Question: Can you expand a little bit on the defensive line needs in the class; what positions might be impacted early?
Coach Rodriguez: “I knew what the numbers are and defensively that we were down a little bit and there might be some guys on offense that we will switch over to defense this spring just to kind of balance it out a little bit and give us some competition over there. Our need was at every position. You can never have too many defensive linemen first and foremost and those are usually the hardest, so I think we addressed that need in this class and obviously we need some linebackers and guys that can play in space. That’s one thing we’ve talked about. There are more teams in our league that run the spread formation but everybody runs the spread formation at some point. Some may just do it on third and long, but you’ve got to have guys that can play in space. So our back end guys, linebackers, safeties and corners are guys that we felt that we needed who could play in space and so we tried to address that with athleticism. Again these guys are young, let’s not put too much on them too soon. They got to come and earn the spots and all that, but I think immediately the competition has risen on the defensive side of the football.”
Question: Can you give us a few names of guys that might have the best shot of getting out there?
Coach Rodriguez: “That’s a fair question but it’s like I’ve got two beautiful children and it is like telling me which child do you like better. You love them all as much as you can. I’ve been surprised before. We’ve recruited and we’ve talked about it and all of a sudden a guy that we thought may be redshirting winds up starting and the guy who we thought would be a starter or compete for it winds up having to be redshirted. So until they get here and really I think until two weeks into camp in August we’ll figure out what will happen. I think that does benefit more on the seven guys who enrolled early. They will have a little bit of an advantage, most of them are offensively because they’ll go through spring practice. But I think now days with the ability for those guys to come in the summer and get the summer school and get oriented and get six or seven weeks of training with 100 other guys, I think that helps them as far as adjustment to the speed and the strength of what they need. I would think anybody particularly at the positions on defense where we have thin numbers will have a real good look early. They’re all going to get a look but those guys at those positions defensively may be on the two deep just because that’s all the numbers we have there.”
Question: Do you have any idea of who your linebackers coach will be?
Coach Rodriguez: “Yeah I’ve really not done much with that. I’ve done some with that. I’ve interviewed some guys at the coach’s convention that was during the dead week in recruiting, so I was in Orlando for the whole time, four days and talked to some guys, talked to some guys over the phone and really my focus now after today can go into the regard is to hire a coach. It’s probably going to be a safeties coach (rather) than linebackers. Right now, I’m looking at putting Coach Robinson at linebackers. I think he wants to be there and I think that is going to be the best fit for us and this next coach will be an outside linebacker, safeties type of position. I’m open in some respects but I have an idea of what I’m trying to do with that position. My goal is to get someone hired within a week, but I do not want to put a timeframe on it because we’ve got a little bit, about a month and two weeks or so before spring practice, so we got a little bit of time.”
Question: Did you find it any harder or easier to recruit after the last two years?
Coach Rodriguez: “It’s tougher than it was if you were winning the National Championship, there is no question. I’ve been on both ends. If you’re on this end; we’ve gotten a little bit better so you can see progress. You also can sell opportunity. As I told the coaches, you’re not really selling. Sometimes recruiting does look like salesmanship. One time it is not your selling anything, you’re just giving people what they want. Maybe I sound like a salesman telling you that, but really when you putting your school and program out there, you’re just giving people what they want and what you think they want is a chance to play in a great atmosphere for a big time football (program) and get a great education and be around good people. That part of it there…the negativity in recruiting prevalent, but I did not see or and the coaches did not see it maybe as much as you would expect. I would think and maybe my other coaches can tell you otherwise, there is only one school in our league that we thought was negative recruiting quite a bit but most of the rest of them did not. Now the further you go south, go down south into the southern states, there is a little bit more negative recruiting. A lot of time that turns kids off. It turns families off. Like I tell my coaches, they better not negative recruit. They can present facts. You got a good place, just sell your own place, do not worry about bashing someone else. It’s all about relationships. I did not see as much negativity as you would think.”
