Strongside Linebacker 6-3/225/4.7
Plainsboro South HS (Princeton Junction, NJ)
NR: **** - Position Rank: 10
Scout.com Player Video
J.B. Fitzgerald Highlights Video #2 -
J.B. Fitzgerald Highlights Video #1 -
His Recruiting Story
Because of his history of playing mostly defensive end as opposed to linebacker the national recruiting attention didn’t explode right away for J.B. Fitzgerald. As a junior, Fitzgerald made 93 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions and forced three fumbles. He also caught 16 passes for over 200 yards and two touchdowns. He earned All-Conference, All-Area and third team All-South Jersey honors at linebacker. Thanks to excellent scouting, however, Michigan was amongst the earliest to jump into the fray for the talented star.
"Michigan started showing interest about two or three weeks ago," Fitzgerald said a few weeks after signing day 2007. "A week prior to my visit, I talked to Coach Carr on the phone and he offered me. I decided to go to Michigan's junior day and my dad and I flew in Saturday morning. We went to get some breakfast and I called Coach Szabo to let him know that we were in, and he said to come on over. We went up to his office and talked for a little bit and then he took us over to see Coach Carr. We had a nice little meeting and they basically told me that I'm the kind of guy that they're looking for."
A second visit to campus a few weeks later, this time for spring practice,
vaulted the Wolverines to the top of the list.
"Really, just the whole aura of Michigan just stands out at you" he said. "It’s such a big time school. Not only does it have such a great football program, they also have excellent academics as well. It is definitely high on my list. I'd probably say Michigan is my favorite right now. I feel like they have an excellent balance of academics and athletics. It really feels like a tight knit group there… a family-like feel. That is something that I’m looking for."
Rutgers and Florida emerged as the other finalists, but on August 30th, 2007,
Fitzgerald settled on the Blue.
“I really felt like Michigan was a great choice all around,” Fitzgerald stated. “I visited the school unofficially three times and each time I went I felt more and more comfortable with the school and the coaching staff. I also felt that I would be walking away with the best degree from Michigan which was huge for me. I plan to major in sports management there and am thrilled about the education I will receive.”
“One of the biggest pluses about Michigan was my relationship with the coaching staff, especially my recruiting coordinator Coach (Steve) Szabo,” Fitzgerald explained. “My parents and he also have a great relationship and when I met Coach (Lloyd) Carr and Coach (Ron) English I felt very comfortable with them too. After talking to them about the way they plan to use me at the middle linebacker spot which I will be playing as a senior I felt very excited about my future at Michigan and just cannot wait to get up on campus and start playing for Coach Szabo.”
When the coaching change in Ann Arbor took place, Fitzgerald took time to re-examine his options. It was at that point that he gave Rutgers another look. A January visit to the school made things interesting.
“I definitely saw some new things,” Fitzgerald said referring to his in-state school. “I grew closer with the staff and the official visit they blew me out of the water. But after a lot of thinking and just weighing it out, I figured Michigan was the best place for me. I thought it out in my mind, my heart, and my gut… and they were all telling me that Michigan is where I need to be right now. I’m going to sign with Michigan (on signing day).”
In J.B Fitzgerald the Wolverines secured an intense, cerebral prospect, capable of lining up at the MIKE or SAM positions. He has the frame to pack on more muscle without sacrificing speed. Getting stronger and faster will be the two big keys to his development. Should he do those things, Michigan will have itself a multiple year starter on its hands.