It seems that Adrian Arrington, Mario Manningham and Ryan Mallett have all played their last downs for the Michigan football team.
Clarifying comments he made during a radio interview yesterday afternoon, newly hired Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez told reporters at last night’s Michigan-Indiana basketball game he believed all three plan to leave the program.
“Obviously, with Mario and Adrian, they made decisions they thought would help them professionally and decided to come out early, and we certainly wish them well,” Rodriguez said about the junior wide receivers, who came in first and second on the team in receptions and touchdowns this season.
Rodriguez spoke bluntly about Mallett’s plans.
“I don’t care – he’s not playing for Michigan,” Rodriguez said of the freshman quarterback. “I’m concerned with who’s playing for Michigan. That’s my concern.”
Arrington, Manningham and Mallett all missed a team meeting Monday. Rodriguez said Arrington sent him a text message expressing his intention to enter the Draft. Rodriguez said he hasn’t spoken with Manningham since the Capital One Bowl and takes the silence as a sign that the Biletnikoff Award finalist has decided to leave for the pros.
Mallett, on the other hand, is expected to transfer to another school. Mallett, who has three years of eligibility remaining, would have to sit out a season if he transfers to a Division I school.
Mallett completed 43 percent of his passes for 892 yards last season. He threw seven touchdowns and five interceptions.
UCLA, rumored to be interested in outgoing Michigan quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler, seems to be the most likely destination for the former five-star recruit.
Mallett’s departure could help persuade another five-star recruit: dual-threat quarterback Terrelle Pryor, the nation’s No. 1 high school recruit according to Rivals.com.
The Jeannette, Penn., native may find the Wolverines more intriguing with an opening at the quarterback position. Many believe Pryor will eventually choose between Michigan and Ohio State.
The recruiting dead period forbidding coaches from contacting high school players ends this week, and Rodriguez said he and his staff hope to get on the road this Sunday. Michigan intends to fill 25 scholarship slots, meaning the team can pick up about 10 more commitments in the next month.
Rodriguez expressed the desire to sign “a couple” quarterbacks in this class. But the only signal-caller to commit so far – three-star recruit John Weinke – rescinded his pledge after Lloyd Carr announced his retirement and committed to Iowa.
High school seniors have until the first week of February to make their college decisions.
Last season, defensive tackle Alan Branch elected to leave Michigan a year early to test the NFL waters.
Once expected to be a top-10 pick, Branch ended up falling to the second round of the draft and struggled through an injury-ridden rookie season.
– Ian Robinson contributed to this report.