Michigan Keeping Tabs On Offered Four-Star DE Derek Wilkins

Eric Rutter

While keeping a safe social distance, the Michigan coaching staff is still showing Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita Catholic four-star defensive end Derek Wilkins a lot of attention lately.

“I started talking to Michigan not too long before this all shut down,” Wilkins told Wolverine Digest. “I’ve been talking to them pretty consistently.”

Wilkins holds an offer from the U-M staff, and the Wolverines have [Jim] taken a collaborative approach in his recruitment thus far.

“I have been talking to Coach [Shaun] Nua a good amount,” Wilkins said. “I actually got to FaceTime with Coach Nua, Coach [Don] Brown and Coach [Jim] Harbaugh on Friday. That was pretty cool.”

Ranked as the No. 13 defensive end in the country by 247Sports.com, the 6-4, 250 pound defensive lineman currently sports 16 offers to his name. With Michigan among a growing group of suitors, Wilkins has a rough plan as to which five schools he will officially visit.

“I have an idea,” Wilkins said. “Michigan is one of the ones that I definitely want to take. The rest, I’m still kind of up in the air on, especially with all this [coronavirus] stuff. I don’t know how it’s going to affect recruiting yet, so I don’t want to make any decisions yet. Michigan is definitely one that I want to take because I want to go check it out.”

As a true student athlete, Wilkins is looking for a school that will benefit him both athletically and academically in the future. Wilkins is looking at majoring in either Finance or Accounting, and he touted U-M’s rank as a top Business school as another compelling factor.

“They have amazing academics, which is a huge part of it,” Wilkins said. “Obviously, they’re a top-25 program, and playing in the Big Ten is arguably one of the best conferences in the nation. Those are the biggest parts. They have the No. 2 business school in the nation, so that’s a big part of it for me. Those are the important things.”

Though Michigan has multiple facets of the school that are appealing to Wilkins, the four-star is on the short list for quite a few programs.

“I’ve been hearing a lot from and am in consistent contact with Cal, Nebraska, Boston College, Oregon and Washington,” Wilkins said. “I have been hearing a lot from UCLA.”

Since the coronavirus put a hold on many recruiting visits, Wilkins is in the process of sorting out his visit schedule over the next couple months.

“I was actually planning on going to Boston College this weekend, but I can’t do that anymore,” Wilkins said. “It makes it tougher because you don’t know how those, especially those cross-country visits, are really going to fit into your new schedule. You’re already missing so much stuff, and it has to fit into your new period.”

Last year, Wilkins put together a productive season on defense for the Eagles, one that saw the powerful recruit attacking from all across the defensive line.

“I am a pretty lengthy guy,” Wilkins said. “I like to use my length to my advantage. I see myself right now as a little bit more of a run factor that can get after the quarterback in certain situations. I can move all over the line. I play anywhere from the 0-tech to the 9-tech. I try to be as versatile as I possibly can. I just try to get after.”

Wilkins compiled 17 tackles for loss, eight sacks, four forced fumbles and three blocked punts as he was a disruptive thorn in the side of opposing offenses. As for his future position, coaches have identified his potential at either defensive end or defensive tackle once he arrives to college.

“It’s up in the air,” Wilkins said of his future position. “It really depends on how I put on weight over the next year. Based on this year and when I get to college, they could see me playing a little bit more inside or outside.”

Before the hold on recruiting visits, Wilkins was looking to commit before his senior season began, perhaps in August. Now, Wilkins plans to “play it by ear” as the recruiting calendar unfolds. 

Where does Wilkins stand among your most-wanted defensive targets? Do you think Shaun Nua can reel in the West coast product? Let us know below!