Erik Magnuson stands 6-6 and weighs in at 275, so saying he's a big part of Michigan's recruiting class sounds redundant. But the offensive tackle out of La Costa Canyon High in Carlsbad, Calif., is convinced he might be Michigan's lucky charm.
"I think I'm good luck," Magnuson observed. "I go up there and they win."
The senior's quip referred to the two Michigan football games he attended this season - Notre Dame and Ohio State. Those bookend thrillers delivered a good time for any recruits in attendance. For those already committed to Michigan (like Magnuson), they represented confirmation of what they already knew.
Football life is going to be awfully good in Ann Arbor.
"I committed pretty early, because I felt like Coach [Brady] Hoke is going to bring in the right recruits," Magnuson said. "He's going to turn the program around. If I didn't have that confidence in him, I wouldn't have committed."
Magnuson has built confidence in Hoke over a long time. He saw most of San Diego State's home games over the two-year period when Hoke was the head coach there. That's when Magnuson developed a relationship with Hoke, who delivered the first scholarship offer the big tackle received.
When Hoke moved to Michigan, Magnuson grew momentarily worried that the switch might affect this standing. What followed confirmed his views on becoming a Wolverine. Hoke not only extended the offer at a bigger venue, he didn't act bigger than he did at SDSU.
"I'm not saying other coaches are fakes, but he's always been real," Magnuson said. "He doesn't think of himself as a big-time coach. You get the feeling around him that he's just another coach."
Hoke insists Michigan is not just another school, and that came through loud and clear to a West Coaster who didn't have any strong team affiliations.
"Everybody knows about Michigan," Magnuson said. "Growing up, I really didn't have a team. I've always watched football on Saturdays, but I'd watch everything. It made it easier. I didn't have just one school I wanted to go to."
And yes, Magnuson has noticed he's not the only high-profile pickup for the Wolverines along the offensive line. He's excited about that, for a number of reasons.
"If you want to be the best, you've got to play against the best every day," Magnuson said. "The coaches are doing a great job of bringing in the best players. It's going to be a battle, and it's going to make us better on Saturdays."
La Costa Canyon head coach Sean Sovacool and offensive line boss Dale Henry are both convinced Magnuson will more than measure up. Henry calls Magnuson one of the three best offensive linemen he's mentored in 35 years in the coaching profession.
Sovacool, meanwhile, noted Magnuson demonstrated his versatility by becoming an effective two-way play this season. La Costa Canyon hadn't needed him on defense previously, but he stepped up as a senior and performed effectively as a lanky defensive lineman.
"He developed well," Sovacool said. "He started to make some really big strides. He was a two-way starter for us this year. In the years prior he had only been playing offense. He was too good of an athlete and player to leave off the field.
"We got him going, and he really started to figure things out. It was different for him, but he started to separate himself. He ended up with a handful of sacks the last couple of games. He's such a great athlete, and as big as he is, it was only a matter of time before he started to pick it up on that side of the ball."
Of course, Magnuson made his name - and earned his scholarship - on offense.
"We had two bookend guys that were very special," Sovacool said. "We based a lot of what we did off the perimeter, gashing the edge. They were almost too big for their own good. It was tough to get past them, with a quarterback not being as tall.
"He also did a great job in the U.S. Army All-American game. He did a solid job, played every series but a couple. He played left and right guard, and did that very well. He held his own, if not more."
Henry grades on a 0-1-2 system. A blocker gets a zero if he misses a block, and Magnuson drew one of those this season, for which he took endless grief.
"He just doesn't miss," Henry noted.
A one is represents a less-than-satisfactory effort, while a two means a blocker got the job done, even if the technique is less than perfect. An additional category (three) got added for an exceptional effort.
Magnuson racked up 35 "threes" as a senior.
"It's not exactly putting a guy on his back," Henry said. "Let's say the ball is on the left hash and Erik is playing left tackle, and he takes the guy off the sideline, into the bench or the coaching area - that would be a three."
"The other [tackle], it would be his goal to push the guy off the other sideline. It became a battle between the two of them. It was fun."
So was Magnuson's relationship with Sovacool, a long-time Ohio State fan. Michigan's triumph in November got the incoming tackle into the spirit of the rivalry early.
Asked if he had anything to say to his head coach, Magnuson laughed.
"Oh, of course I didn't," he quipped. "He'd been talking crap about seven or eight in a row, whatever. I said, 'Okay, we'll see after this game.' I rubbed it in a little bit."
Magnuson's opportunities in that area are just beginning. He's ready to help block out any memories of the Buckeyes holding the upper hand in the rivalry.
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