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Posted on Sun, Dec 6, 2009 : 10 a.m.

Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez on recruiting, hurricanes

By Dave Birkett


Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez talks to reporters Thursday at the annual Michigan Football Bust at Laurel Manor Banquet Hall in Livonia. (Photo: Lon Horwedel |

Rich Rodriguez spent much of the past week out on the recruiting trail, and the Michigan football coach said he’s been well received despite his team’s second straight losing season.

“I think guys are pretty intelligent,” Rodriguez said Thursday before Michigan’s annual football bust. “They follow you. Most of the recruits, certainly all the ones we’re talking to now, understand the process we’re going through and they’re excited about the future.”

The Wolverines landed their 22nd verbal commitment on Friday from Youngstown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney safety Ray Vinopal. The 5-foot-10 Vinopal chose Michigan over offers from Bowling Green and Kent State, according to

Barring any decommitments or grayshirts - players who agree to delay their enrollment until next December - that leaves Michigan with 3 scholarships left for 2010.

The Wolverines’ most pressing needs remain on defense, where they’re mining for talent at linebacker, in the secondary and along the defensive line. Rodriguez said Michigan will host two more official visit weekends before the holiday break, and some assistants are out recruiting for 2011.

“We have a lot of needs and some of them are more obvious than others, but I think we’ll fit them,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t know how many will play as freshmen, but we’re certainly recruiting them with that opportunity. We never make any promises. Most coaches don’t guarantee, ‘Hey, you’re going to start as soon as you get there.’ But the opportunity to get the type of education that we can provide and to play at this type of program is pretty appealing, I would think.”

Rodriguez said “5 or possibly 6” recruits plan to enroll early, and most of those who do already have been accepted. Ann Arbor Huron receiver Jeremy Jackson and Florida safety Marvin Robinson are among those expected on campus in January.

Jackson and quarterback commitment Devin Gardner are among the prospects currently on campus for official visits, according to

Hurricane warning? Rodriguez is catching flack (here, here and elsewhere) for referencing Hurricane Katrina in his speech at Thursday’s banquet when talking about the adversity his team faced this year. But Rodriguz's comments were actually playing off a speech given earlier in the night by regent Katherine White.

Here’s Rodriguez verbatim:

“Regent White talked earlier about, uh, it’s really kind of ironic that the New Orleans Saints overcome the hurricane a few years back. And I used to live in New Orleans, coached there for a couple years (at Tulane), and I know how devastated that city (was) and how they overcome and rebuilt their stadium, rebuilt their program from the ground up. And we’ve had a few hurricanes of our own. And we had a big hurricane in August and it kind of hit us like a ton of bricks. But you had 120 young men and a bunch of people on staff say this is not going to tear our program apart. In fact, it’ll do just the opposite, bring us together.

“This senior class at this head table and some of the underclassmen that were leaders took charge of this football team and said nothing is gong to tear this team apart, and nothing did. We didn’t end the season the way we wanted, we didn’t win as many games as everybody would like, but don’t tell me that this team is a failure.”

I didn’t hear White’s speech. I was out in the lobby writing my story on Donovan Warren probably declaring for the draft.

But an athletic department spokesperson said White compared what the Saints went through - from not having a home and lacking top-line talent to beating the Patriots to go 11-0 last week - to the rebuilding process Michigan football is in now.

White, who is out of the country, confirmed the substance of her speech in an e-mail.

"I mentioned that I was comforted by (the Saints') perseverence through their struggles and the struggles still suffered in the region," White wrote. "From adversity comes strength. I am comforted by this because the UM football team has faced adversity and through this they, too, can become stronger."

Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.



Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 11:52 p.m.

I'm not really bashing LC, he is still my 2nd all time favorite UM coach behind Bo. I'm just saying UM's demise as a top football program started in the 2005-2007 recruiting classes which involved attrition and weak recruiting of LB, DB and FS. misopogon had a great diary on mgoblog several months ago that pretty much summed up the demise of our defense. Smith is transferring since he could not crack the starting lineup and let Kovacs out perform in practice. He realizes that one of the red shirts or true freshmen will get the start next season. Warren is going to the NFL this year since a rookie cap limit will be in place for the 2011 draft, so I don't blame him trying to get the $. I don't know if RR will work out here in the long run but I'm willing to give him a fair chance when his recruits start playing by 2011 and 2012. I just don't see how you can stamp RR as a failure.

