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Published: Thursday, 2/7/2008

Rodriguez pleased ... then UM class gets even better

BY ZACH SILKA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Tight end Kevin Koger is all smiles, along with his father, Carl, after signing his national letter of intent to accept a scholarship at the University of Michigan yesterday at Whitmer High School. Tight end Kevin Koger is all smiles, along with his father, Carl, after signing his national letter of intent to accept a scholarship at the University of Michigan yesterday at Whitmer High School.
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ANN ARBOR - Two names were conspicuously missing from the list of 22 players Rich Rodriguez announced yesterday will suit up for the University of Michigan football team in the fall.

Terrelle Pryor, rated by many recruiting Web sites as the top quarterback in his class, and Sam McGuffie, a running back from Cypress, Texas, who has become a YouTube phenomenon for his ability to hurdle defenders on the football field, both decided to delay their commitments indefinitely. Both were considered key pieces of the Wolverines' incoming class of players.

Then later yesterday after the UM news conference, McGuffie signed a Michigan letter of intent.

Rodriguez said he and his coaching staff will keep recruiting until they have a full class of 25 players or the March 31 NCAA deadline arrives for high school seniors to sign their national letter of intent, whichever comes first.

"I'm very pleased," Rodriguez said. "We may or may not get to that 25 mark. If we don't, we'll certainly be able to sign them for next year's class. We have a few needs. Probably the biggest pressing need for us making the transition from one offensive system to the other is at the offensive skill positions.

"We've tried to address that in this class, and we'll continue to address it in the very near future."

Pryor, who had been scheduled to announce his commitment on ESPNU in a noon press conference yesterday, instead said on-air that he was still considering Michigan, Ohio State, Oregon and Penn State, and needed more time to make his decision.

He also said he plans on visiting Oregon in the next week. Michigan and Ohio State had been the only two schools to which Pryor had made

official visits.

McGuffie's verbal commitment to the Wolverines was believed to have been a solid one for quite some time, and, although a bit late, it turned out to be so.

"Every kid has his own timetable for making this decision," Michigan

offensive coordinator Calvin Magee said before McGuffie signed. "We have to respect that, and he has to be comfortable with it."

Rodriguez pointed out the six offensive linemen he signed as a strong aspect of Michigan's recruiting class.

There has been a glaring need at that position on the depth chart since Jeremy Ciulla and Alex Mitchell, two starters from last season's offensive line, opted to graduate and not to return to Ann Arbor for their final year of eligibility.

"Everybody wants big guys that can move," Rodriguez said. "This offensive line class is going to be something special. You have six guys there that are all very, very good athletes and guys that fit the system."

Wauseon senior Elliott Mealer (6-foot-6, 280 pounds) is one of the Wolverines' offensive line signees that Rodriguez expects to contribute early in his college career.

"He's an outstanding athlete who was also a very good basketball player,"

Rodriguez said.

Whitmer tight end Kevin Koger (6-4, 220) joins Mealer as the other Michigan recruit from northwest Ohio and one of seven signees from across Ohio - the most from any state, including Michigan, in Rodriguez's first signing class.

Rodriguez and the assistants he brought with him from West Virginia have been familiar with Koger for nearly two years, and he was considered the most-prized target among the Mountaineers' coaches, according to Magee.

"He's a talent, and I think he can do a lot of things for us and be very versatile," Magee said. "I told him I had to switch shirts to come over here and coach him."

Koger was listed as a tight end on the press release from the Michigan athletic department, but Magee said it's possible he could spend some time at slot receiver as well.

Koger has said in the past he would like to contribute as a slot man for the Wolverines next season but also that would be content wherever he is utilized.

"All our tight ends have to learn the [slot position], and the ones that are capable of doing it will do it," Magee said.



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