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Posted on Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 10 a.m.

Linebacker recruit Kellen Jones confirms commitment to Michigan football team

By Pete Cunningham

For Michigan football recruit Kellen Jones, the news that former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Greg Mattison will fill the same position with the Wolverines is music to his ears.

And to his cell phone.

Barely an hour after the announcement Wednesday that Mattison was hired by new football coach Brady Hoke, Jones - a 6-1 208 pound linebacker from St. Pius X High School in Houston - said he received phone calls from friends and family about the man who has led one of the NFL’s most feared defenses the past two seasons.

Mattison now will be charged with restoring the reputation of a once-proud defensive tradition at Michigan.

Jones, rated the 28th-best linebacker by, said he can’t wait to be part of that process.

“Yes sir, it makes me feel very good that the defense will get back to the way it used to be,” Jones said. “Back to being a top defense in the country.”

Mattison and Jones have shared the same sideline once before. On Dec. 13, Jones had the opportunity to meet his favorite player, Ray Lewis, when the Ravens played the Houston Texans.

Florida State Heisman trophy winner Charlie Ward - who is now a high school coach at Westbury Christian in Houston - arranged the meeting as a favor for Jones’ father, who is an associate of Ward’s and member of the same fraternity, Omega Si Phi.

“It was great to meet (Lewis). I was going nuts,” Jones said. “It was an honor to meet him. It was all thanks to Mr. Ward.”

“I got a chance to talk with him and he was telling me how he studies and how to get ahead. So if I get confused by something coach Mattison is teaching us, maybe I can get a hold of Mr. Lewis and he can help me,” Jones said with a laugh.

Jones said he assured running backs coach Fred Jackson on Monday that he intended to honor his verbal commitment to Michigan when Jackson visited Texas. Jones did the same over the phone recently with Hoke.

Jones visited the University of Colorado last weekend on an official visit, but said that was more of a courtesy to that coaching staff, which he said had treated him well during the recruiting process.

Though Jones said that now he’s positive he wants to be in Ann Arbor in the fall, he admitted that the uncertainty following the firing of Rich Rodriguez concerned him.

“I’m not going to lie, I was nervous, was a little worried with the program with who they were going to choose,” Jones said.

One of Jones’ past experiences with a coaching change made him weary. Georgia Tech had shown interest in him prior to hiring defensive coordinator Al Groh last year, but not since. After speaking with Jackson and Hoke, he said he was assured that wasn’t the case at Michigan.

“After talking to Coach Hoke, I’m definitely going to stay with Michigan,” Jones said.

Michigan football recruiting commitments



Thu, Jan 20, 2011 : 11:13 p.m.

Kellen - I met you during a recruiting weekend, and your committment to michigan is certainly welcomed. I wish you the best in Ann Arbor. May you be the best linebacker in the history of Michigan football man!!


Thu, Jan 20, 2011 : 2:01 p.m.

@dusty There is a fight club we just don't talk about it. lol


Thu, Jan 20, 2011 : 3:31 a.m.

It looks like we could salvage this recruiting class, possibly break the top 30. Can someone send "The King" an autographed RR hat. AS ALWAYS, GO BLUE!!


Thu, Jan 20, 2011 : 3:04 a.m.

People, people. Don't feed the Trolls!!! I think what you'll see is a few these kids we've "lost" to other programs suddenly changing their minds. I can't wait for signing day and the Spring Game!


Thu, Jan 20, 2011 : 1:10 a.m.

@theo I am glad to see you have passed the denial stage and understand that you are not a true fan. These are your words "Being a true fan, however, I hope I am wrong. But, sadly, I've been around too long to know that I am not." Also glad to see you can answer all the questions proposed to you.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 9:45 p.m.

Theo212 wrote: 1st down: run off tackle (1-yard gain) 2nd down: run off tackle (2-yard loss) 3rd down: incompletion on unimaginative pass play 4th down: mediocre punt Here's what it was with Rodriguez, particularly later in the season when good defenses zeroed in on the RR gameplan: 1st down: DRob run 2 yards 2nd down: Drob run 1 yards 3rd down: Drob pass high or dropped 4th down: blocked punt I'm starting to believe the pure "spread" that RR ran is truly going obsolete. Like all offensive schemes they enjoy their day until defenses get them figured out. The spread is not indefensible. Particularly so when the spread consists of one very good running QB and pretty much nobody else.


Thu, Jan 20, 2011 : 10:20 p.m.

Dusty, If you'd care to read my comment again with a keener eye, you'd notice I was talking specifically about the national championship game and not the entire season. I never claimed their offenses weren't a key to their success. My point was defense was king when these two offensive powerhouses met in the Title Game. Their great spread offenses were irrelevant when great defense showed up. Oregon has the 12th ranked scoring defense in the nation. While Auburn's overall defense was ranked 60th, their rushing defense was ranked 9th in the country, which prevented Oregon's 4th ranked Rush offense from doing much. Defense, defense, defense. I stand by my statement.


