Brady Hoke's mode of recruiting at Michigan has been both widely criticized and celebrated.
While some marvel at his heavy streams of 4- and 5-star talent rolling into Ann Arbor, others question his methods: Is he simply recruiting star-rankings and me-firsts, or is he recruiting true program players bent on team advancement?
This fall will certainly provide more context and assist in answering those questions. Entering his fourth year as the Wolverines head coach, Hoke has yet to prove that he can field a true Big Ten title contender with guys other schools dream of getting. That has to change, and part of that change could be influenced by gathering players with proper attitudes, not just A1 games.
Since taking over in 2011, Hoke's pulled some of the best athletes available like clockwork. Tick. Tock. Here's another blue-chipper. However, and this is especially evident with recruits from 2014 and 2015, it seems as if he's also intent on pulling those of high character.
Cases in point: Darrin Kirkland (2015), Garrett Taylor (2015), Wilton Speight (2014) and Derrick Green (2013). As past interviewees, each of them were pleasant, polite, well spoken and sounded like they had a firm grasp on their future plans. In short, they were anything but "dumb jocks" and really impressed me.
Whether it's through football or their chosen field of study, I have a strong feeling that those guys will end up doing something in life.
This past week, I spoke with Kirkland, a 4-star 2015 ILB commit out of Indianapolis. Refreshingly honest, the Lawrence Central will-be-senior was absolutely clear when explaining what he wants to get out of Michigan--and getting an education and becoming a contributing member of society was right up there with winning games.
Initially, Kirkland said that Michigan wasn't his first choice. There's that honesty. However, over time, the idea of committing to the Wolverines began to feel right. So that's what he did. Family atmosphere and overall comfort were important to Kirkland, who had 28 scholarship offers, many from NCAA powers.
Darrin Kirkland Jr, #Michigan Commit also earned an invite to the Nike @TheOpening2014 competition after his stellar performance in Ohio— IndianaPreps (@IndianaPreps) June 3, 2014
As the No. 6-ranked ILB of his class, he had options. Lots of options. But the Wolverines have a secret weapon, one which works wonders with potential pledges.
Coach Greg Mattison was the "man who really did it for me," says Darrin Kirkland of his impression of UM staff.— Sports in the Mitten (@SITMBigAndKid) June 5, 2014
Linebacker Darrin Kirkland says he called Brady Hoke to commit to Michigan while Hoke was in church. STORY: http://t.co/Cfj3fyqV9N— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) May 20, 2014
In the midst of de-commitments and mind-changers, Kirkland assured me that his verbal to Michigan will transform into a signed letter of intent come NSD. Informed and ready, he chose to pledge to more than the Michigan brand, winged helmet and The Big House.
He committed to being a part of something and helping the Wolverines achieve success as a team. Those are the types of players Hoke needs.
And it certainly won't hurt if they make a few plays on Saturday, either.
Follow Maize 'n Brew's Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81
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