The last time Courtney Avery visited Ohio Stadium, he was welcomed with open arms. The reception will be decidedly more hostile the next time Lexington’s blue-chip football recruit makes his way to Columbus. Avery had previously committed to Stanford, but, on Saturday, gave his verbal commitment to the University of Michigan.
LEXINGTON – The last time Courtney Avery visited Ohio Stadium, he was welcomed with open arms.
The reception will be decidedly more hostile the next time Lexington’s blue-chip football recruit makes his way to Columbus.
Avery had previously committed to Stanford, but, on Saturday, gave his verbal commitment to the University of Michigan. The Wolverines offered the senior-to-be a scholarship after he impressed second-year coach Rich Rodriguez and his staff during a workout last week in Ann Arbor, Mich.
“Michigan has a great tradition. They’ve won more games than any other program in college football and they have 11 national championships,” Avery said. “Coach Rodriguez has a history of winning. He’s won every place he’s been. Once he gets his recruits in there it’s just a matter of time until they get things turned around.”
The Wolverines stumbled to a 3-9 record last fall, Rodriguez’s first in charge of the storied program. One of those losses was a 42-7 shellacking at the hands of Ohio State on Nov. 22, a game Avery attended as an invited guest of the Buckeyes.
“That was an amazing atmosphere,” he said. “The next time I go there is definitely going to be different.”
Avery, who led Lexington to an Ohio Cardinal Conference championship and the second round of the Division II playoffs last year, gave his verbal commitment to Stanford in April. He informed Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, a former Michigan quarterback, of his decision Saturday.
“That was one of the toughest conversations I’ve ever had in my life,” Avery said. “I was committed to them for two months and we had already established a very good relationship.
“This is nothing against Stanford. I loved it out there when I visited.”
The chance to play closer to home was a contributing factor in Avery’s decision.
“That’s not the only reason I decided on Michigan, but I took it into consideration,” he said. “My support group will be a lot closer than if I was playing in California.”
Michigan’s academic standing was another.
“Academically, Michigan ranks among the best in the country,” said Avery, who carries a 3.7 grade point average. “It’s a great fit for me athletically and academically.”
Avery’s decision came just two days after Michigan offered.
“I know it seems sudden, but it’s something I had been thinking about even before they offered me a scholarship,” he said. “I knew Michigan was interested and I had an idea they might offer me.”
Lex coach B.J. Payne said Avery couldn’t go wrong.
“When Courtney started narrowing down his schools, he had Stanford and Michigan and Northwestern and Vanderbilt and Duke. They all are great academic schools,” Payne said. “A lot of kids would be glad to have one of those schools interested and Courtney had offers from all of them.
“It’s tough to choose between schools like that, but it’s a good problem to have.”