Offensive lines take years to build and develop. The Michigan Wolverines know this given that it took a few seasons to improve in the trenches in the early years of the Jim Harbaugh era. Building the line they have this year began a few recruiting cycles ago.
Know that the process usually takes time for offensive linemen, one of the key pieces of the group of the future is Giovanni El-Hadi out of Sterling Heights, Michigan. Here, we take a look at his background and how he may factor in moving forward.
The Story So Far
El-Hadi, who Michigan says now stands at 6-foot-5, 305 pounds, is the No. 87 overall player in the country and 11th-ranked offensive tackle in the class of 2021, according to the 247Sports composite rankings. He was the state of Michigan’s fourth-ranked player behind five-star defensive tackle Damon Payne (Alabama), four-star running back Donovan Edwards (Michigan) and four-star interior lineman Rocco Spindler (Notre Dame).
247Sports’ Allen Trieu compares him to NFL’er Joel Bitonio:
Well-developed already but still has room to fill in. Well muscled. Measured 6-foot-4 at The Opening, so could play tackle or guard. Has great bend. Is flexible and has good twitch. Is able to handle outside speed rushers, but can re-direct against counter moves. Very good in pass protection. Gets good leverage and push in the run game and plays mean there. Still working on his technique and is just starting to get out and compete against higher levels of competition. Has the athletic tools and intangibles to be a kid who starts multiple years on the Power 5 level. Has the potential to develop into an NFL draft choice.
El-Hadi was a four-year starter at Stevenson High School in Sterling Heights and did not allow a single sack over 140 pass attempts during his final high school season. He only gave up one sack during his junior year on 138 attempts. The man is also a pancake artist, averaging nine knockdowns per game during his senior year and 53 of them as a junior.
Outlook for the future
El-Hadi enrolled early at Michigan this past winter and went through spring football and the strength and conditioning program, so he has a leg up compared to other freshmen in the class. However, it might take some time before we see him on the field.
The immediate outlook for El-Hadi is pushing for a spot on the two-deep depth chart while hopefully getting into some games in garbage time for reps. Eligibility clocks are back in play this year, so players like El-Hadi can play in four games while still preserving their redshirt status. That feels like the route that Michigan would like to go with him given what is already in the building.
By year two, it would make sense to see him locked in somewhere on the two-deep and be one of the first offensive linemen off the bench. By year three, it seems reasonable to expect he will be a starter somewhere upfront. Given that he is a top-100 recruit, the sooner the better obviously.
I think he has the versatility to kick inside to guard if Michigan wants to explore that. He reminds me a bit of Ben Bredeson, who was also an offensive tackle prospect coming out of high school. Bredeson was ranked higher, but I see similar skill-sets and athleticism.
Stephen Osentoski profiled El-Hadi for his Freshman Feature series, which you can watch below: