Return Of The Three-Star Mafia
So, about the reaction to Carter Dunaway's commitment. I realize Michigan is trying to pull its way out of a nearly decade-long stretch in which "trust the coaches" went from sage advice to, well, a reason to run away screaming in terror. I realize expectations for Jim Harbaugh are ample. I realize adding a sophomore tight end with one catch and no film may not align with some of those expectations.
All of that said, the zeal with which some commenters here questioned the choice to offer and accept the commitment of Dunaway caught me off guard.* There's obvious potential—he's got the frame to come to campus in the 6'6", 260-pound range. He's got two full years of high school left, and he won't be playing behind a pair of seniors—one a D-I recruit himself—any longer. The legacy angle shouldn't be the first reason to offer him, but it also shouldn't be discounted; as an early 2017 commit, Dunaway can now start recruiting other prospects with a perspective few other recruits have on the program. There's also the whole human decency thing, but this is the internet, which requires a detailed argument in favor of acting human before that'll be taken under consideration.
I'll go ahead and post the thoughts of one specific commenter who jumped into the discussion last night: Craig Dunaway, Carter's father and a former tight end under Bo Schembechler, who handled it all with more grace than anyone could reasonably expect.
As the least objective person on the board...
It's been quite an experience reading these comments.
I thank those who've shared kind and welcoming words (YoOoBoLloBaugh, True Blue Grit, The Mad Hatter, et al.). And I appreciate those who acknowledge he still has two more years of high school to show more tangible merits (True Blue Grit, bronxblue).
I also like the comments from HateSparty. (Or maybe I just like typing HateSparty. HateSparty.)
I understand those who doubt and question an offer to unproven talent (Danwillhor, The J Davis 1, pescadero). I realize you only have the best interests of the program in mind.
To those who attribute Carter's offer to his legacy status (HarBooYa, Big Mike), I hope you realize that's just not the case. If that's all it took, brother Jack wouldn't be dipping into his 529 plan, as WolvinLA2 also points out.
And to those concerned about the dearth of offers, please understand if Carter didn't love Michigan so much, he would've looked around and collected who knows how many others. Instead, he's avoiding the strain of the recruiting process, staying close to home and going to school with his brother.The truth is there aren't a whole lot of 6'6-1/2" 233# 16-year-old kids who can run and catch out there. And that happens to be exactly the type of kid Jim and Jay Harbaugh want playing TE.Sure, Carter's lucky he's so big. He knows that. One of the first things he said after getting the offer is that it didn't seem fair he would be offered and his brother wouldn't, even after all Jack has accomplished.He's lucky to have camped at Michigan, and had so much exposure to the program while his brother was being recruited. But he also knows that means he's got to work harder now than ever before. He's got a target on his back that opponents and even Michigan fans will see every time he takes the field. It will only make him better.If you haven't met Carter or seen him play, I hope you get that chance soon. If not in the next 2 years, then in 2017 or 18, or whenever he gets to enjoy the privilege of playing for the greatest team in college football.Go Blue Forever
I'm not here to say the coaches are infallible, or that Carter Dunaway is a sure-fire All-American, or that there isn't a proper way to express dissenting opinions around here. There is, however, a time and a place, not to mention a certain amount of tact involved, and many of yesterday's comments—some of which have been cleared out by now—were disappointing in that light.
Anyway, Dunaway is in the class, and I expect this commitment will be questioned a whole lot less once he's showcased his ability on film. (People got really angry about this commitment without ever actually seeing the kid play. Which... yeah.) Brother Rice head coach David Sofran told The Wolverine's Brandon Brown that in addition to being a "coach's dream," Dunaway has plenty of potential and will be a critical part of their offense this fall ($):
"He's the type of talent that you can center your offense around. He's very athletic. He has really soft hands and catches the ball well. He can really accelerate after he catches it. I think that will separate him from a lot of tight ends. Once he catches it he can really run. Paul Jokisch (former Michigan wide receiver and Brother Rice standout) was like that. He was a huge guy (6-8, 239 pounds) that could catch and run and I think Carter will be in that conversation." ...
"I think he's probably still growing," he said. "I think once he stops growing taller he'll really start to fill out in his upper body and I think he'll keep his athleticism and be fast at about 255-260 in college down the line. He's still got some growing to do and I think he will get bigger and be even more of a problem."
Welcome to the program, Carter, and thanks for your understanding, Craig.
*Yes, I realize I should know better by now.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Ace is on vacation this week.
