Thursday, February 2, 2012
Q&A: Michigan coach Brady Hoke
By Adam Rittenberg
Brady Hoke on Wednesday technically signed his second recruiting class as Michigan's coach, but unlike the first, this crop had his fingerprints all over it. Hoke and his staff had a full year to put the class together and rode some early momentum last spring and summer to a class rated in the top 10 nationally by the recruiting services. Michigan re-established itself on the home front with nine in-state players and nine more from neighboring Ohio. The Wolverines loaded up on both lines and added some decorated skill players as well.
ESPN.com caught up with Hoke on Wednesday. Here are his thoughts:
What were your main objectives with this recruiting class?
Brady Hoke signed a class of 25 on national signing day, including 18 players from the states of Ohio and Michigan.
Brady Hoke: Number one, we had some holes that we needed to fill. We had eight guys on scholarship on the offensive line a year ago, and we needed to get some guys who will be great fits within the offense, and secondly, we need to get numbers and quality numbers. Same thing defensively. Coming out of a 3-3-5 scheme to a four-man scheme, you obviously have got to do a good job of changing and getting the bodies you need.
What stands out to you about the linemen you were able to sign on both sides?
Hoke: They're all quality kids and character kids. I think there's a toughness to them when you watch them play. There's great size potential and genetically, you've got some bigger guys.
A couple of those bigger guys are [offensive lineman] Kyle Kalis and [defensive lineman] Ondre Pipkins. What stood out to you about them?
Hoke: The movement a guy like 'Pee-Wee' [Pipkins] has. When you look at the size that he is and what the potential down the road is and how he plays the game. And with Kalis, he's a road grader. He's physical at the point of attack and finishes blocks.
How important was it to do well within the state? How big an emphasis did you put on Michigan and northern Ohio?
Hoke: Both states have outstanding high school football programs, and there's an emphasis and it's coached very, very well. Recruiting the state of Michigan is always going to be an important part of what we do, the heart and soul and core of your team, nucleus-wise. And Ohio is the same way. That is always a state because of population and the love they have for the game of football, it's always going to be a place we're going to recruit hard.
How important was it to get off to the start that you did last spring?
Hoke: That's always important, if you can get that done. Some years may be different than others, but you grab some momentum, and then kids start recruiting kids. They find guys they want to play with and be around for four or five years.
You played quite a few younger players, especially on defense, last year. Do you see that same potential with this class, guys able to contribute early in their careers?
Hoke: We're going to see. That's why it's an inexact science, but there's always opportunities out there for guys.
Was the competition recruiting this area any different this past year than when you were an assistant at Michigan?
Hoke: I don't think so. I didn't feel any different, let's put it that way.
How important was your vision for Michigan during this recruiting cycle?
Hoke: The more you know about the guys that you want to recruit, the more they know you, the relationships you build, all those things are important. Having 12 months to recruit a class is always beneficial.
How much were you able to recruit to where Michigan is going on the offensive side?
Hoke: We signed a fullback (Sione Houma), and that's an important position when you want to get in the two-back, I-back, and run the power play and the lead play and the play-action schemes off of it. A big back like Drake [Johnson] is an important piece to it. Tight end is an important piece, and signing the two tight ends [Devin Funchess and A.J. Williams] are going to help us down the road.
What's your take on the four-year scholarships that you and many other Big Ten schools began offering this year?
Hoke: I've got a feeling they'll revisit those things. There may have been a rush to judgment about how some of those things are pushed through six or seven months ago. I never saw a problem with the one-year, renewables. Maybe [the solution] is somewhere in the middle and they become two-year deals.