April 6th, 2011 at 5:39 PM ^


When the 17-year-old Parchment High School senior won his third straight state weightlifting championship by dead lifting a state-record 630 pounds on March 12, a text message went out from Portage Northern football coach Pete Schermerhorn to new University of Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison. Within 30 minutes, Mattison was calling Parchment football and weightlifting coach Wayne Hinton.

Four weeks later, Yerden accepted an offer to join Michigan's football program next fall as a preferred walk-on, slated to play offensive tackle.  "It’s crazy, the timeline and how everything happened," said Yerden, who is 6-foot-6 and weighs 330 pounds but played only one year of high school football. "It’s a pretty rare opportunity. And I can see that. I wasn’t expecting it, that’s for sure."


April 6th, 2011 at 10:39 PM ^

It's the first few paragraphs of the article, with a few lines bolded to show how freakishly strong this young man is.  Also, to emphasize that he's only been playing football for a year and hence was not recruited extensively.

Clarence Beeks

April 7th, 2011 at 1:50 AM ^

I think this quote is incredibly important for more than just identifying Gary Yerden on a preferred walk on: the importance of resecuring the relationships with certain instate high school coaches that had frayed during the Rodriguez era.  Remembering back to a thread from a few months ago regarding how ties to certain programs were neglected during the Rodriguez era, one of the coaches who was identified in that article was Schermerhorn.  The general response, most notably from Magnus, was "who cares, Portage Northern isn't a Michigan pipeline so it doesn't matter if he's kept in the loop".  I think this proves exactly how important it is to keep those coaches in the loop.  Not necessarily because Portage Northern (or other programs with coaches formerly in the loop) is particularly likely to send players from their school to Michigan, but because these coaches are highly involved and "in the know" within their respective regions and having that connection with the Michigan coaches gives them a leg up on the competition.


April 6th, 2011 at 5:39 PM ^

Let's see ... 6'6" and 330, 630# dead lift.  As they say on the 'blog, "Hello, nurse!"

There's probably a catch.  It might be that his 40-yard dash efforts are timed with a sun dial.  Even so, he'll be fun to have in the weight room.


April 6th, 2011 at 8:06 PM ^

Um, yeah, and they also lost to Appy State and Oregon earlier in the year.  (Aside: It's amazing how one game can color people's perceptions of a whole era.)

There was a dry period (with Jake Long and David Baas as obvious exceptions) for O-linemen at Michigan after the 2000 (Hutchinson, Backus, Williams, Brandt) season, especially for a school famous for that position.

- - -

Of course, this gets away from the main point.  As preferred walk-ons go, this guy sounds great.  I bothered to speculate on his speed only because so many teams passed on him.


April 6th, 2011 at 8:20 PM ^

I don't think speed is why so many teams passed on him.  In fact, I'm not sure anyone "passed" on him since almost no major programs even knew he existed.  This is what happens when you play HS football for the first time 6 months before signing day and you don't send tapes to any major programs. 


April 6th, 2011 at 8:38 PM ^

I'm singlehandedly turning this into a dead horse (sorry, everyone), but (from the article):

"Yerden had modest and passing interest from Division II schools Grand Valley State and Ferris State ..."

This implies that some type of evaluation was done by GVSU and Ferris.  If they didn't pursue him, well, something wasn't encouraging.  Maybe they were just risk-averse.  Still hard to see how his size and strength couldn't be seen as positives, but whatever ...

This reminds me of the humongous linemen (whose name I can't recall ... 6'7" and 300 or so) from Illinois that was briefly interested in Michigan.  Everyone was obsessed by his measurables but no one bothered to wonder why he didn't have any D-1 offers.  He accepted a preferred walk-on position at OSU.


April 6th, 2011 at 8:44 PM ^

GVSU or Ferris were may have been considering using one of their schollies on him, thus they passed. There's really no risk here for Michigan. The guy will be a project but he's at a position of need and it's not like we're low on roster spots.

Hardware Sushi

April 7th, 2011 at 9:56 AM ^

Yes, agreed. There is no downside to this situation, especially if he is a high-character individual.

I'm pumped. A 6-6 300+ lb. freakishly strong player that isn't using a scholarship until we can see him develop? Yes, please. Worst case scenario - he ends up being a weight-room rat and workout leader that pushes the other guys. Fine by me.

I'd like to offer a project or two each year like this. Be honest and upfront about the walk-on status and realistic about the chances of earning a schollie. Good pickup.

James Burrill Angell

April 6th, 2011 at 5:42 PM ^

Dude doesn't have to run 40 yards.


Obviously with only one year of football under his belt he's raw but wouldn't that be something if this kid is athletic enough and coachable enough to turn into something. Very interesting.


April 6th, 2011 at 5:43 PM ^

Seems to be a quality person. and with his measureables and strength, who says he can't learn to play a little football and make an impact at some point on the offensive line!  

Added bonus since we need offensive linemen desperately right now.



April 6th, 2011 at 5:53 PM ^

Frankly, we need all the linemen we can get.  We're going to be really thin and/or really young for the next couple years, especially at offensive tackle.


April 6th, 2011 at 11:47 PM ^

I abasolutely agree, a raw prospect with his size and strength can only help the situation.  The depth chart at tackle is too thin and I can't think of any costs of taking on a preferred walk-on beyond the coaches time in trying to develop a prospect that raw.


April 6th, 2011 at 5:55 PM ^

BOOM, Nice to have a Panther from the zoo on the field. Good luck young( hoooooooooooolllly sh#!, 6-6 330) Man child. They will miss you at Coney Island and Renzema's Bakery. Try to not kill any of the d-linemen, they are need..


April 6th, 2011 at 6:06 PM ^

who cares.  To be able to deadlift 630 pounds the strenght in your lower back, traps, hammies, quads and butt have to be so powerful that if this kid locks onto somebody they are going back.


April 6th, 2011 at 6:18 PM ^

This is awesome.  I don't care if he only played one year of HS football, he has the frame and he obviously (obviously) has the strength needed for OT, he can learn the footwork and technique over a redshirt year and a year or two after that.

A lot of D1 linemen are really raw coming into college, so honestly a couple extra years of HS football isn't the much of a difference.  However, not many come in weighing 330 and able to deal lift 630 pounds. 

Will Vereene

April 6th, 2011 at 6:40 PM ^

6'6" & 300#'s. That's nice to see size back in the program.

1 year experience; that guy from the "blind side" movie did not have that much experience either and he turned out like a safe bet.