spoiler alert: i linked this
Let's have an overview
It's a three-week sprint to the finish line now. Michigan has 24 commits and is likely to go to 27 or 28. Steve Lorenz was pretty positive that it's 27 but that was before Willie Henry's departure. Sam Webb reported today that Michigan's max number was now 30(!), about which more later.
There are a number of commits on the fence. MD CB Sir Patrick Scott decommitted yesterday; I believe maybe three more decommits are on he way. In addition one commit is a grayshirt offer hoping for the Clark/Pallante bump. (And he knew this from the drop.) Given that, my guess is that Michigan has four current commits who don't sign for various reasons and will take approximately eight additional players.
They are done at QB and RB.
The situation at the other positions:
- OL: Texas grad transfer Jake Raulerson, a center, is the top priority. If he goes elsewhere Michigan looks set to pursue MD OL Stephen Spannelis, a UVA commit. They will poke at Jean Delance to make sure he's sure.
- WR: Michigan is still recruiting NJ WR Donald Stewart and FL WR Pie Young. They are in good shape for both. Before the number 30 got batted around I assumed they could not take both, but maybe they would now.
- TE: MO TE Chase Allen is expected to commit on his official. Michigan will get an official from CA TE Devin Asiasi on the 22nd. Asiasi appears to be very open at this juncture. FL TE Jacob Mathis is also on the board.
- DL: NJ DE Rashan Gary is kind of a big deal, M still seems like a strong leader despite recent Ole Miss talk. AZ DE Connor Murphy comes in the 22nd. TX DE Levi Onwuzurike is still an option but seems unlikely ATM. Asiasi's teammate and CA DT Boss Tagaloa will visit Michigan at the same time. Michigan is also looking for additional options here.
- LB: FL LB Jonathan Jones is an M/ND battle and signing day decision. FL LB/DE Joshua Uche has been treated as a DL by many but he's 6'1", 210, he's a LB. He visits, wide open. TX LB Dontavious Jackson is on the board but mysterious.
- DB: CA DB David Long is giving Washington a chance to change his mind this weekend; if they don't he's in the boat. MI CB Lavert Hill is taking three officials and isn't the lock he was but M still seems to lead. NJ CB/S Jordan Fuller is down to the four big Midwestern programs and will visit OSU, M, and PSU. OSU may lead but it's fluid. PA ATH Khaleke Hudson probably fits most neatly at S.
- K: MI K Quinn Nordin is the only name on M's board and seems likely to flip from PSU.
Before Henry left I'd been expecting Michigan takes eight additional recruits after they lose those decommits; now it could be nine or even up to eleven.
Wait, 30? That's unpossible.
It's never been personally relevant so I've never looked up the specifics of what the NCAA and Big Ten rules actually are and how they intersect. A thorough Googling has clarified things.
There is an NCAA limit of 25 signees a year, but you can back-date midyear enrollees. Michigan can backdate all 7 early enrollees since their class last year was 16. They could hypothetically go up to 32 signees. Transfers do not count against that cap.
The Big Ten has a different limit that is essentially a "good faith" estimate of all the scholarships you have available plus three. The 28 number that gets kicked around is a misconception.
I still don't see where all the space is going to come from
Michigan is at 19 now so, yes, there is going to be some turnover. Given that Lorenz had a solid number of 27 for a couple months prior to recent events it seems clear that Michigan is already aware that several players will leave the program, likely those that have no road to playing time.
Meanwhile, remember those reports that last spring certain graduates were essentially trying out for their fifth year? Michigan is going to do that again, which is why only Terry Richardson has announced a departure amongst those players. Guys like Bars and Gant and Strobel will stay with the team through spring and possibly beyond if Michigan has room.
This means it will look like Michigan is oversigning when they're actually not. They will be over 85 because they are keeping their options open with fifth-year players in case there is unanticipated attrition. They will not be asking guys without degrees to leave.
Michigan is not dealing with Allen and Glasgow as scholarship players right now. There's a 99% chance they will get scholarships as slots always open up between spring practice and game #1, but those two slots are open for recruits.
- 19 spots
- high probability of a Derrick Green transfer
- ~3 fifth year guys who will be kept through spring but are not likely to be on the 2016 roster
- ~2 walk-ons who are year to year
Michigan really has 25 spots now and clearly anticipates a few playing time transfers.
Anyway, on to events…
Visitors this weekend
The following uncommitted recruits will take visits:
- PA ATH Khaleke Hudson. Hudson talked to Rivals, giving generally positive and unrevealing takes on his four finalists. Seems like a Michigan-Penn State battle.
- MO TE Chase Allen. It would be a surprise if Allen didn't commit on the visit.
- Texas grad transfer OL Jake Raulerson. It sounds like Raulerson is likely to commit; UCLA appears to be the main competition.
- Maybe MI CB Lavert Hill. Hill cancelled his USC official and there is chatter he may take his umpteenth unofficial to Ann Arbor instead. There is a surge in MSU chatter from everywhere except the kid himself. He has an official scheduled there next weekend, and then a Clemson visit that is probably 50/50 to get canceled.
Webb reports that FL LB Joel Dublanko's visit has been moved to next weekend, which is the big one for Michigan. Dublanko doesn't have an offer yet.
Meanwhile the opposition will take swings at a number of Michigan targets:
- CA CB David Long visits Washington. Harbaugh has an in-home immediately after on Monday. A commit could come at that in-home or shortly after; vibe there still excellent but crootin. In Long's case he's already been to UW a couple times so the chance they show him something that changes his mind seems low.
- CA TE Devin Asiasi and CA DT Boss Tagaloa also visit Washington. The Washington 24/7 mods will fight you if you assert either is going to Michigan.
- TN WR commit Nate Johnson visits Miami. While that quote I highlighted recently convinced many that he was not likely to stick, he told Rivals that Miami would have to "show [him] a lot to be right up there with Michigan." I think it's 80/20 they keep him.
- FL WR Pie Young also visits Miami. He tells Rivals that it will be "hard" for Miami to catch Michigan but "it's not a big gap, anything can happen." Uh. I think the former sentiment is closer to accurate since recruits rarely downplay a host's chances like that.
- NJ WR Donald Stewart visits Stanford. Conflicting info on how his recruitment will go, with Scout's Brian Dohn projecting Stanford and 247's Steve Wiltfong on Michigan.
- TX S Chris Brown and TX LB Dontavious Jackson visit Florida. Your guess is as good as mine with those guys.
- AZ DE Connor Murphy visits USC. USC just lost their recruiting coordinator so that's not good timing. They have a new DC Murphy will meet. Murphy named a final five of M, Bama, USC, Oregon, and ASU.
- NJ CB Jordan Fuller visits Ohio State. OSU is thought to lead but Fuller is hard to read.
- FL LB Joshua Uche visits Auburn. Uche is a Don Brown kind of guy but his recruitment has a distinct southern flavor. The Auburn 247 site thinks Florida is the favorite.
More on Raulerson
Jake Raulerson has two years to play two and is essentially a JUCO who Michigan can take because he's a high-academic kid who got a degree in three years. If he gets admitted to Ross he's likely to come:
“It’s the position I played at Texas the whole time and like to play,” he said. “I want to get my MBA, so that’s a big deal, and I’m trying to make sure I have the maximum opportunity to do that but also play in a great program, win some games. I know both Michigan and UCLA will be good next year, offenses and defenses, so what’s the best opportunity?"
As a transfer he can wait as long as he likes before making a decision. Michigan has clearly prioritized him.
Unpleasant Lavert Hill rumbles evaluated
MSU fans started getting excited about getting MI CB Lavert Hill in the aftermath of teammate Donnie Corley's commitment, to the point where their 247 site is saying things like this:
The key here is for the Michigan State staff to get Hill's mother on campus for his official visit to MSU. If Hill's mother gives him the green light, look for him to pull the trigger on the Spartans.
No quotes from the kid, just second-hand stuff including vague tweets from MSU commits who know Hill that could mean anything.
Cause for concern? Clearly some, yes. I'd still peg Michigan a heavy favorite. Wiltfong says he "hasn't heard anything that makes [him] believe he won't be a Wolverine" and that he "damn near enrolled early" at M, FWIW. Flipping mom is going to be a tough task after a million visits to campus, and if Hill's worried about the depth chart one conversation with someone who isn't trying to sell him on MSU should clarify—Michigan loses both Jourdan Lewis and Jeremy Clark next year.
