San Juan Capistrano (Calif.) J Serra Catholic offensive tackle Jeffrey Persi had 26 scholarship offers in total and could have stayed out west, as he had opportunities from USC, Utah, Washington, Cal, Arizona, Arizona State and more.
It was Michigan which ended up being his choice, though, with his June 21 weekend official visit being the final piece of the puzzle.
Persi gives the Wolverines a recruit with a big frame. He was verified at 6-foot-7 at The Opening Regionals and is now 265 pounds. He is also unique in that he is coached by a man who played his position at a high level, as J Serra Catholic’s head coach is former NFL first-round draft pick Pat Harlow.
Harlow played eight seasons in the NFL for the New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders, and knew he had a player with the requisite skill set and size in Persi.
“He thought he was a tight end and I said, ‘You’re not a tight end, you’re an offensive tackle,’” Harlow explained. “He had all the attributes for a big-time college player at that position: length, he was over 6’7” with long arms, could run and move his feet.”
Once Persi heard Harlow tell him he could be heavily recruited as an offensive tackle, it did not take much convincing from there. Colleges began coming in more in January, according to Harlow, and saw Persi’s growth potential and flexibility. From there, his recruitment went more national.
“He’s still really raw,” Harlow said. “I got him last year, and he came in during spring track after discus and shot, so he really has 12 games on the offensive line. His ceiling is really, really high. (Colleges) watched tape and could see him from a physical standpoint, easily being a 320-pound guy with a great frame and moves really well and bends really well.”
The official visit allowed Persi to see that he had a home away from home in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines not only get a recruit with a lot of upside, but also will be a great locker room presence. He also will have a great support system, which will help him handle life while being away from family.
“He’s a great teammate. He doesn’t say a whole lot, but he works very hard,” Harlow said. “He is a home body. He is very close with his family, so that will be kind of a rough transition when he goes to school since he is so close to them, but they are super supportive and they have family out in the Midwest. He is a really good kid.”
For the Wolverines to get a “home body” to commit to them from the West Coast was a good recruiting job by the staff. It was not just a football decision, however.
“I played with a lot of Michigan guys in the pros, and I know what kind of guys come out of there. They’re solid people, smart, ready to be pros and that is his dream to play in the NFL,” Harlow said. “That and the academics are really what sold him.”
Michigan now has 22 commits in their 2020 class.
UM offers highly recruited 2021 DE
Travion Ford, a defensive end from St. Louis (Mo.) Lutheran North was offered by Michigan this week, according to his head coach Carl Reed.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Ford had 17 sacks as a sophomore.
Ohio State, Alabama, Texas, Florida State and many others also have offered.
Ford is ranked by 247Sports as the No. 43 overall prospect in the country in his class.
4-star TE zeroing in on UM official
Windsor (Ontario) Holy Names tight end Theo Johnson reported on Thursday to 247Sports that he is considering taking an official visit to Michigan the weekend of Oct. 26 for the Wolverines’ home game against Notre Dame.
The 6-foot-5, 235-pound Johnson, long a top target of Michigan’s, already had taken an unofficial visit to Michigan in June and also camped with the Wolverines earlier in the month.
He has Michigan in a top four, along with Georgia, Iowa and Penn State.
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.