Sean T.

Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 3:08 p.m.

Fresh1.... He also was competitive every year and brought in more than 2/3 star players and wasn't getting bolled over all game because they schematically were undersized. He showed he can recruit and that is why he got the "5-year plan" and it is why they are reaping the benefits today. We wouldn't be having this conversation if RR was showing promise! Face it, we are no better than when he got here and you can blindly bury your head in the sand and wait for your "king" to magically sprinkle his spread magic over the program, but I feel it's a grave mistake! He's got to show 2 signature wins in the conference or 4 Big Ten bottom feeders like MSU,Purdue,NW and Indiana. Those signatures better be Penn St and the Suckeyes or at least one of them.


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 9:55 a.m.

@chosen 'maybe' doesn't fit the bill with what Michigan fans are currently forced to deal with. We have SOME talent and that's about all I'll give our squad right now. I'm just so jaded with this whole 'process' that we're forced to endure. I didn't realize how much of a spoiled brat I was about Michigan football until we became this current catastrophe that were in the middle of. I just see no end in sight to our pain. It sucks to live in Ohio right now:(


Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 7:46 a.m.

Lol dave W is a horrible coach hes had 5 years to recruit and turn it around not people jumpin on his back..

Sean T.

Tue, Dec 8, 2009 : 2:02 a.m.

What you may have forgotten is Dion Lewis plays for a "REAL" coach in a "REAL" offense!

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 6:13 p.m.

What would be your alternative to the services? Chosen1's ratings? You do understand that RichRod isn't magic and being able to recruit coveted players is a major skill. And a rushing leader is the product of coaching, offensive lines, schemes and several other important factors.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 4:29 p.m.

to those who put stock into the stars ratings: Dion Lewis at Pitt who is in the top 3 rushing for the year as a freshman was a 3 star and wasn't being heavily recruited by any college. He was rated the number 150 rb in the state of New Jersey. Now he's able to laugh about his rating. Maybe this 2 star kid will turn into a defensive standout or maybe he won't but you can't determine that based on stars

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 3:56 p.m.

That's true. RichRod's goal is to generate victories with players who have unique physical abilities - speed above everything, elusiveness, mind-reading, aromatherapy, and alchemy. Next year, he hopes to find a wide receiver who can double as the village blacksmith. His ultimate dream is to beat Ohio State with a group of one-star sixth graders. He has yet to implement the "Musical Chairs" and "Capture the Flag" variations in his RichSpread playbook.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 2:37 p.m.

yeah. strength. that's the opposite of what we have.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 11:18 a.m.

Jim Knight is there any way the AA staff can check on this whole brandon smith transfering rumors


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 11:15 a.m.

Im glad to see us real mich fans standing up for the school and players not just for RR. We should be mad for LC not carin about recruiting we all seen the MBlog on the recruitin from 2004-2008 all LC years besides part of 2008 and you can read that and see how msny players left droped out and never was replaced..Tom Hagan ive know uve seen that blog on mblog but thats RR fault that LC recruited kids that dident stay or couldent make it yup RR thats ur fault LC left you with 4 seniors and zero D help. And if im talkon crap about LC drinking the KOOL-AID read that article then come tell me from 2004-2008 was RR fault in recruiting.

Jim Knight

Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 11:13 a.m.

Two comments were removed because they focused on attacking another commenter.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 10:50 a.m.

Laugh@ look what nick saban did LC is barley on nicks level let alone richrod coach v coach is just a crap statement. This was RR first year with his guys 2008 i dont know who counts that we all new 2008 was gonna sux and we hoped we'd get better this year and from last year and we did, next year is RR real 2nd year with most of his offensive guys,RR will have his 2nd year turnaround like he always does in his real 2nd year commin up. And all you people who want us to go back to pro style and this crap watch Osu get smoked by the ducks in the national spotlight.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 10:40 a.m.

