In a time of uncertainty around the Michigan athletic department — football coach Brady Hoke is firmly on the hot seat with a 4-5 record, and athletic director David Brandon resigned Friday — the Wolverines needed some good news.
And they got just that with a verbal commitment from 2016 Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian Academy linebacker Dele’ Harding.
The 6-foot-1, 232-pounder first caught the eye of the coaching staff at U-M’s 2013 summer camp and earned his U-M offer following the Sound Mind Sound Body camp in Harper Woods this summer. He favored Michigan ever since and made the decision to end his recruitment Friday.
“Ever since he’s receiving the offer, he’s been considering Michigan,” said his father, David Harding. “Actually, he was considering Michigan even before he received the offer, but more so since he received the offer. He was pondering over what school fit him academically, and everything that Michigan embodied, he considered. When compared to other schools, I think what it came down to, more or less, was that it wasn’t any other school that impressed him like Michigan did.”
It didn’t hurt that two of his former teammates are suiting up in Ann Arbor. Freshman wide receiver Freddy Canteen and redshirting freshman safety Brandon Watson signed in Michigan’s 2014 class, and their presence helped Harding feel comfortable with the Wolverines.
“That most definitely helped,” said Eastern Christian Academy coach Dwayne Thomas. “He’s very close with them. We’re a small school, and most of the guys are pretty close. They’ve stayed in touch since they’re there.”
Harding is the No. 5 inside linebacker and No. 186 overall player in the 2016 class. He’s an instinctual linebacker who has a physical and mental skill set that will help him achieve big things.
“He’s a guy that can cover a lot of ground because he’s an instinctual player,” rivals.com national director of recruiting Mike Farrell said. “He’s not as quick-twitch a guy as you can get at a middle linebacker situation. He makes up for that with his instincts. When I say not as quick-twitch, for a middle linebacker, those freakish guys really flip their hips very well, and they react extremely well.”
Harding is the third member of Michigan’s 2016 class, joining fellow four-star prospects in Downers Grove (Ill.) South offensive lineman Erik Swenson and Trotwood (Ohio) Madison quarterback Messiah deWeaver.
Tim Sullivan is the football recruiting editor of The Wolverine magazine and thewolverine.com. He is also a contributor to national football recruiting coverage on the rivals.com network. You can follow him on Twitter @tims_wolverine.