Michigan football recruit Keith Heitzman brings flexibility, durability to Wolverines
Coaching changes at Vanderbilt may have cost the Commodores a shot at landing high school defensive end Keith Heitzman.
Coaching changes at Michigan may have given the Wolverines an opportunity to land the 6-foot-3, 245-pound senior from Hilliard Davidson (Ohio) High School.
Heitzman’s high school coach, Brian White, knows new Michigan football coach Brady Hoke from his previous days as a position coach in Ann Arbor. One of his former players played and coached under Hoke at Ball State.
“I know how our young man will be treated there, and I helped him out with what I could, as to what he can expected,” White said.
Whatever knowledge White imparted was good enough for Heitzman, who gave a verbal commitment to the Wolverines on Saturday.
He wanted a school with a strong academic reputation, which is why he had favored Vanderbilt until the Commodores replaced Robbie Caldwell with James Franklin.
“I was actually considering Illinois for a while, but Michigan came into the picture,” Heitzman said Wednesday. “I actually had a cousin who went to Michigan, and he really liked it, liked the feeling and the atmosphere.
“Plus, being part of the Ohio State rivalry is really cool.” Heitzman should know. Growing up in the shadow of Columbus - Hilliard lies in the city’s northwestern suburbs - he had an affinity for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State had shown interest in him as both a defensive end and tight end, postions he excelled at while playing in 41 games over his final three high school seasons.
But in the end, the Buckeyes received verbal commitments from three other defensive ends earlier, and Heitzman elected to consider his other options that he thought were better fits.
All the better for the Wolverines, White said.
“Keith is a special kid,” he said. “Obviously, I’m a little biased, but he’s got terrific durability. He’s started every one of those (41) games. He’s never missed a game. I don’t recall him ever missing a practice.”
Although Michigan and most other schools recruited Heitzman as a defensive end, a position at which he earned 13 sacks this past season, he’s just as happy to play tight end.
“It’s really whatever helps the team the most,” he said.
That’s an attitude his coach says will help him excel no matter what position he might play in college.
“He’ll probably come in as one of the lesser-known recruits,” White said. “But, and again, I’m probably biased in my opinion, I think they’ll be very, very happy after four or five years.”