Elite 11/The Opening Updates: Michigan Commits
Alex Malzone didn't make the cut from the 18 quarterbacks invited to the Elite 11 finals down to the top 11, as he couldn't put together enough consistency to move on, according to the camp's resident QB coach, Trent Dilfer (via the Freep):
“When you put him in an environment like this where it’s really fast and great athletes around you and every little microsecond of timing matters, there’s been some inconsistencies. His good is extremely good. His bad has been bad at times, and he’ll be the first to tell you that.”
Dilfer noted that Malzone's baseball background affects his mechanics as a quarterback—the football throwing motion requires a more compact delivery—which makes it tough to maintain consistency. That's apparent on the film from the first day of camp; on a few throws, Malzone keeps his motion pretty tight, but on others—especially the throws when he has to avoid rushers, a situation where a QB is likely to revert to their most natural-feeling delivery—he lets his throwing arm dip down too far, elongating the motion.
Playing in a loaded field while tweaking his mechanics on the fly, with a very limited number of reps to work with, Malzone making the final cut was a tall order. When I say limited reps, I mean limited reps, as Malzone relayed to Scout's Sam Webb and Kyle Bogenschutz ($):
“Yesterday, all we had on the field was a red zone session, seven on seven, each quarterback had six throws, missed a couple of guys. I felt like I could have done better myself. I made up for it in the end. I threw one touchdown at the end and today I came out and did what I could do.”
Ultimately not selected in the top group of the Elite 11 following the rigorous workouts, Malzone just sees it as extra motivation, noting he most definitely gave it his all.
Malzone's moved on to The Opening, which is in its final day today, and as expected recruiting for Michigan is as much a focus as playing at the camp, per 247's Steve Lorenz ($):
"I've talked to [George] Campbell, [Mike] Weber, Keisean [Lucier-South], [Auden] Tate, Ray-Ray [McCloud], Damien [Harris], [Mook] Reynolds and Iman [Marshall]," [Malzone] said.
When asked which player seemed the most receptive to Michigan? "Mike Weber."
More on that last bit later in this post.
Michigan's other representative at The Opening, Darrin Kirkland, stood out as one of the best defensive performers on Tuesday, garnering top ten honors from Scout's Allen Trieu...
Darrin Kirkland - Linebacker, Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence Central
Kirkland, a Michigan commit, has worked hard on his ability to run and move in space and that was on display today as he was one of the top linebackers in coverage. He could run with backs and did a nice job playing the ball in the air, coming away with a couple of interceptions.
...and earning a mention as one of the top four linebackers in attendance from 247's Barton Simmons:
Michigan commit Darrin Kirkland Jr. doesn’t strike you as an overwhelming kid athletically but he is always in the right place, he doesn’t get shaken in space, he can get in the hip pocket of a tight end or running back and he can make a play downfield on the football.
For a prospect whose ability to stuff the run is supposed to be his biggest strength, Kirkland sure gets a lot of camp praise for his coverage. That came up a fair amount during last year's camp season, as well.
2015 Updates: Running Backs
Things are happening on the running back front, as both Damien Harris and the aforementioned Mike Weber will visit for this month's BBQ at the Big House. Harris, who's at The Opening, told 247's Luke Stampini that he's still searching for that feeling he had when he initially committed to Michigan ($):
“I still talk to Coach (Doug) Nussmeier and Coach (Brady) Hoke now and then. People think I lost all connections with Michigan because I decommitted. That wasn’t the case. I just wanted to step back and reevaluate my options.”
He’ll be looking for that spark he once had with Michigan the next time he’s in Ann Arbor.
“Just that feeling I got when I was there initially, the first couple times when I was committed,” Harris said. “That family feel I got with Coach Hoke and the staff. Just kind of reconnect with them.”
Alabama, Kentucky, and Ohio State are the other schools that seem to have separated themselves from the pack. After landing commitments from Jashon Cornell and Justin Hilliard last week, the Buckeyes may very well have the edge, per Webb ($):
“I’d be lying if I said (the Hilliard and Cornell commitments) didn’t impact me a lot,” Harris stated. “Those are just two of my good friends that I’ve become friends with in this whole recruiting process. We all talked about playing together like you said, and now that they’ve committed it gives me more to think about… if I do still want to play with them, or if they (just) went to the school that I like. I just have to take all these things into my thought process and making my decision.”
