Michigan commit Kalel Mullings has been in the process of becoming a college football player for a long time. By the end of his recruitment, Mullings was feeling the stress of choosing a college to spend four years at, but being recruited was nothing new for him.
“We actually recruited him to come here, as crazy as that sounds,” Milton Academy (Mass.) head coach Kevin MacDonald said. “As a sixth-grader, he was already a star. I had him (on the varsity) for four years, but he has been at our school for six years.”
It always was assumed that when Mullings entered the ninth grade, he would immediately begin playing varsity. What was not certain is how he would handle playing against older players or how soon college coaches would pay attention. Both of those questions were answered quickly.
“He was just a big, strong fast kid, but the funny thing about him is, he was a 13-year-old freshman,” MacDonald said. “In our league, there are many 20-year-olds, so he was playing against guys seven years older than him on numerous occasions. He had a very good year. Then Don Brown offered him just about a week after he turned 14. That was his first offer and within a week, he had a dozen. He had a very good freshman year as a 13-year-old.”
Mullings, at that point, already had played on ESPN3 and with or against players who received offers at an early age, so the arrival of major scholarship offers was not a surprise.
By the time he was a senior, Mullings was recruited by a variety of schools and at a variety of positions. Some schools like him as an outside linebacker, some recruited him as a running back, while others, like Michigan, projected him as an inside linebacker. Also an excellent student, academic considerations were an important part of his decision as well.
“He had a heck of a time with it,” MacDonald said. “He knew he wanted a school that combined big-time football with big-time academics. His mother is a Cornell grad and works for Cornell in development, so she fueled the whole thing. He was looking at Duke, Vanderbilt, Northwestern, schools like that that combine those two things, Boston College, because they were local. He had a lot of offers to go anywhere he wanted, so he was stressed out over it and I kept telling him it was good to have 30 offers and it was nothing to be stressed over.”
Mullings considered the running back option, but considered the longevity of running backs. He went on visits to the schools he was down to. The visit to Michigan and that early offer wound up making the difference.
“Don Brown made it hard to say no when he finally made a decision,” MacDonald said. “It was very close to being Stanford, and it shocked some people last-second when he changed his mind, but he went to Stanford and wasn’t feeling it on his final visit and he had a great rapport with Don Brown.”
MacDonald said Mullings has always, despite being young for his class, been a very mature kid. College coaches who came in consistently noted that. At 6-foot-1, 227 pounds, there is only so much more room for him to grow, but his development in the off-season has made him a different kid going into his senior year.
“The thing I noticed this year is he really took weight lifting seriously,” MacDonald said. “He always lifted, but he took it to a high level for the first time. He took it to a new level this summer and he is starting to look like a grown man.”
When all of his attributes, tangible and intangible are combined, it creates a portrait of a player Michigan is excited to have.
“They re getting a kid big, strong kid who will continue to grow. He has size 16 shoes,” MacDonald said. “He is very athletic. He runs a 4.6 40 at 230 pounds, and he’s also a great kid. He is very very coachable. He has had injuries, I’m hoping he has grown out of that — I think he has. We haven’t played a game yet, but I think he is going to play at different level this year.”
The 247Sports composite ranks Mullings as the No. 1 senior in Massachusetts.
Wolverines offer 4-star Indiana junior
Michigan has extended an offer to Elkhart (Ind.) Central’s Rodney McGraw, a 6-foot-6, 225-pound defensive end in the 2021 class.
McGraw is rated a four-star prospect by the 247Sports composite.
He visited Michigan last Saturday for the Army game.
Indiana, Purdue, Penn State, Kansas and others also have offered McGraw.
Florida LB offered
Jacksonville (Fla.) Sandalwood linebacker Branden Jennings was offered by Michigan recently.
Jennings (6-3, 225 pounds) is ranked by the 247Sports composite as the No. 1 inside linebacker in the country in the 2021 class.
Florida State and Miami (Fla.) are believed to be the early teams to beat, but Jennings has nearly 30 offers overall.
He finished his sophomore season with 136 tackles and six sacks.
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.