High School: IMG Academy (FL), previously Milton Academy (MA)
Measurables: 6-foot-4, 285 pounds
Ranking: Four-star (.9053 composite), No. 275 overall, No. 6 C
Other finalists: Notre Dame
When Michigan is the first player to offer an offensive lineman playing in the Independent School League in Massachusetts, the odds of him picking the Wolverines are pretty high. Michigan has raided the league in the last few cycles to grab four-stars Kalel Mullings, Zak Zinter and Louis Hansen.
But then Greg Crippen transferred to IMG Academy before his sophomore season, opening the doors for other schools to make inroads. Somewhat surprisingly, Crippen committed to Notre Dame over Michigan in March 2019. That would be just the start of several twists and turns in Crippen’s recruitment that ended him up at Michigan.
Don Brown and Ed Warinner didn’t give up on Crippen, maintaining the relationship they had with him since he started high school. Crippen took a visit to Notre Dame over the summer as a commit, and reportedly showed up smaller than the Irish coaches were expecting. Following the visit, Crippen’s commitment was in name only.
For the first game of the 2019 season, Michigan had a surprise visitor on their sidelines in Crippen, who was still verbally committed to Notre Dame. But after that game in late August, things quieted down. It was a well-known fact Crippen wasn’t going to end up in Notre Dame’s class, but he didn’t publicly decommit for a long time. Finally in early March, Crippen announced his recruitment was open once again.
Soon after, it became clear Michigan was going to be the school benefiting from this development. Crippen committed fewer than three weeks later. Like Raheem Anderson, Crippen is a rare high school prospect with center experience. Crippen has spent the last two years as IMG Academy’s starting center. His senior season was spent snapping to J.J. McCarthy, which could give him a leg up because of their chemistry.
Crippen also has experience at guard, starting there as a sophomore in his first year at IMG. During his three years in Bradenton, Crippen has sharpened his skills against the best players the country has to offer. With two prospects who have heaps of experience at a position that requires great knowledge and skill, Michigan should have a stalwart captaining the offensive line for the foreseeable future.
- Good targeting and engagement of defenders
- Bends well at the knees to establish leverage
- Great timing and hand placement in pass protection
- Questions about his true size following decommitment from Notre Dame
- Has to work on keeping feet chopping through contact
- Jumps feet backward on shotgun snaps
Crippen is a solid blocker in the run game. He’s great at locking onto defenders with good placement and stays low to maintain a wide base and leverage. Once he makes contact, Crippen has to work on keeping his feet driving to push defenders back. He has improved on this from his junior to senior seasons, but it’s still an area to develop.
There are some other issues with Crippen’s footwork. When he snaps out of the shotgun, he has a tendency to jump his feet backward instead of taking a step forward. He could also work on getting his snaps more consistent, with a couple of low snaps I saw in a game this season.
In pass protection, Crippen is very technically sound. He has great timing and placement on his punches. Crippen’s feet are light, allowing him to mirror rushers and stay in front. Crippen’s shuttle time at an Opening regional in early 2019 was 4.93 seconds, which would be on the lower end in the NFL combine but is a good starting point for a high school sophomore. That indicates Crippen has pretty good agility and will be able to move well in space.
It is going to be interesting to see how the situation with Crippen and Anderson plays out in college. With Crippen’s agility, hand placement, and issues with his footwork off the snap, I think he could transition to guard easier than Anderson. But Crippen has also been snapping to McCarthy for the last year and has faced better competition, so he could be more ready to see the field early.