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August 15, 2013Signing Day surprises were becoming an old hat by the time the 2008 class came to be, but this was different. This 11th-hour commitment elicited vitriol, venomous comments from a fellow Big Ten coach, who accused Rich Rodriguez of being a snake-oil salesman.
No. 6 - Roy Roundtree - 2008
A 6-1, 154-pound receiver from Trotwood, Ohio, Roundtree hadn't generated a ton of attention. He held offers from Nebraska and Purdue, along with Eastern Michigan, Miami (Ohio) and Toledo.
Connecting with the Boilermakers and head coach Joe Tiller, he picked Purdue on May 31, 2007, eight months before Signing Day.
"When we went to the Nike Camp [in March], me and my dad were running around seeing how campus is," Roundtree said at the time of his commitment. "They have nice football facilities and a nice area to play football. It seems like a football town."
Roundtree remained committed to Purdue through the summer and the fall, visiting West Lafayette officially Oct. 5. He wore the black and gold proudly, but when the coach recruiting him left Purdue, Roundtree considered the possibility of looking around.
His mom had always been enamored with U-M, and with Madison teammate Brandon Moore a Michigan commitment and teammate Michael Shaw visiting Ann Arbor two weeks prior, Roundtree took a last-minute trip Feb. 2, four days before Signing Day.
"Obviously Purdue has been recruiting him from day one and he's built a lot of ties with them, but the coach that recruited him is no longer with the staff at Purdue and that's a little bit of a change," Trotwood offensive coordinator Jeremy Beckman said.
"He's going up there and is keeping an open mind. He's not going to just throw Purdue aside because he's visiting Michigan, but he's also going to look at it as a potential to commit to the Wolverines."
First things first, which meant Roundtree needed a scholarship offer from U-M. That came Feb. 5, on the eve of Signing Day.
Roundtree wasted little time, telling the Michigan coaches he wanted to be a Wolverine, and sending his fax letter in.
"Coach Tony Dews, the wide receivers coach, was recruiting me at West Virginia, and he had said 'Tree, it's not over until Wednesday the 6th.' And then when he transferred over with Coach Rodriguez and the staff to Michigan, I was like, man, I might have a chance," Roundtree said.
Roundtree wasn't the only switch; Shaw also signed with the Maize and Blue, reneging on a commitment to Penn State.
"I decided 20 minutes before I signed," Shaw said. "I didn't sleep the whole night before. I was just thinking about my decision. My parents and I sat down with my coach and we just went back in forth on it. We finally came to the conclusion that Michigan was for me.
"I'm excited about it. I was still debating on my decision, and after I finally made my decision, I thought just me and Brandon were going together because Tree [Roundtree] didn't tell anybody. He didn't even tell his parents, so that was a big shock.
"We all had kind of been thinking about what it would be like if we all got to play with each other outside of high school. We didn't know how that would turn out, but it's crazy how it worked out that three of us can go to the same school."
And that was that. Well, until Tiller got in front of the microphones and went off.
"If we had an early signing date, you wouldn't have another outfit with a guy in a wizard hat selling snake oil get a guy at the last minute, but that's what happened," he said, before calling out Roundtree and Trotwood-Madison next.
"On the other side of the coin, maybe the guy did you a favor. It makes you wonder about the kid, the people surrounding him, the people in that high school who would let that happen.
"I can say this: We won't go back in that high school again and we won't be the only institution not to."
Roundtree was too small when he first arrived on campus, and he would redshirt in 2008, avoiding the drama that occurred when Michigan tripped to Purdue that fall (and subsequently lost 48-42 in one of Rodriguez's infamous contests).
In 2009, he was in danger of making little to no impact again, catching just a single pass in the first four games when two elements collided together. The first was Roundtree coming up with a huge TD reception with 0:02 on the clock in securing the game-tying touchdown at Michigan State. That clutch catch won him some admirers in the locker room and the coaches' room. The second was an injury to lead receiver Martavious Odoms three weeks later at Penn State.
With Odoms out for games against Illinois, Purdue, Wisconsin and Ohio State, Michigan needed someone to fill the role of slot receiver, and Roundtree earned the job. In those four contests, he would catch 30 balls for 390 yards and two touchdowns.
A star was born.
U-M's starting slot from the onset in 2010, Roundtree put together a monster season, catching 72 balls (sixth in the single-season annals) for 935 yards (15th) and seven touchdowns (20th). He set the single-game record for receiving yards with 246 in a triple-overtime 67-65 win over Illinois, eclipsing Jack Clancy's 44-year old record by 49 yards.
In 2011, with a move to the outside receiver position in Michigan's hybrid pro-style offense, Roundtree saw his numbers and opportunities drop precipitously, to 19 grabs, 355 yards and two scores as he tried to fit in. However, the junior rose up when called upon, hauling in the game-winning 16-yard touchdown against Notre Dame with (sound familiar) 0:02 left in the game.
"In the huddle, I told Denard [Robinson], 'Throw me the ball,'" Roundtree recalled. "You've got to want the ball. Being out there in front of 110,000 people, on national TV every weekend, you have to be confident."
Roundtree was confident he would finish his career with a flourish, and though he never came close to equaling his 2010 production, he did have a memorable senior year, catching 31 balls for 580 yards and three touchdowns, including a masterful performance against Northwestern (five for 139) that featured a highlight-reel Hail Mary grab.
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