January 24, 2012

Chance, luck started Houma's recruitment

Sometimes it's not about going to camps, or sending out film, or attending combines. Sometimes, luck and good fortune lead to an opportunity. That's how it happened for Salt Lake City fullback Sione Houma ...

Houma has been in the fold since July, and nothing has changed dramatically for the three-star prospect since. He visited U-M officially Nov. 25 for the Ohio game; he's added a little size to his 6-0 frame, now carrying 215 pounds; he's decided not to participate formally with the track this team spring; and he's set to sign his letter of intent with Michigan Feb. 1.

But Houma, one of 12 three-star recruits in the Wolverines' class, is one of those sleepers that could pay dividends for the Maize and Blue down the road as a versatile fullback that can block like Chris Floyd but contribute offensively like B.J. Askew, for whom his role most closely might resemble someday.

"He runs a 4.5, he's not slow, and he will get bigger and stronger," coach Brody Benson said. "He has great hands, and a niftiness to his feet, so they can throw him the ball in the flat or surprise the defense with a quick handoff. He's a very good blocker too. Like when he runs, he keeps his feet moving, and that's always key; he lowers his pad level and will really hit you."

Houma rushed for 1,838 yards and 16 touchdowns on 224 career carries (8.2 yards per rush) with 11 receptions for 49 yards. He had 1,026 yards and eight touchdowns in six career playoff games (171.0 per game), and is one-fourth of the defending Class 4A state champion in the 4x100-meter relay.

"The thing people don't realize about Sione when they meet him, talk to him, is that he's a very competitive kid, but someone that doesn't get rattled, doesn't feel the pressure of the big moment," Benson said.

"He's so quiet, and doesn't talk much. He's a reserved, quiet kid that comes from a great family, and will be a great asset to that football program."

Benson first met Brady Hoke in 2010, when San Diego State was visiting Utah for a game against the Utes. That's actually how Houma originally came to be recruited by Michigan.

"I have a pretty good relationship with the football staff at Utah, and they mentioned to me that San Diego State was looking for a place to have a practice on Friday before the game so I told them they could use our field," Benson said. "I stuck around and watched practice, and I was just blown away by the way Coach Hoke commanded his team.

"A lot of times you'll see coaches that are off doing their own thing, and turn that sort of stuff over to the assistants, but he was in charge, he orchestrated everything they did, and you could just tell those kids were hanging on every word.

"I had the chance to meet him, talk to him, and we've continued our relationship since. I told him about a few of my kids. We put Sione's highlights on Youtube, Coach [Dan] Ferrigno saw it, got in-touch immediately, and basically we just picked it up from there. I also played against Coach [Jerry] Montgomery in high school."

With his father in the airline business, Houma was able to make a trip to Michigan in the summer, and a few weeks after his June visit, he committed.

"I talked to my parents, and we all agreed Michigan would be a good school for me and my family," he said. "A lot of people that grow up in Utah just stay in Utah and go to one of the colleges here, but I want to be different, explore, and make a name for myself somewhere else, away from home."

Houma hasn't wavered in his decision since he called the coaches July 25, but he found comfort in visiting officially in November.

"When they played Ohio State, and the stadium was packed, and loud, and they came running out of the tunnel ... I was speechless," he said. "I've never seen so many people, and I can't wait until that's me coming on to the field playing for Michigan."









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