The D-League as petri dish for weird basketball concepts.
Cullen Christian Goes Blue
As everyone has been expecting for some time now, PA CB Cullen Christian picked the Wolverines yesterday, adding a much-needed defensive back to the class of 2010. The announcement itself had been planned for weeks, and although it took a little longer than expected, the result is unsurprising. Local article. (Christian image via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).
For the record, The US Army All-American Bowl will select a player from Penn Hills next week. Christian and WR/S Brandon Ifill have both been nominated, and I'd imagine Christian is the choice as he is rated better by every recruiting service. And since there wasn't room for it yesterday, here's part 2 of Cullen's junior highlight video:
Who Will Fill the Class?
With Christian's commitment and the news that 2009 FL CB Adrian Witty will join the team this winter, there are only a few more spots available in the 2010 recruiting class. Next week's recruitin' update will be an overview-type post, but for now, let's look at a few of the guys who are still possibilities.
FL WR Kenny Shaw has narrowed his list to Michigan, Tennessee, Florida, and Florida State, with Georgia having an outside shot at him. He will announce his decision on Signing Day. [Source: ESPN, though they've apparently made it their corporate mission to not get a single inbound link, so whatever]. Florida State is still on top, but Michigan may have moved into second after an enjoyable visit ($, info in header/speculation).
CA WR Kenny Stills, one of the many visitors to the M/OSU game, will announce his final decision on December 1st. Michigan is probably on the outside in this one, but at least we'll know soon, right?
TX DT Jatashun Beachum enjoyed his Michigan visit, but it sounds as though he's unlikely to decommit from Arkansas. This is a disappointment, since it sounded before the Michigan visit like a decommitment from the Hogs was basically just a formality. Further updates coming as that situation develops.
MD LB Josh Furman has narrowed his list to two, with a decision date set ($, info in header). The narrowing is news, but he's been planning to announce at the Maryland Crab Bowl for some time, and there's been no indication of a change there. No word on the final two, but Michigan and Virginia Tech were announced as his leaders last week, so it's probably them... and Scout confirms all the information in one convenient header.
CA S Sean Parker told MGoBlog's own Tom VanHaaren that he plans to officially visit Michigan. Rivals confirms. Parker was supposed to be a heavy Notre Dame lean, but recent events are obviously concerning.
CA S/LB Tony Jefferson enjoyed his Michigan visit, but not even the afterglow is enough to move the Wolverines into his top 2. UCLA and Oklahoma are still on top for him, and he's going to "consider [Michigan] the rest of the way." Not the most promising update in the world. (Jefferson pictured at right via the Detroit News).
[Update: News article does say that "ESPN speculates he will choose the Wolverines," but that's contradicted by the direct quotes linked above and should be taken with a grain of salt.]
FL CB Tony Grimes and DE Clarence Murphy both enjoyed their visit to Ann Arbor, and I think the headline "Michigan on Top in Hollywood Hills" ($, info in header) is a pretty good indication of where the Wolverines stand with both prospects. Rivals confirms ($, info in header) for Murphy.
[your editor dips in for a moment…]
For what it's worth, on Monday's WTKA recruiting roundup, Sam Webb said he had a "gut feeling" on four players: Christian, Grimes, Murphy and Furman. For those unfamiliar, Webb's gut is the place he puts information about silent commitments. Christian has already dropped and Grimes and Murphy are a formality; if Webb is right about Furman and that potential rule change those four guys would close out the class.
Snake-Oiling The Irish?
The last time Notre Dame switched coaches, Michigan pirated away DE Jeremy Van Alstyne and CB/S Brandon Harrison from Ty Willingham's last class. Weis has been crushing Michigan's head in recruiting since he was hired. So can Michigan repeat the feat when Weis is fired two seconds after this weekend's game against Stanford ends?
Probably not. There are two kids in the class that Michigan finished second for, but FL CBs Lo Wood and Spencer Boyd are generic three-star sorts and Michigan isn't going to throw one of their generic three-star cornerbacks overboard, or pass up on Grimes, for them. Notre Dame's got a couple of good linebacker commits but they're both from North Carolina and had no interest in Michigan before they committed. Five-star CO DE Chris Martin has been a soft commitment for a while but he's had no interest in Michigan and Weis's firing isn't likely to sprout any. Michigan didn't make IN DE Blake Lueders's top five the first time he cut it down.
The only other player in Notre Dame's class who seems like even a slight possibility is IL OL Christian Lombard, but Lombard committed to Notre Dame at the Army Junior Combine and is likely a true believer who isn't even going to look around. (Side note: Lombard was a consensus five-star at that combine and Rivals now has him a meh three star. Ricardo Miller should have a "what happened to our recruiting rankings" pity party with him.)
In sum: Michigan and Notre Dame did not got head-to-head much this year and Michigan has better options at the spot where they did and ND won, so Weis's axing isn't going to be fruitful for the already-crammed recruiting class.
