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.]
From Darrin Kirkland's junior highlights, which you should watch.
Four-star IN ILB Darrin Kirkland Jr. became Michigan's seventh 2015 commit, and second in the last week, when he made his pledge while visiting campus yesterday. You can find his Hello post here, and Brandon caught up with him for an interview posted this morning. A pleasant bit of news that didn't make either post appeared in a short piece in the Indy Star—Kirkland plans to enroll early:
"I feel good and my family is extremely proud," Kirkland said. "I can't wait to graduate and head over there in the winter time."
Kirkland plans to graduate in December and take part in Michigan's spring practice in 2015. Kirkland had 71 solo tackles, 40 assisted tackles and three sacks last season.
Even though there are plenty of inside linebackers on the roster in the classes ahead of him, making early PT something of a longshot, it never hurts to get a head start on navigating both the playbook and college life in general.
When we left off last week, Shaun Crawford had told the coaches of his plans to visit Notre Dame and Ohio State. Now we can add another school to that list:
DB Shaun Crawford says he will also be visiting Miami in June. Hasn't talked to Hoke yet
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) May 17, 2014
Right on the heels of that Crawford news comes word that Michigan has offered another 2015 cornerback:
2015 DB Cameron Ordway (Pulaski, Tenn.) says Michigan offered.
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) May 19, 2014
Ordway is a four-star and the #21-ranked cornerback in the class according to the 247 Composite, and his offer sheet—which includes Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, FSU, LSU, Notre Dame, OSU, Ole Miss, PSU, and Tennessee—is quite impressive.
Tennessee and Ole Miss are currently favored on the Crystal Ball. Given that list of interested parties, I'll believe Ordway has serious interest if, and only if, he makes it to campus.
Speaking of offers to highly sought prospects that probably won't come here, Michigan offered the nation's #10 WDE, Georgia prospect Arden Key, according to 247's Kipp Adams. Key's already named a powerhouse-laden top five:
Last week Key named a top 5, in order, of Oregon, Miami, LSU, Ole Miss and South Carolina.
There's time for U-M to get involved, as Key plans to decide at the Army AA Bowl, but I'd put him in the same category as Ordway—until there's word of a visit, I wouldn't get too optimistic.
The 2015 Rivals100 got an update today, and it features a lone Michigan commit: Garrett Taylor, who took a slight dip from #41 to #48 overall, though he remains the #6 corner in their position rankings. A few of U-M's top targets were among the biggest movers, both good and bad:
- FL RB Jacques Patrick jumped 26 spots to #18 overall and picked up a fifth star. He's now the second-ranked running back on the list, behind only Damien Harris (#4 overall).
- FL WR George Campbell lost his fifth star and tumbled 26 spots to #42 overall; Rivals cited continued concerns about his catching ability.
- CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South moved up 40 spots to #35 overall after being "virtually unstoppable" at multiple camps this spring.
- NC SDE Darien Roseboro, who recently named U-M to his top ten and may very well have the Wolverines out in front, moved down from #45 to #79. With Roseboro now weighing 283 pounds, Rivals pegs him as a tweener who may have to move inside.
Other prospects of interest include IL DT Terry Beckner Jr. (#32), OH OLB Justin Hilliard (#49), UT OLB Osa Masina (#58), MN DE Jashon Cornell (#76), and VA DE Clelin Ferrell (#77).
Rivals named Tyree Kinnel as the #10 performer among defensive backs who participated in one of their camps, citing his ability to cover like a cornerback ($):
The 6-foot, 190-pound Kinnel is a safety prospect, but he was able to show off the coverage skills of a cornerback en route to winning MVP honors at RCS Columbus. Not surprising considering he is a safety, Kinnel was physical at the line of scrimmage and bumped wide receivers off their routes. He was also able to open his hips and run with them down the field. Kinnel is headed to Michigan, making a commitment to the Wolverines last summer.
IL DT Terry Beckner Jr. has been quiet on the recruiting trail—so far, the only visit he's made was to nearly Mizzou—but he told Tim Sullivan that he plans to visit a couple familiar schools ($):
"I'll go to camp June 1 at Ohio State," Beckner explained. I'm excited to get there.
"I haven't made it up to Michigan yet. I'm going to try to go there. Their coach was just at the school, I think coach Hecklinski. I really haven't had a chance to talk to him yet though."
We'll see here—the fact that the OSU date is set and the Michigan one isn't is of some concern.
Tip o' the cap to Rice for winning the recruiting game. Shut it down. We can all go home now.
Crap, This Again
Just when Michigan had finally received some good recruiting news, 247's Tom Loy dropped a big ol' WELP this morning ($):
I've confirmed with a source in [Michigan commit Shaun] Crawford's camp, who gave the green light to report this information at this time, that Shaun, accompanied by his father, brother and a close friend, will take an unofficial visit to Notre Dame on Sunday. They will arrive early in the morning, stay for most of the day, and then head home Sunday evening.
Crawford has not decommitted from Michigan and he's informed the staff that he will visit South Bend this weekend.