Thu, Jan 20, 2011 : 3:35 a.m.

Sir, neither of those teams would have sniffed the title game without the offense they produced. To say their spreads were "irrelevant when it came to each team's strong defense" is just plain false. Hell, neither team has a "strong" defense. Auburn's was something like 55th in the nation. The rust from 6 weeks between games creating turnovers was what stopped the offenses, particularly early.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 10:44 p.m.

I think the hope is that Mattison builds a defense that is versatile to defend both spread and pro-set teams. Both Oregon's and Auburn's defense were victorious against both types of offense this season. While their spread offenses were exciting, the NC came showed us that their style of offense was irrelevant when it came to each team's strong Defense. It's sadly hilarious when, after Michigan gets upset by App State's spread and torched by Oregon's in 2007, rather than finding a coach that can make our defense more versatile, we ignore our defense completely and get a guy who can bring a spread offense. The offense was running well enough under Carr. It was the defense that needed adapting.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 10:21 p.m.

DonAZ: Oregen disagrees that the pure "spread" is going obsolete. And be fair: no offense does much when it consists of a very good QB and nothing else.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 9:33 p.m.

An outstanding MLB and a 3.4GPA!?! Welcome to the University of Michigan Kellen. The snow is hard getting used to, but hearing 100,000+ fans cheer for you isn't. -Go Blue!!


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 11:42 p.m.

@BlueGator Not sure if you were responding to DonAZ's comment or mine, but what I meant was the snow is hard getting used to for a kid coming from Houston Texas (Sunny with a high of 60 today) to Ann Arbor Michigan (Cloudy with a high of 19) and going to a school that sees a lot of snow every single year.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 10:44 p.m.

I agree that playing ball in the weather is a very minor factor. People like to exaggerate the cold up here. It gets cold, but it's not miserable cold until december/january/february. Any kid tough enough to play FBS football at this level is tough enough to play a game when it's 36 degrees out.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 10:34 p.m.

@Dusty, I fully agree with what you're saying about classes. No getting around that. I was speaking only as regards someone worrying about actually playing football in the mess. (Sorry, I should have made that clear.)


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 10:19 p.m.

The athletes don't leave the school when the season ends. They have to live in the snow for the entire winter, regardless of whether or not they play in it. Those of us who have spent our whole lives in it have no clue what it's like to spend your first winter here as a young adult. Like it or not, the winters factor in. Particularly to a kid who grew up in Florida, Texas, or southern California.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 10:10 p.m.

I think it should be pointed out to recruits that we historically don't really play that many games in the snow. It does happen, but very infrequently. What, maybe once every 5-10 years? For example, did Steve Schilling ever play a game in the snow in his entire U-M career?


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 9:47 p.m.

Snow is something NFL players must contend with. So I see that as a recruiting positive. Sell it.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 9:37 p.m.

Brendan Gibbons disagrees.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 9:21 p.m.

No need to attend any games this year. Quick summary of our new, improved "offense": 1st down: run off tackle (1-yard gain) 2nd down: run off tackle (2-yard loss) 3rd down: incompletion on unimaginative pass play 4th down: mediocre punt Repeat. Do not pass Go, Do not collect Crystal. Being a true fan, however, I hope I am wrong. But, sadly, I've been around too long to know that I am not. Go Blue


Thu, Jan 20, 2011 : 2:01 p.m.

Dusty, you know better than that. RR got full credit for his 3 years here, and now it's Hokemania time ... he'll get full credit for everything from now on.


Thu, Jan 20, 2011 : 3:32 a.m.

Uh, if we win 10 games this year, then Hoke doesn't get all of the credit.

1st Down

Thu, Jan 20, 2011 : 2:28 a.m.

Poor Theo...his bitterness will revoke his seat on the USS Hokemania once we win 10 games this year... You will have to come back with a different user name Theo for your inevitable jump on the USS Hokemania ship..... Go Blue!


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 11:34 p.m.

I suppose a better alternative that we saw against most of the good teams would be 1. Denard runs 2. Denard runs 3., Denard runs 4. ball get to the 10 yard line and they fail on thiid down. Kicker misses field goal or they screw up the fourth down play 5. Opponent takes over on downs and 10 plays later is in the end zone. Sometimes a punt is a good play.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 9:20 p.m.

There isn't any doubt that young players are aware of what coaches have done, and that will definately help in the recruiting process. The addition of Greg Mattison will obviously help the defensive effort (finally).


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 9:11 p.m.

