LOS ANGELES — Last year, the University of Michigan pushed hard to recruit a group of football players from St. Frances Academy in Baltimore.
Co-head coach Biff Poggi had spent the 2016 season as an associate head coach and special adviser for the Wolverines. With Poggi back at St. Frances, it seemed natural Michigan would attract at least one of the team’s standouts.
In the Class 2018, Michigan doggedly pursued five-star defensive end Eyabi Anoma, co-head coach Henry Russell said. Anoma chose Alabama. Last year, the main targets were four-star linebacker Shane Lee and four-star offensive lineman Darrian Dalcourt, while others were also offered. Lee and Dalcourt both joined Anoma at Alabama. None of the St. Frances recruits went to Michigan.
This year? Different story.
Four players in the 2020 class have committed to the Wolverines: four-star running back Blake Corum, four-star linebacker Osman Savage, three-star linebacker Nikhai Hill-Green and three-star offensive tackle Micah Mazzccua.
“This is the first time we’ve had any kids commit there. They’ve tried really hard the last few years to get a couple of our kids,” Russell said Saturday, prior to the Panthers’ game against Mater Dei of Santa Ana, California.
“I know they were really excited when some of the kids started committing.”
Savage was the first to do so.
“After I got on board, I was just pushing anybody for real,” he said. “If Michigan was looking at you, ‘Oh, you should come to Michigan.’ That’s what they heard from me, day by day.”
Corum was included in that. Savage pushed him: “‘That’s where we’re going, bro? That’s what we’re doing?’
“He’d tell me, ‘I don’t know.'”
A couple times, some of the St. Frances recruits went on visits together. Other times, they went solo.
When Corum went on his official visit, that’s when Poggi learned of the mutual interest between Michigan and the running back.
Unlike Savage, Poggi doesn’t get involved in their recruiting, instead allowing them to find their best fit without any pressure from the outside.
“He wears a Michigan hat to practice sometimes, but that’s about it,” Russell said.
“He never really pressured me into it. Never really told me to commit. He just said go where you fit in,” Corum said.
That doesn’t mean Poggi doesn’t get excited when a player does decide, though.
“He was beyond excited,” Corum said.
So Michigan is getting four St. Frances Academy players in the Class of 2020. Osman said the vibe of the Michigan campus felt “natural,” and Corum said running backs coach Jay Harbaugh did a good job recruiting him and showing him how he’d fit in.
The fans and the city of Ann Arbor helped clinch it, too.
“The fans, they showed me mad love all the time. It’s just a feeling I get in Ann Arbor, it’s pretty cool,” Corum said.