When the news broke Friday that C. D. Hylton ‘12 (Woodbridge, Virginia) linebacker EJ Levenberry would be announcing Tuesday, it brought a great deal of excitement to the Michigan faithful. After all, EJ had just finished up a visit to Michigan for their spring game, and had ranked the visit a “10 out of 10” according to Sam Webb. In recruiting a player like Levenberry however, the competition is as high as his across the board ratings. Joining Michigan as a finalist is Florida State University, whom EJ has also long favored. This coming off the heels of a weeklong visit he took over spring break to the campus of FSU. He had been interested in visiting Alabama and USC, but it would appear that something in his visits to Michigan and to FSU has pushed along an assumed long recruiting process.
In handicapping the Tuesday decision some analysts who have followed the recruitment of EJ, have picked FSU as his likely destination. Regardless of the outcome, we know this much about the kind of environment that the Levenberry’s wanted their son to play in. Both Brady Hoke and Jimbo Fisher are strict disciplinarians who run very tight programs. Both coaches have also created a family atmosphere that certainly appears to be resonating with both EJ and his parents. With his Father being in law enforcement, being coached by a staff who value those same principles were a core factor in his decision.
Michigan has been recruiting EJ since 8th grade, and even through coaching changes the family has not forgotten that Michigan has always wanted him. In addition to Brady Hoke providing the environment that EJ was looking for, Michigan has several factors that also play in its favor. One of those factors being the close relationship that he has formed with sophomore cornerback Blake Countess. During his most recent visit to Michigan, EJ reportedly attended several classes with Blake, and really got a sense of what to expect in an academic sense. With how focused the family is on academics, that is a big feather in Michigan’s cap. Another factor in Michigan’s corner is having a defensive mind like Greg Mattison, who has really sold to EJ how he is going to use him in his scheme.
This creates the obvious question, if Michigan has all these things in its favor, why do analysts close to the situation still say FSU still holds a slight lead? Like Mattison, Jimbo Fisher also has a unique plan for EJ in his scheme. FSU also has a long history of producing big time linebackers. There are few coaches in college football who use their linebackers more effectively than Fisher has during his coaching career. In addition to the already stated belief in discipline, his ability to sell himself as a family and values oriented man like Hoke did is a big deal. Perhaps the deciding factor in this recruitment, is the fact that according to some such as Mike Farrell, FSU has the exact program that EJ is looking to major in. While Michigan is clearly a superior academic option, FSU’s more clearly defined Legal program can’t be ignored.
The timing to make the decision by Levenberry could lead to many to call him a Michigan lean, could be warranted. There doesn’t seem to be a rush to commit to FSU this early, but Michigan having two linebacker commits already, could’ve rushed his decision. While it’s evident that Michigan would’ve held a spot for him, his recent trip to Michigan could’ve persuaded him to make sure he kept his spot in the class. For now, as the Dodgers legendary broadcaster Vin Scully was fond of saying, this one is “too close to call”.
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