Introducing The Kugler Scale™
slight mismatch here
After making a previous, short-lived commitment to North Carolina, newest Michigan commit Chris Clark wasn't taking any chances before making another pledge, checking out all of his top options before announcing yesterday he'll be a Wolverine. Clark ensured Brandon, in an interview posted here this morning, that this decision is final:
"When you look at recruiting, decommitting happens all the time. I'm not necessarily saying that it's the right thing to do, but when someone commits, later on sometimes it just doesn't feel right." Clark expressed. "I know because I've been there, but that's in the past for me. I'm very happy that it worked out like this and I ended up at Michigan. I'm sure people are going to be like, 'Well how is he not just going to do that again?' Well, I know now that I found the school that is right for me. I have now visited all of the schools that I'm interested in. There isn't another school out there that I'm interested in that I haven't seen. Michigan is the best school out of all of the schools that I really liked, that I was considering. Michigan's the spot, I'm not changing my mind. When I committed to UNC I hadn't visited Michigan, Michigan State, or Ohio State. Now that I've seen them all, Michigan is the spot for me."
That nearly wasn't the case, according to Clark. The Spartans made a strong push on Clark's visit to East Lansing, just a day before he committed on his unofficial in Ann Arbor:
Honestly, if the visit didn't go how it went today, I was probably going to end up at Michigan State. Today just went so well. My mom and dad loved the coaches, as did I. I've known that for a while obviously, my relationship with them has been great for a long time, but today couldn't have went any better."
That's a solid 8/10 on the Kugler Scale™.*
Clark's commitment caught the attention of one of Michigan's top 2015 targets, five-star CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South, who sent out a cryptic tweet when the news broke; he later elaborated to 247's Steve Lorenz ($):
One player who tweeted immediately regarding the commitment, and says it has an effect on his outlook with the Wolverines is five-star defensive end Keisean Lucier-South.
"That's great for Michigan," he said. "Right now it definitely makes them more attractive to me. Michigan is a great school though; it is not a surprise that big time players want to play there."
Getting talented commits helps recruiting in and of itself; Clark's also on the record as saying he committed yesterday so he can get a head start on recruiting for Michigan before The Opening, saying he plans to get in touch with such prospects as Damien Harris, Miles Boykin, and Justin Hilliard.
[*Current U-M center Patrick Kugler, if you don't recall, visited East Lansing several times, looked poised to become a Spartan, took a trip to Ann Arbor, and committed to Michigan one day before another scheduled MSU visit. State fans, as you can imagine, didn't take too kindly to this.]
U-M Camp Makes Huge Impact On 2016 Recruits
Michigan's technique camp already paid off in the form of an offer to, and subsequent commitment from, four-star 2016 OH QB Messiah deWeaver. DeWeaver's commitment post focused almost entirely on his ability as a pocket passer, so I'll add this bit from Tim Sullivan's extensive scouting report ($):
DeWeaver is a true pocket passer, but he is slightly underrated as an athlete on account of it. While he'll never be a scrambler first, he does have the wheels to escape pressure and throw on the run (or even pick up a few yards on the ground if his team needs him to).
Meanwhile, after working closely with Darrell Funk and Brady Hoke during the camp, five-star 2016 Cleveland St. Ignatius OT Liam Eichenberg, whose recruitment is shaping up to be a battle of the Midwest powerhouses, told Lorenz he has a new leader ($):
"Michigan has the upper hand right now," he said. "They're a lot like St. Ignatius and I really liked working with the coaches yesterday at camp."
Notre Dame and Ohio State round out his top three. Encouragingly, Michigan's lead isn't a product of Eichenberg seeing them more than his other leaders; he camped at Ohio State last week for the second year in a row and took an unofficial to Notre Dame back in March, so he's had a chance to compare all three schools. Landing Eichenberg, who most experts peg as a future Buckeye, would be a coup.
Michigan also extended a couple new 2016 offers, including one to the son of the former boxing heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield, three-star GA RB Elijah Holyfield. The younger Holyfield gave his reaction to the offer to Tim Sullivan ($):
"Coach Hoke just told me that he looked over watching my film, and he looked at my film from camp," he said. "He said he really liked what I did, and that I could help out the program. Then he said that he wanted to offer me a scholarship.
"I was really excited. I told him thanks and everything like that. A Michigan offer is real big. It's always been one of the teams I grew up watching, and they have a long history that I know about. I'm really excited to have the chance to be a part of that."
While Holyfield isn't close to making a decision, Michigan has positioned themselves well to be in it until the end.
