Updated: Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez on recruiting, hurricanes
“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 ESPN.com.
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 Rivals.com.
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 AnnArbor.com. He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.