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In-State Updates: Michigan Moving Up
While 2015 was a down year for prospects in the state of Michigan, 2016 boasts a solid crop of in-state recruits, and there's no question Jim Harbaugh has to work from behind for many of them; he's just getting to know players who've been recruited by the likes of Meyer and Dantonio for years, in some cases.
Visits over the last few days have spurred progress in that regard. In four-star Cass Tech OG/DT Michael Onwenu's case, so did a certain issue with a teammate, per Rivals' Josh Helmholdt ($):
"[My Ohio State interest] lowered a little after the (Mike Weber) incident," Onwenu said. "My position is they should have told him anyway. He had a bond with the coaches, and if I had a bond with a coach and was excited to play for that coach, that is something I should know."
Onwenu, who'd previously named the Buckeyes as his leader, now claims no favorites. He visited Michigan, which is one of a couple schools recruiting him for offense, last week.
Four-star Detroit King WR Donnie Corley also made it campus last week, and his father told Sam Webb that M is moving up his son's list ($):
Sam Webb: Before it seemed like Michigan was on the outside looking in. It seemed like Michigan was like fourth or fifth on his list. Do you think Michigan is more in the picture with him now?
Donnie Corley Sr.: “Yeah, most definitely. It was real impressive. We were real impressed with it.”
Three-star Farmington WR Desmond Fitzpatrick, who recently added a Michigan offer, was back on campus Tuesday for a practice and also plans to attend the Spring Game, according to Allen Trieu.
The father of four-star Plymouth OT Michael Jordan told Webb that the new staff is "very high" on his son, and he plans to camp at Michigan for a day this summer ($).
2017 Orchard Lake St. Mary's LB Josh Ross, younger brother of James Ross, told GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz that the new staff "definitely does" help Michigan's chances to land him ($). The coaches have re-affirmed Ross' offer from the previous staff.
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Michigan Leading For Costello?
In a video interview with Rivals' Mike Farrell, 2016 four-star QB KJ Costello said he's still looking to take a visit to Michigan soon, though he may have to make it a mid-week visit to fit into his schedule ($). Then Farrell pushed him to say which school among his top three—Michigan, Stanford, and USC—was "in his head the most" at the moment:
Honestly, a couple days ago I got off the phone with Harbaugh. I've got a ton of respect for him. What he's trying to do with the program, it's gonna be something special. I'd love to be a part of that. But then again, Stanford's been a favorite all along and SC is the home town, so we'll see.
It's not quite naming Michigan the flat-out favorite, but given his glowing quotes about the program earlier in the interview and his desire to see campus again, it's safe to feel good about M's chances.
Along with an elite quarterback like Costello, Michigan will look to add a top-flight running back to this class. Last week, Harbaugh made sure four-star NC RB Robert Washington knew he's a top priority, per GBW's Josh Newkirk ($):
“The conversation went well,” Washington said of his talks with Harbaugh. “He said he rates guys on a one to three scale. One being a guy that is starter – a game changer. Two being a guy that can develop into a starter. And three, a guy who is just a role player. He said I am a one. He said ‘you’re a game changer. You’re a big time player.’
“He’s going to recruit the heck out of me. He’s going to come to North Carolina before I commit. So he said he’s going to talk to me more and more every day.”
Washington added he is "very high" on Michigan; they should join North Carolina, Syracuse, and TCU in his top six when he unveils the full group within the next month. He's planning to commit on April 25th, so look for a visit to materialize sooner rather than later if Michigan is going to be a serious contender.
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The Best Players In Michigan...
...well, at the very least, they're getting offers from Michigan.
Tuesday's MSU game gave Michigan the opportunity to host several in-state prospects and dole out some offers. 2016 four-star Southfield RB Matt Falcon received one, though with Tennessee as his stated leader it'll be an uphill climb to gain his commitment, per MichiganPreps.com's Branden Hunter ($):
"It was pretty sweet seeing two quarterbacks on their way to the league. Something special," said Falcon. "I really enjoyed spending time with the coaching staff, and getting to know everyone and how they operate. I think Coach Harbaugh has his team headed in the right direction. He will do big things with the Wolverines. I could see myself playing there, but I don't know if that will happen. I still have to enjoy the process."
While there's plenty of time to catch up to Tennessee, the Vols are in strong position right now. Michigan should get more traction with a couple more offers from the evening. Three-star Farmington WR Desmond Fitzpatrick, a Louisville commit, grew up a Michigan fan, and his father told Allen Trieu that the offer meant a lot to him ($):
"As he got older," Fitzpatrick continued, "and watched the program struggle, it appeared those childhood feelings faded. When he received the offer last night, his reaction surprised me. He was a little emotional."
