RECRUTING ROUND UP EXTRA EDITION
AAAAH BOOOM BOOM BOOM AAAAAH
YESTERDAY VA DE DA'SHAWN HAND RELEASED A NEW TOP THREE CONSISTING OF MICHIGAN, NOT VIRGINIA TECH, AND ALSO NOT VIRGINIA TECH! TODAY THE WORLD IS A VERY DIFFERENT PLACE. PEOPLE NOW CALL SPOONS "FORKS" AND VICE VERSA.
Some Alabama guys heard some things that caused a small rumble on the 247 Crystal Ball towards the Tide. What they heard: Alabama, not Michigan, was the other team in Hand's top two.
This was kind of right, as Hand announced today that Virginia Tech didn't have the major he wanted—Sports Management—and that his top three was in fact Michigan, Alabama, and Florida with LSU and USC also on the docket for officials even though he "doesn't want to get anyone's hopes up($)" at those two schools. In retrospect, "Bud Foster is my favorite coach but I haven't talked to him in a while" was a death knell for the Hokies.
Is this good? Is this bad? In what direction should we be running? Clockwise, to wind the clock of joy? Or counter-clockwise, to deflate the balloon of hope?
Well, let's go back to
two three facts:
- Hand was planning on majoring in engineering until he visited Michigan, whereupon he told Rivals radio that he'd "recently decided" he wanted to do sports management instead.
- He hasn't talked to the Alabama guy in that field yet—he talked to an engineering professor—but has called Professor Needs A Raise at Michigan "amazing" and oh yeah "amazing."
- Alabama fans don't think Alabama actually offers undergrad sports management. Also their engineering school is not amazing.
Leaning clockwise. Helping in this regard is Mike Farrell—very plugged in with East Coast kids—declaring Michigan "clearly the team to beat" and TomVH getting a "you don't understand, dude had us wanting to sign up right now" quote from Hand in re: Professor Needs A Raise. Also, Hand called Sam Webb today during his dang radio show and Webb came back sounding pretty content about things you guys:
"[Hand] said the reason Virginia Tech is out is because of academics … at Michigan, when he came on the visit, he said he was blown away by his interaction with the sports marketing [ed: think that's actually supposed to be management] professor. He raved about it, went on and on about it… and he said it again in an interview I just did with him. He said it was the best academic presentation he's been around, said it made a profound impact on him. … Now, at Alabama he's looking at potentially engineering. … He said the thing that sticks out to him about Alabama is the engineering professor is a football guy. …
I think relationships will be key, amazingly key, and with the single biggest relationship obstacle out of the way for Michigan I think they'll be tough to beat. THAT'S JUST MY OPINION. … But Hand is a relationship guy."
Professor Needs A Raise turns out to be named Mark Rosentraub, FWIW.
While you're here, don't forget to check out MGoUser Canzior's post on Hand.
Hey kids. Ace is off and I step into the recruiting roundup breach.
Guest columnist Adoree' Jackson
Verily, let us discourse on the fine gentlemen of the Michigan recruiting class. Nay, ask me not your questions. Rather I will ask you which of the gentlemen has the most beatific smile. The world is all topsy-turvy this day! Ha-HA!
–probably what Jackson is saying right here
CA CB Adoree' Jackson talks about his fresh top ten with College Level Athletes, and would we be reading too much into a random interview if we noted that Jackson seems to know almost as much about Michigan's recruiting class as the assembled lunatics here?
"It means something because you wanna build a class that you feel comfortable with. For me and the (Jabrill) Peppers situation, that's a corner that's similar to me and we could do a lot of the same things, and if you just look at that you've got confidence on the other side. Like I said, 'me and Jabrill on the field, that's a scary sight.' You don't really think of having two great corners on the same team… that's rare."
"(Wilton) Speight at the quarterback position, you want somebody who's good so when you're practicing they can go hard at you and you can compete. As for Drake (Harris) as a receiver, he's a great receiver, so you just want to compete with them everyday, day-in and day-out. That's going to be a decision for me, making sure we have a great quarterback and great receivers. I want to make sure the receivers are sound so we can all get better."
