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Friday, July 26, 2013
Barbecue in the Big House preview

By Tom VanHaaren and Chantel Jennings

With Michigan's annual barbecue being held on Saturday and Sunday, WolverineNation gives you a quick primer for the event.

The history of it: It’s one of the few carryovers from the Rich Rodriguez era, and it has been a successful event in the past for the current Michigan coaching staff. We’re seeing more and more college coaches present these laid-back events in order to give recruits a different feel for a visit.

What happens: The event is called a barbecue, but it’s more of a get-together than anything. The families are given a bus tour of the campus and facilities, presented with the academic side of the program and have the ability to have any questions answered. They all get to see the box level of the Big House and inside the stadium as well. There is eating and food involved, and of course the recruits get to see the locker room.

Logan Tuley-Tillman, Derrick Green, David Dawson, Kyle Bosch, Chris Fox
Logan Tuley-Tillman, Derrick Green, David Dawson, Kyle Bosch and Chris Fox at the 2012 barbecue. All five ended up signing with Michigan.
Past commitments/impressions: Running back Derrick Green came in for the barbecue last summer, and while he didn’t commit at the event, it played a big part in getting him to sign with Michigan. Offensive lineman pledge Mason Cole (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) took his first visit last summer to the Barbecue in the Big House and it really set the tone for his recruitment. He was looking for a school that he felt comfortable with the entire coaching staff and the atmosphere of the barbecue allows for that kind of foundation to be laid. It also gives a chance for the committed prospects to do a little in-person recruiting, which never hurts.

Why it’s important this year: It’s important every year because of the nature of it and how it allows parents and prospects to have in-depth conversations with not only Michigan coaches and commitments, but also other prospects going through the same process. It should be the most highly touted group of recruits Michigan hosts until the night game against Notre Dame. But during a game, coaches will be focused on the field, of course, and parents and recruits won’t have the same luxury to really have in-depth conversations with the coaches.

The who’s who: Obviously running back Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/St. Augustine) -- ranked No. 1 in the ESPN 300 -- is the headliner, but the 2015 class has several interesting prospects, too. Wide receiver George Campbell Jr. (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) will be coming up with Cole for another visit and this kind of event could strike Campbell’s fancy the way it did for Cole. Defensive back Shaun Crawford (Lakewood, Ohio/St. Edward), who grew up a Michigan fan, will be in attendance, as will a 2015 crew from Detroit Cass Tech that includes quarterback Jayru Campbell, running back Mike Weber and defensive lineman Joshua Alabi. For the full list of prospects visiting, click here.

The takeaway: There is always the chance that a prospect decides to commit at the barbecue, but even if that doesn’t happen, it’s not a loss. This type of event can help produce results down the road as well. Much like the past few years, Michigan is hosting some underclassmen this weekend. Attending an event like this so early in the process could have a big impact going forward in their recruitment. Getting some top 2015 targets and their families on campus is likely a future benefit.