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Wednesday Michigan Recruiting Roundup: Distance a factor for Bryce Benhart, Karlaftis family

Staying close to home means different things to a couple of big Michigan targets.

Michigan v Michigan State Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

It’s the calm before the storm in Michigan recruiting right now, as we have to wait out the bye week before what could be an even more recruit-filled game against Penn State next week. We’ll have plenty of coverage of next weekend’s contest as the day approaches, but in the meantime there’s still a lot of action on the recruiting trail. Let’s jump right in!

2019 ATH target decommits from Virginia Tech

As I highlighted in my piece about three recruits trending towards Michigan yesterday, attention has been picked up again with Massachusetts 3-star Mike Sainristil. Things are moving very quickly after a long period of silence, as Sainristil posted his decommitment from Virginia Tech on Twitter Monday night.

The 5-foot-10, 175-pound prospect had been committed to the Hokies since February. His commitment was somewhat surprising, as most people considered hometown Boston College to be the favorites. But ever since Michigan got involved, signs always pointed towards Ann Arbor.

Sainristil took his official visit in June, and he’ll be back up for the Penn State game in a couple weeks. Considering how close he was to committing over the summer, I’d expect him to give his pledge on that trip.

Based on how he’s interacting with fellow Michigan commits on Twitter, I’d say it’s a good bet.

4-star offensive tackle shares his decision process

One of the most coveted recruits left on the trail for the 2019 class is 4-star Minnesota tackle Bryce Benhart. Michigan has jumped right in the thick of this race, seemingly out of nowhere. Last weekend, The Michigan Insider’s Sam Webb traveled to Minnesota to see how Benhart and his family were evaluating this process ($).

Benhart’s dad wants to make it clear Michigan has always been involved in this race, as he, a former quarterback, played briefly with Harbaugh in the NFL.

“Just some of the things that they do offensively, and then I go back with Harbaugh,” Benhart’s dad Gene said about what originally interested them in Michigan. “Back in the days that I played (in the NFL) and he played, we worked out together. So he sort of threw that at me to say, ‘hey, come on out. Take a visit.’”

That’s not the only existing relationship the Benhart’s have with a member of Michigan’s coaching staff.

“Their O-line is doing great. I know (Ed) Warinner from Minnesota, so I have a good relationship with him. He knows what he’s talking about,” Bryce Benhart said. “He’s coached many great guys (like) Pat Elflein, who’s on the (Minnesota) Vikings now. So (Warinner) knows what to do and get (linemen) there to the next level.”

All that gave Michigan a great foundation with the family. The program also seems to check off a lot of boxes about what Bryce wants his college experience to be, including a coaching staff he knows, a group of linemen he gets along and competes with, a team that competes at the highest level, a “crazy atmosphere” and somewhere his parents can go and see him play.

Benhart’s mom really wants her son to be close enough so she can drive and see him play his home games. That’s one reason why Nebraska appears to have the edge right now. The drive to Lincoln is about three hours shorter than to Ann Arbor. If the staff can convince his parents the difference isn’t much, Michigan seems to have everything he’s looking for.

Next, Benhart will hope to take an official visit to Michigan for the Penn State game, but that is still uncertain because of his high school’s playoff schedule. Michigan needs to get him back on campus to get the last crack at one of the top tackles in the country.

Younger brother of 4-star defensive end forges his own path

In Monday’s recruiting roundup, our own Sam Dodge updated Michigan’s recruitment with George Karlaftis, the highly-ranked 2019 defensive end out of West Lafayette.

Well, George has a younger brother, Yanni, an outside linebacker in the 2021 class who could be the second Karlaftis brother ranked in the top-100 when it’s all said and done. And thankfully for Michigan, he’s not set on following in his brother’s footsteps, according to TMI’s Brice Marich ($).

Michigan was the first school to offer Yanni, which happened back in the spring when his family visited campus. He returned a couple weeks ago for the Wisconsin game and had a good time.

As for wanting to stay and play for the hometown team like his brother, the younger Karlaftis wants it to be known that he has his own decision criteria.

“I’m different than George. George wants to stay close to home. I just really want what’s best for me and who’s going to develop me as a better player,” said Karlaftis. “Most of the times, he might have the same hopes and dreams, but I’m not going to follow George just because he’s going there. I’m going to go wherever I’ll feel that’s best for me.”

Karlaftis has forged strong bonds with Greg Mattison and Jim Harbaugh and is looking to visit Ann Arbor again in the near future. There’s still contention about Michigan’s chances with George, but I think now the chances of landing Yanni wouldn’t be impacted if his brother sticks with Purdue or not.

That’s the latest in Michigan recruiting, so be sure to check back in a couple days for more news and updates. I’m sure the staff is using the bye week to check in with plenty of recruits, so there will be plenty to talk about.