Signing Day Press Conference Comments from Lloyd Carr

2007 Signing Day Comments from
U-M Head Football Coach Lloyd Carr

Michigan Signs 20 Student-Athletes to Letters of Intent

Opening statement ... "We are delighted that we were able to sign 20 guys. Marques Slocum will be part of that class, as well. We signed 21 guys, and I like their character, I like their potential, and I look forward to the opportunity to coach them when they get here. It's a little bit unusual. We do have four guys who are already here, started school in January. The advantage there, certainly, is that they will have the opportunity to participate in our winter program in terms of developing their strengths, their conditioning, and of course have the opportunity to play in spring practice. But it also is somewhat of a more difficult adjustment to college coming in the middle of the year, because normally when they come in, they come in as a class, and so these four guys, their adjustment's are a little bit different because the weather certainly has been colder. And Ryan Mallett, we told him it never got less than 40 degrees here (laughter). But we don't have any control over weather."

Ryan Mallett, when did you know he would be the star at that point ... "He was in our camp going into his junior year. Scot Loeffler I think had gone down there that spring, and it was very obvious, even at that age, he was going to have the kind of size and athletic ability and all of the physical tools. But he's also an extremely bright guy. I think he has a tremendous upside because he wants to be a great player.

"He's played for an exceptional program. His head coach, Barry Norton, is one of the fine high school coaches in the country. So he comes out of a great program. He ran an offense that -- it's a very complicated scheme in terms of the terminology they use, the formations they use, the motions they use. So he's coming in here with an excellent background as far as his high school preparation."

Have you had a recruit ever be as dynamic as a recruiter bringing in other guys as Ryan Mallett was this year ... "Because he committed so early, certainly he met a lot of players -- nine of the 20 signees were in our camp. So he had an opportunity to meet all of those guys, and certainly on his recruiting visit. And then he's contacted a lot of them by text messages or phone calls. So I don't know how it would rank with others, but certainly I think he has significant impact."

How many guys have expressed an interest to play next year, and can you predict how many might make an impact next year ... "No, I can't predict. I think certainly with the exception maybe of the cornerback position and the defensive secondary, I think some of those guys by virtue of our losses will certainly have an opportunity.

"But it's all going to be determined, I think more than anything else, by the kind of condition they report in, how much time they spend here this summer, and how quickly they can pick up all of the things that they need to know to be able to build a foundation and get prepared to play because really, training camp, once you start, you've got three weeks, and it's a very fast pace.

"So if a guy is not in shape, he can't learn as well, he can't concentrate, he can't continue to push through all of the things that you go through as a freshman in terms of the transition as well as the complicated things at each position."

What do you enjoy about recruiting and what do you not enjoy ... "The only thing I don't particularly like is the travel, the airports, security. It's a wear on you because, I was telling somebody the other day, you used to be able to go down to Detroit Metro for a 7:00 flight. If you were there at twenty to, a quarter to, you could jump on a plane and they would let you off in front the airport. Now it's a little bit different. I experienced a lot of delays, and because of the weather, and that's the thing -- then every time you're delayed, every time you're late, it sets your schedule back. That part of it is the only thing I don't enjoy about it. I like meeting the families because I think any time you got a chance to watch a guy compete, in that setting, you learn some things. So the high school coaches, it's always fun to go in and talk to those guys because we have a lot of things in common."

You signed five guys listed as defensive backs, can you talk about the emphasis there and maybe a brief comment on each one of those five ... "Obviously, going back, probably in some case twos and three years, we've watched these kids. We've had them in camp. We've had them on campus. We're trying to bring kids here who have outstanding character, who academically can compete and who have the athletic skills and the competitiveness that it takes to survive in an environment like this.

"I think Donovan Warren is the real deal. When he visited last year during the season, he impressed me as a guy that was really goal-oriented, as guy that was not afraid of competition. I think he has all of the skills that it takes, but I think all of the guys that we recruited, or else we would not have recruited them, they have all of the ability and all of the qualities that we're looking for. It's a matter of how well they do when the competition begins.

