The Wolverine

February 2024

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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56 THE WOLVERINE ❱ FEBRUARY 2024 ❱  COMMIT PROFILE T he early signing period was met without drama for Michi- gan on Dec. 20. Still, the even- tual national champions received good news that same day when the No. 175 overall prospect in the 2024 recruiting class, according to the On3 Industry Ranking, announced his commitment. Forestville (Md.) Bishop McNa- mara edge Lugard Edokpayi be- came the 27th signee to join the Wolverines after he officially vis- ited Ann Arbor a week prior to his announcement. U-M offered Edokpayi in early November. He wasn't on the Power Five radar until early in the fall. However, he jumped considerably in the rankings because of his de- velopment potential. "Michigan is a great, consistent team that's been in the top five in recent years," Edokpayi told The Wolverine. "They do a great job. They produce edge rushers, which is my position. They have a great coaching staff and a great culture. They are good at football and have a great education." Michigan made Edokpayi a signifi- cant priority as the weeks leading up to early National Signing Day inched closer and closer. The defensive assistants — defensive coordinator Jesse Minter, de- fensive line coach Mike Elston and pass rush specialist Dylan Roney — traveled for an in-home visit with Edokpayi a week before the official visit. Roney was the leader on staff in se- curing Edokpayi's signature. "He's definitely full of energy," Edok- payi said. "He's just one of those guys that you can build a connection with. Now, it's about learning what he can teach me." Michigan beat out Rutgers, Mary- land and Minnesota, which also hosted Edokpayi on official visits. Michigan's success with its edge de- velopment and the production from past stars who've gone on to the NFL in recent years sparked the interest of On3's third- ranked prospect in the state of Maryland. "It's appealing," Edokpayi said. "They've produced Aidan Hutchinson and so many good defensive ends. I was really impressed with what they did on defense this year. It was really good to watch." Edokpayi will officially enroll in Ann Arbor in June and join a 2024 class that features fellow edges Devon Baxter, out of Brandywine (Md.) Gwynn Park, and Ijamsville (Md.) Oakdale's Dominic Nichols. At 6-foot-6½ and 215 pounds, Edokpayi has an 85-inch wingspan. He also ran a sub 4.8 40-yard dash at an offseason camp in June. Edokpayi, the No. 18 edge in the country per the On3 Industry Ranking, earned honorable men- tion All-Met recognition from The Washington Post this past sea- son after recording 22 total stops, 10 tackles for a loss, 5 sacks, 5 pass breakups and 4 quarterback hurries. "They see Lu's frame and his twitch," Bishop McNamara head coach Greg Calhoun told The Wol- verine. "He's very raw and has a lot of potential and upside. "Lu is still a kid you can develop into what you want. Sometimes, it scares you if they are peaking at this moment. Lu still has room to grow. I think that's the biggest thing. It was great hearing how highly they are regarded academically. "Michigan isn't one of the schools I've always watched since I'm from the South, but Charles Woodson is one of my idols. I always knew about him and Desmond Howard. We talked about the tradition. "They had some rough years, but in the last couple of years, they have im- proved and are one of the elite programs in the nation." — Zach Libby Maryland Edge Lugard Edokpayi Joins U-M's 2024 Class Edokpayi — a 6-6½, 215-pound pass rusher from Bishop McNamara High in Bowie, Md. — was rated by On3 as the No. 182 player and No. 19 edge in the country as well as the No. 3 prospect in Maryland. PHOTO BY EJ HOLLAND PLAYER EVALUATION STRENGTHS: "Lugard Edokpayi has an elite frame with a lot of room to continue filling out. He's a lean 215 pounds with long arms, big hands and a later birthday. He's someone who I think is going to look different physically in a year or two of being on campus. He's a twitchy mover, is very athletic and uses his length well. He's just scratching the surface of what looks to be a pretty immense upside." AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT: "First off, he needs to keep getting bigger and stronger, focus on his pass- rush moves and work on the technical skills. I think those are the biggest things. It's a combination of progressing physically in terms of mass and strength and then working on his skills. But he does have pretty good play strength relative to his size. He's by no means a weak player." PLAYER COMPARISONS: "I look at Greg Rousseau [a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft by the Buf- falo Bills], a thinly built, tall and long athlete who played all over the field in high school and developed into a pass rusher at Miami. Another would be Odafe Oweh [a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens], who is highly athletic and long. Lugard is taller than him, so the body type is more like Rousseau. But the athletic upside may be more like Oweh. That sounds like a great prospect to have if he puts it all together. Both of those guys went in the first round, so if Lugard is developed how we expect him to be, he has that upside as well." — On3 director of scouting and rankings Charles Power

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