California prep star visits Ole Miss

Greg Herrick, Michael Herrick's father, flew to Oxford with his son, one of the top QB prospects on the West Coast. Herrick senior knows about recruiting - he's the women's basketball coach at the College of the Canyons.

Valencia (CA) QB Michael Herrick, a 6-1 1/2 175-pound gunslinger, visited Ole Miss over the weekend. He was accompanied by his Dad, Greg, a veteran college coach.

The senior Herrick was "wowed" with Ole Miss and said Michael is too.

"I've been around a long time and understand the recruiting business," said Greg Herrick. "I know what to look for and we were both extremely motivated by our visit.

"We've been to Maryland, Virginia and all up and down the West Coast and from our viewpoint Ole Miss was the best we've seen, from the campus to the stadium to that wonderful football facility (IPF). I don't know what else anyone could ask for. Everything is beautiful and all under one roof. And I can't imagine the feeling of running out of that tunnel in front of a packed house. Thinking about it made the hair on our necks stand up."

Mr. Herrick said distance was not a factor for Michael.

"For me, the distance was a pain in the butt," he laughed, "but that will not be a factor with Michael. If it is the right fit, Michael will go there. I have another son (Robert) who attends the Naval Academy and has been on the East Coast for three years. We will support Michael's decision no matter where he goes. A lot of people on the other side of the Mississippi River think California kids want to stay on the West Coast. That's not the case necessarily. What they want is to play big-time football for schools who are serious about their sport. Ole Miss is one of those."

Mr. Herrick is also a believer when talking about Coach Ed Orgeron and his plans for the Rebel program.

"Michael is a competitor. You can see it in his eyes. You can tell Coach O is the same way - highly competitive and highly motivated," said Mr. Herrick. "He will get the job done at Ole Miss. I've been in the coaching profession 27 years and you can feel when someone has 'it.' He has 'it.' He's motivational and inspirational and he has a track record of success."

Michael, said his Dad, is a student of football and appreciates the competitiveness of the Southeastern Conference.

"He basically looked Coach O in the eye and told him he just wants to play big-time football and he's very aware of the SEC. It gets no better than the SEC. We are personal friends with the Clausens, who have had three sons in the SEC," said Greg. "They live here near us and they say there is nothing like the feeling of a fall afternoon in the SEC. We listen when they talk because we respect their experience. Michael wants to play in the best conference and that's the SEC."

Mr. Herrick said the decision where Michael will go is some time off, but it will be Michael's decision with some advice from him.

"We were both motivated by the visit to Ole Miss and I am aware of the recruiting process. It's important to make proper evaluations and my advice will be an advantage to him, but it will be his final decision," Mr. Herrick noted. "He will lean on me because of my experience, but when it all comes down, it's the choice he will have to live with so he will make it."

We asked Mr. Herrick to take off his Dad hat and put on his coaching hat, if he could, and give us an unbiased evaluation of Michael's talents. Remember, Michael is only 16 years old and has already thrown for 7200 yards in two years as his high school's starter.

"I try to find young quaterbacks who do certain things better than Michael so I can tell him 'that's what you need to be doing,' but it's difficult," he explained. "Nobody on the West Coast throws the ball better than Michael. His arm is strong and accurate and he reads defenses quickly. He's a bright kid too.

"He went to the Elite 11 Camp here with 90 QBs and the Nike camp with about 90 QBs and was named Top 5 in both of them. A lot of college coaches, including Ole Miss' Noel Mazzone, told Michael's high school coach that he's the most accurate passer they've ever seen in high school and he has one of the quickest releases."

While that's his Dad talking, Mr. Herrick can also back it with stats.

"Mission Viejo was the number-two rated high school team in the country last year. They outmanned us at every position, physically. Michael threw for 350 yards in the Division title game. If he throws for 2800 yards his senior year, he will be the first QB in the history of California prep football to throw for 10,000 yards in his career and that includes John Elway, Tom Brady and Ken Dorsey, just to name a few," he noted. "And we're not talking about a lower high school division. We had the second toughest schedule in Southern California last year. Also, we had three playoff games. Michael completed 63% of his passes in the regular season, but 70% in the playoff games - he knows how to rise to the occasion in big games.

"I'll say this - and I know he's my son - but if Michael were a 200-pounder and maybe an inch taller, he'd be the number one high school QB in the country, I believe. And what's funny is that if he was walking by your house out on the street, you'd think he were a skateboarder and not a football player. He's thin now because he's only 16, but he wears a size 14 shoe. He'll grow into that. All his uncles are over 6-3 and big people. I'm shorter than that, but he takes after his Mom's side of the family."

So what's next? A lot.

"Michael and his Mom are going to try to go back to Ole Miss for the LSU game. We've been told that is a great atmosphere," Greg Herrick closed. "He's got a lot to digest this fall, but we are excited about his prospects and we are definitely excited about Ole Miss at this stage of his recruitment."

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