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Posts Tagged ‘Linebackers’

New in Blue: 2017 LB Drew Singleton

Friday, December 23rd, 2016


(247 Sports)

Drew Singleton – LB | 6-2, 215 | Paramus, N.J. (Paramus Catholic)
ESPN4-star, #3 ILB Rivals: 4-star, #4 OLB 247: 4-star, #5 OLB Scout: 4-star, #4 OLB
247 Composite: 4-star #3 OLB, #66 nationally
Other top offers: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, MSU, Ole Miss, LSU, Georgia, Auburn, ND, Wisconsin

For the second day in a row, Michigan secured a commitment from one of the nation’s top linebackers in the 2017 class. After landing IMG Academy’s Jordan Anthony on Thursday, the Wolverines picked up a commitment from Paramus Catholic linebacker Drew Singleton on Friday evening. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder pledged to join Jim Harbaugh’s class via a tweeted video just after 6pm Eastern.

Singleton is a consensus four-star recruit according to the four major recruiting services. Like Anthony, Rivals ranks Singleton the highest as the nation’s 55th-best overall player in the 2017 class and the fourth-best outside linebacker. Scout ranks him 72nd overall and the fourth-best outside linebacker. 247 Sports ranks him 79th and fifth-best, while ESPN ranks him the lowest as the 162nd-best player overall and third-best inside linebacker. He’s the third-best outside backer and 66th-best overall player in the class per the 247 Composite.

Singelton chose Michigan over a group that included Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Penn State, Georgia, Tennessee, and Auburn. He holds offers from most of the nation’s top programs despite missing his senior season at Paramus Catholic with a torn ACL. He hails from the same school that sent Jabrill Peppers, Rashan Gary, Juwann Bushell-Beaty, and linebackers coach Chris Partridge to Michigan the past few years.

Scout lists Singleton’s strengths as aggressiveness, change of direction, and hitting ability while listing his areas to improve as pass coverage skills and tackling technique. Scout’s Brian Dohn expands on that.

“Singleton can play on the edge or in the middle, and is best when playing downhill and filling run gaps. Singleton is physical, and he locates the ball in traffic and he pursues well. He can get to the sideline, and he has quick feet. He finishes plays well and understands how to run a defense. Singleton needs to work on his drop back in pass coverage, but that will come over time.”

Singleton is the 26th member of the class that is filling up fast and the 15th commit on the defensive side. He joins Anthony, Joshua Ross, and Ben Mason as linebackers in the class. His commitment follows on the heels of Anthony’s, defensive end Deron Irving-Bey, IMG center Cesar Ruiz, Detroit Cass Tech receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Connecticut receiver Tarik Black, who have all committed within the past two weeks.

New in Blue: 2017 LB Jordan Anthony

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016


(247 Sports)

Jordan Anthony – LB | 6-0, 220 | Bradenton, Fla. (IMG Academy)
ESPN4-star, #9 ATH Rivals: 5-star, #1 ILB 247: 4-star, #12 OLB Scout: 4-star, #13 OLB
247 Composite: 4-star #6 OLB, #107 nationally
Other top offers: Oklahoma, Auburn, Penn State, Clemson, Ohio State, Nebraska, Virginia Tech

Michigan continued its Christmas recruiting momentum on Thursday evening with a commitment from highly-rated linebacker Jordan Anthony. The IMG Academy star announced his commitment via a video shortly before 7:30pm Eastern time.

Anthony is a four-star according to ESPN, 247 Sports, and Scout, but Rivals has given him the extra fifth star. They rank him as the No. 1 inside linebacker in the class. ESPN ranks him as the ninth-best athlete, 247 as the 12th-best outside linebacker, and Scout as the 13th-best outside backer. All four sites rank Anthony among the top 250 overall recruits in the 2017 class with Rivals ranking him the highest at 26th. ESPN ranks him 123rd, Scout 185th, and 247 208th. He’s a four-star, the nation’s sixth-best outside linebacker, and 107th-best overall player according to the 247 Composite.

Anthony chose Michigan over a top group that also included Auburn, Oklahoma, Penn State, and Maryland. He also held offers from Clemson, Ohio State, Nebraska, and Virginia Tech, to name a few. Anthony officially visited Michigan the week of the Wisconsin game and received a visit from Michigan linebackers coach Chris Partridge on Dec. 6.