Speaking of famous names, Michigan offered a 6'6" prospect named... Michael Jordan. This MJ isn't a lanky shooting guard from North Carolina, however, but a 265-pound rising junior offensive lineman from nearby Plymouth High. Michigan is the first team to offer Jordan, who told Scout's Allen Trieu that it's too early to be thinking commitment ($):
With it being so early, making a commitment is not on his mind yet.
"Michigan has a very good program," he said, "but I have to decide that later. I haven't made any decisions yet."
If he eventually commits, that Hello post is going to be impossible to put together in a timely fashion.
ESPN 300 Updated
ESPN updated their top 300 prospects for the 2015 class, and the movement for Michigan commits was minimal:
- TE Chris Clark dropped from #104 to #108
- CB Garrett Taylor dropped from #106 to #110
- S Tyree Kinnel dropped from #182 to #188
- OT Grant Newsome dropped from #235 to #240
- MLB Darrin Kirkland moved up from #265 to #263
No change of more than six spots leaves little room for commentary.
In other news, 247's Ryan Bartow released a list of the 15 prospects who best fit the school to which they're committed, and Garrett Taylor came in at #10:
10. Garrett Taylor, CB, Michigan - High academics, storied tradition of producing big defensive backs, can play man and zone equally well. ... The fits don’t slow down for Taylor in Ann Arbor. He could develop into an All-Big Ten type of player for the Wolverines.
The list seems more focused on a school's reputation of putting players at certain positions into the NFL than anything else—playing man and zone concepts isn't exactly a signature scheme—so take it for what it's worth.
Weekend Visitors, 2015 Updates
Per Steve Lorenz, Michigan is hosting a few weekend visitors: commit Tyree Kinnel, 2015 four-star IN LB Asmar Bilal, and 2016 four-star DE Janarius Robinson. Kinnel should help the coaches try to close the gap between Michigan and Notre Dame, Bilal's (NTB) current leader, while Robinson will be seeing Ann Arbor for the first time.
Michigan's pursuit of five-star OH OLB Justin Hilliard looks like it'll be a fruitless one, unfortunately. Hilliard plans to make a decision within the next month or so, visited finalist Iowa—where his older brother will be a freshman in the fall—last weekend, and has final visits planned to Notre Dame and Ohio State, but he told Scout's Dave Berk that a Michigan unofficial is "possible but not planned" for now ($). Unless he finds his way to campus one more time, I highly doubt he commits to Michigan.
A visit to Tennesse allowed the Vols to replace Florida State in his top five, but four-star 2015 MD OL Pat Allen kept Michigan in his top group, per Rivals' Adam Friedman ($):
"My top five right now is Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Michigan and Tennessee," said Allen. "I wouldn't say Georgia is the leader but they're really high. Ohio State and Georgia are tied for the lead. Oklahoma, Michigan and Tennessee are third, fourth and fifth. I really think my decision is going to be based off my visits. There are still some schools I want to see like Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Michigan. Michigan might be my next visit."
That makes it sound like U-M has a decent shot to move up if they can get Allen on campus.
Talking to GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz, four-star Detroit King OLB Tyriq Thompson denied rumors that Michigan State is his leader ($):
Some rumors circulating indicating Thompson could have a leader in the form of the Michigan State Spartans, the Detroit product denied a leader of any kind, unsure of where these reports are coming from.
“I don’t know,” Thompson said. “I really don’t know what to say because I’ve heard so much.
“Somebody told me that there’s a rumor going around that I’m committed to Michigan State so, I don’t know what to say.”
He added that he plans to wait until after his senior season to fully focus on his recruitment, so Michigan has a lot of time to make their pitch to the in-state legacy recruit.
I Guess I Have To Acknowledge This Is Happening
— Anthony Hines III (@2017D1Prospect) June 18, 2014
In case you didn't gather this from his username, newly offered Anthony Hines is a class of 2017 prospect. Hines, an outside linebacker from Texas powerhouse Plano East, is currently a (very) early Mississippi State commit who, as you also may have deduced from the tweet, already holds 42 offers.
Michigan's camp produced another 2017 offer, as Tim Sullivan reported this morning that GA DB Jaymest Williams, a camp standout with early offers from Clemson and Georgia Tech, got the call from the coaches this morning ($).
The Wolverines have now sent out six offers to rising sophomores, including Orchard Lake St. Mary's LB Josh Ross, younger brother of current U-M LB James Ross.
Happy trails to OH SDE Dre'Mont Jones, who surprised nobody by committing to Ohio State on Wednesday.
SBNation's Bud Elliott lists Michigan as the top school that needs to start winning more on the field if they'd like continued success on the recruiting trail, which... yeah.
