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January 7, 2006The odds seemed against it, but today Destrehan, La., cornerback Jai Eugene decided to take his game to the Big Ten conference and don the Maize and Blue of Michigan. A speedster with great ball skills, Eugene becomes the second defensive back commitment in the class of 2006 for the Wolverines, joining his fellow All-American, Steve Brown.
"Next year I will be playing football and getting my education from the University of Michigan," announced Eugene on NBC's broadcast of the Army All-American game Saturday.
A four-star prospect, Eugene picked Michigan over LSU, Miami, Florida and USC, among others. But LSU was the team most had the 5-11, 175-pound Eugene going to in part because of the instate connection. After an official visit to USC, Eugene had said the Trojans were too far from home for him and that seemed to imply that his choice would be LSU, or at least a Southern school.
One dynamic that may have played into the decision for Eugene was that he only took two official visits and one was to Michigan. The Wolverines hosted him the weekend they played Ohio State, after which he said he ensured Coach Carr they would be in it until the end.
On that visit, Eugene developed a relationship with Michigan running back Mike Hart and the two maintained their friendship even when he returned to Louisiana. How much that aspect played into the decision is not totally clear, but considering Eugene made his decision during the off week when coaches were not able to call you can bet an individual like Hart paid dividends for Michigan.
With the commitment of Eugene, Michigan now boasts 15 total commits, including 12 from outside the state of Michigan and four from the South.