On Monday night, I spoke to 2015 four-star safety and Michigan Wolverines commit Tyree Kinnel about his recruiting journey, his commitment to U-M, and potential players he’d like to bring with him when he hits campus.
Tyree Kinnel: The recruiting process actually went smooth for me. It started at the end of my freshman year. Michigan was actually the first school to talk to me and start to recruit me. After that, it started picking up through my sophomore year. That’s when I got my first offer by Kentucky. Michigan was my third offer, and I committed there about a month later.
TBHR: So why Michigan?
TK: Basically everything. I grew up a huge Michigan fan and that was always my dream to play in The Big House and be a Wolverines. Other than that, I had to look at the big picture, like the coaching staff. I felt great with them and built strong relationships with them. I felt at home up at Michigan.
It was just a perfect fit. It’s close to home. It’s not that long of a drive, about three hours, and I’m sure we’re going to be competing for championships every single year.
TBHR: A lot of fans like to hear that. Who were the coaches that you were most in contact with?
TK: Early on with was coach (Mark) Smith and coach (Curt) Mallory, but now that I’m committed, I’m starting to get a good feel for all the coaches. The main people that recruited me were coach Smith and Mallory, and some of coach (Greg) Mattison.
TBHR: What did they say in terms of what your role will be in the program going forward?
TK: I spoke a little bit with coach Mallory. Right now, they want me at safety, which I’ve played in high school and I’ve played corner too. They think I can play some corner, and maybe a little bit in nickel, but right now, my freshman year coming in (to the program), they want me to play safety.
TBHR: In the 2015 class alone, you’ve got guys like yourself, Shaun Crawford, and Garrett Taylor coming in, as well as other guys who are well established. What are your thoughts on the future of the secondary?
TK: I think they know what they’re doing. Coach Mallory recruited a great class of DBs and adding coach (Roy) Manning as the cornerbacks coach, I think they’re starting to get it together and form a great group, and once they do that, it’s up to us to compete and get a spot. I think they’re doing really well with the DBs and I like how they’re recruiting them, and I like how they’re getting more and more so we can be solid there.
TBHR: In the Spring Game this past Saturday, it looks like they’re starting to play a little more physical with their defensive backs at the line of scrimmage. Is that something you’re looking forward to?
TK: Oh yeah, I love being physical. I guess you could say that’s what I’m kind of known for. I’m excited that they’re playing physical and playing stronger, and not playing off receivers as much. It was good to watch that in the Spring Game.
TBHR: What are some of the strengths in your game that you think you have?
TK: I would just say I have a nose for the football. I forced three fumbles last year on the season and had three interceptions. Just playing fast and getting to the ball. Tackling and being physical. Coverage wise, you know, I have weaknesses, too, but I’m just trying to get better every day and hopefully during my senior year I can be better than my junior year.
TBHR: What are some things you’d like to improve on going forward?
TK: I want to improve in my open field tackling and my angle tackling. Once I get that down, I think I’ll be pretty good and I’ll be pretty set to compete in Ann Arbor. There’s still a lot to do. I have got to get quicker. I’ve got to definitely get stronger. I think I’ll be okay my senior year of high school with everything I’m doing right now. The game has gotten a lot slower for me, but now I’m trying to get better for college. I’m not saying I’m trying to skip my senior year, but right now, I’m working on getting ready to be up in Ann Arbor and compete.
TBHR: Last question. Are there any other prospects that you’re working on bringing to Ann Arbor with you?
TK: Yeah, I’ve been working on (five-star 2015 linebacker) Justin Hilliard for awhile now and I still talk to him quite a bit. Brian Cole (four-star 2015 athlete), I talk to him. There have been a couple others, but not as strong. I guess you could say those are the strongest I’ve been talking to. I really want Hilliard. I’ve seen him play, and Michigan is pretty high on him. The whole country is high on him, actually, and I think he’d be a perfect fit for us.