The Wolverine

March 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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MARCH 2018 THE WOLVERINE 49 his star lineman. "His only weakness right now as a player is physical strength," Kolster explained. "If that is a guy's only weakness, that's an easy correction. As a junior he couldn't bench press 225 pounds one time. This past sea- son, he could get it up 15-18 times. His strength has gone up that much in one year. "Now, point-of-attack strength, that's what he has to improve. Mov- ing forward it's going to be scary how much bigger and stronger he can get when it's all football, all the time." There have already been some sig- nificant gains in Mayfield's body size and strength. Because of that, Midwest recruiting ana- lyst Josh Helmholdt bumped May- field up from a three-star recruit to a four-star prospect in the final rank- ings and considers him the No. 17 offensive tackle in the country. Helmholdt had reservations about Mayfield early on in the process, but saw enough development over the past couple of years to feel good about a climb in the rankings. "Any time you have to put weight on a prospect there are risks in- volved with that," Helmholdt ex- plained. "You can't perfectly project how that weight is going to affect their athleticism, and with ath- leticism being one of Mayfield's strengths additional weight was a concern. "He's already started to add the weight and hasn't been slowed down at all. He did a good job in the Army Bowl and maintained his ath- leticism at the heavier weight. That's why we gave him the fourth star." Mayfield noticed his improved stock and graciously accepted the accolade while maintaining a level of humility. "It's pretty good, I guess," May- field said with a laugh. "It's just an- other person's opinion, but I feel truly honored." Mayfield officially joined Michi- gan during the early signing period, but all of the ink is dry for U-M's entire 2018 class after the traditional National Signing Day wrapped up Feb. 7. Mayfield is very happy to know who all of his future team- mates are and can't wait to get to Ann Arbor with them. "I am super excited to have the whole recruiting process finally come to an end," he said. "I think now establishing a strong relation- ship with our class will be a key to generating success — keeping ev- eryone with a hard-working men- tality. "I know our class has something to prove so we are going to make sure a strong statement is made." Mayfield heard the National Sign- ing Day criticism surrounding his 19-man brethren. The group ranked No. 24 in the country according to and Michigan was billed as one of the disappointments on the recruiting trail in 2018. Mayfield and his new teammates are planning to use that as a driving force once they're all in Ann Arbor. "I think it's just motivation for us to work even harder and to always stay hungry," he said. That's exactly what Michigan fans are hoping for from the 2018 group. ❏ DID YOU KNOW? • Born May 23, 2000. • Set a school career record with 57 career tackles for loss, and his senior year total (31) was also a new single-season mark. • His team went 14-0 and won a Division 4 state championship during his senior campaign after it also won a Division 4 state title and went 13-1 in his junior season. • As a senior, he anchored an offensive line that paved the way for a running game that gained more than 3,500 yards and 50 rushing touchdowns. • His father, Brian Mayfield, played left tackle at Ferris State University (1989-93). • Averaged 10 points and six rebounds per game on the basketball court as a junior. Decided not to play basketball as a senior. THEY SAID IT • U-M head coach Jim Harbaugh: "Jalen is an athletic tackle from Michigan. He played in the [U.S.] Army All-American Game and did a heck of a job there. He's a basketball player, too, and is just very athletic." • Catholic Central head coach Todd Kolster: "Jalen is unbelievably athletic with great balance and footwork, and he's competitive and has a mean streak. I'm tak- ing that guy all day long. A lot of staffs love to get a guy who's 300 pounds, who might be more game ready right when they step on campus, but the game has changed so much that speed, agility and quickness are now maybe more impor- tant — and Jalen is elite in those areas." • Midwest recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt: "Early in Mayfield's career we wondered if he'd be able to maintain his athleticism as he added the necessary weight. He added some of that good weight during his senior year and was able to maintain a high level of athleticism. He answered that question for us and that ultimately led to him getting that fourth star." 2018 Projection A talented junior duo of Ben Bredeson and Michael Onwenu, along with second-year man Cesar Ruiz, should have three-fifths of the offensive line shored up in 2018, but positions are a bit fluid at this time. Combine that with the rest of Michigan's solid 2017 recruiting haul up front and there's a decent stable of young, talented big men. That's a good thing for Mayfield, who still needs to add bulk, weight and strength before he's ready for the field. Rivals elevated Mayfield to four-star status in its final rankings update, and listed him as the No. 4 prospect in Michigan and the No. 17 offensive tackle in the nation. PHOTO BY BRANDON BROWN

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