OH TE Alex Smith officially decommitted from Cincinnati last week, and Michigan was in the small group of schools he was still considering. Alas, he chose North Carolina yesterday, meaning his tenure on the recruiting board is over once and for all.
SC WR Nick Jones, who Michigan had offered, committed to South Carolina. Michigan was never hot on him, and I imagine he was mostly offered for leverage on Marcus Lattimore.
FL RB Demetrius Hart missed his playoff game last week because there was a controversy over whether he lived in the appropriate school district to attend Dr. Phillips.
John Magrino, Dr. Phillips athletic director, said OCPS determined Hart should sit until administrators can study allegations brought by Olympia that he lives in Pine Hills, not the DP school zone.
"He was assigned to our school from day one as a ninth grader and we’ve never had any reason to question that until today,” Magrino said.
Dr. Phillips managed to squeak out a 23-22 victory over Olympia without him, and he was cleared to hit the field against Apopka this weekend. Apparently, the mere challenge by Olympia's principal has been seen as a bush-league move. Hart is considered a heavy Michigan lean, although he wasn't able to make it to Ann Arbor for a visit last weekend.
ESPN's On The Trail (no link) reports that FL DT Tim Jernigan, who holds a Michigan offer, is only likely to consider Florida and Florida State.
Michigan has their eye on AZ QB/P Jordan Morgan. He's been invited to the Army All-American Combine in San Antonio.
Etc.: MI CB Dior Mathis is an Army All-American, along with MSU Commit Joe Boisture (which is odd, because he was so awful this year that his high school team benched him). That's an Army player each of the past four years for Cass Tech, with two picking the Wolverines (though Boubacar Cissoko didn't exactly turn out as expected). Fluff on the high school coach of GA DT Michael Thornton and LB Tyrone Cornileus. Michigan pipeline Pahokee faces an unceremonious exit from the state playoffs.
As always, you can see all the updates on the 2010 Michigan Recruiting Board.
The Penn State game had been built up (at least in my mind) as a pretty big visit weekend, but it's cooled off a bit, and the November 21st weekend, when the Wolverines play Some Team from South of Here, should be the blockbuster weekend now. Still, there are a couple noticeable visitors for this Saturday.
OH TE Alex Smith, a longtime Cincinnati commit who has been considering Michigan for a while, will make his long-awaited trip to Ann Arbor this weekend. His school, Lakota West, also has a number of other D-1 prospects, including OH LB Alex Smith, but none of them are considering Michigan.
PA DT Sharrif Floyd's on-again, off-again visit to Ann Arbor this weekend appears to be off-again. He won't take any more visits until his high school season is completed. Er... since then, he's said that Ohio State will be his destination this week, and any report of Michigan interest is "just a rumor." That sounds... discouraging. Floyd is also excited to prove himself at the Army AA Bowl.
MN OL Seantrel Henderson is in a similar situation, with his Michigan visit for this weekend shrouded in mystery.
CA S Dietrich Riley enjoyed his Notre Dame visit (as did his buddy, CA CB Josh Shaw), and a Michigan visit doesn't seem to be set in stone, as it was earlier in the process. Also, local Riley fluff. Dietrich Riley picture by Keith Birmingham for the Pasadena Star-News.
GA DT Michael Thornton may take an official visit at a later date.
SC CB John Fulton will apparently visit Michigan November 28th, the week after the season ends. Something tells me that's not accurate, since there's no need to do it that soon after the season, especially with the basketball team out of town. I'd guess that visit is actually for the OSU game a week prior.
Still Seeking Linebackers
Josh Helmholdt shares in the Free Press that a couple new linebackers have entered Michigan's radar. FL LBs Jeremiah George and Greg Hickman have been hearing from the Wolverines, and both are supposedly true MLB types. Also from the article, the Wolverines are taking a look at MI LB Michael Kinville from Detroit Catholic Central, the alma mater of Mike Martin. All three of those gentlemen will be added to the board.
Meanwhile, OH LB Jewone Snow visits Morgantown, no Michigan mention (grumble grumble).
Though he maintains an official top 5 of Michigan, West Virginia, UCLA, Ohio State, and Pitt, ESPN certainly gives the vibe that the Wolverines and the Mountaineers are the only two teams remaining for PA CB Cullen Christian. He has plenty of nice things to say about Michigan:
On the flip side, Rodriguez and Christian maintain regular contact, Christian said. "I talk to him all the time. He tells me they really want me. I'm No. 1 on their board. He tells me I'll fit right in. He tells me that all the time -- trying to get it stuck in my head."
Christian has been talking with people close to the Michigan program about exactly what it's like to play for Rodriguez, in Ann Arbor. "He seems like a cool dude to me," Christian said. "He was real laid back."
But from what Christian has been told by those who are already in the program at UM, Rodriguez's laid back vibe from the recruiting trail can change. "What everybody's telling me, he's real intense when you get up there. The intense one up there is [strength and conditioning coach] Mike Barwis. He's intense all the time," said Christian.
