Big Ten Legends Division member Michigan lost one of its top 2011 recruits today when prep receiver Michael Tyrell announced he instead will play for Illinois of the Leaders Division.
"Much of being a legend is about fame," said Tyrell. "And while that's great, fame doesn't necessarily leave a positive impact on the world. Leaders do. So I wanted to play for a team that is associated with leaders. Let those other teams worry about being legends."
Illinois head coach Ron Zook said he is excited to get Tyrell's commitment.
"I was honestly worried when we were placed in the Leaders division that we would miss out on all the kids who want to be legends," said Zook. "But Michael is showing that he has great character. You can't have enough players like that."
Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez says he pleaded with Tyrell to reconsider.
"Before the conference announced the division names, he was 100-percent committed to Michigan," said Rodriguez. "If it wasn't for the division names, Michael Tyrell would be wearing maize and blue next year. I told him that they were just meaningless, soul-crushing, corporate-created placeholders, but he said he didn't want to risk it."
Tyrell is not the only recruit to change his mind, with several other incoming Big Ten freshman saying they must decide if they want to be a Leader or a Legend. Other recruits have decided to leave for other conferences entirely.
"Leaders, Legends … I decided I didn't want to be a Laughingstock," said former Penn State recruit Thomas Sanders.