Scout lists Anthony’s strengths as athleticism, change of direction, and instincts while listing his areas to improve as pass coverage skills and strength. Scout’s Brian Dohn raves about his athleticism.

“Anthony does so many things well, but what stands above all else is his ability to tackle in space. If it 1-on-1 with a running back, he is winning it. He changes direction well, has the ability to find the ball carrier in traffic, and he gets off blocks well. He can blitz from the edge or the middle, and he can chance down on the backside. He has very good instincts and should be a tremendous weakside linebacker in college.”

Anthony is the 25th member of Michigan’s 2017 class and the 14th on the defensive side of the ball, joining Joshua Ross and Ben Mason as linebackers in the class. His commitment follows on the heels of defensive end Deron Irving-Bey, IMG teammate, center Cesar Ruiz, Detroit Cass Tech receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Connecticut receiver Tarik Black.

Predicting Michigan 2016: The linebackers

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016


Predicting Michgian 2016-Linebackers

Appalachian v Michigan(Leon Halip, Getty Images)

Previous: Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers, Tight Ends, Offensive Line, Defensive Line

There aren’t many legitimate critiques to make about Michigan’s 2015 defense, which finished the season among the 10 best defenses in the country. But it did have one clear weakness that was especially obvious late in the Big Ten season: the linebackers.
Heading into the season, the Wolverines felt good about their linebacking corps. Veteran starters Joe Bolden, Desmond Morgan and James Ross figured to have solid seasons as seniors. Unfortunately for Michigan, they were the Achilles heel of the defense and, ultimately, were the undoing in the final game against Ohio State.

Now the position will see more turnover than any other spot on the roster. With new faces joining the team and a few veterans expected to step up, here’s Michigan’s outlook at linebacker.

Returning contributors:

With all three senior starters gone, Michigan will turn to a handful of players who figure to step into bigger roles at linebacker.

Senior Mike McCray is finally healthy and prime for a breakout season (Scout.com)

Senior Mike McCray is finally healthy and primed for a breakout season (Scout.com)

One of the most talked about players throughout the summer has been Mike McCray, who missed the entire 2015 season with an injury. McCray worked himself into the mix at linebacker during his sophomore year, playing in 11 games and even blocking a punt. McCray is a reliable, consistent tackler and has the size to plug up running lanes. His challenge will be getting to the edge on stretch plays or dropping back in pass coverage – two abilities Michigan linebackers lacked in 2015.

Another player who hopes to take on a much bigger role is Ben Gedeon. Gedeon quietly enjoyed a very solid 2015 season, playing in 11 of 13 games and making a career-high 34 tackles. He showed good burst late in the year, picking up 2.5 tackles for loss in the team’s final three games. The senior has spent his first three seasons as a very solid part of the linebacker rotation, but now he has a chance to take on an even bigger role.

Oh yeah, there’s another returning player joining the linebacking corps. His name is Jabrill Peppers.

Peppers makes the jump to linebacker after playing virtually everywhere on the field. He’ll likely line up at multiple positions again in 2016, but his main job appears to be shoring up a thin second line. Peppers is the best athlete on the team, but that really hasn’t translated into any breakout performances through two seasons. He’s shown flashes of his elite athletic ability, but Michigan fans are still waiting (in heavy anticipation) for him to actually explode.

Linebacker is the spot where Peppers can best demonstrate his elite versatility. If he settles into the position, he has a chance to be one of the best at the position in the Big Ten.

Career Stats – McCray
Games Played Solo Assisted Total Tackles Sacks TFL FF FR INT
11 2 0 2 0.0 1.0 0 0 0
Career Stats – Ben Gedeon
Games Played Solo Assisted Total Tackles Sacks TFL FF FR INT
37 42 28 70 2.0 5.5 0 0 0
Career Stats – Jabrill Peppers
Games Played Solo Assisted Total Tackles Sacks TFL FF PD INT
15 40 13 53 0.0 5.5 0 10 0
Potential contributors:

The rest of Michigan’s linebackers are relatively unproven, but a couple of guys stand out as having a chance to make an impact this season.

One is Noah Furbush, who has battled some injuries but impressed Jim Harbaugh during camp and should work his way into the mix. The redshirt sophomore is a fringe candidate for a starting spot and hopes to build on a season in which he contributed mostly on special teams.