Harris plans to cut his list to five just before his senior season, then take official visits to each of those schools. Michigan should make the cut, but I get the feeling Ohio State will be tough to overcome. Don't everybody sigh at once, now.
The good news is Michigan still seems to be trending up with Weber, and he's not the only other option should Harris end up elsewhere. Four-star FL RB Dexter Williams, who's "80-percent committed to [Miami]," told Scout's Gerard Martinez that Michigan is one of three other schools he plans to visit ($):
“I know I’m taking an official visit to USC and Michigan as well. I might also officially visit Notre Dame too if I can’t get out there this summer on my own.”
Another, potentially more realistic, option is three-star MO RB Alec Murphy, who recently named a top four of Iowa, Purdue, Mississippi State, and Michigan. Among that group, only the Wolverines haven't offered him, which leads me to believe they'd have a great shot to land him if they eventually extend one. The quote he gave to Scout's Derek Young about Michigan and his decision timeline makes it seem like he may even be waiting on U-M before making his choice ($):
Michigan: "They haven't offered me, yet. An offer could come at some point. They've had a lot of interest in me. I'm hoping they possibly offer because they are a great program."
A summer decision is not out of the question for Murphy.
"I'm thinking about making my decision over the summer," he pointed out. "I'm not real sure yet. If I find the right place before the season then I will make my commitment."
With Ty Isaac in the fold and likely redshirting, my guess is Michigan will wait on the higher-ranked backs before moving on to Murphy—they only need one back in the class, and Murphy seems like a prospect they could offer late in the process and earn a commitment even if he's pledged elsewhere.
2015 Updates: Everything Else
While also mentioning that he's trying to set up a visit for the BBQ, as well as confirming U-M will receive one of his official visits, four-star TN LB Josh McMillon told 247's Clint Brewster two schools are currently standing out to him ($):
Ranked as the 11th best player in Tennessee and the 17th best outside linebacker, McMillon mentioned some programs that have an edge at this point in the process.
“Michigan, Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, and Vanderbilt. Michigan and Alabama are pretty much on top I would say.”
Florida State, Ohio State, and USC are also in the mix, as McMillon said he plans to take official visits to those schools—he can visit the SEC schools among his top group without having to use officials. While that's stiff competition, Sam Webb posted a very positive outlook on Michigan's standing with McMillon on the GBW board ($). Michigan looks to be in very good shape here.
Another standout linebacker at The Opening, four-star UT OLB Osa Masina, plans to cut his list to five before the season starts, per TomVH ($). In that same board post, Webb suggested Michigan could be on the outside looking in due to distance playing a bigger factor that Masina originally expected. Tyriq Thompson and Asmar Bilal are more realistic candidates to end up in the class, as Brandon suggested earlier today.
The pipe dream of landing five-star CA CB Iman Marshall seems to be exactly that; while Marshall previously mentioned a possible July visit in addition to a potential official visit, he told Webb and Bogenschutz at The Opening that nothing has been set yet ($):
One other visit Marshall has been toying with taking is to Ann Arbor to check out Brady Hoke and the Michigan Wolverines.
“It’s still in the planning stages,” Marshall said. “Like I said it’s really been a hectic couple of months and stuff like that so I want to sit down with my parents and discuss what our visit plans are going to be, our travel plans are going to be, so it correlates all together.”
Working in Michigan's favor, however, is the presence of Freddy Canteen, who's been recruiting Marshall since they worked out at the same gym recently. If Marshall is going to get to campus, though, it seems like an official visit is the best bet, and regardless of the visit situation he'll be an extremely tough pull from the West Coast.
Another potential Shaun Crawford replacement, DC CB Marcus Lewis, a current Florida commit, told GatorBait.net that—along with Miami and Oregon—Michigan is one of three schools that'll receive an official visit from him ($):
On Michigan: "They've been recruiting me really hard even though I'm committed. Coach (Kurt) Mallory, coach (Roy) Manning and the whole staff down there. I've heard it's a nice campus, and they're rebuilding. They got a good 2014 class in, so we're going to see what they can do in the Big Ten.