Handicapping Donald Stewart
NJ WR Donald Stewart is surging back up crootin radars after Wiltfong ballz'd him to Michigan. The Stanford Rivals site catches up with him to provide some more context. Stewart has been admitted to Stanford, which is always a hurdle. On the other hand, he twice says he "absolutely loves" Michigan. One of these:
"I'm still not sure right now," Stewart said. "I'm just going to visit these next two schools. These are my top two. Like, I absolutely love Michigan."
Despite the who-you-talk-to factor the article is encouraging for Michigan's chances. Stewart doesn't say anything about a timeline except it'll come after his officials the next two weekends to his finalists.
Names that probably won't come to much but here they are
Lorenz reports that Michigan might get a visit from IL DE Daniel Joseph, a four-star Penn State commit. Interestingly, he notes that this intel is coming from Joseph's end, not Michigan. That might mean Joseph is seriously thinking about a move after PSU DC Bob Shoop's departure.
Also, KS S Isaiah Simmons reports that Greg Jackson just left his school. Simmons is an uncommitted four-star.
One final round of All Star evals
Brandon Huffman reports on the West team; David Long "has great ball skills and closing speed" while Dylan Crawford is a "polished route runner."
Allen Trieu has an extensive article covering all of the Michigan commits and targets. His take on MI OL Michael Onwenu:
Whenever he has had top competition in front of him at camps and other events, Big Mike has stepped it up big and he again impressed this week. He's tough to move and anyone who tried to bull rush him, even All-Americans, quickly got stone-walled. He's powerful, but can really bend for a kid his size and that extends his leverage advantage. He can be as good as he wants to be and he had a very good week.
Can't wait to see Onwenu develop into a sui generis player.
And while this isn't an Army eval, Steve Lorenz likes IN WR Chris Evans quite a bit:
Surveying Michigan's current commitment list in 2016, Evans is one player I feel is a safer bet to outplay his ranking than a lot of the players on the board. He has versatility and speed that can't be coached, and is one of those players that simply makes plays when the ball is in his hand.
Michigan's feelings are equally strong after fending off Ohio State for his signature.
2017 things or "items" or what-have-you
I've mentioned FL CB CJ Cotman a couple times already; Brandon Brown interviews him for Rivals:
“I paid really close attention,” Cotman said. “I think I watched every game that they played this year. I think I can fit into that offense. I would also like playing both ways and they used Jabrill Peppers for that.”
And Lorenz for 247:
I want to play on both offense and defense in college and the fact that Coach Harbaugh will give players an opportunity to do that makes me like them a lot. I know he is one of the best coaches in college football too, and that's something my family has talked about.
Not sure just yet if Cotman is really really interested in Michigan or if he's a kid who is equally excited about several different schools, but he's done a lot of talking to Michigan sites early and should be a guy high on your radar going in to next year.
He declared FSU his leader in August. That was before a bunch of other teams including M offered, however, and Cotman told both Lorenz and Brown he's looking to go out of state. We have put in an admittedly speculative crystal ball for Cotman. Who you talk to is important; Cotman has now given interviews to the three major Michigan sites in short order.
- CA CB Jaylon Redd says he's "very interested" after fielding a Michigan offer. He's a four-star on Scout.
- FL OL Robert Hainsey is at IMG and is originally from Pittsburgh. He visited for the OSU game, is coming back to the Midwest for college, no leaders.
- FL DE Guy Thomas picked up an offer, friend.
- NJ RB Bo Melton, a teammate of Ahmir Mitchell, also got an offer.
There are plenty of visits and offers but it's hard to tell who's a major target this early. With 2016 still coming together we'll wait a couple weeks to put together the picture for 2017.
Rashan Gary panic(!)
There was a disturbance in the Force late last week that you may have felt. A full explanation is forthcoming because you better believe we're going full Kremlinology on NJ DE Rashan Gary's recruitment.
So: A couple of Ole Miss guys ballz'd Gary to the Rebels, which set off distressing rumbles from the wing of the Michigan fanbase that takes after Tweek. This was compounded when Chris Balas did the thing he frequently does where he furrows his brow at the $EC and makes grim noises about things going off the rails because people are cheating. That came just a couple days after his colleague Tim Sullivan said it would be "all but impossible" for anyone to catch up, went off like a bomb, and was deleted after a sorry-not-sorry apology didn't calm the Ann Arbor Torch & Pitchfork crowd.
In the aftermath both Scout and Rivals have reaffirmed their strong belief that Michigan leads for Gary. We're pretty good at the Crystal Ball stuff because we read between the lines, so here's my thinking. Who you talk to is as important as what you say. Rationale for Ole Miss ball flip:
The relationship the Ole Miss coaching staff has with Rashan's mother, Jennifer Coney, who is instrumental in his recruitment, is the predominant reason. It is very strong.
Okay. May be true. If it was true she might be talking to Ole Miss sites. But to my knowledge the ball-flipper's never talked to her. (After the Ole Miss official she talked to Wiltfong.) Instead it's Sam Webb who posts article after article featuring her thoughts on Gary's recruitment. One side has some vague second or third hand feelings. The other is talking to the horse's mouth. Don't panic. Crootin.
Gary visiting or not visiting or visiting
Michigan's going to have to fend off some schools, though. Gary has a line of coaches on the way in…
"Dabo Swinney is coming, (Jim) Harbaugh is coming, (Gus) Malzahn is coming, (Nick) Saban is coming, Urban Meyer is coming," Gary's mother Jennifer Coney told NJ.com. "I don't know. There aren't enough days for everyone to come, but everybody wants to come and put their last pitch in."
…and a couple officials left. One is to USC, the other still undecided but maybe Clemson, and this is a bit of a twist:
"I'll probably take a couple non-officials to the three that I'm looking at, like a student of the day visit," said Gary. "So from there, after I take those visits, I should have a good idea of where I'm going."
That's not great news since it looked like Michigan was going to be the only school to get an unofficial. I'm a bit skeptical this tour is going to happen—a lot of recruits plan to do a bunch of stuff and then scale it back—and in fact as of yesterday that plan had been pared back. An Ole Miss Scout guy said there were no unofficials scheduled, even to Michigan, causing another round of fainting and autodefenestrations, but Gary's coach told TomVH that his visit schedule looked pretty good for Michigan:
Rashan Gary leaves Thurs for USC official, unofficial to Michigan Jan. 23 is set, last official still up in the air pic.twitter.com/oWH9fnmzXW
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) January 10, 2016
Lorenz reiterates that he expects Gary along with teammates WR Donald Stewart, 2017 LB Drew Singleton, and maybe 2017 DT Corey Bolds on the 22nd. That is the most current intel. If he sticks to that we're golden.
But I learned how to spell it
Nobody really knows who leads for TX DE Levi Onwuzurike, but the previous roundup mentioned that various camps were split between his recruitment being a Michigan/Baylor battle and a Michigan/Washington battle. The implication there was obviously nice.
That appears to have been misplaced hope, as Steve Lorenz reports that Michigan "appears" to be out for Onwuzurike. That comes on the heels of a Washington 247 site interview with him—again, who you talk to is important. In it he says he's "80 percent sure" where he's going. I assume that's the Huskies*.
If Michigan is out for Onwuzurike attention turns to AZ DE Connor Murphy, FL DE Joshua Uche, and California teammates Devin Asiasi and Boss Tagaloa. Asiasi wants to play TE and Tagaloa is a DT, but Michigan already has a couple DEs in the class so like whatever man. Speaking of those guys…
*[Doubly annoying because I was going to sleuth the bad news based on "who you talk to" before Lorenz stole my thunder, such as it is. /shakes fist for various reasons]
Asiasi to visit like a Boss
Go Blue? 〽️ pic.twitter.com/CpcuZHssdD
— Devin Asiasi ⛅️ (@asibo_) January 8, 2016
Steve Lorenz reports that Asiasi has dropped his Alabama visit and will make it out to Ann Arbor for an official on the 22nd. So will Tagaloa, who named Michigan in a top five back in November. At the time Scout's Greg Biggins thought it was a UCLA-M battle, but that was before a USC offer came in.
Lorenz says Michigan has some optimism here. They do want to play together and Asiasi badly wants to play tight end; they're also NorCal guys familiar with Harbaugh's work with Stanford and the 49ers. Get the visit, see what happens. FWIW, USC gets the last word with both on the 29th.