The Williams conundrum
I've mentioned this in a UV or two, but it warrants mention here due to Developments: Michigan is suddenly hot in the recruitment of VCU decommit Kenny Williams, a 2015 combo guard who is back on the market after Shaka Smart took the Texas job. Williams picked up a slew of Michigan Crystal Ball picks from insiders unconnected to M—usually a good sign if they're pros, as a few are—and then Beilein started tracking him in earnest.
Beilein is serious:
The Chesterfield, Virginia native confirmed to UMHoops.com that John Beilein plans to meet with the shooting guard now that he has been granted his release from the Rams.
“The plan is for him to come down this weekend,” Williams said in a text message to UM Hoops.
Other contenders include Georgetown, UNC, and Virginia. The kid is evidently very interested in Michigan, and Sam Webb reports that Beilein really likes him… and that Williams is not a contingency plan($). That stroke gets his attention.
Where does the scholarship come from? With wings and shooting guards cramming into the NBA draft and Caris LeVert slipping towards the tail end of the first round, it does not look like it'll be the NBA's doing. LeVert:
“I still have a ways before I can start running and jumping,” LeVert said. “Going out there tomorrow would probably be a stretch. … But I don’t have to do that. The combine isn’t tomorrow. I still have a couple more weeks to go. Hopefully in a couple weeks I’ll feel a little bit better.”
Additionally, LeVert admitted Wednesday night that if the second evaluation reveals he would likely be a second-round pick, he would most likely come back to school.
“I don’t think it really makes sense to go early and be drafted in the second round,” he said.
That is a nice change from Harris/Morris/Robinson, and if plugged in people feel that Caris is not a first-rounder after his injury and the pile of early entries the needle points to him staying on scholarship. So it seems likely at this point that if Williams does commit, Hatch will transition to a medical scholarship.
What about Jaylen Brown? If Williams wants to commit it looks like Michigan will check back with Brown just in case he wants to drop, and in the highly likely scenario he doesn't they'll take the bird in the hand.
Where does playing time come from? I can't answer that one. Even without Williams next year's roster is jam-packed.
On campus right now
Offered MI K/P Quinn Nordin is in Ann Arbor as you read this. Nordin may be the top kicker in the country. Though you hear that about every kicker Michigan recruits, Nordin has 20 offers—an absolute ton for a specialists. Nordin's announced that he plans on attending MSU's spring game on the 25th so a commit is probably not in the offing, but Brandon Peters was supposed to hold off on his Michigan commitment and that didn't happen.
Michigan could have an edge since Nordin is affiliated with Kornblue kicking, and Brandon Kornblue is a Michigan alum. Since Michigan's offer, a pile of predictions have come in for M, including Ace's.
True story: when we were in college doing dumb college things one of them was voting with forks. One of the house rules was "one man, one fork" and people would express approval by exclaiming "forks up!"
This is again relevant to my life because occasionally I read articles about Arizona State recruiting pitches. This one was made to VA WR JJ Givens:
"I know for sure I'm going to Arizona State and Michigan this summer. The whole forks up mantra at Arizona State excites me, It's a program I grew up watching. With Michigan, I just love everything about them. They just got Harbaugh as their coach, they have NFL experience now. I look up to Jabrill Peppers and I work out with Derrick Green here a lot in Virginia."
Oh and Givens seems to really like the idea of Michigan. Michigan has offered, though these days they're emphatically on board the "offer everyone and let God sort 'em out" train, so it's hard to tell how high he is on their board.
I was there and it was nice
Eifler showing off his bowling score, the highest ever recorded
Scout has react from five-star CA LB Camilo Eifler, who has just returned from a tour of a number of East Coast schools($). Most interestingly for Michigan's 2015 team, Eifler describes Michigan's SAM spot as a return to the 4-3 under:
“I would most likely the WILL or MIKE position, just because their SAM is more like a two point end that rushes the passer mostly.”
So keep that in mind.
As far as Eifler's trip, it went well, getting the "blown away" headline designation. Eifler's chosen visits imply Michigan's academics are a real factor: other than M he took in Duke, Vandy, Northwestern, and Louisville. Those first three are the kind of visits you only take as a five-star if you are serious about the education thing. Eifler($):
“Most of the schools that I visited were academic schools. That’s just what I want,” said Eifler. “I want to a school to have football and academics. Michigan showed me the academic side, but also with the power football behind it that some of the other schools just didn’t have. It was good to see what it is like to be part of that.”
