In a matter of weeks the Michigan football program has made itself a factor at one of the country’s most talent-laden programs. Thanks to the commitments of Eastern Christian Academy standouts Freddy Canteen and Brandon Watson, the Wolverines will have an “in” with many of their young teammates in the years to come. One that the Maize & Blue should be in especially good shape with is 2016 linebacker prospect De'le Harding. The physically imposing sophomore turned in a stellar performance at Michigan’s camp a few weeks ago, and he has managed to do the same during every stop he has made this summer.
“He is the best rising sophomore in the country,” ECA coach Dwayne Thomas said. “I took him to Tennessee’s camp he was dominant and he got an offer. I took him to Michigan’s camp and no one would have even known he was 14 years old unless I told them. They’re going to offer him. Brady told me, ‘coach, we love that dude.’ The defensive coordinator told me, ‘we love that dude.’ I’ve been doing this a long time. I coached in college for 17 years and I don’t blow smoke. He will be the best player I’ve ever had. I’ve coached a lot of great ones. I’ve got two at USC and one already committed; I’ve got them at Auburn… I’ve got a lot of kids over the last three years at a lot of places, and he will be the best one, no doubt.”
USC certainly seems to agree. They offered the 6-1.5, 220-pounder after dominant turn at their camp last week. According to Harding’s teammates, the best is yet to come.
“That’s my boy,” said Watson. “We call him ‘young and in charge.’ He benches just as much as me, but he is just going into his sophomore year. He is really strong. He is the next one. He just picked up a USC offer, he has got Tennessee, and he is about to get Michigan.”
“He is probably is going to have over 30 offers when all is said and done,” Canteen added. “De’le brings physicality. He is real young, but he brings physicality. He can match up with the best guys on the high school level even though he is so young.”
Both future Wolverines plan to help their young teammate continue to grow his game. They also plan to help him slip in a few good words for the Maize & Blue along the way.
“I’m going to to push him to go to Michigan before he even gets the offer. He is definitely the next big thing. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets ranked #1 nationally. But it comes down to his choice where he feels more comfortable. I don’t want him to go to a school that he doesn’t feel right at. So I’m going to talk to him about my process and the things he should look for, but overall it is his decision. I’m going to try to talk to De'le everyday about going to Michigan.”
But will it have an impact?
“I believe so,” replied Canteen. “He looks up to us.”