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Published: Thursday, 12/16/2010

Toledo area commitments believe UM's Rodriguez will succeed

Friday will be the final day in the high school life of Fremont Ross senior Greg Brown, who will soon matriculate to Ann Arbor as an early enrollee freshman on the Michigan football team.

Classes begin Jan. 5 -- four days after the Wolverines play for coach Rich Rodriguez, possibly for the final time. Brown could soon find himself reporting to a head coach he has never met.

"I'm still hoping coach Rodriguez and his staff will be there," Brown said.

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon has maintained a firm stance that a decision regarding Rodriguez's employment will not come until after the Jan. 1 Gator Bowl, the same day Rodriguez's buyout clause drops from $4 million to $2.5 million.

Brown is one of 12 commitments in Michigan's current recruiting class. St. John's Jesuit's Jack Miller is another, and like Brown, he plans to be a Wolverine regardless of who his coach will be.

"I am still committed to Michigan, and I will be no matter what happens with Coach Rod," said Miller, who will enroll with the majority of other freshmen in the fall. "I support Coach Rod and his coaching staff 100 percent. They're doing a good job and [the team] continues to improve."

Despite constant speculation of his job status, Rodriguez has not lost any of his committed players. In fact, he has picked up three new commitments since November, including one this week from instate linebacker Desmond Morgan. Several other prospects have the Wolverines high on their list.

"These kids are choosing for more than just the football program," Scout.com's Allen Trieu said. "They've committed to the school itself, the tradition, and the environment. These are kids who like Michigan for more than just the coaching staff."

Miller and Brown are two of them. Both said they like Rodriguez and his staff, but more influential to their decisions were the school's rich traditions in football and academics.

Recently Brandon addressed Rodriguez's situation with recruits and, according to Miller and Brown, did not stray from his plan of making a decision after the bowl game.

Miller doesn't see the sense in making a move.

"Particularly if they win," he said. "I don't see how you can [fire Rodriguez]. He returns one of the most explosive offenses in the Big Ten and has two more years left with [quarterback Denard Robinson] … I don't see him going anywhere."

Apparently, neither does Rodriguez.

"Coach Rodriguez plans to be there for another 10 years," Brown said. "And I hope he is."

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com or 419-724-6160

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