The Wolverine

August 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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AUGUST 2018 THE WOLVERINE 69   COMMITMENT PROFILE M ichigan flipped an Ohio State commitment when Columbus (Ohio) St. Francis DeSales three-star safety Joey Velazquez pledged to the Wolverines June 22, but it was a little different than a normal flip. Velazquez was committed to the Buckeyes as a baseball player, but de- cided he would play football (as well as baseball) at U-M.'s No. 50 prospect in Ohio knew that Michigan was the place for him after a checking out a few campuses. "Everything happened kind of fast," Velazquez said. "I went on a couple of visits to some schools to see what I liked and that were possible for me to better myself, and make sure everything was okay with my family as well. "Then I went to Michigan with my whole family. I camped and went out there and competed. I just wanted to show the coaches what I've got so they know what they're getting. "Then I talked to the baseball coach, Erik Bakich, and he was awe- some. He was just huge on making my decision and knowing that Michi- gan was the right place for me, and so I committed there." At 6-0, 205 pounds, Velazquez is going to play viper at Michigan and that should fit his skill set well. "They said they see me as a viper, the outside linebacker/ safety hybrid posi- t i o n , " Ve l a z q u e z explained. "I talked to Coach [Jim] Har- baugh, and he said he could see me as a running back type, just a physi- cal running back, too. "I think I'll probably do most on the defensive side of the ball, but I'll do whatever helps and makes the team better. I'll play anywhere just to get on the field." Midwest recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt also sees Velazquez as a versatile player. "His biggest strength is his competi- tiveness and the way he approaches the game from a mental standpoint," Helmholdt explained. "He also has good straight line speed and is a physical kid who looks like he spends plenty of time in the weight room. He's muscled out and incredibly strong. Velazquez is a multi-sport star, and those guys usually know how to com- pete and how to be good teammates. "He's probably applicable to a lot of roles — viper, linebacker and safety — but not necessarily ideal for any of them. Is Velazquez ever going to be an all-conference type of player in college? Probably not. Can he be serviceable? Certainly." T h e o n e - t i m e Buckeye commit is excited to be a part of Michigan's foot- ball program and has already started to change his lifelong way of thinking. "I've grown up my whole life knowing about 'The Game,'" he said. "I've always had respect for Michigan. They're a great program, and it's just crazy to think that I'm a part of them now. The rising senior excels on both sides of the ball on the gridiron. Dur- ing the 2017 season, he was second on the team in rushing yards (356), rushing touchdowns (seven), recep- tions (17), all-purpose yardage (495), tackles (50), interceptions (two) and kick return yardage (148). He also led DeSales in deflected passes with four. On the diamond, Velazquez shines as an outfielder and pitcher. He was named the Division II Player of the Year for the state as a junior after bat- ting .545 with three home runs and 37 RBI, while posting a 3-2 record and a 2.92 ERA on the mound. Velazquez was a first-team Division II all-state outfielder as a junior and sophomore. — Brandon Brown Versatile Athlete Joey Velazquez Flips From Ohio State To Michigan Velazquez — who is rated as the No. 50 prospect in Ohio — originally pledged to just play baseball for the Buckeyes, but will compete in both football and baseball for the Wolverines. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM Velazquez "I've always had respect for Michigan. They're a great program, and it's just crazy to think that I'm a part of them now. Ohio State is the rival now." FILM EVALUATION Strengths: Joey Velazquez's main strengths are his versatility and work ethic. He plays many positions on the football field and works hard to excel at all of them. He's also extremely strong because of his efforts in the weight room and continues to im- prove as a cover man and athletically. Areas O f Improvement: He's being recruited as a viper, which should allow him to succeed in col- lege. He's a bit stiff as a cover man and a little undersized as a line- backer. Viper seems like a good spot to capitalize on what Velazquez does well. Michigan Player Comparison: Velazquez isn't quite the athlete that Jabrill Peppers or Khaleke Hudson are, and he'll play their position with a skill set closer to the one Jordan Kovacs possessed. Velazquez is al- ready bigger than Kovacs was dur- ing his entire career at Michigan and is probably a slightly better natural athlete. With that said, he'll bring toughness, hard work and versatil- ity to the roster just like Kovacs did. — Analysis from

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