ANN ARBOR, Mich. — It was a big weekend for Michigan recruiting as the Wolverines hosted their two biggest camps of the offseason. Friday was the 1-Day Elite camp, while Saturday was focused on the guys at the heart of the attack with the Big Man Big House camp.
Offensive linemen Jalen Mayfield and Emil Ekiyor, and defensive end Aidan Hutchinson are already committed to the 2018 class of recruits. Those three were on campus this weekend and participated in the Big Man Big House camp. Hutchinson won two of four events in the strongman competition.
It was a long but productive weekend for the Wolverines.
Here are 10 things we learned:
IMG Academy pipeline
The class of 2017 includes IMG graduates Cesar Ruiz and Jordan Anthony, and they could be the start of a steady stream of players coming to Ann Arbor from the Bradenton, Fla., school. Michigan has offers out to 11 players from IMG from the class of 2018, according to 247Sports. It got its first commitment for 2019 on Saturday from IMG 4-star linebacker Charles Thomas.
— Charles Thomas (@CtdabeastThomas) June 24, 2017
Linebacker Zac Smith (2019) and defensive tackle Jeremiah French (2020) were two IMG players at the BMBH camp on Saturday. Smith won three of four events in the strongman competition for his age group and showed well in the 1-on-1 pass rushing drills that ended the day.
Heavy focus on 2019
Michigan has signed 56 players in its last two classes (2016, 2017) and will have room for about 20 players in 2018, depending on attrition. Ten players have already committed to the Wolverines, so space is limited in this next class. The class of 2019, however, is getting a lot of attention at this point.
Running back Noah Cain, another IMG player, and Eric Gray of Memphis attended the Elite camp on Friday. In the world of recruiting, the focus is always forward.
Emil Ekiyor is sticking with Michigan
Ekiyor is the highest-rated of the 2018 commits. While there were comments attributed to him in May regarding a lack of communication with Michigan, he re-affirmed his commitment to the Wolverines to Land of 10 on Saturday.
No pads doesn’t mean no intensity
Camps are usually conducted in shorts, t-shirts, and helmets. No pads. But the highlight of the BMBH camp Saturday were the 1-on-1 drills between offensive and defensive linemen. Future teammates Mayfield and Hutchinson were matched up and had each had their wins in the battles.
It’s easy to get enamored with 40-yard dash times, bench press reps and all kinds of other numbers, but the games are decided by players winning their individual matches. Numbers won’t tell you about the competitive nature of a player. Drills like these will.
Jim Harbaugh’s rule of thumb
The Michigan head coach wrapped up the Elite camp on Friday with a message to the players: “Avoid the fun stuff.”
Harbaugh wasn’t trying to be a stick in the mud, but his point was that in order for players to reach the college level and succeed, they needed to have their priorities straight. Harbaugh said there are “three ‘Nos’ to every one ‘Yes.’ ” If players don’t put themselves in questionable situations in the first place, they’ll eliminate the chances of getting into trouble.
There’s elite, then there’s ‘elite-elite’
Harbaugh is all for his players being multi-sport athletes. He loves the competitive nature and athleticism that playing more than just one sport demands. Not everyone can do that at the college level. For a player at Michigan to even attempt playing two sports, he must be “elite-elite” in Harbaugh’s mind.
Incoming freshmen Jordan Anthony (football/baseball) and Oliver Martin (football/swimming) are two athletes that fit the mold.
“Very much we would embrace it.,” Harbaugh said. “[Anthony] is an elite football player and an elite baseball player. When they’re elite at two sports, right when football season is over, we’ll let them go to another sport.”
Aidan Hutchinson is impressive
As mentioned previously, Aidan Hutchinson, the 2018 commit and defensive end for Dearborn Divine Child High School won two of four events in the strongman competition. It was part of an overall impressive day for Hutchinson. https://www.landof10.com/michigan/2018-michigan-commit-aidan-hutchinson-proves-mettle-big-man-camp-strongman-competition
William Carr hasn’t lost a thing
William Carr was an All-American nose tackle for Lloyd Carr and Michigan from 1993-96. He was back at Michigan Stadium on Saturday coaching the defensive line during the BMBH camp. Carr is now the defensive line coach at Morgan State, a job he accepted last month after spending time as a defensive analyst at Texas under Charlie Strong.
Carr was a student assistant at Michigan while he came back to school to complete his degree in 2015.
Harbaugh sees Chris Evans in 2019 RB target Eric Gray
Not every player is the right fit for every program, and vice versa. People may think of Michigan as a ground-and-pound type offense for running backs, but that’s a misconception. Sophomore Chris Evans is a prime example. He is more of a slashing runner who has power when he needs it but would rather run past a defender than over him.
Gray is a similar player.
“Coach Harbaugh was telling me that No. 12, Chris (Evans), he’s kind of the same player I am. That was good to know,” Gray said. “I’m looking for the right system. Not a team that’s ground-and-pound inside, because that’s not the type of back I am. I like to get inside the tackles and make someone miss and get to the house, not try to run over people.
“I can run over people when I need to, but that’s not my type of game. I like to catch the ball out of the backfield, move into slot, that type of offense.”
Offers and commits
Beyond the commitment by Thomas, Michigan handed out a couple of offers to 2019 players on Saturday. One went to offensive tackle Trevor Keegan of Crystal Lake, Ill., while the other was to linebacker Nakobe Dean of Horn Lake, Miss. Both are 4-star rated prospects.