He says some nice things about West Virginia as well, but nothing as positive as the Michigan portion. He still plan a visit for the OSU game and a decision immediately thereafter.
As for Christian's teammate, PA S/WR Brandon Ifill, the list has been narrowed to Pitt and Maryland. Michigan isn't going to get Ifill, and the Penn Hills duo will probably go to different schools. I've removed Ifill from the recruiting board, although his final decision won't come for a couple months.
MI LB Lawrence Thomas is considered a heavy MSU lean, but Michigan was his childhood favorite:
"Michigan meant a lot to me when I was growing up," Thomas said. "When I was young I saw them in all the bowls, so they were one of those dream schools."
They may be able to work that angle to good results. Thomas has also gotten bigtime, scoring offers from the like of Florida, Oklahoma, and Penn State. He won't make a decision until his senior season, which is still a year away.
In other "2011 Instate recruits blowin' up" news, MI WR DeAnthony Arnett has garnered offers from Oregon and LSU, with Oklahoma likely on the way. Also from that article, MI WR Kenny Knight is apparently getting Michigan interest. I've been looking for information on the kid for a looooong time, and this is officially the first recruiting news I've seen on him.
While we're on the topic, the 2011 Recruiting Board should debut a little bit later this week. Stay tuned.
EDIT:OR RIGHT NOW. 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board.
VA LB Aramide Olaniyan is still "in touch" with Clemson. Local recruiting fluff on OH OL Skyler Schofner, who sounds like he's not considering the Wolverines anymore. Might MI WR commit Ricardo Miller visit UCLA with FL WR Kenny Shaw? I'd be surprised.
This should be a mondo update, since there wasn't a true recruiting post last week. Brace yourself, and if you need some context, check out the 2010 Michigan Recruiting Board.
Get 'em Early
ESPN provides one of the fluffiest Devin Gardner articles humanly possible:
Putting a football in Devin Gardner's hands is like handing a master artist a paint brush and an empty canvas.
It's your standard "lots of words with no information"-type article, other than mentioning that Gardner intends to enroll early at Michigan. Devin's gone back-and-forth about whether he wants to come in for the winter semester, but it appears his on-again, off-again relationship with that plan is in the on-again phase.
Rich Rodriguez has mentioned that he doesn't want to see high schoolers miss out on their opportunity to play winter and spring sports in high school, but since Gardner is participating in the ESPNU/Under Armour All-American Bowl, a (terrible) MHSAA rule prevents him from playing sports afterward. He wouldn't be missing out on much other than the prom.
(Gardner photo by Tom Hauck for ESPN.com.)
In other potential early-enrolling athletes, I brought this up in yesterday's Friday Night Lights post, but TX RB Stephen Hopkins also plans to enroll early. That brings the unofficial list to the following:
- MI QB Devin Gardner
- TX RB Stephen Hopkins
- MI WR Ricardo Miller
- OH WR Jerald Robinson
- OH OL Christian Pace
- FL S Marvin Robinson
That's always subject to change. Back to Hopkins for a moment, though, as MGoReader Phil Sampson fills me in that the big game against Southlake Carroll should be available for listening on the internet at http://www.kkgmam.com/. The game takes place Friday at 7:30 CDT. Phil warns that if you tune in early, you'll be subjected to some bad music.
In the Army Now
MN OL Seantrel Henderson was officially selected to the Army All-American Bowl, which is probably the least shocking moment in human history. No mention of Michigan in the recruiting snippets, for what it's worth. That's a somewhat regular occurrence, though insider-y rumblings still say that he likes Michigan. For what it's worth, his friend MN Ath JD Pride committed to Minnesota, but says he won't pressure Seantrel to join him.
Elsewhere in Official Army Selections, WI P Commit Will Hagerup got the treatment on Thursday. Rivals AMP was there:
For the record, Hagerup mentions that he'll arrive in Ann Arbor over the summer, which is a good sign that he has no intention of enrolling early.
SO MUCH STUFF ABOUT VISITS
AZ S Marquis Flowers plans to visit Michigan "later this month." That will be for the Penn State game, obviously. More on Penn State visits in next week's recruiting update, of course.
CA S Sean Parker visited Cal for the USC game, and the only other visit he's sure about is Michigan. He's planning to wait out a decision, so if Michigan has a good season, there's definitely a chance to land him. Rivals insists that he has not committed to USC ($, info in header). "Hey, that thing that nobody believes? It's not true!"
Michigan continues to lead for PA CB/S Cullen Christian, despite his shiny new offer from Ohio State. He plans to visit Ann Arbor for the November 21st contest against the Buckeyes, and decide a couple days after. That timeline looks good for Michigan. JC Shurburtt has more:
"I am going to decide Nov. 24 during a press conference at my high school," Christian said. "Right now, my top two schools are Michigan and West Virginia. Every school has a shot, though, and things could change when I take my official visits."
