With 'everything up in the air,' Michigan early-enrollee recruits weigh next moves
Raheem Anderson, Giovanni El-Hadi and Andrel Anthony all had plans of enrolling early at Michigan after finishing their high school football careers this fall.
But now they are trying to figure out their next moves after the MHSAA postponed the fall football season to spring. Complicating matters for the area stars is that the Big Ten also decided to move football to the spring.
Anderson of Detroit Cass Tech – ranked the No. 2 center nationally by the 247Sports Composite – and four-star tackle El-Hadi of Sterling Heights Stevenson are offensive linemen, which is a big need for Michigan. The Wolverines have to replace five starters on the offensive line, including tackle Jalen Mayfield, who declared for the 2021 NFL Draft, opting out of a spring season.
Anderson would have been the first player in Thomas Wilcher’s 30-plus years as Cass Tech head coach to start all four years on the offensive line. Anderson was a captain since his sophomore year.
“I think the most important thing for me is that he learned how to call the plays, learned different blocking schemes to help the whole line out,” Wilcher said earlier this summer. “He was like a coach on the field for us. He cut weight and built muscle too. He’s now 6-3 and a half and 300 pounds.”
Anderson is unsure about what he will do now.
“I haven’t made my final decision yet,” he said. “They (Michigan) said guys are still able to enroll early, but don’t know how they will be able to participate because there are still guys there and there’s only a certain amount of scholarships.
“They are still trying to find some things out from the Big Ten and the NCAA. They said you can still come early, but they’re just not sure what would happen. They are just waiting to hear some things.”
El-Hadi says his high school playing career is over.
“I’m pretty sad that I can’t play one more year with my boys to go for a championship but now it’s time to focus on college,” said El-Hadi. “I talked to Coach Harbaugh and he was talking about me being a mid-year guy, talking about how they (Wolverines) had their season canceled when they were in the middle of practice and how everyone was sad.
“Coach Harbaugh said they were going to play in the spring, but he wanted me to still be a mid-year guy. I talked to Coach (Matt) Dudek about me being a mid-year guy and how it would work out and he said he’s not sure yet, but everything is not set in stone. My plan is to enroll early, but we’re going to see how that goes.
“You have to work through adversity and do the best you can, do what’s best for your career. If they say you can enroll early and come play, that’s what I’m doing. College football has never gone through anything like this before so anything’s possible.”
El-Hadi was an outstanding two-way player last year, helping Stevenson reach the Division 1 state semifinals. A starter since his freshman year, the 6-foot-4, 285-pounder gave up just one sack in 138 pass attempts while accounting for 53 pancakes/knockdowns.
Anthony, a 6-2, 180-pound receiver, enjoyed a strong junior year when he grabbed 54 passes for 954 yards and nine TDs to help East Lansing to a 7-3 record. He picked the Wolverines over the hometown Spartans, Notre Dame and Penn State.
When he learned last Friday that the MHSAA had shut down the fall football season, Anthony posted a pair of broken hearts on his Twitter account.
“Obviously, I was pretty disappointed, but you’ve got to move forward,” Anthony said. “I really just took some time off to think about it, and it was like terrible that this happened, but there’s nothing that anybody can do at this point.”
Since “everything is so up in the air,” Antony said, he isn’t sure he will still enroll early.
“The NCAA hasn’t put anything out, so I don’t know what I’m going to do,” he said. “My parents and I haven’t talked in depth about things right now since it just happened.”
River Rouge coach Corey Parker thinks "conference to conference it will be different” how early enrollees are managed.
“I think the conferences that are still playing (ACC, SEC, Big 12), they will allow students to come in early because they will have their normal graduation time for their players."
As for Michigan, Michigan State and the other Big Ten schools?
"I think every school is going to be different about the way they go about it, different factors like probably how many scholarships they have per position,” Parker said.