Having been fortunate enough to travel alongside the team during Michigan Football's state-wide summer tour, a few things became very apparent. I noticed that, in spite of all of the off-season noise surrounding the NFL, head coach Jim Harbaugh is still very much loved and respected by his football program. I also noticed that the confidence- level among the team is as high as I can remember. While most are willing to acknowledge that last year's playoff run was successful, the players have been clear that it wasn't good enough - and that they've set their sights much higher in 2022.
While the two examples above certainly stand out, they both pale in comparison to the transformation of Mazi Smith. Entering his senior year at U-M, the massive defensive lineman has transformed his mind and his body during the off-season - and it looks like it's about to pay off in a very big way.
Smith's transformation has been so noticeable that he was recently placed in the No. 1 spot on Bruce Feldman's 2022 College Football Freaks list. Here's some of what Feldman had to say about Smith:
“But let’s start with this: Smith does 22 reps on the bench press, but that’s with 325 (not 225). He close-grip benched 550 pounds. He vertical-jumps 44 inches. He broad-jumped 9-4 1/2. Smith, who had 37 tackles last season, has clocked a 4.41 shuttle time, which would’ve tied the best by any defensive tackle at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine, and it would’ve been better than any defensive tackle weighing 310 pounds or more in the past decade. His 6.95 3-cone time would’ve been by far the fastest among defensive tackles in Indianapolis. The fastest was 7.33. Smith’s 60-yard shuttle time is 11.90.
“The Wolverines do a reactive plyo stairs test, which is a series of seven 26-inch high stairs that players attempt to jump up as fast as possible. The team record is 2.21 seconds. Smith did it in 2.82. To better gauge just how impressive that is, (Aidan) Hutchinson, some 60 pounds lighter than Smith, did it in 2.57.”
Here's the video:
“The Wolverines also do a workout on their combo-twist machine, which is designed to show a player’s ability to rotate an opponent but also their ability to resist being rotated in the trenches. Smith had the machine completely tapped out. There was only enough room for 300 pounds on each side of the machine for a 600-pound max.”
According to Feldman, the Wolverines reached out to the manufacturer to see if they could “build custom extenders for the combo-twist, which made it capable of loading up to 800 pounds" to accommodate Smith.