"They were just my favorite team growing up as a kid," Christian said. "They gave me my first offer. They recruit me the hardest, and I just love Michigan."
Again, sounds like the Wolverines are entrenched as his leader. As for his teammate, PA S Brandon Ifill, things don't look nearly as rosy from a Michigan perspective. He favors Maryland and Pitt ($, info in header), and Rutgers is recruiting him the hardest. It's fair to say that Michigan would prefer to only get Christian out of this duo.
Most analysts assume that FL LB Christian Jones is a lock to Florida State, since he's a legacy and his brother plays there. Despite Michigan falling off his radar lately, the Wolverines are still in the mix for an official visit ($, info in header). ESPN confirms that Michigan is one of the contenders for an official visit. I'll believe it when I see it, since he's been completely forgotten about by Michigan fans.
FL CB Tony Grimes (who still favors Michigan, Ole Miss, and Wisconsin) will be taking his Michigan visit for the Ohio State game at the end of November. That's shaping up to be a blockbuster recruiting weekend, with CA RB/LB Anthony Barr visiting as well.
Michigan is "still alive" with GA DT Mike Thornton ($, info in header), and he's considering the Wolverines for one of his official visits ($, info in header). Sam Webb elaborates in the Detroit News:
Those skills caught the attention of Michigan assistant Jay Hopson last summer. The Wolverines' Peach State recruiter wasted little time making very clear the magnitude of his program's interest.
"He told me they were looking for a great defensive tackle and they found that in me," Thornton recalled. "They needed to see my academic work and they offered a day later, actually." ...
"I talked to coach Hopson last week," Thornton said. "I haven't watched them play yet, but I've been hearing good things about them. I'm still going to get up there (on a visit). I just don't know when yet. "
Talk about defensive tackles and whatnot.
PA DT Shariff Floyd probably won't visit North Carolina with one of his officials, and Michigan is one of the options to fill that slot, along with Ohio State. I would predict that Michigan gets that visit for the Ohio State game if the Wolverines continue their winning ways, and he hasn't decided on a school by that time. He remains a longshot.
MN DT Beau Allen is down to five finalists, all of whom will receive official visits. He's already been to Wisconsin, and he's still setting up trips to Notre Dame, Stanford, Minnesota, and Michigan.
It looks like Michigan is on the outside looking in for FL OT Tyler Moore. He planned to announce a decision "very soon," and made it in favor of Nebraska. Brian, his dad, points out that a verbal commitment might not be a final decision, so he might not drop completely off the radar when he commits to one of those schools.
Sam Webb's "Dandy Dozen" - the top twelve instate recruits in the 2011 class in no particular order - are presented for your perusal, with relevant recruiting comments from the article following each recruit.
DeAnthony Arnett, WR, Saginaw, 6-0, 170, 4.51 - Offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Central Michigan and Tennessee already have come through for the talented youngster. Aside from taking a few visits to some of aforementioned schools, Arnett has made recruiting a back-burner issue.
Arnett is widely considered to be a Michigan lean, though he doesn't have any public favorites. When I talked to him in August, he said he was going to take his time with the recruiting process.
Justice Hayes, RB, Grand Blanc, 5-11, 185, 4.5 - Allen Trieu: "He grew up a Michigan State fan, but Northwestern is recruiting him hard and his teammate Tony Jones is committed there. Then you have Michigan, who fits his style of play and he has had good visits to. He is wide open right now."
Talky. Hayes recently spoke to Rivals' MichiganPreps, where he gave a similar picture of his recruitment, adding that he has one offer, from Iowa. It also included video:
...and back to the Webb article:
Delonte Hollowell, CB, Detroit Cass Tech, 5-9, 165, 4.5 - "Central Michigan and Michigan offered me," added Hollowell. "Iowa, Illinois, Michigan State -- a lot of schools have been sending mail. I'm going to try to go to an Iowa game and maybe an Illinois and Michigan State game. Michigan State has sent mail and I talked to the defensive backs coach, Coach (Harlan) Barnett."
Don't be too frightened by that last comment. Michigan is the leader for Hollowell, though "because I don't have any other offers except for Central Michigan" doesn't imply that the Wolverines have an iron grip.
Lawrence Thomas, LB, Detroit Renaissance, 6-4, 237, 4.65 - Trieu: "Michigan State is the team to beat, but I get the feeling a lot of schools from all over are about to turn up the heat on him."
Michigan recently extended an offer to Thomas ($, info in header), but are definitely playing from behind.
