One of the most anticipated reads of the college football offseason is finally here — Bruce Feldman’s annual College football Freaks List.
The 2022 edition just dropped Wednesday morning on The Athletic ($) and the Michigan Wolverines are well-represented with four players on the list. And that includes the very top freak in college football, defensive tackle Mazi Smith, who came in at No. 1 on the list.
For his explanation as to why Smith is No. 1, Feldman wrote, “The 6-foot-3, 337-pound senior has rare power and agility. So rare, in fact, it’s hard to find the right superlative to begin with.
“But let’s start with this: Smith does 22 reps on the bench press, but that’s with 325 (not 225). He close-grip benched 550 pounds. He vertical-jumps 44 inches. He broad-jumped 9-4 1/2. Smith, who had 37 tackles last season, has clocked a 4.41 shuttle time, which would’ve tied the best by any defensive tackle at this year’s NFL Scouting Combine, and it would’ve been better than any defensive tackle weighing 310 pounds or more in the past decade. His 6.95 3-cone time would’ve been by far the fastest among defensive tackles in Indianapolis. The fastest was 7.33. Smith’s 60-yard shuttle time is 11.90.
“The Wolverines do a reactive plyo stairs test, which is a series of seven 26-inch high stairs that players attempt to jump up as fast as possible. The team record is 2.21 seconds. Smith did it in 2.82. To better gauge just how impressive that is, (Aidan) Hutchinson, some 60 pounds lighter than Smith, did it in 2.57.”
What Feldman wrote next is absolutely insane: “The Wolverines also do a workout on their combo-twist machine, which is designed to show a player’s ability to rotate an opponent but also their ability to resist being rotated in the trenches. Smith had the machine completely tapped out. There was only enough room for 300 pounds on each side of the machine for a 600-pound max.”
Speaking with a Michigan staffer, Feldman said the Wolverines had to call the manufacturing company for that machine to see if they could “custom build extenders for the combo-twist, which made it capable of loading up to 800 pounds to accommodate Smith.”
Smith will be anchoring a defensive line that has a bunch of new consistent contributors. With the departures of edge players Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, and interior lineman Chris Hinton, Smith is suddenly the veteran with the most experience on the line. Last season, Smith compiled 37 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss, along with four pass deflections and three quarterback pressures.
Other Michigan players to make it on this year’s list are edge Julius Welschof (No. 7), cornerback DJ Turner (No. 31) and true freshman defensive tackle Kenneth Grant (No. 46). Welschof was also No. 33 on the 2021 list.