The Wolverine

November 2011

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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T By Tim Sullivan hough many of Michigan���s past players have come from faraway places like California, Texas and Florida, the Wolverines��� bread and butter recruiting territory has always been ��� and will likely always be ��� in the Midwest. The state of Ohio, in particular, has produced many of Michigan���s best players. Heisman Trophy winners Charles Woodson and Desmond Howard both spurned the Buckeyes before receiving college football���s highest honor as Wolverines. NFL Hall of Famers Dan Dierdorf, Benny Friedman and Tom Mack all headed north to play their ball in Ann Arbor. In recent years, however, the Wolverines��� recruiting in Ohio seemed to dry up. Upon arriving at Ohio State in 2001, Buckeye head coach Jim Tressel vowed to close the borders, and he had excellent success keeping Michigan out. As Lloyd Carr���s tenure wound down, the Wolverines��� total signees from Ohio decreased. Even more troubling, the Wolverines��� ability to land Ohio players with offers from the Buckeyes diminished greatly. Though Rich Rodriguez���s coaching staff took more players on average from the Buckeye State than did Carr���s following the arrival of Tressel (7.0 per year to 2.0, counting the 2008 class as Rodriguez���s), the staff didn���t fare any better in beating out the Scarlet and Gray for Ohio prospects with an offer from both schools. While half of Carr���s signees held offers from Tressel���s staff, Rodriguez could only convince two to sign ��� tight end Kevin Koger in the 2008 crop (who initially committed to Carr���s staff) and cornerback Justin Turner in 2009. Enter Brady Hoke Immediately upon taking the Michigan job, Brady Hoke went to work in his home state. He earned commitments from three Ohio prospects that hadn���t even been offered by the previous coaching staff. Safety Tamani Carter, defensive end Keith Heitzman and linebacker Antonio Poole all chose to join the Wolverines, along with Frank Clark, who previously held a Michigan offer but didn���t commit until after Hoke���s staff was in town. However, none of those prospects held Ohio State offers, nor did the 86��� the wolverine��� ������ November 2011 Invading Ohio Brady Hoke And His Staff Have Made It A Mission To Recruit The Buckeye State Ohio Roots Since taking over in January 2011, Hoke ��� a native of Kettering, Ohio ��� has landed 17 prospects from his home state (seven 2011 signees and 10 2012 commitments). Photo by lon horwedel three prospects that committed to the previous coaching staff. That���s changing, effective immediately. The 2012 class has 10 commitments from the state of Ohio, including three ��� offensive lineman Kyle Kalis, and defensive ends Tom Strobel and Chris Wormley ��� that the Buckeyes wanted. In fact, Strobel had been considered a Buckeye lean prior to committing to Michigan, and Kalis decommitted from Ohio State to head north. Kalis made waves in recruiting circles when he said that more Ohio players would be heading to Michigan, but the evidence to date shows that he had a point. U-M is recruiting as well in Ohio as they have in several years. It���s plain to see that Hoke is doing something that Michigan hasn���t been able to do in a long time: beat the home-state school for prospects from Ohio. Trouble in Columbus and simply outworking the opposition have played a role, but so has Hoke���s background. Though Hoke attended college in Indiana at Ball State, his roots in Ohio and his passion for the University of Michigan are undeniable. A native of Kettering, Ohio, Hoke maintains that he���s always been a Wolverines fan ��� and has never worn red clothing, since it���s Ohio State���s primary color. His passion for both his university and his home state are a benefit to recruiting. ���Especially with Brady Hoke being from Kettering, I think they���re doing a great job to come down and recruit Ohio players,��� said linebacker commitment Joe Bolden, who came to U-M from Cincinnati Colerain. ���Pretty much as soon as they got their staff together up at Michigan, they were down here. All of us recruits are really excited to go up there.��� Bolden���s statement shows that the new Michigan coaching staff has placed an emphasis on recruiting in Ohio. Linebackers coach Mark Smith is Michigan���s primary recruiter for the Buckeye State, and he deserves plenty of the credit for Michigan���s success down south. ���My relationship with Michigan started with Coach Smith,��� tight end commitment AJ Williams of Cincinnati Sycamore said. ���This was my first time ever hearing from Michigan, and they were a new staff. I just knew that tradition, and with the Brady Hoke era, it���s just a great time to be a part of this program.��� It���s not always easy for players from Ohio to choose to become Wolverines, either. The everyday fan in the Buckeye State doesn���t take kindly to ���That School Up North,��� and many of them have taken it upon themselves to let Michigan���s commitments know their sentiments. ���Whenever I���m out at the mall in my Michigan sweatshirt, people come up to me,��� Williams said. ������They���re like ���Tell them this, tell them that.��� I just say we���ll see on Nov. 26. It was a

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