Cool Story, Br-- Wait, That's Legitimately Cool
Michigan pulled in a commitment from four-star NJ OT Grant Newsome yesterday—his commitment post is here if you missed it—and shortly thereafter we learned you don't want to mess with Grant Newsome or anyone related to Grant Newsome:
Grant Newsome has a cool story, too. Dad was secret service during W. Bush presidency. Grant has eaten at the White House w the President
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) June 11, 2014
Nor would you want to mess with his favorite historical figure:
— Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) June 11, 2014
Chamberlain was a professor with no formal education in military strategy who nonetheless rose to the rank of brigadier general, earning the Medal of Honor for his heroics at Gettysburg, then receiving the great honor of commanding the Union troops for Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox. He later served four terms as the Governor of Maine. Solid choice, Mr. Newsome.
Fun facts that are actually fun aside, Newsome is now putting on his recruiting hat, per 247's Steve Lorenz ($):
"(Recruiting other players to Michigan) is a role I plan to take head on," he said. "You want to surround yourself with the best players possible, and knowing you can have a hand in that makes me want to do what I can to help get some more top players on board. I think the #1 target for me right away is going to be Chris Clark out of Avon in Connecticut. I think he's a player that would be a great fit at Michigan and I know he's really interested in us. He's going to be the first guy I contact."
In addition to all of this, Newsome is a highly touted offensive tackle with huge upside. Consider me a fan.
no, not this guy. he can stop preaching posthaste.
We've been on the "don't tweet at recruits" warpath for a long time around here, but there no way I can't link Ramzy's evisceration of those who think they're somehow making a difference—or somehow better informed than the coaches—and while he mentions the Dick Costolo incident, most of it is a valiant effort to better his program's fanbase:
Fans of irony will love Jeff's twitter feed which - in addition to all of the assholery - is full of pleas from him to others begging them to stop tweeting at him. [Ed: Jeff deleted his Twitter account shortly after this article was published]
That's because tweeting at strangers and telling them what you would like them to do with their lives is creepy. Always. There are no exceptions to this rule, and those who break it are categorically assholes.
You'll have to click through to see Jeff's remarkable Twitter feed, as well as Ramzy using every possible form of the word "asshole" in truly glorious fashion. There's also a section on how to properly react to verbal commitments. Read the whole damn thing.
Surprise, It's A Running Backs Section
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) June 11, 2014
Four-star FL RB Jacques Patrick took a two-day trip to Ann Arbor this week, striking the pose in Desmond Howard's legacy jersey and receiving a downright understated Fred Jackson-ism, per Sam Webb ($):
“I spent a lot of time with the players just trying to get a certain feel for the place,” said Patrick. “Wilton Speight, Devin Gardner… a lot of them. I (also) spent time with Coach Nuss and Coach Jackson. They showed me a video of what they are going to be doing next year, and a video of what I’ve done in the past. They compared the two and showed me how I could fit in and stuff.”
“(Coach Jackson) said I remind him of (Tim) Biakabutuka.”
I'm not seeing "...but fast," and now I'm a little worried about Freddie Jax, you guys. Patrick added that the Ty Isaac transfer won't affect his opinion of Michigan, and the visit "definitely improved their chances." It's still going to be tough to pluck him from Florida (especially FSU), but this visit moved the needle, at the very least.
With the Sound Mind Sound Body camp underway, a lot of in-state prospects are giving updates on their recruitments, Cass Tech RB Mike Weber included. He told GBW's Josh Newkirk that the change in offensive coordinators made a big difference in his view of Michigan, and for good reason ($):
“When Michigan got the commit of Damian Harris, they kind of stopped recruiting me,” Weber admitted. “I guess that’s what their offense coordinator wanted. So Michigan wasn’t really on me like that. So I wasn’t really interested in Michigan. But when they fired their offensive coordinator and [Coach Nussmeier] came in, he kind of came straight to Cass and told me how he wanted me.
“So I am back on [with Michigan] now.”
Weber also said Michigan will receive one of his official visits. Michigan still lags behind his top three of MSU, OSU, and Wisconsin, but it feels like the gap is narrowing, and with how frequently he's been to campus lately that momentum may continue building.
2015 Linebacker Update
Detroit King OLB Tyriq Thompson has been considered a heavy lean to both Michigan and MSU over the course of his recruitment, and now he's saying the schools are in a dead heat, per 247's Steve Wiltfong ($):
“It’s just hard to say, they’re so, they’re kind of neck and neck,” Thompson said of the two in-state powers.
