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MAY 2020 THE WOLVERINE 45   COMMITMENT PROFILE G reg Crippen thought he found the right fit. The Rivals250 offensive lineman from Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy committed to Notre Dame last March and remained a verbal pledge to the Fighting Irish for almost an entire year. However, Crippen had a change of heart and backed out of his com- mitment this offseason. It didn't take him long to find a new home. After a video chat with head coach Jim Harbaugh, Crippen decided to shut things down for the second time and give U-M a verbal commitment. "He obviously dropped Notre Dame and committed to Michigan, which I'm sure made a lot of Michi- gan fans feel good," Rivals national recruiting analyst Rob Cassidy said. "It was definitely a surprise to me, though, when he decommitted from Notre Dame. I did not see that coming, and it became clear pretty quickly it was because he wanted to commit to Michigan. It was a heck of a job by U-M." Crippen is ranked by as the No. 5 offensive guard nation- ally. However, Michigan recruited him hard as a center. The Wolver- ines also received a verbal pledge from Raheem Anderson, the nation's No. 2-ranked center per While both will likely compete for the spot, one may have to transition to guard in Ann Arbor. Cassidy be- lieves Crippen could play either po- sition at the next level. "It's clear he's technically sound, though he has to get a little stronger in the upper body," Cassidy said. "I don't think he's ready to go to the Big Ten and play just yet, seeing as how he could add 20 more pounds of muscle and get stronger. He knows what he's doing, though, and has light feet for his size at 270 pounds and moves pretty well. Those are his strong points — for a guard, he has extremely light feet. "He probably has the footwork to play tackle, but just isn't strong enough. He's an athletic guard though and will take off some bad weight and put on more muscle once he gets into a strength program, and that will al- low him to be an impact player." Crippen is originally from Mas- sachusetts, but opted to attend IMG Academy a couple of years ago. Crip- pen started every game for the na- tional high school powerhouse last season and also had a chance to learn from IMG offensive line coach and former Super Bowl champion George Hegamin. Under Hegamin's watch, Crippen has developed into one of the coun- try's top-ranked interior offensive linemen. "He's a very dedicated kid," He- gamin said. "He goes about his busi- ness. He's as professional as anyone I've coached or been around from my days in the NFL and in college and working with elite high school offensive linemen. He's as good as they get. "Work ethic and leadership are his biggest strengths. Honestly, he's go- ing to figure out whatever you put in front of him. His largest strength is always going to be his ability to figure things out and lead the group. You can't ask more than that from a center." Hegamin also said Crippen stacks up favorably to former three-time All-Pro center Mark Stepnoski, who he played with as a part of the Dallas Cowboys during their Super Bowl runs in the 1990s. "He reminds me a lot of a guy I played with years ago named Mark Stepnoski," Hegamin said. "He's not very big and brawly, but his leverage is outstanding. He understands how to use his body. He's very athletic at the center position. Michigan is get- ting a good one." At 6-4, 275 pounds, Crippen is ranked as the No. 129 overall pros- pect in the country by — EJ Holland U-M Successfully Flips Former Notre Dame Commit Greg Crippen FILM EVALUATION Strengths: Greg Crippen has been a full-time starter at center for one of the best high school teams in the country. He has developed into a natural snapper of the ball and is very cerebral. He should have no problem sticking at center at the next level. He bases his game around his technical skill. He uses his hands well, and it's clear he has received quality coaching at IMG Academy. Weaknesses: Crippen's slow feet are a concern. He's not very physi- cal either. While he's listed at 6-4, 275 pounds, he still looks small on the field. He needs to reshape his body and add muscle in Michigan's strength and conditioning program. Because of his lack of size and ag- gression, he may be pigeonholed to the center position. Michigan Player Comparison: It was hard to find a true player com- parison for Crippen. He could turn into a guy like Andrew Vastardis, who made contributions later in his career after joining the team as a walk-on. Crippen is obviously a touted recruit, but he brings a simi- lar skill set and expectations should be tempered based on his ranking. Like Vastardis, Crippen will be asked to play center and some guard. — EJ Holland Rivals national recruiting analyst Rob Cassidy on Crippen "I did not see [a decommitment from Notre Dame] coming, and it became clear pretty quickly it was because he wanted to commit to Michigan. It was a heck of a job by U-M." ranks Crippen as the nation's No. 5 offensive guard and No. 129 overall recruit. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM

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