One potential hitch in the previous bullet point
Allen's YMRMFSPA is 100% guaranteed to be Ian Bunting
Asiasi's official is set for the 22nd. MO TE Chase Allen is coming in the week prior, and Steve Wiltfong hears that Allen is a "huge, huge lean" to M. Presumably he will commit on the visit, occupying Michigan's final(?) tight end slot in the class.
This is good. Allen's picked up offers from Nebraska, Mizzou and Oklahoma State in addition to the back-to-back Michigan and FSU offers. He is under the radar because he split his time between basketball and football in high school, choosing AAU over football camps and the like. He's a high upside, high academic guy who Michigan seems eager to take.
But it does make you wonder if Michigan will still be in the running for Asiasi and potentially Tagaloa the week after. On the one hand, if there's a school in the country that can make good on TE promises it's Michigan, and they could take Asiasi as an ATH. On the other, at some point you can't cram more guys in the phonebooth.
Cram cram cram cram cram (brief pause) cram cram cram
Speaking of said phonebooth, Wiltfong also recently ballz'd NJ WR Donald Stewart to Michigan. Stewart is a Paramus guy who Michigan looked good for early and then faded for as people assumed he would go to Stanford. I and most other people had written him off entirely until he announced a Michigan official, also on the 22nd.
I can't imagine FL WR Pie Young and Stewart fit into the same class at this juncture unless there's unexpected attrition and have no idea who's preferred. Young just re-iterated that Michigan leads at the South Florida Express tryouts (he was a spectator) but it is possible that Young's spot is accounted for since Michigan just picked up two slot types in TN WR Nate Johnson and CA WR Dylan Crawford. He did just announce a suite of officials to USC, Louisville, and Tennessee. He is a NSD decision; that may result in Young finding there's no room in the phonebooth.
In yet further cram news, Wiltfong also believes Michigan has a "great shot" with PA ATH Khaleke Hudson; he would pick M if forced to make a CB pick. Penn State losing DC John Shoop to Tennessee at this late stage has got to help. As mentioned last week, I loved Hudson in the Semper Fi bowl and am pro-get-him.
cram cram cram cram
More crammin' with positive Long vibes
— Scott Bell (@sbell021) January 9, 2016
CA CB David Long continues to trend towards Michigan. Lorenz joins Wiltfong and Barton Simmons with a ballz in favor of M after doing the proverbial digging, and Sam's gut is all like yeah:
@SamWebb77 on Army All-American DB David Long: "My gut tells me Michigan is looking very good for him"
— The Michigan Insider (@michiganinsider) January 8, 2016
That isn't "he is going to commit" but it ain't bad; I interpret that to mean he is set on Michigan but he has that official to Washington left and people can change their minds.
If he even takes it, that is. Rivals's Blair Angulo joins the chorus of folks expecting Long to commit to Michigan, and he's hearing that might come in the next week. That would obviously preempt a Washington visit. Probably, anyway. Crootin and all.
Assumption on the situation: Long has decided on Michigan but wants to follow through with a visit he told Washington he would make. He is considering dropping it because it's a waste of time for everyone. If he does indeed go to Seattle then UW might have a shot, but this feels like an inverse Nauta.
Evans solid again
IN WR Chris Evans got a once-coveted OSU offer and for a moment there it looked like he was set to visit on the 15th and presumably flip, but he changed course and will stick with his commitment:
Thankful and Grateful for the offer but my home is Michigan!〽️
— Chris Evans (@Kidnplay_abc123) January 8, 2016
Wiltfong reports that Michigan is indeed bringing him in on offense while the OSU offer was as a defensive back.
Meanwhile other wobblers are status quo. We'll see what this weekend brings with visits.
Further Crawford evals
A bit more on CA WR commit Dylan Crawford, Michigan's prize from the Army game:
“Crawford has been very good this week,” Farrell said. “He catches everything, that’s the thing with him. I haven’t seen him really drop anything. He’s not the fastest, he’s not the biggest, but he’s a good technician. He’s a smart kid. He’ll fit right in with what Harbaugh wants to do because he’s a willing blocker as well. I think he’s a well-rounded receiver.”
He was mentioned as a top performer on Thursday:
He looked to go through the motions throughout much of the first two days of practice, but he took his game to new heights on day three. His effort really stood out today. He got free a lot during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 and made sure to finish each run when the ball came his way.
Crawford is now qualifying his plan to take officials with an "if". None have actually been set. Even if those happen Michigan is very likely to hang on to Crawford, especially if Long commits with him.
2017 combine happens, articles are written
A caution: at this juncture a lot of out-of-state players have offers but have never been to Ann Arbor. Michigan might be their biggest offer right now. Meanwhile Michigan might have offered as a way to pique a kid's interest while they continue to evaluate a bunch of targets.
So even kids who say Michigan leads aren't that likely to end up in the class. Michigan might end up turning down the heat; they might pick up offers closer to home that are the ones they actually want. (In state or proximate is different, as they've been on campus and Michigan can and will take those prospects now.)
- MI WR Donovan Peoples-Jones releases a top ten with Michigan in it. Fast forward to Signing Day for that guy.
- TX DT Marvin Wilson has Michigan on his radar but a top four of LSU, FSU, USC, and Bama. Wilson is one of the top 2017 prospects in the country.
- MO WR Jaevon McQuitty really really liked his Michigan offer, telling Brice Marich that he tried to tell his parents but he couldn't because he was "shaking too much." Tentatively plans to visit in March.
- FL OL Cesar Ruiz says he's tight with "like five" Michigan commits in this class since he just relocated from New Jersey to play at IMG. Maintains no leaders and will take his time. PSU, M, and UNC may be a tentative top three.
- FL WR/DB CJ Cotman tells Josh Henschke that Michigan is the school he's "really leaning on"(?) because he likes Harbaugh and Partridge a lot. Cotman has early offers from OSU, Oregon and FSU along with M and looks like he'll be a big-timer. Hopefully leaning on someone is good. Someone who is familiar with the rap music please tell me.
- FL WR Joshua Palmer names Michigan his leader. Michigan is currently his biggest offer, as he's a three-star type at the moment. Moved from Canada to St. Thomas Acquinas in an effort to get recruited, so Michigan is closer to home than southern schools.
- TX RB Kennedy Brooks names Washington and Michigan his leaders, thus continuing this weird recruiting rivalry we've got with UDub.
VA LB Jaquan Yulee decommitted from Alabama and Michigan is "in the picture." We'll see if he sets an official. Webb says that Michigan State is in the picture with MI CB Lavert Hill, "not that Michigan State is now the favorite or anything." Still expect Hill to Michigan. In that vein, TX DT commit Jordan Elliott says “I think we are about to get about three more commits. Big time guys, DBs."
Balas says TX OL grad transfer Jake Raulerson is "trending" towards Michigan. He visits this weekend. As a grad transfer he can take his time deciding, especially if he needs to finish this semester at Texas.
Rivals reported that M had offered MD OL Stephen Spanellis, a Virginia commit and teammate of MD OL commit Devery Hamilton. Nobody else has confirmed that.
Ring the silent alarm
— Kyle (@grade_eh_tweets) January 6, 2016
IN QB commit Brandon Peters tells Sam Webb that Michigan has two silent commitments on the West squad at the Army game. "Silent commits" are always a dubious notion, but they do work out frequently—FL LB Devin Bush Jr was a silent for months—and if one of those guys is announcing at the game itself that would be a good indicator indeed.
FWIW, Michigan is involved with these uncommitted players on the West squad: CA WR Dylan Crawford, MI CB Lavert Hill, CA CB David Long, MI WR Donnie Corley, and CA TE Devin Asiasi. Michigan has always seemed to trail for Corley and isn't even certain to get a visit from Asiasi so it would have to be two of the former three. Crawford seems the most likely since he's announcing at the game, has only officially visited Michigan and Oregon, and the Ducks reportedly do not have room.
Things look good for the two defensive backs but neither feels entirely certain right now. Long is down to Michigan and Washington; a mid-January official to UW looms. Long says Michigan will have an in-home with him just before his decision and that might give them "a little edge" in an interview with Brandon Brown.