This isn't the first time Crawford's considered a post-commitment visit to South Bend, and this time it's more than just a rumor. He had very serious interest in the Irish early in his recruitment but didn't have an offer from them when he pledged to Michigan; when Notre Dame replaced departed DC Bob Diaco with Brian Vangorder, Crawford picked up that offer.
Notre Dame isn't the only school Crawford is planning to visit, either, as 247's Bob Kurelic confirmed he'll also check out Ohio State on May 31st ($).
Crawford maintains he's committed to Michigan, and it's important to note that he informed the coaches ahead of time about his intentions to take visits—not doing so was a major issue for this staff in the cases of Pharaoh Brown and David Dawson. The infamous "Policy" is going to get a lot of play as Crawford takes these visits, so let's clear up what this really means:
And as we've all reported/wrote a million times: Hoke's "policy" says if you visit elsewhere, they'll start recruiting your spot again
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) May 15, 2014
There's a huge difference between "recruiting your spot again" and completely breaking off a commitment. Michigan is likely to look around at other cornerbacks, though they could decide not to—it's not a huge position of need in the class and they've also got top-100 corner Garrett Taylor in the fold. If Crawford decides he still wants to be at Michigan after looking around, it's highly unlikely that door is closed; remember how Dawson's recruitment played out, and he was far less up front with the coaches about his visit intentions than Crawford.
This isn't good news, of course. Crawford is a hell of a prospect, and if he goes elsewhere it'll be difficult to replace him with a similar talent. Before hitting the panic button, however, let's see how these visits play out.
[Hit THE JUMP for what's actually an entirely positive recruiting roundup save for what you've already read, including more on Alex Malzone's commitment, three top 2015 prospects showing very serious Michigan interest, and more.]
Big Four, Little Ten?
Penn State had a heck of a day on Tuesday, beating out Ohio State—among many others—for four-star OT Sterling Jenkins, at one time the top tackle on Michigan's board, and four-star QB Brandon Wimbush. With 11 composite four-stars among their 15 total commits, James Franklin's program ranks behind only Alabama in the 2015 team recruiting rankings.
Given the circumstances, no school in the country is doing better on the recruiting trail than PSU right now, and they're doing so by dominating not only in-state recruiting, but the entire surrounding region—13 of their commits come from Pennsylvania or one of its bordering states. Michigan's had a fair amount of success in recent years recruiting in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia; with Franklin around, that success is going to be more difficult to replicate.
Meanwhile, Michigan State's on-field success is now translating to serious consideration from big-time prospects, and not just those from the Great Lakes State. Five-star WDE Jashon Cornell named the Spartans as his leader after visiting for the spring game, and he reiterated that stance in a free article by 247's Steve Wiltfong:
Cornell named the Spartans his leader following a visit to East Lansing for the spring game on April 26.
“I still feel the same way with them,” Cornell said. “They’ve had the best defense in the country the past three years,” Cornell said. “I’m trying to get better as a defensive player, and I feel Michigan State can help me become a better player and one of the best defensive players in the country.”
The Spartans aren’t the only contender for Cornell, who plans to make his college decision on Aug. 28, which coincides with the first day of school and his season opener.
“I have several schools in mind, UCLA, USC, Stanford, Michigan, Penn State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Miami and Iowa,” Cornell reeled off.
With a relatively early decision planned, Cornell could very well end up a Spartan, and such a high-profile commitment could potentially impact the decisions of other top prospects—we've seen this effect right here at Michigan. As for the in-state battles, MSU continues to be a thorn in Michigan's side, as well; the most recent development is their offer of 2016 South Lake four-star Martell Pettaway, who told Allen Trieu the Spartans are the team to beat ($):
"They will be a very tough team to beat. They are number one now. They kept it real with me since day one and showed me a lot of love. At the moment, I am not committing. I'm going to wait it out and rack up offers then look at my decision but it will be hard for anyone to be over MSU since the were the first ones who did it and they were up there always."
These aren't fun developments, of course. Please don't shoot the messenger, especially since the other headlining recruiting news this week is...
Kinnel Gets Alabama Offer
...Nick Saban going after Michigan four-star safety commit Tyree Kinnel. The Tide offered him on Tuesday, though for now, Kinnel isn't wavering in his pledge to the Wolverines, per Scout's Dave Berk ($):
“An Alabama offer means a lot,” he said. “I think it would mean a lot to any kid in the country that plays football. That is a big offer, but as of right now, I’m still 100-percent Michigan.”
There's good and bad here. It's never fun when the specter of Alabama snake-oiling is present; on the other hand, the fact that Saban is showing that much interest is nice validation that Michigan's got themselves a very good prospect in the fold. For positivity's sake, here's to focusing on the latter part.
Rumor Drama, Part Whatever
After four-star Mike Weber visited Notre Dame, Scout published an article with a quote from the Cass Tech back intimating that Michigan was on the outside looking in when it came to his top schools ($):
"Right now I like Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State and Notre Dame," Weber said. "I'm going to wait on a decision though because anything can happen and there's a lot of time left."