“Michigan, it’s the legacy, the history. Michigan State it’s the defense, Coach (Mark) Dantonio and the way he focuses on the relationships with the players.”
If one program has a slight edge, it appears to be the Spartans; Thompson stated flat-out they're recruiting him harder than anyone. He plans to decide before his senior season begins, so it's getting to be crunch time if U-M wants to lock up a top-flight prospect who happens to be a Michigan legacy.
Four-star IN OLB Asmar Bilal told Wiltfong that Notre Dame is his team to beat, and he's taking a trip to South Bend with his mother on Thursday; Michigan will get a shot to impress mom and son, as well, as they'll be on campus on June 20th ($):
“Pretty much the same thing with Notre Dame,” Bilal said of what he’s looking forward to at Michigan. “Getting my mom involved and showing here what I’ve seen and seeing more. Coach (Greg) Mattison came down here twice so I want to go up there again. I want to get as much information as I can to further my decision.”
Wiltfong added that Michigan is "likely the biggest challenger" to ND.
Four-star UT OLB Osa Masina told The Wolverine "I still love Michigan," and he's trying to make it back to Ann Arbor for this summer's BBQ at the Big House, but there's also a note at the bottom from the UCLA Rivals site stating the Bruins appear to be the current favorite, and Utah is also a major threat ($). If U-M can't get Masina on campus this summer, I won't be too optimistic about their chances.
Orchard Lake St. Mary's four-star OLB Daelin Hayes talked to Lorenz about his current comfort level with the coaching staff ($):
"I'm talking to Coach Singletary and Coach Jackson about once a week," he said. "I'm just working on building a relationship with their staff. I talk with them about different ways I can try to make myself better, and working on ways to build our relationship. It's just civil, regular talk. I can talk to them like I talk to my coaches at OLSM."
I'd call that a good sign.
The initial Scout 300 for the 2016 class came out this week, and Michigan's lone commit, Erik Swenson, ranks as the #8 offensive tackle and #86 overall prospect. So many prospects with early Michigan interest are on the list that it's best just to click through if you'd like to see where they land. The top-ranked in-state prospect is Hayes, who comes in at #67 overall, one spot behind...
OH OLB Brendan Ferns, brother of Michael, who just pulled in a couple major offers, per Scout's Bill Greene ($):
"Getting Oklahoma and Ohio State within seven days is pretty special, and it's kind of hard to believe," he admitted. "Things are picking up and it's been crazy, but fun for me. I think I'm going to concentrate on basketball the few days with my school team, so I'm going to put recruiting aside for a while."
"I won't be making a decision anytime soon at all, but it will be before my senior season, not my junior season," Ferns stressed.
That last quote is important, as U-M fans have increasingly wondered when Ferns will get an offer, especially as he adds offers from rival programs. There's plenty of time for Michigan to continue evaluating him, and the younger Ferns has said previously that the presence of his brother will be a factor if an offer comes through. Patience, grasshoppers.
2016 four-star OH WR Justin Layne took part in Michigan's basketball camp last weekend—he's still considering both sports for college, though he's leaning towards football—and he told Sam Webb two schools currently stand out for him ($):
Sam Webb: What schools have you offered you scholarships so far besides Michigan?
Justin Layne: “Michigan, Michigan State, Pitt, Miami, Florida and West Virginia.”
Sam Webb: Have any of those schools started sticking out for you yet?
Justin Layne: “Michigan, Michigan State and…that is it for right now.”
A caveat is required: Layne grew up a fan of Ohio State, and if they offer expect them to leap into contention.
Another rising junior from Ohio, St. Ignatius OT Liam Eichenberg, placed Michigan in his top three, per Bill Greene ($):
"I would say Ohio State, Notre Dame and Michigan are my top three right now," he explained. "With Ohio State, it's obviously my home state and I love Coach (Urban) Meyer. It just feels like home for me when I'm here, and I will be coming back here again this summer to visit."
"Michigan has a great program, and (assistant coach) Greg Mattison is a great guy," he stressed. "It feels like family up there, and it's a lot like Ignatius in that regard. I will be at Michigan's camp on June 17."
The Buckeyes are considered the heavy early favorite, but Eichenberg said he's in no hurry to make a decision.
If you missed it, Brandon posted an update last night on U-M's latest 2016 offer, four-star PA TE Naseir Upshur.
Whenever you're feeling down about the football program, repeat this to yourself: At least we're not Florida.
Please be on his birth certificate RT @JimmyDetail: 2016 CB Greedy Williams picked up Texas A&M offer a couple of days ago.
— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) June 11, 2014
Sadly, it's not, but that's still the best nickname for a cornerback... ever? Leaning towards ever.
But Is He ELITE? (Yes.)
Before rankling a certain perpetually aggrieved blogger with one of the most innocuous rivalry tweets ever, Alex Malzone earned himself a bid to the Elite 11 finals with an outstanding performance at the Columbus regional. 247's Barton Simmons put him at the top of the list when running down the best QBs in the "Pressure Chamber" drill (video above):
Alex Malzone – Malzone, the Michigan commit, had a very solid evening and had one of the better arms at the event. He also has good active feet in and outside the pocket. He could blend in at times but he definitely rose to the occasion during his pressure chamber showing. Of his five throws, four of them were dimes that he threw with a lot of command. He missed on a dig route but all in all, he had a strong output on his rival’s field. Later Monday night Malzone earned an invitation to the Elite 11 finals, securing one of the final 18 spots.
Scout's Allen Trieu was also impressed, though it sounds like Malzone still has a little work to do on his mechanics ($):
Malzone was generally on the money. His passes down the seam were excellent and showed the arm to hit the deep outs as well. As noted in the past, he has a hitch in his delivery, but the ball comes out of his hand nicely, with good pace, and he's an accurate passer.
Fellow commit Tyree Kinnel took the field last weekend at the Rivals Five-Star Challenge and ranked #5 on their list of top defensive backs at the invite-only event ($):
Multiple times on out routes, Kinnel came up and stepped in front of the pass. He showed off great instincts and a great ability to read receivers' routes and then come up to make the play. Kinnel's backpedal is smooth and then he turns and runs well with receivers. Kinnel is set with his Michigan commitment.
Interestingly, Rivals listed Kinnel as a cornerback; while Michigan recruited him as a safety, he's displayed the requisite coverage ability to have positional flexibility in the secondary. After the event, Kinnel told the Daily's Alejandro Zuniga he's fully committed to U-M despite recent overtures from Alabama and Michigan State.
[Hit THE JUMP for coverage of Ty Isaac's impact on the 2015 RB situation, Grant Newsome's upcoming decision, weekend visit reactions, a potential five-star visitor, and more.]
Michigan hosted four-star Illinois jumbo receiver Miles Boykin and his family for an unofficial visit over the weekend, and after receiving the full campus tour with a special "here's how we'll use you like Devin Funchess" film session, at least one of the Boykins was ready to sign up, per GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz ($):
“My dad and my brother are the biggest Michigan fans I know,” Boykin said. “So they loved it.”
Boykin adding, “When we got back home my brother looked at me and he said, ‘Miles, you’re a better man than I am.’ And I asked what are you talking about? And he was like, ‘I would’ve committed already bro.’
Miles told 247's Steve Wiltfong that he thought the trip "went awesome," and he "loved it" when Jeff Hecklinski showed him how he'd be utilized in the offense($), so while Boykin claimed no leaders it's tough not to feel like Michigan is in a very good position for him—especially since he already visited for the Spring Game and already plans on taking another summer unofficial to Ann Arbor before an August decision. Notre Dame is a serious contender and they're up next on his visit list, so this is far from over, but I like where Michigan stands.
The Wolverines also continue to look good for a few of their top targets, as well. Sam Webb's latest Detroit News article details a slight shift in recruiting strategy by the coaches—focusing on recruiting their position of specialty, as opposed to a set region, earlier than in years past—and how that's affected Michigan's chances with CT TE Chris Clark and NJ OT Grant Newsome.
Both have developed a close relationship with their potential future position coaches—Dan Ferrigno for Clark, Darrell Funk for Newsome—and will be on campus for critical unofficials this month, each accompanied by their mothers this time around. Michigan is Clark's stated leader, while Newsome is down to U-M and Penn State. Read Webb's whole article, which includes details on Alex Malzone's recruiting efforts, and you'll come away feeling good about Michigan's chances to land both.
Newsome won't be the only four-star tackle on campus this summer. According to Webb and Josh Newkirk, TN OT Drew Richmond has been impressed enough with Funk's continued recruiting efforts—even after Richmond left U-M out of his top 11 in March—that he's going to visit in July ($):
“I feel like he knows what he’s talking about and he cares about what he’s doing,” Richmond said about Funk.
The four-star offensive tackle continued: “They have just been consistently recruiting me. I really love the fan base.”
Meanwhile, recently offered TX WR A.D. Miller is on campus today while on a Midwest swing from Illinois to Ohio State, and he told Tim Sullivan he'll narrow down his focus to "about eight schools" after these trips ($). In other positive 2015 news, four-star TN LB Josh McMillon put Michigan in his unordered top ten.
