Michigan adds young commit, mature talent in defenseman Werenski

By Erin Lennon, Daily Sports Writer
Published July 22, 2014

He needed to finish up English and high-school physics, but after months of speculation and a few extra days indoors, Zach Werenski has signed his National Letter of Intent to play for the Michigan hockey team in the fall.

Werenski, a defenseman and a potential first-rounder in the 2015 NHL Draft, will forgo his senior year and graduate from high school after summer school. The U.S. National Team Development Under-17 Team standout is the youngest player to skate under Michigan coach Red Berenson — the gap between the two is more than 57 years and seven months.

Despite his age, Werenski’s resume speaks to a skater who can play with older competition. He played with Little Caesars’ U-18 team as a 15-year-old and with the Belle Tire U-16 team at 14. With each program, Werenski proved a key player and viable offensive threat, tallying seven goals and 20 assists with the U-17 U.S. NTDP. Werenski was also called up to the U-18 roster several times last season.

“This is an exceptional player who is coming in a little younger than most players,” Berenson told MGoBlue.com. “I'm expecting Zach will be an impact player in our program. It's nice to see a kid so focused on school and hockey at the same time.”

Werenski joins an eight-man freshman class that now boasts four defenseman and four forwards. The 6-foot-1, 201-pound commit is likely the final touch to a class that was years in the making.

“The most difficult thing for younger players is the maturity level and social change going from high school to college, but Zach is mature beyond his years,” Berenson said. “He's like (former Michigan forward) Jason Botterill in that sense. I think he'll fit in really easily.”