There you guys go again: Blaming Lloyd Carr for Rich Rod's failure. It is a vicious cycle that you guys keep recycling over and over again when you run out of excuses for Rich Rod. What happened in the Carr Era has nothing to do with the Rich Rod Error. The only thing that Carr should have done better would have been to have a plan for his successor in place and have worked with the athletic dept. more to get someone in as the new HC who knew what he was doing. For whatever reason, Carr kept his retirement as a "secret" (even though everyone knew it was coming) and he should have been more open about it so the University could have put someone in place. That was Carr's only error here. The attrition of players leaving because of Rod, terrible football, personal issues off the field, NCAA possible violations...that is all on Rich Rod...and you guys know it. So lets get off of Carr's back. This mess is not on Lloyd. trublu, Michigan football blogs and forums are reporting that Brandon Smith has his transfer papers...check out forum for more....its only a matter of time before the news outlets pick it up as it is apparently true. Smith came to Michigan as a big, athletic safety who Carr recruited and he decided to stay after Rod got hired. Instead of keeping him at strong safety which is his natural position, they put him at LB and messed with the kid's development and head. Only later this past season did they move him back to safety, though in the free spot rather than strong when they probably realized what a huge mess up they had back there. No way that Jordan Kovacs (a good kid) would be anything more than a special teams player under the previous coaches at Michigan. B Smith and Woolfolk should be the starting safeties and Boo Boo and Warren at corner....however none of that will happen and you can blame the players and Lloyd all you want, but 3 of those kids will be leaving before next year, and that is on Rod.


Mon, Dec 7, 2009 : 1:42 a.m.

Yeah, several months ago Hagan was a big RR supporter. I hate koolaid but to blame this mess all on RR is ridiculous! Mr. Carr started this demise by having plenty of NFL talented players on his team and he still lost to a division II school at home. Next season will be another tough one around.500, but RR should be given til the end of 2011, when most of his first year recruits are finally on the field. If we are still around.500 or even less than 8 wins after the 2011 season (I'll let him stay with 7 wins at the end of 2011, as long as one of the wins is against OSU!) then it will be time to boot him back to WV. I'm still betting that by 2012 and beyond UM becomes a perennial BCS team under RR.


Sun, Dec 6, 2009 : 11:21 p.m.

trublu...I never called you a "loser"...and I dont know where you got that from. You should amend your post or attribute that insult to someone else. Thx.


Sun, Dec 6, 2009 : 11:18 p.m.

Well another talented player, Safety Brandon Smith is reportedly transferring. Why are all of these players leaving Rich Rod? Is it the "new system" as the Koolaid drinkers say? Nope. If so, then we would see such attrition all over college football with a new hire, which we do not. The fact is that these players that leave see Rod as what he is: an incapable ball of hot air...narcissistic to a fault....and most importantly, way in over his head as HC at Michigan. It is time for Rod to go away.

Macabre Sunset

Sun, Dec 6, 2009 : 11:18 p.m.

Based on analysis of where NFL players were born, you'd be making a huge mistake to ignore Michigan and Ohio as sources of elite talent. Ohio in particular produces far more NFL players per capita than most states. Yes, the southeast states are consistently on that list, and it's well worth a coach's while to venture to Louisiana and Florida. But there's plenty right here, too. And I am sad to see Michigan State doing so well with Michigan's top high school seniors. We did get Gardner. We should have gotten William Gholston and Max Bullough as well, instead of the Spartans.


Sun, Dec 6, 2009 : 10:44 p.m.

tier, sorry. Tears is probably more appropriate considering the subject matter.


Sun, Dec 6, 2009 : 10:41 p.m.

trueblue, Loser comes from the record in the B10. 3 wins in 2 years. That is not progress. It is not success. It means you are what 3-11 in the B10 over 2 years. I don't know what kind of slant you can put on that other than loser. Year 3 Richrod goal win 3 B10 games. Year 3, Saban win a national championship. That sounds like a loser to me. What would you and your ilk call it? Progress? Well, no wonder RR is competing with second tear MAC teams for 2 star players.


