Michigan added a big-time recruit at a position Jim Harbaugh loved to keep well-stocked. Four-star Missouri City (TX) Ridge Point tight end Mustapha Muhammad has long been considered a strong Michigan lean. He announced his commitment to the Wolverines while receiving his Under Armour All-America jersey in a ceremony prior to his game tonight, choosing Michigan over fellow finalists Clemson, Texas, and UCLA.
Muhammad is the 15th commit in the 2018 class and the second at tight end, joining Connecticut three-star Luke Schoonmaker. He'll be the second Texan (Chuck Filiaga, 2017) to join the program since Russell Bellomy in the class of 2011.
4*, #2 TE,
|4*, #19 TE||
4*, 86, #2 TE,
4*, #5 TE,
4*, #5 TE,
There are a couple splits in Muhammad's rankings. Scout and ESPN both consider him the second-best tight end in the class and a top-75 overall prospect. 247 has him a cut below those two but still in blue-chip territory. Rivals, meanwhile, not only leaves him out of their top 250, they don't have him particularly close as the #19 TE; their #12 TE (Will Mallory, incidentally) is #250 overall.
Muhammad is listed at 6'4", 235 on both ESPN and 247/Scout*, and since he's done several major camps that's likely an accurate measurement. Rivals has him at 6'5", 225. Either way, he's got prototype size for a flex tight end and the frame to be a potential matchup nightmare as a true in-line TE.
*Scout and 247 have merged. They still have different rankings but there are no longer separate profile pages. It's weird, I know.
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Muhammad has been touted as one of the best tight ends in the class for a while now. He emerged as a solid contributor as a sophomore and by his junior year was getting mentioned as one of the best prospects Scout, er, scouted in October:
There is no doubt that Muhammad will be one of the best in the nation at the tight end position in the 2018 class. He has great length and size at position and looks taller and thicker than his 6-foot-4, 213-pound Nike Camp check-in stats that are listed in his profile currently. He reminds me a lot of a Jermaine Gresham style of tight end, who is a great receiver at the position, but also has the size and strength to stand up to powerful defenders when he lines up as an in-line guy. He has many of the top offers like Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Miami (FL), Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M and more. -Powers
As you can see, he'd already accrued an impressive list of offers. Despite a merely decent outing as a receiver, he got a glowing in-person evaluation from 247's EJ Holland:
Muhammad had a pretty well rounded game. He accounted for 50 yards on five receptions. Muhammad didn’t produce the eye-popping numbers in the receiving department, but he made at least three crucial catches that kept the chains moving. The four-star recruit maybe has the best all-around game at his position next cycle. Along with making key catches, Muhammad did a great job in the run game with his blocking. His game is exceptionally polished. In fact, Muhammad might be the best tight end in the state in the 2018 class.
He kept that momentum going in camp season, earning #7 overall performer honors from 247 at the UA Future 50 Underclassmen camp, then comparing favorably to fellow top-ten TE Malcolm Epps at the Opening Houston regional, per 247's Jeff Howe:
The tight end group was as good as I’ve ever seen at a Nike event. Malcolm Epps (6-6, 214) is raw as a football play but oozes athletic upside. Mustapha Muhammad (6-5, 235) of Fort Bend Ridge Point appeared to be the better football player with more functional athleticism than his counterpart from Spring Dekaney based on what I saw on Saturday.
He was the tight end on 247's All-Spring team.
While Muhammad was one of the top underclassman prospects at the Rivals regional camp in New Orleans, they had to project a bit after he didn't dominate the one-on-one portion:
Muhammad is a unique prospect. He has great size and is pretty far along in his physical development. Muhammad’s speed and athleticism are exceptional for a player that young and that size. He is a natural pass-catcher and runs pretty good routes. Muhammad didn’t have a ton of success in one-on-ones but he is a top-flight prospect.
He either looked incredible in drills or they're overstating the one-on-one issues a bit, because Rivals listed him as one of the five best tight ends at their regional camps:
Muhammad could be a pretty good prospect at wide receiver, but as a pass-catching threat at tight end, he's elite. His combination of height, athleticism and wingspan make it a simple task for quarterbacks to simply lay the ball out in his general area and he'll just overmatch defenders physically for the ball. He is the textbook example of a tight end that is too fast for linebackers and too big for defensive backs to cover[.]
While he bounced back with a big-time performance at the Houston Sound Mind Sound Body camp, consistency issues cropped up again at the Five-Star Challenge, though that didn't stop SoonerScoop from listing him among the top eleven offensive players at Rivals' elite camp:
Muhammad was a player that was a bit up and down on the evening but as he gets more consistent he'll become one of the country's dominant tight end prospects. Muhammad has a great frame and the ability to catch anything close to him but, again, he'll need to become more consistent as he seemed to tire out a bit as the day went on.
