DE recruit Braiden McGregor ends the mystery, picks Michigan over Notre Dame

Carter Karels
South Bend Tribune

Braiden McGregor finally put an end to the mystery and conspiracy theories.

In front of a crowd in the Port Huron (Mich.) Northern High auditorium, the 2020 defensive end announced his verbal commitment to Michigan. Notre Dame and Florida were considered his other finalists. Until his announcement, McGregor’s favorite school remained unknown to all but those close to him. 

McGregor’s enigmatic approach is rare in the current recruiting landscape. The only public clues were of McGregor retweeting two Irish-related tweets this week. 

Irish quarterback commit Drew Pyne connected with the 6-foot-6, 255-pounder on Wednesday night in hopes to learn of his decision. However, McGregor played coy with Pyne, a close friend of his during the recruiting process. He had previously been open with Pyne about his visits, leanings and decisions.  

McGregor’s high-profile status had fans, coaches and reporters scouring for clues via his social media pages. 247Sports considers him a four-star recruit, ranking him as its No. 3 strongside defensive end and No. 27 overall player. Rivals begs to differ, pegging McGregor as a three-star recruit and slating him No. 27 at the position. Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State were among other teams to offer him.

“When you watch him on film, he’s got a really good first step,” said Tom Lemming, a recruiting analyst for CBS Sports Network. “He’s lanky, he’s got the long arms and he’s got the quick feet. I think he’s still developing.”

Notre Dame extended an offer to McGregor on April 10, 2018 — 11 days before Michigan followed suit. Following his April 5-7 official visit at Notre Dame last month, McGregor told Irish Illustrated he nearly committed during the visit. McGregor also said that he almost committed to Michigan and Alabama during previous visits to those schools.

Close relationships with Irish defensive line commit Rylie Mills, defensive line coach Mike Elston and Pyne had McGregor considering Notre Dame. McGregor also forged relationships with Wolverine tight ends coach Sherrone Moore and defensive line coach Shaun Nua. The proximity to Michigan, a 103-mile drive from Port Huron Northern to Ann Arbor, might have also played a role for McGregor.

The Irish hoped McGregor could be the final piece to their 2020 defensive line class. Defensive linemen Alexander Ehrensberger, Aidan Keanaaina, Jordan Botelho and Mills are already committed to Notre Dame.

The Irish hold a few more options, particularly Olney (Md.) Good Counsel’s Mitchell Melton and Bakersfield (Calif.) Christian’s Benjamin Yurosek.

“I like him,” said Lemming of Melton, who projects as a drop end. “He’s a good ballplayer. Better than I thought. He’s a good-sized kid, runs well. He’s a Notre Dame-type kid for sure.”

Melton and Yurosek plan to take ND official visits on June 7-9 and June 21-23, respectively. Yurosek, who also plays tight end, is considered a two-way prospect at some programs. With two tight ends committed for 2020 in Michael Mayer and Kevin Bauman, the Irish are eyeing Yurosek as a defensive end.

“He’s a good athlete, but I never really thought of (defensive end) since he’s all-state as a receiver,” Lemming said.

Notre Dame also holds interest in Dedham (Mass.) Noble and Greenough School’s Cam Large. The Irish cooled off their recruitment of defensive end targets Jalen Logan-Redding, Deontae Craig and Darrion Henry.

Four-star running back Chris Tyree verbally pledged to the Irish on Thursday, swelling ND’s 2020 recruiting class to 11 commits. Rivals and 247Sports rank the Irish class No. 6 and No. 8 nationally, respectively.

Notre Dame DE target Braiden McGregor, a 2020 recruit, arrives to the player walk before the Michigan at Notre Dame NCAA football game Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana.