Recruiting Flips To Play Pivotal Roles For Michigan In 2020
Anyone who follows recruiting understands that stealing players away from another school is just part of the deal. Recruiting can be cutthroat, seedy and even immoral at times, but going to head to head with another school and convincing a player to flip their commitment just comes with the territory.
Michigan has double-digit flips on its roster and a few of them are going to play massive roles in 2020. Here's that list in order of importance heading into the 2020 campaign.
1. Jalen Mayfield — from Minnesota
Mayfield was viewed as a pretty undersized offensive tackle as a sophomore and junior in high school, which resulted in a lot of schools slow playing him. Minnesota was one of the first Power 5 and Big Ten schools to get involved, which resulted in an early commitment to the Gophers following a visit to Minneapolis.
Once Mayfield started to bulk up and dominate defensive linemen while maintaining his elite athleticism, big time programs came calling, including Michigan. Ultimately, Mayfield formed a very tight bond with offensive line coach Ed Warinner and he decided that he'd rather be a Wolverine than a Gopher. Now, as he enters year three at U-M, he's one of the best offensive linemen in the Big Ten and the country, and is a potential first round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
2. Kwity Paye — from Boston College
As a slightly sawed off defensive end from Rhode Island, Paye was overlooked by a lot of schools. He camped all over, including at Notre Dame most notably, but only reeled in six offers from Boston College, Michigan, Navy, Rutgers, Syracuse and Toledo.
Like most prospects from New England, Paye was attracted to Boston College early and initially committed to the Eagles as a sophomore. Once Michigan, and more importantly Don Brown, who offered Paye when he was still at BC, got involved, it was all but over. Paye never forgot that Brown gave him his first big opportunity, and that admiration carried over once Brown got hired at Michigan.
3. Daxton Hill — from Alabama
Hill's recruitment was a whirlwind. As a five-star prospect and the nation's top safety, everybody wanted him. As an Oklahoma native and the younger brother of Oklahoma State standout Justice Hill, it seemed like he'd probably end up a Sooner or a Cowboy.
When Hill got closer and closer to making a decision, it became pretty clear that he'd instead be a Wolverine or a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide. First, he was a Wolverine, committing to Michigan in mid-September of 2018. Then, he flipped his commitment to Alabama in December of 2018 just two weeks before National Signing Day before ultimately flipping back to the Wolverines on the morning of signing day.
Heading into 2020, Hill is one of Michigan's most intriguing and exciting players. He only started three times as a true freshman but managed to make plays whenever he was on the field. The job is his to lose as a sophomore and many expect him to be in the discussion as one of the best safeties in the Big Ten from here on out.
4. Vincent Gray — from Missouri
Gray committed to Missouri in July of 2017 but always had eyes for Michigan. The Wolverines didn't offer Gray until December 18, 2017, and he decommitted from the Tigers 12 days later. Because of that, he wasn't able to check out Michigan's campus as a targeted prospect until January. After visiting, Gray realized that he wanted to be a Wolverine and committed Jan. 21, 2018.
Heading into 2020, Gray is the lead dog to claim the starting cornerback spot opposite Ambry Thomas. He played in a backup role last year behind Thomas and Lavert Hill and did so admirably. Defensive coordinator Don Brown sees the lanky corner playing on Sundays.
5. Quinn Nordin — from Penn State
Most people who follow recruiting remember Nordin committing to Penn State with commitment video where he was on a private jet. Flexing on a jet is pretty rare for a high school recruit and it's unheard for a kicker.
The swaggy kicker committed to Penn State in mid-2015 but then decommitted from the Nittany Lions in January of 2016. Jim Harbaugh notoriously spent the night at Nordin's house as a part of his in-home visit and proceeded to go to school with him the next day. Obviously it worked, as Nordin eventually committed to the Wolverines right around National Signing Day in 2016.
6. Donovan Jeter — from Notre Dame
Jeter initially committed to Notre Dame in September of 2016 and the Irish felt really good about securing the four-star big man. About a month later, he decommitted from the Irish and started looking hard at the Wolverines. About a week after that, he pledged to the Wolverines.
Jeter has been a disappointment at Michigan so far, but if he's truly up 30-35 pounds as has been reported by head coach Jim Harbaugh, Jeter is going to help a lot along the defensive line this season. The Wolverines are thin at defensive tackle and a bigger, stronger, faster Jeter would make for an invaluable backup behind Carlo Kemp and Christopher Hinton.
7. Anthony Solomon — from Miami
As a Florida kid, Solomon obviously had several high-level options close to home and he ultimately chose Miami in April of 2018.
Early on, it didn't look like Michigan was too interested in him. He called Michigan his dream school more than once but the Wolverines staff never made him a priority. Suddenly, late in 2018, U-M turned up the heat on him and flipped him away from the Canes in December.
Solomon played in every game last year, mostly on special teams, and is going to be in the running to play some viper this fall. With Khaleke Hudson off to the NFL, Michigan's viper position is wide open, although Michael Barrett has the inside track to start.
8. Jalen Perry — from Georgia
As a four-star prospect from the state of Georgia, it's really impressive that Michigan was able to flip Perry away from the Bulldogs.
Perry committed to the Georgia in October of 2017 and stayed committed for about a year. The entire time he was committed, he spoke highly of the Wolverines, but no one saw U-M winning out over UGA, but that's exactly what happened. Perry hasn't really played at Michigan yet but cornerbacks coach Mike Zordich seems to like him quite a bit. We could see him more often in 2020.
9. Mike Morris — from Florida State
At 6-6, 262 pounds, Morris looks like a million bucks. As he heads into his second season at Michigan, he hasn't played at all, but he might be in line to provide some depth along U-M's defensive line in 2020.
As the son of a former Florida State standout, it's pretty impressive that Michigan stole Morris away from the Noles. Morris committed to Florida State early and as a legacy commit, seemed pretty set to sign with FSU. However, Michigan kept grinding and routinely stayed in a group of schools that Morris was looking at and he flipped to the Wolverines after an official visit in September of 2018.
10. Taylor Upshaw — from Florida
Upshaw was very, very solid to Florida for a long time, but when head coach Jim McElwain was fired, he decided to look around. Michigan, Notre Dame and Oregon became Upshaw's top three, and he obviously chose the Wolverines.
Upshaw has a great frame and is the son of nine-year NFL veteran Regan Upshaw, so he's got the bloodlines as well. Through two seasons, he has only appeared in six games, but may be in line to backup Kwity Paye and Aidan Hutchinson in 2020.
Ronnie Bell — from Missouri State
Bell is a bonus flip because he was committed to the Bears to play basketball. Bell was a two-sport standout in the Kansas City area but focused more on basketball as his prep career wound down. Because of that, he actually signed with Missouri State before being recruited by Michigan as a wide receiver. Obviously he had a changed of heart, resulting in him flipping to Michigan for football, and now he's arguably U-M's best wide receiver and is poised to blow up in 2020.
Joey Velazquez — from Ohio State
As a senior, Velazquez was billed as the best baseball prospect in the state of Ohio and had already committed to the Buckeyes early in his prep career. Down the stretch of his high school days, he realized that he wanted to play football at the next level and Michigan was the biggest school to give him an opportunity to do that. He also plays baseball for the Wolverines, which is a pretty special opportunity given the recent run of success for the maize and blue on the diamond. Velazquez hasn't gotten much run on the football field as of yet, but he's already started making an impact as a baseball player.