FRANKENMUTH — Jared Davis has been a University of Michigan football fan his entire life.
And now, he’s a part of the Michigan football family.
On Wednesday — college football’s National Signing Day — the Frankenmuth senior announced that he has committed to the Wolverines as a preferred walk-on.
“It’s pretty overwhelming right now,” Davis said. “Last night, I barely slept, but as of a couple of days ago, I envisioned my future plight differently. I got a call (Tuesday) night at about 9 o’clock (p.m.) offering a preferred walk-on at Michigan. And I accepted it.”
Davis earned second-team Division 5/6 all-state recognition in the fall as a defensive back for the Frankenmuth football team. He was a member of the Tri-Valley Conference offensive and defensive first teams as a quarterback and defensive back.
On Saturday, Jan. 28, Davis and his parents — Scott and Leanne Davis — made an official visit to Michigan.
“I talked to coach (Jim) Harbaugh, (defensive line) coach (Greg) Mattison, all the coaches were there and I got to spend a little time with each one of them,” Davis said. “They showed us around and everything.
“I felt like I was dreaming.”
Harbaugh has re-energized the Michigan football program since taking over prior to the 2015 season. The Wolverines were ranked as high as No. 2 in the AP poll last year, and finished the season No. 10 after a 33-32 loss on New Year’s Eve to Florida St. in the Orange Bowl.
“I’m from a Michigan family, I don’t think I’ve missed too many games,” Davis said. “We have season tickets and I love going, I was raised a Michigan fan. So there was no doubt in my mind when I got that call. I was yelling, my dad was yelling, my mom was crying.”
Until that Tuesday-night phone call, Davis was leaning towards Saginaw Valley State University. The 18 year old, who stands 6-feet tall and weighs 190 pounds, received a scholarship offer from Concordia University in Ann Arbor, and had preferred walk-on offers from SVSU and Northwood University.
Football Bowl Subdivision colleges can have a maximum of 85 scholarship players. But the roster can include 105 players. Preferred walk-on status usually means a player does not have to tryout for a team, like a regular walk-on must. And a preferred walk-on generally is given a spot on the 105-player roster.
“He’s a special athlete, I really thought a couple of schools like your Saginaw Valley’s and your Northwood’s, I thought they missed on him,” said Andy Donovan, who coaches Davis presently on the Frankenmuth basketball team. “I really thought, with the kind of player he is, and the season he had, he should have got some (scholarship) offers.”
Davis carries a 3.5 grade point average and plans to take advantage of Michigan’s academic excellence.
“I think Jared is looking at this as a great opportunity to go to a place of academic success when he looked at all the options,” said Frankenmuth football coach Phil Martin. “Where this option can take him in life, I think that’s how he made his decision. It wasn’t just a football decision.”
Michigan’s academic reputation played a big part, said Davis, who plans to study business.
“Football is going to end at some point, and it’s not going to make you a lot of money, unless you’re one of a select few,” Davis said. “So going to Michigan, academically, is an easy sell.”
Davis said he will most likely play his familiar position of defensive back for the Wolverines, “but I’ll do whatever they need me to do,” he said.
After being Frankenmuth’s go-to running back as a junior, Davis took over the offense as a duel-threat quarterback as a senior. He passed for 1,225 yards and 13 touchdowns and ran for 966 yards and 16 touchdowns. The Eagles went 11-2 this year, winning the TVC East and advancing to the Division 5 semifinals.
When Davis gets to Michigan, he won’t be the only former Frankenmuth quarterback on the team.
“The funny thing is, two of my last three quarterbacks will be there,” Martin said. “We might be the only school in the nation that can say that.”
Davis joins Nick Volk, a 2014 Frankenmuth grad and QB of the 2013 team, as a member of the Michigan football squad. Volk, also a preferred walk-on, was recruited as a linebacker, and is now a 5-foot-11, 250-pound fullback.
The Eagles quarterback for the two years in between (2014 and 15) Volk and Davis was Jack Taggett. The 2016 graduate is also a college athlete, as a baseball player for Kalamazoo College.
“When you look at what we do, and how we got about it, quarterback is usually our leading competitor,” Martin said. “And Jared and Nick and Jack were three of our big-time competitors, not only on the field, but in the classroom.”
Being a football player for the Wolverines means Davis will report to Harbaugh, who is one of the most popular coaches in the nation.
“He’s a great guy, obviously, how can you not love him right now the way he’s turning the program around,” Davis said. “I was intimidated (during the Michigan visit), I didn’t want to make him mad, I made sure I was careful with my words. As I get to know him, I’m sure it will get more personal.”
Although non-scholarship players are not required to sign a National Letter of Intent, Harbaugh sent documents to each of the nine players who committed to the program as a preferred walk-on.
“Coach Harbaugh said they wanted to have us sign something along with the scholarship players,” Davis said. “So they drafted up a legal document, that was unofficial, for us to sign. So (Wednesday), I signed at 3 o’clock (p.m.) at the high school.”
Michigan’s 2017 class includes 30 scholarship players who signed letters of intent. Recruiting service Scout.com ranked Michigan’s recruiting class as the third-best in the nation.
But before donning the Maize and Blue, Davis still has a basketball season to finish.
“He’s been a lifelong Michigan fan, worked his tail off in the classroom, football field, basketball court, wherever he is,” Donovan said. “So it’s really cool to see that come to fruition. He’s pumped up, and he should be. He deserves it.”
Davis is the starting shooting guard for the Eagles basketball team, which is 10-1 and ranked No. 11 in Class B.
Reese teammates soon to be rivals after National Signing Day activities
REESE — Jake Galsterer and Mitchell Bender packed quite a 1-2 punch on defense as members of Reese’s football team in the fall.
This autumn, however, the two will be football rivals.
On Wednesday, college football’s National Signing Day, Bender signed a National Letter of Intent to play football for Northwood University. Galsterer announced he would accept a preferred walk on spot at Wayne State University.
The two Division II schools are rivals in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Bender and Galsterer were each first-team all-Greater Thumb West players as seniors. Bender made the team as a linebacker, Galsterer as a quarterback, defensive back and punter.
Both (along with teammate, defensive back Jacob Hartman) were also named Division 7-8 honorable mention all-state by the Associated Press.
Bender is undersized at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, but was always in the right spot for the Rockets’ football team. And while he was in that spot, he would usually leave an impression on his opponent with a bone-jarring hit. Bender led Reese, which qualified for the Division 7 playoffs with a 5-4 record, with 80 tackles. He had three sacks and recovered three fumbles.
Bender was also utilized as a fullback, especially towards the end of the year as a power option to the quickness of Hartman and Galsterer.
Gasterer, who is expected to play defensive back at Wayne State, did everything for the Rockets as a senior. He punted, kicked extra points, handled kick-offs, played quarterback and defensive back, and returned punts and kicks. Galsterer ran for 923 yards and 18 touchdowns as a dual-threat QB, and led the Rockets with four interceptions on defense.