Fitzpatrick remains committed to Louisville, but it sounds like he's quite open to the possibility of playing closer to home. So is four-star Cass Tech DB Demetric Vance, who also added an offer Tuesday night, per GBW's Josh Newkirk ($):
“I was real excited,” Vance said of Michigan offer. “I really liked the coaching staff. They made really think I want to go there. It was just a good experience. For me to meet the new coaching staff, it seem liked I already knew them for so long. It feels good.”
Vance plans to decide after the summer. Michigan's main competition should be MSU, though Pitt and Tennessee are also involved. Vance's teammate, elite 2017 WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, could hardly talk when Harbaugh offered him, per The Wolverine's Brandon Brown ($):
"It happened at halftime of the basketball game," Peoples-Jones explained. "Coach [Jim] Harbaugh came and talked to me one on one and told me that I had a scholarship offer from the University of Michigan.
"I was honestly at a loss for words. I managed to say, 'Thank you coach, I really appreciate it.' It felt great to know that I could possibly be coached under a man with so much success."
Peoples-Jones is a national-level prospect and his recruitment could very well come down to a Michigan-OSU battle.
M also hosted a couple prospects already holding offers. 2016 Farmington Hills Harrison four-star DE Khalid Kareem is now seriously considering the Wolverines, his father told 247's Steve Wiltfong ($):
“It was amazing. It was a good atmosphere. It was my first time going up there with the new staff, and to be honest with you it was probably one of our best visits. We had the opportunity to get a lot of 1-on-1 time with Coach (Greg) Mattison and Coach (D.J.) Durkin. When we got there they kind of immediately gravitated towards us, ate with us, took us in the meeting room, watched film, saw how Khalid fit in their defense, different body types, things like that.
“It opened up his mind to the idea of playing for Michigan.”
Kareem previously committed to MSU for all of two days before his parents helped convince him it was too early to make a commitment. Let's hope this goes the way of Lawrence Marshall.
Rounding out the Cass Tech contingent was 2016 four-star OG/DT Michael Onwenu, who told 247's Steve Lorenz that the coaches were jokingly fighting over which side of the ball he'd play in Ann Arbor ($).
2016 Southfield LB Will Small self-reported an offer, but that's been refuted by multiple outlets.
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no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no
Have a seat over there, Rivals.
Four-star Detroit King WR Donnie Corley will be a senior in high school this fall, so it's somewhat reasonable to discuss him in this forum, unlike whatever's going on above. Corley, arguably the top 2016 in-state prospect, has Michigan outside his top five; the coaches will get the opportunity to work on that when he visits for tomorrow's MSU game, per 247's Steve Lorenz ($).
Corley won't be the only top in-state player in attendance. Four-star Cass Tech OG Michael Onwenu, who just added an Alabama offer, will also visit tomorrow, per Scout's Allen Trieu ($). While he didn't give a date, three-star Cass Tech S Demetric Vance also told Trieu he plans to visit Michigan this summer ($). Vance recently received offers from Tennessee and Michigan State; it wouldn't be a big surprise to see Michigan follow suit.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Happy Trails, 2015
Roquan Smith signed his financial aid agreement—but not an LOI!—with Georgia today, ending his recruitment after that whole ordeal with UCLA and their now-departed defensive coordinator, who reportedly still tried to recruit Smith in an unofficial capacity after doing this:
Last Wednesday, Smith committed to UCLA over UGA in front of ESPN cameras. But he decided against turning in his NLI after reports surfaced later that day that Bruins defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich had accepted a job with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.
Smith said Ulbrich had told him on the eve of signing day that he had “declined” the job offer from the Falcons, per UGASports. On Thursday, Ulbrich (now with the Falcons) declined comment to the AJC about Smith’s claim.
While Smith didn't end up at Michigan, it's great to see him spurn both UCLA and the LOI process. With Mike Weber sticking out his commitment to Ohio State, we can now close the books on the 2015 class.
Race For QB Spot?
Michigan offered two 2016 quarterback prospects this week, four-stars Brandon Peters and Dwayne Haskins. While Haskins looks like he'll be a difficult pull—a day after the offer, he named a handful of schools sticking out to him that didn't include Michigan($)—Peters looks like a serious candidate to commit. He told The Wolverine's Brandon Brown that the offer vaulted Michigan to the top of his list ($):
"I'm totally pumped," Peters said. "It would be an awesome experience to play under a coach like Jim Harbaugh. It's awesome. I definitely would put Michigan at the top now, to be honest with you."
Per 247's Steve Wiltfong, Peters quickly locked in an unofficial visit for April 4th, Michigan's Spring Game.
With Michigan likely only taking one quarterback this cycle, the Peters news has left many asking where that would leave KJ Costello, the top QB target on the board for Michigan. In what may not be coincidence, Costello is looking to get on campus very soon, per Steve Lorenz:
"I am looking to visit in the next two weeks or so," Costello said. "It'd be my dad and I. I have been talking to the coaching staff all the time."