"Of course you all know about Troy Woolfolk, Butch's son. Troy is a guy with wonderful speed and an athletic ability. Mike Williams from St. Bonaventure is really a guy I think is going to be able to compete early.

"I think that James Rogers is a guy that, you know and a lot of times, it's interesting to read some of the things that are written about guys, the rankings and all of the stars, the five-star and, you know, it's kind of funny. I think we had him in our camp, he's got great speed and is a three-sport guy, no four-sport, four sports. I don't remember recruiting a guy plays football, baseball, basketball and track. So he's a guy that brings a lot to the table.

"Artis Chambers is one of the four guys that's already here. So he'll get an opportunity to compete in spring practice, which will I think give him a leg up as far as his knowledge and understanding of the game."

You must have to deal with and struggle with, how do you put recruits at ease when that topic comes up that you might be at the end of the line here as head coach ... "I think what we offer at Michigan is a great education. That's first and most importantly. I think some guys are more serious about the degree that they are going to get than others. And certainly that is right at the top of what opportunity we offer here, as well as a great football program.

"Regardless of my situation, I think part of the landscape is that a lot of coaches are replaced. A lot of coaches change jobs.

"I think by and large, when you make a choice because of who the coach is, whether it's a position coach, whether it's a head coach, you can't be sure that he's going to be there."

How is the situation with Marques Slocum resolved, will he give you a full practice in spring ... "He's in school and he will not participate in spring practice."

Seems you did not get many players in Michigan and Ohio, is it a one-year deal or are you branching out more ... "I don't think a boundary line means much. I think you find football players wherever you can. A lot of it goes back to the background of our coaches. I think that's the most important thing is that the guys that you take are guys that you have evaluated carefully and believed very strongly in."

Can you talk about Austin Panter and what you saw in him ... "Austin Panter is in school, and he's the second junior college player we've recruited since I've been head coach; the first being of course, Russell Shaw, who played such an important role in that 1997 team.

"But Austin Panter is an interesting story. He was a qualifier out of high school. But he wanted to go to junior college because his dad is a former high school coach. Some of the offers he got, he felt like he could play at a higher level, and he's just been a dominating player at a junior college level. He's a very smart guy and a guy that I think is going to really make a significant contribution. It's all based on what I saw on film and based on what I've seen in our winter conditioning workouts."

Have you had any staff changes since the Bowl game, and if so, could you talk about why ... "Well, any time there's a coaching change, you're free to talk to those people involved."

Are you impressed with the job that Coach English was able to do out in California when you consider how strong those schools are out there ... "Ron, of course, grew up in Los Angeles, went to Cal Berkeley and recruited there when he was at Arizona State. So he's got a great background in terms of the contacts and he's a guy with great communication skills and great passion for what he's doing. And certainly, he did a great job this year there, there's no doubt about that."

And the coaches, will you not announce if there was a change to the staff ... "Normally, when somebody leaves the program, whether it be a player, whether it be a coach, I leave that announcement up to him."

Has someone been hired to replace anybody ... "No."

Is Ron Lee still on the staff ... "No."

Can you talk about the group of wide receivers you signed ... "Zion Babb, his dad was an outstanding track athlete at Southern Cal. He is a guy that really is a big, strong guy, runs extremely well. I think he could play on either side of the ball. He's athletic, he's tough. We like him a lot.

"I saw Junior Hemingway play basketball last Friday night in Conway, South Carolina, and I was extremely impressed with this guy as an athlete, as a competitor. He comes from a great football program, great family. He's a guy that I think is going to have an excellent career here."

"Toney Clemons is really probably from a speed standpoint, a guy that is going to make a difference because he runs extremely well. He's got excellent size, excellent hands. I think all of those kids have a chance to contribute possibly as freshman."

Can you talk about what you saw in Martel Webb ... "He is a big kid, runs extremely well, very competitive, team-oriented guy. He plays on an excellent team. The night I saw him play, the game went right down to the wire. I don't think he came out of the game. But Martel is I think the real deal. We've had a lot of great tight ends here and I think he's going to be another."

Is there any potential for him to play basketball at Michigan ... "You would have to ask Tommy that."