Steve Wiltfong thinks it's a bigger edge as he recently ballz'd Long to Michigan after Long told him that he's "going to follow through with my schedule… but my mind is kind of made up." Webb also believes Michigan is "in the driver's seat." Long goes way back with Crawford and a couple of different articles have mentioned the attraction of playing together; our expectation is that they do in Ann Arbor.
Meanwhile Hill is officially not announcing at the Army game and will take a series of official visits in January before announcing on Signing Day. On the other hand, Corley told Eugene Hankerson that Hill has already made up his mind. So… yeah. Optimism on Hill has been off the charts for months; his desire to see a bunch of places in January reduces that somewhat. Still seems highly likely that Harbaugh and brother win out eventually.
Hopes not so much up for this one
GA TE Isaac Nauta's decision has been made. Apparently it was difficult.
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) January 6, 2016
Hopefully the difficulty there is "disappointing people close to me" instead of "passing up an opportunity to be a Harbaugh tight end." But probably not. Webb has an interview in which Nauta says a lot of great things about Michigan; despite that I think literally everyone expects Georgia is the pick. He'll announce at the Army game.
Meanwhile, CA TE Devin Asiasi really wants to play on offense but didn't get to show much in that department for his high school team; he apparently Balled So Hard early at the Army game. Brandon Huffman was impressed:
Asiasi is a big tight end, 6-5, 265-ish, but can absolutely run and catch like a lighter tight end. He's a smooth pass-catcher with a big catch radius, has soft hands, runs tremendous routes and looks natural playing the position.
Asiasi still maintains he will visit three schools not named Michigan in January—M is trying to get a midweek visit. That doesn't sound good but if the guy wants to be a tight end there's no better place. If he does end up visiting I'd give Michigan a good chance.
Paging one more defensive end
There's probably one spot left for a defensive end and three main possibilities for the spot.
Onwuzurike Onwuzurike Onwuzurike
Depending on who you listen to, TX DE Levi Onwuzurike is either the top priority (247 and Scout) or an afterthought (Rivals). I'm fairly certain Onwuzurike is in fact the most wanted guy at the spot.
Webb gathers the opinions of a couple of Scout Texas guys, who both think Onwuzurike is a major talent (Scout has him ranked highest of any service) and think Onwuzurike is a Baylor-Michigan battle. This is good, because various other people think it's a Washington-Michigan battle, and when you're the one school amongst changing other schools you're in good shape.
If Onwuzurike does go with one of his other finalists Michigan will try to lock down either AZ DE Connor Murphy or FL DE Joshua Uche. Murphy is a Harbaugh guy after his brother made it to the NFL after passing through Harbaugh's Stanford program; Miami decommit Uche is a new offer made in the immediate aftermath of Don Brown's hire.
Murphy recently expressed frustration with a a bunch of coaching changes amongst the teams he's considering, which made it into an article at Oregon Live since the Ducks just demoted their DC back to LB coach and fired the LB coach—Murphy's primary recruiter—after blowing a 31-point lead in their bowl game.
Smh @CMurph_90 has journalists writing articles about his subtweets
— Hunter Parks (@HPonDaDiamond) January 5, 2016
And, well, yeah. Murphy's kind of a big deal. And the teams he's considering have been chaos on the defensive side. In addition to the Oregon moves, DJ Durkin left M, USC has no DC, and ASU is in flux after OC Mike Norvell became Memphis's head coach and started raiding the former staff.
Michigan at least has the Harbaugh connection and a settled staff, and the article asserts a thing I didn't know was a fact.
Arizona State, Michigan, Oregon, Stanford and USC could all still be in the mix for the dynamic defensive talent, although the Wolverines are seen as the leader given Murphy's strong family bond with Jim Harbaugh.
I put a ballz in for Murphy like a year ago but we've maintained it mostly because if we are right we get crazy points for it since it's so old—we have no real idea which way Murphy is leaning. Michigan does have a big advantage in coaching relationships despite the Durkin move. A 'Bama visit looms after Michigan's shot, though.
Not much is known about Uche's status. Miami apparently hasn't talked to him since Richt arrived and now he's uncertain if he's even on their board. He's got visits to Florida and Michigan scheduled and should be a Signing Day decision.
Elliott continues to impress
TX DT Jordan Elliott is consistently mentioned as one of the best players at the Army Bowl. Rivals:
From the beginning of the day, Elliott caught everyone's attention. His first step caused problems for interior linemen throughout the day. He was ready to play today and blew up play after play during team and inside drills. His lower body strength and quickness definitely stood out.
Elliott has stood out more consistently on the defensive side of the ball than any other front seven player. …has done pretty much whatever he's wanted. He's big, explosive, and has experience playing multiple positions, though he's at his best as an even-front 3-technique tackle.
Meanwhile Steve Wiltfong called Elliott "an elite talent":
The country’s No. 7 defensive tackle according to 247Sports took several dominant reps, shoots the gap quickly and is a strong pass rusher from the interior. One of the more physically impressive guys on the field, Elliott is also one of the better athletes in small space with his quick first step.
Wiltfong would be surprised if he wasn't in the two deep "right away," which would in fact surprise me given the depth Michigan has coming back. I'm guessing Wiltfong isn't considering what Michigan brings back when he makes that statement; all the same that's impressive praise.
FWIW, Elliott again repeatedly shot down the idea he was anything but 100% solid to Michigan. He must be wondering how many times he has to say it by now.
Michael Onwenu is a mutant
DT Jordan Elliott vs OL Michael Onwenu pic.twitter.com/ewnTdnMrR7
— Brian Perroni (@Perroni247) January 4, 2016
Onwenu was one of the few to stay in front of Elliott
People usually don't come shaped like MI OL Michael Onwenu, who could not be weighed at the Army Bowl because the scale only goes up to 350. Unsurprisingly, there's "no question he was the strongest offensive lineman" at the Army Bowl, but when you put "perhaps the quickest" on top of that, as Wiltfong did, that's an impressive prospect. As a bonus, despite being a 6'3" guard Onwenu comes with tackle-length arms:
[Onwenu] had the biggest hands (11 inches) and second longest arms (35 inches) of any prospect in attendance.
If Onwenu works out he could really, really work out. He did impressive work against the best DT at the game—Elliott. Webb:
No one got past him, as he consistently stonewalled defenders at the line of scrimmage. Onwenu won back to back reps versus Elliot, showing that once he gets his paws on a defender, they’re done.
"Paws" may be literal here.
Other Army Bowl reports
Reports are mixed for Michigan's other Army targets. Hill just missed ALPHA DOG status on day one according to 247. He's a "lockdown corner with elite feet, great speed and quicks," which makes him sound like a guy Hill talks to every day—Jourdan Lewis.
IN QB Brandon Peters seems to be a notch behind the five stars at the event. Wiltfong:
Michigan commit Brandon Peters has a live, accurate arm and he also showed nice touch. He’ll be fun to watch develop in Ann Arbor as the Avon (Ind.) High talent continues to work on his fundamentals.
Webb was higher on his performance:
On Monday, he looked the part. You could argue that no other quarterback was better than him. Peters was impressive, showing off arm strength and accuracy.
He doesn't have a say in the rankings, though.
Weeble wobblers are committed but visiting
Nate Johnson stiffarms the dictionary all day bruh
Behold the most crootin quote of all time (ALL TIME):
“I’m committed to Michigan right now, so everyone knows I’m going to Michigan. If nothing changes, like decommitting, which I’m probably not gonna do, but we’ll see. Everyone will know that. If I decommit from Michigan, which I won’t, I’ll definitely hold off all the way until signing day.”
-TN WR commit(?) Nate Johnson
So. Despite having 23 commits, Michigan's class is still in considerable flux. A number of recruits aren't hearing much from the staff, and a handful of other guys are doing the committed-but-visiting thing that sets your teeth to grating if you're the kind of person who occasionally screams "you mean FIGURATIVELY" at people saying they literally ate a horse. (Guilty.)
Anyway, those guys are:
- TN WR Nate Johnson, who is visiting Miami, Vanderbilt, and Penn State. He says he is 100% committed, but… you saw the quote. None of those teams seem like particularly large threats. Johnson recently got a Virginia Tech offer as well, and… I mean… you saw the quote.
- IN WR/DB Chris Evans got an Ohio State offer and will "official for sure" since OSU was the proverbial dream school. I bet a thousand dollars that if Evans flips Bill Kurelic compares him favorably to Kareem Walker even though they're completely different prospects.
