Solomon’s unique commitment has led to surging freshman campaign

Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 6:50pm

Freshman defensive lineman Aubrey Solomon has earned a starting spot on the nation’s third-ranked defense.

Freshman defensive lineman Aubrey Solomon has earned a starting spot on the nation’s third-ranked defense. Buy this photo
Emma Richter/Daily

 

Aubrey Solomon may have accidentally said “University of Miami” while picking up a Michigan cap in his commitment announcement, but nine months later, he has become a mainstay in the Wolverines’ defensive line. 

Solomon, a true freshman, has appeared in every game this season and started the last two against Rutgers and Minnesota. He has 12 tackles so far, and is making his presence known.

Michigan defensive line coach Greg Mattison got to know Solomon very well as a recruit, and ever since the Georgia native arrived in Ann Arbor last June, Mattison has seen him steadily improve.

The Wolverines’ veterans have played a big part in Solomon’s progression.

“The older guys really mentor him,” Mattison said. “You can see it every day. You get (redshirt junior guard) Bryan Mone coaching him on what he should be doing, and you’ve got (fifth-year senior) Maurice Hurst. The guys will be watching the film, and you’ll hear them say, ‘That’s really good, or, step this way.’ ”

Mattison complimented Solomon on his work ethic and ability to take advice from both older players and coaches. Mattison, who has coached all around the country, made sure to involve himself heavily in Solomon’s recruitment. After all, Solomon was one of the nation’s top five players at his position.

Solomon, who visited other schools like Alabama, Auburn and Southern California, decided on Michigan after a recruiting saga that lasted for half a year.

Solomon originally committed to Michigan in June of 2016, but then decommited a few months later after receiving a thank-you note from the team for a barbecue he never went to. Upset by the lack of attention, Solomon reopened his recruiting, but didn’t eliminate the Wolverines from contention.

After saying the Crimson Tide had a “huge lead” over other schools at the Army All-American game in January of 2017, Solomon eventually recommitted back to Michigan — even though he said the wrong school in his announcement.

It took a hectic recruiting effort to land Solomon at Michigan, and though the defensive lineman may have changed his mind once or twice, Mattison is confident that the now-Wolverine made the right choice.

“When I recruit, it’s a no-brainer for a guy to come here,” Mattison said. “ … You’re going to have a great head football coach, you’re going to have a great football program and you’re going to have an opportunity to play because we play the best players.”

Now that Solomon is here, Mattison believes he has taken full advantage of the opportunity, and when he has gone into the games, he’s played exceptionally well.

Hurst echoed all the same qualities.

“He’s done a really amazing job,” Hurst said. “He’s someone that works really hard and puts in a lot of good work and listens to his coaching. … He’s a naturally strong, big kid and he’s able to do a lot on the field.”

Solomon’s role on the defensive line was supplementary up until the last few games, but now that he’s starting, he has put himself among an elite class.

Hurst, sophomore defensive end Rashan Gary and redshirt junior defensive end Chase Winovich have all been key to giving the Wolverines the No. 3 defense in the nation, and now Solomon is right up there with them.

For Hurst, though, it hasn’t been odd to have a true freshman starting alongside him. He wasn’t surprised at all by Solomon’s progress.

“He’s just a really gifted young talent,” Hurst said. “I think he’s going to continue to get a lot better as time goes on.”