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Published: Tuesday, 2/3/2009

UM may land 2 prized recruits

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

The coach for two high school football players Michigan is targeting said the Wolverines have a "great opportunity" to land both of them Wednesday on national signing day.

Quarterback Denard Robinson and receiver/cornerback Adrian Witty, both of Deerfield Beach (Fla.) High School, want to play together in college and may very well pick UM, former Deerfield coach Art Taylor said in a telephone interview Monday. Taylor coached Robinson and Witty for the last three years but was fired as coach after last season.

"Michigan has a great opportunity, a really good chance of getting both of them," Taylor said. "They enjoyed their trip up there [to Ann Arbor Jan. 9] and they always talk about Michigan."

Robinson, a prototypical dual-threat quarterback Wolverines coach Rich Rodriguez covets to run his spread-option offense, and Witty will make their announcement at 11 a.m. Wednesday. Kansas State made offers to both, while Robinson is said by Scout.com to have received offers from Ohio State, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Miami, West Virginia and Central Florida.

Taylor said Robinson and Witty were smart enough to "do what's best for their individual careers," but "if the opportunity to play together at the same school is there, it does add interest."

It sounds like UM wants to give Robinson and Witty that opportunity. Taylor said Wolverines offensive coordinator Calvin Magee and secondary coach Tony Gibson diligently pursued the Deerfield Beach standouts.

Robinson is the more highly touted recruit of the two and the one who, if he chooses UM, will arrive with the most fanfare. Rated the 14th-best quarterback in the country by Rivals.com, Robinson would compete with fellow freshman Tate Forcier and incumbents Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan in the fall.

Forcier is from San Diego Scripps Ranch High and is ranked as the nation's fifth-best

quarterback by Rivals.com. He gained a head start on Robinson by enrolling at UM for the current semester and will participate in spring practice.

"I think Denard knows Forcier is there, but he's the type of kid that has that competitive mindset," Taylor said. "It's not cockiness, it's just being a competitor. Denard wants to show he's the best every time he's on the field."

Robinson, 6-foot and 179 pounds, has the nickname "shoelace" because Taylor said he couldn't tie his shoes in elementary and middle school. Now he ties defenses in knots with his ability to move in space.

According to ESPN.com's evaluation of Robinson, he "has supreme quickness, burst and acceleration and has a knack for pulling a rabbit out of his hat when he gets in trouble; [t]hrows extremely well on the move, especially to his right; [i]s a highly competitive player that is always trying to make things happen and usually comes up with the big play."

UM currently has at least 20 commitments in its 2009 recruiting class, including seven players who have already enrolled. Forcier is on campus now, as is five-star defensive tackle William Campbell, defensive backs Vladimir Emilien and Mike Jones, linebacker Brandin Hawthorne, defensive end Anthony LaLota and running back Vincent Smith.

Rodriguez has said he is shooting for a class of 25 recruits. He will announce and discuss his second recruiting class as UM's coach with the media at 3 p.m. tomorrow.

Contact Joe Vardon at:

jvardon@theblade.com

or 419-410-5055.



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