- CA WR Dylan Crawford isn't even committed yet but we should throw him in this bin since he also plans January visits to Miami, Washington, and Georgia plus an unofficial to UCLA.
- FL DT Rashad Weaver has a Temple visit scheduled.
- IN ATH Kiante Enis visited Indiana and says he hadn't heard much from Michigan a couple weeks back.
- FL LB Devin Gil and FL S Josh Metellus took a trip to Colorado last month (so did Devin Bush, but he's already enrolled).
- NJ WR Brad Hawkins and NJ DE Ron Johnson may visit North Carolina, South Carolina, or neither.
There are a couple other guys who may leave the class as well; Michigan is probably going to have a significant shuffle in the next few weeks. One that won't involve Jordan Elliott.
Your 2016 early enrollees are…
These gentlemen have already arrived on campus or will as soon as they're done with the Army game:
- IN QB Brandon Peters
- NJ RB Kareem Walker
- AL RB Kingston Davis
- NJ WR Ahmir Mitchell
- MA TE Sean McKeon
- CO DE Carlo Kemp
- FL LB Devin Bush Jr.
All eyes will be on the tailbacks and Bush headed into the spring game.
- GA WR commit Jeremiah Holloman had a terrific Rising Stars camp: Jake Reuse, a Georgia reporter said he was "the most impressive offensive player at the practices," which included a lot of top 2017 kids in Georgia.
- MI CB Ambry Thomas tells Steve Lorenz that things are "going really well" with Michigan and that he's planning on deciding this spring after a swing through various SEC schools. MSU, the crystal ball favorite, doesn't draw much mention.
- MI S Jaylen Kelly-Powell is "slowing things down" and wants to visit Stanford, Duke, and UCLA; he was generally expected to drop for Michigan if he did indeed commit early. Michigan should still be in good shape since he goes to Cass and his parents are both alums. Given his list you know he's a high academic kid.
- MI LB Antjuan Simmons is just across the street from the Big House and has "really built a strong bond" with 2017 commit Ja'Raymond Hall. Simmons intends on making all his officials even so.
- MI WR KJ Hamler really wants an Oregon offer because he is small and fast as hell. He plans on camping there and it sounds like they're the real leader if they offer. Given what Ace saw this fall, I bet they do.
- FL CB Stanford Samuels III goes to Flanagan HS, which you may be familiar with since three commits in this class are Flanagan kids. That gives Michigan an in, but he's a national recruit—Scout has him #15 overall in 2017—and he'll be a tough pull.
- 2017 five-star TX S Jeffery Okudah put Michigan on his top ten list but says that Stanford and Ohio State are sticking out at the moment. He does plan a visit; early days for him.
NJ WR Donald Stewart is still planning a visit on the 22nd. He hasn't heard about Stanford admission yet, which is a major hitch for his presumed leader. No idea if Michigan will have room for him, but he remains an option.
All Star week part two
Dylan Crawford is a top-100-ish WR
UA is over (as is Semper Fi) and now it's on to the Army game. Multiple recruits of major interest plan to decide at the game. CA WR Dylan Crawford is definitely doing so. With Oregon full at wide receiver it's not even certain who Michigan is competing with in his recruitment. His only officials have been to Michigan and Oregon; he also lists Washington, Stanford, Miami, and UCLA. I guess UCLA could be an option since he must have taken an unofficial there at some point, but this looks like a slam dunk.
Meanwhile MI CB Lavert Hill's ever-shifting commitment plans briefly maybe probably shifted to an Army announcement:
“I’m not for sure,” Hill said at check-in Sunday. “I got to talk to my mom and see what she says about it. It’s kind of up to her.”
Hill said he's down to Michigan and Michigan State, and that he talks to Jourdan Lewis "probably every day." Then Clemson offered, Hill reset his announcement for Signing Day, and said he would visit Clemson.
Anyway… there was a brief flurry of Michigan State optimism based on the idea that Hill and MI WR Donnie Corley would be a package, but with Corley trending towards OSU that package is falling apart. If Hill did decide at the Army game it was only going one way, and that's to Ann Arbor. Clemson getting involved is a potential hitch, but I'd be surprised if they could overcome the longstanding relationships and brother angle.
Finally, FL TE Isaac Nauta is announcing at the game, and while the universe expects it to be Georgia he provides a glimmer of hope in an interview with the AJC:
“I fly home on Jan. 10 and gather up my stuff and go,” Nauta said, who added that the events of this week can factor into his decision. “I’ve got it down to two in my head and I’ll be able to make a decision sometime this week.”
It is likely that Alabama is the team that got cut since Nauta has filed enrollment paperwork with UGA and Michigan but not Alabama. Steve Lorenz also offers a sliver of hope; while cautioning that he still expect Georgia to be the pick he relates that people in the Michigan program think they've got "more than a puncher's chance."
This is very much a "so you're saying there's a chance" situation. Door isn't 100% closed yet.
The already committed
In addition to the not-yet-committed, Michigan also has a trio of committed fellows that we'll get a bunch more data on. Those gentlemen are TX DT Jordan Elliott, MI OL Michael Onwenu, and IN QB Brandon Peters. Onwenu is a physical marvel:
The scale didn't go high enough to weigh Onwenu. We'll call it 350+. But the MIchigan commit was really impressive in that he's not a sloppy big body and he has extremely long arms. In fact, though he's only 6-3, only one offensive lineman had longer arms than Onwenu.
Meanwhile Elliott was one of the most impressive players on the first day of practice.
— Damon Sayles (@DamonSayles) January 4, 2016
— Greg Powers (@GPowersScout) January 4, 2016
— Jason Howell (@RivalsJason) January 4, 2016
Elliott must be poised for a move up in the Rivals rankings, as they currently have him a nondescript three star. All the other services have him much higher—he may be making a case to move up even there.
Elliott also offered up this spectacular quote about Jim Harbaugh:
"He's just a mystical person. He always looks at you in the eyes when he's talking and then he'll say things when he starts to look away. It's pretty funny. I've never described anybody as mystical before either."
Elliott got in a bit of a twitter tiff with EJ Holland and continues to insist his recruiting process is 100% done; unfortunately he believes that Michigan is not going to get TX LB Dontavious Jackson.
Signing Day Decisions
Michigan has never really been a school that does much on Signing Day: they'll pick up a few guys, generally lower-rated ones, but the kind of ESPNU I-commit-with-a-hat-and-maybe-a-dog thing has never been the way Michigan recruits.
Harbaugh is set to change that in a major way, as the following players are all planning on announcing on February 3rd:
- NJ DE Rashan Gary, who you may have heard of. Michigan is a heavy favorite.
- TX LB Dontavious Jackson, who maintains no leaders or top list. You can piece together an approximate picture of M, UCLA, FSU, Bama, Florida, and Texas. Jackson took officials to the first three, plans officials to Bama and UF, and is local to Texas. FSU may lead.
- FL WR Pie Young, who has maintained Michigan as his leader for a while. Miami may be the nearest competitor but really who knows?
- As mentioned, MI CB Lavert Hill is, at this instant, deciding to decide on Signing Day.
- NJ S Jordan Fuller is packing almost his entire recruitment in the last month and could realistically go to any of his four finalists.
- FL LB Jonathan Jones is more or less down to Michigan and Notre Dame.
In addition to those primary targets there will be six or seven guys announcing who Michigan might be involved with depending on how the class works out, including TX S Chris Brown, CA TE Devin Asiasi, CA DT Boss Tagaloa, and AZ DE Connor Murphy, plus a couple guys under the radar. Batten down the hatches.
Rashan versus MechaRashan
Would you like additional hype on NJ DE Rashan Gary? Probably? Okay.
Gary walked onto the field the first day of practice as the No. 1 rated player in the nation and he walked out off the field of the Citrus Bowl distancing himself and securing that spot atop of the rankings, where he will sit when they are updated for a final time before signing day in February.
Gary also landed a couple of made-up awards from Mike Farrell, including best motor…
Gary has a non-stop motor and even if you play him right, he will push you back into the pocket no matter what. He was taking as many reps as he could in practice, he could have taken the head off the quarterback numerous times and he was nasty in the game. You can’t teach desire and drive and he has plenty of both to go along with impressive talent.
