One of the top players at last weekend’s U.S. Army National Junior Combine was Klein, Texas offensive lineman J.B. Shugarts. The 6-7, 275-lb. tackle toured over the competition and impressed scouts with his outstanding agility. According to Shugarts, that attribute is what sets him apart from most other prospects at his position.
“I’m not an ordinary big fat lineman that can’t move,” he said. “I can move really good side to side. I’m a really good drive blocker. At my school we run the Wing-T, so we don’t really get a chance to pass block. The only time I get to pass block is at combines like this or camps. I played some tight end this year too, so I catch really well and I have the ability to make plays happen.”
That versatility was something Michigan coaches identified very early on in Shugarts’ career. While recruiting current offensive lineman Mark Ortmann (who is also from Klein High School), they took notice of an impressive looking freshman lineman. That marked the beginning of the youngster’s interest in the Maize & Blue and led to him attending the Wolverines annual football camp last summer.
“It was a great camp,” Shugarts recalled. “It was fun. I was there with Ryan Mallett. He was my roommate and we’ve become really good friends since then. We just hit it off pretty good just talking about different things like high school football in Texas. I talk to him a couple of times a week about football and stuff. Me and Ryan would eat lunch with Coach Carr in his office and just talk about football and sit out on his balcony. That was pretty fun too. It was a great camp.”
Once Mallett committed to being a Wolverine, he became one of Michigan’s biggest advocates. He played a key role in helping recruit a number of top prospects in his own class. Now he has taken aim at next year’s as well by trying to lure Shugarts to Ann Arbor. The big lineman indicated that he gets a good dose of Michigan talk not only from Mallett, but also from another one of his good friends. That other good friend just happens to be a big time prospect in his own right.
“Ryan talks a lot about Michigan,” said Shugarts. “We always talk about it. Another one of my friends is Sam McGuffie, and he talks about Michigan a lot too. He was born in Detroit I think his family is big Michigan fans.”
McGuffie has already drawn national attention for his 3000+ yard rushing season and his phenomenal highlights which feature him leaping defenders in a single bound.
“He’s a stud,” Shugarts said. “He’s about 5-9, 175-lbs, runs a 4.27 forty, runs a 3.5 in the five-ten-five, has a 42 inch vertical, and he can play football.”
For Shugarts, all of the talk about the Wolverines with his friends only cemented Michigan’s standing in his recruitment. When his top six was released after the Army All-American game, it included Michigan, Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, LSU, Ohio State.
During his recruitment Shugarts will be relying on a set list of criteria to weed out the schools on his list.
“I want a school with really academics,” he said. “I like business and I also like law. I’m pretty open to what I’ll major in, but good academics are really important. I also want a chance to play early and contribute, and I want to play for a team that has a chance to win the national championship.”
And just when does he plan on having his decision made?
“Just whenever I’m 100% sure I want to go,” said Shugarts. “I’m not saying it will be anytime or that it will go all of the way until signing day. I don’t even know if I’ll take official visits or not. Whenever I’m 100% I’m not going to keep it a secret, I’m just going to say where I want to go.”