“Aww man, that right there was like witnessing history,” Pipkins exclaimed. “Michigan hadn’t beaten them in seven years. I was just sitting back watching like, ‘wow, they actually did it!’ Everybody had a different outlook on Brady Hoke, saying he wasn’t going to win over eight games. Some said he wouldn’t even win eight games. He proved a lot of people wrong. I feel like he had the same team that Rich Rodriguez had and he basically took those kids and taught them how to play football instead of just telling them to play. He actually broke it down and was teaching them. That’s what (the players) were telling me on my visit. ‘We actually learned how to play football.’ I was sitting in the stands and I was just happy for them. They’d been working hard all season.”
While the gameday experience was extremely memorable, the more impactful aspect of the visit proved to be his interaction with his future teammates.
“I was talking to Justice Hayes, Denard Robinson, Roy Roundtree… that was my host… and I talked to Mike Martin briefly,” Pipkins recalled. “Denard was like, ‘man, (Hoke) made it so it’s not just depending on me because a lot of it's not just around me anymore. Now we’ve got different options we can go to.’ They were just telling me also how they bonded with each other and how Coach Hoke is a coach that bonds with the team and does activities with them in the offseason. It’s all a family thing, so everyone knows each other on the team and feels like everybody is their brother or their good friend.”
Pipkins took advantage of the chance to strengthen a few of his own bonds with the staff during his time in Ann Arbor. That was especially true with defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison.
“Me and Coach Montgomery ate breakfast together and we were talking and got to know each other a bit more,” Pipkins stated. “(Sunday) I had on a Steelers shirt and I walked in Coach Mattison’s office and he was like, ‘get away from me!’ (Laughter). We had fun man. He was telling me about why he wanted to come back to coach in college. He felt like he’d be able to teach more and he wanted to be back at Michigan.”
Another topic of conversation was the opportunity the talented youngster will have to come in and make an immediate impact. With three seniors currently starting on the defensive front, Michigan will have huge voids to fill next year. That, however, doesn’t mean that Pipkins is expecting anything to be given to him.
“I’ll be competing for a spot,” he said matter-of-factly. “If everything goes right I’ll come in, start learning the plays and the defense, and then I’ll be able to earn a spot and play right away. We talked about that, but that was basically what was told to me when I was getting recruited, so that wasn’t a surprise.”
That trust and faith that Pipkins has in his future coaches is something made sure he shared with the prospects that made their way to campus for visits last weekend. Two in particular received special attention.
“Josh Garnet was on point with (Michigan),” said Pipkins. “He liked it. We were all hanging out together and we were basically saying the same stuff. I was kind of pushing it a little bit more because I’m already committed. I was telling them that Coach Hoke is a good guy and that Coach Funk is a good guy too. (Funk) was recruiting me first before anybody so I kind of gave Josh the heads up on him.”
“I talked to Jordan Diamond and he seemed pretty excited about it too. We talked for a long time. Me and Shane Morris kind of went over and talked to him and he kind of seemed excited. He played in high school with Chris Bryant, so he already has a good connection up there.”
Pipkins plans to keep his recruiting hat and continue courting his fellow All Americans now that he has returned home. At the same time he will be working hard to increase his physical and mental readiness for the next level.
“I’m just working out and concentrating on school work,” he said. “I have my Army All American press conference coming at my school, but after the Army Bowl it will be straight academics.”