Trending Not So Well...
Ohio State's campus hosted a Nike camp over the weekend, and the recruiting updates from Columbus weren't so good on the Michigan front. Damien Harris, in particular, came away singing the praises of OSU and Urban Meyer, per Doug Lesmerises:
"It's still kind of cool the way things go with Coach Meyer," Harris told cleveland.com Sunday, while attending a Nike Football Training Camp at Ohio State. "As a kid growing up, I'd see him on TV and I was like, 'Man, he's the man.' And now I get to be real cool with him. We walk into a basketball game together, we just get to enjoy life together right now - maybe for the next four years. It' definitely been a blessing. I get to be looked at as important enough to spend time with one of the greats of all time. It's definitely an honor. I don't take it for granted. I'm real thankful for it."
Harris told Steve Wiltfong that Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio State were the programs recruiting him the hardest; in the same article, he discussed how much he "loves" various aspects of OSU, UK, Florida, and Alabama, but when asked about Michigan he mentioned trying to "continue to develop a better relationship" with Doug Nussmeier ($). Harris, if you'll recall, was close with Al Borges before U-M changed OCs; I've finally given in and flipped my Crystal Ball pick for Harris to Ohio State.
The above makes this bit of news from TomVH a little tougher to stomach:
RB Mike Weber told me he does have a top 3 within his top 5. Ohio State, MSU, Wisconsin but Michigan and Tennessee still in it.
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) June 1, 2014
So that's not good. Michigan may be left looking for other options, and they at least have a couple. Tim Sullivan reports that Michigan offered three-star MO RB Alec Murphy (highlights above) a few weeks ago, and Murphy says he's looking at visiting U-M when he attends the Sound Mind Sound Body camp this month ($). The Wolverines could make a quick move here—at the moment, Iowa is his next-best offer.
There's also three-star GA RB Mikell Lands-Davis, who was offered a month ago. Steve Lorenz wrote a couple weeks ago, after U-M dropped by for an in-school visit, that the Wolverines could very well be the #2 team for him behind Clemson ($). If they can get him on campus—and they're working on setting that up—we'll see what happens.
Michigan was one of the first schools to seriously pursue four-star MN DE Jashon Cornell, and at the very least its paying off with continued mentions among his very top schools. The trouble is that the Wolverines have never seemed to quite reach the peak of his list; Notre Dame has the Cretin-Derham pipeline, Michigan State was his stated leader at one point, and now Ohio State has made a move to the forefront, per Wiltfong ($):
Sources close to Cornell told 247Sports Ohio State is now the team to beat. Cornell himself said the Buckeyes are in his top three now. They were on the outside looking in until this visit.
“Something about Coach (Larry) Johnson and Coach (Urban) Meyer,” Cornell said. “They bumped up high.”
Who else is in the top three?
“Maybe Michigan and Penn State,” Cornell said.
The bad news, of course, is that the Buckeyes appear to be on top. The good news is Michigan is still very much in the hunt, and they'll get another chance—along with Michigan State—to jump atop his list after an unofficial when he's in the state for SMSB.
Darrin Kirkland: NFTC LB MVP
One definitively good piece of news to come from the Columbus NFTC—commit Darrin Kirkland Jr. is doing quite well at the whole football thing, per Allen Trieu:
Linebacker MVP: Darrin Kirkland – Lawrence Central (Ind.)
The Michigan commit was impressive with his lateral agility. He did well in pass coverage, not something that was necessarily considered his forte coming in. He was invited to The Opening.
There's something about Kirkland and excelling in Columbus—his excellent coverage in passing drills "surprised" scouts at both the Nike and Rivals camps held there last summer. At some point, maybe it won't surprise anymore.
Recent Offers, Visitors
After receiving a Michigan offer last Wednesday, four-star FL DE Janarius Robinson told 247's Chris Nee he plans to visit Ann Arbor on June 20th ($). While Florida State will be tough to beat, a campus visit with these coaches can't be overlooked.
Another relatively recent offer that went unreported—or at least I didn't notice—until Tim Sullivan dug it up is four-star MD OL Pat Allen, who plans to visit this summer and expect U-M to fall within an impressive top five ($):
"Michigan is going to be in my top five, Georgia's going to be in my top five," he started. "I'm going to have those two, Ohio State is definitely in my top three, Florida State most likely top five.
