Michigan snuck in a preferred walk-on commitment this past weekend from Warren (Mich.) running back Matt Bills.
Bills and 17 other PWOs join the 26 scholarship commitments finalized last Wednesday to wrap up Jim Harbaugh’s 2019 haul.
Here’s a look at plethora of walk-ons that make up the Big Ten’s best recruiting class.
Samih Beydoun, LB/RB from Novi, Mich. (Catholic Central High School)
Beydoun hails from in-state powerhouse Catholic Central. He held scholarship interest from Northwestern, Syracuse and Notre Dame until two leg breaks.
“I broke it my sophomore and junior year back-to-back same leg,” Beydoun said to The Wolverine. “Coming back from that really taught me that I could do anything because basically that’s really tough to do. It gave me a chance to really be grateful and not take things for granted ever again. That’s really gave me the drive to do those things.”
The 6-foot, 220-pounder chose the Wolverines over Brown.
Caden Kolesar, DB/WR from Lakewood, Ohio (St. Edward)
The 5-foot-10, 194-pound wideout was a three-star prospect with a smattering of MAC offers. His family colors run maize and blue, though.
Both his father, John, and grandfather, Bill, both played for the Wolverines.
Kolesar is primarily a safety, but has mentioned he might man the slot, as well. He racked up 136 tackles, 4.5 sacks, one interception and 10 pass breakups last season, earning first-team All-Ohio honors and a state championship.
He joins fellow high school teammates Quintel Kent (scholarship) and Jordan Castleberry (PWO) in Ann Arbor next fall.
Evan Brunning, OL/DL from Oxford, Mich. (Oxford High School)
This three-sport athlete grew up a Michigan State Spartan. Now he’s a Wolverine.
While he divided his focus between football, baseball and basketball, the 6-foot-5, 275-pounder still earned All-State honorable mention. He finished 2018 with 52 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, eight pass breakups, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and one interception.
The efforts garnered him first-team all-state honors from the Detroit Free Press and second-team ones from the Detroit News.
Zonterio Weekly, DB/WR from Kalamazoo, Mich. (Kalamazoo Central High School)
“Weekley committed to Michigan Tech in January, but a visit to Michigan led to a preferred walk-on offer from U-M, an offer that was good enough for Weekley to flip from Michigan Tech and shut down his recruitment.
“The in-state prospect from Kalamazoo Central stands at 5-9 and held offers from Valparaiso, Michigan Tech, Concordia, Ripon, and Dordt.
“Weekley is a multi-sport athlete and one of the top hurdlers in the state of Michigan.”
He’s coming off 53 tackles, 20 solo tackles, one forced fumble and eight pass breakups in his senior season.
Jordan Castleberry, RB from Lakewood, Ohio (St. Edward)
Here’s the other end of the preferred walk-ons from St. Edwards. He originally planned to attend West Virginia on scholarship, but Michigan was always his “dream school.”
“The history and excellence it holds at a high standard,” he told Jonathan Simmons. “It’s a great, special place even outside of sports and football.”
The 5-foot-8, 193-pound running back rushed for 1,543 yards and 20 touchdowns during his team’s state championship run this season. He was named first-team all-district and third-team All-Ohio.
Leon Franklin, RB/DB from Southfield, Mich. (Southfield A&T High School)
The 5-foot-10, 185-pounder carried the ball 63 times for 453 yards last fall.
He reports a 4.59 forty and 11-second 100-meter dash. He is teammates with 2020 Michigan offers Anthony Romph and Bryce Austin.
Tommy Friberg, QB from State College, Pa. (State College High School)
Penn State football: State College native Tommy Friberg picks Michigan over Nittany Lions | Centre Daily Times https://t.co/O8oF7Mh4x4— cfbnation (@cfbnation1) February 9, 2019
Friberg grew up in the shadow of Beaver Stadium and Penn State. He now gets to play in a slightly bigger stadium.
The 6-foot-5 prospect was a Class 6A All-State selection for 2018 after leading his team to the PIAA quarterfinals for the second consecutive season.
He earned an offer from Columbia after tossing for 2,293 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last year. He can also do damage with his legs, chipping in 320 yards on the ground.
He chose Michigan over preferred walk-on offers from PSU and Ohio State.