This caused something of a message board and social media firestorm, as these situations do. Weber took to Twitter to say he doesn't have a top four, and he talked to Brandon and further clarified the situation:
Mike Weber tells me he has no top 4 and "it's silly" that #Michigan isn't included among his favorites. He'll release a top group soon.
— Brandon Brown (@CoachBrown3) May 6, 2014
While Michigan putting out multiple recent offers to fellow 2015 running backs—most recently, three-star Georgia RB/complete sentence Mikell Lands-Davis—suggests they're not in as strong a postion as they'd hoped with Weber and Damien Harris, the Wolverines certainly aren't out of the picture for either.
New Offer/Peak Highlight Video
Michigan's latest offer to a 2015 lineman went out to WA three-star OT Calvin Throckmorton, who told GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz he's considering a trip from the West Coast to check out Ann Arbor ($):
Just six weeks away from summer vacation, Throckmorton says he plans to utilize his down time to take visits, with a trip to Ann Arbor to see Michigan on his mind as well.
“I don’t think I could really do those really until probably July or sometime then,” Throckmorton said. “But I definitely want to try to get out there to those schools.”
More importantly, somebody set offensive lineman combine highlights to the instrumental from Dr. Dre's "Nothin' But A G Thang" (baaaaaaaby), which is delightfully incongruous.
George Campbell Update
According to an article by Scout's Chad Simmons, Michigan is still hotly pursuing former commit George Campbell ($):
A number of schools are working hard to show Campbell he is high on their list. "Florida, Auburn, UCLA, Michigan, LSU, and USC are recruiting me the hardest," said Campbell.
An article on Cambell by 247's Shea Dixon features... an entirely different, shorter list ($):
“(UCLA coach Taylor Mazzone), (Florida coach Joker Phillips), (Alabama coach Lane Kiffin) and (Florida State coach Lawrence Dawsey) have all probably been recruiting me the hardest,” Campbell said. “I haven’t been talking with a lot of coaches, though. My uncle does.
"I will start taking serious visits and checking out schools, and after summer, I want to at least cut it down to a lower amount of schools and focus on those schools. It’s just a matter of time to see what I want to do.”
Florida and, interestingly, UCLA are the two constants; the Gators are considered the odds-on favorite at the moment. With Michigan failing to earn a mention for a potential official or unofficial visit in either article, expectations for a re-commitment should be very low.
2016 Traverse City West OL Thiyo Lukusa recently visited campus and told GBW's Josh Newkirk that Michigan is "still up there on my list"; also, damn you, polar vortex ($):
Due to 13 snow days this winter, Lukusa says his school year has been extended to make up for lost school time..Which mean his school schedule goes right into Michigan’s football camp season. So as of right now, he says his possible camp visit is pending.
“If I can make it down there one of these days and chill, maybe I can throw the cleats on and the helmet on and work,” he said. “I’ll have the helmet and cleats in the back of my car at all times this summer.”
Michigan checks in at #14 in the ordered top 15 released by 2015 five-star dual-threat QB Torrance Gibson, who currently has Tennessee, Auburn, LSU, and Ohio State on top, in that order. While that doesn't look so good, Gibson told 247's Ryan Bartow($) that Michigan's low placement was due to the fact they haven't offered—and he fully expects one to come once Doug Nussmeier sees him throw—and he later told Steve Lorenz an offer would jump the Wolverines up his list considerably ($):
Gibson tells me a Michigan offer would put them in his top 7 and that he would visit Ann Arbor at some point before ending his recruiting process.
Steve believes, and I agree, that even with an offer Michigan would be a longshot, but getting Gibson on campus would be a nice start towards changing that. The Buckeyes, unfortunately, may be the team to beat once they get him on campus—Gibson said the reason they landed at #4 is because he hasn't had a chance to visit them yet.
Hi, everyone! Did I miss anything?
Oh, lots of things, you say? Well...
Nailed it. Back to your regularly scheduled recruitin' roundup.
KLS --> DTW
Brian passed along the unfortunate news last week that five-star CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South says UCLA is currently the school standing out to him. I'm back to bring you good tidings: Michigan will have their opportunity to change that when KLS officially visits Ann Arbor for the night game against Penn State:
It looks like KLS is goin to Ann Arbor on October 11th
— Keisean South (@KLSouth16) May 3, 2014
In even better news, 247's Steve Lorenz reports that Lucier-South could make it to campus this summer, too:
As we reported earlier this week, it's not likely to be the five-star's only visit to Ann Arbor, as he's looking to take an unofficial visit sometime this summer.
Receiving an official visit is promising; having a California recruit foot the bill for a cross-country unofficial visit even more so. While there's plenty of competition, not to mention the inherent difficulty of reeling in a touted Cali prospect, Michigan has to like where they currently stand with their top weakside DE target.
[Hit THE JUMP for a camp evaluation of 2016 commit Erik Swenson, the outlook for a pair of top targets on the O-line, where Michigan stands as several 2015 targets narrow their lists, and more.]