a terrible blight on our fine country
McDowell Lines Up Officials
Malik McDowell (#67) relaxes before playing Farmington (Bryan Fuller)
Southfield top-50 DL Malik McDowell has been quiet throughout the recruiting process to the point that I'm not entirely sure this is breaking news; regardless, Josh Helmholdt posted McDowell's official visit plans in his Around The Midwest column, and this is the time I've seen five schools lined up for visits ($):
While the Wolverines and fellow in-state Big Ten program Michigan State are strong contenders for McDowell's signature, the nation's No. 40-ranked prospect will take all of his official visits out of state. All will take place after his senior season. The five schools he has tabbed for those official visits are Alabama, Florida, Florida State, LSU and Ohio State.
Michigan and MSU won't get officials because McDowell has seen each school multiple times and can easily make his way to games if he wishes. The Wolverines are in the driver's seat of McDowell's recruitment and I don't think the official visit schedule changes that; while that's a who's-who list of top programs, depending on how far Southfield goes in the playoffs, McDowell's season could extend into November, limiting his options for visiting on actual game days—the visits that tend to have the biggest effect on a recruitment. McDowell is so familiar with the Michigan program at this point that it's hard to see him winding up elsewhere.
Cole: "They're All Even"
2015 Saginaw Heritage ATH Brian Cole's recruitment has already taken a couple twists and turns—first Michigan looked to be in command, then MSU, and now the Wolverines again as Saginaw natives haven't appreciated MSU's (lack of) usage of De'Anthony Arnett—and for now, Cole says there isn't a leader at all, per Sam Webb ($):
“(I like) Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Tennessee, Alabama, Wisconsin, Indiana, and a couple more schools,” Cole said. “They’re all even. They’re all about the same. They all treat me nice. I’m not committing anywhere yet.”
I'd expect this still comes down to an in-state battle—one that'll be hotly contested—though some schools on there (OSU, Alabama) cause more concern than others (Indiana? Word?). Michigan is recruiting Cole as a receiver, though he could also play defensive back at the next level.
[Hit THE JUMP for evaluations of Da'Shawn Hand, Lawrence Marshall, Jared Wangler, Erik Swenson, and Kyle Kearns, plus updates on a couple underclassmen.]
Shaun Crawford, Mini-Jabrill
A much-anticipated matchup between Cleveland.com's top-ranked Cleveland St. Edward squad and #9 Cincinnati Elder didn't live up to the hype, as St. Eds ran away with a 48-7 victory. Much of the credit for the blowout goes to 2015 commit Shaun Crawford, whose stat line looks like one posted by a certain other defensive back headed for Ann Arbor:
@TomVH Shaun Crawford: 9 carries, 124 yds, 2 TDs 3 receptions, 28 yds, 1 punt return 63 yds, TD, 1 kick return 25 yds. 240 all-purpose yds
— Brad Bournival (@bbournival) September 22, 2013
Yes, it appears Michigan may have the best player on the best team in Ohio, and he's only a junior. This is nice.
Jabrill Peppers, Still Jabrill
2014 commit Jabrill Peppers, meanwhile, did a little bit of everything to lead Paramus Catholic to a 35-21 victory over DePaul. Peppers rushed seven times for 41 yards, caught four passes for 49 yards and a TD, returned a kickoff for 47 yards, tallied four solo tackles, recorded three pass defenses, and returned an interception 32 yards for another TD.
[Hit THE JUMP for more outstanding performances by Michigan commits, plus an interesting development in JuJu Smith's recruitment.]
Hand Changes Plans
Da'Shawn Hand has altered his visit plans after his scheduled visit to Florida conflicted with taking the SAT; as a result, he'll now visit Alabama on October 26th, when they play Tennessee, and Florida on November 9th, when they host Vanderbilt. Rivals analyst Mike Farrell thinks this is another good sign for Michigan, and a particularly bad one for Alabama, which won't get to host Hand for their marquee game against LSU ($):
Now Alabama has lost the advantage of selling Hand on the Tide during what would certainly be a huge home game with "College GameDay" in attendance. The Gators now get the last chance to impress Hand. The question is this: Can Florida dazzle him enough in one weekend on a first impression just days before his announcement and overcome all the work Michigan has done with two great visits since the spring?
Considering how deliberately and thoughtfully Hand has handled the process, it'd surprise me if he picked Florida after one visit occurring just five days before he makes his announcement, especially since he had a spectacular official visit experience at Michigan.
Ken Burns Effect In Full, Er, Effect
A lengthy video on Jabrill Peppers featuring interviews with Peppers, Juwann Bushell-Beatty, their coach at Paramus Catholic, and lots of close-up shots panning across faces in slow motion (also, Jabrill Peppers highlights, which never stop being fun):
Per MLive's Josh Slagter, Peppers rushed for 116 yards and an 80-yard touchdown, hauled in a TD reception, and recorded five tackles and an interception last week, then discussed how he deals with calls from other schools:
"I've made it abundantly clear I'm a Michigan Man," Peppers told MSGVarsity.com recently. "I've been recruiting some of the top talent throughout the country for Michigan. I'm just trying to explain to people what I felt, and why I committed."