Willie Beavers, OT, Southfield Lathrup, 6-5, 327, 5.1
Bryan Bell, OT, Walled Lake Central, 6-5, 290, 5.0
Ashton Gaines, WR, Detroit Crockett, 5-11, 170, 4.6
Jamal Hosley, WR, Highland Park, 5-9, 160, 4.4
Taiwan Jones, LB/WR, Anchor Bay, 6-4, 200, 4.7
Willie Snead, WR, Muskegon Heights, 6-0, 180, 4.5
Dwight Trammer, LB, Inkster, 6-1, 225, 4.7
Anthony Zettel, OG, West Branch Ogemaw Heights, 6-3, 255, 4.9
I believe Bell grew up a Michigan fan, though the early word is that he hasn't heard a whole lot from the Wolverines. Willie Snead plays quarterback in high school, but projects as a WR/DB. Trammer is a teammate of Devin Gardner, and likes Michigan (Michigan might like him, too: I overheard Wolverines QB coach Rod Smith asking what number he was at a recent Inkster game). Anthony Zettel is considered a mortal lock to the maize and blue if they see him worthy of an offer.
Now that I've given you most of the interesting information from the article, I feel obligated to encourage you to check it out. Seriously, it's really good stuff.
FL RB Demetrius Hart is going to be a top prospect in the Sunshine State next year, probably ringing in around 4 stars. He's also considered a Michigan lock, though I have no idea why:
"Of course, they are my top team," Hart said. "I don't think I will commit now, but I will commit later to Michigan."
Nope, I haven't the slightest clue. Hart took in a Michigan game last year, and has set a visit for this season as well. I'd bet one of my kidneys that it's for either the Penn State or the Ohio State game, both of which are shaping up to be blockbuster recruiting events. Win plz. Hart is also a candidate for Orlando Sentinel Offensive Player of the Year, probably because he does stuff like this.
Yeah, it's totally time for a 2011 recruiting board. Look for it next week.
As mentioned in last week's recruiting update, Michigan offered CA WR Kenny Stills. "Offered" DE RB Jamaal Jackson will decide after his senior season. CA CB Joshua Shaw will no longer visit Michigan. The Wolverines are pushing for a visit from SC CB John Fulton.
The 2010 Michigan Recruiting Board holds all the updates on prospects of interest.
Tom Lemming's top prospects list is generally pretty kind to M:
#1 Combo-passer Devin Gardner
#23 Tailback-slotback Austin White
#25 Tailback-slotback Tony Drake
#6 Big back Stephen Hopkins
#13 Wide receiver Ricardo Miller
#19 Wide receiver Jeremy Jackson
#20 Offensive guard Christian Pace
#24 Inside linebacker Antonio Kinard
#4 Safety Marvin Robinson
There are a bunch of other targets included on the list, obviously. While we're talking rankings, Rivals recently updated theirs, and say hello to the #1 QB in all the land:
That of course means I'm contractually obligated to point out the rockin' MGoBlog HD highlights of Gardner.
Cullen Christian's reported visit plans seem to change by the day, but for now, he's planning to visit only Michigan and UCLA, along with maaaybe a third school to be named later. He still intends to make a decision during his senior season. (Christian photo by Bob Donaldson of the Post-Gazette). His teammate, Brandon Ifill, will visit in September (likely along with Cullen), and says that the two prospects are no longer tied to the idea of going to the same school. How about a little pre-season fluff on their team, as well.
The Particularly Revealing Scout Header is becoming a staple of recruiting posts lately, and who am I to change that?
Maryland safety Josh Furman will be taking his first official visit on Sept. 12 to Michigan. “Michigan is showing a lot of interest,” Furman said. “I’m very curious to see what the campus is like and I can’t wait to see a game at the Big House. I also really like (wide receiver) coach Tony Dews. He’s a great guy and I just get a good feeling about him.” Although Furman still denies a leader...
The rest of the article is behind paywall, but jesus is that one informative header. So: Furman likes Michigan, and add him to the list for next weekend's visitors. Fluff on him, mostly concerned with his ability to run the ball.
VA LB Aramide Olaniyan has set up four of his official visits, one of which will be to Ann Arbor. His others will be to North Carolina, Duke, and UCLA. For his fifth and final visit, he's considering Stanford, Wake, and Vanderbilt (quite the student, no?). No word yet on which game he'll be attending.
Michigan is in the final 5 for CT LB Khairi Fortt, along with Penn State, Georgia, USC, and North Carolina. The article implies without explicitly stating that those will be the schools he officially visits, as well.
MI DE CJ Olaniyan talked with Rivals AMP:
Nothing earth-shattering. He wants to make a commitment by the middle of his season, and the two visits he's thought about so far are Notre Dame and Penn State. As far as Michigan goes, he likes the academics, and has been on campus for three unofficial visits.
He Who Has Amazing Name
Though Michigan's QB recruiting is probably all wrapped up, LA QB Munchie Legaux still likes the Wolverines. M has made his final three along with Baylor, Oregon, and Tulane (they must not be able to count very well in Louisiana, I guess), and seems to be still giving him some pretty good attention. The rest of the article is pretty M focused, so I suggest checking it out. Munchie himself says he might not be fast enough to play receiver, so bringing him in for a position switch is probably not what Michigan is going for. I would presume he's being given the attention in case of another decommitocalypse, a la last year. In addition, he looks like Vince Young with dreads. (Legaux photo by Susan Poag of the Times-Picayune).
