Brooks Bahr is a big guy. Now he’s a Big Ten guy.
Loyola Academy’s 6-foot-6 junior defensive end announced his verbal commitment to the University of Michigan on March 15 via Twitter.
Numerous major NCAA programs courted Bahr, but once the Lake Forest resident heard from the Wolverines, his recruitment was over.
“I really connected with the coaching staff, and it has everything I wanted in a school: big football, they had what I wanted to study,” Bahr said. “… And their facilities are amazing.”
Bahr began garnering attention as he ascended through the Ramblers’ program.
Between his sophomore and junior years, Bahr grew significantly in size and skill, said Loyola coach John Holecek. The coach recalled at one point the staff asked Bahr how much he weighed and he guessed around 250 pounds, but when he stepped on the scale, he was 269 — and “with no body fat.”
“HIs potential is through the roof,” Holecek said. “Huge arms, huge hands. He is efficient with his movement and is going to get better and better and more explosive.
“I see him filling out even more and being an absolute monster.”
At 6-6, 275 pounds, Bahr was a force for the Ramblers during his junior season in the fall. He racked up 54 tackles, seven of them for a loss, to go with three quarterback sacks and seven QB hurries.
After the season, the offers began to trickle in — Ball State, Northwestern, Purdue. And then at the start of 2022, they began to pour in —Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Cincinnati, Illinois, Duke and, of course, Michigan.
Bahr collected 16 official scholarship offers in all and narrowed his decision down to Duke, Illinois and Michigan.
But one stood apart.
“I was actually supposed to visit Duke the weekend after Michigan,” he said, “but I fell in love with Michigan so I felt there was no need to waste anyone’s time — the coaching staff’s, my parents’ — if I had my mind set.
“After visiting Michigan, I was 100 percent in and wanted to be a part of Michigan’s football team.”
The Wolverines are one of the prized programs in all of college football and are coming off an appearance in the College Football Playoff, a season-ending tournament between the nation’s top four Division I teams that season.
To compete at that level, Bahr said he’s going to “live in the weight room” over the next year to get stronger and faster in preparation.
Holecek said Bahr has the skills to compete with Michigan but he needs to be ready for it.
“He does everything very well. He has very good technique,” Holecek said. “At the next level, people add more tools to their trade and get a lot more powerful, quick and nasty. A guy like that … should never be on the wrong side of a battle with a high school kid.
“He can work on consistency, power and adding a couple more moves to his pass rush. Frankly, I am very happy with what he’s done so far.”
Aside from his huge frame, which includes a 7-foot wingspan, Bahr has another leg up. His brother, Chase, is a junior offensive tackle for the University of Penn.
Bahr said the brothers have trained and watched film together and he gets to hear valuable advice from the other side of the line of scrimmage.
“I have him watch my film and ask him questions,” Bahr said. “It’s nice being able to ask about my technique and what he looks for so I can use that when I’m going up against another offensive lineman.”
Bahr’s junior-year commitment takes a weight off his shoulders. He said it gives him flexibility his senior year, and he is considering early enrollment in Ann Arbor in the winter of 2023.
Before then, though, the pass rusher will be key as Loyola chases a state championship, a year after the Ramblers lost in the IHSA Class 8A semifinals to eventual champ Lockport Township.
With a big decision out of the way, Bahr can focus all his attention on the opposition. Look out.
“It’s nice to focus on just what’s ahead, like winning a state championship, rather than recruitment,” Bahr said. “I can focus on what the task ahead is. … The team is going to be coming out for revenge, and we’re going to have a chip on our shoulders and try to avenge the seniors.
“We’re going to give it our all and make a state championship for them. We’re going to come out aggressive and put it all on the line.”