Duluth (Ga.) Northview safety Kyler McMichael had been one Georgia's hottest recruits in recent weeks, and Saturday things got even hotter when Michigan threw its hat in the scholarship ring. The Wolverines joined an impressive offer sheet that already consisted of Virginia Tech, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Michigan State. While most of those programs hold a distinct advantage in the distance-from-home category, the talented youngster’s father believes that may not factor in quite as much when they’re compared to Michigan or Michigan State.
“Actually he's got family in Detroit, so he's got interest,” Mr. McMichael said. “He visited both of them after his ninth grade season. That's when the connection was made. We were on a family vacation so we contacted them and let them know we were coming and we met with both sets of coaches and had tours of the campuses. With him having family there it makes it that much easier of a transition if that becomes the direction he wanted to go."
“The majority of our family being in the Detroit area, if he ever needed some assistance they would be about an hour or so away. As long as you can get to him in a day, I think we'd be comfortable.”
When it comes to Michigan the elder McMichael’s familiarity with the program goes beyond more than the aforementioned tour. Add that to the connection his son is forging with Michigan assistant Tyrone Wheatley and you have the recipe for good early footing in the Peach Stat star’s recruitment.
“I actually know a lot about Michigan,” Mr. McMichael said. “(Kyler) has a really good relationship now with Coach Wheatley. He's been talking to him since he's been in the ninth grade. They've maintained a good connection throughout this past season, pretty much talking once or so a month. As far as Michigan for me, I grew up watching Michigan and watching Michigan Replay on Sunday morning with Jim Brandstatter. I know a lot about the program. I've actually played against Ann Arbor Pioneer (while at Detroit Mumford) and I remember for me the big thing was back then they were contending for state championships. I think they even won. For me to even score against them was the big thing. You arrive in Ann Arbor you see it’s a college town and I think it’s a strong academic environment that’s conducive to learning and taking your academics to the next level.”
While it’s clear the offer from Michigan means a lot, for the McMichael’s it’s too soon to start talking about where the Maize & Blue would fit on a leaderboard.
“This is a lot to take in after not even his sophomore year yet,” said Mr. McMichael. “Right now, I think he's in one of scenarios where you just want to gain as much information as you can and put yourself in the situation to where you can make a very knowledgeable decision. Kind of find out what you can about the school, get to know the coaches, take visits, (and) get a feel for what the campus feels like. From there, hoping there's time to make that call you can make a decision that's a little more informed. It's still early.”
That said, it’s not too early to know what the criteria that will ultimately weigh the heaviest in his son’s ultimate decision.
“I think for him it'll be academics,” said Mr. McMichael. “What is being offered? Is it something that he really sees himself doing post playing days? The other thing would be will he have a support system based on where he's going to land. Of course, a lot of it will probably go towards his relationships. I know a lot of folks say that you don't pick for coaches. I think the relationship does go far. You want to go someplace where you feel like you've built some decent relationships with the coaches and you feel like you know them and they know you, you can trust them and they trust you, and foster that relationship moving forward. As far as football goes would be playing on the field. He just likes playing the game. It'll be whatever the need they have and whatever they would need him to do, he would do.”
And that means playing either side of the ball. Even though most schools are courting as a defensive back, dad believes his kid could be an impact player on offense if a team needed him to be.
“On the offensive side of the ball he's a great runner after the catch,” Mr. McMichael said. “He grew up playing tailback so when he catches the ball in space, he's a threat to take it (the distance). Defensively he's what you would consider a lockdown, if I could be biased about it. What I mean by that is that he does a lot of man-to-man press coverage. He's physical because he's right around 6-foot-1 or so, about 185-plus pounds. He can, more or less, take on the bigger receivers and he's physical at the point of attack. He's a guy who can also play safety based on his size he can help on run support as well. He's really versatile if you look at it from a defensive standpoint. He can play corner, safety or nickel. It just depends on where the need is.”