Michigan is still nominally in the running for CA RB/LB Anthony Barr, but when your finalists are 3 schools from your home state, your dad's alma mater, and Michigan, Michigan is probably the odd man out here. If he doesn't end up signing with the Irish, it will probably be with one of the Cali schools.
Michigan is still in the top group for FL RB Eduardo Clements, though Georgia is on top of the heap for now.
Michigan is not in the top 4 for MI DT Johnathon Hankins. I think that ship may have sailed when he was too... hefty... to earn an offer in camp. He'll likely be removed soon.
Bill Kurelic thinks Michigan will end up with Dior Mathis, and Seantrel Henderson and Sharrif Floyd will go to Minnesota(!) and Florida, respectively.
There was also an article on Tony Grimes from the Miami Herald but you now must register (for free) to view it. Hey, great way to get me to not link to your paper, guys. Same with an article linked up on MGoBoard: Torrian Wilson got hurt last week, but it doesn't appear to be too serious.
Removed MD RB Marcus Coker, who will be a Hawkeye.
Removed FL DE Corey Lemonier, who is no longer considering M.
PA S Brandon Ifill is Cullen Christian's less-discussed teammate, if only because near five-star Christian has been publicly claiming a large Michigan lead for months now and Ifill's been more reserved about his plans. He recently announced a top two of Michigan and Maryland, though, and plans on finding out more about Michigan this week. Tom VanHaaren caught up with Ifill a couple days ago.
TOM: Thanks for taking my call, how’s your recruitment been going so far?
BRANDON: Yes sir, no problem. It’s been going pretty good. I’ve visited 4 different schools right now, and taking one more up to Michigan on the 31st.
TOM: That was going to be my next question. Can you tell me a little about what you expect to see, and what you hope to hear as well?
BRANDON: I just hope to see a nice atmosphere, a great place to play football, a great program, and the great Michigan tradition.
TOM: What coaches have been recruiting you from Michigan?
BRANDON: Tony Gibson.
TOM: You’re teammates, and good friends with Cullen Christian. What has he told you about Michigan, and what to look for on your visit?
BRANDON: He’s told me everything; everything possible. He says everything is great; the academics, the program, the facilities, coaches, and players, everything.
TOM: Since you haven’t been out to Michigan yet, is it important for you to meet with all the coaches, and try to bond with them? Try to figure out how they coach.
BRANDON: Yea, I want to build a good relationship with them after this visit. I’ve talked to coach Gibson, but I haven’t met the whole staff yet. I want to get to know them, and see how they do things at Michigan.
TOM: Let’s say you go to Michigan, and it blows you away. Is there a chance you would commit on the spot, or are you going to be more strategic about it?
BRANDON: I’m going to come home and be strategic about it, that’s for sure. I really don’t want to rush through anything. I do want to take some official visits come fall, because we have plenty of time.
TOM: What official visits do you think you’ll take?
BRANDON: More than likely, maybe 3 or 4. I’ll probably go back up to Michigan for an official, and then Maryland, and maybe Rutgers.
TOM: I know you said that Michigan and Maryland are your top two right now. How did it come down to those two?
BRANDON: Michigan, I’ve known coach Gibson for awhile, even when he was at West Virginia. Maryland, I’ve been there the most, and I just really like everything about the school.
TOM: You said you want to take an official to Michigan. Do you think that would be with Cullen (Christian), or do you want to go on your own?
BRANDON: I’m not sure, it depends on if the coaches want us to do that. We tried to come up together before, but they wanted us to come up individually, so they could focus on us as one family rather than together.
TOM: That makes sense. Michigan is recruiting you more for the safety position. Is that the same with other schools? Maryland for example, are they also recruiting you for wide receiver?
BRANDON: Yea, Michigan is recruiting me for safety and corner. Maryland is also recruiting me for wide receiver.
TOM: Which do you prefer?
BRANDON: I really don’t prefer. I didn’t think it was going to be like this. I’ve been playing everything my whole career, so it’s nothing new to me.
TOM: After you take all your visits, and sit down with your family, do you think you and Cullen will make the decision and announcement together, or will it just be on your own?
BRANDON: We’ll talk about it, and see if we want to do it together. I’ll definitely talk to him before I make a decision, and he’ll do the same. When we first started all this, we banked on the fact that we would be a package deal, but now it’s kind of, if it happens it happens. We have seen the process, and what goes into it. We see different things, and want to enjoy that ourselves.
Update 7/14: Linked to articles on OH DT Terry Talbott, PA OL Robbie Havenstein, CA S Sean Parker, OH OL Skyler Schofner, OH S Latwan Anderson, FL RB Corvin Lamb, SC QB Cornelius Jones, MI P Mike Sadler, CA LB Tony Jefferson, PA DT Sharrif Floyd, MN OL Seantrel Henderson (and PA S Brandon Ifill), CT LB Khari Fortt.
