Hoke puts sizable stamp on Michigan football
Feb. 2, 2011
While the focus seemed to be more on the skill players under Rich Rodriguez, Michigan's new coach, Brady Hoke, is all about the trenches.
He introduced his first class of 20 recruits Wednesday and saved his most passionate statements for the linemen.
Hoke called 6-foot-4, 330-pound offensive lineman Chris Bryant from Chicago a "refrigerator with legs and arms."
Hoke, a big fella himself, referred to another 6-4, 330-pound lineman, Tony Posada from Tampa, Fla., as "a road grader."
"I look small compared to Tony," Hoke said.
So much for the undersized linemen who were recruited for Rodriguez's spread offense.
"You've got two guys that fit the mold of what Michigan offensive linemen are going to look like," Hoke said of Posada and Bryant.
"I'm a defensive coach by heart, but I'm a guy who believes the game starts up front on both sides of the ball."
Hoke had only three weeks to try to salvage this class after getting his dream job on Jan. 11.
From all indications, he did about as well as could be expected under the circumstances. As of late Wednesday afternoon, Scout.com ranked Michigan as the 27th-best class in the nation, fourth in the Big Ten behind Ohio State, Nebraska and Iowa.
Not vintage Michigan, which has had a lot of top-10 classes over the years, but better than was anticipated a couple weeks ago, when recruiting was in disarray after the coaching change.
Hoke credited Rodriguez and his staff for their role in recruiting some of the players, singling out two specific cases in defensive backs Blake Countess from Owings Mills, Md., and Delonte Hollowell from Detroit Cass Tech High School.
Hoke proudly boasted that 12 of the newcomers are defensive players (three linemen, four linebackers, five secondary) to help rebuild a Wolverines unit that ranked No. 108 in points allowed (35.2 per game) and No. 110 in yards allowed (450.8 per game).
"One thing I know from coaching in the Big Ten, being here at Michigan, you have to play defense," said Hoke, who confirmed he plans to use a 4-3 base defense after Michigan's 3-3-5 scheme was a flop last year. "Late in the season, because of the elements and what you may face in the weather, you've got to be able to keep people out of the end zone. You've got to play defense.
"All those guys we think have the right stuff when it comes to a physicalness and a toughness that we want to play defense with."
Hoke's best move to this point was the hiring of Greg Mattison as his defensive coordinator. Mattison, a former Michigan assistant, has worked most recently with the NFL's Baltimore Ravens and also under Urban Meyer at Florida.
Meyer called Mattison not only "one of the best defensive coordinators in America," but also "the best recruiter in college football."
The Hoke/Mattison duo couldn't address all of Michigan's needs this year, but the two sent enough of a message about what's to come.
Look for a lot of year-round intense recruiting battles with Michigan State's Mark Dantonio and his coaching staff.
The comparisons between Hoke and Dantonio are intriguing.
They replaced coaches