In some cases, recruiting takes a prospect by storm. He signs up for football, plays for his high school and one day, without warning, schools starting calling. In many other cases, like that of St. Joseph (Mich.) sophomore defensive end Corey Malone-Hatcher, playing college football is a longtime goal.
Malone-Hatcher began the process of improving his game, getting to camps and working toward offers in sixth grade. Now, just after his sophomore season, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound youngster already has scholarship offers from Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State.
"Most of it is a lot of validation," said his father, Orlando Malone. "When we set out back in sixth grade, what we wanted to do was a lot of trial work. There were some trial and error, but we wanted to focus on trying to learn new techniques, and to finally have everything come together, it feels good."
Growing up in the state, getting a scholarship opportunity has long been a goal of Malone-Hatcher's. When he called Michigan director of player personnel Chris Singletary earlier in the month, it seemed like any regular conversation. That was, until he handed the phone to head coach Brady Hoke.
"Coach Hoke picked up the phone. I was surprised he would take the time to talk to me during the day, so I got kind of excited," Corey said. "He told me they'd been watching my tape all morning and their final evaluation was that he could tell I've developed where I needed to athletically, and I have the work ethic and also have my academics where I need them to be, and they couldn't find a reason why I shouldn't be a Wolverine and told me I had an offer from Michigan."
The whole family has visited Michigan many times, and the news of the offer brought tears from Corey's mother and much jubilation from the rest of the Malone-Hatcher clan.
"It hasn't been a huge secret to anybody that we've put in a lot of time there," Orlando admits. "We went to three games last year, another two this year, plus basketball games, and went up for camps and the (Big House) BBQ. We've built a good rapport with the current coaches, learned a lot more about the history of the program, the academic side, and that was definitely a school of interest we were tracking. So when the day finally came, it was a huge relief, and as evidenced by his mom's response, it was well received."
The groundwork for the offer came in summer camp when Malone-Hatcher took on some of the camp's best, including highly-regarded junior Liam Eichenberg, and enjoyed success. Despite playing in only four games this season before an injury, the games he did play in showed his ability to rush the passer and stand up and play in space.
With two years left in his recruitment, the Wolverines will no doubt be a major player in his recruitment, and although there is some uncertainty in Ann Arbor about the future, there is no uncertainty in the Malone-Hatcher home about their feelings for the Maize and Blue.
"On the outside looking in, everything is in a state of chaos," Orlando explains, "but he has a couple years left before he would be in the program, and I always say you're not only being recruited or committing to coaches, but also to the university.
"Michigan is a great school. It would be great for him to go there, but I'm also confident that with Michigan, and their great history and storied tradition, that it's only a matter of time before the sleeping giant wakes up, so it would definitely fun to be part of a resurgence."
Mike Weber update
Detroit Cass Tech running back Mike Weber decommitted from Michigan on Saturday, but says the Wolverines are still in consideration. He plans to take official visits to Michigan State, Ohio State, Georgia, Notre Dame and USC. He will announce his decision at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 3.
Weber just finished an outstanding season in which he rushed for more than 2,000 yards.
Allen Trieu began covering the state of Michigan for Scout.com in 2005 and began managing the entire Midwest in 2009. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan and Michigan State recruiting columns appear weekly at detroitnews.com.