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Posted on Wed, Jan 26, 2011 : 2:55 p.m.

Michigan football recruit Keith Heitzman brings flexibility, durability to Wolverines

By Pete Bigelow

Coaching changes at Vanderbilt may have cost the Commodores a shot at landing high school defensive end Keith Heitzman.

Coaching changes at Michigan may have given the Wolverines an opportunity to land the 6-foot-3, 245-pound senior from Hilliard Davidson (Ohio) High School.

Heitzman’s high school coach, Brian White, knows new Michigan football coach Brady Hoke from his previous days as a position coach in Ann Arbor. One of his former players played and coached under Hoke at Ball State.

“I know how our young man will be treated there, and I helped him out with what I could, as to what he can expected,” White said.

Whatever knowledge White imparted was good enough for Heitzman, who gave a verbal commitment to the Wolverines on Saturday.

He wanted a school with a strong academic reputation, which is why he had favored Vanderbilt until the Commodores replaced Robbie Caldwell with James Franklin.

Enter Michigan.

“I was actually considering Illinois for a while, but Michigan came into the picture,” Heitzman said Wednesday. “I actually had a cousin who went to Michigan, and he really liked it, liked the feeling and the atmosphere.

“Plus, being part of the Ohio State rivalry is really cool.” Heitzman should know. Growing up in the shadow of Columbus - Hilliard lies in the city’s northwestern suburbs - he had an affinity for the Buckeyes.

Ohio State had shown interest in him as both a defensive end and tight end, postions he excelled at while playing in 41 games over his final three high school seasons.

But in the end, the Buckeyes received verbal commitments from three other defensive ends earlier, and Heitzman elected to consider his other options that he thought were better fits.

All the better for the Wolverines, White said.

“Keith is a special kid,” he said. “Obviously, I’m a little biased, but he’s got terrific durability. He’s started every one of those (41) games. He’s never missed a game. I don’t recall him ever missing a practice.”

Although Michigan and most other schools recruited Heitzman as a defensive end, a position at which he earned 13 sacks this past season, he’s just as happy to play tight end.

“It’s really whatever helps the team the most,” he said.

That’s an attitude his coach says will help him excel no matter what position he might play in college.

“He’ll probably come in as one of the lesser-known recruits,” White said. “But, and again, I’m probably biased in my opinion, I think they’ll be very, very happy after four or five years.”

Pete Bigelow covers Michigan football for He can be reached at (734) 623-2556, via email at and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.



Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 10:41 p.m.

Make no mistake, Ohio State did not want this kid or he would be there. He is jumping at the chance to go to Mich. so he can play against the team he loved. I hope next year Brady can start recruiting the type of talent he needs to beat Michigan state, Iowa and Nebraska let alone Ohio State and whomever represents the other division in the championship game for the big 10.


Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 4:08 a.m.

Brady Hoke Good Recruiter? 5'11" 175lbs. #151 ESPN Position Rank ATH/S Tamani Carter - Undersized. 6'02" 230lbs. #154 ESPN Position Rank DE Keith Heitzman - Undersized. 5'10" 175lbs. #083 ESPN Position Rank ATH/DB Raymon Taylor - Undersized Could Play S. 6'02" 200lbs. #047 ESPN Position Rank K Mat Wiledown - Down Grade from other Decommits. 6'04" 180lbs. #035 ESPN Position Rank OB Russell Bellomy - Rushing QB He is a Below Par Passer. 6'01" 215lbs. #041 ESPN Position Rank OLB Antonio Poole - Undersized Would Make Good Hybrid. He has done better then I thought he would. At this rate he will fill this class. Great job getting this many near par commits in two weeks. Seems he is recruiting somewhat undersized players? Seems he is recruiting for 3-3-5 base defense? His defense coaches seem to like the 3-3-5. A running QB, should be a good back up for shoelaces.


Fri, Jan 28, 2011 : 12:27 a.m.

