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August 18, 2013

Top 20 U-M recruiting stories: No. 5 Sam McGuffie

McGuffie! We couldn't rank the top 20 recruiting stories of all time without paying homage to one of the most memorable Youtube spoofs ever created and the prospect that inspired it.

No. 5 - Sam McGuffie - 2008

The Recruitment

If there is a record for content items associated with one recruit, McGuffie would likely hold it - 123, dating back to the summer before his junior season in high school.

How he came to be such a hot commodity nationally coming off a season in which he rushed for 853 yards as a sophomore can be summed up by a single video clip. A video that in the early stages of what is now a household term (going viral), dominated Rivals.com and YouTube views for months.



McGuffie's hurdle became the stuff of legend and soon he was being challenged to jump whatever people could think of, including offensive lineman teammate, J.B. Shugarts.



That the kid embraced all of the attention certainly helped the buzz grow, and even led to this hilarious spoof.



Underneath all of the hype, however, sat a 5-11, 188-pound tailback with 4.32 speed, a 41-inch vertical (obviously) and a 355-pound bench press, that oh so happened to rush for 3,121 yards and 43 touchdowns as a junior in the football-crazed state of Texas.

Michigan running backs coach Fred Jackson, who recruits the Lone Star State, identified McGuffie early, telling then-coach Lloyd Carr the Cypress native could step in for Mike Hart and rush for 1,000 yards in his rookie season.

TheWolverine.com first interviewed McGuffie in Dec. 2006, but got serious with him in May of his junior season as the YouTube legend seemed to lock in on wearing the winged helmet someday.

"At this point, me and Michigan understand each other," said McGuffie. "My dad's side of the family is from Michigan and he knows pretty much everyone up there. From that aspect it's good. The ball at Michigan is unlike any other and that's just a fact. It's not like some other rinky-dink place. They come out on top every other year if not every year. Them and Ohio State - it's one of them on top every year."

McGuffie was also a fan-favorite of Jackson.

"He has backs get drafted - about 10 in the last 12 years - and none of them have run faster than 4.5 supposedly," he said. "He's had 4.5, 4.6 guys go in the first, second and third rounds of the NFL draft. This upcoming year they have Mike Hart who's not the biggest guy or the fastest guy, but he is one of the toughest guys.

"That's something Coach J says that he likes about running backs is the mental toughness. To get the ball as many times a Mike Hart did and not fumble, that's one of the things that stands out about Michigan - they know how to produce running backs and just players in general."

It was a match made in heaven that became official in July before McGuffie's senior year.

McGuffie took his official visit in September for a 14-9 win over Penn State (a game QB Chad Henne missed, putting everything on tailback Mike Hart, who went for 153 yards and a TD), and that trip seemed to solidify McGuffie's pledge to the Wolverines.

Later that fall, Carr announced his retirement and Rich Rodriguez became the head coach, but McGuffie remained committed because he was a good fit for Rodriguez's spread offense.

"The offense should fit me well. I'm not going to say it would be better than the offense they had before, or that that one was better, but I think this will be good for me and my team," said McGuffie, who largely remained loyal because of Jackson.

"He's my man. At first he told me he thought he was going to be the receivers coach, maybe work with running backs a little. I told him how important it was to me that he was my position coach.

"I've had a good relationship with him since the beginning of my junior year, and I talk to him more than anyone else."

Those quotes came on Jan. 29, 2008, eight days before Signing Day. All was well with the world, until McGuffie hesitated faxing in his letter of intent.

Hour by hour went by, and as Rodriguez stepped to the podium for his mid-afternoon press conference, McGuffie's fax had not yet arrived.

It would, eventually, but only after the four-star gave great consideration to attending Cal.

"I like Coach [Jeff] Tedford a lot, and the offense out there is great," McGuffie said to Rivals. "And then the Michigan recruits have been calling me and talking to me too. I'm really familiar with the guys there. But Cal gave me something to think about."

At Michigan

The last-minute waffling probably foreshadowed the split that would occur by the end of McGuffie's freshman season, but at first, it was all peaches and cream.

The standout started the Wolverines' first six games, rushing for 424 yards and three touchdowns on 109 attempts (3.9 yards per rush), including 100-yard efforts against Notre Dame (131) and Toledo (105).

The 5-11, 185-pound McGuffie was taking a pounding, though and behind an offensive line that wasn't very strong, the Maize and Blue needed a ball carrier with a little more power. They sat McGuffie down in favor of the 6-1, 214-pound Brandon Minor for the final six games.

McGuffie decided to transfer to be closer to home after his rookie year, enrolling at Rice - its campus in Houston is 30 miles from Cypress -- and after he left, Rodriguez (who gave his blessing on the departure) admitted the ball carrier had suffered three concussions during the season.

With the Owls, McGuffie first played running back, rushing for 883 yards and six touchdowns in 2010, but showing impeccable hands (he also had 39 catches and three scores), he transitioned to receiver, hauling in 63 balls for 675 yards and six scores in 2011-12 compared.

MGuffie is in training camp with the Oakland Raiders this summer.

Top 20 Recruiting Countdown Stories
No. 20 - Thomas Rawls
No. 19 - Junior Hemingway
No. 18 - Prescott Burgess
No. 17 - Ray Vinopal
No. 16 - Adrian Arrington
No. 15 - Max Martin
No. 14 - Steve Breaston
No. 13 - Demar Dorsey
No. 12 - Devin Gardner
No. 11 - Donovan Warren
No. 10 - Tate Forcier
No. 9 - Marques Slocum
No. 8 - Antonio Bass
No. 7 - Mike Hart
No. 6 - Roy Roundtree


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