USC has not offered and he seems a bit miffed about that; Oregon doesn't seem like a huge factor right now… he seems very much in play. Washington has the only two predictions for him on the Crystal Ball.
Crawford still talking M
CA WR Dylan Crawford now seems like a longer shot since the "KJ Costello brings half of California with him" plan was derailed by accursed Stanford, but Michigan remains a school of major interest:
"I want to get to Oregon for sure," Crawford said. "I'm still waiting on that offer. I would also like to visit Michigan again, either unofficially or officially. Right now, I'm wide open and don't even have a top 10 yet but the plan is to narrow things down in the summer and then commit at the end of the summer."
Crawford was being interviewed about his recent trip to… yes, Stanford. And don't expect his commitment-type substance to be final:
Matt Falcon's coach on Michigan's newest commitment($):
"First of all, he's as fast as anyone around," Conley said sternly. "On the track he's setting records in the indoor 200m races and when you see him out there and he's 50 or 60 pounds heavier than the these other kids that he's running against and he's beating or tying them it's just really impressive. He is definitely a great talent. …
"What I like about Matt is that he can do a lot of things," Conley said. "Whenever we'd have a hard time blocking for him we were able to throw the ball to him because he catches it so well. He's incredible at catching the ball out of the backfield. His skill set at catching the ball is one of the best I've ever seen. We plan on using him a lot and want to put a lot of pressure on defenses. He can be really dangerous at Michigan depending on how they develop up front."
That skill will be an asset at Michigan, as Harbaugh loves those five-wide sets with base personnel. That kind of flexibility will be attractive when it comes to playing time. (And is going to be really interesting when it comes to Ty Isaac this year.)
The distant future, the year 2000
I have a policy of studiously ignoring all sophomore-and-younger offers unless given a specific reason to pay attention. This from Cass Tech 2017 safety Jaylen Kelly-Powell counts:
"I grew up in a Michigan household," Kelly-Powell began. "My Dad is a diehard Michigan fan. He named me after his favorite Michigan basketball player, Jalen Rose. I love Michigan also."
He'll be a guy to keep an eye on. Current 180th in 247's insanely early rankings for that year.
Etc.: It's too bad IN ATH Toks Akinribade is probably a tailback according to his coach($), because TOKS AKINRIBADE. Michigan is likely full at RB.
Quick note: I'm taking the rest of this week off. Since many have asked, my health is in a good place right now, and a week of relaxation should only help in that regard. Thanks to all who've asked about me, and I'll be back next week.
Michigan In Top Groups For Kelly, Okwara
A couple highly ranked targets on defense announced top groups that included Michigan this week. Five-star CA OLB Caleb Kelly included the Wolverines in a powerhouse-packed unordered top ten: Cal, Notre Dame, Alabama, USC, UCLA, Oklahoma, Florida State, Oregon, Michigan, and LSU. Kelly took an unofficial to Ann Arbor last month that went well, putting Michigan in position to potentially secure an official visit; Oklahoma currently holds the lead on his Crystal Ball.
Four-star NC WDE Julian Okwara named Michigan to his final five alongside Clemson, Georgia, Notre Dame, and Ole Miss. Okwara will make his decision on April 30th, and all signs point to Notre Dame, where his older brother Romeo is a senior defensive lineman.
Meanwhile, after four-star MD OG Terrance Davis said some very encouraging things about Michigan immediately following his spring game weekend visit, he flat-out told Rivals' Adam Friedman at a Rivals camp in Richmond that the Wolverines lead in his recruitment ($):
Rivals250 offensive lineman Terrance Davis recently visited Michigan and he is also going to visit Ohio State in the near future. As of now the Wolverines are Davis' favorite, but Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Maryland, Penn State, UCLA, Tennessee and Arkansas are all also in the mix. Davis wants to take official visits to Michigan, UCLA, Georgia and Maryland.
Getting Davis back on campus for an official visit would be a great sign.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Three's A Crowd?
Newest commit Matt Falcon has a ton of upside. [Nasternak]
Michigan's 2016 class went from two to six commits in less than a week, capped by four-star Southfield RB Matt Falcon's pledge last night. Tyrone Wheatley is proving to be a very impactful recruiter, as expected; he was the primary recruiter for Falcon, Kingston Davis, and David Reese. Falcon, who played youth football with the Washtenaw Wolverines, told Scout's Allen Trieu he's "been a Wolverine my whole life," and discussed Wheatley's role in his decision ($):
You mentioned Coach Wheatley, he's going to be your position coach. What made you feel like he was the right one to guide you for the next few years?
