The Wolverine

January 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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50 THE WOLVERINE JANUARY 2017 BY BRANDON BROWN T hree players who are joining Michigan's program next fall were named Gatorade Player of the Year for their respective states in early December. Sandy Hook (Conn.) Newtown three-star inside linebacker Ben Ma- son, Highlands Ranch (Colo.) Valor C h r i s t i a n f o u r - s t a r dual-threat quarterback Dylan McCaffrey and Warwick (R.I.) Bishop Hendricken three-star weakside defensive end Kwity Paye all earned the coveted honor for their performance on the field and in the community as seniors. At 6-3 and 230 pounds, Mason was a force on both offense and defense for his Nighthawks. He carried the ball 80 times for 719 yards (9.0 yards per attempt) and 11 touchdowns this past season, leading Newtown (10-1) to the Class LL state quarterfinals. Mason also caught 15 passes for 188 yards (12.5 yards per reception) and three scores. On defense, Mason recorded 63 tackles and two interceptions (one he returned for a touchdown which tied the state record for career pick sixes with five) while forcing two fumbles. Newtown allowed just 10.4 points per game during the regular season with four shutouts, but gave up 55 points in the state quarterfinals when Mason was sidelined with a torn meniscus in his left knee. In the classroom, Mason has main- tained a weighted 3.78 GPA and is also a peer Latin tutor. McCaffrey brought home a second straight 5A state championship as a senior, completing 204 of 306 passes for 2,796 yards with 31 touchdowns and just five interceptions in the pro- cess. A U.S. Army All-American and a finalist for the Maxwell Football Club's National High School Player of the Year award, McCaffrey also rushed for 579 yards and 10 scores. He was selected as the 2015 Class 5A Player of the Year and concluded his high school career with 80 touch- down passes. In addition, he holds a 3.64 GPA in the classroom. Paye hails from the smallest state in the country, but has put up some of the biggest stats. Playing defen- sive end and running back, he led the Hawks to a 12-0 record and the Rhode Island State Championship Super Bowl title this past season. Paye racked up 61 total stops, 11 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks on de- fense. On offense, he rushed 44 times for 651 yards (14.8 yards per carry) and 13 touchdowns. He ran for four scores and made 14 tackles in a 48-28 win over La Salle Academy in the state title game. He was voted in by the fans and will play in the Under Armour All-Amer- ica Game, and was also tabbed as the state's 2015 Lineman of the Year and a first-team all-state honoree. PREFERRED WALK-ON OPTIONS The preferred walk-on program at Michigan is a point of pride for the coaching staff and players who carry the moniker. Throughout early December, under-the-radar players started tweeting that they would have an opportunity to join head coach Jim Harbaugh's crew. Here's a look at those who have been offered a preferred walk-on spot within the program. OT Eddie Brecht Lapeer (Mich.) East The 6-7, 290-pound offensive tackle performed well at Michigan's on-campus camp this summer. The two-star prospect has been committed to Kent State since August, but admitted that an opportunity to play at U-M is hard to turn down. "I'm not really sure what the plan is right now," Brecht said. "I have some time to think about everything. The Michigan staff said they officially wanted to offer me as a preferred walk- on and to just keep up the good work." Brecht is intrigued by the high-level op- portunities available at U-M, but he had not made a final decision as of Dec. 15. OT Gray Davis Dallas Parish Episcopal School A 6-5, 303-pound offensive tackle from the talent-rich Dallas area picked up his preferred walk-on offer from Michigan and also has opportunities from Brown, Central Arkansas, Cornell, Dartmouth, Illinois State, New Mexico State and Yale. The two-star prospect is a high ac- ademic achiever and likes the athletic- academic combination U-M offers. "I knew the preferred walk-on offer was coming, but it's pretty awesome for it to be official," Davis said. "I think ending up at Michigan is a very strong possibility now." DE Cal Flanders Westwood (Mass.) Xaverian Brothers Flanders keeps to himself when it comes to his under-the-radar recruit- ment but at 6-3, 245 pounds he's been able to land offers from Albany, Brown, Bryant, Bucknell, Colgate, Delaware, Fordham, Harvard, Holy Cross, Lafay- ette, Navy and New Hampshire. LB Chris Kolarevic Traverse City (Mich.) St. Francis Catholic The 6-1, 220-pounder can play multiple linebacker spots in different schemes. Kolarevic visited Michigan during the 2016 season for the Wisconsin game and is giving U-M a serious look. "I have several Division I FCS offers and FBS-level walk-on opportunities to go along with Michigan," he said. "Those schools want to watch my senior film and go from there, and said they would be in touch." Kolarevic really likes Michigan, but he wants to remain patient to see if any Divi- sion I, full-ride opportunities materialize. WR/S Jake McCurry Solon (Ohio) High School The 6-0, 185-pound wideout/safety is currently committed to Columbia, so he's keeping his thoughts on the down low for a while. Columbia can go toe to toe with Michigan academically, but on the field the two aren't close. McCurry has to weigh those issues against one another and figure out which experience best suits his situation.   MICHIGAN RECRUITING Three U-M Commits Earn Gatorade Player Of The Year Honors MCCAFFREY

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