A month ago, Ron Bellamy was hoisting the state championship trophy the West Bloomfield High School team he was coaching won at Ford Field.
Immediately following that, Bellamy was hired as wide receivers coach at Michigan, his alma mater.
Now he is recruiting Dillon Tatum, a junior who was an integral part of that title run. Tatum is not a wide receiver, but Bellamy is helping recruit the state. The connections do not stop at Bellamy. The Wolverines signed Tatum’s teammate Donovan Edwards and already had former teammates Makari Paige and Cornell Wheeler on the roster.
He insists those connections alone do not make the decision for him, though, as he continues to learn more about the schools on an offer list that is now at 32 programs.
“It’s a great opportunity for (Bellamy) and he said he will be coming after me hard over this time,” Tatum said. “I’m not committed, but he wants to bring everyone he can from West Bloomfield. It’s a pretty good relationship (with UM and West Bloomfield) and only time could tell, but Michigan is definitely in the top of my schools.”
In January, Tatum named the Wolverines to a top 10 that also included Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Georgia, Nebraska, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Baylor and USC.
A Swiss-Army knife type of player, Tatum has carried the ball and caught it on offense, played defensive back or viper on defense and played on special teams.
“Dillon doesn’t come off the field much,” Lakers defensive coordinator Tyrice Grice said. “We have him playing rover, safety and move him around depending on what the coverage is and sometimes, he plays man on the slot, but his strength is really at the corner position. I think at the next level, that’s what he will end up being is a true lockdown corner.”
That is where Michigan’s new co-defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach Maurice Linguist comes in. Linguist has hit the ground running as a recruiter since arriving in Ann Arbor, and Tatum has been a priority.
“The whole defensive staff got my number and hit me up,” Tatum said. “Coach Linguist asked to FaceTime and we talked for about 45 minutes and at the end of the conversation he (re)offered. It was a great feeling. He was basically letting me know what’s he’s done as a coach and all the levels of experience he’s been. He wants to make me a millionaire.”
Tatum wears a lot of hats at West Bloomfield. In a different situation, he might not be sharing the ball with a guy like Edwards, but he has been unselfish and done what the team needed in order to achieve their state title aspirations. At the same time, he has proven to schools that he can play just about anywhere on the field all while battling it out with Edwards on a daily basis.
“He’s very competitive,” Grice said. “One thing people don’t see is Donovan and Dillon challenging each other in practice. That’s when you see the competitiveness come out of those two. He sees Donovan do something well, he wants to top it. He has sacrificed a lot. We lost two starting corners, so we might put him at corner to prepare him for the next level and we haven’t decided how to use him on offense next year but it will probably be a running back by committee. You’ll still see him at slot, running back, the jet.”
Michigan coaches are hoping that, eventually, he will be seen in Ann Arbor.
Young Alabama corner offered
Phenix City (Ala.) Glenwood School cornerback AJ Harris was offered by Michigan. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Harris is only a sophomore but now has 15 offers.
The Wolverines join Georgia, Arkansas, Arizona State, Boston College, Michigan State, Oklahoma and more on the list. Linguist extended the offer.
He was an all-state selection in the fall and also returned punts, in addition to playing cornerback. He carries a 3.5 grade-point average in the classroom.
UM continues Tennessee recruiting efforts
After receiving two commitments from the state of Tennessee in Kody Jones and Taylor Groves, the Wolverines now have offered Brownsville (Tenn.) Haywood cornerback Jaylen Lewis.
The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Lewis now has nearly 30 offers and is ranked alongside Jones and Groves as a Top 20 prospect in the state by the 247Sports composite.
Florida State, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Ole Miss are some of the offers Lewis has.
He plans to make a college commitment in December, saying academics and relationship with the staff will factor in most.
Allen Trieu covers Midwest football recruiting for 247Sports. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan and Michigan State recruiting columns appear weekly at detroitnews.com.
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