We could talk everything besides football. We would talk on the phone for a long time. He's known about me since 8th grade and he's been there for me. He's been loyal, and I trust him and wanted to come play for him.
You have some guys that you know, in-state guys, guys from your conference that are considering Michigan. Are you going to be a recruiter now?
Yeah, I'm trying to get everybody down to Michigan. Michigan is where it's at, so I'll talk to all of them and see where their minds are at.
With the recent wave of commits, Michigan moved up 25 spots to #20 overall on the 247 Composite team rankings. The Wolverines should be set at running back with Davis and Falcon, and Sam Webb mentioned on The Victors Board($) that's the case—unless four-star NC RB Robert Washington wants to join the class. Washington is set to announce his decision on April 25th, and prior to Falcon's commitment he told GBW's Josh Newkirk that Michigan was very much in the mix ($):
"They really want me, I'm their guy," Washington said. "Coach Wheatley is saying he would 'love' to coach me. He's been wanting to coach for me a long time. And Coach Harbaugh said I'm a 'special' player for him. So that was their message to me.
"My next step after I talked with Coach Harbaugh was he told me to put [Michigan] in my top-six. Michigan is a big school for me. I have always favored Michigan. So it's a big school for me, it's a no brainer to put Michigan in my top six."
The rest of Washington's top six is Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, Syracuse, and TCU. We'll see if Falcon's decision impacts Washington's thoughts on Michigan; if it doesn't, the backfield could get quite crowded.
In other commitment-related news, four-star IN QB Brandon Peters will enroll early at Michigan, per 247's Steve Wiltfong.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
The Tipping Point?
Is Desmond Fitzpatrick the next to drop? [Fuller]
Michigan added a trio of football commits and even a basketball commit over the last few days. If you missed them, here are links to their respective Hello posts:
- Four-star 2016 IN QB Brandon Peters
- Three-star 2016 MI FB/ILB David Reese
- Three-star 2016 AL RB Kingston Davis
- 2015 German F Moritz Wagner (hoops)
Jim Harbaugh got himself a backfield in one weekend, and it's a very Harbaugh backfield: Peters is a 6'4" quarterback with decent athleticism, Davis is a load of a running back at 6'1", 230 pounds, and Reese would bring a linebacker's build and mentality to the fullback position.
Where Reese ends up is still in question; he told GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz he'll start out on defense despite reports that indicated Michigan was recruiting him at fullback, and he'll get a head start on figuring out which position he'll play ($):
“Coach Harbaugh said I could play any position and wherever my heart is at I can play. I’ll be playing linebacker. If I don’t start at linebacker I’d be open to fullback.”
“I can see myself playing anywhere on the defense,” added Reese. “Inside, outside linebacker. Just to be around that energy and I’ll be an early graduate as well.”
Peters, meanwhile, told Sam Webb he knew "a couple weeks ago" that he wanted to go to Michigan, and he's not shying away from the crowded depth chart at quarterback ($):
“I know there are a bunch of quarterbacks there right now, but that doesn’t stop me. You’re just going to have to go there and you’re going to have to compete and earn a spot. That’s fine with me. I love to compete. Also at the same time, it is a special opportunity to play for Coach Harbaugh. I think things are going to really start going in the right direction and I really want to be a part of it. I loved it there. The atmosphere was awesome. The fans are awesome as well.”
Peters added that he's "definitely" going to recruit other prospects, starting with in-state receivers Donnie Corley and Desmond Fitzpatrick.
Speaking of Fitzpatrick, many expected he'd join the weekend commitment party after his friend and teammate, Reese, joined the class. Those expectations grew to near-certainty when Fitzpatrick teased a major 8:00 pm announcement on Twitter yesterday.
The announcement? His dad is in a sitcom that debuts this month.
That is top-notch trolling, young Mr. Fitzpatrick. He told 247's Steve Wiltfong that he feels "really comfortable" at Michigan, but wants to be 100% sure before making a switch, so there's still a very good chance the post I may have written yesterday ends up seeing the light of day.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Spring Game Visitors: Commit Watch?
Michael Onwenu and Donnie Corley are among this weekend's top visitors. [Fuller]
Let's skip the preamble. You want this weekend's visitors list. Thanks to a primer from Allen Trieu in the Detroit News and a quick overview from 247's Steve Lorenz, here are the top targets who'll be on campus this weekend.
