Following two unsuccessful seasons in Ann Arbor, Rich Rodriguez was a desperate man as he pursued the 2010 recruiting class and that desperation led to perhaps the biggest mistake in Michigan's recruiting history - the signing of Demar Dorsey.
No. 13 - Demar Dorsey - 2010
Ranked a four-star by Rivals.com and a five-star by other services, Dorsey really wasn't on Michigan's radar during the entire recruitment of the 2010 class. He was an early commitment to Florida, but when UF coach Urban Meyer hedged on his future as the Gators' boss (he would retire after the 2010 season), Dorsey began looking around.
With its connections to the state of Florida, Michigan's staff felt the Wolverines could be a player, and even though Florida, Southern Cal and Florida State were the favorites, U-M believed it had a chance. After Dorsey visited officially Jan. 15, 2010, there was no doubt the 6-1, 175-pounder was interested.
"I'm really glad I went up there to take a visit to Michigan," he said. "I learned some new things about the school and new things about the program. I hung out with the team and met the coaches and their families and had a great time up there.
"I didn't expect all that when I went up there."
Dorsey still had to visit FSU and USC, and with a week before Signing Day, he went silent. Rumors ran rampant but very rarely was Michigan even in the conversation: "I think Florida State is the team with the best shot at swinging him away from Florida," Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell wrote.
On Signing Day, however, TheWolverine.com got wind from a source that the staff was waiting on a letter of intent from Dorsey, expecting it to arrive. It would, and Rodriguez and his assistants, knowing they just landed a big-time difference-maker, were ecstatic.
If that was the whole story, this would be a positive tale. It's not.
Reporters from the local newspapers came prepared, researching Dorsey's extensive criminal history that included robbery with a deadly weapon and burglary of an unoccupied building. In both cases, Dorsey was not convicted (charges were dropped in the burglary instance), but it didn't matter - the media hammered Rodriguez and Michigan for taking such a huge chance on an athlete with a checkered past.
According to Rodriguez, Dorsey was vetted and he had approval from U-M higher-ups to pull the trigger on the Fort Lauderdale star.
"Not everybody is perfect. Sometimes young people get in the wrong situation at the wrong time, but they're found innocent or they're acquitted," Rodriguez said at his press conference. "We feel comfortable that every guy we sign is going to be a great fit for not only the football program but for this university and our community."
What Dorsey didn't have, though, were the grades to qualify at Michigan, and his denial by the admissions' office was met with protest from Rodriguez supporters claiming factions inside the athletic department were still conspiring against him while proud alumni and fans disgusted the Maize and Blue were even willing to consider such a poor fit in the first place also raised a din.
It was a good old-fashioned brouhaha, but one that had dogged Rodriguez all three of his years at Michigan - vocal supporters vs. ardent opponents - and it proved just how greatly the U-M fan base had divided.
For the critics, it proved once and for all just how far Rodriguez had sunk the Michigan name and how clueless he was about this place two full years into his tenure. On his side, supporters had all the evidence they needed that no matter what he did, powerful people would not rest until he was discredited and tossed out into the garbage.
It was an awful lot to place at the feet of an 18-year old kid trying to get his life turned around.
"He wanted a second chance. A chance to start over, in a new place, with new people … where he could be the young man he's grown into this past year as opposed to the young man that made a lot mistakes a few years ago," Boyd H. Anderson coach Mark James said.
"It's not like he's sitting here running from his past, saying 'I didn't do anything wrong. He knows he made some very big mistakes, but he's owned up to those mistakes and he accepts that he will be judged, fairly or unfairly, before he even steps foot on their campus. But it doesn't matter to Demar because he's out to prove himself and prove to everyone that is criticizing him now that he is a different person and has turned his life around.
"I'd be shocked if there is a single incident during his career at Michigan because this is a young man that is so motivated to prove people wrong that I truly believe he will have a squeaky clean four years there.
"I have so much faith in him. He is just so determined to start over and I really hope everyone up there gives him that opportunity."
He never got that chance, though, unable to meet the academic requirements to enroll at Michigan.
When it appeared Dorsey would attend Louisville on scholarship (two weeks after Michigan officially denied him admission), Rodriguez's supporters unified in force, but Dorsey never played a down for the Cardinals, and was never even admitted (Florida State also passed on him).
In 2011, Dorsey played at Grand Rapids Community College and he seemed to finally get his chance when reports emerged he would play for Hawaii in 2012. Again, it didn't happen, with the NCAA doing the denying this time.
Dorsey would suit up for Arizona Western College (a junior college) in 2012, and he would record 12 tackles, including two for loss, and an interception in four games, but he didn't appear in AWC's final five contests and did not finish the season with the college.
What his plans are for 2013, no one knows.
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