ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The Michigan football team had three early enrollees for the 2012 class, all of whom are defensive players. Linebackers Kaleb Ringer and Joe Bolden and defensive back Jarrod Wilson have been in classes for almost a month in Ann Arbor.
"For them, coming in early, they're going to get all the things that these kids had to do to learn it in summer ball and last year, they're going to already have it," defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said. "It’s going to be a real plus for them."
Michigan coach Brady Hoke said each player is doing well academically and taking part in the optional winter conditioning.
Ringer and Bolden join a group that played a lot of youth last season. Redshirt freshman Jake Ryan and freshman Desmond Morgan were both starters by the end of the season. Linebackers coach Mark Smith said he sees Ringer and Bolden playing middle or strongside linebacker, where Smith said the team’s need for depth and competition is greatest.
"It gives them a whole extra spring practice that these other kids aren’t going to have," Smith said. "They'll have a lot more knowledge and understanding and be able to compete quicker by being here this spring."
Mattison said he has been impressed with Wilson since they started recruiting him. Wilson played for former Michigan running back Ricky Powers at Buchtel High School in Akron, Ohio.
"Anytime you can get a guy who has a Michigan background like Ricky Powers he's going to listen," Mattison said. "Ricky is not going to send you a guy that he doesn't want to be proud of because he loves this school so much. Everything that Ricky talked about him was 100 percent and then some."
The secondary also saw freshman Blake Countess make a strong move, grabbing a starting spot at cornerback halfway through the year.
Throughout the season Hoke and Mattison both said expectations are for the position, not the age. Mattison said he lays out what is expected of players before they even arrive at campus.
But these three, along with knowing the expectations, have more opportunities to show how they're meeting those expectations before their fellow 2012 signees arrive on campus in June.
"The thing that’s really important in our defense is you can be a sophomore, junior, senior. The best players are going to play," Mattison said. "As soon as you can learn the system and feel comfortable with the system, you’re going to play faster and you’re going to play better."