Throughout the years under Jim Harbaugh at the University of Michigan, several offensive linemen have found consistent and successful playing time as true freshmen. Ben Bredeson, Cesar Ruiz, Jalen Mayfield and Zak Zinter are just a handful of guys who fall into this category. The first three were all drafted into the NFL, while Zinter is just getting things started in Ann Arbor.
Michigan signed four offensive linemen in the class of 2021, so one of those guys very well could emerge and become one of the next younger guys to find the field early in their career. The most likely to do that could be Greg Crippen, as head coach Jim Harbaugh noted earlier this spring he is pushing for a backup role already.
Today, we will see how Crippen found his way to Ann Arbor, his high school experience and what the future holds for the true freshman.
The story so far
Crippen played at Milton Academy in Massachusetts his freshman year, but transferred to IMG Academy to play his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. He started at center his last two years there and was credited with not giving up a single sack in any game. A two-time captain, Crippen, along with Michigan freshman quarterback J.J. McCarthy, led IMG to an undefeated 2020 season, outscoring opponents by a blowout total of 381-82.
Once originally committed to Notre Dame, Crippen decided South Bend wasn’t the place for him and decommitted from the Fighting Irish last March. He flipped to the Wolverines about three weeks later and never wavered that commitment.
Crippen came to Michigan as a four-star recruit in the most recent recruiting cycle, and one of the nation’s top-ranked centers in the country, along with fellow true freshman and in-state star Raheem Anderson. He ended the cycle ranked No. 272 overall.
Outlook for 2021
As stated earlier, Harbaugh pointed out Crippen as a guy who was pushing hard for a crack in the two-deep. It wasn’t specified at what position, but it really shouldn’t matter at this point in his development. When Ruiz got his fair share of snaps as a true freshman, it was mainly at right guard. We all know where he ended up his final two years in college, so much like with Ruiz, things will sort themselves out for Crippen.
The fact Crippen was competing for a reserve spot as a true freshman in the spring goes to show the potential and talent level he has. Of course, he will have plenty of competition in the fall, and he will have to stay consistent with what he was doing in the spring. If he is able to do so, we very well could see Crippen on the field in garbage time this fall.