Furbush was a beast in high school, recording well over 200 tackles and even picking up 43 tackles for loss during his career. He’s not much of a pass rusher, but his ability to read plays and get in the backfield gives him a good chance to play in Don Brown’s defense. Remember Furbush as a potential breakout player in Michigan’s defense.

A more under-the-radar player who might contribute is Reuben Jones, who made the switch from defensive end to linebacker after committing to Michigan last season. Jones was the first player to commit to Harbaugh at Michigan and has been working his way toward some playing time as a redshirt freshman. As a former defensive lineman, Jones would bring a backfield threat into the mix at linebacker, something Brown values in his defense.

Career Stats – Furbush
Games Played Solo Assisted Total Tackles Sacks TFL FF FR INT
9 3 1 4 0.0 0.0 0 0 0
Career Stats – Jones
Games Played Solo Assisted Total Tackles Sacks TFL FF FR INT
N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
New faces:

Harbaugh knew his roster was thin at linebacker, so what did he do? He brought in four highly-rated linebacker commits to stir up the competition.

The headliner of the group is Devin Bush, a Florida native who will get a look at inside linebacker this season. Throughout camp, Bush’s name has been at the top of the list of freshmen who will make an impact in 2016. He’s a good tackler with enough speed to get to the edge – something this group desperately needs. Bush showed good instincts in the spring game, but he’ll need more work in pass coverage before he’s considered a great all-around player.

Bush’s high school teammate, Devin Gil, joins him in Ann Arbor after they helped Charles W. Flanagan High School win the 8A division title in Florida. Gil was a less flashy player in high school, but showed a better knack for pass coverage than Bush. There’s a chance the freshman could convert to safety before his college career is done, but for now, he’s fighting for a chance to see the field with his old teammate at the next level.

If Bush and Gil came to Michigan as one package deal, Elysee Mbem-Bosse and Josh Uche came as another. The two committed to the Wolverines somewhat unexpectedly on Jan. 24 and have made some noise during fall camp. Mbem-Bosse was mentioned by Harbaugh Monday as a freshman who could play this season and Uche – a former defensive end – could end up playing a hybrid role as well.

With four talented freshmen in the mix for playing time, Harbaugh hopes Michigan will elevate its linebacker play from the start.

Michigan also welcomed preferred walk-on Peter Bush to the roster. Bush, a former quarterback, is a guy to keep an eye on from the walk-on list, as he had offers to play several positions at schools around the country.

Meet the rest:

Jack Dunaway: Sophomore, 6-3, 222, from Bloomfield Hills, Mich. (Brother Rice)
No career stats
Cheyenn Robertson: Sophomore, 6-3, 238, from Union City, N.J. (St. Peter’s Prep)
No career stats
Michael Wroblewski: Senior, 6-2, 242, from Sanit Clair Shores, Mich. (Detroit Jesuit)
No career stats
Alex Kaminski: Junior, 5-11, 209, from Ada, Mich. (Lowell)
No career stats
Jameson Offerdahl: Sophomore, 6-2, 214, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Cardinal Gibbons)
No career stats
Jared Wangler: Junior, 6-2, 229, from Royal Oak, Mich. (De La Salle)
No career stats
Wyatt Shallman: Senior, 6-3, 242, from Harland, Mich. (Detroit Catholic Central)
No career defensive stats

New in Blue: 2017 LB Ben Mason

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016


Ben Mason(H John Voorhees III, Hearst Connecticut Media)

Ben Mason – LB | 6-2, 247 | Sandy Hook, Conn. (Newtown)
ESPNN/A Rivals: 3-star, N/A 247: 3-star, #28 ILB Scout: 3-star, #32 ILB
247 Composite: 3-star #35 ILB
Other top offers: Wisconsin, Cal, Pittsburgh, Duke, Syracuse, Navy, Uconn, Boston College, Temple

Michigan picked up a 12th member of its 2017 recruiting class on Tuesday evening when Sandy Hook, Conn. linebacker Ben Mason picked the Wolverines during a ceremony at Newtown High School.

Mason is a three-star recruit according to 247, Rivals, and Scout, and the 247 Composite. ESPN hasn’t ranked him yet. 247 ranks him as the 28th-best inside linebacker in the class, while Scout ranks him 32nd. ESPN and Rivals haven’t released their position rankings to date.