Jackson spends a lot more time talking Michigan than any of his other schools, and while I still suspect that track is going to pull him away from Ann Arbor I get the vibe that he really likes M. Dollars to donuts they at least get an official.
Sam Webb's News article this week covered a lot of ground, some of it about Jackson's recruitment:
“I don’t think he’s leaning anywhere. I think he's extremely open to leaving the West Coast because he's not a West Coast guy, and he'll openly say, ‘I’m not a West Coast guy.’ He kind of brags about it. It's almost like he wears that with a badge of courage, so I definitely think he's open. I think so much of Adoree’s recruitment is going to be determined by how they do on the field. The Serra connection he has kind of tells me that USC kind of has the inside track.
Uber-WR Marquise Lee is also from Serra. Biggins says he's "extremely open" to leaving the West Coast, but that the local schools are still in it. IE, ain't nobody know things.
Challenge leads to visits
Kalen Ballage uses myspace and has a dumbphone. Kalen Ballage is from 2005. He is also a SWAG ANIMAL, of course. Kalen Ballage is an important recruit to get even if he is from 2005.
The Rivals Five-Star Challenge was held in Chicago over the weekend, which provided a couple of distant prospects the opportunity to check out the Midwest. CO RB Kalen Ballage told Rivals he'd visit Michigan on Thursday (and Michigan State afterwards, but lol). Arizona State, Boise State, Nebraska, Washington, and Vandy are also involved.
AZ WR Jalen Brown is stopping by Tuesday as part of a Midwest swing that encompasses OSU, MSU, and Wisconsin. Brown wants to cut things down after that an a visit to some southern schools and pick pretty quickly after that.
CA WR/S JuJu "John" Smith was a guy who expressed interest in the Midwest early and has since dropped off the radar. Why? Dunno, as Smith told Rivals's West Coast guy that leaving the state remains a strong possibility:
The four-star safety said during registration day … that some of the major programs in the Big Ten appeal to him, among others.
When you mention Wisconsin, you are seriously serious about exiting. Smith mentioned he was "especially serious"—author's words—about Michigan and OSU. So that's good, but it's an uphill battle if USC decides to get involved:
“He grew up an SC fan. I talked to (another recruit’s) dad after they were at the USC-UCLA game last year, which was at UCLA. He said JuJu was openly cheering like you would not believe for SC the entire game -- in the UCLA student section."
That would be a first: a USC fan that gives a crap about cheering for USC.
On the other hand, USC isn't after him that hard right now and amongst non-USC options it sounds like Michigan is a strong contender, possibly the strongest:
I think [USC's lack of pursuit] made it more open. I think he is open to leaving. He loves Michigan, he likes Notre Dame a little bit, and UCLA has done well with him.
The 247 Crystal Ball is split about evenly between ND, UCLA, and USC, FWIW. IE: ain't nobody know.
And in "really lol wut" news, LA RB Leonard Fournette wants to visit Michigan!
"What I'm looking for is academics first," he said. "People-wise, I love great personalities. That's it. That's what I like about Michigan."
Has Fournette planned a trip to Ann Arbor?
"No, not yet," he replied. "I would like to take a visit up there. It would be during the fall, for an official visit."
I'm just… naw. Naw man, naw. We'll see if that gets scheduled before we move Fournette from total pipe dream to "so you're saying there's a chance." I'm leaving him in the pipe dream category at the moment.
In non-Challenge-related visit news, according to TomVH($) IL OL Jamarco Jones has planned his final visits: M Saturday, MSU Sunday, OSU Monday. Notre Dame appears to be out. The M Block reports that NJ RB Jonathan Hilliman is trying to decide between Michigan and Vandy for a visit this weekend
McDowell admits a leader sorta kinda probably
That's a really good disguise, Adoree', but I see right through it. Five stars have x-ray vision, which you know because you, too, are a five-star. See into my heart. Yes. It is a regulation block M the right color and everything. I can give you the hex codes.