Sun, Dec 6, 2009 : 5:06 p.m.

I've followed Michigan recruiting since the 1970's. One thing that's obvious is the shift in high school talent to the south and southwest. This is logical given the general shift in population out of the rust best to warmer climates. Granted, Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania still put out some very good players. But, the numbers aren't there anymore. Florida, Texas, California, Georgia, Alabama, Arizona, and Louisiana (among other states) produce more talent than the local schools can absorb. So, Michigan MUST recruit these states more heavily. Still, I think we should not ignore Michigan either. I hate to see big time players leave this area to go to L.S.U., USC, Florida, etc. This is one area RR needs to do better in. We've lost some players to M.S.U. and O.S.U. that we would not have lost years ago. Overall, this year's recruiting class is not great, but it's not bad considering how awful our last two seasons have been. We need to close out this year with a bang. Hopefully, we can find a really good LB, D-lineman, and another lights-out d-back before we're done. Go Blue!


Sun, Dec 6, 2009 : 3:40 p.m.

Michigan is falling out of the spotlight very quickly. I'm sorry but most kids nowadays don't remember the Michigan of old. Tradition is not going to be enough to pull in these players. If rich rod doesnt fix things in the next year or two michigan is gonna start to REALLY struggle to recruit anyone.

Sean T.

Sun, Dec 6, 2009 : 2:56 p.m.

I understand that RR's scheme uses smaller and speedy players but can't it work with bigger and faster players? As far as defense is concerned it may not necessarily be the talent since all of the holdovers from LC were highly touted. And we have to be honest about snatching a 2-star recruit away from a MAC school, that it is not very inspiring. I'm not saying bash the kid because hopefully there's a high ceiling for his potential but with 2-star players, you need at least 2 years before they touch the field. 3-star players may touch the field after one training camp depending on depth and growth. 4-stars, could fill-in immediately or start and 5-stars are expected to make an impact the moment they touch campus. And to clear up the noise over Mr. "Big-Time" Mike Hart. He was only a 3star because he played at a small high school and didn't have a great forty-time(4.68)and he wasn't very tall. But he impressed the coaching staff with his production and intangibles and his "HART" for the game. The staff knew he would make an impact from the moment they saw him and he did. He's probably one of the greatest college backs to touch the field this decade. So if this new kid can do what Hart did for us on defnse then I'll love him but he doesn't even appear on every college ratings service, so he'll just be a good back-up for the next coach.


Sun, Dec 6, 2009 : 2:42 p.m.

"We didnt end the season the way we wanted, we didnt win as many games as everybody would like, but dont tell me that this team is a failure." Interesting. Did anyone pose the question to RR whether this team was a failure or not? The truth is, this team IS a failure under RR. He would not have felt the need to bring it up if it wasn't true! What a clueless, classless HC! IN MICHIGAN WE TRUST


Sun, Dec 6, 2009 : 1:12 p.m.

Raddes, Sounds like loser speak to me. When you can't talk about football in terms of winning and losing you find other things, right? How about Michigan being last in the B10 in scholar athletes on its football team! So, not only are they last on the field they also came in last in the classroom. Grow up man. You sound like a loser chearing for a loser.


Sun, Dec 6, 2009 : 12:39 p.m.

"trueblue"...those like you who blindly support a coach who has torn down one of the most storied programs, both on and off the field..a man who is clearly the worst coach in program history by far..a man who lacks both moral fiber and coaching ability and who's continued presence at UM guarantees at least several more years of hardship is FAR more Sabotaging than those of us who see the Truth, and simply are calling it like IT IS.

Courtney Sims

Sun, Dec 6, 2009 : 11:21 a.m.

Leathercouch, I read it as Dave defending Rich and pointing out the idiocy of those slamming him and the agenda-driven Freep for reporting it in the first place. Even in the original story, he just mentioned "hurricane" not "Hurricane Katrina." Sometimes Rich deserves to get ripped. This is not one of them.,


Sun, Dec 6, 2009 : 11:18 a.m.

What concerns me is that we beat out Kent St. not Ohio St. and Bowling Green to get this recruit. This young man is from Ohio, yet Ohio State didn't recruit him.


