The Wolverine

March 2020 Issue

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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2020 FOOTBALL RECRUITING ISSUE BY CLAYTON SAYFIE U-M was able to get four-star de- fensive back Makari Paige right out of its own backyard. West Bloomfield (Mich.) High School and Ann Arbor are roughly a 45-minute car ride from each other. The familiarity was there. Cou- ple that with the fact that his head coach, Ron Bel- lamy, is a former M i c h i g a n w i d e receiver, and his friend and team- mate, linebacker s i g n e e C o r n e l l Wheeler, had al- ready committed to U-M, and it was a comfortable choice for Paige to follow suit. "I think he knew early on where he was likely going to head," Rivals. com Midwest re- cruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt said. "He checked out a few places to make sure that Michigan was, in fact, the best spot for him. Obviously, he came to the conclusion that it was. "Honestly, a pretty standard, low- intensity, no-drama recruitment. It was pretty straightforward." Bellamy's allegiance to U-M as a for- mer Wolverine doesn't cloud his judg- ment when it comes to how he handles the recruitment of his players. In fact, Wheeler was the first West Bloomfield player under his tutelage to choose U-M, and Paige was the second. "The connection with Michigan is good, but — similar to Thomas Wilcher, another former Michigan player who is the head coach over at Cass Tech — Ron's not going to push his kids to Michigan just because it's Michigan," Helmholdt said. "He'll advocate for Michigan if it's the right fit for a kid, but other teams are re- cruiting West Bloomfield just as hard. "They know that Ron is a straight shooter, and he's going to help his kids make the best choice for them and not just direct all his players to Ann Arbor." Paige, a 6-3, 192-pound safety, re- minds Helmholdt of former U-M safeties Jamar Adams (listed at 6-2, 216 as a college senior) and Jarrod Wilson (6-2, 210). A d a m s p l a y e d for the Wolver- ines from 2004- 08, while Wilson suited up from 2012-15. Both were good, all-around safeties in the de- fensive backfield, and Wilson was a 16-game starter this year for the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars. "I compare him to Jamar Adams, but he's more like a Jarrod Wilson- type," Helmholdt s a i d . " J u s t h i s long, lean frame. He's rangy in that defensive back- field. He can play that center field role, but he's stronger than he looks; he can run the alleys and come up and smack ball carriers pretty good too. "So he really does provide that all- around game that you look for in a safety — somebody that can cover and help in run support." In addition to being disruptive in both the run and pass game, Paige is also likely to come up with big plays, something that any coach likes in an athlete. In his final two seasons of high school, Paige posted four interceptions, one forced fumble and three fumble recoveries. He also added 11 pass breakups and eight tackles for loss. "One of the best aspects about him is that he has that playmaker gene in him," Helmholdt said. "He tends to step up with big plays at big moments, and that's always im- portant for your defensive backs, who need to have some swagger, Makari Paige Fits The Mold Of A Michigan Safety At 6-3, 192 pounds, Paige possesses the type of size, versatility and playmaking abili- ties that the Wolverines seek from their safeties. PHOTO BY EJ HOLLAND 44 THE WOLVERINE MARCH 2020 2020 Projection Paige's versatility will help him see the field. The early enrollee will compete to be a depth player at the safety spot as a freshman behind presumed starters Daxton Hill and Brad Hawkins. He may not make a huge impact right away, but he is primed for a big role down the road in his career, especially when Hawkins' safety spot opens up after he graduates following the 2020 season. MAKARI PAIGE DEFENSIVE BACK 6-3 • 192 WEST BLOOMFIELD H.S. WEST BLOOMFIELD, MICH. RANKINGS STARS NAT. POS. STATE ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ — 18* 8 ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ 225 20* 5 ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ 231 14* 5 * Ranked as a safety STATISTICS Year Tackles TFL Int. PBU 2019 94 5 2 7 2018 105 3 2 4 HONORS • 2019 Dream Team member of the all-state teams compiled by the De- troit News, Detroit Free Press and MLive. • Tabbed as an Associated Press Divi- sion 1-2 first team All-State selection as a senior. • Second-team All-State for Division 1-2 as a junior by the Detroit News. • Helped lead West Bloomfield to a 10-2 record and a state quarterfi- nal appearance in 2019. The Lakers reached the state title game in 2017 and regional finals in 2018 with the help of Paige. RECRUITMENT • Committed to Michigan on July 30, 2019. • Also had offers from Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin, among others. • Recruited by then-safeties coach Chris Partridge and tight ends coach Sherrone Moore.

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