The Wolverine

September 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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64 THE WOLVERINE SEPTEMBER 2017 BY BRANDON BROWN M ichigan's BBQ at The Big House has become one of U-M's more noteworthy recruiting events of the summer. Each installment seems to attract more and more talented pros- pects from around the country, and it also always seems to produce a few commitments. Started by Rich Rodriguez, carried on by Brady Hoke, and now being implemented and altered by Jim Harbaugh, the BBQ is a total team effort and always seems to impress recruits and their families who are lucky enough to attend. The 2017 version took place July 29 and was slightly different than the 2016 edition. A campus-wide scav- enger hunt chock full of Twitter in- volvement was the centerpiece last year, but visitors spent almost the entire time inside the Junge Family Champions Center and Michigan Stadium this year. There was a two- to three-hour hia- tus while visitors toured the campus, and this year's version was all about fellowship, bonding and relaxation. Whatever the approach, it always seems to be successful, and this year was no different. FOUR COMMITMENTS The buzz for commitments always seems to grab the attention of U-M fans, and this year four prospects de- cided to pull the trigger either during, just after or within days of the BBQ. Akron (Ohio) Hoban 2019 four-star offensive guard Nolan Rumler made his decision just before the BBQ be- gan and set the tone for the rest of the day. The 6-4, 300-pounder had been viewed as a Michigan lean for some time and felt that the BBQ would be the perfect setting to make it official. "I liked how I got to spend a lot of time with other recruits, current players and coaches," Rumler said. "Coach Harbaugh really made it a family environment. I got some tours of facilities and a campus tour. We ate some good food and hung out. "What stood out was just how great Michigan is, and it is a family environment." Rumler became commitment No. 2 in Michigan's 2019 class, but that total grew by one just a few hours later when Louisville (Ky.) Trinity four-star weakside defensive end Stephen Her- ron popped for the Maize and Blue. The 6-4, 225-pounder had a loaded top 10 consisting of U-M, Stanford, Ohio State, Kentucky, Georgia, Ten- nessee, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Texas and Alabama, but decided that Michigan was the best fit after spend- ing time with future teammates and around campus during the BBQ. "Today was great," he said. "It has such a family feel. I got to see a lot of the commits, so that was good. I saw [Indianapolis Cathedral four-star of- fensive guard] Emil Ekiyor. I already knew him a little bit, and it was good seeing him again. I committed here, so today couldn't have gone any better." Landing Herron should be viewed as a huge win for the Michigan staff after he released a top 10 in mid- June. The rising junior is one of the more coveted prospects in the class and is a coup for the Wolverines on the recruiting trail. On July 31, Indianapolis Law- rence Central 2018 four-star outside linebacker Cameron McGrone an- nounced that he also would be head- ing to Michigan to play his college ball. The 6-1, 210-pounder made up his mind while in town for the BBQ, but waited until the following Mon- day to announce it publicly so he could do it at his high school. McGrone, Rivals' No. 4 player in Indiana and No. 16 outside line- backer nationally, learned a lot about the Michigan culture while in Ann Arbor for the BBQ. "The BBQ was fantastic," he said after his pledge. "I had a lot of my family there, and I knew before that I was going to make my decision there. That's why I brought my family to make sure they saw what Michigan had to offer. "They got a chance to meet all of the coaches, and that really made for a family feel. Overall, it was a fantas- tic day. I got to meet all of the coaches and a bunch of commits, my new brothers who will be up there with me next year — I had a great time." McGrone's band of brothers grew by one when Naples (Fla.) High 2018 three-star cornerback Sammy Faustin announced Aug. 2 that he had committed to Michigan. The 6-2, 170-pounder elected to sleep on his decision for a few nights and make it known from down in Florida, but he also had a good idea about U-M after spending time at the BBQ. "I kind of made my decision while I was at the BBQ — almost," Faustin said with a laugh. "It was a good ex-   FOOTBALL RECRUITING BBQ At The Big House Continues To Be A Success Current U-M pledges, from right to left, Jalen Mayfield, Christian Turner and Emil Ekiyor helped make recruiting targets such as Justin Rogers (far left), a 2020 offensive tackle from Oak Park (Mich.) High, feel at home during the BBQ. PHOTO BY AUSTIN FOX

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