-probably what Malik is saying right there
Five-star MI DT Malik McDowell weighed in at 6'6", 306 at the Challenge, which like whoah. Tim Sullivan described him as a "grown-ass man," so he'll pump in a hat trick against a Caribbean team sometime soon. Woo deep-cut Eddie Johnson references!
McDowell's been keeping things close to the vest after some early indications he wanted to commit to Michigan, but he finally came out and said he probably might have a kinda sorta leader($):
He confirmed all four were still high on his list, though one was the current team to beat.
"It's Michigan, probably … that's home," McDowell said. "They are kind of normal … they hang out at regular places. You think they would be all uppity, but they are down-to-earth."
Thanks, I think?
McDowell has tentative plans to visit FSU, UF, and USC. Probably. A decision doesn't seem to be coming in the near future.
OH LB Noah Furbush made a return trip to Michigan's campus last week, a sign of serious-serious interest that combines with Furbush's offer list—MSU, Mizzou, Northwestern, Tennessee, etc.—to suggest Michigan is in the driver's seat with him. Unless Northwestern gets all up in there, I guess.
Allen Trieu caught up with Furbush, who also recently hit up Purdue, and he had some weird things to say about his recruitment, specifically where colleges are projecting him($):
[At] Purdue, it's more of an outside linebacker. At Michigan, it's more of an inside linebacker. In our defense, we do a package where I line up to the inside a little bit, so I've experienced it a little bit."
I would be shocked to see Michigan sporting a 6'4" MLB. Either Furbush is a bit shorter than that and won't end up in that 250-260 range or he shouldn't be a generic three star. Or he's a SAM/WDE. Those are our options.
Trieu asked flat out whether Chase Winovich's commitment affected Michigan's pursuit of him and Furbush said he still had a spot. While Michigan's in on a couple more remote kids who are higher-rated*, I'd peg Furbush as the third LB in this class all. He would provide some drama in the MGoBlog Sleeper Of The Year competition, which is currently between Moe Ways and… Moe Ways because no one else meets the criteria. Hoke uber alles.
The distant future the year 2000 (and fifteen)
FUTURE'S SO BRIGHHHHHHT I GIVE IT SIX SWAG MATTISONS
Yeah, we're talking about it. Michigan's camp is coming up soon, and these days that's an opportunity for juniors and sophomores to draw notice. A number of guys will come in looking for offers, and there's a nonzero chance Michigan picks up its first 2015 commit at the camp. I mean, KY RB Damien Harris is just itching to drop.
June 16th can't come soon enough. I'm ready to be in Ann Arbor!! #Hail
— Damien Harris (@Damien_D1Harris) June 5, 2013
247's Clint Brewster has five more 2015 campers to keep an eye on for possible offers:
- VA CB/WR Garrett Taylor—Big time prospect with Stanford offer amongst others that aren't like whoah academics.
- GA OL Chuma Edoga—half dozen good Southern offers already.
- OH LB Justin Hilliard—brother of recent Hawkeye RB commit CJ, which might give the Hawkeyes a leg up except CJ is an Iowa running back and will be having a hand grafted onto his knee so he can keep playing at UW-Whitewater in two weeks. Looking like a big time prospect.
- OH S Tyree Kinnel—a strong lean if offered; would be a guy Ace and I would add to our Crystal Ball if he picks up an M offer. Just Ark/UK offer at the moment.
- MI LB/S Tyriq Thompson—son of Clarence.
Cleveland-area running back Andrew Dowell is also planning on attending($) after an impressive NFTC performance. He missed most of his sophomore year and is thus a little under the radar. Dowell has a twin brother David, a wideout.
We've already got five guys ticketed to M in what should be a small class, so as early as next week we could have a rough outline for what half of the Team 136 class looks like.
