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"I advised him to choose Michigan over Penn State and Michigan State initially," said Slocum's friend and mentor Will Cooper. "One of the things I really liked about Michigan was their whole approach to recruiting him. Coach (Bill) Sheridan, (who was Michigan's defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at the time) told him, 'we're not promising you anything but a great education, a helmet, shoulder pads, and we're going to let you compete.' All of these other schools are telling him everything he wanted to hear. I liked what Michigan was saying. You're not going to be special unless you make yourself special."
Slocum was already enamored with the Maize & Blue, and their recruiting pitch only solidified in his mind the thought that Ann Arbor was the best place to continue his development. However, when he failed to qualify out of high school, other programs emerged offering easier paths to college. At that point many of the people that originally suggested Michigan was the best place for him began to see things very differently.
"To be honest there were a number of people that told him he should reconsider (his commitment to Michigan), including myself," Cooper admitted. "He could have gone to Michigan State or Penn State and just sat out his first year. Michigan wasn't allowing kids to come in that way. That was really the push that both Michigan State and Penn State put on at the end there. They said, 'look, if you commit to Michigan and you don't qualify, they're not going to take you.' So he had that dangling over his head. I and some others were telling him that maybe he should reconsider, especially when it got toward the end of his senior year and it looked like he wasn't going to qualify. But he made up his own mind. He wanted to go to Michigan and decided to go to prep school to work toward getting qualified. To be honest with you, at that time I didn't think it was the best thing for him. Even after putting himself through all of that, there was still the possibility of being really disappointed. Now you have to go to prep school, but what if you don't qualify there?"
Slocum opted to attend Milford Prep in New Berlin, New York. Going that route prevented him from starting his eligibility clock (players have a five year window to complete there four years of eligibility once they enroll in college). In his time there, his primary focus was achieving the necessary standardized test score to get qualified. Despite the persistent opportunities placed in front of him to attend other schools, the Philly native was unwilling to compromise on choice to become a Wolverine.
"(Forget) those other schools," Slocum said at the time. "It's simple as that. [Michigan] is where I want to go. That's where I'm at. That's how it's going to be. I don't want to go no where else. I knew from the get go that I could have went anywhere else, have got into school, and been playing. I didn't want to go that route. I wanted to be a Wolverine and I'm going to stick to it. As long as they are going to stick with me, I'm going to stick with them. I'm not cool with going to Michigan State or Penn State. I know I could go in, but I don't even want to know the situation."
For the rest of this story on Marques Slocum, plus features
on Michigan Hockey, Chad Henne, the greatest finishes in college football
history, and more, check out the next issue of GoBlueWolverine
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