…and the most consistent player, along with the best player, period. ESPN concurs:
Gary possesses a wonderful combination of size, power and athleticism and maximizes those attributes with a high-effort style of play. … An impressive aspect of his game is his hand usage. That activity, combined with his strength and motor, can make him extremely difficult to keep blocked and that was evident in his performance throughout Saturday's game. …
In addition to his impressive physical attributes, Gary also conducted himself in a five-star manner off the field. Gary is as good a No. 1 overall prospect that there has been since we began with the recruiting nation player rankings, and long as he remains coachable and focused, all the tools are there for him to an impact player for whichever program he signs.
Along with the evals come a pile of Michigan folks re-asserting that the Wolverines are heavy favorites. You can read the Sam Webb version ("Michigan is the overwhelming favorite") or the Tim Sullivan version ("Michigan will be all-but impossible to beat"); I like 'em both.
Other UA evals
This column discussed WI OL commit Ben Bredeson's UA performances a bit on Friday; he seems like he'll maintain his current near five-star ranking. A bit more confirmation from Tim Sullivan:
While he has been a brick wall at tackle for his high school team, the likes of five-stars Rashan Gary and Marlon Davidson (both on his own team for practices) are a different animal, and he stood up well.
Scout's Josh Newkirk concurred, noting an "impressive week":
He showcased good feet and didn’t struggle with faster defensive ends throughout the week. While he might end up at offensive guard at Michigan, he proved that he is versatile enough to play on the outside. And looks the part of a player who can hit the field early on in his career.
You might pencil him in as a redshirt freshman starter in 2017, if you were so inclined.
FL LB commit Devin Bush Jr. didn't get a lot of chatter from national guys good or bad and seems likely to maintain his rankings but not move up. Sullivan:
He doesn’t look the part physically, just because he’s shorter than the other linebackers, but when drills go live, he immediately displays that size isn’t everything. He’s quicker than everybody else, and moves well. He was in the backfield a couple times during team drills, and one of his biggest assets – hitting like a ton of bricks – wasn’t on display with the practice not at full-speed.
Bush sounds like an excellent fit for a Don Brown defense. Brown likes his linebackers small, quick, and mean.
NJ RB Kareem Walker is the lone guy who is likely to take a rankings hit after the UA and Semper Fi games. Walker didn't have much opportunity to show what he can do since he was put behind a shaky offensive line trying to contest Gary, and PSU commit Miles Sanders performed better. Sam Webb:
…never saw much daylight between the tackles (none of the black team’s backs did because of the relentless d-line play led by Gary), and he was forced to bounce many of his carries to the outside. That just isn’t where his bread is buttered. Walker is a downhill, one-cut, and go back… and that’s how he’ll be used in Ann Arbor.
A dollar says he'll drop to just outside the top 100 most places. 247 already has him there.
Semper Fi evals
PA S Khaleke Hudson: DO WANT
Well, one: I watched the first half and change and came away very impressed with PA S Khaleke Hudson. Hudson displayed terrific closing speed, finished plays with a thump, and had multiple PBUs against wide receivers. Dude filled up the box score:
Khaleke Hudson had seven tackles, two tackles for loss, forced a fumble and had a game-high four pass breakups, with no other player having more than one in the game.
He is the kind of guy you get to replace a Jabrill Peppers—while he's not Peppers he ain't bad, either.
Hudson split his time at Semper Fi between safety and running back, impressing at both locations. He could fill out a bit and play linebacker. He veritably screams Harbaugh guy. Here's hoping Michigan goes after him full-steam.
Michigan's two commits in the game didn't do much. NJ DE Ron Johnson is linebacker sized and it showed; NJ WR Brad Hawkins was targeted once. Both showed very well in practice, however.
2. Ron Johnson: Right behind Jones on Friday was Johnson once again. The 6-foot-4, 228-pound is tenacious off the line, and he has the speed to get to the football that cannot be coached. The Michigan commitment has had some new things thrown at him this week, and he has adapted well, while showing a high football IQ.
5. Brad Hawkins: Most wide receivers play outside for their high school. When practice began, the coaches let them go to a spot and work. Hawkins went to the slot and has done well when the ball has come his way. He has done well catching short passes and on end-arounds, and the Michigan commitment is more fluid and sudden than many might think given his size, especially in tight spaces, where he used double moves to make defenders miss twice in a span of five plays Friday.
Johnson is a holy lock to redshirt given his size and Michigan's 2016 DL, but as a developmental guy he's promising. Similar to Mario Ojemudia.
McCaffery is the #2 pro-style QB in 2017
Michigan's top target at QB in 2017 is CO QB Dylan McCaffery (yes that McCaffery), a 6'5" gentleman in the running for the top QB in the class. With Stanford focused on a couple of the other contenders for that crown, Michigan is increasingly perceived as the favorite. That perception got two major bumps over the last week.
MI WR Donovan Peoples-Jones tells 247's Luke Stampini that Michigan and Ohio State are recruiting him hardest:
“The most, without naming any favorites, Michigan is recruiting me really hard, Ohio State is recruiting me really hard, probably those two,” Peoples-Jones told 247Sports. “I do have favorites. I’ll be releasing my top ten shortly.”
Michigan is hoping to keep the elite receiver in-state.
“They’re pretty much telling me they really want me. They had a lot of coaching staff changes, a lot of changes around the university, so pretty much going forward, I’m just looking for what they can do for me.”
Florida also gets a mention but Stampini is a UF reporter reporting for a UF site so that was likely prompted while M and OSU were brought up organically. Peoples-Jones also talked to Scout's Josh Henschke:
"They've always been pursuing me," Peoples-Jones said. "Nothing's changed like that, I was just ready to see what Harbaugh was going to do and he's doing some very special things."
He's positive but noncommittal throughout; his recruitment will take a while. Michigan seems to be trending positively. His dad is an alum, FWIW.
247 says they'll be keeping an eye on IN QB commit Brandon Peters to see if they should issue a fifth star at the Army game. NJ S Jordan Fuller is down to M, OSU, PSU, and ND. He plans a visit to Ann Arbor on the 22nd. Anyone's guess as to where he's leaning. NJ WR commit Ahmir Mitchell will wear #2.
CA TE Devin Asiasi lists Michigan in his top five but has three officials scheduled over the next three weeks to other locations; he might get out to M mid-week. Never say never if that happens, I guess.
FL DE Joshua Uche got an offer a couple weeks ago and has set a visit for January 22nd. He's a generic three star but as a Miami decommit who is visiting Florida the week after he sees M he seems like a late riser.
Michigan offers 2017 AL LB Will Ignont. Ignont says he's wide open.
Odd time, but the UA game is tomorrow so let's set the stage.
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) January 1, 2016
Rashan Gary coming back
senior highlights, or a bear playing football?
(bonus: Kareem Walker runs at 2:30 and 5:40 that look pretty decent)
Excellent news here:
— Adam Friedman (@RivalsFriedman) December 31, 2015
Michigan getting a return visit feels like a trip to confirm, with only one late official visit to a yet-to-be-determined team able to overturn what looks like a large Michigan lead. Sam Webb has a couple of long posts about Gary's status that continue to give off the impression that Gary is headed to Ann Arbor. Interestingly, the second discusses a prospect committed elsewhere who does not want his name out who will visit in January, might flip, and if he did flip would lock down Gary. Sam offers zero hints as to who this might be but it's a guy
- at the UA game
- committed elsewhere
- with a connection to Gary
There are two guys who seem like candidates: PA TE Naseir Upshur, an FSU commit who is tight with a lot of the NJ prospects flooding to Ann Arbor, and five-star TX OL Greg Little. Little, an Ole Miss commit, was briefly a source of Ole Miss optimism about Gary since those two have apparently struck up a friendship over the course of their recruitments. Little and Gary were at Ole Miss on the same weekend. Maybe this is a situation where these guys might be a package if they can find a school both guys like.
The previous paragraph is entirely speculation.
BTW, Gary is not likely to cede his status as the nation's top prospect.
Gary, meanwhile, has been utterly dominant so far at the event, drawing universal praise for an elite combination of strength, quickness and ability.
ESPN's CFB/NFL draft analyst @KevinW_ESPN said today it was easy to see why Rashan Gary is No. 1. On a different level.
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) December 30, 2015
There just isn't another player like this one in the country. He is elite and he is No. 1 in the country for many reasons. He was constantly beating the one in front of him, he was in the backfield all day, and he was chasing plays down.
