February 4, 2009

Smith eager to work with QBs Forcier and Robinson

After surviving 2008 with two inexperienced, pro-style quarterbacks, Michigan had to sign a pair of dual-threat signal callers Wednesday. Mission accomplished. Quarterbacks coach Rod Smith is excited about working with Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson

"I'm very excited about both of them," he said. "Both are obviously young guys, true freshmen, so there will be a lot of developmental process that will go into this, but the intangibles they have and can bring to the table that we saw on film, saw live and then when you get around their families and meet them -- we're very excited about what they could possibly bring.

"Both of them are very competitive guys. They're leaders. They're 'Take charge' kind of people and that's what we need at that position. Not that our guys here aren't but we wanted to add some competitors to that position immediately."

A four-star out of San Diego, Calif., Forcier enrolled in January and has been participating in winter conditioning. Ranked the No. 5 dual-threat quarterback nationally and the No. 164 player overall, the 6-1, 185-pounder completed 73.9 percent of his combined attempts during his junior and senior seasons.

"He's got some of the best mechanics I've seen from a high school kid in awhile," Smith said. "From a mechanics standpoint, he's been trained a long time. His dad has been training him for this moment. He's a hard-working kid, humble and willing to work. The kid has a knack. He's been playing football and winning games ever since he was little, and that gives him an edge."

Robinson is a 6-0, 180-pound four-star quarterback from Deerfield Beach, Fla. Ranked the No. 14 athlete and No. 188 prospect overall nationally, the signal-caller has thrown for more than 3,500 yards and rushed for more than 900 in the past two seasons. He sports a 4.38 40-yard dash. This morning, Robinson compared himself to former West Virginia standout Pat White.

"Pat White was an exceptional player," Smith said. "Denard can be an exceptional player too. He has a chance.

"Both of these guys are freshmen, they're young, and I'm not going to anoint any of them. They have so far to go, but at the same time we're excited about them.

"Denard is so athletic. He can run, he can throw and he's just an exciting young man that we are thrilled to get a chance to work with. And like I said, [he and Forcier] bring some more competitiveness to that position to see how it plays out. There is going to be a huge developmental process with them, but hopefully we can get them going as fast as we can."

Smith served as the primary recruiter for Forcier and was also responsible for four-star wide receiver Jeremy Gallon, three-star linebacker Brandin Hawthorne, three-star safety Mike Jones and three-star tailback Vincent Smith. Here are his thoughts on the latter four.

On Jeremy Gallon: "He is one of the most exciting kids in Florida. We have to keep working with him to the point where … he has some academic stuff. We have a plan for him. He has to do his part and is working thoroughly hard right now. We'll go from there, but he's an exciting young man and can help us a lot at slot because he's a playmaker."

On Brandin Hawthorne: "He's from Pahokee. He's kind of labeled as a tweener in size but at the same time he is a ferocious hitter, tremendous aggression, great range and just a very good football player. We have to put a lot of weight on him, which [strength and conditioning coach] Mike Barwis will, but that young man would run through a wall for you if you asked him to.

On Mike Jones: "Mike Jones is a safety that played at Edgewater, where [senior receiver] Greg Mathews is from. They played him a lot near the line of scrimmage, kind of like an outside linebacker. He was a run-support safety so he could very easily fill into a linebacker but he will start as a defensive back. But he could work his way down because he's a big-frame kid. He just needs to put some more weight on."

On Vincent Smith: "He's from the same school [as Hawthorne], Pahokee. Vince is a smaller scat back but he's a very powerful kid for his size. We really like the way he runs. We thought he was a sleeper in that state, to be honest with you."

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