Tom Amstutz was so impressed with Jamar Landrum, the University of Toledo football coach offered the safety a scholarship last summer before the start of his senior season.
Landrum finally accepted the offer yesterday, when he was among 23 players from eight states who signed letters of intent to play for the Rockets.
Landrum, a 6-2, 200-pound safety from Pontiac (Mich.) Northern, was rated the 12th-best player in Michigan by the Detroit Free Press - the highest ranking of any of UT's seven recruits from the neighboring state.
A three-year starter, Landrum finished his career with 15 interceptions and was a Division 2 first-team all-state pick.
Landrum, who also plays basketball and is a sprinter on the track team, was recruited by most schools in the Mid-American Conference, along with North Carolina, Iowa and Michigan State.
But the only school Landrum visited was Toledo, which loses 22 seniors from a 10-2 team that captured the MAC championship, the Motor City Bowl and finished No. 23 in the final Associated Press poll.
“What sold me on Toledo was that they have a great program, a program on the rise,” he said. “The coaches really made me feel like they wanted me. They showed me a lot of love and care. And they didn't do anything illegal.
“I am pretty confident if I come in and work hard and put my mind to it, I can start.”
Landrum is one of six defensive backs who signed with UT, which returns two starters - cornerbacks Jehu Anderson and Brandon Hefflin - from a secondary that surrendered 19 touchdown passes last season.
“He's an excellent football player and a great young man,” Amstutz said of Landrum. “He's literally one of the best players in the state of Michigan. He can run, hit, catch a football, make plays on defense. He probably could have gone just about anywhere, but he liked us. He liked our commitment to him and he stuck with us.”
Amstutz and his coaching staff also landed two highly sought-after tailbacks - Quinton Broussard (The Colony High in Carrollton, Texas) and Astin Martin (Creston High in Grand Rapids, Mich.). They likely will battle for the position vacated by third-team All-American tailback Chester Taylor.
Broussard (5-9, 190) led the state of Texas in rushing with 2,124 yards - he scored 23 touchdowns - and was named offensive player of the game in the state all-star game. He visited Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M before deciding to attend UT.
Martin (5-8, 180) ran for 1,676 yards and was the only Rocket recruit from Michigan to make the Detroit News Dream Team. He also is a sprinter on the track team.
“I'm really excited about this class,” Amstutz said. “It's a large class with a lot of very talented players. With this many signees, we were able to sign a lot of guys at a lot of different positions. We lost 22 seniors, so we needed a lot of everything.”
The recruiting class includes seven players from high schools in Ohio and Michigan; two each from New York, Texas and Georgia; and one each from Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Oklahoma.
The only local player to sign with the Rockets was running back/linebacker Rodney Gamby of St. Francis de Sales.
“We signed players from more states than we ever have here, probably in the history of this program,” Amstutz said of his second recruiting class. “If you include the two players from Minnesota and Utah who enrolled here in January, we covered 10 states with our newcomers.”
In addition to the 23 players signed yesterday, the Rockets also have landed three newcomers. The three already have enrolled and will participate in spring drills.
One of them, Cedric Stevens, is a 6-4 junior college quarterback who will have sophomore eligibility. He is expected to battle returnees Bruce Gradkowski, Brian Jones and Keon Frazier for the job vacated by Tavares Bolden.