The Wolverine

Sept 2023

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 48 of 67

SEPTEMBER 2023 ❱ THE WOLVERINE 49 ❱  COMMIT PROFILE BY EJ HOLLAND J o'Ziah Edmond was a complete un- known in the Michigan recruiting world going into summer official visit season. The three-star athlete from Nappanee (Ind.) Northwood wasn't even on Michi- gan's radar and had no contact with the staff. Still, he dreamed of one day don- ning the winged helmet and playing for the Wolverines. Edmond took matters into his own hands and signed up for U-M's camp in June. It was there where he caught the attention of defensive coordinator Jesse Minter and co-defensive coordinator/cor- nerbacks coach Steve Clinkscale. Edmond was the best of the group, and the two Michigan staffers told him they would keep in touch. At the time, Michigan was all in on On3 top-100 cornerback recruits Aaron Scott and Bryce West. On the flip side of the coin, Edmond made a business decision and locked up a spot at Purdue by com- mitting to the Boilermakers. Michigan kept its promise. After missing out on Scott and West — both committed to rival Ohio State — the Wolverines made a push for Edmond, who flipped his verbal pledge to U-M almost immediately. "We knew Michigan was his No. 1 choice, and he had to go to the camp to make himself known," said his mentor and seven-on-seven coach J.R. Niklos. "I had him sit down and talk to [U-M wide receiver commit] I'Marion [Stewart] and his family about what he could do to get noticed. He had no previous contact with Michigan. He wasn't even invited to that camp. He just showed up. "Nobody knew who he was, and he put on a show. They really liked him. Once they offered him, it was a no-brainer. That was always his No. 1 choice." Niklos, who is the director of Midwest Boom, a Chicago-based and nationally recognized seven-on-seven and train- ing program, helped Edmond compete in some of the best club tournaments in the country. He matched up against elite pass catchers and more than held his own. In fact, Edmond may be one of the big- gest steals for U-M this cycle. "He was a huge force for us," Niklos said. "He's a versatile athlete. In seven- on-seven, he played everything — wide receiver, linebacker, corner and safety. This year, it came out of dire necessity that we needed a safety, and he did an amazing job for us. "He covered a wide range of field space, which can be challenging when a quar- terback has 4 seconds to throw. He closes down on the ball, he attacks the ball, he high-points the ball and he always finds himself around the ball, making plays." Edmond is a versatile player in pads as well. As a junior, he played everything from quarterback to wide receiver to de- fensive back to punter. Michigan, however, has a glaring need at the cornerback posi- tion and projects him to play there. At 6-1, 185 pounds, Edmond, who is rated as the No. 28 athlete nationally in the On3 Industry Ranking, has the frame and raw athleticism to excel in Michigan's defensive scheme. "With how they are starting to use lon- ger-framed corners, I see him fitting in well," Niklos said. "The game is changing with bigger receivers, and I think he'll do a great job as a boundary corner. "You need a bigger, physical corner for those isolation routes. If you are playing a team with a bigger receiver, JoJo can lock him down one-on-one, and you can zone off the strong side of the field." Niklos added that Michigan is also get- ting a high-character kid who will con- tinue to boost U-M's culture. "The thing that isn't seen on film is that he's an amazing person," Niklos said. "Just having him there makes our team better." Niklos, a former Ohio State fullback, has now seen four of his players commit to U-M in the past few cycles — quarterback J.J. McCarthy, wide receivers Tyler Morris and Stewart, and now Edmond. "That's like fantasy football for a coach" Niklos said, " just being able to see your guys compete at the highest level and at the highest stage." ❑ Versatile Indiana Athlete Jo'Ziah Edmond Flips To U-M From Purdue Edmond, of Nappanee (Ind.) Northwood High, put himself on the Wolverines' radar after attending a U-M football camp in June. He is listed as the No. 28 athlete nationally and No. 7 overall prospect in Indiana in the On3 Industry Ranking. PHOTO COURTESY ON3.COM PLAYER EVALUATION STRENGTHS: "Jo'Ziah Edmond is well-rounded from a skills perspective. He does a lot of different things for his team. He takes snaps at quarterback, wide receiver and corner. He's a total football player. "He makes plays in every phase and finds ways to affect the game regardless of what side of the ball he's positioned on. I first noticed him early last year when he picked off [UCLA freshman] Dante Moore twice in a game. He really flashed his ball skills, and his experience at receiver really helps him at corner. "He's a guy who can win contested-catch situations and come down with plays on the ball. He played some pretty tough competition against some legit quarterbacks as a junior and had several picks in those games. He elevates his play in big moments. "I don't think he got a ton of attention heading into last season, but he really put his name on the map because of how he played. I'm looking forward to seeing more of him as a senior because he's an ascending prospect. He could be a Power Five receiver if he wanted to. "He projects well as a defensive back because you want your defensive backs to have that big play- making ability. I think he's going to be an offensive player at Michigan as well. The athleticism registers well. He's running in the 4.6 range on 40s, has good length and pretty good size. I think he could do a lot of things and is continuing to get better and better. AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT: "The biggest thing with Jo'Ziah is settling in at the cornerback position and learning technique. His speed is good, and he is continuing to work on that. He doesn't have elite speed, but as long as he has good enough speed, his ball skills and instincts will take over. He just needs more experience at cornerback and to become more efficient with technique." PLAYER COMPARISON: "One comparison that I would have for Jo'Ziah is cornerback Zech McPhear- son [2021 fourth-round draft pick by the Philadelphia Eagles] who played for Texas Tech after transfer- ring from Penn State. They have similar size and ball skills, and are two-way players." — On3 director of scouting and rankings Charles Power

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