'Gifted' McCaffrey brings great pedigree to Michigan

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

Dylan McCaffrey isn’t like his older brothers.

Max, the eldest, played wide receiver at Duke.

Christian, the second oldest, is a standout back at Stanford who finished as runner-up in the Heisman voting and surpassed Barry Sanders’ NCAA record for all-purpose yards in a season with 3,864.

While Dylan has carried on the family tradition at Valor Christian High in Highlands Ranch, Colo., he wanted to pave his own path in college. And there was no better place, in McCaffrey’s mind, than Michigan, where he committed to Monday.

“I’ve been a Michigan fan since I was little,” McCaffrey told The Detroit News on Tuesday. “Toward the end of the year, I was watching the bowl game and I was full-on cheering Michigan on.

“(Michigan) was in my top (schools) for a while now and my parents and I got together and we decided it was time to make a decision. I really can’t see myself anywhere else.”

McCaffrey chose Michigan over LSU, UCLA, Colorado, Colorado State, Arizona State, Nebraska, Northwestern, Penn State and Rutgers, among others. He added there was a little attraction to Stanford, where his mother, Lisa, played soccer and father, Ed, was a receiver before becoming a three-time Super Bowl champion.

“I want to make my own footprint and do my own thing,” Dylan McCaffrey said. “My whole family supported my decision and completely agreed with me on that.”

Trieu: McCaffrey �rock solid� with UM commitment

McCaffrey (6-foot-5, 215 pounds) is rated a four-star quarterback by several scouting services. He’s the No. 1 pocket passer and No. 25 prospect in the 2017 class, according to ESPN; the No. 2 pro-style quarterback and No. 44 prospect by 247Sports Composite; and the No. 3 quarterback and No. 39 prospect by Scout.com.

“(What makes him great) is how much his teammates care about him, how much his teammates want to help him be successful,” Valor Christian coach Rod Sherman told The News. “The other thing is he’s just so gifted. His athleticism -- he’s been offered a Division I basketball scholarship as well, but to go along with his skills as a quarterback, I think that’s the reason he’s the No. 1 guy in the country.”

From the moment Sherman first saw McCaffrey take the field as a backup quarterback his freshman year, he knew he wasn’t like the rest.

“When he came out ... you could just tell he was special,” Sherman said. “You could tell how he carried himself, his attention to detail, how much he wanted to learn about the quarterback position. He knew that God had gifted him and he was going to make the most of those gifts.”

A two-year starter, McCaffrey guided Valor Christian to a 22-6 record and back-to-back appearances in the Colorado Class 5A state title game, including winning the program’s sixth championship in seven years last season.

“He put the team on his back in the second half of the fourth quarter in the state championship game,” Sherman said. “We were down two scores and he brought us back, made some exceptional throws.”

McCaffrey threw for 2,378 yards (167-for-279, 59.9 percent), 22 touchdowns and six interceptions his sophomore season. He also rushed for 296 yards and six touchdowns and had a 22-yard touchdown reception.

He only got better his junior year, throwing for 2,800 yards (207-for-320, 64.7 percent), 27 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also led the team in rushing with 592 yards (128 carries) and 13 touchdowns and had three receptions for 83 yards and two scores.

“From his sophomore to junior year he’s just more physical,” Sherman said. “He ran the ball really well this year and made great decisions all the way through. I really think with the additional year of maturation ... we saw improvements in all those areas.”

The past two seasons, McCaffrey had 6,171 yards offense and 71 total touchdowns.

“He has great balance and is an exceptional leader,” Sherman said. “He throws the ball with great accuracy, has got really strong arm strength, very athletic and he’s really smart, too. I think he’s really the full package.”

McCaffrey is the fifth commit in Michigan’s 2017 class, joining Oak Park offensive tackle Ja’Raymond Hall, Birmingham Brother Rice tight end Carter Dunaway, Covington (Ga.) Newton running back Kurt Taylor and Montreal cornerback Benjamin St-Juste.

“He's a competitor. You see that all the time in whatever he's doing, he wants to compete,” Sherman said. “He does an exceptional job with that spirit of competitiveness not flowing over into arrogance over confidence.

"I look for him to do great things (at Michigan) and I expect he'll have the opportunity to play early.”