Elsewhere in 2015 guys, six-foot-eight PA OL Sterling Jenkins has emerged into a primo left tackle prospect in the 2015 class. He picked up a Michigan offer recently, competed in Chicago—an indicator he will be a top 100 prospect at the very least next year—and it sounds like he'll be a Midwest fight($):
"I plan to go to Ohio State and Penn State, then Michigan," he said. "Ohio State for the 19th [of June], Penn State the 26th, and Michigan around the end of July for their barbecue."
Jenkins isn't quite sure what the difference is between an unofficial visit and an official one… he's a ways from a decision. I wish his last name was Archer.
CA DE Keisean Lucier-South, a Crable-sized defensive end at 6'6", 215, has some nice early offers (Texas, Miami, Tennessee) and grew up a Michigan fan($):
“The school that I really want an offer from is the University of Michigan. That’s one of my favorite schools since I was a little kid and I’d watch them all the time. They have some of the top talent out there and the way they treat football is insane, like the Big House, or the rivalry with Ohio State. That might be the best rivalry in sports. It’s amazing there and that’s what I like about Michigan.”
Lucier-South is just outside the top 100 in 247's extremely preliminary rankings.
Oh and there's Minkah Fitzpatrick, a NJ CB who seems to be on the verge of a Michigan offer.
Clarkson Camp Scouting
That Webb article also touches on Wilton Speight and Drake Harris, who went out to Steve Clarkson's "quarterback retreat" in San Diego. Biggins gives both guys good reviews. Speight:
When I watched him this year and saw the physical way he carried himself, the confidence that he carried was crazy. He was literally like a different person. Now he’s a very confident guy. He kind of carries himself with a certain swagger. Not arrogance, but definitely very confident in everything he does. He’s more decisive in his throws. … I definitely like the progression. He has made huge strides.
He exploded out of his cut, the ball was overthrown, he jumps up, grabs it, and you’re like, ‘Who the heck is that?!’ Everything about the guy, just the way he moves -- you’re either born like that, or you’re not. He’s so fluid in his movement, and it’s so natural, where he doesn’t fight anything. I love the size, and he’s going to put weight on. He’s just a super athletic kid. A lot of times with those athletic kids, they’re not going to be super polished or catch the ball well, but he’s already pretty advanced. He’s an instant impact guy.
Harris is one slot away from five stars, and while Scout has evidently changed their policy of giving everyone in the top 50 the fifth star they went up to 42 last year (Adam Breneman), which is considerably less stingy than some other sites. Harris should get there eventually. Speight sounds like he'll stick as a well-regarded three-star.
Happy trails to VA DT Andrew Brown, who named a top eight in Chicago that did not include M.
Here's a DaShawn Hand vs Damian Prince vine. FL WR Artavis Scott says he'll "definitely" visit Clemson, Michigan and OSU this summer($), plans an Army game decision. We'll see if it gets that far. NJ CB commit Jabrill Peppers wins the 100 and 200 in NJ.
Not A Good Look
At this point, anyone reading this post is pretty familiar with Da'Shawn Hand, the nation's top overall prospect. Michigan and Virginia Tech are presumed to lead the other three schools in his top five—Alabama, Florida, and South Carolina—while LSU and USC are on the outside looking in. Even further on the outside is Ohio State, where Hand reportedly had a poor visit experience the first time around, and despite a decent trip there last weekend—he swung by while in town for the Columbus NFTC—the Buckeyes won't be a factor in his recruitment going forward.
If you believe Eleven Warriors [ed-S: ...''s recruiting guy Jeremy Birmingham, not Ramzy] , this is because the Ohio State coaches suddenly decided they weren't very interested in the top player in the country—for reasons, you see—and here begins the fisking:
For some reason, my contention that Ohio State would not be aggressively attempting to get back into the Hand sweepstakes set off an internet wildfire with people.
This contention is reasonable; it's become clear that Ohio State is a longshot at best to get Hand, and the coaching staff could better spend their time targeting prospects with more interest in the Buckeyes. This would be a good place to stop, but...
As I have said a few times, it's a simple matter of personality. Ohio State wants people who are going to go 1000 miles per hour, every day, on and off the field. They want people who fight for each other, for their university and for their own improvement. They want people who are challenging themselves to improve every day and do so without the need to proclaim their own greatness for people to see, read, or hear. They want competitors and they want fighters.
...then there's this load of crap, as if the above doesn't fit what every football coach in America is trying to find in a recruit. Which leads us to the really stupid thing:
As far as Da'Shawn Hand? I've never said he was not a competitor, just that things with Ohio State and Hand did not see eye-to-eye from the start of his visit in November because he was not being treated any differently than any of the other recruits on hand, 90-minutes before kick-off of the biggest game of the year. The Buckeyes could not give Hand the attention they would have liked to, and the day was a bit too hectic for him to get "comfortable" at Ohio State.
This is a remarkably shitty thing to write about a high school kid without anything approaching first-hand evidence. The "I've never said..." hedging is just that, hedging, because discussing OSU's supposed lack of interest in reconnecting with Hand after everything in the previous paragraph is either a case of really unfortunate juxtaposition or the type of insinuation that unfairly impugns the character of a 17-year-old — one who, by all other accounts, is a kid of extremely high character.
The timing—when it's become blindingly obvious that Hand doesn't want to go to Ohio State—makes this come off as some seriously sour grapes. I'm sorry, Buckeye faithful, that Hand's reaction to being asked about Ohio State in the above video was this:
But, no, I'm not actually sorry. A high-profile player isn't interested in your school and may very well end up at a rival school. These things happen. Responding to this by suggesting that a player doesn't work hard enough, or is afraid to compete against the best, or isn't motivated enough to improve ... even if the implication is merely by context, that's a bad look. Nearly as bad as the one Hand gave when asked about Ohio State.
I think Eleven Warriors does a fantastic job, and that includes their recruiting coverage, but seeing this—and the wild speculation that it inevitably led to in such a forum—was disappointing. Perhaps, next time, just say that the kid isn't interested and move on.
[Hit THE JUMP for camp highlights of Ian Bunting, the latest on the Malik McDowell transfer rumors, and more.]
Michael Ferns, Da'Shawn Hand, and Ian Bunting at last weekend's Columbus NFTC (via)
[Reads Between Lines] [Tries To Hold It Together] [Fails]
So... this quote [emphasis mine]:
"Bud Foster is my favorite coach, but I haven't talked with him in a while," [Da'Shawn] Hand said.
"But my favorite coaching staff is Michigan," Hand said. "With Michigan, what you see if what you get. It's professional. With some, you feel like when you get to college it might, change, but with Michigan, everyone says they're straight.
According to the author of the article, SBNation's Bud Elliott, Michigan and Virginia Tech are "running neck and neck" for the lead in Hand's recruitment. Hand refuses to acknowledge even that much—he's says he enjoys the suspense—and he does have an unofficial visit set up to Alabama in July and is looking at trips to Florida, LSU, and USC, per 247's Steve Wiltfong ($). That said, his only planned official visit thus far is to Michigan, for the Notre Dame Game (a trip he recently locked in), and of the previously listed schools only Alabama appears to be a serious threat to his presumed top two.
One school we know for sure won't be pushing for his commitment is Ohio State, despite a campus visit last weekend that went better than his first trip to Columbus:
With the NFTC on the Ohio State campus, Hand took the opportunity and made an unofficial visit to the Buckeyes, along with friend Tim Settle, one of the top players in the class of 2015.
'It was straight, we talked," Hand said. "But I was with Tim, and he's a beast, and it was kind of his visit. Everyone knows that my first visit wasn't all that, but this visit was better. Still, I don't want to get anyone's hopes up."
Meanwhile, Hand revealed in an interview with Bruce Feldman that he's being recruited by at least one insane person:
Q: What is the craziest thing that has happened to you since you've been named the nation's No. 1 recruit?