Video of SC QB commit Cornelius Jones.
Added FL RB Brandon Gainer.
Removed FL DE Delvin Jones, OH OL Andrew Donnal (Iowa), OH OL Travis Jackson (MSU), TX LB Corey Nelson (A&M).
Some links from Bleed Scarlet.
Jones was a tremendous longshot from day one and Jackson camped at Michigan but failed to get an offer. BFDs—sarcastic BFDs—both.
OH OL Andrew Donnal, on the other hand, is a highly-regarded kid and should have been one of Michigan's priorities at tackle this fall; he's now off the board. And TX LB Corey Nelson had Michigan as his leader for about ten minutes in March, but Michigan quickly fell off the radar. Linebacker options are thinning.
Imminent, Impending, Etc.
I talk to Coach Rod Smith and Jackson the most. I really like that I’ve built a good relationship with all the coaches, not just my position coaches. It’s good to get to know all of them, and see that they all have the same goals. That’s kind of what has them [Michigan] as my favorite.
White's currently sporting blue on the recruiting board. The LSU visit did not come off and State's opinion of their chance became clear when they offered Nick Hill. Everyone expects he will put on a block M hat tomorrow.
The Spartan spin machine will get engaged now; I can't wait to hear what Valenti and the rest of the short bus crowd come up with to explain State losing a guy who's got two brothers on the MSU team and was the preferred choice of both instate schools.
Done, or no?
With TX RBs Stephen Hopkins and Tony Drake in the bag—though a lot of people are saying Drake will end up a slot receiver woo don't we need some more receivers—and the likely addition of White, Michigan is close to done at tailback. There are still a couple guys out there that Michigan would just about have to make room for, though.
One, FL RB Eduardo Clements, camped at Michigan, claims an even top three of Miami, Georgia, and Michigan, and has seen Georgia take two high-rated tailback commits in recent weeks. Even so, most observers think Michigan remains a longshot. An official visit is on tap if his recruitment goes that long.
The other is a new, surprising name: FL RB Brandon Gainer. He's got a top two that includes M:
… Gainer is a true running back prospect and ranked as the No. 12 player at the position nationally by Rivals.com. Michigan has made a big jump on his list in the last few months and now joins Florida State atop his list. He plans to take an official visit to Michigan this fall and decide soon after where he will attend school.
Gainer's name had hardly come up before that announcement, so I don't know much about him yet. He's a member of the Rivals 250.
White's commitment will likely end the recruitment of everyone else, including two more Florida tailbacks: Corvin Lamb now says LSU leads($) and Cassius McDowell always seemed like a plan B option.
Your Verging-On-Creepy Gardner Update
Have I gone a week without mentioning enormous, fleet-footed, charming, handsome MI QB Devin Gardner? No? Well, this won't be the week either. Gardner's made the Elite "11"* passing camp:
Devin Gardner (Committed to Michigan)
Gardner is raw and mechanically unorthodox, but he's extremely productive and talented. Plus he possesses a great work ethic-- he wants to be good. Gardner is big, athletic and the perfect fit for the spread with upside to develop and refine his passing skills.
The usual, right? At the very least Gardner's invite provides another venue via which to scout and compare Michigan's prize against the rest of the country's top recruits, including fellow instate quarterbacks Robert Bolden and Joe Boisture. If Gardner comes out of the camp on par with the rest of those guys that's a major win since the remainder of the invitees aren't 6'5" gazelles. (Except maybe for 'Bama commit Phillip Sims (Not That Phil Simms).)
That Other Guy
Michigan does have another quarterback committed: South Carolina's Cornelius Jones. Jones has been a mystery man thus far in his recruitment, ignored by the in-state schools and devoid of video or rankings on the recruiting sites. That void of information has begun to be filled. Unfortunately, I can't embed AthleteVault's highlight video, but it does exist and you can check it out. All you can tell is he's got the usual athleticism.
Meanwhile, his local paper has been giving Jones some attention of late. His Spartanburg team flew to the final of a local 7-on-7 tournament thanks in large part to his play:
“Cornelius made some phenomenal throws,” [Spartanburg HC Freddie] Brown said. “Defensively, Coach (Mark) Razzano made some good calls in tight situations, and the kids made some big plays with games on the line.”
Along the way Spartanburg downed big programs like Olive Branch (Miss.), Hoover (Ala.), and Independence (NC). In the final, Spartanburg fell to a loaded Byrnes team that features like three top-100 recruits, including Marcus Lattimore.
And a little earlier the same paper took a look at Jones' redemption story:
“I just was surrounded by a bunch of negative things. I was getting in trouble,” Jones said. “I never saw myself being around any of this (now).”
Jones was out of the public school system for 18 months as a result of his troubles.