Do you think he could play basketball ... "Do I think he has potential I'm not much of a basketball coach. But my guess is, when I watch Big Ten basketball, I think to compete in one sport is an incredible challenge. And, you know, to do it in two, I think it's very difficult to do because more than anything else, you really don't get a chance to start basketball practice until January. And as you know, basketball season starts in October."

About whether or not Kelvin Grady would play football at Michigan ... "He's going to play, as my understanding based on the last conversation I had with him, which was probably a year ago, is he made a decision he was going to start out in basketball and then maybe as a sophomore make a decision on whether he thinks he wants to compete in two sports. So I think that's down the road for him."

Can you talk about Artis Chambers, what attracted you to him as a player ... "I think he comes from an excellent program. Mike DeBord has an excellent relationship with the coach. He has excellent size, he runs well, he's tough."

Have you ever seen a year where you had this many kids committed and changing their minds; is that a function of kids committing too early ... "We did not find that in our case, I think we had one guy. But certainly as you look across the country, I think the truth is, the pressure is extreme. I think recruiting in those last few weeks, it's a tough deal for a guy to deal with for a high school kid, because almost all of the parents were involved, only go through it once. There are some who have a son, two sons, and so they get some experience the first time around. But the pressure is intense. Sometimes a guy simply changes his mind.

"I think there are a lot of reasons why they do it. But I think certainly the pressure on an 18-year-old kid to make that decision when he's got a lot of things about each school that he likes, I think it's tough on him."

Your thoughts about recruiting people who have not verbally committed elsewhere ... "If a guy tells us that he, sometimes it gets announced that a guy is committed, and he may not be. Or, he may have committed and yet he calls or one of his coaches calls and says, coach, he would really like to look at Michigan. So in those cases where a guy initiates contact -- but as a general rule, I've always tried to respect a guy's decision, and if he says he's committed elsewhere, then I wish him luck and move on."

Should the signing period of football be similar to what they have in basketball ... "I think there are pros and cons to it. I'm really kind of ambivalent."

Who do you see that benefiting more, the universities or the individual recruits ... "There are so many factors in there that, I can't give you a good answer."

Can you talk about the pressure on the kids in some of those situations is created by other schools, like English going and being interviewed by the Vikings when he clearly wasn't ... "There is probably a lot more misinformation out there than there is good information. So having to deal with those things is a part of it, and, it's part of the deal."

Renaldo Sagesse, being a year or two older than a lot of freshmen, do you see him as a person that could come in and be a bit of a player early on ... "He certainly has the size, he has the athleticism, and yes, I do think he will come in (prepared to play). But until you get him on the field and you find out really how their foundation is and how fundamentally sound they are; he comes from a good program that we've been very familiar with down through the years, and it's an excellent school, Vieux Montreal. I think there's a good chance that he can do that."

Is there an advantage for a kid like Steve Watson, that his father is grounded in football ... "There's no question. Steve grew up as a ball boy for the Denver Broncos. His dad played in the NFL and coached for a long time, and his dad has coached him. When you look at the high school film, it's very obvious that he has really been tutored to a high degree. I mean, he runs great routes. You could just tell in watching him that he's got a sound football background."

Can you talk about where David Molk and Mark Huyge might fit in for you ... "What I like about both of them is their athletic ability. Mark Huyge is a basketball player and he played both ways. When I watched the film, I was really impressed with him on the defensive side of the ball, the way he ran. He's a guy that really is athletic, and of course, that fits into what we are trying to do. I think from that standpoint, he's got a good future.

"David Molk is a smaller guy, but a guy that has wonderful athletic ability and very, very good strength at this stage. I think he's a guy that has the kind of mobility, the kind of toughness, very bright guy. I didn't mean to short him there."

Going back to Ryan for a second, when he's so highly recruited and so highly rated, how do you handle discussions with him relative to redshirting when you have a guy like Chad Henne; how is that topic broached ... "I think he understands that part of the advantage for him coming here is the fact that he could spend a year watching Chad Henne and being around Chad Henne. And I think that's really a valuable part of the particular situation he'll find himself in.