It looks like, one way or the other, Michigan should have a lot more clarity about their quarterback situation for 2016 in the near future.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
We've got a vision quest
not so fast my friend
It's not exactly a vision quest because GA LB Roquan Smith has a very good reason for hanging around after signing day: UCLA DC Jeff Ulbrich is apparently taking a position coach job with Atlanta, and that news broke almost at the same time his commit did. Way to go, Jim Mora:
Speculation behind the scenes in the media is that at least one media outlet was aware Ulbrich was going to leave UCLA as long as three weeks ago, but sat on the story until after Signing Day.
“It was common knowledge,” said one reporter. “They just agreed not to report it until after signing day.”
In any case, Smith backed off his commit and is in the wind post-signing day:
Roquan Smith’s coach told the AJC on Wednesday evening that Smith has re-opened his recruitment, and will take a couple of days to figure things out. “He’s going to open things up with his recruiting,” Macon County’s Larry Harold said. “It’s pretty much UGA, Michigan, and Texas A&M – and UCLA is still in it. Coach Ulbrich told him that he hasn’t signed anything yet (with the Falcons), and that he hasn’t made a decision. So I think they are still in it as well. We’re going to sit back for a couple of days and see how this thing plays out.”
Smith's affection for Georgia seems to have been overstated—he did commit to UCLA after all—and 24/7 reports that Michigan feels they are in the thick of it. Keep an eye out. It's probably Georgia now, but stranger things have happened.
Like a running back flipping on the eve of Signing Day
The diaries were graced by a post from one of Karon Higdon's coaches:
I did not get a hint or a hunch on Tuesday or Wednesday morning. There were no clues. Karan went radio silent. Karan is a very mature young man and this was not uncommon for him to focus when it was called for. On Wednesday the crowds gathered and after nearly 200 people piled in to watch the announcement, Karan made his way wearing all black through the court yard. He had two hats in his hands. One Iowa. One Michigan. He looked me in my eyes as I shook his hand and embraced him. In his eyes I saw determination. I still didn't quite know but Iowa would've been my guess. He looked very focused and walked in and took his seat. We went through our announcements until he was the last one left. There was obvious anticipation and his mother was a nervous wreck. She really didnt know and neither did I.
Much longer, and recommended.
On to 2016
Aside from that potential top 50 linebacker and a grad transfer or two, the 2015 class is in the books. Eyes now turn to the 2016 class, which will be a critical one for Harbaugh to establish himself a silverback on the national level. Michigan has 14 seniors and one open slot, so our baseline is 15. Add a reasonable amount of attrition and graduate transfers and Michigan's looking at a class of about 20-24.
What that might look like by position:
QUARTERBACK: 1. Harbaugh takes a lot of quarterbacks and will obviously take at least one. With two in the most recent class, the O'Korn transfer, and no one scheduled to exit for two years, this is likely to be a rare one-QB Harbaugh class. That's even more likely if the #1 guy is CA QB KJ Costello, a national top 50 type who was highly interested in Michigan—like commit-last-summer-until-Hoke-dissuaded-him interested. If he hops on board Michigan might find it hard to grab another guy of sufficient quality to entice. Costello is giving serious consideration to Stanford and USC but even in articles from those sites he has some positive things to say about Michigan:
"Now they have Harbaugh and some big-time coaches surrounding him. I'm definitely interested. He's trying to start something new and build an unbelievable 2016 class and really get things rolling here. He was all fired up and I really dug him. He was cool."
If QB recruiting gets past Costello, OH decommit Messiah DeWeaver is a guy Michigan will keep after. There also seems to be initial mutual interest in national #1 (and Georgia commit) Jacob Eason and fellow five star Shea Patterson.
RUNNING BACK: 1 or 2. Higdon's commitment gives Michigan flexibility here. One is highly likely, as Michigan is going to lose three guys all at once in two years. Two is a possibility.
If the current staff is as interested in IL RB Kentrail Moran as the previous one was, Michigan might not have to wait long to get their first guy in the boat here. Moran flat-out told recruiting sites that he'd probably commit if Michigan hired Harbaugh, and lo, it came to pass. Moran just told an Illinois site that he was "wide open" with no leaders, though, so it seems like Michigan has not reached out to him yet. With 2015 in the books we should know within a couple weeks how serious the current staff's interest is in him.
If Moran falls through or they do take a second there are a couple of instate options: Southfield RB Matt Falcon had a nasty knee injury last year but is still a four-star type, as is Detroit King's Martell Petteway. (Falcon's reported interest in OSU is likely moot after OSU took two 2016 RBs.) GA RB Elijah Holyfield (yes, that Holyfield) almost committed($) to Brady Hoke and was reportedly hyped on the Harbaugh hire.