At some point he woke up, decided he didn't like the direction things were going in, and hooked up with Spartanburg's new head coach—the previous coach had banned him from the team. From there, it was one highlight video and Michigan had an offer for him. He'll be a kid to root for once he arrives, and he will: despite his time in the wilderness Jones has a 3.7 GPA.
Michigan's in a good spot with PA S Brandon Ifill, who's yet to visit Michigan's campus but still says this about his leaders:
When asked if he has a favorite school, Ifill said, "It's probably between Michigan and Maryland. I've been to Maryland twice. I feel comfortable with the coaching staff. Michigan has been recruiting me the longest. Coach (Rich) Rodriguez has been recruiting me since he was at West Virginia."
Ifill's scheduled an unofficial at the end of the month, at which point we'll have a better grasp on how much mutual interest there is between the parties. Ifill is the teammate of PA CB Cullen Christian, who maintained a loud and proud Michigan lead for months now, and the pair could extend Rodriguez's streak of locking down teammates to a third year.
That article has some less salutary news, too…
MN OL Seantrel Henderson's dad says his son has a slate of officials he's planning. They don't include Michigan:
"I know his five official visits. He will definitely visit Ohio State, Oklahoma, USC and Florida. Florida State is one that could change. He might decide to visit somewhere else besides Florida State. He could visit both the Florida schools or he might just take one to Florida." …
When asked about the four definite official visits, Seantrel said, "That might change, but right now that's it. Florida State might be the fifth one."
Urgh. One way to look at the schedule: he's going to places he hasn't gone to before and can't afford to get to on his own time. Michigan, Notre Dame, and Minnesota did get mentions amongst the "six to eight" schools Henderson is still considering, and Henderson has already been to all three of those. As we're about to see with a kid in California, sometimes the lack of an official isn't all that telling about who leads.
That's more boosterism for the local school, though, and if that visit schedule isn't modified to include Michigan I doubt Henderson ends up at M.
*(taking a page from the Big 10, the Elite 11 actually invites 12 quarterbacks but chooses the name that sounds cooler.)
West Coast Folk
A couple of highly-touted Californians have announced plans to take officials to Michigans. CA S Sean Parker sort of has a top two:
"I'm going to Notre Dame (Sept. 4)," Parker said. "I'm also setting a visit to Michigan, but I haven't locked in the date yet. After that, I'm pretty open and really don't know who will get my last three visits but I do plan to take all five."
Aaaand CA LB Tony Jefferson sort of has a top seven:
"I have my first two visits lined up right now," Jefferson said. "I'm going to Florida (Sept. 18) and Oklahoma (Nov. 13). My last three visits will be to Notre Dame, Michigan and Penn State and I'll do unofficial visits to USC and UCLA.
Jefferson claims everyone wants him as a safety so I might have to move him in the near future; he claims early playing time is extremely important and that's why big early leader USC has dropped back to the field.
Parker, who's stated he would like to get out of the state several times, is a considerably more likely option. Either would be a strong addition to the class.
Punting With Birds In
MI P Mike Sadler has picked up a State offer and now bears an impressive list:
Last week, Michigan State offered punter Mike Sadler (Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern). With the offer, the Spartans joined the likes of Alabama, LSU, Purdue, Northwestern and the Air Force Academy, all schools which had already offered him a scholarship.
Meanwhile, Michigan appears to be chasing WI P Will Hagerup above all others. Sadler grew up a Michigan fan and had some quotes earlier in the year that suggested an offer would be highly likely to end up in a commit, but if Michigan keeps holding off there's always the chance he gets ticked off and heads elsewhere. Apparently Sadler had a rough outing in front of Michigan's coaches but with specialists, especially punters, I'd trust a half-dozen other teams' evaluations over one or two afternoons.
I hope Michigan tells Hagerup they'll give him a brief window in which to commit before they offer Sadler; I'd rather take the almost-as-meaty bird that would really like to leap into your hand than the Wisconsonian in the bush. Eh… you know what I mean.
OH DT Terry Talbott had been reported as a Michigan offeree earlier, but apparently that's not quite the case:
“I know Wisconsin has offered me, Purdue and Illinois, a couple more Big Ten schools, UCLA, Kentucky, Arkansas, and North Carolina State too. Michigan hasn’t really offered me yet. I’m just trying to see when I can get a chance to come up there. We’re having trouble with our cars, but I want to come up and visit.”
Talbott has a (slightly) younger brother who's a cornerback; naturally they'd like to go to the same school. As per usual, a visit will tell.
Etc.: CT LB Khari Fortt remains a considerable longshot but this article claims he's got a visit to Michigan planned and where there's a visit there's a (vague, probably not worth mentioning) chance. PA DT Sharrif Floyd has Michigan in his top six but Penn State sounds like the leader. OH S Latwan Anderson still favors WVU. OH OL Skyler Schofner hasn't heard from M "in a while"; may not be a priority.