Sun, Dec 6, 2009 : 11:12 a.m.

Hey rightmind, Jan, 2007..Saban reported making ethnic slur Nov, 2007 after the loss to ULM...referencing 9/11 and Pearl Harbor and how UA will need to fight back like America did to these attacks. RR haters need to stop being hypocritical...I understand that winning is the cure-all...but you're on a UM site with a coach who made a derrogatory comment (told you he wasn't polished) and comparing him to another coach who did the same....very hypocritical...Hey, let's talk about or go after Urban Meyer as a coach with his 31 arrested players.....It's amazing what our so-called fans will "excuse" for some wins.....even when the wins will start coming anyway..... Be a true fan...Go RR/Go Blue


Sun, Dec 6, 2009 : 10:12 a.m.

Saban in his 3rd year has taken Alabama from nowhere to the National Title game. Alabama was nowhere near the team that Richrod inherited. They had been through 4 HC's in 7 years prior to Saban taking over. No excuses were given or accepted he just went to work and produced. No make believe or self inflicted hurricanes etc. Richrod is a complete fraud. Let's see how he does in year 3.


Sun, Dec 6, 2009 : 8:59 a.m.

Oh wo is me and I can't handle all this despair. To frigging bad boys and girls cause ya just might git another gut full before this thing turns around so quit your crying and bellyaching and support your team or somebody cause I guarantee ol rr is going to be here for the long haul. While we're at it let's get some crowd noise going. You boys and girls want to see the Wolves back up there with the elite well remember this is a team sport and part of the team is the fans and game crowds and don't tell me it's becuase of rr cause they were quiet and subdued for the most part under the last 3 coaches. Visiting teams always comment on how big the stadium and crowds are BUT how subdued the fan noise level is and that's a fact. I guess now that ol Pete Carrol had a lousy year USC better fire him. Boys and Girls it ain't gonna happen and not only that but they'll support Pete more than ever and that fan support will make a huge difference in USC's comeback over the next 2-4 yrs take it to the bank. Some of you boys and girls must lead awfully boring lives the way you pick on rr well here's a news flash don't get your pantie's in a knot cause this thing is going to go North for us and sooner than you think. Let's knock off the crybaby stuff and support OUR team and coaching staff. Do you guys think I enjoy seeing this suffering from my beloved Wolves and the Mich. fans. I live in the High Desert of Southern Cal. and I fly my Mich. flag on game day, how do you think I feel when our team gets beat up. The way I handle this is with a firm conviction in favor of our team and the coaching staff and for that people respect me for sticking with Michigan. Do you really think anyone respects your opinion for turning against rr and the team. Everyone who knows anything about sports knows there is a price to pay for the winning years and right now Mich. is paying its dues whether you like it or not. Get with the program and enjoy this period it's going to make the up-coming winning years so much better.


Sun, Dec 6, 2009 : 8:43 a.m.

WOW RR beat out BG for a recruit


Sun, Dec 6, 2009 : 6:10 a.m.

No prob about the recruit. It all depends on how the player adjusts to the game while on the team. If everything fits, that player can show. The prob is with RichRod, he has shown no signs of improvement in 2 years even with a new QB. His teams regressed and the talent played below par. His team this year is better than a 1-7 Big Ten record but played uninspired football. Meanwhile, the 1-7 tied for last place record in the big ten is coupled with an NCAA violation investigation. Did anyone know if Bo or Lloyd was investigated with alleged NCAA violations? Only been in UM for 2 years and had the program investigated. 2 years of losing bowl less seasons and last place in the Big Ten. Losing to rivals Michigan State and Ohio State in back to back seasons.


Sun, Dec 6, 2009 : 3:15 a.m.

