The Wolverine

March 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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36 THE WOLVERINE MARCH 2018 BY JOHN BORTON The old saying "No hill for a climber" fits one of Michigan's new- est tight ends perfectly. Michigan lists Mustapha Muham- mad out of Missouri City, Texas, as 6-4, 244 pounds. Muhammad's men- tor and trainer, Doug Smith, insists he's pushing 6-5, but more impor- tantly, remembers the day the young tight end grew even taller in his eyes. Smith, an AAU basketball coach in the area, utilizes a nearby hill in training athletes. He gauges it at one- tenth of a mile high. It can become a mountain, depending on repetitions. Not for Muhammad, though. "I had Musta- pha run 50 hills out there, different ways — foot lad- ders, run up the hill, backpedal, shuffle, different cone drills to get up the hill," Smith recalled. "I just wanted to see if he would stop. " I w a s d o n e with the workout reps ago. We had two groups, and he had worked through two groups. I was going to see if he would stop, and he never stopped. Right there, I said he's go- ing to be the best." Smith promises both Michigan coaches and fans will genuinely ap- preciate the newest Wolverine once he dons the winged helmet on a reg- ular basis. "Once he gets there, the coaches will love him," Smith assured. "I know they will. He's what you want as far as a young man goes." He can play a little tight end, too. ESPN listed him No. 2 at that posi- tion nationally, following his career at Missouri City (Texas) Ridge Point High School. Muhammad pulled down 70 passes for 1,053 yards and 12 touchdowns over the course of his prep career, including 20 catches for 294 yards and three TDs as a senior. Smith has seen Muhammad make the tough catch on several occasions, but none better than a tight-quarters grab against Dickinson High during a playoff contest. "He ran a post, and the way the quarterback threw the ball against the defender, he had to angle his body a certain way," Smith recalled. "He caught the ball on the outside of his left hand and in between the inside of his right hand. He was able to stick the ball in there. If you didn't really look at the video, you would think it was a normal catch, but it wasn't. He was able to pin that ball in with the outside of his left hand, and that was pretty amazing." C a t c h i n g t h e b a l l m i g h t n o t even be the best part of Muham- mad's game, his mentor explained. He first encoun- tered Muhammad when the young- ster was reaching high school and trying out for his AAU squad. Go- ing against local standout Marvin Wilson — eventually the top prep defensive tackle in the nation and a Florida State signee — Muhammad more than held his own. "We were all like, 'Who is this kid?'" Smith said. "We found out he was in the ninth grade. We kept Mu- stapha around, especially when we learned he played football. "He came up that summer under those guys, as the pup. We worked all summer long. That season, he became the No. 1 tight end in the country." Muhammad certainly demon- strated potential as a pass receiver, but at first, Ridge Point needed a tough blocker at tight end. The newcomer proved up to the task, al- though he wanted more. Smith recalled a particularly piv- otal conversation he had with the Mustapha Muhammad Relentlessly Pursues Success STATISTICS Year Rec. Yards TDs 2017 20 294 3 2016 31 438 4 2015 19 321 5 HONORS • Named an Under Armour All-Amer- ican as a senior, but he was not tar- geted in the game. • Also played in the Polynesian Bowl Jan. 20 in Hawai'i, where he caught two passes for 36 yards. • Received the Dick Peebles Offen- sive Player of the Year, presented by the Houston Touchdown Club. • Named a unanimous All-District 2-6A first-team performer in 2016 and 2017 by the Fort Bend Star. • Earned All-Greater Houston first- team notice as a senior and second- team recognition as a junior. • Garnered academic all-district no- tice as a sophomore, junior and senior. RECRUITMENT • Chose Michigan over Texas and LSU. • Recruited by running backs coach Jay Harbaugh. DID YOU KNOW? • Muhammad missed several games as a senior with a toe injury. • His team earned a district cham- pionship all three seasons he played varsity. • First junior in school history to be named a team captain. • Uncle Adam Henry played wide re- ceiver at McNeese State and signed with the New Orleans Saints in 1994 and played until 1996. He then coached at his alma mater and then with the Oakland Raiders, at LSU, with the San Francisco 49ers and is now the wide receivers coach with the New York Giants. MUSTAPHA MUHAMMAD TIGHT END 6-4 • 244 RIDGE POINT HIGH SCHOOL MISSOURI CITY, TEXAS RANKINGS STARS NAT. POS. STATE ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ — 17 29 ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ 227 7 26 ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ 42 2 4 2018 FOOTBALL RECRUITING ISSUE 36 THE WOLVERINE MARCH 2018 ESPN rates Muhammad as the No. 42 overall recruit and No. 2 tight end in the nation. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM 2018 Projection Michigan doesn't lack veteran tight ends, but there is always room for a fearsome blocker at the posi- tion. Muhammad's personal trainer, Doug Smith, insists he's precisely that. The incoming freshman is used to sealing the edge of the offensive line against high-level defenders, including some now playing in col- lege. If Muhammad can come into Ann Arbor and demonstrate block- ing proficiency early on, he could find his way to snaps as a freshman.

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