"With Georgia, it's really the area. I've been there a couple times. It's a really good school, and I think Georgia's a solid program. I don't know much about Michigan yet. They do have a good program, and honestly anybody would be a fool not to go to Michigan. At Ohio State, I'm comfortable when I've been there. The region's really good, the coaching staff is great, the people there are comfortable to be around, I like the city of Columbus, it's really cool.
While OSU is in very good position, that could change once Allen sees U-M for the first time.
In the 2016 class, offers continue to go out to top national quarterback prospects. California five-star, #1 dual-threat QB Malik Henry pulled in an offer last week. Henry's already got serious national interest, and as always, it's best to take a wait-and-see approach with any top California prospect.
Michigan also offered the nation's top pro-style quarterback in WA five-star Jacob Eason, per 247's Clint Brewster. His offer list is even more impressive than Henry's, so he'll also be a tough pull from the West Coast.
The third QB to pull in a recent offer is four-star CA pro-style prospect KJ Costello, who told Scout's Greg Biggins he's visiting Ann Arbor on June 15th to kick off a trip that'll have him see several of the nation's top programs ($). Same deal here—we'll see how he feels after the visit.
GBW reports offers out to a pair of 2016 receivers. Four-star MD slot (5'9", 152) Steven Smothers was very excited to hear the news ($):
“[Mattison] called my coach,” Smothers said on his Michigan offer. “I had the offer for a week or two [before he told me]. But my coach just told me today. I’m really at a loss for words. A big school like that offering is shocking.
“I was pumped, I mean, what more can I say? It’s Michigan!”
U-M is now in his top six along with Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Tennessee, and West Virginia. While FL WR Binjimen Victor is unranked on the recruiting services thus far, he's also received some impressive offers, and he immediately brought up Denard Robinson upon hearing that U-M offered; unfortunately, the Wolverines still have work to do to crack his top group ($):
Victor, who stands at 6-foot-4, 170-pounds, says he is planning on making his final decision sometime during his senior season. While he wouldn’t name a leader, he did say there were a few schools sticking out early on in his recruitment.
“I’m not trying to (commit) or anything but the schools I really like right now are Miami, Ohio State, and Clemson,” said Victor.
Finally, 2016 OH LB Brendan Ferns—younger brother of U-M LB Michael Ferns—visited campus last weekend, and while he doesn't yet have an offer he told GBW having his brother on campus "will help" should one come along ($). After he pulled in a recent offer from Michigan State, it wouldn't surprise if U-M followed suit before too long.
Happy Trails, Shaun Crawford
It felt like only a matter of time, and so it was...
No longer a commit to Michigan Football.
— Big Poppa (@1ShaunCrawford) May 24, 2014
Shaun Crawford is no longer a member of the 2015 class after following through with his expressed desire to visit Notre Dame and scheduling an Ohio State visit for this weekend. Michigan is recruiting other cornerbacks—the timing of the recent offer to TN four-star Cameron Ordway was no coincidence—and while they'll pursue Crawford, his recruitment isn't heading in the right direction:
Recent decommit Shaun Crawford tells me that #Michigan definitely still has a chance with him. I'm personally not very optimistic.
— Brandon Brown (@CoachBrown3) May 24, 2014
247's Notre Dame insider believes a commitment to the Irish could be imminent, which would not surprise. Wherever he ends up, best of luck to the young man—if your sentiments are markedly different, consider refraining from commenting on this post. Fair warning.
Other Than That...
Yes, today's roundup started on a sour note, but the rest of the recent developments in the 2015 class are actually quite positive.
Things are looking especially good with four-star CT TE Chris Clark, who named Michigan his leader after his last visit and plans to see Ann Arbor again—along with Tennessee, Arizona State, and possibly North Carolina and Ohio State—before announcing his decision at The Opening on July 10th. The return trip is a good sign on its own, and the recruiting efforts of Alex Malzone appear to be paying off as well, per 247's Rusty Mansell ($):
There are few top prospects that Clark says he would like to play on the next level with.
“Oh man, that is a tough one, there is a couple of them, I like Matt Burrell a lot,” he said.”If we are talking quarterbacks, I definitely wouldn’t mind catching passes from Brady White (ASU commit), or Alex Malzone, who just committed to Michigan.”
Mansell, writing that post for 247's Georgia outlet, commented that he thinks Michigan is the ultimate destination. 11W's Jeremy Birmingham has the same gut feeling, as well. That would be especially tough for OSU given their other top TE target, Hale Hentges, committed to Alabama over the weekend. (Hentges also held a Michigan offer, but it's clear the Wolverines have dialed in their efforts on Clark.)
