The New England region has become one of the most consistent recruiting pipelines for the Michigan program since the day Don Brown signed his contract in 2016. The Wolverines defensive coordinator knows the region well and picked up the 14th get out of the area as three-star 2021 Noble & Greenough (MA) LB Casey Phinney has committed to Michigan.
Ben Mason was the first person I thought of when I saw Phinney’s measurements, position, and hometown. Then I put the tape on and saw almost exactly what I expected but with more explosiveness. I believe Phinney’s game translates much more to the defensive side of the ball than Mason’s did, more similar to Josh Ross‘ game. His physical build, tenacity, ability to read the offense and get into the backfield jumps off the screen. He’s a stout, downhill inside linebacker that sheds blocks with ease and lays the wood when he gets to the ball carrier.
Competition levels are an obvious concern as he looks like a man amongst boys in a lot of his tape, as are pass coverage skills. But this is far from just another three-star pickup. He’s a “watch the tape, not the early rankings’ kind of guy. I believe Phinney looks better and has a higher ceiling than a lot of the four stars I’ve seen in this class, which normally leads to the prospect getting the proper boost by the time National Signing Day comes around.
He’s coming in as an inside linebacker and as long as he can hold up against the better competition, he’s a guy I see making an impact wherever he ends up, whether that’s as a linebacker or fullback, or even as a special teams ace.
Another recruitment that was over before most even knew it had a really begun. Phinney had been a target for the Michigan coaching staff for a while, receiving his offer from the staff all the way back in May of 2018. However, the staff hadn’t even been able to get on campus prior to the Coronavirus recruiting dead period.
Holding offers from the top academic institutions in the country, Phinney looked like a player that was about to get a nice boost in his recruitment and on his offer list. But according to 247Sports’ Brian Dohn, it was a mix of Don Brown’s defensive pitch, the university’s prowess, and the program’s innovative ways to recruit from a distance that set Michigan apart.
Phinney committed to Michigan in early April of 2020, giving the Wolverines the second commit out of New England in the 2021 class.
- Height: 6’1”
- Weight: 230lbs
- Hometown (School): Marshfield, MA (Noble & Greenough)
- Notable Offers: Army, Princeton, Yale, UMass
- Rankings: Rivals (NR) – 247Sports (3*, #37 ILB) – ESPN (N/A)
- Composite Ranking: Three-star, #1002 Overall, #40 ILB, #9 in Massachusetts
As for the Rest of the Class
Phinney is the seventh overall commitment, the first linebacker commit, and the second get out of Massachusetts. There will be more additions from all of those groups as Michigan is sitting pretty with LB Junior Colson and still in striking distance for LB Jamari Buddin. The staff is also in good shape for Phinney’s high school teammate, OG Drew Kendall, as well as fellow Massachusetts standout, DE TJ Guy.
Photo Credit: 247Sports