Hand: Well, I ain't gonna say any names, but one coach told me that since I'm the No. 1 player, I'm gonna get to meet Michael Jackson. I said, "Isn't he already dead?" The coach goes, "Well, all right, you can meet Tito." I was like, all right. OK, I'm done.
It was crazy, but it is what it is.
all hypothetical internet dollars entire real-life savings account on Les Miles]
In the SBNation article, Hand said he's unsure of his timeline for a commitment. Regardless of when that comes, he told Feldman the announcement will be low-key:
I don't want to be like everybody else and be all flashy and do this and play around with people. For my commitment day, I just want to have it at my school. I'm not going to have three hats. I'm going to have one hat. I'm gonna call the coaches the night before. Tell them what school I'm going to and that's it.
At this point, it's looking more and more likely that hat will have a block 'M' on it. Which, uh, would be pretty nice.
[Hit THE JUMP for more on newest commit Chase Winovich, the latest on Artavis Scott and Adoree' Jackson, a Michigan commit earning an invite to The Opening, and more.]
BREAKING: ESPNU Host Doesn't Understand Concept Of "Freestyle"
In case you didn't put off your Sunday dinner plans while the Nebraska/Oregon softball game dragged on interminably, above is Jabrill Peppers' unsuspenseful-but-still-quite-worthwhile announcement of his college decision. Peppers decided on Michigan, of course, and you can find what I'm pretty sure is the longest "Hello" post in MGoHistory here if you spent your Memorial Day weekend doing things like "go outside and grill like a normal person."
The commitment post covers Peppers' considerable potential to make an on-field impact; he should also make a big splash as a recruiter now that he's in the fold, and told WolverineNation's Mike Rothstein that he's already got some key targets in mind:
"Oh yeah. Tell Da'Shawn Hand I'm coming," Peppers said. "They call me, 'Commish.' Commissioner Peppers. Malik McDowell. Da'Shawn Hand. You need those defensive linemen.
"A great defensive line makes a great DB and a great defensive secondary. Those guys are definitely on my radar. I'm coming strong. Emphasis on strong."
It may not stop there, though. The mere presence of the nation's best defensive back in Michigan's class should have other elite prospects giving the Wolverines a hard look—instead of shying away from competition, top prospects are looking to play with other top prospects these days—and Tim Sullivan lists a couple of very intriguing possibilities to fill the final defensive back spot should IL CB Parrker Westphal also join the class ($):
If U-M reels in Westphal, there may be only one space remaining in the secondary. It could be either a safety or a cornerback, thanks to the versatility of both Peppers and Westphal, but would almost certainly go to an elite player. Prospects such as Gardena (Calif.) Serra five-star cornerback Adoree' Jackson and Long Beach (Calif.) Poly safety John "Juju" Smith are likely options.
While the Wolverines aren't the favorite to land either Jackson or Smith, both plan to visit Ann Arbor during the recruiting process—Smith even set up an official for the Notre Dame game—and we've seen what this coaching staff can do while hosting a prospect on campus. The limited space in the class, number of interested top prospects, depth on the current roster, and positional flexibility of the current/recent recruits (i.e. 2013's defensive back haul) all give Michigan the ability to hone in on a few top targets; think last year's USC class minus the overhanging NCAA sanctions and Lane Kiffin factor.
Oh, and regarding one particular five-star...
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on Da'Shawn Hand—is Michigan now his leader?—and more.]
THE IMPORTANT THING: What Time Do I Need To Take A Break From Watching Arrested Development on Sunday?
Jabrill Peppers announces his college decision on Sunday at 5:15 pm ET on ESPNU. Everything we've seen and heard for the last several weeks—Gerry Hamilton's contrarianism notwithstanding—points to a Michigan commitment. While Peppers is declining to take interviews until his announcement, his coach is making the media rounds and claims that his star athlete isn't quite sure of his decision yet:
Representatives from the University of Michigan visited Paramus Catholic last week and spent much of the day there, inquiring about the Garden State's top athlete. The Wolverines are thought to take a commanding lead for his services into the weekend, although the star athlete has yet to officially solidify which school he will be selecting, Sunday.
