One of the big early recruiting wins of the Dino Babers era was landing Ifeatu Melifonwu in the 2017 class. Melifonwu was not always a big name, however, as he was relatively unknown nationally for much of his recruiting cycle.
UNDER THE RADAR
Ifeatu Melifonwu played at Grafton Memorial Senior High in Massachusetts. He was a relatively under the radar prospect who only had one power five offer (Boston College) entering the summer prior to his senior season. Iffy picked up offers from Maine, Bryant, UMass, Holy Cross, New Hampshire and Albany in May and June 2016.
This despite the fact that his older brother Obi, had just finished a stellar career at UConn and was set to be an NFL Draft pick. The good bloodlines and pro potential were not enough to attract major recruiting attention. Instead, Melifonwu remained overlooked.
Syracuse watched Melifonwu at a satellite camp and was very impressed. The staff invited him to an on campus camp in late June. Iffy was so good, the Orange offered as a result of his performance and immediately made him a top priority. It only took eight days from the Syracuse offer before Melifonwu committed on July 2nd. He picked the Orange over his other finalists Boston College and UConn.
MICHIGAN ATTEMPTS TO FLIP
Late in the recruiting cycle, Michigan started recruiting Melifonwu. Michigan's defensive coordinator, Dan Brown, coached Obi at UConn. So there was an obvious family connection to the Wolverines. Not to mention Michigan is a blue blood program. Things really ramped up with Michigan in January 2017, with National Signing Day just weeks away.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh visited Grafton Memorial Senior High to watch Iffy play basketball, and spent time after the game speaking with the younger Melifonwu. Iffy took an official visit to Michigan in late January, and received an offer five days before National Signing Day.
IFFY SIGNS WITH SYRACUSE
Despite Michigan's best efforts, Syracuse was able to seal the deal with Melifonwu. He took an official visit to Syracuse the weekend before National Signing Day, and inked with the Orange on recruiting's big day. It was a big recruiting win for Syracuse, and the big push from Michigan solidified the staff's ability to evaluate talent.
247Sports Composite: 3-star, #120 safety, #5 player in Mass.
Rivals: 2-star, unranked by position, #3 player in Mass.
ESPN: 3-star, #81 ATH, #5 player in Mass.
247Sports: 3-star, #71 safety, #4 player in Mass.