The Wolverine

March 2020 Issue

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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MARCH 2020 THE WOLVERINE 61 2020 FOOTBALL RECRUITING ISSUE HONORS • Finalist for the 2019 High School Butkus Award, given to the nation's top prep linebacker. • Helped lead his high school team to an 11-1 record and a consensus top-five ranking nationally. RECRUITMENT • Committed to Michigan on May 23, 2019. • Also had offers from Boston Col- lege, Nebraska, Pittsburgh, Ohio State and Wisconsin, among others. • Recruited by then-linebackers coach Anthony Campanile and defen- sive coordinator Don Brown. DID YOU KNOW? • Was a part of a defense that shut out six opponents in 2019. • Was coached at St. Frances by for- mer U-M staffer Biff Poggi. The pro- gram had 11 class of 2020 recruits sign with Football Bowl Subdivision pro- grams, including fellow U-M signees Blake Corum and Osman Savage. • Enrolled early and was able to take part in several of U-M's practices lead- ing up to the Citrus Bowl Jan. 1. THEY SAID IT • Baltimore St. Frances co-head coach Henry Russell: "Nikhai is just a great kid to be around and is an out- standing team player who works hard and is so focused. He's been a pleasure for me to coach. His story is pretty crazy and he's been through a lot in his life, but you'd never know it just by talking to him. He's very humble and knows exactly what his goals are, and he's determined to reach them. "All the guys on our team liked him and he always got along well with ev- erybody. The coaches loved him as well, and we already miss him. Nikhai is going to be a popular guy in the Michigan locker room." BY AUSTIN FOX Michigan signed three prospects from Baltimore St. Frances in its 2020 recruiting class — four-star running back Blake Corum, four-star line- backer Osman Savage and three-star linebacker Nikhai Hill-Green. The latter has flown a bit under the radar not only because his two aforementioned teammates received more fanfare, but also because U-M signed three other linebackers in the class, with a fourth in Brooklyn (N.Y.) Erasmus Hall four- star William Mohan likely projecting to the position as well. "Nikhai did a great job for us," Bal- timore St. Frances co-head coach Henry Russell explained. "He has a knack for finding the football, and there were a lot of times he made plays that made us say, 'Wow, how'd he get there? How'd he know that play was going there?' "Nikhai is a very instinctive player who is extremely athletic and has good size. He also runs well and has good ball skills for a linebacker, which is something not all of them have in today's football world." Hill-Green and Corum got a head start on their Michigan careers by joining the program this winter as two of the program's eight early en- rollees, while Savage is set to reunite with them this June. "Those guys definitely used to talk about playing with each other in col- lege," the head coach recalled. "They all root for each other and want one another to succeed. There wasn't any pressure or anything amongst the three of them, but they all got very excited once the U-M offers started rolling in. "They really wanted to keep build- ing on everything they had done to- gether at St. Frances and carry it over to Michigan." Despite hailing from Baltimore, Rus- sell revealed that Hill-Green always had an affinity toward Michigan, even before his high school days. That at- traction gave the Wolverines a bit of a leg up in his recruitment, and Sav- age's commitment to U-M in January 2019 only strengthened the likelihood of Hill-Green ending up there as well. He finally pulled the trigger on May 23, 2019, becoming the fifth re- cruit to commit to U-M in the cycle. Corum joined his teammates just more than a month later, and the three hope to lead the Wolverines to a sim- ilar level of national success as they did on the prep level, where their team finished 11-1 in 2019 an d w as ran ked among the nation's top five by Max- Preps (No. 3) and USA Today (No. 5). "Michigan had been one of the schools Nikhai al- ways saw himself at, even before they started recruiting him," Russell noted. "It really helps when a kid feels that way about a program. I had a feeling it was go- ing to be Michigan last spring, even though he liked some other schools a lot. The one he kept coming back to, though, was U-M, even though he never really came out and said it. He finally committed there in the spring. "Nikhai has a chance to have a great career there. He'll have to go out and compete and earn his spot in the locker room, and that's what he's focused on right now. I could see him becoming one of the better players on that team and then leading them to success." ❑ Nikhai Hill-Green Looking For U-M Success With Prep Teammates Hill-Green played at Baltimore St. Frances Academy alongside fellow signees Blake Corum and Osman Savage. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM 2020 Projection Hill-Green will take some time to develop into a Big Ten linebacker, and being an early enrollee is the perfect way to get a head start. There is a lot of talent at the posi- tion already in Ann Arbor, and he is one of five linebacker newcomers for 2020. His time to shine at U-M is most likely as an upperclassman. NIKHAI HILL-GREEN LINEBACKER 6-1 • 230 ST. FRANCES ACADEMY BALTIMORE RANKINGS STARS NAT. POS. STATE ✪ ✪ ✪ — 21* 19 ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ 341 23^ 12 ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ — 30^ 11 * Ranked as an inside linebacker; ^ ranked as an outside linebacker

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