"He doesn't know, just yet," [Paramus Catholic coach Chris] Partridge told NJ.com. "He's still visiting schools this week."
Although Partridge was reluctant to release the list of schools Peppers will be taking a look at during the final days of his recruiting process, there has been speculation that he will make a stop at Rutgers some time this week.
I'm not saying Peppers' coach is just doing his best to add some suspense—and there's nothing wrong with that—but I'll just leave this quote here:
“I know and feel very confident in the decision I’m going to make,” said Peppers.
Okay, I'm saying Peppers' coach is just doing his best to add some suspense. That's my last word on Peppers until Sunday, when there will either be many more words or we'll be attempting to salvage the flaming wreckage of the MGoBoard.
Chase Winovich Update: More Of The Same
PA LB Chase Winovich still has Michigan in his top three (with Ohio State and Pitt), is still contemplating visits (definitely to Pitt, unsure of others), and, yes, is still giving really confusing quotes to reporters, per Sam Webb ($):
That consistent focus that trio of favorites combined with his aforementioned decision timeline was fodder for speculation about a commitment being forthcoming. One recent report went a step beyond speculating and indicated that a decision next week was imminent, a claim that Winovich denies.
"I think the question (from the reporter) was 'is it possible that I could commit to a school after my Pitt visit?'," he recalled. "I think I said, 'yeah, anything is possible.' He said, 'could you let me know so I could put you on a commit watch?' So I said, 'yeah, anything is possible.'" (Laughter).
For the record, Winovich is still in deliberation mode with no definite decision date in sight.
I've said previously that I've heard optimism from both the Michigan and Ohio State sides regarding their chances with Winovich; the above may give a hint as to why. I claim no insider info here, but I switched my prediction for him from U-M to OSU yesterday, because it appears the Wolverines are picking up interest in other OLB prospects—something I doubt they would do if they were confident Winovich would take the final linebacker spot.
[Late-Breaking NOTE: Ohio State just added a commitment from linebacker Dante Booker, but according to 247's Steve Wiltfong the Buckeyes would still accept a commitment from Winovich($). Bad news for Michigan, good news for me not having to rewrite this entire section.]
After a period in which they'd fallen out of contact, Michigan and Crete (IL) Monee four-star LB Nyles Morgan have reconnected, and Morgan told GBW's Josh Newkirk that he's still interested in the Wolverines ($):
“Coach (Curt) Mallory came by,’ [Morgan] said. “I also talked with (defensive coordinator) Greg Mattison on the phone last week. He said he would be by this week.”
With the Wolverine coaching staff accelerating their efforts to connect with Morgan, he said he would like to build a better relationship with Mattison.
“I just want to have a good conversation with him,” he said. “I had previously good conversations with him before. At Michigan we had real good conversation. That was pretty nice, too. I just want to get to know him a little better and have him get to know me.”
Morgan mentioned the possibility of visiting either for July's BBQ at the Big House or a game this fall; he's not in any hurry to decide, so Michigan could still become a contender for his signature.
According to 247's Clint Brewster($), linebackers coach Roy Manning spent seven hours(!!) with Florida prospect Darrion Owens and claimed he is their "top target" at linebacker. Owens received an offer a month ago and—at 6'3", 225 pounds—has the frame to play on the strong side.
Four-star LA LB Kenny Young—who claims a very strong list of offers—hasn't been mentioned as a major possibility for the Wolverines, but he has them on a list of schools he'd like to see, per Rivals' Jason Howell ($):
What schools does he plan to check out?
"Like the Florida schools - Florida, Florida State, Miami," Young said. "Those three, I'll also try to visit Arkansas, Tennessee, Michigan… Arizona State."
Michigan still has a very real chance with Winovich; that said, it's clear that they're also exploring other options in case they need one.
[Hit THE JUMP for updates on four top 2014 targets—including one discussing a possible commitment—as well as news on Michigan's 2015 QB offeree and much more.]