The Wolverine

January 2024

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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JANUARY 2024 ❱ THE WOLVERINE 55 ❱  PREP PROFILES Michigan hosted top 2025 tight end target Eli Owens for its win over Purdue on Nov. 4 and got him back on campus for the showdown with Ohio State three weeks later. The three-star prospect out of Alcoa (Tenn.) High once again enjoyed his ex- perience in The Big House. "I was able to get up a couple of weeks ago and see what a normal game was like," Owens said. "My mom asked me if I wanted to go up for The Game. My un- cle said he would drive. I took it pretty quickly. "It was really cool being able to watch the biggest game in college football and rush the field. It was special and some- thing that only happens once in a life- time. My mom and my uncle love Mich- igan, and everything it has to offer." Owens kept a close eye on Michi- gan's tight ends during its win over the rival Buckeyes. Colston Loveland led the team in receiving, and the overall production at the position moved the needle with Owens. "It was definitely impressive," he said. "But when you know it's coming, it's also what you're expecting. Being able to see the involvement and versatility was great — whether it was Colston or Max [Bredeson] or AJ [Barner]. "In the same room, you have a guy run- ning the X, the Y and the H. That opens up so many different opportunities to get on the field and be able to play." This visit also gave Owens a chance to reconnect with the U-M staff, includ- ing lead recruiter and tight ends coach Grant Newsome. "It's always great to see Coach New- some," Owens said. "He's a fun guy and easy to talk to. He's always upbeat. I was also able to spend time with guys like Coach [Sherrone] Moore and Coach Clink [Steve Clinkscale] and wish them luck before the big game." Owens is also growing close to one particular tight end on the team. " I 'm rea l ly g rav i ta t i n g towa rd s [freshman] Zack Marshall," Owens said. "I love Zack. He even texted me if I was still in town that he would come pick me up, but I was in Detroit with family." Michigan is well positioned with Ow- ens coming out of the two visits. "They are definitely near the top," he said. "It's really cool to experience what they are doing and how they are doing it with the people they are doing it with." Owens recently named Michigan in his top nine schools along with Ala- bama, Cincinnati, North Carolina, Ohio State, South Florida, Tennessee, Vir- ginia Tech and Wisconsin. At 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, Owens also is ranked as the No. 23 tight end and No. 364 overall prospect nationally, per the On3 Industry Ranking, a weighted industry average of the four major re- cruiting services. — EJ Holland Michigan hosted a number of top targets for its win over Ohio State last month, including Elijah Melendez. The 2025 linebacker out of Kissimmee (Fla.) Osceola arrived in Ann Arbor early and enjoyed his first ever trip to U-M. "It was a really good visit," Melendez said. "It was probably the best fan base I've ever seen. I got there really early — like 7 in the morning. We did a campus tour, facility tour and a photo shoot. I also met with the coaches. "It was really good for me, my dad and my linebackers coach. It's a top school for me. It's real. It's also an NFL factory." Another big highlight of the visit was taking in The Game. Melendez was im- pressed with Michigan's defense and the overall atmosphere in The Big House. "The defense was amazing," he said. "I really loved watching the linebackers play. I could see myself in that defense. It was electric. "One thing that really made me fall in love with Michigan was when, sadly, one of their players got hurt, and the whole stadium started chanting. The next play they got a touchdown. Then the defense got a three-and-out. That made me fall in love with the university. That showed me that it's family, and ev- erybody loves and supports Michigan." The Wolverines recently parted ways with linebackers coach Chris Partridge. However, the U-M staff still came to- gether and made the visit a special ex- perience for Melendez. "I spent a lot of time with [assistant director of recruiting] Sam Popper," Melendez said. "I also spent some time with Coach [Mike] Elston and Coach [Jesse] Minter. Coach Minter is really cool. He's a really good defensive coor- dinator. It's straight business at Michi- gan, and I really like that." Michigan is now a strong contender coming out of the visit and is right in the top group for Melendez heading into the winter dead period. "Michigan is really up there," he said. "I have a top five right now, but none of them are my favorite. They are all equal right now. But Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, USC and Miami are the schools. Michigan is really high on my list. I'm just waiting for them to get a linebackers coach, so I can build a rela- tionship with him. "For Michigan to be this high on my list without a linebackers coach and not be- ing able to speak to the head coach says a lot. I really enjoyed Michigan. They really treated me like a priority." Melendez is looking to make a return visit to Michigan at some point this spring. At 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, he also is rated as the No. 161 prospect and No. 18 line- backer nationally, per the On3 Industry Ranking. — EJ Holland Tennessee Tight End Has U-M In His Top Group Michigan In Top Five For Florida Linebacker After 'The Game' ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ Alcoa Alcoa, Tenn. Class: 2025 Position: Tight end Ht.: 6-2 • Wt.: 230 On3 Rankings: No. 10 player in Tennessee and No. 24 tight end nationally ❱ Eli Owens ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ Osceola Kissimmee, Fla. Class: 2025 Position: Linebacker Ht.: 6-1 • Wt.: 210 On3 Rankings: No. 6 player in Florida, and No. 9 linebacker and No. 49 overall prospect nationally ❱ Elijah Melendez

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