How Michigan football transfer Eyabi Anoma will go with his teammates

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On the same day social media platforms swirled with speculation and ultimately confirmation that Michigan football was adding a top rusher through the transfer portal, the player himself – Eyabi Anoma – was already meeting his teammates at Schembechler Hall.

The former five-star recruit and No. 4 overall prospect for the Class of 2018 joined the UM program on Thursday after two seasons at FCS Tennessee-Martin. Now a graduate student, Anoma is starting over in Ann Arbor at his fourth school in five years.

“Welcome him with open arms,” ​​Jaylen Harrell said. “A nice guy. Glad he’s ready to learn. I help him out a bit with the playbook and stuff like that. Another man in the room to compete and pick on him.

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Without an official statement from the program or head coach Jim Harbaugh, who spoke to reporters the day before Anoma’s arrival was announced, players who were scheduled to meet the media on Friday afternoon had to respond. to questions about the newcomer with a checkered past.

Anoma, who was recruited by UM out of high school, earned SEC All-Freshman team honors in Alabama before the university fired him for undisclosed reasons. He signed up at Houston and donned a red shirt in 2019 only to be kicked off the team for what was described as a pattern of bad behavior, including being late, skipping class, clashing with teammates, and insubordination. He landed with the Skyhawks and had 53 tackles — including six sacks and 9½ tackles for loss — in 2021 after being out a season due to NCAA transfer rules.

“He’s a baller,” running back Blake Corum said. “He will help a lot. I just have to give him the playbook and soon he’ll be out in the field wreaking havoc. I’m glad to have him here.

Corum’s opinion is worth noting as he and Anoma both attended St. Frances Academy in Baltimore and both played for head coach Biff Poggi, although their careers never overlapped. Poggi is now on Harbaugh’s staff in Ann Arbor and facilitated a pipeline from St. Frances to Michigan that also includes inside linebacker Nikhai Hill-Green and point carrier Derrick Moore.

Chances are Poggi played a key role in a quick recruitment process once Anoma entered the transfer portal earlier this week. Poggi described the edge rusher as “the best player I’ve ever coached” during a 2017 interview.

Based on physical traits and talent alone, Anoma is a legitimate NFL prospect. He was 6-foot-4½ and 242 pounds with 33½-inch arms when scouts representing National Football Scouting visited UT Martin in the spring, according to data obtained by the Free Press. They gave him an estimated 40-yard rush time of 4.7 seconds, which would have ranked him in the top 10 rushers in this year’s combine – ahead of the former UM pass rusher Aidan Hutchinson, the No. 2 overall pick. His overall rating was a fifth through seventh round pick.

Eyabi Anoma, shown here playing in the annual Alabama "One day" scrimmage, made the SEC All-Freshman team in 2018.

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But Anoma’s off-field issues are complicating his professional future, with one source suggesting some NFL teams are likely to drop him from their draft boards next spring. The Michigan players weren’t told about Anoma’s past when the coaching staff informed them of the new addition to the roster.

“We keep it out of it,” Harrell said. “I don’t even know why he left those other schools. But he is here. he’s cool, he’s going to be a great teammate for us. We don’t really care about what happened in the past.

The immediate focus is on football, where there are additional questions about Anoma and the role he could play this season. It’s unclear what shape Anoma is in after a summer away from organized football, nor is it clear how long it will take him to grasp the system of defensive coordinator Jesse Minter. Anoma has also not faced this level of competition since its first season at Tuscaloosa in 2018.

Still, he joins a group of positions that need emerging talent following the departure of Hutchinson and colleague David Ojabo for the NFL. Not much has been decided on this year’s depth chart, aside from Mike Morris’ spot at the top of the list. The competition includes Harrell, Moore, Taylor Upshaw, Braiden McGregor, Julius Welschof and TJ Guy, among others.

Now Anoma joins the fray.

“He’s a great guy to have in the room,” Harrell said, “and we’re thrilled to have him.”

Contact Michael Cohen at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Cohen13.

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