Mica Gelb, OL from Washington DC (Woodrow Wilson High School)
The 6-foot-5, 305-pound center looks to follow the same path as former Wolverine center and current Detroit Lion starter Graham Glasgow.
Gelb also had a PWO offer from Colorado. This past season, he made first-team All-Conference and All-State by USA Today.
Matthew Harrison, QB/WR/Safety from Ortonville, Mich. (Brandon High School)
The 6-foot-3 Harrison passed for 1,340 yards and 12 passing touchdowns for Brandon High last fall. He added 230 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
Ren Hefley, QB from Bryant, Ark. (Bryant High School)
Hefley is a dual-threat quarterback from Razorback country. The 6-foot-1 prospect led Bryant to two state titles and finished his career with 2,049 passing yards and 22 passing touchdowns.
Karl Kerska, kicker, 6-3, 200 pounds, Dexter, Mich. (Dexter High School)
Truly blessed & beyond excited to announce that I am officially committing to the University of Michigan! I’d like to thank God, my family & my coaches. Thank You @kornbluekicking @kyle_brindza & @phil_jacobs16 for all of the help & support in making this dream come true! #goblue pic.twitter.com/qUdIxwSruu— Karl Kerska (@karl_kerska) January 31, 2019
Kerska is considered the No. 1 kicker in Michigan and the No. 22 kicker in the country per Brandon Kornblue of Kornblue Kicking.
He was also mentored by former Notre Dame kicker Kyle Brindza.
Andy Maddox, QB from Prairie Village, Kan. (Shawnee Mission East High School)
Excited to announce that I will be furthering my academic and athletic career at the University of Michigan! Thanks to all family, friends, and coaches who have supported me! #GoBlue 〽️ pic.twitter.com/Lk8TNmQdzK— Andy Maddox (@10amadd) October 14, 2018
The 6-foot-4 gunslinger from Kansas was fielding interest from Dartmouth, Cornell and Princeton when Jim Harbaugh came calling. During an Oct. 13 visit to Ann Arbor, the head coach extended the offer.
“After walkthrough practice, Harbaugh came and talked to my parents and me,” Maddox said to Evan Petzold. “He asked me how I liked it, and I told him I loved it. I said Michigan was always where I wanted to be.”
Harbaugh told him back: “Shake on it.”
Maddox was a dual-sport athlete, pairing football with basketball. In his senior year, he amassed 2,000 passing yards and threw for 23 touchdowns, and earned second-team All-League honors.
William Wagner, LS from Alpharetta, Ga. (Alpharetta High School)
Wagner is the No. 22 long snapper in the country per Chris Rubio of Rubio Long Snapping. He chose Michigan over offers from Mercer and Brown.
Zach Conti, OL/DL from Trenton, Mich. (Trenton High School)
The 6-foot-6, 300-pounder originally committed to Eastern Michigan as a PWO, but is trading Ypsilanti for Ann Arbor.
Ricardo Macon Jr., RB/LB from Vassar, Mich. (Vassar High School)
For a full run-down on Macon, here’s an MLive profile on the former quarterback.
He was a lone bright spot on a Vassar team that went 4-23 in his three seasons as a starter. The 6-foot-1, 205-pounder threw for more than 1,000 yards as a junior, then ran for more than 1,000 yards as a senior. He tacked on 14 rushing touchdowns, as well.
Nolan Knight, LB/TE from Northville, Mich. (Northville High School)
The 6-foot-4, 195-pounder runs a 4.7 forty-yard dash and also plays basketball.
Matthew Bills, RB from Warren, Mich. (Warren Woods-Tower High School)
Congratulations to Matt Bills who signed his National Letter Intent as a Preferred Walk On to continue his Academic and Football career at The University of Michigan. Titan Pride! pic.twitter.com/0hfEb6IxTl— Mike Mackenzie (@WWTPrincipal) February 8, 2019
David Noe has the goods on Bills:
“His senior season included 118 carries for 1,496 yards and 23 touchdowns.
“The running back position will be an interesting group to follow as we get closer to the fall. Tru Wilson will be in the mix, including 2019 recruit Zach Charbonnet, the only running back in the class.”
Hunter McDaniel, OL/DL from Garden City, Mich. (Garden City High School)
The 6-foot-6, 275-pound talent notched 27 total tackles and 10 tackles for loss last fall. He was first-team all-West and first-team all-state.