ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- It's not even tax day yet, and the bulk of Michigan's recruiting for the 2013 class is done.
The Wolverines already have 17 verbal commitments. On Tuesday, linebacker Ben Gedeon became the 13th member of the ESPN 150 watch list to jump aboard.
This marks the second straight year that Brady Hoke and his staff have secured a boatload of commitments before the summertime. I asked Hoke today about his strategy of getting so many pledges early.
"I think the staff does a tremendous job of evaluating and [building] relationships," he said. "The system we use, I really believe in, as far as checks and balances. We feel there's a certain fit for guys at Michigan -- character, integrity, toughness. It's hard here. It's demanding, and we're demanding, and it takes a certain type of guy to play here."
Hoke and his assistants have had years of experience recruiting the areas of Michigan and Ohio, where 13 players of the 2012 class hail from. They've used the relationships with high school coaches as one tool to identify targets early. But that's not all they do.
"With technology today, recruiting has changed," Hoke said. "You have so much more ability with tape, tape, tape -- this Nike camp here or whatever there. So I think you're having an ability to really make some evaluations earlier.
"It's not an exact science, we all know that. But I think the staff also does a really good job of talking to people other than coaches. When we go to the high schools, we talk to people in the cafeteria. Go see what the ladies feeding them think."
The risk of offering so many players before their senior seasons of high school is that those prospects don't develop as planned their final year before college. Hoke acknowledges that.
"That comes with the territory," he said. "Sometimes you get a guy committed to Michigan, and he kind of feels like he's made it and he doesn't do the job he should do for his high school."
And not every player committed in April will sign in February, as the Wolverines experienced this past signing day. But by loading up so many commitments from blue-chip players early, Michigan gives itself a chance to sign another great class.
"We're always going to get our share," Hoke said. "I've coached here way too long not to know that. But it has to be the right fit."