Michigan’s football staff seemed to know very quickly they were looking at high-level prospect when they watched Andrew Stueber at their June Big Man Camp. Following that camp, Stueber was offered, and a few days later, he made his commitment to the Wolverines.
Stueber, a rising senior from Connecticut, started football late. He was too big to make the weight restrictions, so he did not play organized football until his freshman year at Darien High School. Head coach Rob Trifone recognized his talent that first year just as quickly as Michigan had at its camp.
“As a freshman, when I had him in camp, I knew right then and there I had a Division I recruit if he worked hard,” Trifone said.
Not every kid with the talent to play college football wants to play college football. At the end of that first year, Trifone had a meeting with Stueber and his parents to determine what path they would take for the next three years.
“I explained to him and his parents how the process works. I said, ‘There are no guarantees, but if you work, this is what I think is going to happen. You need to let me know so I’ll either back off if that doesn’t interest you or I’ll be all over you if you want to pursue it.’ Without hesitation, they said, ‘We love football and want to pursue a potential Division I scholarship. Tell us what we need to do.’”
Stueber listened, he worked and he performed, and just like Trifone said, scholarship offers arrived.
Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, Northwestern, Penn State and Pittsburgh were among the schools that offered him scholarships, while Ivy League schools like Harvard and Princeton recruited him and offered him spots on their team.
The combination of academics and athletics at Michigan is why Trifone believes Stueber made a quick decision once the Wolverines offered.
“The criteria that he and I and his family talked about, number one was academics,” Trifone said. “He was very sold on that. He narrowed it down and ended up with Boston College, Duke, North Carolina and believe it or not, Harvard was still in the mix, even though it was an Ivy League school and not a full scholarship. That shows you how important academics was.
“The line coach and coaching staff was important to him and when we went out to Michigan, he loved both the staff and the program. Michigan has a tremendous program and he knew that, went out there that weekend and knocked the ball out of the park.”
The way in which Stueber quickly picked up the game, combined with his physical gifts, has his coach believing the Wolverines have a special player coming their way.
“I’ve been around 37, 38 years,” Trifone says, “and he’s the best lineman I’ve ever coached in that span and certainly one of the best that I've seen in opponents. He’s big, 6-foot-6, close to 300 pounds, but the things that set him apart are great feet, he’s very athletic, plays basketball and has some of the best flexibility I’ve ever seen in a big man. He can practically do a split and that enables him to bend his legs and get into good posture for blocking. When you’re 6-6 you have to play like 5-6 to get under people.”
Top in-state sophomores to attend BBQ
The state of Michigan’s 2019 class is shaping up to be a historic group. There are already 17 kids in the rising sophomore class who hold scholarship offers. That is the most in the Midwest right now, more than double the number extended in Ohio, which is normally the region’s leader in number of scholarship football recruits.
Michigan’s Aug. 6 BBQ at the Big House is always a major event for rising junior and senior talents, but the Wolverines will have some of the top young prospects from the state on hand as well.
Belleville offensive tackle Devontae Dobbs (6-4, 250 pounds) and Julian Barnett (6-2, 180 pounds) will attend. Both hold major scholarship offers. Dobbs has been offered by Ohio State, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Michigan State and more. Barnett has offers from Kentucky, Iowa State, Missouri and more.
Two from Detroit – Cass Tech cornerback Xavier Goldsmith (5-9, 160 pounds), who has a handful of offers, and King linebacker Tyrece Woods (6-2, 205 pounds), who has an offer from Eastern Michigan – both reported they will be in Ann Arbor for the BBQ.
From the west side, East Kentwood teammates Logan Brown (6-6, 278 pounds) and Mazi Smith (6-3, 290 pounds) will make the trip. Brown, an offensive tackle, and Smith, a defensive tackle, were both offered by Wisconsin this summer after attending the Badgers’ camp.
Allen Trieu began covering the state of Michigan for Scout.com in 2005 and began managing the entire Midwest in 2009. 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.