On July 23rd, four-star weakside defensive end prospect Stephen Herron announced his decision to flip his commitment from Michigan to Stanford. Herron — ranked fifth at his position and 86th overall — was a prized commitment and his decision hurts the depth of the Wolverines’ defense.
With the loss of Herron, Michigan’s 2019 recruiting class fell to eighth in the nation and second in the Big Ten just behind Ohio State. The Wolverines saw themselves ranked as high as third overall after a highly successful recruiting period in late-June.
For Herron, the decision was purely based on academics. While Michigan boasts a world-renown reputation and an elite education, the recruit couldn’t turn down the academic opportunity that being a Cardinal would represent.
That’s why the minute he received the acceptance letter to head out west, Herron’s mind was made.
“For me, it’s not just football,” Herron told WolverinesWire. “I didn’t think I could pass up a Stanford education. I realize that a Michigan education isn’t far off, but the fact of the matter is a Stanford education would mean a lot.”
After committing to the Wolverines, it all came down to whether or not Herron would gain acceptance to be a Cardinal to determine where he would finally end up. En route to his placement on the west coast, Herron was tasked with writing seven essays as part of the admissions process, a gruelling endeavor that he took as seriously as his football career.
Whether through his public statements or actions in dealing with the team, it’s apparent that Herron has nothing but respect for Michigan, and his decision has nothing to do with the Wolverines’ football program or recruiting process.
“I loved the family factor (at Michigan),” Herron said. “Even after I told the coaches, I went in our group chat and told the other 2019 commits that I would be decommitting and wished the best for everyone. I hope the best for those guys and the coaching staff. I’m really excited (for them). Being a part of that family was great.”
This news comes as a relief to Wolverine personnel and fans alike after questions were raised over the efficacy and personability of Michigan’s recruiting process.
Earlier this offseason, five-star offensive lineman Devontae Dobbs committed to Michigan State and wasn’t one to mince words in regards to his interactions with the Wolverines on the recruiting trail.
Dobbs stated that the Michigan coaching staff, “acted like robots,” during his recruiting process and that the Spartans’ personnel was much more accomodating and friendlier.
“They (MSU coaches) let it come naturally,” Dobbs said. “I just felt comfortable with them.”
His comments insinuate a lack of awareness on behalf of the Wolverines’ staff — the same coaching staff with the man who famously spent the night at a recruit’s home in a full-hearted pitch to get him to come to Ann Arbor.
While some may see Herron’s flipped commitment and Dobbs’ comments as reason to doubt Michigan’s capacity for retaining high-level recruits, Herron’s respect for the program and a still-stacked 2019 recruiting class beg to differ.
Additionally, while citing academics as his main impetus for leaving Michigan, this was also a football decision for Herron.
“I feel like Stanford fit me better for play style with pass rushing,” Herron said. “I want to be somewhere where I’m not used, and I’m not saying Michigan was ever going to do that. Rashan Gary, Chase Winovich and Taco Charlton, who the staff compared me to, are all doing just fine.
“I just wanted to be used where I would fit best as an individual for my future.”
While the Wolverines may not have been Herron’s best fit, Michigan will press on in its hunt for the nation’s best talent, and with any luck, it will get its recruits to adhere to their commitments going forward.