The Wolverine

August 2022*

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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42 THE WOLVERINE AUGUST 2022   COMMITMENT PROFILE M ichigan didn't waste any time finding a replacement for Top 100 linebacker Raylen Wilson, who decommitted from the Wolverines in late June and eventually gave Georgia a verbal pledge. Just a few days after Wilson in- formed the staff of his intentions, Michigan linebackers coach George Helow and the rest of the staff made an aggressive push for Philadelphia Imhotep Charter linebacker Semaj Bridgeman and earned a commit- ment. "It's a great fit for him," said Im- hotep Charter associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Cyril Woodland. "He likes to play down- hill. With him playing in the Big Ten, where they are run heavy, it's a great fit for him. "Michigan is a great program. The history and the education speak for itself. It's a proud program." The On3 Consensus four-star prospect picked Michigan over fel- low finalist Rutgers. He also held offers from Boston College, Mary- land, Michigan State, Nebraska, Penn State, Pitt, Virginia Tech and a handful of other major programs. Michigan offered Bridgeman early but didn't turn up the heat until closer to the summer. The Wolverines hosted him for an official visit in mid-June and took a commanding lead in his recruit- ment. Once Wilson left the class, getting Bridgeman in the fold became imperative. The Wolverines are getting a true inside linebacker that can fit in well under new defensive coordinator Jesse Minter. "I think he's going to play Mike at the next level," Woodland said. "I believe that's where Michigan is recruiting him. His size and his speed make him a good fit at Mike. He's a legit 6-foot-2, 235 pounds. I think that projects well more inside." Woodland added that Bridgeman has the potential to be an impact player in Ann Arbor. "He's explosive," Woodland said. "He's athletic. He's fast. He's big. He checks all the boxes. It's just about getting him comfortable with understanding his reads and coverages. "We want him to be a leader on our de- fense. He's quiet, but when the pads come on, he's a different type of person." Bridgeman played his junior season at Warminster (Pa.) Archbishop Wood but transferred to Imhotep Charter this offseason. Imhotep Charter is arguably the best high school football program in Philadelphia and one of the premier powerhouses in the Northeast. Woodland said Bridgeman is ad- justing well to his new home as he prepares to go up against top talent nationally. "He's been doing really well," Woodland said. "He just transferred into our program. Now, we're go- ing to implement some of the stuff he's already been doing. For him, it's about taking that leadership role and bettering our program. He's a great kid from a great home. He's also a great student." The addition of Bridgeman could open the door for Michigan to land more top talent out of Philadelphia. He is the first player to pick U-M out of the City of Brotherly Love in several years. With Imhotep Charter, in partic- ular, producing a ton of top talent, Michigan now has an opportunity to keep the momentum going. "It was great for Michigan to get into our school," Woodland said. "They recruited Semaj early and built relationships with him and our coaches. "They offered a lot of our underclass- men as well. We have about three or four underclassmen that are high on the list for Michigan. We're continuing to build that relationship. Getting Semaj was big." — EJ Holland Philadelphia Linebacker Semaj Bridgeman Likes To Play Downhill Bridgeman is rated as the No. 26 linebacker nationally and the No. 6 prospect in Pennsylvania per the On3 Consensus. PHOTO COURTESY SEMAJ BRIDGEMAN PLAYER EVALUATION Strengths: Bridgeman has a solid build at 6-foot-1, 235 with great length for his height. He offers plenty of athleticism and also sees time on the offensive side of the ball at tight end. Bridgeman covers plenty of ground sideline-to-sideline, and he also looks comfortable covering running backs and tight ends. He is a great fit for what Michigan wants to do with its traditional linebackers under new defensive coordinator Jesse Minter. Areas Of Improvement: Bridgeman has all the intangibles you want in a Michigan linebacker, but he's not extremely physical. He struggles with reach- ing for ball carriers instead of delivering a hit and wrapping up. Bridgeman also struggles with sifting through blockers and getting off blocks in general. He can get lost in the shuffle and hasn't mastered the art of reading and reacting. Bridgeman needs plenty of polishing up from a technical standpoint. Michigan Player Comparison: Bridgeman is very similar to Michigan freshman Deuce Spurlock. Like Bridgeman, Spurlock was built well for a high school senior, possessed plenty of athleticism, covered well in space and got some time on the offensive side of the ball. However, Spurlock was raw and will need some time before he sees the field at Michigan. The same can be said of Bridgeman. Getting him to play with more aggression is a must. — EJ Holland

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