It's 'Hail to Michigan' for Wilkins
By Joe Tuscano, Staff writer
Ken Wilkins found that one of the toughest parts in selecting a college was the ceremonial unveiling of that school's shirt and cap at the press conference.
It took about 20 seconds for Wilkins to remove the clothing from a blue gift bag Tuesday afternoon, causing the approximately 50 youth league players who were at Trinity High School for a summer camp to plead for Wilkins to please hurry up.
Finally, the 6-3, 245-pounder who will enter his senior season with the Hillers this fall, pulled out the maize and blue T-shirt of the University of Michigan, then popped on the matching baseball cap to the cheers of the crowd.
Wilkins chose Michigan, coached by former West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez, over Pitt, WVU, Maryland and Virginia.
"This has been my childhood dream, to play for Michigan," said Wilkins, who was a first team all-state defensive lineman last season and received a four-star rating from Scouts.com.
"I used to watch them on TV when I was young. It might have been those helmets that I liked."
Wilkins joins Andrew Sweat (Ohio State), Mike Yancich (Penn State), Cody Endres (Connecticut), Andrew Miller (Ohio State), and Brandon Weaver (Ohio) as recent Division I-A football recruits from Trinity.
When Wilkins arrives at Michigan in 2010, Trinity will have three scholarship players competing in the Big Ten.
"I think we did a really good job identifying our young players and keeping them playing," said Trinity head coach Ed Dalton. "Everyone has kids like that, but you have to train to get to this point. Ken is a six-year weight-training machine."
Wilkins played defensive end and linebacker for the Hillers and made 89 tackles, had 12 quarterback sacks and forced two fumbles. Michigan projects him as a pass-rushing defensive end.
"His physical talent is unmatched," said Dalton. "He's 6-4, 240 pounds, has a 28-inch waist and runs a 4.6 40. He can easily get to 280 pounds if he wanted. His upside is unbelievable. He has all the physical tools."
Wilkins, whose cousin is former Washington High School and Notre Dame graduate Travis Thomas, made his last visit to Pitt.
"Pitt was great and had everything, but I've always been a Michigan fan," said Wilkins, who plans to seek a double major in sports fitness and sociology. "They are building a brand new indoor facility and they have the third-largest stadium in the world. I'm comfortable with the coach, the area and Ann Arbor."
He said watching Sweat and Yancich go through the process helped him, and showed him how to handle himself.
"They influenced me a lot," Wilkins said. "I saw what they did in certain situations.
"It feels good to get this over with. I'm not going to be pulled out of class (when recruiters come to the school). Now, I can relax a little."
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