The Wolverine

March 2020 Issue

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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24 THE WOLVERINE MARCH 2020 2020 FOOTBALL RECRUITING ISSUE end] Aaron Lewis brings to the table, because he could really develop into a big-time player. [Burke (Va.) Lake Braddock three- star tight end] Matt Hibner was someone we identified at the Ri- vals Camp Series, and he blew up from there as a great receiver. He's not exactly a well-rounded tight end because he needs to develop his blocking skills to contribute in all phases of the offense. He'll be able to provide mismatches for defenses, though. "[Delran (N.J.) High three-star athlete] R.J. Moten gets pointed out a lot as well, because he has the athleticism. I'd like to see him develop within the system a little more and make sure he under- stands what his responsibilities are, and then use his natural in- stincts to make plays against elite competition. "He hasn't necessarily done that before, because he doesn't play in a great area for football. Moten is an excellent athlete, though, so I'll be anxious to see if he can translate that athleticism from the high school level to the college level." Helmholdt: "I think a guy people overlook in this class is [West Bloom- field (Mich.) High three-star line- backer] Cornell Wheeler. He provides everything you need at the middle linebacker position. That spot is the quarterback of a defense, and he's smart, hits hard and can play just as effectively moving backward in cov- erage as he can going forward in run support. "Wheeler doesn't get the kind of pub among this group of recruits that he deserves." Lemming: "Aaron Lewis. He's a tall kid with great athletic ability who will put on weight and strength. He's not as highly rated by a lot of people because he's not as big and strong as a lot of other guys. Lewis is very athletic and was named two-time South Jersey, and that's really good competition down there. He'll impress a lot of people. "One of the offensive linemen could be put into that discussion as well, like [Centennial (Colo.) Eaglecrest three- star offensive tackle] Reece Atteberry or [San Juan Capistrano (Calif.) JSerra Catholic four-star offensive tackle] Jef- frey Persi. They both look like really good athletes, but just need to get big- ger and stronger. Persi is very tall, and it will come down to his ability to gain weight. He has a great frame that will allow him to do that." What are your thoughts on Michi- gan's 2020 signing class as a whole? Friedman: "It's a class filled with players who are going to help Michi- gan get closer to getting over the hump. They have some good play- makers on the offensive side of the ball like [Shrewsbury (Mass.) St. Johns three-star receiver] Eamonn Dennis and A.J. Henning, both of whom can score from anywhere on the field. "Blake Corum is an explosive play maker who should be able to help cre- ate momentum-shifting plays. They also have some big bodies on the of- fensive line like Zak Zinter and Jeffrey Persi, so I really like what they did as a whole on offense. "Michigan reloaded at linebacker with [Baltimore St. Frances four-star linebacker] Osman Savage and [Brook- lyn (N.Y.) Erasmus Hall Campus four- star linebacker] William Mohan, two active players who can play sideline to sideline. Kalel Mullings is also a big- time player in the middle of the field. "U-M has some high-ceiling guys who will be able to develop on the de- fensive line down the road. I'm a fan of what they did in the secondary as well, bringing in some good play- ers who have no problem being physical with receivers. "They'll be able to match up well with some of the bigger receivers they'll see, and they should be able to help prevent explosive plays from opposing offenses." Helmholdt: "It's a strong class from an overall rankings stand- point, and it's a top-10 caliber class, though it didn't finish there. They recruit from so many differ- ent areas, and melding a group like that together isn't easy. Team chemistry and locker room chem- istry are important to winning. Will Michigan be able to do that with how wide of a net they cast? They have kids all the way from Hawai'i to Massachusetts in this class. "I think they'd have a good chance of doing that if there was a foundation of local talent, be- cause these last two classes in the state of Michigan have been the most top-end talented since I've been covering recruiting, which has been 17 years. Michigan only got six total guys out of those two classes, and I think that's a concern long term. U-M is obviously valuing in-state prospects differently than both the way we [at] do and the way other schools do. "We've seen an influx in the num- ber of programs recruiting the state of Michigan. U-M is not as aggressive with the in-state prospects, and instead has been more aggressive particularly out east, though I'll be interested to see if that changes with [former safeties/ special teams coach] Chris Partridge now gone [to Ole Miss]." Lemming: "Michigan recruited to a lot of their needs, which I thought was important. I've seen most of the kids they signed in person, and I've been impressed with their athleticism. "Even some of the bigger players — like Braiden McGregor — are athletic pass rushers, so I was really impressed with the overall athletic ability of the class. "Michigan did a good job of evalu- ating before they even offered a lot of these prospects, because it seems like everybody who they got is a good ath- lete who can play multiple positions." — Austin Fox Defensive lineman Aaron Lewis was an extremely produc- tive prep player, racking up 243 tackles, 64 stops for loss and 23 sacks over his final three years of high school. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM

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