"I think being here this spring and being in the meetings, he's going through winter conditioning, the window of three weeks, that's what makes it even more amazing to me what Henne was able to do as a true freshman. I think Henne being here is really in the long run a great thing for Ryan.

I understand what you said, but in a perfect world, is it a priority to try to maintain eligibility for a guy like Ryan ... "Well, it's not a perfect world. You're proof of that, right I certainly am. (Laughter)

"Well, no. I think we'll try to play him some, if he is the backup quarterback and it may not be a lot. And it may be, you know, you never can predict that. But I think the advantage of playing some, knowing that it's not going to be a lot, or not planning that it's going to be a lot, the great thing about not redshirting him is that every single week, he's going to prepare like he's going to play, because he may. So mentally, the pressure is on him.

"I think his dreams are to be the starting quarterback here for three years, and I think in three years, you know, at the end of that time, you might say, well, we should have redshirted him. But he may not have stayed anyway, so there are no guarantees."

You already had your first commitment for 2008, is there a concern that the recruiting process never really ends ... "I simply tell every guy that commits to us, before he commits, I always tell them, don't commit, don't tell us you're coming unless you're sure. Because when you change your mind, you're going to take some criticism. You're going to be out there and there's going to be all sorts of stories about why you changed your mind.

"So you're much better served if you have any doubts to hold off, don't make that decision public until you're absolutely sure. And I think that's one of the reasons down through the years that we've had very, very few guys who have changed their mind. But it's always a possibility. And it's the worst of possibilities I think for both the school, because now you've lost a guy and you've lost time recruiting someone else."

What did you see that you liked in Ryan Van Bergen ... "I think Ryan Van Bergen is going to be one heck of a player. He can really run. I mean, he's a guy that brings great athletic ability to that position, and I think the question is how big he'll be, if he gets big enough, he can move inside, but he's an outstanding athlete."

Did you say that you saw Quintin Woods in school yesterday ... "Oh, you said Quintin Woods, I take that back. I was thinking Patilla. See, I told you it's not a perfect world. No, he is not in school. I can't really comment on that."

I'm sure they (recruits) want the stability of any head coach sticking around, but based on published reports, did you have to answer any questions from these kids, saying, are you sticking around, does that mean something, about your contract ... "Honestly I don't remember that question at all."

Have you heard it from other people ... "I've read some, or I've had people tell me it's in the paper."

So we should not read into that ... "I mean, what story, read into what"

About the slight tweak to your contract ... "Well, I think you can read into it whatever you choose to read into it."

Can you give us any insight as to why you made the change in the contract and obviously you felt it was important ... "At some point here, I'll have something to say about that. But I don't. You've got access to what's in there and I really don't have anything to say other than that."

Is Marques Walton still with the program ... "No, Marques is not with us."

What about Brandent Englemon ... "Yes."

What about Ryan Mundy ... "No."

Has there been a problem trying to schedule a 12th game ... "We're working on it. It's an issue because there just aren't many schools out there. I can just tell you that we're hoping it will be resolved here in the not-too-distant future."

Would it help if you moved the game to Dec. 1 ... "I think based on -- of course, we had some discussion about that -- I think that's going to probably change. Finishing two weeks earlier, I just think everybody looks at it (as a disadvantage to our conference), and my feeling is that's going to change."

Would it have helped this year ... "I don't know this year."

Are you okay with that change or does it bother you ... "Well, it bothers me from the standpoint that I think in the Big Ten that allowed a player, when you think about the student athlete's year, we've allowed them to go home for Thanksgiving because they do not get to go home for Christmas. So really, football, they get no break in there if you play Thanksgiving weekend. They get no break until Easter or spring break, I should say.

"So I think from the players' standpoint, we have the best deal. I think from the competitive standpoint, if you look at last season and this conference, I think the argument is pretty strong that it is a competitive disadvantage when you don't play because of the length of time between the end of the season and the bowl game. So I think it's what it is."

Could you work it out to skip that Thanksgiving week and play the following week ... "That's a good point, because that's really one of the suggestions that I've made. I think the Big Ten athletic directors are trying to address that issue, but I think regardless of if they don't do something in the Big Ten conference, then each school would be free to make some changes that would allow them to play the 12th game after Thanksgiving."