Mason holds offers from Wisconsin, California, Pittsburgh, Duke, and Navy, to name a few, and feigned picking a Cal hat before he selected the Michigan one during the ceremony. He said he could play either linebacker or fullback for the Wolverines. He joins fellow linebackers Josh Ross and Chase Laseter in the class.

The 6-foot-2, 247-pounder recorded 113 tackles, 11 for loss, four sacks, and four interceptions last season. As a sophomore in 2014, he tallied 110 tackles, six for loss, 5.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries and a pick. Adding in his freshman season, Mason has already amassed 290 tackles and could surpass 400 with another similar season this fall before moving to Ann Arbor.

U-M great Steve Strinko’s long path to graduation ends tonight

Friday, April 29th, 2016


Steve Strinko banner(Photos provided by Steve Strinko)

Last week we brought you a preview of our partner, Rent Like a Champion’s story of former Michigan linebacker Steve Strinko graduating from Michigan more than 40 years after he left Ann Arbor early for the NFL. Today, with the University of Michigan’s commencement upon us, we bring you part two of Strinko’s long journey from football star to Michigan graduate.

Strinko left Michigan for the 1975 NFL Draft after being named first-team All-Big Ten, second-team All-America, and the team’s Most Valuable Player during the 1974 season. But a knee injury that he suffered during that season, in which Michigan went 10-1, tied with Ohio State for the Big Ten title, and finished ranked third nationally, doomed his NFL career.

The Detroit Lions selected Strinko in the ninth round, 219th overall, but complications from an off-season knee surgery landed him on the injured reserve list. When it didn’t heal properly, the Lions refused to sign him, despite his attempts to play through the injury and make the team. By the end of 1975, his NFL career was already over and he had never played a down in the league.

Without a degree and facing the sting of the end of his football career, Strinko “went on a wild hair chase,” moving to Florida and living for some time on his unemployment check from the Lions. He bounced around to Houston, Denver, Washington, D.C., and then back to Florida, working various jobs and battling addiction. He got married and moved to Fort Worth, Texas, where he lived for more than 20 years. He had “a few business successes but would tend to self destruct.”

In 2007, Strinko was deemed 100 percent disabled by the Social Security Administration and a few years later, finally entered recovery for his addictions.

“I can tell you unequivocally that coming to the place where I realized that I had to humble myself and surrender it all to God was the single most important decision I made,” Strinko told Maize and Go Blue on Wednesday night. “I had to dismiss all preconceived thoughts and ideas that I was in control of my life. I made a commitment to honor God and my family and I worked with experienced professionals who helped guide me through the process. I committed to a one-year residential treatment program that I chose and set in my mind that I was going to do whatever necessary to put my addiction behind me once and for all.”

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With the addictions behind him, Strinko set his sights on finishing his degree. He enrolled in online classes in the fall of 2014 and completed the necessary coursework to earn his Bachelors of General Studies degree.

So why, after all these years, did he go back and finish his degree?

“Really it was a combination of things,” Strinko said. “First, I had always had the desire to finish in the back of my mind. Second, being contacted by Sara Rechnitzer who works in Michigan’s Athletic Department and her explaining the Degree Completion Program and how UM would reimburse me for the costs associated with getting my degree. Finally, knowing I could complete all of my coursework through the accredited Liberty University was the deal clincher.”

Strinko admits that it wasn’t easy to resume course work after so many years.

“Getting accustomed to online courses was a little challenging in the beginning. I had taken three, four credit hour courses at Miami Dade College in 2010 so I had already had a little bit of an idea of what would be required. I have to tell you that at 60 years of age you get pretty set in your ways and spending hours upon hours reading and writing was the hardest aspect of the challenge.”

When Strinko returns to Ann Arbor this weekend, it won’t be the first time he’s been back since his playing days — he said he came back in 1989 for a Bo’s Boys 20 year celebration and a few more times over the past two years — but this visit will certainly be the most significant. He’s looking forward to sharing the occasion with his family, several out of town friends from high school who will be making the trip up, and several former teammates.

As he readied himself for the emotional trip, Strinko looked back on his playing days and counted the comradery with his coaches and teammates to be his fondest memory.

“The comradery, hands down,” he said. “Playing four years and only losing 3 games and the closeness that kind of success promotes is not doubt the best feeling one can have. Also, running out of the tunnel on game day in front of 100,000 fans is like no-other feeling one can get anywhere.  Finally, the friends beyond the team and the people in Ann Arbor are incredible.”

