MORE MICHIGAN: TheWolverine.com
Trotwood-Madison (Ohio) four-star linebacker Mike McCray grew up attending college football games at the Ohio State University where his father had previously played linebacker for the Buckeyes. The younger McCray, however, has decided to play for the rival of his father's alma mater.
"Today I committed to Michigan," McCray told Rivals.com on Monday. "I just feel that's where I need to be. I just woke up one day two weeks ago and had the feeling in my heart that told me I needed to be at Michigan."
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McCray wanted to hold off on making his decision public until he and his family were able to complete an unofficial visit to Michigan on Tuesday. It was the four-star linebacker's first trip to Ann Arbor since he attended the Wolverine's night game against Notre Dame last September.
"It was a great experience, a great game," McCray said of his September visit. "I had never been to a Michigan game before, and that really caught my attention. It made me feel like I could play here and be in this atmosphere one day."
Trotwood-Madison head coach Maurice Douglass has sent players to Michigan in the past. Three former Rams signed with the program in the class of 2008 when Rich Rodriguez was leading the program, but Douglass has gotten to know Brady Hoke's staff in Ann Arbor over the last year as well.
"I think it is a great fit for him with the new staff that they assembled last year," Douglass said. "With a head coach who handles the defensive line, I think that is going to help him out a lot. He'll come in with a little bit better concept of what they are going to run next year."
The selection of Michigan not only puts him on the other side of the rivalry that his father played in years ago, but will pit him against teammate and close friend Cameron Burrows, the nation's No. 7 ranked prospect in the 2013 class, who committed to Ohio State in January. McCray said the light-hearted ribbing between the two friends has already begun.
McCray and Burrows are headliners in what are developing into two outstanding classes for the Wolverines and Buckeyes. Michigan now has 14 commitments in their 2013 class, though McCray is the first linebacker of the group.
"They said he could play any of the three linebacker spots," Douglass said. "I think he will do well at MIKE, but I think he can be a great SAM because he is a guy who can anchor down on that tight end, but is big enough that if they split the tight end out he can cover him in space because he changes direction so well."
The nation's No. 44 ranked prospect, McCray was a key component of Trotwood-Madison's 2011 Division II state championship team. He finished the year with 86 tackles, three forced fumbles, two sacks and five interceptions, including three he returned for touchdowns.
"I think the intangibles and his play recognition are some of the things that separate him from other kids," Douglas noted. "He does a great job of studying film throughout the week and that helps him to play faster. That's some of the things guys don't do at this level, but will be required of him at the next level.
"He's always been a great player in space because he's such an athletic player. Another year is going to help him even more in that aspect."
McCray also doubled as a tight end on offense, finishing the year with 28 receptions for over 500 yards and 12 touchdowns. Despite playing both ways, McCray would finish the game as strong as he started and that was due to his off-season work according to Douglass.
"I think it is the extra work that he does," Douglass said. "He works with us two days a week, but then he also works with a personal trainer two more days a week. So, he's working out 4-5 days a week and playing baseball, which also helps with his stamina."
With his commitment made, McCray turns his attention to the upcoming baseball season, where he plays outfield and pitches for Trotwood-Madison. He is also preparing to help the Rams defend their Division II state title next fall.