February ,2 3
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By Kyle O'Neill
Daily Sports Editor
SAGINAW - "Is the press conference over?" asked
a student from a third-story window of Saginaw High
School at 11:45 a.m. yesterday.
The answer was yes, and highly-recruited linebacker
LaMarr Woodley was officially a Wolverine. And while
the press conference was yesterday, the decision was
made long before then.
"I kind of figured out last week sometime that I was
going to go to Michigan," Woodley said.
For the second-best outside linebacker in the
nation according to recruiting analyst Tom Lemming,
the announcement couldn't come fast enough.
"You might be at the barber shop, just walking
around at the mall: 'Where you going?"' Woodley said.
"They'd tell you where you need to go. 'You need to get
away from around here. You need to go where it's hot all
Woodley's not only keeping his surrounding tempera-
ture the same, but his teammates as well. Running back
Jerome Jackson - whom Lemming ranks as the best
tailback in Michigan - has signed to join Michigan's
17-man recruiting class for next year.
"Yeah, me and Jerome have been together since mid-
dle school," Woodley said. "In seventh grade, he was
the running back and I was the fullback blocking for
him. We got to Saginaw High, and I was on the line
blocking for him. And when we go to college next year,
Highly-regarded linebacker prospect LaMarr Woodley (left) will be joined by his Saginaw High School teammate,
Jerome Jackson, in donning the maize and blue.
more help ti
K nown as a "bulldog" recruiter,
Lloyd Carr has a reputation of
being one of the most tenacious
talent-seekers in the nation. He'll milk a
cow. He'll sit on the porch with grand-
ma and sip lemonade. He once took an
eight-hour flight to Hawaii to woo a
recruit - a recruit who later said
"Aloha" (as in good-bye) to Michigan.
Carr and his staff have consistently
reeled in national top-10 classes, includ-
ing three top-five classes in the six
years after Michigan's 1997 national
With such success on the recruiting
trail, why has it been since the days of
Anthony Thomas that Michigan boasted
a game-breaking tailback?
Next year's backfield features only
one proven ball carrier in Chris Perry,
who rushed for more than 1,100 yards
and 14 touchdowns. Perry will be a
solid runner for Michigan next year -
if he stays out of Pizza House - but
who will back him up?
David Underwood was overshadowed
by blue-chipper Kelly Baraka in the
2001 class, but even with Baraka gone,
Underwood has been unable to become
a force. The coaching staff went with
departing fullback B.J. Askew as Perry's
backup for most of last year. Tim Brack-
en was good enough to be the starter in
2001, but a knee injury ended his sea-
son. He hasn't been the same since. This
duo was given a chance to earn playing
time behind Perry last season, but they
were ineffective in spot duty, and the
coaches lost confidence in them.
Fullback Sean Sanderson seems to
have hit a wall after showing loads of
promise early.in the season. Carr has
voiced displeasure with the mammoth
290-pounder, saying yesterday, "I don't
know where he is."
This lack'ofproventalemt in the back-
field certainly didn't happen because
r game needs
han it got
Carrhas decided to switch to a high-fly-
ing aerial attack. Carr still wants to
pound the football like there's no tomor-
row. But the problem is there isn't any-
one there to pound it, and the reason lies
in the crapshoot world of recruiting.
You can call it misuse of God-given
talent. You can call it bad judgment of
character. Or, you can take accountabili-
ty out of the question and write it off as
bad luck. Whatever. The bottom line is
that Michigan's inability to keep blue-
chip runners in Ann Arbor for the past
five years has set the program back
from where it could be entering 2003.
Oh, what could have been. This has
been the theme of Michigan recruiting
since 1997, and no one illustrates this
more than Justin Fargas, the human loco-
motive who highlighted Michigan's 1998
class as one of the nation's top backs.
Fargas battled injuries to his right leg
for thelmajority of his first two seasons
at Michigan and struggled through his
redshirt sophomore season in 2000.
Doctors predicted he would never be the
same running back. Carr and his coach-
ing staff decided to move Fargas to safe-
ty. Yes, safety, back there with
headhunters Cato June and Charles
Drake. He would add some much-need-
ed depth to the secondary. It was an
Fargas would have none of it. He
transferred back home to Southern Cali-
fornia to play for new coach Pete Carroll.