Good points on the Steve Slaton, Pat White and Mike Hart who were 3 star prospects who became some of the best players in their programs. Im guilty thou bout the 2-star players thou, but rating players from high school is different from rating [ayers in college. Many step up, i dont see Terrell Pryor being a huge weapon (he is good but not consistent) and he was the top prospect in the nation. Roy Roundtree came up big late in the season and he a 3-star player. Brandon minor was a 3-star player also. Graham on the other hand was a 5-star player, but it wasnt the 5-stars that made him so beast. He just played his heart out. I would rather have a 3-star player who plays his heart out and makes plays than a 5-star player who doesnt do so well. O yeah other teams have impact players that were 3-star prospects like Lamicheal james at oregon. That guy is a beast. Offensively i think any prospect will do good. Defense thou i kinda think it matters cuz many high rated defensive prospects do better but hey anyone can be an impact player it just matters how much they want to win. RichRod knows wat hes doin, when he builds the program to the top he will have talented players that will want to play their best for him like 3-star players and UM will be dominant again. I give RichRod 2-3 more years and UM will be among the elite programs. P.S. U guys make it sound like UM has crap recruiting then why r they #20 on the class rankings? it may not be as high as we want it to be but its up there. And by signing day UM will get top-end Defensive players. JUST have faith GO BLUE!!


Sun, Dec 6, 2009 : 12:49 a.m.

I'm glad for the kid and wish him the best of luck. He couldn't have picked a better University to attend. Michigan truly is a special place, despite what's happening with the football program right now. We have always gotten kids like this to attend and play for our football team. The difference between now and the past is that we never recruited them and gave them scholarships. They may have earned them as walk-ons, but they didn't get them right out of high school, unless they were some how connected, i.e., a coach son. RR effort so far this year has been,... uninspiring. While I don't want to see another losing season, I think we going to get it. 2010 = 4-8


Sun, Dec 6, 2009 : 12:11 a.m.

ha dave. again the michigan/richrod bashing/drama. your stories never change.

Macabre Sunset

Sun, Dec 6, 2009 : midnight

Mike Hart had a good team around him, a good offensive scheme, great character and the man did not cough up the football. He was a great college ballplayer, and will probably never reach 100 yards rushing in his NFL career. That's making the most of a three-star recruit. A two-star safety that was wrested away from a pair of MAC also-rans? Count me skeptical. The difference between three stars and two is enormous. Major colleges do not usually pursue these players.


Sat, Dec 5, 2009 : 11:46 p.m.

Mike Hart is not an exeption.From the way i see it he is the norm.Colt Macoy Sam Bradford, both three stars.What do they know?Nothing.


Sat, Dec 5, 2009 : 11 p.m.

@The Grinch: RichRod has yet to show an eye for talent? Who was that three star QB he recruited at West Virginia that other schools wanted as a wide receiver (and who originally committed to LSU)? Oh yeah, Pat White! How about that three star RB that was White's right hand man that RichRod recruited? Steve Slanton. Yeah, he turned out pretty good, too. WVU (9-3) did pretty well with Jarrett Brown at QB this year, too. Oh, he's another three star recruit from RichRod's days. But I get it... the recruiting sites tell you that Vinopal is a two star athlete, therefore he must suck and some of you must bash him and the coaching staff instead of welcoming him to the Michigan family. Way to show your support. Bravo...

Sean T.

Sat, Dec 5, 2009 : 8:26 p.m.

I'll except the kid because you never know the growth potential of an individual. I just really wish we ran a pro-style offense instead of that version of the spread we have in AA. Saban's pro-style offense looked pretty good today against the ever-so dominant Spread. "Balance and Toughness" the true gridiron way! Kid, please pack on the muscle while you're here.....You're gonna need it.

The Grinch

Sat, Dec 5, 2009 : 8:26 p.m.

Yeah, Mike Hart was a special kit recruited by.... wait for it.... LLOYD CARR. Nimrod is yet to show that he has any such eye for underrated talent.


Sat, Dec 5, 2009 : 7:38 p.m.

Mike hart was only a 3 star recruit give people a chance tom hagan.


Sat, Dec 5, 2009 : 6:15 p.m.

Wow! We beat out Bowling Green and Kent State for a 5'10" safety. I can't wait till next year


Sat, Dec 5, 2009 : 6:12 p.m.

hey least we beat out Kent State and Bowling Green to get him!!!


Sat, Dec 5, 2009 : 5:33 p.m.

more drama and another 2 star recruit...