Rivals has him as a "stock up" guy despite the fact that his stock can't actually go up. Here's a bunch of reps between Gary and Little:
I like 'em both.
As far as Gary's decision goes, feelin' real good.
— Garrett Fishaw (@MGoFish) December 31, 2015
Delance decision primer
TX OL Jean Delance will announce tomorrow during the game. We have a ballz in for him based on a few things, but there is no certainty with his recruitment. Lorenz has a a ballz in for Michigan. Tim Sullivan thinks it's very close between Michigan and Texas with Michigan his tentative pick. He mentions something that was a reason we put in our pick:
Delance said he and his mother have to "duke it out" over where he goes. That his mother openly prefers him to stay at Texas, and that the phrasing implies he and Mom are on opposite sides of a disagreement (or boxing match, if he's being strictly literal, I guess)... that means he's favoring Michigan, right?
I mean, he told Josh Newkirk this about Texas:
“Texas is right down the street from my house,” he said. “(In my) home state, that’s what people want me to do. But I got to follow my own dreams, make my own destiny."
Sometimes quotes like that don't mean as much as it sounds like they do, but with Delance he's said things along those lines while being effusive about Harbaugh.
On the other hand, Scout guys are hearing Texas. The Texas 247 guy feels "just as strong about Texas as I did the day I put in a crystal ball for him." (As we'll see in a bit that might not be a bad thing.) Wiltfong and LSU guys at 247 were hearing Texas as well.
And Michigan did offer MD OL Stephen Spanellis, a Virginia commit. Normally that's a bad sign about the other guys on the hook but we've seen Michigan set up a few January visits for guys they may not have room for. Michigan is going into what will be a busy, tense Signing Day and they want to have backup options. A Spanellis offer does say one thing: Michigan has not gotten an official "yes" from Delance and desires to cover themselves if things go the wrong way.
So I don't know. I think it'll be M but if it goes the other way nobody will be too surprised.
[UPDATE: Steve just flipped his ballz back to Texas. Bleah.]
Brad Hawkins jittery? Probably not
Some conflicting information on NJ WR commit Brad Hawkins, who told Rivals he's thinking about visits to North Carolina and South Carolina and "wasn't sure if his recruiting process is over and done with."
"I'm 100-percent committed to Michigan," he stated. "I picked Michigan because it just felt like home. The people there are great people. The environment is a great environment. It's a college football town. There's nothing like it."
Maybe keep an eye on that but it appears that Hawkins is still a very good bet to end up in the class; can't say that about some other people who have scheduled visits. One thing that is clear: neither Hawkins or Johnson is set to enroll early. They were intending to but apparently are no longer.
FWIW, that 247 article confirms that Hawkins is coming in at WR. I'd speculated that either he or Mitchell might be slated for a switch to safety given reports that Michigan would take both CA WR Dylan Crawford and FL WR Pie Young should those prospects be amenable. That still might be the case—see Brian Cole and a zillion other position switches—but not right away.
FWIW, Hawkins is impressing at the Semper Fi game, with Brian Dohn reporting that he's "looked very good" and is amongst the best WRs at the game. Meanwhile Johnson was named the ALPHA DOG on day two:
Ron Johnson (Camden, N.J./Camden) was easily the most dominating player on the second day of practice.
The four-star Michigan commitment could not be blocked at the line of scrimmage, firing off the ball and using his raw strength to explode on contact. At 6-foot-4, 230-pounds, Johnson is lean, but on Thursday he showed the upper body strength is already there to throw blockers to the wayside. … Coaches were raving about his performance on Day two, and rightfully so.
Johnson and Hawkins have sort of been forgotten men since their commitments but they're both four star guys.
The last New Jersicorn
Hey, so NJ S Jordan Fuller has had a recruitment even more mysterious than that of TX DE Levi Onwuzurike. He has talked to virtually nobody. He's offered no lists. The only indicator that he's considering anyone is that he took an official to Notre Dame. Dohn reports that Fuller has now set visits to OSU on January 15th and Michigan on the 22nd, with a couple schools trying to get a visit the following week. That appears to be a top three of M, OSU, and ND.
WI OL commit Ben Bredeson has also caught the eye. There have been mixed reports since apparently he drew a lot of duty against Gary, which isn't going to go well for anyone in a drill. Bredeson apparently slowed Gary down a bit, which is good enough to claim the "most successful vs Grendel" award.
Coach Herm Edwards mentioned a few players who stood out: Dwayne Haskins, Ben Bredeson, Levonta Taylor, Rashan Gary, Nigel Knott on the list
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) December 30, 2015
Scout's Bill Greene was impressed:
He had a good day Monday, and most people would agree he was one of the top linemen on Team Highlight. Bredeson is huge, but he was far more athletic than he looks on film, with better footwork. He was aggressive, and it was apparent he came to play football, not be on vacation.
Bredeson told folks he would start out at left guard when he arrived at Michigan. I'm pretty sure we already knew he was slated to be an interior OL, but there's oddly specific confirmation all the same.
Keep recruitin' that chicken
EJ Holland, the Texas guy who refused to believe that TX DT Jordan Elliott was favoring Michigan—which other people believed due to things like "Elliott saying it to every recruiting reporter he talked to"—will not let his recruitment die:
According to a couple of sources, Elliott is committed to Michigan but could still sign elsewhere in February. Texas will have a good shot if Jeffrey McCulloch and Dontavious Jackson side with the Longhorns. All three communicate frequently.
Hold your panic gifs. Lorenz talked to Elliott's mom and she shot that down emphatically. Meanwhile her twitter feed is a pile of Michigan stuff. Elliott himself also continually tweets Michigan stuff and seems peeved whenever someone suggests he's not solid
Why this dude will not let the Elliott stuff die is unknown, but he thinks Delance goes to Texas, so that's good news.
It's going to be that time soon. I still don't care about 2018 and refuse to until next fall, but 2017 is closing in on being the current class. So:
- 2017 MI CB Ambry Thomas is "very interested" and feels "comfortable" in Ann Arbor. Early favorite there was MSU, we'll see how that holds up.
- 2017 MI WR KJ Hamler, AKA "Speedy Eaglet," says Harbaugh is an "electric, electric coach." MSU gets a cursory mention.
- Michigan still leads for five star NY OL Isaiah Wilson, with Ole Miss and OSU the other two schools drawing mention. Lorenz cautions that Wilson's recruitment is likely to be a "bumpy ride."
- 2017 GA WR commit Jeremiah Holloman is impressing at a camp: "Holloman is a legit 6-foot-3, and, while he's lean, he's got a really well developed frame. He does a tremendous job of using his height to his advantage, and he was a troublesome matchup for many of the top rated defensive backs during practice." Twitter has a catch for those interested.
- Holloman's teammate and 2017 GA RB commit Kurt Taylor was fielding serious Florida interest before he pulled the trigger.
FL LB Joel Dublanko is still on the radar. He's coming in on the 15th despite not having an offer and seems to be a guy who would be a late offer if Michigan has room on Signing Day. Ditto LA DE Malcolm Roach, a Texas commit who told Holland that he would set a visit to Michigan in January. FL TE Jacob Mathis has an official set to Ole Miss right before Signing Day; M is involved there still. Sullivan doesn't think it's happening. FL WR Keyshawn "Pie" Young remains high on Michigan and plans on committing on Signing Day.
BYU QB Taysom Hill was offered a grad transfer opportunity at Virginia, which is no surprise after Bronco Mendenhall took that job.
Hey, these are relevant again
— Rivals Camp Series (@RivalsCamp) December 29, 2015
Rashan Gary falling on things
The UA and Army All-Star games immediately follow the New Year's Day bowl binge, and thanks to Harbaugh's roll-with-it recruiting Michigan has a lot of commits and targets involved. MGoUser "Tate"—who does not have a Forcier avatar for some reason—helpfully collects the various attendees and announcements coming over the next week:
Under Armour All American Game - Saturday Jan 2, 2016 @ noon (ESPN2)
- Kareem Walker, RB
- Ben Bredeson, OL
- Devin Bush, LB
- Rashan Gary, DL
- Jean DeLance, OL - Announcing
- Terrance Davis, OL - Announcing
- Dontavious Jackson, LB
- Jacob Mathis, TE
Semper Fidelis All American Bowl - Sunday Jan 3 @ 9 pm (FS1)
- Brad Hawkins, WR
- Ron Johnson, DE
- Khaleke Hudson, ATH
Army All American Game - Saturday Jan 9 @ 1 pm (NBC)
- Jordan Fuller, DB
- Mecole Hardman, ATH
- Isaac Nauta, TE - Announcing
- Jordan Elliott, DL
- Michael Onwenu, OL
- Brandon Peters, QB
- Donnie Corley, WR
- Dylan Crawford, WR - Announcing
- Lavert Hill, DB
- David Long, DB
That's about a third of Michigan's current class plus the bulk of the gentlemen still on the board. IIRC, last year Michigan had just Brian Cole in the two main games (Semper Fi is notably behind the others in attention and prominence). This year it's a bit different. Prepare for all the vines and twitter videos of DL/OL drills:
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) December 29, 2015
Eh, I'd take him.
