(Photo – Telegram.com / Carl Setterlund)
It’s obviously bad news when Michigan – specifically Jim Harbaugh – has an interest in a Syracuse commit, The Fizz wrote about over the weekend. Three-star defensive back Ifeatu Melifonwu was playing hoops Saturday in Worcester (MA) and got a visit from the Wolverines coaching staff, including Harbaugh.
Melifonwu was a nice find by the SU coaching staff. He verbally committed to the Orange back in July, and is a top 5 player in the state. While being near the top in the state of Massachusetts is not exactly being a big fish in Florida or Texas, these are the type of northeastern kids SU needs to try and pluck.
He has offers from Boston College, Navy and UConn, but had seemed excited about SU’s new direction under Dino Babers. The good news is Michigan didn’t give Melifonwu an offer this weekend. The bad news is Harbaugh usually doesn’t fly to meet a kid unless he’s very interested.
The concern is two-fold for SU. First, it’s Michigan. UM has playoff aspirations versus SU just hoping to make the QuickLane Bowl. Harbaugh is a charming, force-of-personality guy. He’s a rock star to college kids, and was reportedly joking with Melifonwu about each other’s height (they’re both around 6’3″). Harbaugh, for all his khakis and bizarre quotes, has become a popular character nationally. He’s just quirky enough to be the butt of internet memes, but savvy enough to win football games and build a powerhouse.
Second, there’s a family connection which could lead to SU losing the defensive back. Michigan’s defensive coordinator, Don Brown, recruited Melifonwu’s brother at UConn. So the family is likely very comfortable with Brown and they have a relationship already built.
Right now, no need to panic. But Melifonwu will head to Michigan this week and spend some days there on an unofficial visit. If he returns without an offer, SU may be in the clear for Signing Day. If the Wolverines decide to present a scholarship, it might be an inevitable loss for the Orange. If that happens, the bright side is (and it’s not much) at least SU is targeting the type of kid that is stirring interest from power programs, instead of players that are minnows in the college football ocean.