He also recalled one of his favorite stories about his coach, the great Bo Schembechler.

“In the summer preceding my senior year I had to take a summer school class in order to remain eligible. Unfortunately, my professor for that course went to Europe before officially entering the grade. Therefore, when we reported for two-a-days I was not eligible. The reason this was a big deal is that every senior is eligible to be voted on for captain.

“Bo called me into a separate meeting room before the announcement that we were voting for captains. He said, ‘Strinko, you cannot be considered for captain of this squad because you are as of right now not eligible.’ Of course I explained I had been given a four-hour “A” but to no avail. Not sure I would have been voted as captain but we will never know.

“This incident so irked Bo that he made me run ten, 100-yard dashes against him after the morning and afternoon two-a-day practices. He even gave himself a 10-yard head start. I will never forget on the first day as we lined up to race he turned and looked at me and said ‘for every one that I beat you, you will have to run ten more.’ He never beat me.”

Tonight, when Strinko receives his degree during the student-athlete ceremony at the Crisler Center, Bo will undoubtedly be looking down from above on the linebacker from Middletown, Ohio, who he once stole away from Woody Hayes. And despite the 42 year gap, Strinko isn’t about to look back and wish he had done things differently.

“I have never been one to have regrets about what I did or did not do in the past. I prefer to consider that wherever the journey took me, it was necessary for me to get to where I am today. Dwelling on what could’ve or should’ve been is a waste of time and energy.

“The reason the rear view mirror is so much smaller than the windshield is that it is much more important to have a vision of where one is going than to dwell on what is behind us. I will say that there is merit in learning from your past mistakes but only as those mistakes are used as a guide of what not to do in the future. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Next week, we will finish this three-part series with a recap of Strinko’s graduation weekend experience and a look ahead at his current venture, FAN, Inc., which is helping the Michigan Football Alumni Network avoid the same pitfalls that tripped him up after his football career.

New in Blue: 2017 LB Josh Ross

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016


Josh Ross(Scout.com)

Josh Ross – LB | 6-2, 225 | West Bloomfield, Mich. (St. Mary’s)
ESPN4-star, #11 OLB Rivals4-star, #9 OLB 2474-star, #6 ILB Scout: 4-star, #10 ILB
247 Composite: 4-star, #7 ILB
Other top offers: Ohio State, Michigan State, LSU, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Louisville, Arkansas

Just a day after stealing a 2018 recruit from Ohio, Michigan landed a 2017 commitment from its home state. Josh Ross, the younger brother of James Ross, who played out his Michigan eligibility this past fall, announced his commitment to the Wolverines.

Ross is a consensus four-star recruit according to the four major recruiting services. 247 ranks him the highest as the sixth-best inside linebacker in the 2017 class. Rivals ranks him as the ninth-best outside linebacker, while Scout has him as the 10th-best inside, and ESPN the 11th-best outside. ESPN ranks Ross the highest nationally at 162nd, while 247 has him 173rd, Rivals 189th, and Scout 228th. Per the 247 Sports Composite, he’s the seventh-best inside ‘backer and 188th overall.

Scout lists Ross’ strengths as instincts, shedding ability, and tackling technique, and his areas to improve as pass coverage skills. They also say that he has room to improve.

“Physical linebacker who is best when coming forward. Takes on blocks with aggressiveness and leverage and likes contact. Anticipates well and shoots gaps. A sure tackler who wraps up and drives through the ball carrier. Can continue to get quicker and improve in pass coverage.”

Ross has visited Michigan several times over the past few years thanks to his brother, but has also visited the other in-state school, Michigan State, nearly as many times. His commitment to Michigan is a big in-state recruiting win for Jim Harbaugh over Mark Dantonio. Ross also held offers from Ohio State, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Louisville, Arkansas, and received an LSU offer a month ago.

Ross joins quarterback Dylan McCaffrey, tight end Carter Dunaway, running back Kurt Taylor, offensive lineman Ja’Raymond Hall, and defensive back Benjamin St-Juste as the current members of next year’s class. With spring practice culminating with the spring game under the lights next Friday, this likely won’t be the last commit in the next couple weeks.

