The signing day festivities may have been missing those familiar faces of Derek Jeter and Tom Brady, due to his preparation for his 5th Super Bowl victory, but the amount of future star power that was there in attendance had the second annual Signing of the Stars event looking more star-studded than what most are expressing.
Last years event consisted of an all-around celebrity list including Ric Flair, Jim Leyland and even the popular Rap group, Migos. The university went all out for its first annual event. Jim Harbaugh wanted to do something different and amazing that no one was doing and simply just wow the new recruits, in other words to have celebration for their new future student athletes on furthering their education.
This years’ Signing of the Stars event was very much different from the previous. Harbaugh wanted to get away from those big name celebrities and put the spotlight truly on recruits and bring the community of the university together. After he was announced on to the stage by the Sklar brothers, he didn’t hold back about what could be his favorite word in the dictionary, family.
“Probably no better word in the English language.. to me, than family. ‘Cause we are tied at the hip, we are tied at the hip here at the University of Michigan. We are a family.”
It nearly took me a week just to process this event and how awesome it really was. There were so many factors that played into this event that made it simply special, entertaining, and downright hopeful for another great year of Michigan Football.
The Sklar Brother Tandem
Former Michigan Alum and masters of ceremony, Randy and Jason Sklar had everybody rolling as soon as they stepped onto the stage. Randy had the pleasure of hosting last years’ event but decided to bring his brother Jason along because he was “almost” as big as a Michigan fan as he was. Next thing you know, Jason reminisce when they slept outside Crisler Center for a Michigan vs Duke basketball game when a 2-year-old Grayson Allen decided to trip him on the way in. They even managed to get the crowd fired up with a reference of a certain Ohio referee thinking that joke came up 6 inches short. The two kept the show moving flawlessly and had everyone enjoying themselves till the very end. Hopefully, we can count on these guys being the host for years to come.
A Team Effort by the University
One of the many reasons I thought what made the event more special than last year was the element of having other coaches from other sports partake as presenters for the former alumni. From Carol Hutchins, the winningest softball coach in the NCAA history and Michigan Athletics to John Paul the head coach for the Mens Lacrosse team. In his 6th season, Paul has helped the club become new members of Division-1 Lacrosse and now is competing in the Big Ten Conference for the first time. The way that this was strategically set up was brilliant and idea of bring others coaches in for the presentation shows just how strong the Michigan community is and willing to cheer on for other athletic departments.
Back to Basics – Big Bodies
Whether it’s high school, college, or even the NFL, winning at the line of scrimmage is always a key to any football game. Nearly half of the 2017 recruits alone can be found playing on the line of scrimmage. Coach Drevno expressed how they wanted to get more athletic up front and wanted to bring in guys that can immediately compete on the offensive line and all 5 of them fits that bill. Jon Jansen expressed that he enjoys seeing the new recruits already being able to finish their blocks and doesn’t stop till the whistle is blown.
“That’s what I like to see, guys on their back and our guys on top of them.”
Caesar Ruiz, a 5-star Center out of IMG Academy had said that he had known for about two years that he was coming to Michigan after being asked about his popular commitment video and the whole process. Turned out he was just messing and was just saying that for the show purposes.
Graham Glasgow was asked about what kind of advice he could give to these young guys and his answer was perfect.
“Coach Drevno and Coach Harbaugh are always right, if you think you’re right.. you’re wrong.” He chuckled. “Just have faith in these guys and they’ll put theirs back in you.” He mentioned on a serious note.
One of the two biggest steals of the day that Michigan managed to grab was 5-star defensive tackle, Aubrey Solomon out of Georgia. He was a hard one to follow on what he was going to do. First, he committed, then de committed thanks to a miscommunication of a “thank you letter” for attending a BBQ held at the Big House in which he never attended and ultimately rubbed him the wrong way. But at the end of day, Harbaugh and company managed to solidify the defensive line for the next few years alongside with Rashan Gary. Those two together are going to be nasty to see.
The Amount of WR Depth
Detroit Lions Quarterback Jake Rudock mentioned that the offensive line creates the plays which allows the QB to hit those playmakers. We lost three huge offensive weapons in Jake Butt, Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh. But did we ever overachieve at the wide out position. We had known about Donovan Peoples-Jones, Tarik Black, and Oliver Martin before the event.However, it wasn’t until roughly an hour and a half after the show that we officially went 2-2 on stealing another Alabama recruit right from underneath their nose in Nico Collins. Collins took his first trip when Michigan had played Maryland and It’s pretty damn amazing on why Collins chose Michigan over his second choice of Georgia followed by Alabama.
“It was very amazing,” Collins said. “There were 110,000 fans or something like that. They were live for all four quarters. When I walked in, I could see myself there. Going out under the tunnel under the ‘Go Blue’ sign, I could hear the fans yelling, ‘Nico, Nico!’
“That right there really meant a lot. That showed me they really care about players (yelling Nico). I’m from all the way down south, and they knew about me. That meant a lot.”
We really do have the best fans.
Mind you we still have Grant Perry, Kekoa Crawford, Eddie Mcdoom, Drake Harris and Tyrone Wheatley Jr. I still have goosebumps in thinking what this offense could look like. Pro Style? Spread? Both? I have no idea, but it’s hurting my brain.
Another Signing of the Stars has come and gone and it’s not hard to see and understand how Jim Harbaugh continues to change the environment at Michigan and why these young kids choose Ann Arbor. Three words. Family. Education. Football.