Trieu: ‘Tough, athletic’ Jaylen Harrell seen as Josh Uche-like impact player for Michigan

Allen Trieu
Special to The Detroit News

Michigan is losing Josh Uche to the NFL Draft, but the Wolverines have added another pass rusher from Florida to their 2020 recruiting class in Tampa Berkeley Prep’s Jaylen Harrell.

Harrell (6-4, 235 pounds) is a four-star recruit per the 247Sports Composite and has similar speed, versatility and motor to Uche.

“He’s just a 100 miles per hour, high-motor guy,” Berkeley Prep head coach Dominick Ciao said. “We play him at middle linebacker. He’s probably defensive end, outside guy, one of those rush guys, really physical, tough, athletic.”

Jaylen Harrell

The chance to play in Don Brown’s scheme helped the Wolverines win a recruiting battle over 22 other programs, including Florida and Florida State right there in his home state. Alabama, Auburn and Clemson were among the programs who offered scholarships, as well.

“(Michigan’s) message is they need me and they feel I can really thrive in their program and be really successful,” Harrell said. “They see me at the hybrid position that Josh Uche plays, which I like a lot because they do multiple things with him all around the field.”

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Many of Harrell’s offers came early.

He was an immediate varsity player as a freshman and he did not just play, he affected games. He finishes with 81 tackles (16 for loss) that first year and schools noticed. He has held a Michigan offer for nearly two years.

Harrell had been around football his whole life. His father James held a number of scholarship offers himself out of Tampa’s Chamberlain High. He turned down those opportunities to walk-on at Florida, where he played a number of positions, including defensive end.

He would go on to sign with the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent and also played with the Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs and in the USFL. Following his playing career, he became a coach, so naturally, Jaylen was often around a football field.

As he got older, Harrell played multiple sports, but eventually settled on football as his primary focus.

That has proven to be a good decision based on the number of schools Harrell had the opportunity to play with. He is choosing to come way up north. He said education, support and the family feel were also important in his decision. Honesty from the Michigan coaches and players on his recent official visit helped put it over the top.

“The players kept it real about everything,” Harrell said. “They’re there on a daily basis, so it was good hearing about their experience.”

Harrell was the 25th verbal commitment in Michigan’s class. That class currently ranks No. 2 in the Big Ten per the 247Sports Composite team rankings.

Official visitor for weekend

247Sports’ Steve Wiltfong reports Massapequa (N.Y.) Plainedge senior quarterback Dan Villari will be on an official visit with the Wolverines this weekend.

Michigan is still evaluating quarterbacks for this class in light of former quarterback commit J.D. Johnson’s medical retirement.

Another quarterback, C.J. Stroud, visited last weekend, but is considering a variety of schools.

Villari (6-4, 215 pounds) was committed to Fordham for a time but has re-opened his recruitment after a flurry of FBS and Power Five interest.

At this time Michigan has not offered Villari a scholarship.

New offer in Nebraska

Michigan’s staff has been extending more offers in the 2021 class of late as the coaches took to the road. One new offer was Omaha (Neb.) Westside’s Avante Dickerson, a 6-foot-0, 165-pound cornerback.

Dickerson has offers from Ohio State, Iowa, Kansas State, LSU, Nebraska and more.

He is ranked by 247Sports as the nation’s No. 4 cornerback and No. 50 overall player in his class.

More information

Jaylen Harrell profile 

Dan Villari profile 

Avante Dickerson profile 

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