January 26, 2010

Black's long recruiting journey nearing its end

Michigan's newest commitment (No. 27 and counting), three-star Cincinnati defensive end Jibreel Black has enjoyed an interesting recruitment, committing to three different schools, but the young man is a class act and deserves the benefit of the doubt, head coach Bernie Barre explained …

Black, 6-2, 260 pounds, originally committed to Indiana in June, choosing to follow older brother, Larry, to Bloomington. But he never felt comfortable with his choice and switched his allegiance to Cincinnati in October.

"Jibreel was inundated with offers over the summer and I think when he looked at the situation, talked to his brother and his parents, he felt like if he went to Indiana it would be easier on his family because then everyone would be in one place," Barre said. "But I think he wanted to go to Cincinnati all along, and in the fall, as Indiana kept losing and Cincinnati kept winning, it became harder and harder to pass up what he really wanted."

Had the status quo in Bearcats' nation remained the same from October through Signing Day, he would have signed a letter of intent to play for Brian Kelly, but Kelly bolted for Notre Dame in December and Black was suddenly unsure of his future.

"He actually took an official visit to Cincinnati [Jan. 8] and he really liked the staff and felt comfortable there again," Barre said. "He was going to cancel the rest of his visits - to Michigan State, Michigan and Indiana - but he had trouble calling those coaches up and when he expressed a little bit of interest in seeing what they had to offer, I encouraged him to take a look.

"He went up to Michigan State [Jan. 15] and really liked it but was still going to go to Cincinnati. And then he went up to Michigan [over the weekend] and it just blew him away. He liked it better than anywhere else and told me that's where I wanted to go. So he cancelled his Indiana visit and called the Cincinnati coaches.

"That's the thing about Jibreel that I think gets lost in all of this - he's a great young man, and I really hope Michigan fans embrace him and welcome him into their family as one of their own.

"When he visited UC, the coaches said that at their hospitality tent, Jibreel would get up from his seat every time a new recruit walked in to introduce himself. They said he was an outstanding ambassador and for as much as they're going to miss his talent on the football field, I think they'll really miss the quality of his character off the field more."

But make no mistake - the Bearcats will miss his athletic talents. One of the state's hottest rising prospects this year, Black was named the Ohio Southwest District Division III Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 after recording 61 tackles, including 9.5 sacks, for a Cowboys' team that went 13-1, losing to Columbus DeSales in the state semifinals.

"He's extremely quick off the edge and he has one those relentless motors that wears opponents down while he's still going 100 percent in the fourth quarter," Barre said. "I think he could play inside, but he gets after the passer so well that I think he'd be best on the outside."

Michigan is recruiting Black at the defensive end position, in a role modeled after departing senior Brandon Graham.

"UC plays a 3-4 with a hybrid linebacker/defensive end and that's where they envisioned Jibreel, but Michigan State thought he was an inside player and Michigan had talked to him about a little bit of everything to see where he fit," Barre said.

"He's just so strong and explosive off the snap that I think he could be an elite pass rusher someday. He's very coachable, will work on that technique and will play hard. He's going to be a kid that fans are going to really enjoy cheering for."

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