With Michigan set to lose its entire starting defensive line to graduation after the season, Jim Harbaugh & company have made the position a point of emphasis on the 2017 recruiting trail. Even with six commitments already in the fold the Wolverines are vigorously pursuing more targets for the trenches. The focus for the few remaining scholarships allocated for the fortification effort is interior of the defensive line. A recently emerging target that would fit that bill is Nashville (Tenn.) Lipscomb standout Rutger Reitmaier.
"It's been going great this season,” Reitmaier said. “My team is 6-2 and we're the No. 1 team for our region right now, so we’ll have a good playoff spot. Personally, I'm leading defensive line in tackles and have 18.5 tackles for loss as of now, I have six sacks, and I think I have 48 tackles (overall)."
The impressive production piqued the interest of the Maize & Blue. Though currently committed to Oregon Reitmaier has expressed a desire to look at other schools. Thanks to some initiative shown by his father Michigan is now one of them.
"They came by last spring and they just said they were interested, but didn't really do anything after that because I committed to Oregon in June,” said Reitmaier. “Then they came to my school. My dad actually sent Jay Harbaugh my film and they got really interested in me all of a sudden. Now we are where we are."
That sudden interest manifested in the form of a bye week visit by Michigan defensive line coach Greg Mattison followed by a scholarship offer shortly thereafter. Now the conversation has turned to the talented youngster scheduling a visit to Ann Arbor.
"I’m not 100-percent sure (of a visit date) yet,” Reitmaier said. “I’m still trying to work that out, but soon. I think they want me to get up there for the 18th (of November). That weekend."
The three-star lineman is intrigued by the opportunity that will be available on Michigan’s depth-depleted front, and by the Wolverine coaches he has interacted with most thus far. Mattison and headman Jim Harbaugh are now running point in his recruitment.
"First of all I think (Mattison) is a great guy,” said Reitmaier. “Obviously he knows what he's talking about. (He is) a great defensive line coach and taken many defensive linemen to the NFL. He even mentioned he has quite a few on the roster now that are draft picks this year. I think that's one of the big things I like about him."
"I've talked to (Jim Harbaugh) on the phone minimally, but I enjoy talking to him. He seems like a great guy and I continue to look forward to getting to know him."
That collaborative effort signals Reitmaier’s rapid rise up Michigan’s recruiting board, but Ann Arbor isn’t the only place in which that has occurred.
"I would say Tennessee is still on me pretty hard and Ohio State actually just started talking to me last week,” Reitmaier reported. “They said they're going to let me know if the offer is on the table and figure out a date to go out there and visit."
Should that or any other visit happen, the talented youngster insists it will not portend his imminent decommitment from the Ducks.
"I would just say as of now I'm committed to Oregon pretty solidly,” Reitmaier stated. “I may visit some other schools just to see. I fully intend on going to Oregon."
So why take the visits? It may be in response to the hot-seat talk swirling around the coaching staff in Eugene. Reitmaier didn’t say one way or the other, but it seems like a reasonable inference based on his response to a question about what it will take for him to reconsider his decision and head elsewhere.
"That's a hard one,” he said. “I don't know. That's a hard question. I would just say the coaching staff… I don't really know. I don’t have an answer for that question."
Michigan is among the handful of schools hoping to help him find one.