You can stop calling him now, everybody else.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting on the East Lake duo, the latest on Brian Cole, and much more.]
Free Hugs: Not An NCAA Violation
The Washington Post series "First and 17"—following VA WDE Da'Shawn Hand as he goes through his senior year—continues with a look at his first day of school, Woodbridge's second game, and his official visit to Michigan. Watch to see Hand hug seemingly every student and faculty member at Woodbridge, drop a hint about potentially knowing his college destination at lunch*, lay into his teammates (physically and verbally) during practice, help his team to victory, and then discuss his Notre Dame visit. The positive vibes for Michigan continue unabated, and Hand also comes off as a genuinely pleasant and likable guy—as long as you're not facing off against him in a game or loafing on a practice rep, that is.
*If you can't/won't watch the video:
Girl in cafeteria: Do you have any idea?
Girl: For real?
Girl: So you know and you're just not saying it.
Hand: (slight pause) I have an idea about where I'm going.
Yeah, you have permission to feel good about that. Meanwhile, random Woodbridge girl just locked down a job at the recruiting service of her choice, as that's the most telling quote anybody's got from Hand in months.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on the Glenville duo and a wrapup of Michigan commits in action over the weekend.]
Apologies for the lateness and relative brevity; I spent all day dealing with Comcast, whose technician decided it was necessary to shut off my internet while changing out cable boxes, then left for an hour when he realized he had the wrong box—without turning the internet back on. Good times.
I Was Like "Hmmmm" (Whoosh) And I Was Like "BOOM" (Cackles)
The Washington Post series with Da'Shawn Hand has been a great follow for moments like the one featured below, in which Hand picks up some poor running back and just body-slams him into the turf. The header is my best effort at a verbatim quote from Hand when he's interviewed about the play. Yeah, it's impressive:
GIF'd, because this is what I do:
Apologies for the quality; working out the kinks with my screengrab software.
As for recruiting-related info, Hand talked before his visit for UTL II about how his main priority was finding a place where he's comfortable. Steve Lorenz caught up with Hand after the visit, and yes, it sounds like he's pretty comfortable here ($):
Coaches: "That comfort level has been there for a long time. I watched some film with Coach Mattison, but in a lot of ways this visit was the same with the coaches, which is great because I like that coaching staff."
Hand's comfort level with the coaches and the commits is going to be tough to top by Florida and Alabama; his Florida visit will be his first time in Gainesville, and he's been in Ann Arbor more times than he's been to Tuscaloosa and seems to have a better rapport with Michigan's coaching staff.
Meanwhile, Dr. Mark Rosentraub, aka Professor Needs A Raise, is mentioned by name as being "the man". Seriously, get that man a raise.
Hand brought two friends with him: 2015 five-star DT Tim Settle and 2015 four-star OT Matthew Burrell. According to Hand's former coach and current mentor, John Harris, the visit went very well for both junior prospects, per Lorenz ($):
"They both knew this visit was mostly about Da'Shawn," he said. "The coaches sat both of them down and told them they passed the eye test. They said they just want to make sure they have the numbers to back up a potential offer for either player. Michigan has always been honest with Da'Shawn, so it makes it easier for the kids to believe what they're saying. They have learned a lot about recruiting already even though they're pretty young. I think they were too busy enjoying themselves to worry about an offer at this point."
That's an important point, as Michigan hasn't offered either prospect; in Burrell's case because of the numbers crunch at tackle, while with Settle there are rumors of potential grade issues on top of the limited scholarship availability. Despite leaving without an offer, Settle spoke very highly of Michigan in the aftermath of his visit to Sam Webb, and Webb also got a very intriguing quote from Wilton Speight, who spent much of the game chatting up his fellow Virginians ($):
“I really felt that like we made tremendous progress on Tim Settle,” said Speight. “He actually said after the game, ‘I didn’t even have Michigan on my list. I had no idea about any of this up here. Da'Shawn just wanted me to come. Now this is my top school.’ It just made a huge impression on him.”
Settle, who seems to take after his friend Hand in terms of playing his cards close to the vest, wouldn't name any leaders when asked about that by Webb. One would still have to think that Michigan would be among his top schools if they come through with an offer; the same goes for Burrell. Rivals analyst Mike Farrell said much the same in his "Mind of Mike" column, and also gave Michigan a 75% chance of signing Hand ($). Notably, Florida—not Alabama—is the school he gives a 20% chance of pulling the upset.
[Hit THE JUMP for updates/scouting on Noah Furbush, Ian Bunting, Erik Swenson, and Tim Settle.]