Do you have an update on Steve Schilling and Antonio Bass ... "Schilling is working out and we're really optimistic that he'll be able to play spring practice, at least in some capacity. We just have to see if he's ready to go as far as contact, but he's made real strides. He's really healed fast and we're excited about that.

"Antonio is working hard. He was in the training room yesterday but I can't tell you anything. I don't have anything to tell you that would be different (from before)."

The layoff, do you think that was a major factor for your team and Ohio State ... "We don't have any excuses. I think that case can be made but I don't care to make it."

Have thoughts of that game changed your feelings in any way about the process ... "No. I said we have a process, and it spoke."

You've had time to look at the Rose Bowl, any thoughts further about what happened, why it happened, what you'll take from it ... "I think fundamentally, the biggest thing in the game was that for us, we turned the ball over twice in the second half at the short end of the field. So we put our defense in terrible field position.

"Then we gave up a big play in the third quarter that really, or in the fourth quarter I guess, that tore the game open. We had gotten back into the game. But we didn't protect the passer very well. Their speed there was very good. But we didn't run the football effectively, and any time you turn the ball over twice at the short end of the field and give up a big play for a touchdown, that's 21 points."

Is Will Paul returning for his fifth year ... "No, Will is not. He's graduated. Ryan Mundy will finish his degree this spring as well."

What do you like about Marell Evans ... "Marell Evans is from the same high school that Brandon Minor is, Varina High School. We saw him a year ago when we recruited Brandon. We really liked him. He's a guy with excellent size, going to be a big guy and has very, very good athletic ability. He comes from a good program. You know, we like him a lot."

How about Brandon Herron ... "He's a guy that needs to develop size-wise, but he's an outstanding athlete. I think he's going to need a year as far as developing his strength. But Steve Szabo really liked his athleticism."

Are there any guys you're not sure where they will end up (position-wise) ... "Zion Babb, there was one point there where we -- and the same for James Rogers. Both those kids could play either side. And yet we are going to play them where they are listed. We are going to start them out (at that position). I don't think there's anybody else that I can think of where we're unsure."

About in-state recruits this season and the number that decided to attend out-of-state schools ... "There are always guys that normally speaking, you're going to lose some guys. It was I think an unusual year in the state, without getting into any specifics (about players) because I think those guys can speak for themselves. There were a lot of guys that went out of state a lot and obviously we would rather keep them in state."

Has Mike Massey's shoulder problem lingered ... "He had surgery and he will not play spring ball but he'll be fine."

What can you tell us about early enrollee Vince Helmuth ... "I think he's a wonderful athlete. Our fullback, I think particularly since we went to the zone blocking schemes, he's a guy that really has to be nifty and nimble. Based on what I've seen, and I've only seen a couple of workouts, but he has a chance.

"Now we have to see when we put the pads on how he holds up, because he's 18 years old, even though he's a big, strong guy, he's going to be blocking guys down in and down out that are 240, 250. So, you know, normally like Obi Oluigbo, it took him really two, maybe three years to get to the point where he could take that pounding. So we'll just have to see how he picks it up but I think he's going to be an excellent player."

Can you talk about Avery Horn ... "I think the thing we like best about Avery is this guy has got great speed. We were looking for a guy that could break the big play, and I think certainly, he has the speed to do that."

Does it amaze you at all that people are fascinated by your future, when you're going to leave, whether you're going to stay ... "I don't think 'fascinated' is the word (Laughter)."

But people talk about it quite a bit. ... "Look, you know, I've tried to answer that as best I could, but it seems as though everybody interprets it differently. Like I'm hinting; I've hinted. I've said everything I have to say on it."

Did you talk to Cato and Marlin and Brian before the Super Bowl ... "I've talked to Brian a couple of times. He was in during the season. But I have not talked with Cato and Marlin. But they are out there; (please) send money (Laughter).

"They did well. I'm happy for them. I mean that ring is hard to get. I think we're all here, southeast Michigan, we're all delighted for Tony Dungy, what a great guy, great coach, and to see him win that game was really special."

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