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Gilman OL Stephen Spanellis flips commitment from Virginia to Michigan

Gilman senior Stephen Spanellis changed his college commitment from Virginia to Michigan.
Gilman senior Stephen Spanellis changed his college commitment from Virginia to Michigan.

Gilman's two-time All-Metro offensive tackle Stephen Spanellis has flipped his commitment from Virginia to Michigan, where he will join offensive line mate Devery Hamilton, who committed to the Wolverines last summer.

The 6-foot-6, 290-pound Spanellis switched his commitment Wednesday after making an official visit last weekend to the Michigan campus in Ann Arbor.

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On his trip to scout the Wolverines program, Spanellis said he felt comfortable. He even had the chance to eat birthday cake with coach Jim Harbaugh while they were teammates during a bowling outing. Spanellis turned 18 Tuesday.

Hamilton visited at the same time and Spanellis said he liked the prospect of playing with his friend and with former Gilman teammate Henry Poggi, a tight end with two years of eligibility remaining, but that wasn't the reason he chose the Wolverines.

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He said the combination of a coaching change at Virginia, where Mike London resigned in November, and a strong offer from Michigan made him reconsider the commitment he made to the Cavaliers in June.

"I got the offer from Michigan and I decided I really need to investigate my options and especially given the circumstances of [Virginia's] coaching change that it was definitely wise to do so," Spanellis said. "It had a lot more to do with me really liking what I saw at Michigan and liking the Michigan coaching staff than it had to do with me not liking the Virginia staff."

He had an early offer from Michigan but when coach Brady Hoke was fired after the 2014 season and then Harbaugh's staff began re-evaluating recruits, Spanellis said, there was some uncertainty last summer about whether the offer would stand.

After last fall, new Wolverines offensive coordinator Tim Drevno, also the offensive line coach, was sure.

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"Coach Drevno told me one of his concerns about my film last year was he thought I fell down too much, my balance wasn't good. He said looking at my film this year, he was really impressed about how I stayed on my feet when I went up to the second level or if I went out on screen passes. I think just in general, I looked like I had improved my strength, my balance, pretty much everything I could have improved in a year."

Spanellis played a key role on the area's top offensive line, one of the main reasons the No. 1 Greyhounds went 10-1, won the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship and finished No. 13 in USA Today's Super 25 national rankings. He is rated the No. 16 player in Maryland's senior class and the No. 36 offensive tackle in the country by the recruiting website Rivals.com.

"If you look at his junior film, it was good and off his junior film, he was offered by South Carolina, Michigan State, Miami, a lot of great schools," Gilman coach Biff Poggi said. "But he worked so hard between the end of his junior season to the beginning of his senior year [that] his senior film was completely different. He was dominating as senior.

"He started training differently. We put in a CrossFit program. He got more agile, lost a little weight, although he's still a gigantic monster, and it really helped his feet. When we went up to Paramus and played [defensive tackle] Rashan Gary, the No. 1 player in the country, sometimes he played against Devery, sometimes Steve and Steve did a nice job on him."

Spanellis said he was recruited to play guard and could move to center.

"They wanted a big strong guy who could block a three-technique or a nose guy," Poggi said, "and Steve's good at that."

Michigan's offensive style is perfect for a recruit coming from the run-oriented  Greyhounds.

"When you look at Michigan they really want to run the football," Spanellis said. "They play a kind of an old-fashioned power offense where they want to get two tight ends and a fullback in and, if they can, an extra lineman. I think I fit really well, because my strength, I feel, is run blocking and Michigan's offense is really similar to the one I run at Gilman now. I'm just really comfortable with my hand on the ground running a traditional offense as opposed to a lot of these schools that have their linemen standing up and are passing so many time a game."

Spanellis, who has a 3.8 unweighted GPA, hasn't decided what he will study.

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