New in Blue: 2016 DE Josh Uche & 2016 LB Elysee Mbem-Bosse

Sunday, January 24th, 2016


Josh Uche(247 Sports)

Josh Uche – DE | 6-2, 212 | Miami, Fla. – Columbus
ESPN: 3-star, #44 OLB Rivals: 3-star, #22 WDE 247: 3-star, #57 WDE Scout: 3-star, #53 DE
Other top offers: Florida, Alabama, Miami, Auburn, South Carolina, North Carolina, Louisville

A big recruiting weekend in Ann Arbor yielded a pair of commitments on Sunday night. Georgia linebacker Elysee Mbem-Bosse and Florida defensive end Josh Uche announced their commitment to the Wolverines together on Twitter at halftime of the NFC Championship.

Uche is a consensus three-star from the four major recruiting sites. Rivals ranks him the highest as the 22nd-best weak side defensive end in the class. ESPN ranks him 44th, Scout 53rd, and 247 57th. ESPN rates him as an outside linebacker, but the other three have him as a defensive end. Uche recorded 50 tackles and 14 sacks during his senior season at Columbus High School in Miami and 34 tackles and 8.5 sacks the year before.

He chose Michigan over his home-state Florida Gators and also held offers from Alabama, Miami, and Auburn. Michigan got in the game pretty late, offering Uche on Dec. 21, but Harbaugh’s staff made enough of an impression to lure the 6-foot-2, 212-pounder to Ann Arbor.

Elysee Mbem-Bosse(247 Sports)

Elysee Mbem-Bosse – LB | 6-3, 232 | Ellenwood, Ga. – Cedar Grove
ESPN: 4-star, #13 ILB Rivals: 4-star, #15 ILB 247: 3-star, #31 ILB Scout: 3-star, #26 ILB
Other top offers: Auburn, N.C. State, Alabama, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, LSU, Florida, Auburn, ND

Mbem-Bosse is a three-star per 247 Composite, but ESPN and Rivals both have him s a four-star. Scout and 247 each list him as a three-star. ESPN ranks him the highest as the 13th-best inside linebacker in the class, while Rivals has him close behind at 15th. Scout ranks him 26th and 247 31st.

The 6-foot-3, 232-pound linebacker from Ellenwood, Ga. chose Michigan over Auburn and N.C. State. He also held offers from most of the majors schools in the south, including Alabama, LSU, Florida, Oklahoma, and Notre Dame.

Both Uche and Mbem-Bosse bring much-needed athleticism to the Michigan front-seven. Both will have a chance to step in at linebacker right away where Michigan has to replace all three starters.

New in Blue: 2016 LB Devin Bush Jr.

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015


Devin Bush Jr (247 Sports)

Devin Bush Jr – LB | 5-11, 226 | Hollywood, Fla. – Charles W. Flanagan
ESPN: 4-star, #12 OLB Rivals: 4-star, #5 ILB 247: 3-star, #19 ILB Scout: 3-star, #13 ILB
Other top offers: Florida State, Auburn, LSU, Florida, Georgia, Notre Dame, Oregon

A major target of Jim Harbaugh’s staff kicked off what may be a big week for the Michigan football program by committing to the Wolverines over his father’s Alma mater, Florida State. Devin Bush Jr shocked many in Tallahassee by spurning his home state Seminoles to join his teammates Devin Gil and Josh Metellus in Ann Arbor. He announced his decision at his school on Wednesday afternoon.

Bush is a top-300 player nationally, rated as a three-star by Scout and 247 and a four-star by ESPN and Rivals. The latter favors the 5-foot-11, 226-pound linebacker the highest as the fifth-best inside linebacker in the class and 184th-best player in the country. ESPN has him as the 12th-best outside linebacker and 180th overall recruit. Scout lists Bush as the 13th-best inside linebacker, while 247 has him the lowest at 19th.

Scout lists his strengths as hitting ability, instincts, and strength, while noting that his areas to improve are pass coverage skills and size. They expanded on that with much more positives than negatives.

“Plays fast to the ball. Very instinctive player who plays one step faster than many opponents. Has very good game speed. Great inside the box going downhill. Works some on the edge as a blitzer as well and he is very effective. When he hits, there is pop with it. A lot of opponents go backwards. Best in attack mode. Can move sideline to sideline. Plays with aggression and an ideal in the box. Not elite size or length, but big enough.”