The only thing that worries me about Greg Mattison is he has always stepped in to situations where he was left a great defense and then did a good job of maintaining success. He doesn't have an example on his resume where he stepped into a cesspool anywhere near the magnitude he's about to and turned it around. Then again, he's not exactly taking over the same defense we just saw on the field this season because he'll have the injured players returning, about 10 defensive sophomores with at least a year of trial-by-fire experience, a bunch of kids who just redshirted, and presumably an entire defense eager to prove they aren't as bad as they have looked.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 7:14 p.m.

@theo Do you consider Florida to be a 'national power' or just another flash in the pan program? Just wondering what you thought on them since they are going to start running the pro set again. Please try to understand this, since the sane ones are getting tired of tell you again and again, all the schools in college run stuff from every type of offense. At least the ones with good coaches do. Just because your 'guy' is gone doesn't mean you won't see your beloved 'spread' anymore.


Thu, Jan 20, 2011 : 8:33 a.m.

The 1st rule of Fight Club.....There is no Fight Club!!!


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 5:59 p.m.

Off tackle runs from the pro set. That's what we need! I think in a few years we'll see ourselves in the Citrus Bowl. I hope we don't do any of that crazy (quarterback running the ball, GASP) stuff and, you know, try to compete on the national level. No sir. That would upset too many "fans". Me, I vote for the Citrus Bowl.


Thu, Jan 20, 2011 : 1:48 a.m.

Competing on the national level doesn't upset ANY fans. Failing miserably while cheating in the attempt does.

dading dont delete me bro

Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 5:47 p.m.

sounds (and looks) like a great recruit! he even has had some meetings w/ravens dc when there. boy, gone are the ho hum highlight tapes when i was looking around w/my tape.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 5:44 p.m.

I'm excited about Hoke, but didn't this kid commit to UM in July? Hoke didn't recruit him. Hoke just didn't lose him. Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 5:37 p.m.

Things are looking up and Michigan fans should be excited. Coach Hoke has energized the players and their enthusiasm is contagious. I suspect Kellen Jones' past experience with a coaching change made him wary not weary. Although, I know how very tiresome it is to deal with mass speculation.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 5:30 p.m.

Let the floodgates open! This is a nice pick up for The Blue. I hope that Coach can also get the kicker he originally recruitedfor SDSU.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 4:27 p.m.

Very good news indeed. VERY nice highlight video. Kellen Jones is a super quality recruit for Michigan - good student and he appears to be a very talented player. He has a real motor it looks like from the video. He and Morgan are going to be very good linebackers for Michigan. Jones will need to hit the weight room when he gets here to put on at least 15-20 pounds, so redshirting will be a good idea if Michigan can afford it. If Mattison plays a 4-3 defense, Jones looks like a great OLB prospect. I'd like to see a 3rd LB in this recruiting class, since Michigan is very weak in this area depth wise. But after losing Frost to Auburn (most likely), I see the likelihood of that a lot less. Anyway, Go Blue and keep the recruiting machine stoked!

Sean T.

Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 4:25 p.m.

I expect him to redshirt that way he can build himself into a "mike" linebacker. He doesn't show very good lateral speed on film but he has a nose for the ball and an obvious knack for making plays. He's a Big Ten LB after with proper coaching and a true trainer. No more little and fast, we're gonna have big, fast and vicious.

Blu n Tpa

Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 4:14 p.m.

P n LK Only if he coaches like the WCiMFH did in his last three games. But my guess is, and you're starting to feel it aren't you, this COACH and this COACHING staff has the experience and knowledge to take those players already here and those who want to come to Michigan back to the WINNING tradition. Pretty soon, your voice will be like the tree in the forest. If it falls and nobody's listening, does it make a noise? If things continue to improve at this rate, supporters of the last guy wont be able to have enough hangers on to play a decent hand of bridge. Go Blue!


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 3:59 p.m.

I hope young Mr Jones realizes they'll probably be a head coaching change by his 3rd yr.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 10:09 p.m.

David, I am sure that he does; probably "that school in Ohio".

David Briegel

Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 4:55 p.m.

You should find another team to "cheer for"! Go Brady! Go Blue!!

Blu n Tpa

Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 3:47 p.m.

"It's beginning to look alot like Christmas". Geez, "what a difference a day makes." Wow, "night and day." (OK, I'll stop with the song titles) First, it's not just keeping some of these guys but hearing how excited they are about coming to Michigan and playing defense. That's call team building and I love it! I expect to see a ground swell of interest in coming to Michigan and on both sides of the ball. I know some of these guys aren't going to start but some of them have skills that can be used on special teams right away. Kellen Jones, if he doens't redshirt, would be a force coming down the field or blocking on the kick/punt teams. The tight ends/special teams coach has a ton of experience with STs and improving that will be a high priority since it dictates field position for both offense and defense. Keep it up and GO BLUE!


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 3:12 p.m.

Sold after talking to Coach Hoke ... why do people say that Hoke cannot recruit? This player is clear evidence to the contrary. Looking forward to next season! I hope we can get a bloody kicker! Not having one was inexcusable at this level of play.