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Posted on Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 5:45 a.m.

Gabriel Richard's Blaise Stearns lands with Michigan football team after transfer and recruiting fallout

By Pete Cunningham


Father Gabriel Richard wide receiver Blaise Stearns will be a walk-on on the Michigan football team next season.

Courtney Sacco | file photo

  • Related: Wednesday, April 17 is the opening of the regular signing period for basketball and several other sports. Check's high school sports home page later for signings from area athletes.

After his junior year Huron High School, Blaise Stearns felt his coaches were underutilizing him on the football field, and not helping him realize his dream of playing college football off of it. One year later and Stearns won’t have to travel far to realize his dream. Stearns was offered a walk-on spot with the Michigan football team and will join the team in the fall.

"I’ve always liked Michigan football and it’s a great opportunity to stay close to home and get to play college football and attend a great school,” said Stearns, who spent his senior season at Father Gabriel Richard High School.

Stearns said transferring schools was motivated by football and it was made easier by the fact that many of the friends he grew up with were already at Richard.

“I wasn’t getting any help in recruiting or any notice and really wanted to get in the college football scene, so I decided to make a switch so I could get an opportunity to play football,” Stearns said. “It was definitely a good decision, recruiting-wise, first off because the team was a lot better in the division and a better group of coaches and support.

“The coaches were really good with helping in the recruiting process.”

Stearns found himself in need of assistance from Richard head coach Brian Lemons when the coaches at Yale - the Ivy League school he planned on playing for - decided to go in a different direction late in the recruiting process.


Blaise Stearns, center, caught seven touchdown passes, ran for three and returned an interception for a score as a senior at Gabriel Richard.

Courtney Sacco | file photo

Stearns attended the Michigan football camp in the summer where Lemons worked. According to Lemons, Stearns “tested through the roof.” A 6-foot-3, 200 pound receiver and safety, Stearns ran a 4.49 40-yard dash and tested well in other drills as well. Stearns said Lemons helped him get in contact with the staff at Michigan after the opportunity at Yale fell through and eventually a walk-on offer transpired.

Stearns has a spot guaranteed on the squad, but won’t join until after school is in session in the fall.

“He’ll have a shot just like every other walk-on has a shot and that’s really all you can ever ask for,” Lemons said. “My understanding is he’ll get the chance to redshirt and be on scout team and can work from there.”

Stearns transferred to Father Gabriel Richard before his senior season, where he flourished for the Fighting Irish. On offense, he had 25 receptions for 540 yards and seven touchdowns despite Richard’s starting quarterback being injured for much of the season. Stearns also rushed for three touchdowns and on defense had four interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown, and made 24 tackles.

“His senior year he was a unique player, put some things on tape, and he tested really well at camp and impressed people,” Lemons said. “I’m really excited for him.”

Richard went 11-2 and made it all the way to the Division 5 state semifinals last season. Stearns said he isn’t sure which position he’ll be looked at with Michigan.

“It’s a possibility either way, wide receiver or safety, it just depends on what they decide to put me at,” Stearns said. “It’s really great to get this opportunity.

  • Related: Wednesday, April 17 is the opening of the regular signing period for basketball and several other sports. Check's high school sports home page later for signings from area athletes.

Pete Cunningham covers sports for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.



Tue, Apr 23, 2013 : 2:03 a.m.

Let me get this right, He was offered a walk on spot after the school year begins, and the team has already been practicing for a month? Um? help me understand this. If he was being "offered" a spot on the team, why can't he start when all the other players start? Is this a real offer? Or just something to pacify this kid until he enrolls? Why can't he start when the rest of the team starts. Unless there is a rule I am missing somewhere about walk ons. This doesn't seem right.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 1:50 a.m.

Hi Daniel. Some more info for you. This applies to all high schools in Michigan with regards to athletics. Please pay close attention to this paragraph: "How long is a transfer student not eligible? A student who does not meet one of these exceptions is not eligible for at least half a year. A student who changes schools in the first half the year (enrolled before the 4th Friday after Labor Day) becomes eligible on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. A student who changes schools in the 2nd half of the year (enrolled before the 4th Friday of February) becomes eligible August 1 for fall sports." I hope this clears things up for you.


Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 11:59 p.m.

@Daniel, The young man transferred in the 2nd semester of his Jr year. It is not unusual for a student at any private or parochial school to not be accepted in their freshman year because of class size limits. As each year goes by, students transfer out of said school or the family moves away opening spots for students as upperclassmen. Blaise transferred to a school where many of his friends had been attending since freshmen year. Thank you though for the predictable conspiracy post...


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 1:42 a.m.

Hi Daniel, Once again you do not have all of the information. FGR has the same requirements as the public schools when it comes to athletics. That is mandated by the MSHAA, not the school or even the district. If you want to play football the next year at a different school as in this case, you transfer in at the start of the second semester of the previous year as Blaise did. Different sports have different deadlines so the situation varies depending on the sport. It is the same going from private to public and public to private. Whatever you are insinuating here does not apply. Blaise met all of the Academic requirements (was headed to Yale until that got derailed) that any student must meet. No special favors done here no matter how badly you want that to be true.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 1:23 a.m.

So how many public schools could he have transferred to? And check out the eligibility requirements of a parochial school student when they leave that school and try to play in the district where they reside. There are situations where students have left Richard and were not eligible to play in the district they resided in without waiting a season. So yes in fact the playing field is not level.

David Paris

Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 11:54 p.m.

It doesn't say much for the Huron coaching staff when a former player had to leave the school for better coaching, then gets a walk-on opportunity to play in the Big House!!! Somebody's got to GO!


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 1:10 a.m.

From all the Ann Arbor Football Brawl articles I've ready, I thought they already went!


Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 8:21 p.m.

Interesting there is a long list of students who are not accepted at this school as freshman, but a local football star can get in for his senior year!


Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 11:10 p.m.

How many people does a political science major put in the stands?


Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 9:16 p.m.

Typically, there are many more applications for enrollment in the freshman class than there are available openings. By the time those students are seniors, there is no waiting list.

Terry Star21

Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 8:12 p.m.

Nice story Pete, he chose Michigan when probably could have played very soon at another university.


Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 2:08 p.m.

Hopefully this will be a diamond in the rough, another Jordan Kovaks story. I wish him the best. GO BLUE!!!


Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 12:49 p.m.

He's got size and speed ... with luck and some hard work, he won't be a walk-on for long.

Silly Sally

Wed, Apr 17, 2013 : 10:59 a.m.

Good for him - I hope that he does well at UM! Go Blue.