Gary seems likely to maintain his status as the top recruit in the country, so the guy I'm most interested to see evaluated on an All-Star stage is NJ RB commit Kareem Walker. Walker highlight tapes have been few and far between. He is not a slam dunk like Leonard Fournette. Michigan has had terrible luck with five-star-ish tailback recruits—Justin Fargas, Kevin Grady, Derrick Green, and Ty Isaac is the list, and it is not great, Bob. Rivals took his fifth star away…
Walker recently lost his fifth star and has gone from a decisive, one-cut brute at running back to a bit of an indecisive runner who questions his instincts and dances a bit too much. Ball security is also an issue so he will need to have a fumble free week and catch the ball effectively as well.
…and I can see why even if the more likely explanation is "we were wrong" instead of "Walker got a lot worse." This will be a week that can confirm or dis-confirm Walker's move down on some sites and relatively low ranking on others. 247 has him as a guy to watch:
RB, Kareem Walker (247Sports No. 118/247Sports Composite No. 39) – We've taken some heat in the past for having Walker ranked low, particularly from the Ohio State fan base when he was committed there. While we still like Walker, we still don't see him as a rare back but more of an effective college starter. A strong Under Armour week could change our mind.
I'd take "effective college starter" given Michigan's luck with five-star types previously.
So about those decisions
Michigan's two remaining OL targets will be announcing within minutes of each other. MD OL Terrance Davis has seen a Maryland surge on his Crystal Ball with most of the heavy hitters flipping their prediction from M to the Terps. These flips do not appear to be guesses, as Steve Wiltfong reports that Davis has already told the coaches at the various schools.
Wiltfong also reports that as Davis continued to hold out, Michigan began to view him as a luxury. If anyone on that staff has followed Michigan recruiting prior to the last couple years they probably got that Laquon Treadwell vibe—you lead too long for a guy without a commit and you're just a placeholder until he figures out where he actually wants to go.
There will be some blah blah about Durkin but like whatever man. Sometimes recruits want to stay home.
Delance and Keanu Reeves saved the future with music
Speaking of recruits who may or may not want to stay home, TX OL Jean Delance has been the staff's main priority for a fifth OL for months now because they view him as a tackle, and they want a tackle. Intel on Delance is all over the board. First, he brings good tidings:
Michigan: "Coach (Jim) Harbaugh. They treat me like family. They already have that No. 1 class. They have that set up. It's what they are going to need. There are still three or four four-star guys on the board that they are going to get that I know of. So I mean I just trust it's going to be a No. 1 class and they are going to be back on top next year (and be a) playoff team."
That article contains quotes from Delance on LSU and Texas that seem less enthralled, which continues a theme that caused us to ballz Delance to Michigan last week.
But that's an educated guess on a guy who could end up at any of his three finalists without it being a shock. The 247 Texas guy still maintains that mom wants him at home, and another quote from that article in which Delance says he's going to "duke it out" with his family seems to confirm that… while also confirming that Delance isn't eager to sign up for RichRod Year 3: Texas Edition. Wiltfong and the LSU 247 just batted a bunch of contradictory and alarming information around that I was going to summarize but since Lorenz just ballz'd Delance to Michigan let's ignore all that and concentrate on the good vibes.
To sum up: we think Michigan is the pick there but a late swerve is definitely possible.
The news is much more certain with CA WR Dylan Crawford. Reports from Oregon folks that the Ducks had run out of room for him have continued, with all the relevant parties flipping their ballz back to Michigan. There's been zero noise about schools other than Oregon and Michigan for months now, and it looks like Crawford's hat dance will be purely for show.
Finally, GA TE Isaac Nauta is the longest shot, with zero optimism coming from anywhere and Georgia people feelin' real nice.
I learned to spell this so let's make it count
TX DE Levi Onwuzurike cancelled plans to visit Arizona State and is down to Michigan, Baylor, and Washington. He remains mysterious:
He has seen all three other schools; Michigan, Washington, and Baylor, and had also indicated he might be making an announcement on January 20th, but this could come literally any day.
"All three schools have good academics", Onwuzurike said, "Distance is[n't] any factor -- and my parents have said it's up to me."
Onwuzurike has given nobody any indication as to where he's leaning at any point in the process. Lorenz says that Baylor is trailing, so Michigan appears to be top two.
Also in DEs
Alabama offered AZ DE Connor Murphy on Christmas Eve, because of course Alabama offers people on Christmas Eve. His January visit list is big time:
Murphy has already visited Oregon and has three official visits set up in January. He says, "I am going to USC on January 15th, then to Michigan the next weekend and then Alabama the weekend after that."
Murphy has a Harbaugh connection since his brother went to Stanford, and does not appear to be leaning anywhere in particular. Michigan probably does not have room for him of Onwuzurike drops; Murphy's schedule will allow Michigan to know if he's a major priority without an offputting "hey… maybe you want to wait."
Another commit who's not hearing much from the staff
MD CB commit Sir Patrick Scott told Rivals that he hasn't been in constant, or even intermittent, contact with Michigan's staff:
“Unfortunately I haven’t heard from the staff about the new coach,” Scott said. “I know nothing about him so I guess I’ll have to do my own research on his résumé to see how good everyone says he is.”
Uh. Scott says he isn't visiting anywhere and isn't planning on a decommit. Nonetheless the lack of an official visit and the lack of contact mean we should keep an eye on Scott's status as Signing Day approaches. There are a number of academic hoops you have to jump through to get approved for an official. A prospect who doesn't take any officials may not check all those boxes. Scott has not taken any officials.
Meanwhile, NJ DE Ron Johnson on Don Brown:
Johnson got the chance to briefly chat with him for the first time recently and is eager to begin playing under him.
”Yes, I did,” said Johnson. “He messaged me on Twitter right before the holiday introducing himself and talking to me about the future. He just said he couldn’t wait till I get there, so we can get to work. I believer he is a great hire.”
It would not surprise if Scott ended up decommitting.
Jones on Signing Day
FL LB Jonathan Jones tells the ND Rivals site that he will announce on Signing Day. He may commit privately before then. That silent commit will be meaningful since he's waiting for Signing Day to do a thing at his school but might want to reserve a spot before ND or M fills up.
Vibes with NJ DE Rashan Gary remain steady. Rivals is a little salty at "other media outlets" for playing up schools like Ole Miss and Ohio State:
Despite his camp not coming out and saying it and team reporters at other media outlets writing stories slanted toward their audiences, Michigan is far and away the leader for Gary. At points earlier in his recruitment Clemson, Georgia, Auburn, LSU and Ole Miss challenged Michigan for the top spot on Gary's list but his relationships with the recruiting class, staff and players in Ann Arbor will be too much for any team to overcome.
If Ole Miss is running #2 Michigan is in a very good spot—Gary's mom had a run-in with a rentacop on that visit, which ended early. Meanwhile, there was a brief surge in Ohio State noise after OSU hired Greg Schiano as their DC. That didn't seem to last:
No. 1 Rashan Gary said Michigan, Ole Miss, Auburn, Clemson, LSU, USC, Georgia the top schools still in consideration. Florida FSU outside
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) December 29, 2015
He has one visit left and is considering Clemson, LSU, Georgia, Florida, or FSU for it.
Scout ranks MD OL Devery Hamilton the #9 OT in the country. Delance is fifth. Happy trails to CA S Lamar Jackson, who named a top four without Michigan. M led for a minute after his official visit but apparently they dropped him shortly after. TX LB Dontavious Jackson tells Mike Farrell that his top three is ITT Tech, Everest, and University of Phoenix. Crushing blow to Davenport's recruiting there.