I'm more excited this year than I've ever been coach. Jeremy has something to do with that probably because that was a dream of mine. Hopefully to be on the same field as him, but to add all those running backs, it's fun."
Question: What do you like about Austin and Stephen?
Fred Jackson: "I like them both. I saw Stephen at a scrimmage where he carried a ball like 40 times at 230 pounds and he kept on going. He's one of those guys who keeps on kicking. I had an opportunity to see Austin play also and they both got the same thing in them – they got a will to win. And they got a work ethic and they got a motor that is going to make them say okay, when you knock me down I'm going to get up and come at you because you knocked me down type of attitude. I like both of those guys a lot and they know it. I told them, I say let's go fight each other and see what happens, because it's going to be a fight in there. It's going to be a big fight in there – I promise you. I'm excited about that, very excited."
Question: You talked about Fitz a little bit what do you like about him?
Fred Jackson: "Man he's got it all. First of all last year had got something broke that I never heard of in my 29 years of college coaching. The shoulder blade; have you heard of somebody breaking that? But he broke his shoulder blade and then he came back and got healthy. He's got a burst. I'll tell you what he's got. He's got an ability to get into a crowd of people just like Vince and come out the other end of it. He can coil like a cobra – he can strike you. He's got great strength. He's a powerful guy that's why I do not understand the injury he had. On top of those things when you add up just type of first class kid, always smiling…he reminds me of Brandon Graham. I know you guys spend a lot of time with Brandon Graham; he's always had that smile. This kid is like Brandon Graham personality wise. I love that about him. Like I've always said regardless if you win or lose the next day you go to work you want to coach him, you want to coach him again and that's the kind of kid he is."
Question: Can you talk about a little bit about the experience of recruiting your own son?
Fred Jackson: "Well I never recruited Jeremy (Jackson). Jeremy was born in the University of Michigan Hospital. Jeremy pulled the fire alarm at Schembechler Hall when he was three. He has done everything has been here. When he started getting offers from other schools, I never said a word to him. Some of the schools he sort of asked me about it. Like when Les Miles offered him at LSU. He asked me about that. Iowa because of Soup (Coach Campbell), he asked me about those. Some of the other schools like Big Ten schools he asked me about. I never said one word to Jeremy about nothing. I never told Jeremy to go to Michigan and I never told Jeremy not to go to Michigan, but I knew Jeremy knew enough about Michigan that he'll make a smart decision."