February 6, 2008

Michigan's haul in Florida best since 2000

While Michigan has had some success in the Sunshine State recently, the Wolverines had not pulled two recruits out of Florida in the same year since 2000. On Wednesday, U-M ended that drought with the commitments of Delray Beach athlete Justin Feagin and Lakeland offensive lineman Ricky Barnum …

Barnum, a four-star recruit ranked the No. 5 center in the country, had been a Gator commitment. He visited Ann Arbor Feb. 1, though, and had contemplated a change earlier this week. It wasn't until this morning, however, that Barnum informed his coaches he would be signing with U-M.

"I really wasn't sure what he was going to do this morning," Lake Gibson head coach Keith DeMyer. "I know he wasn't really solid on Florida about five days ago, right before his visit to Michigan. After the trip, he was thinking hard about it but I don't think we knew, and maybe he didn't know, he would make the jump until this morning.

"I think he was more impressed with the Michigan coaches than the Florida coaches. Plus, West Virginia was his No. 1 before the coaching change and then with the coaching change he still really liked those guys and was real excited where they wound up."

Barnum announced his decision in front of family, friends and classmates. His announcement drew a few surprised looks, but those in attendance were also really happy for him.

"I think it's exciting," DeMyer said. "We had a TV station out here and did it in the auditorium. He was smiling again, which was good to see because it's been a long few days for Ricky. He went through the whole spiel with the hats and put his Michigan hat on and a lot of our kids went nuts. There were some shocked Florida fans, but everyone was excited for him."

Feagin drew a crowd to his school too - a large crowd, though there were classmates signing letters of intent also.

"It was a huge deal today," American Heritage head coach Doug Socha said. "We had nine kids sign today, five in football, two in baseball and two in soccer. Justin Feagin is obviously the most well-known and he was the highlight of the morning. Not everybody knew it was Michigan. Most of the staff and administration knew, but when he announced, there was a loud cheer from everybody."

A three-star recruit ranked the No. 41 athlete nationally, Feagin will first try his hand at quarterback and will move to receiver if he does not win the job under center.

"What a spectacular day for Justin," Socha said. "Michigan is an unbelievable school, from an academic and athletic standpoint. We're really thrilled for him. There are a lot of people down here from the Midwest, the Northeast, and they understand what Michigan stands for. I think everyone was overjoyed that Justin will have a chance to compete at Michigan, both in school and on the football field."

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