FULLBACK: 1. You know it's happening. No names yet.
WIDE RECEIVER: 2 or 3. Michigan has as lot of solid options but no blue-chips except Drake Harris and his no good very bad hamstrings. They'd like to change that, and there are a couple of big time options available. CA WR Dylan Crawford is close friends with Costello and visited at the same time he did last year. Fellow CA WR Theo Howard is planning a visit this month($) and gave M the ol' "dream offer" treatment. He seemed to mean it:
"They are my dream school. I know some say dream school and then name four or five schools, but I can say that Michigan is the school I've dreamed of playing for."
There is chatter that Costello, Crawford, Howard, and CA DB David Long would all make a trip to Ann Arbor together($) in the near future. If that does come off that would be major commit watch time.
Michigan also fired off an offer($) to three-star CA slot Demetric Felton. That's his second offer (Utah was first); he's also interested in Duke, so academics are a priority.
There are also options closer to home. Michigan's starting from behind with Detroit King WR Donnie Corley, but you know Harbaugh will be coming at him hard now. Chandler Park WR Jalen Martin is a (currently) three-star option; IN WR Austin Mack is being pursued by all the regional powers and Harbaugh will stick Michigan's name in as well. MSU commit and NJ WR Cameron Chambers will probably get a poke as well in case he's more interested in Harbaugh; he camped last year.
TIGHT END: 1 or 2. HARBAUGH LIKE TIGHT END SMASH. &c.
The prime target here is OH TE Luke Farrell, who figures to be a Michigan-OSU battle if OSU is going to continue recruiting Farrell after getting a commit from Jake Hausmann. CA TE Devin Asiasi would fill Michigan's sudden need for a guy named Devin who loves bucket hats and declared he would officially visit($) as soon as he got an offer. M also offered Philly TE Naseir Upshur, but he's tough to get a read on at the moment.
OFFENSIVE LINE: 3 or 4. Michigan already has IL OL Erik Swenson in the boat. He's strictly a tackle. Traverse City OL Thiyo Lukasa was on the verge of committing to Michigan early, then dropped M entirely during The Troubles and now sounds interested again. If Harbaugh goes after him hard I would bet he gets him.
Fellow in-state OL Michael Jordan is impossible to Google but has seven picks for M in on the 247 Crystal Ball, all of which date back to the Hoke era. Like Corley, they're currently behind but that could change in a hurry here.
Regionally, WI OL Ben Bredeson is a major national prospect who expressed a lot of interest in Michigan early. Can Harbaugh overcome the natural gravity of the Badgers? Virginia's Clark Yarborough visited Michigan twice last summer and spurred a rash of M predictions before things went south
DEFENSIVE END: 2. Still more depth required here. One of Harbaugh's first offers was to AZ DE Connor Murphy, the brother of former Stanford DE and current NFLer Trent. He was very excited about the opportunity.
In-state DE Khalid Kareem momentarily committed to MSU but put himself bac on the marker two days later; Michigan is after IL DE Josh King, though the current trend is OSU on him. Staggeringly huge Cinci DE Prince Sammons (6'8", 280) was interested last summer.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE: 2 or 3. A major need after zero in the 2015 class, tackle will be addressed in depth. The #1 target is also the #1 player in the country: NJ DT Rashan Gary of Paramus Catholic. Michigan has a couple of Paramus kids on the roster and hired his old high school coach in a recruiting capacity. Meanwhile his new high school coach played for Harbaugh in the NFL. That doesn't guarantee a commit but it should mean Michigan has an inside track.
There aren't a whole lot of other names out there other than Cass Tech OG/DT Michael Onwenu. As with many local guys, Michigan is behind right now with the transition and rush to finish the 2015 class but has the potential to move up quickly.
LINEBACKER: 3. Michigan has MD LB Dele Harding committed. Other than that, names have yet to pop up. Other than the best name: IL LB TUF BORLAND. Wisconsin will be tough (tuf?) competition, though they just changed coaches as well.
DEFENSIVE BACK: 3. This is also a spot where realistic names are currently thin. Michigan will go after PSU commit LaVert Hill, the brother of Delano, until such time as they're told not to.
Michigan is in the top eight for NJ ATH Ahmir Mitchell despite little contact thus far from Harbaugh. VA CB Patrice Rene first made a name for himself as a Canadian kid who showed to Michigan's camp; he is a high academic kid who should be interested in what Michigan has to offer when the staff gets around to evaluating him.
SPECIALISTS: 1? K Andrew David arrives and it looks like Michigan is trying to bring in an Aussie to compete with Kenny Allen at punter. Even if they do, the Aussie will be gone and Allen a senior by the time this class hits campus. Michigan could be on the hunt for a punter, especially if they're going heavy into a rugby style Allen may be unfamiliar with.
That's 19-23 guys in what should be a top ten class.