Bush has a legacy to build on as the son of former Florida State safety Devin Bush, who played for the Seminoles from 1992-94, including their national championship team in ’93. He was an All-ACC selection and a first-round draft pick by the Atlanta Falcons in the 1995 NFL Draft. He spent eight years in the NFL and won a Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams in 2000. In 2013 he became head coach of Charles W. Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines, Fla. and last week guided the Falcons — and his son — to the Class 8A state title.

Bush Jr will fill a need for Michigan at linebacker where the Wolverines lose all three of 2015’s starters, Joe Bolden, Desmond Morgan, and James Ross III. With a wide open depth chart he will have a chance to come in and earn a spot on the two-deep immediately. He joins Dytarious Johnson as the second linebacker in the class.

Bush is the first commitment in what could be a very good week for Michigan. The nation’s top running back, Kareem Walker, makes his announcement tomorrow and Michigan is considered the favorite.

Predicting Michigan 2015: The linebackers

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015


PredictingMichigan-Linebackers

Joe Bolden(Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)

Michigan’s linebacker corps was rock solid last season, but with its fearless leader Jake Ryan graduating to the NFL, it’ll be critical for a largely unproven group to fill the void.

As a unit, the Michigan linebackers were great in the run-stopping game last season, flocking to the ball, and for the most part, keeping running backs from getting to the outside. For the defense to take a step forward in 2015, the three starters will have to lock down the middle of the field and support the defensive line in the run game.

Here’s how the linebackers stack up.

Probable starters

More so than with other positions on the roster, there’s a clear separation in the chain of command within the linebacker core. The starters will be three seniors with a ton of experience over the past three seasons.

Joe Bolden figures to be the physical and vocal leader of the group after starting all 12 games in 2014. Bolden was a beast in the middle of the field, making 102 tackles, and at times, defending the pass. With the departure of Ryan, Bolden is the most likely candidate to wreak havoc in opposing backfields. He has five career sacks and 12 tackles for loss as a linebacker and continues to improve each season.

In the middle will be redshirt senior Desmond Morgan, whose 2014 season was lost to injury after the opener against Appalachian State. Morgan was Michigan’s best linebacker in 2013, with Ryan sidelined by injury, recording 79 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and three passes defended. Morgan is valuable in the middle of the field because he can dominate all aspects of the position, swallowing up ball carriers and dropping back into coverage. Morgan’s return will help soften the blow of losing Ryan, who was the undisputed leader last year.

The final starting spot will go to James Ross, who recorded 32 tackles in 12 games last season. Ross was quiet in 2014 after picking up 85 tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss as a sophomore and beginning the season with huge expectations. He can drop into coverage with tight ends and make plays on the ball in the backfield, though he disappeared at times last season. He’ll need to be closer to the player he was in 2013 to be a threat from the outside.

Projected Stats – Bolden
Total Tackles Tackles for Loss Sacks
80 5.0 3.0
Career Stats
Games Played Solo Assisted Total Tackles Sacks TFL FF FR INT
38 99 88 187 5.0 12.0 0 1 0
Projected Stats – Morgan
Total Tackles Tackles for Loss Sacks
100 7.0 1.5
Career Stats
Games Played Solo Assisted Total Tackles Sacks TFL FF FR INT
37 111 118 229 2.5 14.0 1 2 1
Projected Stats – Ross
Total Tackles Tackles for Loss Sacks
50 5.0 1.0
Career Stats
Games Played Solo Assisted Total Tackles Sacks TFL FF FR INT
37 86 67 153 2.0 11.0 2 1 0

Returning contributors

This is where the linebacker core gets a bit thin for Michigan. Royce Jenkins-Stone has the best chance after the starters to make an impact at linebacker this season after playing in 11 games last year. His value comes from his speed and athleticism, as he can drop into coverage better than most linebackers and can get around blockers to make a play on the ball. Jenkins-Stone has just eight career tackles, but he’s a candidate to break out in 2015 if he earns more snaps.

Ben Gedeon and Mike McCray also saw some time on the field last year, playing in 11 games apiece. Gedeon made 17 tackles and picked up a sack against Miami (Ohio). His specialty is getting into the backfield, where he can be disruptive off the edge. McCray, however, is more of a form tackler and can make plays if he’s in position. He’s the slowest of this group of linebackers, but he won’t miss a tackle and he can shed would-be blockers.

Michigan will need at least one of these three players to step up and give the linebackers some depth heading into the season.