Question: There were some reports that Demar Dorsey had some arrests in his background, can you tell us what you know about that and where it’s at?
Coach Rodriguez: “All I want to say is that every guy we sign, we do our research on as well. I think people are too quick to judge on something that they read on the internet and I think that’s dangerous to do that. I do not think its fair to the young men and his family to pass judgments on something before you know the whole story and certainly as a coach we get a chance to go visit these kids at the schools, we go visit at their homes and we get to have them come up here and spend a weekend. You get to know them and certainly we get enough time to research and find out the whole story not just what somebody’s written out there. We feel very comfortable with every guy that we sign is going to be a great fit, for not only the football program but for this University and our community. I get a little upset when people have labeled that coach will bring this guy in and that guy in. We had one full recruiting class and the first year was half a recruiting class. Unfortunately you have guys that will disappoint you and make a mistake. We’ve had a couple that have come and made a mistake – god forbid they make a mistake but unfortunately when they did you have to have discipline and you have to enforce, just enforce the decisions that they make. I think generally for the most part that guys have behaved pretty well and I think we’ve got a bunch of good guys on this football team. I think one reason why we are able to recruit pretty well, again I’ll tell you better in two or three years is because of the guys on this football team. We purposely, when the guys come to visit, we spend a lot of time with their families and the kids, but we want these recruits to spend time with our players and them get to know us and then we ask our players will he be a good teammate? Will he be a good fit for the program? Is he a good guy? Is he a good fit for Michigan? We ask every player that when they host that as far as that goes. They feel real good and our current players, I can't speak highly enough on how they really helped in this recruiting process.”
Question: Just to be clear on that…
Coach Rodriguez: “I was clear. Next one.”
Question: Are you saying that the charges against him aren’t true?
Coach Rodriguez: “All I’m saying is that everybody should look at the whole story, do not judge on something until you get all the facts.”
Question: I understand that but are you saying right now that you are confident that the charges aren’t true?
Coach Rodriguez: “If you look at everything that happened and researched the whole thing, just research the whole thing, do not just make it, research it. What happened and the results of what happened and find out the whole story, just find out the whole story, on any young man, find out the whole story before you pass judgment.”
Question: Why would you even take a chance on a guy that had some run-ins with the law to that extent?
Coach Rodriguez: “Again, I will say this one more time because you are testing my patience. I understand why you want the question. Any time that there is a situation we look at it as well and we find out the whole story. A lot of times there is more to he story than what people understand. You have to look at the whole story. If a guy is in the wrong place at the wrong time and he made a mistake by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, then you have to look into the why he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but you do not pass judgment on him when he did that as juvenile. There is nobody on this football team that we will sign that has a felony conviction or there is nobody on this football team that we are signing that has a misdemeanor conviction. So you have to look at the whole story before you pass judgment that’s all I’m asking you to do. Just look at the whole story before you pass judgment on a young man. Not everybody is perfect. Sometimes young people get into the wrong situation at the wrong time but they are found innocent, they’re acquitted or obviously somebody else saw the same thing that maybe you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, you get to hanging around the wrong people and get around the right people. That does not mean that this person is a bad person. I’m not talking about one guy, an individual. I’m just talking in general terms. I think you need to be mindful of that. I do not think we should pass judgment until you know all the facts. I think that is dangerous to do, I really do.”
Question: I do not mean to test your patience but you said in August that he wasn’t going to take chances on players like that. I can quote the exact quote if you want that’s why I’m asking.
Coach Rodriguez: “You just want to be negative. It’s amazing, we have such a great place here, we’ve got wonderful people. We got a great University, we got players that are working there tails off, they are doing pretty well in school and all that and everybody wants to be negative. Let’s be positive. Let’s be positive. We got a great group here. We’ve got a great recruiting class. We’ve got good young men. Let’s be positive…can we be positive.”