Men's Track & Field Inks Five Student-Athletes to Letters of Intent

Feb. 17, 2010

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan men's track and field head coach Fred LaPlante announced Wednesday (Feb. 17) the signing of five student-athletes to National Letters of Intent for the 2010-11 academic year. The list of signees include Patrick Cochran (Erie, Pa./McDowell), Eric Gavin (Chicago Heights, Ill./Marian Catholic), Eric Oliver (Hazel Crest, Ill./Homewood-Flossmoor), Cody Riffle (Toledo, Ohio/St. John's Jesuit) and Herman Washington (Blacklick, Ohio/Gahanna Lincoln).

"We are very encouraged with our initial group of signees," LaPlante said. "We have found all of these signees to be not only outstanding athletes, but young men of high character. They have the ability to make a solid impact athletically at the Big Ten level in their first year."

Cochran comes to U-M from McDowell High School in Erie, Pa., and is one of the top triple-jumpers in the country, showcased by his fifth-place finish at the 2009 Pennsylvania State Track & Field Championships. His personal best of 47-10 1/2 ranks him among the top 20 nationally for that event. Cochran also played basketball as a prep.

"Patrick Cochran has good size and is very athletic," LaPlante said. "Coach [David] Kaiser recruited him primarily as a triple jumper, but we also think he could help us in the high jump. He's a very talented athlete."

Gavin is one of two student-athletes from the state of Illinois, as he hails from Chicago Heights, Ill., and attends Marian Catholic High School. He was ranked as the No. 8 returning prep hurdler in the country (14.08) and was the 2009 Illinois Class AAA State Champion in the 110-meter high hurdles.

"Eric Gavin is an explosive high hurdler with a special drive to excel," LaPlante said. "To win any championship in the state of Illinois is not easy, but Eric stood out against top competition. He is a welcome addition to our hurdlers and will give us great depth there."

Oliver is from Hazel Crest, Ill., and attends Homewood-Flossmoor High School. He was runner-up in the 400-meter dash at the 2009 Illinois Class AAA State Championships and currently is ranked as one of the top 20 returning prep runners in the 400-meter dash across the country (47.85). Oliver is another two-sport star, also playing football.

"Eric Oliver will come in as one of the best preps we have ever recruited in the 400," LaPlante said. "He is an aggressive runner, who has shown outstanding speed in the 100 and 200 as well. We feel he will be able to help us in those events right away."

Riffle comes to Michigan by way of St. John's Jesuit High School in Toledo, Ohio, and ranks as one of the top prep throwers in the country. He is ranked the No. 5 returning discus thrower (191-1) and the No. 6 returning prep shot put thrower (62-10 3/4). At the 2009 Ohio State Division 1 Track and Field Championships, Riffle finished second in discus and third in shot put. He also lettered in football in high school.

"Cody Riffle is without a doubt one of the fastest young men in the circle that David Kaiser has ever witnessed," LaPlante said. "He is an emotional thrower in competition, and we look forward to the energy that he will bring to the field events."

Washington hails from Blacklick, Ohio, and attends Gahanna Lincoln High School. He ranks inside the top 20 in both hurdle groups (high and intermediate). At the 2009 Ohio State Division-1 Track & Field Championships, Washington finished second in the 110-meter high hurdles and fourth in the 300-meter hurdles. He also was part of the 4x400-meter relay team which won the state title last year.

"Herman is a 'smooth operator' with good size for hurdling," LaPlante said. "He can help us in the highs, intermediates and the 4x400-meter relay."

Mention also should be given to the addition of two football signees who can make an impact to the sprint group, much like current two-sport stars Denard Robinson (Deerfield Beach, Fla./Deerfield Beach) and Troy Woolfolk (Sugar Land, Texas/Dulles). Wide receiver D.J. Williamson (Warren, Ohio/Warren G. Harding) and Demar Dorsey (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla./Boyd H. Anderson) have signed NLIs with football but could join the track team at the conclusion of the football season. Williamson was the 2009 Ohio Division 1 State Champion in the 100-meter dash (personal best of 10.66), while Dorsey has a personal-best mark of 10.60 in the 100-meter dash.

Contact: Brad Rudner (734) 763-4423