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Friday, February 15, 2013
Borges recruits on his word, old game tape

By Chantel Jennings

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Al Borges has fought an uphill battle. With old game film and an offense on the field only slightly resembling what he hopes is the end product, he has somehow made offensive recruiting work for Michigan.

For the Wolverines the past two years was a “yes, we’re recruiting you to play in a pro-style offense, but we can’t really show you that right now.” So Borges had to reach into the vaults and rely on game film from teams he coached who didn’t wear the winged helmet to show top prospects what they’d have the chance to be a part of at Michigan.

“Sometimes you have to go back and show them what you did in the past because they have to see what you’re getting to,” Borges said. “And still, we had some of that stuff in our offense, it just didn’t come up as much because we were in so much shotgun and running the quarterback so much. Lip service only goes so far. They have to see it.”

But for some players, Borges’ word was enough.

Al Borges
Al Borges has shown recruits tape of his offense at UCLA and San Diego State to show them what Michigan will become offensively.
“He’s 100 percent honest and you know he’ll tell you what he means,” recent 2014 QB commit Wilton Speight (Richmond, Va./Collegiate School) said. “A lot of coaches will come in and tell you one thing and really know that something else is going to happen with the recruiting process. But I know when Coach Borges tells me something it’s what I’m going to get.”

Borges told Speight that what he had seen on TV on Saturdays over the past two seasons wasn’t what he’d eventually be running.

It didn’t hurt that Speight’s QB coach, Steve Clarkson, had a previous relationship with Borges, and Clarkson’s eagerness to vouch for Borges was key.

“I know that if my quarterback coach can trust this guy then I have no problem with trusting him as well,” Speight said. “I didn’t look at any tape. I just know they ran it at UCLA and San Diego State and some pretty incredible places, so I have no doubt that we’ll be able to put together some pretty great things with this style at Michigan.”

Like Speight, tight end signee Khalid Hill (Detroit/East English Village Prep) said Borges’ word and track record was enough for him to believe he would be able to play in an offense where he’d be a featured element.

“I really trust Coach Borges to put me in the right situations,” Hill said.

The coaches showed Hill and other tight end prospects game film from San Diego State and UCLA.

The position groups Borges had to use past game film with most often were running backs and offensive linemen -- both of which ended up being major hauls on signing day.

“They want to see: Am I going to be able to come off the ball? Am I going to be able to run downhill? Because I don’t see it, what you’re doing right now,” Borges said. “But we showed them and they understood and they know what direction we want to go. That’s why they decided to come here. If they weren’t sold we were doing that they would not be coming here.”

And players such Derrick Green (Richmond, Va./Hermitage), the No. 5 running back in the country, and David Dawson (Detroit/Cass Tech) and Patrick Kugler (Wexford, Pa./North Allegheny), the No. 2 and No. 3 offensive guards, were sold on that. Old game film might’ve put them over the top, but it’s Borges’ word that will get them to their eventual destination.

Watch List offensive lineman Mason Cole (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake), a top Michigan target for 2014, said he has no problem trusting Borges and offensive line coach Darrell Funk when they tell him about transitioning through the offenses.

“I see the type of people they’re recruiting, and Coach Borges is known for the pro-style offense,” Cole said.

He trusts them enough that he already has made two trips to Ann Arbor and has another visit planned for the weekend of Feb. 24 for the Illinois-Michigan basketball game.

With a highly ranked 2013 class and a solid start to the 2014 class, Borges is putting his word out there and hoping he continues to pick up top talent.

“I think when it’s all said and done, they’ll go to the place they trust the most,” Borges said. “Isn’t that really most of it, anyway? If they believe that you’re going to do your best to take care of them and do what you say you’re going to do, guys are going to go for that. Not everybody. But most guys are, and those are the guys you probably want.”