Career Stats – Jenkins-Stone
Games Played Solo Assisted Total Tackles Sacks TFL FF FR INT
12 2 6 8 0.0 0.0 0 0 0
Career Stats – Gedeon
Games Played Solo Assisted Total Tackles Sacks TFL FF FR INT
25 21 15 36 2.0 2.5 0 0 0
Career Stats – McCray
Games Played Solo Assisted Total Tackles Sacks TFL FF FR INT
11 2 0 2 0.0 1.0 0 0 0

New face

Michigan didn’t bring in any high-profile linebackers to fortify the position this offseason, but they did move defensive end Jack Dunaway, from Bloomfield, to linebacker as a freshman. Dunaway likely won’t play much of a role on the field in 2015, but he’s a good tackler and can make plays in the backfield. The coaching staff hopes his move to linebacker will add depth to the position, which looks so thin after the starters.

Meet the rest

Allen Gant – senior, 6’2″, 225 from Sylvania, Ohio (Southview), 12 games played, 5 total tackles
Jared Wangler – sophomore, 6’2″, 230 from Royal Oak, Mich. (De La Salle), no career stats
Chris Terech – freshman, 6’2″, 215 from Saline, Mich. (Saline), no career stats
Nick Benda – senior, 6’0″, 223 from Champion, Mich. (Westwood), no career stats
John Andrysiak – freshman, 6’1″, 215 from Flint, Mich. (Powers Catholic), no career stats
Michael Wroblewski – junior, 6’2″, 241 from Saint Clair Shores, Mich. (Detroit Jesuit), no career stats
Tommy Whitted – freshman, 6’1″, 225 from Winter Park, Fla. (Winter Park), no career stats
Dan Liesman – senior, 6’2″, 233 from Lansing, Mich. (Lansing Catholic), no career stats
James Offerdahl – freshman, 6’2″, 220 from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Cardinal Gibbons), no career stats
Noah Furbush – sophomore, 6’4″, 217 from Kenton, Ohio (Kenton)
Cheyenn Robertson – freshman, 6’3″, 220 from Union City, N.J. (St. Peter’s Prep), no career stats

New in Blue: 2016 S Devin Gil

Friday, June 19th, 2015


Devin Gil(Scout.com)

Devin Gil – S | 6-1, 205 | Pembroke Pines, Fla. – Charles W Flanagan
ESPN: 3-star, #33 S Rivals: 3-star, NR 247: 3-star, #79 S Scout: 3-star, #93 S
Other top offers: Miami, Louisville, NC State, South Florida, Central Florida, Bowling Green

Just two days after Michigan received commitments 15 and 16, Hollywood, Fla. safety Devin Gil became number 17. On Friday morning, he channeled his inner LeBron James in tweeting his commitment to the Wolverines.

Gil is a three-star recruit according to each of the four major recruiting services. ESPN ranks him the highest as the 33rd-best safety in the 2016 class. 247 Sports ranks him 79th and Scout 93rd, while Rivals does not have him ranked at this point. At 6’1″ and 205 pounds, Gil has the ability to play either safety or linebacker. As a junior last season at Flanagan, Gil recorded 64 tackles and three interceptions.

Scout lists Gil’s strengths as ‘hands’, ‘size’, and ‘toughness’, while noting his areas to improve as ‘burst out of breaks’, ‘change of direction’, and ‘recovery ability’. They expanded on that in their analysis:

“When talking size, Gil has it for a big safety. Could even get a look at linebacker down the road depending on how he grows. Loves to mix it up physically. Does not shy away from contact and makes plays in the box and behind the line of scrimmage. Can shed blocks and strike the opponent. When the ball is in the air, he tracks it and makes plays on it. Has very good hands. Always around the ball and makes big plays.”

Gil originally committed to his home-state Miami Hurricanes on Jan. 26, but received an offer from Jim Harbaugh’s staff two months later. He made his way to Ann Arbor for an unofficial visit last weekend and announced his decommitment from Miami the same day. On Friday, he pledged to the Wolverines just two days after his teammate and fellow safety, Josh Metellus, did.

With 17 commitments in next year’s class, Harbaugh is hoping to continue the June momentum he has built through his Summer Swarm satellite camp tour. There’s a good chance Metellus and Gil’s teammate at Flanagan, four-star linebacker Devin Bush Jr., joins the class soon, as he proclaimed shortly after Gil’s commitment that he will no longer be announcing his own commitment at the Under Armour All-American game.