The Wolverine

December 2021*

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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52 THE WOLVERINE DECEMBER 2021   COMMITMENT PROFILE BY EJ HOLLAND J immy Rolder was pretty much an un- known in recruiting circles going into his senior campaign. The Chicago Marist linebacker held just one offer from Ball State and was committed to Illinois for baseball. But after a strong start to the fall, Rolder began to command more interest as a legitimate Power Five prospect. Pretty soon, Rolder became the hot- test prospect in the Midwest, notching offers from Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Florida, LSU, Wisconsin and others. "He's always been a tremendously talented athlete," Marist head coach Ron Dawczak said. "He's one of the best baseball players in the state of Illinois. When he was younger, he was playing tight end, and he was dominant. He played middle linebacker for the first time in the spring. Now, all that hard work is showing up. With his size and athleticism, it's no surprise." A four-star prospect, Rolder is now ranked as the No. 12 inside linebacker and No. 154 overall player in the country by On3.com. But just as fast as Rolder's re- cruitment began, it came to a sudden end when he committed to Michigan in mid- November. Rolder made a handful of visits to Big Ten programs, but he "fell in love" with Michigan and wasted no time informing the Wolverines of his decision. "Michigan checked all the boxes," Rolder said. "I went over it with my family and decided it was the right fit for me. We didn't need to wait any lon- ger. My family was super excited. I could tell they wanted me to go there. Michi- gan is everything I was looking for in a school, both with football and aca- demics." Michigan's top rival, Ohio State, also made a big push for Rolder, and many felt the Buckeyes would eventually earn his pledge. However, he felt the most comfortable at Michigan. "Honestly, I just saw myself fitting in better at Michigan," Rolder said. "There also seemed to be better opportunities to get on the field at Michigan. I just feel like the academic piece at Michigan is great. The business school is one of the best in the nation. Those are some of the many reasons I picked Michigan over Ohio State." Relationships played a huge role for Rolder, as well. While he didn't have time to truly get to know many coaching staffs, he immediately clicked with U-M head coach Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald. "Michigan talked to me all the time," Rolder said. "I had conversations with them multiple times a week. Coach Mac- donald came out to see me for a game. He's really personable and has a great background. I'm ex- cited to get coached by him in the future. Coach Harbaugh of- fered me, so it was really cool to connect with the head coach." At 6-2, 220 pounds, Rolder is a plus athlete with an excellent build and frame to carry more good weight and strength. Michigan recruited Rolder as a pure inside linebacker who can com- mand the middle of the defense and make plays all over the field. Rolder believes he is the perfect fit for Macdonald's scheme and is ready to bring plenty to the table once he arrives on campus next summer. "I think I'm going to fit in great," Rolder said. "I'll be able to move sideline-to- sideline and make big plays. I'll have to figure out more when I get on campus, but I think I can do great in the system. Coach Macdonald is a great coach, and I feel like I can learn a lot from him. He definitely knows what he's talking about. It's going to be a great match." ❏ Fast-Rising Linebacker Jimmy Rolder Fell In Love With Michigan PLAYER EVALUATION Strengths: Jimmy Rolder is an ath- letic specimen who excelled on the baseball diamond and projected as a Major League prospect. High-level baseball players often transition well to football, and Rolder should con- tinue that trend. The On300 prospect already has a strong, sturdy build that makes him look like a prototypi- cal Big Ten inside linebacker. However, Rolder can still add 20-25 pounds to his frame without losing much of his athleticism. Rolder also moves well in space and should have no issues in pass coverage. Areas Of Improvement: Rolder has been playing linebacker full- time less than two years, which means he's still adjusting to the in- tricacies of the position. A former tight end, Rolder needs to improve his technique when wrong arming and shedding blockers. He can get caught up in traffic at times and lacks full awareness. Rolder does have a high football IQ and should blossom under coordinator Mike Macdonald. But he will need time to develop before seeing the field. Michigan Player Comparison: With Michigan just transitioning to a 3-4 scheme, the Wolverines are re- cruiting different types of linebackers. There aren't many guys on the roster who really resemble Rolder, outside of second-year freshman Nikhai Hill- Green. While Rolder is already a little bigger, he uses his athleticism and in- stincts to his advantage in the middle of the defense. Like Rolder, Hill-Green was a bit of a late riser but was able to develop quickly thanks to his smarts on and off the field. Hill-Green played in all 12 contests and ranked sixth on the team with 43 stops this fall. — EJ Holland Rolder is a four-star talent who is ranked as the No. 12 inside linebacker and No. 154 overall player in the country by On3.com. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN ATHLETICS Rolder "Michigan checked all the boxes. I went over it with my family and decided it was the right fit for me."

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