The Wolverine

March 2014

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 36 of 213

"You feel you have to do something. We have a set of core values. Coach [Brady] Hoke has laid the groundwork and said, 'Look, this is who we are. We're not going to waver from who we are. These are the athletes we're going to recruit.'" Michigan's class of 2002 stands as the second-smallest in the last quarter- century. Still, the 17 student-athletes in that group provided some big-time performers as well. Wide receivers Jason Avant and Steve Breaston bolstered U-M's fortunes on offense, while linebacker David Harris became one of the Wolverines' best. At the same time, eight of those players — nearly half — left Michigan before their eligibility expired, meaning those contributing as seniors were cut down to nine. Michigan also featured 19 players in the class of 1996 and the class of 1997, with offensive line stalwarts Jeff Backus, Steve Hutchinson and David Brandt coming in '96, along with defensive standouts linebacker Ian Gold and safety Tommy Hendricks. The '97 class produced running back Anthony Thomas, of- fensive lineman Maurice Williams, and a trio of defensive backs — James Whit- ley, William Peterson and DeWayne Patmon — that immediately contributed to a national championship season. There will always be recruiting misses, and smaller numbers certainly can make it tougher. Hoke & Co. will be looking for the hits, early and often. — John Borton Larry Foote (17) and Victor Hobson (6), who developed into stalwarts at linebacker for the Wolverines, were part of U-M's impactful 19-man class in 1998. FILE PHOTO

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