Since they've been discussed so much of late, let's start with the in-state prospects:
- Four-star Detroit King WR Donnie Corley. Michigan seems to have made up a ton of ground on Corley since Harbaugh took over, to the point that they may be out in front along with Tennessee. Michigan State, Notre Dame, and Ohio State are also heavily involved.
- Four-star Southfield RB Matt Falcon. The top back in the state, Falcon has Tennessee as his leader, and while Michigan is gaining they'll have to make a big impression this weekend—Falcon is slated to visit UT at the end of the month and could decide shortly thereafter, per Sam Webb ($).
- Three-star Farmington WR Desmond Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick has stuck with his Louisville commitment so far, even after getting a Michigan offer, but that could change soon, especially if teammate David Reese decides to flip his commitment after a recent offer.
- Four-star Plymouth OT Michael Jordan. The usual Midwest suspects—Michigan, MSU, ND, and OSU—comprise Jordan's top four. He's been a steady presence on campus lately, but there haven't been rumblings of an imminent decision.
- Four-star Farmington Hills Harrison DE Khalid Kareem. After a brief commitment to Michigan State, Kareem has also been in Ann Arbor several times for unofficial visits. Notre Dame is also a factor.
- Four-star Cass Tech OG/DT Michael Onwenu. Onwenu previously favored Ohio State, but backed off that stance after the Mike Weber kerfuffle. Michigan looks to be in very good position to land him.
- Three-star Farmington LB/FB David Reese. Like Fitzpatrick, Reese is a Louisville commit pondering a flip after getting a Michigan offer. He could make the change as early as this weekend, and that could set off a string of in-state commitments—at the very least, Fitzpatrick would be likely to join him.
- 2017 four-star Orchard Lake St. Mary's LB Josh Ross. James Ross's younger brother has made quite a few visits to Ann Arbor.
- 2017 four-star St. Joseph WDE Corey Malone-Hatcher. An offer from Alabama last week shows that Malone-Hatcher won't be an easy pull.
- 2017 four-star Cass Tech WR Donovan Peoples-Jones. A potential five-star, Peoples-Jones has been on campus a lot lately but also is getting major attention from Ohio State.
If there's a commitment this weekend, Reese seems to be the most likely candidate. Now, for the out-of-state visitors:
- Three-star TX OT Austin Anderson and three-star TX OT Riley Anderson. The twin linemen both received offers from Michigan in early March.
- Three-star TX S Chris Brown. A teammate of four-star LB Dontavious Jackson, who'll also be on campus, Brown's best offers so far are from Michigan and Louisville, though local schools could jump into the fray.
- Three-star AL RB Kingston Davis. The big back hails from Prattville, the same Alabama high school that produced 2015 signee Keith Washington; Michigan will hold one of their satellite camps there this summer.
- Four-star MD OG Terrance Davis. Davis is a big-time national recruit, but he appears to have legitimate interest in Michigan.
- Four-star TX ILB Dontavious Jackson. Michigan won't have an easy time prying Jackson away from Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and Texas, but offering Brown helps; for now, the Wolverines are very much in it.
- Four-star IN QB Brandon Peters. Outside of the in-state prospects, Peters is the recruit who's had the most commitment speculation. While Michigan looks like the favorite, however, it's reasonable to expect him to take planned visits to Nebraska and Vanderbilt the following two weekends before he comes to a decision.
- 2017 five-star IL SDE AJ Epenesa. An Iowa legacy, Epenesa was offered last month; he's projected as one of the very best 2017 prospects in the country.
- 2017 four-star GA S Isaiah Pryor. In a promising sign, Pryor will be on campus for the second time in two weeks, this time with his family in tow, per 247's Steve Wiltfong ($).
- 2017 OH RB Todd Sibley. Considered an Ohio State lean, Michigan leapt into contention when they offered Sibley a couple weeks ago, though overcoming the childhood favorite Buckeyes will be a difficult task.
That's not quite an exhaustive list—for one, expect a bunch of in-state underclassmen to check in—but it hits the highlights. This is a very impressive visitor list for a spring game.
Meanwhile, Michigan is hosting a visitor today: three-star Lakewood (OH) St. Edward CB Tony Butler, a Pitt commit, is on campus and Lorenz reports he's likely to earn an offer ($). Butler's former head coach at St. Eds, Rick Finotti, is now at Michigan after being hired by Harbaugh as director of football operations. That connection could help, and I'm always open to Narduzzi-approved defensive recruits.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]