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May 22, 2013

Hoke talks recruiting success, more on the Huge Show

Michigan coaches will get a bit of down time in July, but not much - they're too busy building future champions in Ann Arbor. Hoke told the Huge Show's Bill Simonson Wednesday there wasn't one secret to their recruiting success.

"No. 1, it's Ann Arbor and this great community," Hoke said. "I think when you look at the academic pedigree at Michigan, top 15 in the world when you look at institutions, the fact we are the winningest football program in the history of college football. Add that with a bunch of guys as a staff, the people - academics and on campus when we bring families in - it's such a good situation in the relationships built during the recruiting process."

They've done it so well in the last few years - perhaps as well as any program in the country - that they've almost made it look easy. It's been anything but, Hoke said.

"It's never easy," Hoke said. "You're competing against great institutions, great programs. But to be honest, it's Michigan. Michigan is something we believe in, and a lot of people from a national perspective, instate obviously - this is a special place. There's really something that appeals to people. We have a great community in Ann Arbor. All those things go hand in hand."

Leading to one top recruiting class after another, with no end in sight.

Notebook

  • Michigan started to develop its depth this spring, on both sides of the ball.

    "The offensive line, the defensive line -Taylor Lewan making a great example of wanting to finish his career at Michigan," Hoke said. "The leadership Devin Gardner, Taylor, Thomas Gordon and Quinton Washington with all the young kids. The attitude and commitment they've made to each other we really like as a coaching staff.

    "When you talk about the improvements, we lost five games which is unacceptable. In those five games we turned it over 28 times. You can't win football games when you play that way. The big emphasis was we've got to take care of the football. At the same time the running game, playing the running game and being more disruptive up front, those things [we worked on]."

  • Lewan gave the program a huge lift when he chose to return, Hoke said.

    "When he made his announcement at the press conference in January and was asked why he give up millions, he said, 'you obviously haven't played football at Michigan.' That speaks volumes for the love he has for the University of Michigan and this football program.

    "He has been committed, dedicated as a leader in everything we've done this summer, throughout spring football to really show his teammates this is important. He wants to win a Big Ten championship badly. He was a first team All-American, and he wants to do that again and be part of something that's bigger than him."

    Redshirt junior quarterback Devin Gardner, too, has emerged as a leader.

    "He has done a tremendous job of really the maturity - he graduated three weeks ago in three years," he said. "He is sharp, intelligent and has really taken on a leadership role with the work ethic he is displaying and the way he is leading from a football standpoint, ball security and those issues.

    "He continues to work on that and for us, sometimes punting the football can be a good play. He is very talented, and it's a blessing and a curse. Sometimes throwing it away and letting us punt works out pretty well."

  • Hoke said he couldn't say whether or not the offense would be more versatile with Gardner under center.

    "It's hard to say because Denard did so much," he said. "We didn't help him at times as much as we could have from a standpoint of blocking a little better, holding the protection better, some of those things. Denard, the legacy he left, he'll be judged and judged highly.

    "But we like our football team, our quarterback. We'll settle on a running back and those things. We'll wait and see how we progress."

  • The running back situation remains up in the air, Hoke said.

    "Justice Hayes improved. Thomas Rawls, his vision was much better," Hoke said. "Drake Johnson is a guy we redshirted and feel good about where he is at. Fitz Toussaint has really healed up well. His movement, all those things from surgery - he seems to be in pretty good shape. De'Veon Smith and Derrick Green are coming in, and there will be great competition. It will make them all better and make us better as a football team."

    The five-star freshman Green brings a different dynamic, Hoke said.

    "The biggest difference is his running ability and his size, the physical-ness he runs with," he said. "At the same time he can make a shallow cut, make a guy miss. The acceleration he has.

    "This isn't high school football as we all know. There will be an adjustment I'm sure when you look at how you pass protect, the things you do in that part of the offense. The speed of the defenses you'll play. We think highly of him obviously or we wouldn't have recruited him. It's going to be fun watching him develop."

  • Sophomore Devin Funchess would be one of the go-to guys in the passing game should the season start today.

    "He'd be in the top two or three. There's no question Devin has great hands, route running ability, can be a mismatch because of height and speed," Hoke said. "Jeremy Gallon came out of fall and the last four or five games at a high level. We have some freshmen receivers, and Jehu Chesson is very talented - and Amara Darboh. We have some guys who can make plays when we need them to be made."

  • Hoke has no preference about the schedule and the divisions.

    "Whatever schedule is out there we are going to play. If Ohio and us would have to play in back to back weeks, we'd welcome that and be excited about it," he said. "The new divisions, we are keeping the great instate rivalry with Michigan State. The rivalry on a level the Ohio game is, keeping that at the end of the year, is where it should be."

  • Hoke didn't back off his "Notre Dame is chickening out" comment.

    "It's a real shame for college football, two traditional schools that are great academic institutions and football institutions. I know we wanted to play the series and continue the series."


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