February 6, 2013

Hoke talks individuals, issues

Michigan head coach Brady Hoke took some time to break down the outlook on individual position groups and players in the 2013 class, as well as touch on a handful of issues regarding recruiting.

U-M pulled in three big backs, in Wyatt Shallman, Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith. Although the Wolverines appear thin in that area, Hoke stressed he didn't make any big promises.

"When you recruit, you can make a mistake of telling a guy you're going to do this, you're going to do that," he said. "We don't do that. I obviously educate them on where we're at and what we're trying to do. We educate them on how we're going to play, and the competition that will always be there, if you have a good program."

He does like the potential at the position, though.

"Wyatt is a guy who is very multiple in what he can do," Hoke said. "He can line up in the single back if you want to run some inside zone and knock people off the ball. He can be a short-yardage guy. He can catch the ball, and do those things out of the backfield.

"This is probably putting way too much on him, but he can be like an Aaron Shea, to some degree.

"With Derrick and De'Veon, you have two very physical guys. Both of them have very good instincts … they've got good vision and balance, can break tackles. That's something we felt we were needing."

U-M pulled in a pair of lanky wide receivers in 6-4, 197-pound Jaron Dukes and 6-3, 185-pound Csont'e York, as well as someone who can play big in 6-2, 185-pound Da'Mario Jones.

"Dukes and York both bring you a lot of size. Csont'e and Dukes are tall guys, both basketball guys, both guys with a lot of leverage that can go up and get the ball. At the same time, they've got top-end speed that is something you need to stretch the field.

"Da'Mario is a guy we had in camp that we really liked, in multiple ways. You go through recruiting and sometimes you think, 'We're going to find better. We're going to find better.' We are so pleased with him and what he can do, and his competitiveness."

Hoke also appreciates seeing athleticism, even in positions like defensive line. Maurice Hurst, Jr., for example, stands 6-2, 290, yet played some running back in high school.

"The athleticism, the burst that you want to have -- where you see it best is a guy that is running the ball at 275 pounds out of the backfield. Mo showed us that. If you're projecting that he is going to be a guy up front, a defensive lineman, play that nose and all that kind of stuff, you get that evaluation on the athleticism, the quick twitch and the things you need to have. He's very athletic."

Quarterback Shane Morris has been committed to Michigan for a couple of years now, and Hoke shared what he saw in the big lefthander that made U-M want to lock him up early.

"We liked his vision," Hoke said. "We liked his athleticism. We liked the personality and leadership he showed at an early age, because at that position, you're going to touch the ball every play. His football intelligence, how he was coached, who coached him, where he played - that all is part of it, as you evaluate the big picture. We thought he had all those quarterback intangibles you look for."

One intangible can involve background, such as with offensive line signee Pat Kugler, who has been groomed in a state championship North Allegheny (Pa.) program and has had considerable exposure to the game.

"In Pat's case, his dad Sean was the offensive line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers," Hoke noted. "Pat is a guy who, as a kid, was around the game constantly, going to practices, being a ball boy, making friends with the players. As he grew, those guys would take him under their wing, coach him up a little bit and show him a little more.

"Did that help his development? I don't think there's any question, when you take a guy like that."


• Hoke reiterated his annual reminder that, despite Michigan's lofty recruiting ranking across the various services, he is not moved by the numbers.

"I don't think as a staff, we put a whole lot of stock into those things … you've got to find guys that fit the blueprint of what you want as a program at Michigan," Hoke said. "And you have guys that are football players."

"I was joking with [Jordan] Kovacs. He wasn't even a star. He was like a moon. But every person that watched enough Michigan football, there was one thing you knew - he was a football player. There's a toughness that comes with it, being a football player."

• Hoke makes no apologies for giving a scholarship to long snapper Scott Sypniewski, out of Ottawa, Ill.

"I've always taken a long snapper as a head coach, because they are so invaluable," Hoke said. "If you don't have that mindset, you're going to go into a game and your guy gets hurt, and you're going, 'I wish we had another longsnapper.' That job is so critical.

"The timing is perfect. Jareth [Glanda] is back for another year, and Scott can learn a lot and compete at the same time. He'll learn a lot from Jareth, and that's a real plus.

"We had him at camp, got to see him do it live, got to time him, got to see his accuracy. It probably is a plus that his father played for us at Western Michigan. You knew he had a real heart and love for the game. He's very accurate and he's got the speed you want."

• The U-M coach continues to walk a fine line with early enrollees, of which the Wolverines feature six this season.

"Personally, I think a kid should be a kid," he said. "Your senior year is an important year. That's my personal opinion on it. If you're a guy who has been a great basketball player or wrestler for your team, and your life is moving on, and you're going to move on a little quicker, sometimes I'm not a great fan of it.

"At the same time, that's a family decision that that young man and his parents have to make. It's out there for them, and if that's the direction they want to go, then we're going to embrace them with open arms. This day and age, kids grow up faster than they need to."

• Hoke does not like the NCAA considering a change next August that would make contact with juniors allowable in their junior year, insisting it puts more pressure on high school players and coaches.

He also fended off a question about his policy of not allowing committed players to take visits elsewhere.

"Every situation is a little bit different," he said. "I'm not going to get into personal things that kids go through, but every situation is a little bit different."

Asked if the policy needed to be clarified, he responded by asking who required the clarification. When it was suggested recruits might, he countered: "That would be something I would talk with them about."

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