Occasionally I read comments like this from people that are not in la la land about this coach, thank you. I'm skepticle about this guy to say the least and I think a lot of kids on this site have no choice but to support Brady Hoke after they got their wish to run RR out of town. I mean what are they going to do complain about Brady , they already sound like chronic complainers oh well, time will tell.

Macabre Sunset

Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 3:19 a.m.

Obviously this isn't huge news. And I see he's coming in as a 230-pound defensive end, so he's going to be in intensive training mode, no question there's a red-shirt in his near future. But I like that Hoke is getting into doors quickly. I like that he made Countess a priority and didn't lose the commit. He's going after line depth and I see a whole host of solid possibilities. Really the best thing he can do under difficult circumstances. I hope he can snatch Chris Bryant and Darian Cooper and replace Jake Fisher with Ryan Nowicki. While that would only bring the recruiting class up to about 20-25th in the country, it would set things up for next season and rescue what was looking like a disaster class.

Jim Nazium

Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 2:32 a.m.

I like the Music in the Highlight Reel, first Jane's Addiction then Motley Crue!!! Good taste in music kid, welcome to Michigan!


Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 12:26 a.m.

If he is good enough for coach Mattison then he is good enough for me and I am geeked for the start of the season. Can not even wait for the spring game. This staff has been doing a bang up job with the time they have had and I am very optimistic. GO BLUE!!!!!!!!


Wed, Jan 26, 2011 : 10 p.m.

OSU would have offered him had they not signed 3 4 star DE's. Hmmm


Wed, Jan 26, 2011 : 9:12 p.m.

Bellomy had an offer from MSU before he commited to Purdue.


Wed, Jan 26, 2011 : 9:05 p.m.

I will not be that impressed until we start winning commitments from kids who are holding offers from OSU and MSU. Right now we are stealing from Vanderbilt, Central Michigan, and Purdue. Big woop.

Jim Nazium

Thu, Jan 27, 2011 : 2:36 a.m.

Hey man, this kid is probably really excited and will most likely read all of this stuff. How about making him feel welcome and not worry so much about "other" schools, especially those "we welcome criminals" schools at the those unmentionable institutions just north and south of us. :-/

1st Down

Wed, Jan 26, 2011 : 10:57 p.m.

Hoke and staff have been recruiting for 2 whole weeks and have received committments from some pretty highly rated players who fill immediate needs of at least depth... give us a break, talk about 'stealing from OSU' next year... right now we have to do as well as we can. BTW we already are stealing from MSU even with this late rush...check out some of our recent commits offers sheets.


Wed, Jan 26, 2011 : 9:41 p.m.

it is the talent that counts not where you steal them from. you never know until about two years later. just as long as they are good is what counts.

Blue Marker

Wed, Jan 26, 2011 : 9:32 p.m.

michboy40, I understand your point but let's take it one step at a time. Michigan hasn't even recruited Ohio very well since Mo. Carr wasn't from Ohio and never did well in recruiting battles with Tressel. Now Michigan has a coach born in Ohio who will network with the high school coaches and bring us a shot at the big time Ohio players in the future. It will take time however, Tressel has put up a pretty high fence around the state.

David Vande Bunte

Wed, Jan 26, 2011 : 8:32 p.m.

Another defensive position recruit. It definitely appears that Hoke and Mattison are committed to reviving the sullied name of Michigan's defense. I like that fact that he was also being recruited as a Tight End...that tells me that the kid has good hands, which can come in handy for those DEs who deflect passes and just can't quite hang on. PS. Whoever posts the links to these articles to MLive should recheck the HTML code. It didn't load properly.

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Jan 26, 2011 : 8:32 p.m.

This is nice. Good to have depth at tight end - I look forward to seeing more packages utilizing blocking tight ends. I'm sure he'll red-shirt. Any word on Jernigan? ESPN says we're still in the running there. When does Willingham have his presser today?


Wed, Jan 26, 2011 : 8:26 p.m.

That was a great reel . . . of a great kid . . . Wow . . . fighting off double teams for tackles . . . chasing down running backs from the opposite side . . . Look forward to seeing him play . . . and graduate!