Eight Michigan football early enrollees are expected to be on campus when classes begin Wednesday for the winter semester.
The Wolverines have 27 commitments for the 2020 freshman class and 23 signed letters of intent during the early signing period last month. The traditional signing period begins Feb. 5.
All eight are enrolled, according to the University of Michigan online directory: defensive lineman Braiden McGregor, running back Blake Corum, linebacker Nikhai Hill-Green, offensive lineman Zak Zinter, safety Makari Paige, cornerback Andre Seldon, defensive lineman Aaron Lewis and viper William Mohan.
They will start their academic careers and also join the returning Michigan football players in winter conditioning to prepare for spring practice. McGregor is recovering from knee surgery last October and will be able to participate, but not in contact drills in the spring, he said last month.
Six of the signees apparently spent several days of bowl practice with Wolverines last month after signing their letters of intent. Michigan director of recruiting Matt Dudek said on the “Inside the Huddle” podcast last month that an NCAA rule allows a signee to practice during the vacation period prior to his enrollment.
Dudek said the group included: Corum, Seldon, Paige, Zinter, Hill-Green and McGregor.
Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis said before the Citrus Bowl that it was an advantage having the early enrollees with the team last month.
"It was very beneficial from a team chemistry standpoint, just mixing those guys in, kind of getting them around some of their teammates, and really kind of showing those guys how we practice and the culture that we have in practice,” Gattis said. “There wasn't a ton of work that they could do, obviously. We were focused on our opponent coming up and moving along in our game preparations."
Gattis singled out Corum, who will be in the running back mix with returners Hassan Haskins and Zach Charbonnet, and Chris Evans, suspended last year by the university for an academic issue, has been reinstated and has one year of eligibility remaining.
“Blake's got a unique ability to be explosive with the ball in his hands and we're excited about him," Gattis said. "But we're going to welcome those guys back in January and they're going to have to really get back to work. It's going to be a different set, and it's going to be a different team. It's going to be new opportunities and new challenges, and so we look forward to welcoming those guys on campus.”
The six who participated in practices late last month weren't able to do all that much, but as Gattis said, it was about taking the first steps toward acclimating.
“We’re not putting them in team, and they’re not gonna do one-on-ones,” Dudek said on the podcast. “But they’re going to be here to practice with us. You know why? Because they want to come work. That’s it. It’s not about, ‘Oh, yeah, I get to wear the winged helmet, I’ll be on Instagram.’ No, no, no. They’re coming to work.
“We posed this to them when we figured out this rule, and they’re like, ‘Wait, I get to come and get three workouts in with (strength coach Ben Herbert) Herb? I get to come in and do individual period with Jay Harbaugh? Oh my God, sign me up.’ They are coming in this weekend, and we are fired up to see them in the winged helmet. It’s the first time it’s ever happened.”
Four-star signees Corum and Seldon arrive after strong performances in the Under Armour All-American game in Orlando last week. Seldon, out of Belleville, had four tackles and a pass breakup. Corum, a back from St. Frances Academy in Baltimore, had 19 yards on five carries and scored a touchdown. At the U.S. Army All-American Bowl last Saturday, four-star cornerback Darion Green-Warren verbally committed to the class.
Michigan is coming off a 9-4 season, including last week’s loss to Alabama in the Citrus Bowl. Since that game, receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones and center Cesar Ruiz have said they are forgoing their senior season to prepare for the NFL Draft, backup offensive lineman Stephen Spanellis is transferring, and Nico Collins, the team’s second-leading receiver last season, announced Sunday he is returning. Defensive end Kwity Paye and tight end Nick Eubanks revealed before the bowl their decisions to return.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said last month on the podcast he likes the talent and enthusiasm of this incoming freshman class.
“A bunch of young guys that are go-getters,” Harbaugh said. “They like football. They like hitting the books. It’s also a group that really wants it too, I believe. I really have a good feeling about this class in particular that they are motivated to take advantage of opportunities put in front of them and also very motivated to create their own opportunities.”