Meanwhile, Michigan made a slew of top lists for some quality 2015 targets. Four-star OH OLB Justin Hilliard named the Wolverines to his final five along with Notre Dame, Iowa, Ohio State, and Alabama, per Rivals' Josh Helmholdt ($):
"Michigan is definitely a school I have a lot of comfort with," Hilliard said. "Coach [Greg] Mattison, the linebackers coach, is very cool, very experienced and coached some of the greatest linebackers in the League. He is very involved in my recruiting right now.
Hilliard expects to make a decision before his senior season.
Michigan landed in the top three for OH DE Dre'Mont Jones, though they still have work to do to reach the top of his list, per 247's Tom Loy ($):
“Ohio State is No. 1 right now, then Michigan, then Notre Dame,” Jones mentioned. “Ohio State has the edge because I always have a great time when I’m up there. I like how they run their practices and I like how the coaches treat the players and it’s a great school.”
It's tough to see Jones ending up anywhere but Columbus, but Michigan at least has a shot—Jones plans to see Ann Arbor as one of several summer visits.
Cass Tech RB Mike Weber cleared up any misconception that U-M isn't among his top schools, telling Scout's Josh Newkirk they're in his top five with MSU, OSU, Wisconsin, and Tennessee, while also discussing Doug Nussmeier's offense in a very positive light ($):
“He coached a lot of great backs that are in the league right now or are going to the league,” Weber said. “So when he tells me things, I believe – because there is proof. He’s going to be good.”
Weber was slated to visit over the weekend, rooming with his old CT teammate David Dawson. After he seemed to cool on the Wolverines over the course of last season, it seems like the Nussmeier hire has really helped Michigan get back into serious contention.
Funchess-sized four-star IL WR Miles Boykin put Michigan in his top ten, as announced on Twitter. Aside from Florida and Oregon, it's a very Midwest group. According to 247's Steve Wiltfong, Michigan is up near the top of that group, and Boykin is set to visit on June 6th ($).
U-M also appears in the top ten for four-star TX S Khalil Haughton, whose list shows he's very willing to consider out of state schools.
[Hit THE JUMP for details on the latest strong camp showing from Alex Malzone, who Michigan's quarterback commit is recruiting himself, and MSU fans not grasping the core concept behind rankings changes.]
Malzone Gets The Bump
Because way too many people my age think Kanye wrote a great horn line for "Touch The Sky"
After updating their top 100 on Monday, Rivals continued this week with a revised Rivals250 and newly minted four-star prospects. In the former, Shaun Crawford (#111) and Tyree Kinnel (#193) both had very minor drops, while Darrin Kirkland Jr. moved up from #183 to #167. In the latter, Alex Malzone led off the list of non-Rivals250 prospects to earn the four-star bump:
Malzone has consistently upped his play over the last year, doing so again most recently at the RCS Detroit, where he brought home the quarterback MVP award. We already knew he had a strong arm and his team's state title last fall showed he has the intangibles as well. What Malzone showed at the Rivals Camp was pinpoint accuracy on his throws, showing he has taken ownership of his arm mechanics. College coaches were also impressed by his workout this spring, and he accepted an offer from Michigan in May. - Josh Helmholdt, Rivals.com Midwest Recruiting Analyst
While the Michigan commitment certainly earned Malzone a closer look from recruiting analysts, it sounds like he was well on his way to that fourth star with or without the Wolverine pledge. As I said in yesterday's roundtable, I expect ESPN and 247 to follow suit eventually. Either way, Malzone is now officially ineligible for MGoBlog Sleeper of the Year status.
Crawford Update: Mixed Messages
According to Josh Helmholdt, after speaking with the coaches, Shaun Crawford still considers himself a Michigan commit:
— Michael Spath (@Spath_Wolverine) May 22, 2014
Considering he visited Notre Dame last weekend, that'd be a departure from the usual way the coaches have handled these situations—if a prospect takes visits, they're not considered a commitment—but perhaps they've reevaluated how they'd like to handle this type of scenario.
Or, potentially, not. Rumors abound that the Crawfords aren't at all pleased about Michigan's visit policy, and Sam Webb no longer considers Shaun a commit:
— nezz21〽 (@nezzy21) May 19, 2014
I doubt that is just Sam's opinion. Notably, Crawford is no longer listed among Michigan's 2015 class on Scout. There's a rumor on the GBW board that Crawford may not visit Ohio State, which would be good news; that may also be an indication he's leaning towards ND, however. Hopefully this situation clears up one way or the other before too long, as I dislike the soap opera aspect of recruiting as much as anybody.
[Hit THE JUMP for news on several new offers, updates on top targets in both the 2015 and 2016 classes, and much more.]