The decision left Fargas one year with
the Trojans to show the world his worth.
We watched in awe as Fargas resur-
rected his career, making a statement in
two 100-plus-yard, nationally-televised
games against Notre Dame and Iowa.
I couldn't help but wonder if Fargas
sent Carr the game balls after disman-
tling two teams that were able to shut
down the Michigan running attack.
See McCOLLOUGH, Page 7A
he's going to be on the opposite side of the ball as me."
When asked about his decision to come to Michigan,
Jackson was beaming like the little kid that used to root
for the Wolverines.
"Michigan's a great school with a great tradition,"
Jackson said. "I've been growing up all my life liking
Michigan, because they've been the team to beat.
There's something about the (maize and blue) that
makes everyone go crazy, so I had to pick Michigan."
Jackson also said the presence of members of the
Saginaw family at Michigan (Woodley, Saginaw High
graduate Roy Manning and his sister, who just got
accepted to the University) helped his decision.
Woodley commented on the promise Michigan
coach Lloyd Carr made to him as a turning point in his
"Coach Carr and Coach (Fred) Jackson told me,
'when you commit to us, if you get hurt, you still have
your scholarship,"' Woodley said. "That was the reason
I really picked Michigan, too."
And not only will the two soon-to-be former Trojans
See WOODLEY, Page 7A
Carr gets a kick out of new class
By Jim Weber
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr will
always love smash-mouth players. But
at the annual Signing Day press confer-
ence yesterday, he got excited about
another type of player: his new kicker.
In between talk-_
ing about the many FOOTBALL
big, tough and
physical players Notebook
that officially com-
mitted to Michigan yesterday, Carr
took a break to express his delight in
signing the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Gar-
rett Rivas, one of the top kickers in the
country from Jesuit High School in
"We had some of the leading kickers
in the country last year in our camp,"
Carr said. "(Rivas) was the guy we
wanted, the guy we highlighted right
from the beginning. This guy can kick
the football, now. He is going to have an
Carr had good reason to highlight
Rivas; ESPN's Tom Lemming selected
Rivas to Lemming's version of an All-
America team, the "Super Team." Rivas
also gives Michigan depth at kicker and
punter, behind Adam Finley who starts
at both positions. Finley performed
well, connecting on 7-of-10 field goal
attempts and earning an All-Big Ten
second team selection as a punter. But
backing up Finley at kicker is the duo
of Philip Brabbs and Troy Nienberg,
which combined to make only 5-of-14
attempts. The backup punter is Andy
Mignery, a tight end. Carr said that even
though last season was Rivas' first year
as a punter, his performance at the new
position was "outstanding."
Carr credited Jay Feeley, the place
kicker for Michigan during the 1997
national championship season who cur-
rently plays for the Atlanta Falcons, for
persuading Rivas to head north. On
Feeley's kicking school website, Rivas
states that he didn't even kick before
high school and credits Feeley's tutelage,
for his rapid development.
FALSE START: As expected, offensive
lineman Jeff Zuttah of Princeton, N.J.
signed with Michigan yesterday. But
Carr had other news about the recruit
that was surprising.
"There is a condition with Jeff that
has, come up," Carr said. "It is medical-
ly related, so I will make a statement at
some point about what it is."
DEFENSIVE SHIFT: Due to the departure
of former defensive line coach and spe-
cial teams coordinator Brady Hoke to
serve as head coach of Ball State, Carr
announced the "realignment" of his
defensive coaches that resembled a
game of musical chairs.
Jim Boccher, who served as a gradu-
ate assistant the last two seasons,
assumed the special team duties held by
FOR MORE ON WOODLEY,
Hoke. Bill Sheridan, who coordinated
recruiting and served as the outside
linebackers coach last season, assumedl
Hoke's other responsibility: defensivel
line coach. And alum Steve Morrison,
who was a video assistant last year, took
over Sheridan's role as outside lineback-l
See SIGNEES, Page 7A
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