Yes, A WOW Experience
— Justin Hilliard (@1Justinhilliard) September 8, 2013
I deign to use Dave Brandon's favorite phrase in any non-sarcastic context; when you've got Beyoncé on the big board introducing the halftime show, Eminem up in the booth, and a record-setting crowd rocking the Big House in a rivalry win, however, it's appropriate, especially when talking about how UTL II came off to a large contingent of high school recruits.
From L to R: Mason Cole, Matthew Burrell, Damien Harris, Tim Settle, Da'Shawn Hand, Wilton Speight, Drake Harris, George Campbell (photo courtesy of reader Canzior)
According to his mentor, five-star WDE Da'Shawn Hand came away very impressed on his official visit, per Scout's Sam Webb ($):
“It went very well,” said Hand’s mentor and former coach John Harris. “The boys got to hang out with (Wilton) Speight after the game. The atmosphere at the game was electric also.”
"The boys" also included 2015 five-star DT Tim Settle and 2015 four-star OL Matthew Burrell. Despite their high ratings, neither holds an offer; if one comes for Burrell, it sounds like Michigan will be at or near the top of his list, per Steve Lorenz ($):
"This was by far the best visit I've been on," Burrell said. "The people, the coaches. It was just a well-rounded visit. I felt like I was on top of the world I was having so much fun and I wasn't even a commitment."
Based on Coach Funk telling Burrell that he "hope[s] that [Burrell] will be a Wolverine," I'm guessing an offer will come sooner or later; Burrell and PA four-star OT Sterling Jenkins are two quality options for what is, for now, Michigan last O-line spot in the '15 class. Thanks to friend of the blog Canzior for sending along several photos from the Virginia crew's trip, including this fantastic shot of Burrell on the field with John Beilein:
Canzior mentioned that a parent of one of the prospects went so far as to say that Ohio State "didn't even compare" to Michigan.
In a late surprise, four recruits from Glenville—2014 ATH Marshon Lattimore, 2014 S Erick Smith, and 2015 WRs Milan Golden and Trevon Story—made the trip to Ann Arbor; their assistant coach, Robert Andrews, told 247's Steve Wiltfong that all four came away very impressed ($):
“Those guys they were blown away by Michigan. Michigan has treated them special. Our kids come from the inner city and a lot of times they lack the little things in life, and people making a big deal about the little things for them, and Michigan makes everything they do big and important.”
Ohio State still has to be considered the favorite to land Lattimore and Smith, though it's unclear if they'll have room to take the latter; if they don't and Michigan does, the Wolverines are in very good position for him.
2014 five-star DL Malik McDowell ended up staying the night after the game—obviously, a positive sign—and his father told Wiltfong that the visit went very well ($):
“I know [staying the night] was a big plus for him,” Greg McDowell, Malik’s father told 247Sports early Sunday afternoon.
“I just got off the phone with him. He said it was crazy in the Big House. It was roaring. He enjoyed the game and everything.”
Michigan top target in the 2015 class, five-star WDE Jashon Cornell, gave quite a lofty comparison when discussing the atmosphere, per TomVH ($):
“We all thought it was crazy that they had Beyonce on the big screen and Eminem and all the famous people. It was like the Super Bowl,” he said. “All the recruits thought it was special, too, because that’s the last time they will play each other there.”
Cornell won't name any leaders but said that the Wolverines "stand up there" to Wiltfong ($). He'll be back in Ann Arbor in November for The Game.
2015 four-star OH LB Justin Hilliard was impressed with the festivities, as you can see at the top of the post, and told Scout's Dave Berk that Michigan is among a group of schools standing out to him early ($):
“Right now programs like Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Ole Miss and some others are sticking out,” said Hilliard. “It’s getting a little overwhelming, but not too much. So I’ll probably be narrowing my list down after my season.
Iowa is also a major factor in his recruitment; his brother, C.J., is committed to their 2014 class.
2015 four-star Cass Tech RB Mike Weber came away from the game with a rediscovered love for Michigan, per Scout's Josh Newkirk ($):
“When I was little I loved Michigan,” Weber said. “Then I still loved Michigan. But when the other guy (Damien Harris) committed, I kind of put my head down towards it. But after I went there last night – it’s back to where it had been when I first even thought about Michigan.
“I know what college is the best fit for me, there is people there. I know I will have to beat them out. I’m not scared of competition.”
If Michigan has room for him, Weber seems like a good possibility to end up in the class.
Per Steve Lorenz, 2016 IL OT Erik Swenson—one of the top prospects in the class and a heavy Michigan lean—had an "insane" time at the game and will be back for the Ohio State game ($). He has no other visits lined up. JPTTA.
Despite the lack of commitments, it's tough to say that last weekend was anything but a roaring success from a football and recruiting standpoint.
[Hit THE JUMP for a roundup of Michigan's commits in high school football action from last weekend.]