June 6, 2009

Pace capable of hunting opposing defensive backs

With the Michigan summer camp set to begin June 14, U-M fans are hopeful a stream of recruits will pledge to the Wolverines this month. Avon Lake, Ohio, three-star offensive linemen Christian Pace started the trend with his announcement June 1 …

"I'm not surprised he committed," head coach Dave Dlugosz said. "He's been very interested in Michigan all along because of its academic reputation and then he wanted to see, from a football side, how he fit with the coaches and the strength coach.

"He went up there for a visit and he just clicked with those guys. Coach [Rich] Rodriguez has that fiery, competitive personality that Christian likes and then he wanted to meet the weightlifting coach and the offensive line coach and he came back to me with glowing reports about both guys."

The 6-3, 262-pound Pace hit it off with strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis and was eager to show him what he could do (though he held off). On Friday, Pace was in Avon Lake's weight room working out at 7:00 a.m. even though it was the first day of summer break.

"I usually have to tell him to go home or he'd stay in there all night," Dlugosz said.

Rated the nation's No. 5 center in the Class of 2010, Pace plays tackle for the Shoremen, though he is committed to playing inside for the Maize and Blue.

"He will be a guard or a center but he could play defensive back and he wouldn't say a thing because Christian is the kind of kid that just wants a helmet and shoulder pads so that he can put his hand in the dirt, line up from the man opposite him and just play football," Dlugosz said. "He has such tremendous passion for the game."

Pace's list of suitors was long and pronounced - South Carolina, Florida State, Illinois, Iowa, Pittsburgh, Colorado and Louisville among others. He best fit in at Michigan, though, and should excel in Rodriguez's spread-offense attack.

"The No. 1 thing that stands out about Christian is he is aggressive; aggressive and physical," Dlugosz said. "He knows how to lock onto a man and finish his block. He wants to put you into the ground. Coach Rodriguez likes that about him.

"He's also extremely intelligent - he's a good student that in addition to Michigan had offers from Stanford, Northwestern and Vanderbilt. He makes all the calls for our blocking schemes because even when he's out at tackle he can see the whole defense and understands what our line has to do to be able to react to what they're doing.

"Athletically, he has great feet, pulls a lot, is agile, takes the right angle to the defender and doesn't waste any of his steps. He loves hunting corners and safeties, putting the fear of God into them."

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