The Wolverine

February 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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FEBRUARY 2021 THE WOLVERINE 49   COMMITMENT PROFILE M ichigan could not allow this re- cruiting cycle to end without adding a true defensive tackle. After not signing a player at the po- sition last recruiting class and whiff- ing during the early signing period, the Wolverines got their man in 2021 Rivals250 Jersey City (N.J.) St. Pe- ter's Prep product George Rooks, the No. 8 strongside defensive end and No. 123 overall prospect nationally per He committed to Michigan over finalists Boston College and Penn State, and also held offers from Ala- bama, Auburn, Georgia, Miami, Ne- braska, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Tennessee, among others. Rooks had several factors high on his mind before making his decision. "How much they love me, how high I am on their board and what system they run," Rooks said. "The college that can get the best out of me, that's the school I want to go to. It doesn't matter about the depth chart or anything like that." Michigan definitely showed him love. U-M head coach Jim Harbaugh, ace recruiter Sherrone Moore and de- fensive line coach Shaun Nua were all heavily involved in his recruit- ment throughout the dead period and ultimately won him over. Har- baugh video chatted with Rooks on his birthday in September and was in constant contact down the stretch. The head coach's personal involve- ment really stood out to Rooks. "He's a great guy," Rooks said of Harbaugh. "He does a lot great stuff for his program. He has a lot of guys that got to the pros. He knows what he's doing. He's coached in the NFL." Rooks added that he was especially impressed with Nua's pitch on how Michigan plans to use him in its new defensive scheme. "With Coach Nua, we've been watching a lot of film," Rooks said. "We're seeing where I fit in the sys- tem. He's said that I'm a multi-role guy. I can be a strongside end or slide down to a three [technique tackle] if I get a little bigger." Rooks played multiple spots along the defensive line for St. Peter's Prep throughout his high school career and is a long, athletic prospect with a ton of potential in the trenches. But perhaps his biggest strength is his football acumen. Rooks works out in the offseason with former NFL defensive tackle J'Vonne Parker, now a private trainer in New Jersey. And Parker was quick to compliment Rooks on his tactical approach to playing along the defen- sive line. "He's a different type of guy," Parker said. "He's a cerebral guy. He plays the game internally. He has a high IQ. He plays the game from a schematic standpoint, but he'll also put his hands on you and get you out of his way. "He plays with such leverage and IQ that he's unstoppable." Rooks visited Michigan on multi- ple occasions before the dead period as his sister played basketball for the Wolverines in 2018-19 as a gradu- ate transfer out of Harvard. In fact, Michigan hosted Rooks for more vis- its than any other school, including a self-guided tour over the summer. The familiarity with the program ultimately played a huge role in his decision. "I went to a couple of games," Rooks said. "It's a great campus. The fan base is great. The stadium is freaking crazy. They have a bunch of good restaurants there. It's just a lot of fun there." Rooks is the son of former Syracuse defensive lineman George Rooks Sr., who was drafted by the New York Giants in 1992. Michigan now holds 21 commits/ signees in its 2021 recruiting class (the other 20 have already inked let- ters of intent). Rooks is the fourth defensive lineman to hop on board and the highest rated of the bunch. — EJ Holland The 6-4, 260-pound Rooks is listed as a four- star prospect and the No. 123 overall player in the 2021 class by PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM George Rooks Gives U-M At Least One True Defensive Tackle In 2021 FILM EVALUATION Strengths: George Rooks is extremely athletic for an interior defensive line- man. He has a quick first step and uses his length and agility to swim past or simply out maneuver opposing offensive linemen. He uses his long arms to his advantage from pass rushing in the interior or off the edge as well as knifing through double teams. He is only listed at 260, but has added some good weight over the last several months and is now up to 270. He has the frame to carry another 20-25 pounds and will do so once he gets in Michigan's strength and conditioning program. Weaknesses: Rooks builds his game around finesse and a high football acu- men, but in the physical Big Ten he will need to play with more aggression. He looks lackadaisical at times and can be pushed by offensive linemen that play with a nasty streak. He has a high motor but needs to be more consistent in using it. His technique is terrific, but adding more violence to his game should be his top priority. Michigan Player Comparison: Rooks is heavier than freshman defensive line- man Kris Jenkins, but the two share plenty of similarities. Like Rooks, Jenkins is the son of a former NFL defensive lineman, needed to add weight heading into Ann Arbor and built his game around his length, athleticism and technique. Remember, Michigan recruited Jenkins as a three-technique tackle with flex- ibility, and the Wolverines have the same plan for Rooks. — EJ Holland

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