Holy Spirit linebacker Marcus Witherspoon is finally glad to have the recruiting process over – for the second time.
During the summer Witherspoon made a verbal commitment to attend the University of Michigan. Of course a verbal commitment isn’t binding and many players change their minds.
A high school football recruit can’t sign a national letter of intent until Feb. 6. Witherspoon decided over the weekend that Michigan would indeed be the place he will attend, but the decision came after some considerable thought and with two other recruiting trips to Tennessee and Rutgers in between.
When Witherspoon made his decision in the summer, Michigan’s head coach was Lloyd Carr.
Yet Carr resigned in November, although he coached the Wolverines in their 41-35 Capital One Bowl win over the University of Florida.
Michigan hired Rich Rodriguez as Carr’s replacement. Rodriguez had been wildly successful at the University of West Virginia, going 60-26 and winning four of the past five Big East championships.
The only problem is that Witherspoon didn’t know Rodriguez and had to be acquainted with him and his new staff at Michigan.
“I’m really glad it’s finally over,” Witherspoon said. “I’m really looking forward to playing for Michigan and coach Rodriguez.”
But not before there were some anxious moments.
Rutgers and Tennessee made late pitches and both were impressive.
“It was tough because all three are great schools with great programs,” Witherspoon said.
One of his goals, in addition to playing against top-notch competition in the Big 10, was to receive a degree from Michigan, which Witherspoon considers prestigious. Not that Rutgers and Tennessee didn’t offer great educational opportunities, but he felt Michigan was a better fit academically.
“Michigan is known all over the world ,” Witherspoon said. “I think a degree from Michigan is special.” So was the play of Witherspoon during his senior season when Holy Spirit went 12-0 and was the consensus No. 1 team in South Jersey.
The 6-foot-2, 225-pound Witherspoon had 27 sacks as a senior. No, that is not a misprint. It’s a ridiculous total, but one achieved only by one of the best defensive players in recent South Jersey history.
As the sack total showed, teams simply couldn’t block Witherspoon, whether they put two or more players on him.
And now he can’t wait to take his talents to Michigan. While many freshmen redshirt their first season in order to get accustomed to the faster pace of college football, Witherspoon said he has no such plans.
“They said I have to work at it, but if I do, there is a chance to play as a freshman,” Witherspoon said.
He is versatile enough to play either inside or outside linebacker, although with his speed, the outside seems like a better fit.
Even as he moves on to the next level, Witherspoon will always cherish his senior season, winning the Non-Public Group 3 state title. Despite being unbeaten, Holy Spirit was the underdog against an 11-0 Immaculata team in the championship.
Spirit won 26-13 to put the finishing touches on an unbeaten season.
That was after defeating once-beaten St. Joseph Montvale, 12-3 in the semi-final.
Immaculata and St. Joseph Montvale were two high scoring teams and the defense held them to a combined 16 points.
“Winning the championship was great but I think our best defensive game was against St. Joe Montvale,” Witherspoon said.
And now he is looking forward to the next part of his career as Witherspoon attempts to make his mark while playing at the highest level of college football.
“I think it’s going to be great going to Michigan,” he said. “I can’t wait to get started.”