Rivals doesn't have any more recent scouting updates; the above doesn't sound like a guy who should be outside the top 250, even if you're leaning more on potential than production.
If there's another sticking point beyond consistency, it's that he doesn't quite have elite athleticism:
Muhammad is a complete tight and has all the tools to make an immediate impact at the next level. Muhammad has great hands and runs excellent routes for his size. He is deceptively athletic and often acts as his quarterbacks’ security blanket. Muhammad is also a formidable blocker. — Holland
That's from a 247 preseason article ranking him as the #5 prospect in the state. There's some debate about Muhammad's athleticism—it's either merely good or elite. Based on his film and testing numbers, I think he'd be an elite athlete as an in-line TE and just a good one if he stays at his current size. It looks like he can be that in-line guy so long as he makes the usual strength gains and technical improvements as a blocker; that's a major focus of ESPN's eval:
STRENGTHS: Possesses a great frame, long arms and legit speed. Possesses the focus, ball skills, body control and the want to consistently make difficult catches in traffic. Difficult to bring down after the catch and has enough wiggle to make defenders miss in the open field. Willing blocker who fights through the whistle in the run game. ... AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT: A bit of a 'tweener and will need to add bulk and functional strength in order to play tight end at the next level. Plays a bit too high at times. Needs to polish up his blocking technique, particularly work on having a wider base. ... BOTTOM LINE: Muhammad is the complete package as a tight end prospect. With further physical development and refined technique, he has the potential to be a mismatch at the next level.
I think he'll get there; his blocking is impressive enough that Scout's Greg Powers specifically cites his zone blocking as a strength. Your Fred Jackson-y best-case scenario is Jake Butt but better at blocking. Butt was around 6'5", 230 coming out of high school with a similar athletic profile.
Muhammad owns one of the better lists in the country, holding offers from the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami (YTM), Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC, and Wisconsin.
If it's a football school with a history of success, past or present, they probably offered Muhammad.
Muhammad plays at one of the most talent-rich schools in Texas. Heading into this season, Rivals named Missouri City (TX) Ridge Point as the fourth-most talented high school in the state:
Teams like Cibolo-Steele and DeSoto aren’t on this list because of Ridge Point, who is headlined by 2018 Rivals250 Missouri linebacker commit Chad Bailey and four-star tight end Mustapha Muhammad. Bailey is the best pure linebacker prospect in the state in his class and despite relatively modest receiving numbers last season, Muhammad is one of the better built tight end prospects in the country. The Panthers come back in 2019 with four-star weakside defensive end Nelson Ceaser, who showed flashes of his potential at numerous events this offseason. Quarterback Aaron Allen is committed to Louisiana Tech, and leads fellow committed three-star prospects Dennis Osagiede (UMass), Jarrett Preston (UTSA) and Knowledge Smith (Nevada) in 2018.
That's a lot of DI-bound players for one program. (Also, Knowledge Smith.) Muhammed will be Michigan's first player from Ridge Point, but the staff should probably keep that number handy.
According to his 247 profile, Muhammad caught 29 passes for 430 yards (14.8 YPC) and four touchdowns as a junior. He had 19 catches for 321 yards (16.9 YPC) and five TDs as a sophomore.
FAKE 40 TIME
Muhammad has a SPARQ-verified 40 time of 4.84 seconds, not far off the pace of the tight end class-best mark of 4.76. That gets zero FAKEs. He also posted a 4.44-second shuttle, 33.1-inch vertical, and 38.0-foot powerball throw for an overall SPARQ rating of 93.87
Mid-season senior highlights:
Full junior highlights
Mean-ass stiff-arm touchdown:
Sophomore highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
There's going to be quite a battle for tight end snaps the next couple years (and for the foreseeable future under Jim Harbaugh). Every scholarship tight end on the roster is set to return next year unless Ian Bunting looks for a bigger opportunity elsewhere as a fifth-year senior. Even without Bunting, Michigan would have Zach Gentry and TJ Wheatley for the first two years Muhammad is on campus and Sean McKeon and Nick Eubanks for the first three years. Given all four have showed they can contribute, Michigan might be able to redshirt Muhammad and fellow TE commit Luke Schoonmaker. All of the current TEs on the roster redshirted.
Even with the surrounding talent, it's not hard to see Muhammad breaking into the rotation relatively early on, especially if he can hold his own as an in-line blocker. He's got an all-conference future and maybe much more if he can play with his hand in the dirt on every down given his combination of size, athleticism, and receiving ability.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
It'll have at least two tight ends in it, and Michigan doesn't appear to be done—they're still pursuing four-star IL TE Luke Ford and three-star GA TE Tommy Tremble. Michigan now has 15 commits in a class that should reach the low 20s. Positions of priority going forward include DT, DE, and S.
Here's the class as it currently stands: