Last fall, Ernest Hayes, the head football coach at Olympia High School in Orlando, Florida, contacted a friend of his, Devin Bush Sr., a former high school head coach in Florida now working as a defensive analyst at the University of Michigan, to tell him about his rocket-armed junior quarterback Joe Milton.
When Pep Hamilton was hired as Michigan’s offensive coordinator in January, he began watching film of class of 2018 quarterback prospects. It was then that Milton’s arm strength, 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame, toughness in the pocket and other attributes stood out.
“The offer came prior to them seeing him throw in person,” Hayes said. “They saw enough on film to give him the offer. Then they had the opportunity to come up to practice and see him live later.”
Initially, Milton thought he might wait until closer to February to make a commitment, but he visited Michigan for the spring game and his timeline began to change. He committed to the Wolverines last week over 24 other scholarship offers, with Florida, Georgia, LSU, Louisville and Miami (Fla.) among them.
The last time Michigan signed a quarterback from Florida, it was Denard Robinson, but the Wolverines have steadily recruited the Sunshine State at other positions, and that made Milton comfortable with heading north for college.
“I think it was relationships more than it was the location,” Hayes said. “Michigan does have a history recruiting guys out of Florida. They have had a handful of guys on their roster from Florida and he met some of those guys and talked to them about the experience of being at Michigan. Being a Florida guy, that made it comfortable for him, plus the relationship with the coaches and the opportunity to be coached by Pep Hamilton and Jim Harbaugh.”
Milton had a fantastic spring, going from relatively under the radar to the national scene with several sterling camp performances and earning an invitation to the Elite 11 Finals. While most of the attention was focused on an arm which can easily get the ball 70 yards down field and into tight windows, Hayes said he is also a high-character kid who is competitive and a great leader for his team.
“He wants to be good,” Hayes added. “He asks questions all the time and we have never had any issues with him. Everything has always been above board. He has his head on straight and with his tools, the sky is the limit.”
Hayes and Milton both believe he chose a place with a coach and a staff who can help him reach that potential.
“There were several things (about Harbaugh),” Hayes said. “His resume as a coach, doing it at all levels as far as being in the NFL, being in college, playing for Michigan and playing he quarterback position, that was big for Joe to have a head coach to understand the ins and outs of the position.”
UM target sets decision date
Grand Rapids Catholic Central offensive tackle Jalen Mayfield has set May 23 as the day he will announce his college commitment, with Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota as the final five schools.
Mayfield (6-5, 260 pounds) was once committed to Minnesota but re-opened his recruitment after Michigan made an offer in March. He visited the Wolverines for a spring practice and spring game.
He was a Division 3-4 all-state selection as a junior.
UM offers Oklahoma sophomore
Dax Hill, a class of 2019 safety from Booker T. Washington in Tulsa, was offered Monday by Michigan.
Hill (6-0, 182 pounds) holds offers from Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Missouri and more.
In two seasons on the varsity, Hill has 107 tackles and four interceptions. His older brother, Justice Hill, is a freshman running back at Oklahoma State.
Allen Trieu began covering the state of Michigan for Scout.com in 2005 and began managing the entire Midwest in 2009. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan and Michigan State recruiting columns appear weekly at detroitnews.com.