The Wolverine

March 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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MARCH 2021 THE WOLVERINE 69   COMMITMENT PROFILE M ichigan is creating some early momentum with its 2022 recruiting class. The Wolverines dipped down into the Nashville area and notched a commitment from Cross Plains (Tenn.) East Rob- ertson athlete Taylor Groves just two days after National Signing Day when the 2021 class took center stage for one last time. Groves said the decision to pull the trigger for the Wol- verines mostly came down to his relationship with new Michigan co-defensive coordi- nator Maurice Linguist. "It was just a gut feeling," the 6-3, 185-pound Groves said. "It was also the relation- ship I built with Coach Mo Linguist. It just felt real. I'm excited to see what we can do. "I'm just ready to get on campus and compete. When you know, you know. I just had that feeling." Groves — a four-star talent, the No. 11 prospect in Tennessee and the No. 41 wide receiver nationally per — committed to Michi- gan over offers from Arkansas, Bay- lor, Colorado, LSU, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Penn State, South Carolina, Tennessee and a number of other major programs. Michigan offered Groves just a lit- tle more than a week before he pulled the trigger in favor of the Wolverines. However, he quickly built a strong bond with Linguist and felt comfort- able with him and the program. "I like the coaching staff for sure," Groves said. "Coach Mo is a great coach. Coach [Jim] Harbaugh is a great coach as well. They have a very well run program. "I went ahead and commit- ted because I didn't want to waste time. It was the right de- cision for me and my family." Linguist is quickly become the "ace" recruiter on the Michigan staff. His résumé and approach are appealing to re- cruits, especially in the South, where he has strong ties. Groves connected with Lin- guist on a personal level and also cited his ability to develop players in the secondary. "I feel like he's a coach that can develop me and get me where I want to be," Groves said. "I like how real he is. He doesn't beat around the bush. He tells you what he wants and how he feels. "That's what you need as a coach. He coached in the NFL, so he can show me what I need to do to get there." Groves is listed as a wide receiver by, but the Wol- verines are recruiting him strictly as a safety. In fact, Linguist had some high praise for Groves as a prospect on the back end. "He thinks with my length, my ball skills and my speed that I can de- velop into one of the top safeties in the country," Groves said. "He told me that he's going to have to beg me to stay my fourth year because he thinks I'll be an NFL prospect after my third year. That was exciting to hear." Buck Fitzgerald, who runs Na- tional Playmakers Academy in the Nashville area, serves as a private trainer and mentor to Groves and also worked with 2021 Michigan linebacker signee Junior Colson. If you ask Fitzgerald, he'll also tell you that Groves fits best in the sec- ondary at the next level. "He's as elite as it gets as far as a safety prospect. He has everything you're looking for. He's 6-foot-3, 190 pounds and runs a low 4.4. He has amazing ball skills because he's a damn good wide receiver. He's phys- ical. He's smart. He's the type of guy that has the DNA to be a very high draft pick one day." Groves has never visited Michigan, but hopes to do so in the future. — EJ Holland Groves earned Tennessee Sportswriters Association All-State honors in football and basketball as a sophomore. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM Taylor Groves Is Excited About Being Developed At U-M PLAYER EVALUATION Strengths: Taylor Groves is a high-upside prospect with tremendous length on the back end. The 6-3, 185-pounder is a rangy safety with height. He's also extremely athletic. Before even watching his football tape, Michigan actually fell in love with him as a basketball player. He possesses top-level ball skills thanks in large part to his experience playing wide receiver. He can go up and get it and tracks the ball well in the air. Weaknesses: Groves has been a wide receiver for most of his career and is still raw at the safety position. He needs to continue working on his technique as well as taking proper angles. He also needs to improve his bend and hip flexibility. Adding weight and strength will be key to his development. Right now, he's a bit too lanky. He can be physical, but needs to be more willing to come up in the box in run support. The four-star prospect has a high ceiling. Michigan Player Comparison: Groves is listed at the same height and weight that Makari Paige was coming out of his high school. Paige, a former four-star recruit, was also a long, rangy safety that was at his best when displaying his cover and ball skills. The same can be said about Groves. Paige saw some time as a freshman at Michigan this season, and Groves will have an opportunity to make an early impact as well. — EJ Holland

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