Throughout the past 13 years of recruiting cycles (beginning with Rivals.com's 2002 class), we've heard a lot of funny and downright bizarre comments, but Marques Slocum may have had the most memorable when he told a former intern of ours, "ain't nobody going to keep me from my millions."
No. 9 - Marques Slocum - 2008
The 6-5, 331-pounder from West Catholic was a lovable character. His interviews became legendary (just Google search Marques Slocum interview), but Michigan wasn't really interested in what the kid was saying as much as what he could do.
A four-star, Slocum was ranked the No. 1 offensive guard in the nation (he was equally lauded for his defensive play) and the No. 37 player nationally in 2005.
He represented a future along the U-M defensive line in which the Wolverines could start a man so massive he would command double and triple teams, freeing teammates to make plays, but one so talented that he could still get into the offensive backfield.
The hype for the young man was deafening as he inched closer to a Jan. 2005 decision date, deciding between Michigan State and Michigan.
"I know which one I want to go to, but I'm still thinking about the other one," Slocum said Jan. 14.
The Maize and Blue had already landed four-star defensive tackle Terrance Taylor and would go on to add four-star defensive linemen Eugene Germany and James McKinney. If they could have Slocum, the 2005 class would represent a golden era of D-Linemen recruiting, with the Philadelphian the crown jewel.
On Jan. 19, he announced for the Wolverines.
That was a great day for Michigan fans and for Slocum, who both envisioned the starring role he would one day occupy in the winged helmet. However, there was a growing concern that the lineman would not qualify academically.
U-M had taken chances on a few risky prospects before, signing Greg Cooper (who would not qualify in 2002 and would eventually end up at Michigan State) and Pierre Woods (who would redshirt in 2001 in getting his grades in order), but in the new Rivals.com era, the decision to offer and recruit Slocum grew far greater attention as many asked if the Wolverines were lowering their standards to continue competing at a high level.
As it turned out, there were plenty of questions to ask in that vein with the 2005 class - Carson Butler, Germany, Kevin Grady, McKinney, Chris Richards and Johnny Sears all got into trouble, with Butler, Germany, McKinney, Richards and Sears being dismissed from the team eventually.
Slocum announced on June 29 that he would be enrolling in Milford Academy to shore up his grades and test scores, with the intention of enrolling at Michigan in the fall of 2006.
He would enroll, but he wasn't on the active roster in 2006 because … well, he still hadn't passed the necessary exams to meet NCAA athletic requirements. He was technically an academic non-qualifier and thus had to pay his own way as a freshman.
Why he was at U-M at all remains a bit of a mystery.
"I was talking to academic people and the sports staff and he's the first person who didn't qualify his first year coming to Michigan that the coaching staff kept around," former teammate Stevie Brown said. "Out of 128 years of football -- that means he's awfully special.
"I just have a feeling about him - he's going to be a beast."
In 2007, after a full year in school, he qualified and was, finally, a Wolverine.
Slocum played in eight games as a sophomore in 2008, recording eight tackles, and showing enough signs that maybe, just maybe, this whole drama would work out in the end.
Slocum couldn't stay eligible, got into some trouble, and departed before his junior season began. And like that, it was over. For real this time.
Slocum uttered his infamous words to our intern in preparation for our Football Recruiting issue in the spring of 2005. We didn't include the quote in an article on him, but it created quite a reaction in the office. Years later, as his career came to an end, the quote was haunting.
"Ain't nobody going to keep me from my millions."
Nobody but Slocum himself as it would turn out.
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