Michigan had Culver (Ind.) Academies defensive lineman Deontae Craig up to campus in the fall for games, but it was not until last month’s visit for a basketball game that the Wolverines offered a scholarship.
Now the Wolverines are one of 13 schools who have offered the 6-foot-4, 230-pound junior.
"I got to spend some one-on-one time with Coach (Don) Brown,” Craig told The Michigan Insider’s Brice Marich. “He told me that he really liked my film and wanted to get the chance to coach me. He’s the one that extended the offer to me. Coach Brown had told me, and at first, I was kind of like, ‘Wow, like Michigan?’ because that’s one of the best schools out there. It felt good because we had been building a relationship for a while.”
Craig has business to finish on the basketball court, as Culver plays for a state championship this week. Culver won the title last year, and Craig’s 21 points in the semi-state game gives it the opportunity to repeat. As schools came in to evaluate him during the winter contact period, the athleticism and attitude he showed on the court backed up what was evident on his football film.
“His first step and burst are some of his greatest assets,” Culver head football coach Andrew Dorrel said, “and his ability to finish, so they watch him rebound and get off the court and slide on defense and then the way he carries himself. He is a very humble person, very supportive of his teammates. You hear this comment a lot, but he truly makes others around him better. He is a player that supports them and raises his own level of play, and that is so apparent in practice and translates onto the game field or gym in both sports.”
Dorrel said Craig is the most heavily recruited prospect at the school in the last 20 years. His growth potential has much to do with that.
“He is a very unique athlete,” Dorrel said. “He is 6-foot-5, 230 pounds and could weigh 290 or weigh 265. He has the athleticism where he could be a drop end or add the weight and be a strongside end. That's why he is intriguing to so many programs. He is not locked into one position. It depends on how he develops and what a team's needs are. He is a multi-positional player.”
Just as important as the physical talents are what Craig is like off the field.
“He is one of the most popular kids on campus because of his genuine personality,” Dorrel said. He is a friend to everyone. He adopted a little four-year-old boy who comes to every basketball game wearing Deontae's number on a little jersey he made. From friends to boys to girls to adults, faculty, staff, he is the kind of kid that is easy to root for because of how he conducts himself.”
Craig might take official visits before he decides, but unofficial visits, to be taken once his basketball season ends, will set the foundation for his eventual decision.
“When basketball ends on Saturday, he is looking to get to quite a few spring practices the next two weeks. That will be a determining factor,” Dorrel said. “He will get to see how the position coaches work with the players and see their energy and demeanor. Family is important to him. His mom and dad live in Fort Wayne and they come to every football and basketball game, so the way he feels the team supports that family mentality and uniqueness and brotherhood the team exudes.”
The 247Sports Composite, which averages rankings across the recruiting industry, has Craig as the No. 4 junior prospect in Indiana.
UM gets first 2021 commit
Michigan received a commitment from Sterling Heights Stevenson sophomore offensive tackle Giovanni El-Hadi on Tuesday. The Wolverines offered on Sunday and received a quick commitment from the 6-foot-6, 280-pound youngster.
El-Hadi held additional offers from Purdue, Penn State, Iowa State and more, all of which came in the last month.
He started as a freshman and sophomore for Stevenson.
Blue chip 2021 TE offered
Hartwell (Ga.) Hart County tight end Cane Berrong was offered by Michigan on Tuesday.
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Berrong is heavily recruited and holds 14 scholarship offers.
Alabama, Georgia, Notre Dame, Auburn and Florida are among his other offers.
Allen Trieu covers Midwest football recruiting for 247Sports. 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.