Thursday, June 13, 2013
Region Series Quick Hits: Southeast
By Chantel Jennings & Tom VanHaaren
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Quick Hits is a look at the must-know facts for each region in regards to Michigan and its football recruiting efforts. It will give you an idea of the Wolverines’ history in that region, as well as what one can expect from that region over the next few seasons.
1. How many players on Michigan’s roster are from the region?
Michigan’s top returning receivers -- Drew Dileo and Jeremy Gallon hail from the Southeast. They weren’t Brady Hoke recruits, but rather Rich Rodriguez guys when Rodriguez combed the Southeast for top recruits and under-the-radar talents. Kicker Brendan Gibbons comes out of Florida, as does defensive lineman Richard Ash. Fellow lineman Quinton Washington is out of South Carolina.
2. Which main targets are in that region now?
In the 2014 class, two of Michigan top wide receiver targets are from Florida -- Corey Holmes (Fort Lauderdale/St. Thomas Aquinas) and Artavis Scott (Tarpon Springs/East Lake). Despite growing up in Florida, Holmes became a Wolverines fan in the heart of enemy territory. Scott attends high school with 2014 offensive lineman commit Mason Cole, giving Michigan a constant presence in Scott’s daily life. In the 2015 class, the Wolverines have also offered another classmate of Coles, wide receiver George Campbelll. Athlete Jacques Patrick (Orlando/Timber Creek) also holds an offer from Michigan (as well as nearly every other school in the country).
3. Which top former players came from the region?
Denard Robinson was a great catch from Deerfield Beach, Fla.
The one that probably pops to mind first would be recent graduate Denard Robinson. Former offensive lineman Jeff Backus, who played for Michigan and then the Detroit Lions for 12 seasons, came from Norcross, Ga. Wide receiver Anthony Carter, who left Michigan as the school’s leader receiver, was a Florida native. Anthony “A-Train” Thomas was plucked from Louisiana. Also, you can’t forget former offensive lineman and current hair champion Steve Everitt, who came to Michigan from Miami.
4. What is Michigan’s current presence in the region?
With a commitment from Cole and two other wide receiver recruits in Scott and Campbell, the Michigan presence has been heavy in west Florida. However, even outside of Cole and his teammates, the Wolverines make their presence felt in the Sunshine State. “There’s a huge population of Michigan residents, people that come down here part time in our state and our area,” East Lake coach Bob Hudson said.
Florida was one of Rich Rodriguez’s go-to destinations to pluck prospects -- the recruiter for that region then was Greg Frey -- but Hudson said that even though the Wolverines have secured fewer commitments, he still believes the Wolverines have put an emphasis on Florida. Hudson also pointed out that it has helped Michigan’s recruiting that the team has traveled south for bowl games (specifically, the Outback Bowl in Tampa this past season) because it allows recruits to almost take an unofficial visit without having to spend the money to get to Michigan. “It drew a lot of interest and excitement,” Hudson said. “We can drive over there and check them out as opposed to getting on a plane and all the expenses associated with that. … I think that’s a draw for teams to get to come down here and play in a bowl. It might not be the national championship, but there are some good bowl games in Florida.”
5. What is Michigan battling in the region?
The SEC. In much of the South, and specifically the Southeast, the SEC is king. Kids grow up wanting to play for Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia or LSU, and those kinds of dreams die hard. And as long as the SEC continues to dominate college football, the Wolverines will continue to fight this uphill (and generally, losing) battle against the Les Miles and Nick Sabans of the recruiting world.
6. Why is it important for Michigan to have success there?
The presence of 7-on-7 passing leagues is hyper-prevalent in the Southeast for offseason training. Because of this and yearlong nice weather, players can develop their skills on the field every day of the year. And when they aren’t with their 7-on-7 teams, they’re with their high schools training in spring practice. Some of the top prospects year in and year out come from this region, and programs fight to land those athletes for a reason.