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Michigan freshman RB C.J. Stokes discusses how Mike Hart recruited him differently than anyone else

Just like Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, it’s clear Stokes has a deep connection with the Michigan RB coach.

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the college football season, it’s been abundantly clear the two star backs of the Michigan Wolverines — Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards — don’t just have respect for their position coach Mike Hart, but a deep kinship.

While there was little doubt warmness was extended to the other running backs on the roster, on Tuesday evening, freshman C.J. Stokes confirmed that during his time with the media.

For Stokes, that relationship started even before he was committed. As a three-star recruit out of South Carolina, Stokes admitted to feeling overlooked by many of the programs he received offers from. In contrast, Hart and Michigan went above and beyond.

“When I was going around for my visits, all of the experiences were different and similar, but when I came here they kinda rolled out the red carpet and everything,” Stokes said. “I got treated higher than people would see or people would think I’d get treated based on my ranking.

“I don’t think coach Hart ever cared about my ranking; if he did he wouldn’t have recruited me. He just trusted in me as a player, so I think he just turned on my tape versus seeing what recruiting experts kinda thought about me.”

That respect from Hart has clearly left a deep mark on Stokes — one he feels he has to repay any time he goes out on the field.

“When I slack or do anything like that — cause everybody has their moments. I mean, I’m not perfect, so I slack sometimes — but the first thing I think about is the amount of trust that he put in me to bring me here when a lot of people thought I didn’t think I could play here,” Stoke said. “So I just gotta play hard for him to prove people right and defend him. So that’s one of the big things for me.

“It’s not really about me, it’s about him too because it’s a job at the end of the day and it’s a business, so he has to produce talent. So I gotta go out there and put a return on what he brought in.”

With his eight-carry, 68-yard performance against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Stokes is well on his way to proving Hart’s faith in him isn’t unfounded.