BEAVERTON, Ore. — Dylan McCaffrey is rated as one of the best high school quarterbacks in America, and he’s committed to play for the program with the most victories in the history of college football.
Beyond being tasked with helping a school steeped in tradition like Michigan return to a level of dominance its millions of fans have craved for a long time, McCaffrey has plenty of pressure to live up to in his own household. While other 5-star recruits spend much of their high school careers being celebrated and lionized by everyone around them, McCaffrey has dealt with his share of, well, humility.
“I’ve had plenty of girls who would be talking to me and be like, ‘Hey’ and I’d be like, ‘wow that’s a cute girl … ‘Hey’ and then they say ‘Hey, can you introduce me to your brother?’” McCaffrey said. “Then I’m like, ‘Ah, I see. No, I’m sorry.’ That’s probably the weirdest thing I’ve [dealt with].”
McCaffery’s older brother is Christian McCaffrey, the Stanford running back who produced a Reggie Bush-esque season en route to being a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2015. Dylan McCaffrey wants his own path, his own route to potential football stardom. His response about his brother trying to recruit him to Stanford — “He knows me and he knows that would have been tough to be Christian’s little brother for another four years” — is a pretty good expression of that.
Part of McCaffrey’s story is being written this week at The Opening, the premier summer football camp in the nation held at Nike’s world headquarters. Not only does he have a chance to showcase his immense talent in front of more than 160 of the top players in the nation, but he also has the opportunity to be Michigan’s de facto recruiting coordinator with a wealth of elite talent around him.
One of the players McCaffrey was eager to talk to about joining him in Ann Arbor had already bought in. Offensive lineman Kai-Leon Herbert from American Heritage (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) committed to Michigan on Wednesday.
Two other players are two of the best pass catchers in the nation. And McCaffrey has already guaranteed he will get some extra time to hang out with them.
Donovan Peoples-Jones from Cass Technical (Detroit) is the No. 1-ranked wide receiver in the country. Nico Collins of Clay-Chalkville (Pinson, Ala.) is among the top 10 wideouts who, like Peoples-Jones, remains uncommitted. Each quarterback at The Opening has the ability to draft two players to his 7-on-7 team for the weekend, and those two players were McCaffrey’s picks.
“Definitely Donovan Peoples-Jones,” McCaffrey said of who was on his wish list to help sway towards Michigan this week. “I know he’s a big name around here and he’s definitely a big name in Michigan. I think he’s one of our huge targets that we are trying to get. I was excited to see him on our roster here.
“Nico is awesome. Obviously I really want him to come to Michigan, but he’s a great dude and I want him to go where he thinks is a fit. We’ve built a good relationship, and I think he fits at Michigan. I would love to spend four years with him in the future. I’d love to throw to him. He’s such a good target and such a good guy. I think he’d really fit there just from hanging around with him.”
Once McCaffrey leaves Oregon, the next step in his journey will be his senior season at Valor Christian (Littleton, Colo.) and preparing to play for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan. Harbaugh’s resume, both as an NFL quarterback and now extremely successful college and NFL coach, add another layer of pressure for McCaffrey.
Harbaugh chose him to help lead a renaissance in Ann Arbor. If it happens, it will all be part of Michigan quarterback Dylan McCaffrey’s personal story, the kid who is much more than the younger brother of a Heisman Trophy contender or the son of a former NFL receiver (Ed McCaffrey) or the grandson of an Olympic silver medalist and Sports Illustrated cover subject (Dave Sime).
“It’s an honor,” McCaffrey said to be recruited by Harbaugh. “For him to even just mention my name is so great but to be coached by him for the next four years, man, I completely trust him and Coach [Jedd] Fisch with what they tell me. I think that was one of the biggest parts of making my college decision was I trust them to get me to the right place.”