In the weeks after Thanksgiving Break last year, Darryl Stonum finally decided to turn off his cell phone.
A senior at Dulles (Texas) High School at the time, Stonum received dozens of annoying, unwanted calls every day. But he wasn’t being hounded by telemarketers or overbearing parents.
Pete Carroll, Urban Meyer and Nick Saban – some of the biggest coaches in college football – along with recruiting coordinators from countless marquee programs across the country flooded his inbox with messages after former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr retired.
But unlike some Wolverine commits, who rethought their decision to don maize and blue when Michigan’s coaching job was still vacant, Stonum never considered going anywhere else.
“To tell you the truth, I came to Michigan for a lot of reasons other than coaching,” Stonum said. “I mean, they played a big role, but I made a commitment – I told them I was coming here. Sure, I was a little nervous, but I’m happy I stayed.”
During his junior year, the Sugar Land, Texas, native sat down with his high school coach Jim Creech to discuss his future. Michigan was always high on Stonum’s list of potential schools, because Ann Arbor was where he felt most comfortable.
Michigan running backs coach Fred Jackson, who took care of most of the Wolverines’ recruiting in the South under Carr, played a large role in drawing in Stonum, now enrolled a semester early at the University. The fact that new Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez kept Jackson on staff might have played a role in Stonum’s steadfastness, Creech said.
“He was very adamant about the fact that when he did make his decision, he was going to stick with it,” Creech said. “Darryl could’ve gone to any school in the country. But once he made his decision, whatever it was, he was going to stick with it.”
Even though Stonum never expressed interest in other schools, Rodriguez made sure that the nation’s seventh-best receiver, according to the recruiting website Rivals.com, didn’t slip away.
During the Wolverines stay in Orlando, Fla., for the Capital One Bowl, Rodriguez was on the phone with Stonum and his father, making sure Stonum wasn’t listening to offers from the big-name coaches leaving him voicemails.
But Stonum was so excited to come to Ann Arbor, he moved in a semester early to make the transition to college easier. Now enrolled in the Division of Kinesiology, Stonum is taking classes and adjusting to life on campus.
Freshmen Troy Woolfolk and Brandon Herron, who played with Stonum in high school, have helped him find his role on the team.
“We’re like brothers now,” Stonum said. “They’ve looked out for me a lot since I got to school.”
But Stonum’s first few weeks didn’t pass without a few mishaps. On his way to class one day, Stonum hopped on what he thought was a campus bus, only to wind up in Ypsilanti, on Eastern Michigan’s campus.
“The first few days he got a little lost,” Rodriguez said. “But he learned very quickly, and he’s a guy that’s smart enough to get around.”
Coming to Michigan early has given Stonum an advantage over the 23 other high school seniors that signed letters of intent with the Wolverines. Since arriving on campus, Stonum has already begun strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis’s training regimen with the team.
He’ll also suit up during spring practice. Rodriguez plans to give him a lot of reps with the first-team players because Michigan doesn’t have much depth at the receiver position.
“We haven’t had practice yet, just had some workouts,” Rodriguez said. “But our strength staff is really high on him. We knew from recruiting him that he’s got a lot of talent, so this spring is going to be big for him, because he’s going to have a chance to help us right away.”
One of the biggest concerns for Rodriguez and his staff was how to convince Michigan’s recruits that they would fit into the spread attack. But Stonum’s speed, agility and size make him the perfect receiver in Rodriguez’s package. On top of that, he played on a spread offense for the last four years.
“This is really my style of offense,” Stonum said. “It’s fast-paced, running up and down, really similar to what I ran in high school.”
It may be too early to tell if Stonum’s extra time with the Wolverines will result in added playing time next year, but now that he’s grown accustomed to life in Ann Arbor, at least he can keep his cell phone on.