Many recruiting followers, myself included, thought Michigan would be done recruiting linebackers in 2021 after the de-commitment of Casey Phinney. But many, like myself, should have thought again once 2021 four-star linebacker Branden Jennings de-committed from Florida State earlier this week.
Michigan originally had Chris Partridge recruiting Jennings before he took his new gig at Ole Miss. After Partridge left, Jennings’ interest in the Maize and Blue faded, which led to his commitment to Florida State back in February.
But with U-M linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary being such a huge presence in the state of Florida, and the familiarity with defensive coordinator Don Brown, it was a no-brainer for him to join the fold as Michigan’s latest addition to the 2021 class.
The 6-foot-3.5, 225-pounder plays football at Sandalwood High School in Jacksonville, Florida. He visited Michigan last fall for the Army game, so Ann Arbor is no foreign land to Jennings and his family. The top 100 prospect is on the roster for the 2021 Under Armour All American game, and is compared to another former top 100 prospect by 247Sports’ Barton Simmons — Shaq Smith of the Maryland Terrapins:
“Long levered, thick linebacker with bulk to naturally play in the middle and the frame to potentially grow into an edge rusher. Pops on tape with his physicality and violence on contact. One of the hardest hitters in the 2021 recruiting cycle. Plays with great effort and motor. Attacks blockers with physicality. Efforts to re-route receiving threats. Good range between the tackles, thanks in part to wing span. Bends well for a bigger linebacker but does show some stiffness in space. Looks heavy-footed at times and is a long strider that takes some build-up to find a top speed in pursuit. Can get exposed in coverage. Physically imposing inside linebacker that has some projectablility to move down to the line of scrimmage. Power Five starter with NFL Draft upside.”
Brown and Jean-Mary did a nice job to get back into this recruitment quickly, but an assist also has to go to Florida State’s rocky start to the 2020 season. Jennings was the first big-time prospect to dip out, and Michigan took full advantage. Brown and Michael Zordich also continue to work another 2021 Florida State commit, four-star cornerback Omarion Cooper, who continues to hear from the Wolverines on a daily basis.
Michigan’s star-studded linebacker group in 2021 now consists of Jennings, four-star Junior Colson, four-star Jaydon Hood and three-star Tyler McLaurin.
Jennings is the No. 6 outside linebacker and No. 81 overall player in the class on 247Sports’ composite. Michigan now has the No. 7 ranked class in the country, per 247Sports’ composite. Before Jennings’ commitment, it was ranked No. 12.
You can check out some highlights on Jennings’ Hudl account, which includes some clips from this season.