"Right now they look good. Coach (Brady) Hoke, we had a good conversation. I mean he basically said he needs corners. They've got corners on the way out and they need that next Reed to come in. They've got Garrett Taylor and another kid committed, so they need one more DB.
Lewis doesn't seem very strong in his Florida pledge; in the same article, he mentioned concern over the number of cornerbacks they've taken recently (four in the 2014 class, two in 2015). If that's a major factor, uh, nobody show him the depth chart, okay?
Four-star NC SDE Darian Roseboro named Michigan to his top six along with Alabama, Clemson, North Carolina, NC State, and Tennessee, per Scout's Michael Clark ($). He's set to announce on August 29th, and Michigan looks to have serious momentum in their favor right now; if he picked today, they'd likely be the choice.
Four-star FL WR Auden Tate is another top prospect who's trying to set up a visit to the BBQ, and he's slated to take an official to Ann Arbor during the season, per 247's Luke Stampini ($). Tate described U-M as a "dream school" and his "favorite school" growing up, though Florida State, Florida, and Georgia are also serious contenders. With Miles Boykin off the board to Notre Dame, expect the coaches to make a serious push for Tate.
ESPN released their initial Junior 300 for the 2016 class. Messiah deWeaver came in at #115 overall (#11 pro-style QB), while Erik Swenson landed at #256 (#20 OT). ESPN's scouting report on Swenson is quite light on details, so it's quite possible he moves up after further looking into his game (assuming ESPN does so).
The #50 overall player on that list (and #41 in the 247 Composite), LA OT Willie Allen, told Tim Sullivan that Michigan will get a visit from him, though the timing could be a ways off ($):
"I know they're close to an Ivy League school academically, but I really don't know too much about them," [Allen] said of the Wolverines. "I plan on taking a visit up there, but financial-wise, it's when my family can really afford it. I'll have to talk to Coach Fred and see what we can do. It'll probably be next summer. If I can get the money this year, I'll definitely take a visit to Michigan. I plan on waiting it out until senior year, and then making my commitment to a school. But I'm open right now. Every offer that I have as of now is equal. I just want to wait it out."
If Allen makes his way to Ann Arbor, Michigan will be in on one of the most coveted prospects in the 2016 class; as always, however, a top-flight prospect from Louisiana should be presumed to go to LSU or Alabama until all signs say otherwise.
Four-Star Vine, I'd Say
It's perhaps the biggest week in camp season, as the Elite 11(-ish) is underway and Nike's elite camp The Opening begins tomorrow. Quarterback Alex Malzone is representing Michigan in both events, and linebacker Darrin Kirkland will join him for The Opening; tight end Chris Clark was also slated to attend the latter event, but pulled out due to personal reasons, per Tim Sullivan ($).
Day one of the Elite 11 finals is already in the books, though the meat of the event takes place today. Malzone measured in at 6'1", 202 pounds when he arrived, and told 247's Barton Simmons of his recruiting plans for later this week:
"I've built some good relationships with a lot of our top targets," he said. "Auden Tate and Michael Weber are a couple guys I'm looking to talk to. Keisean Lucier-South is another big one. Ray-Ray McCloud is another. The coaches have mentioned some guys I should talk to, but I've done most of the work on my own. I'm looking forward to meeting all the players Darrin (Kirkland) and I have been talking to and finding out the interest."
Simmons suggested both Malzone and Kirkland are poised to move up in 247's rankings if they turn in solid performances this week; Malzone recently moved into high three-star territory (and picked up a fourth star on the 247 Composite) and seems likely to earn a fourth from 247 sooner or later. The E11 quarterbacks who haven't already been selected will also get the opportunity to play for a spot in the Army All-American Bowl. In a brief, free update from the first day of E11, Simmons praised Malzone's presence, focus, and arm strength. So far, so good.
If you're looking to watch any of the camps, The Opening will be televised on ESPNU starting tomorrow night; the full schedule is here.
Happy Trails: Four Off The Board
I'm equally confused, Tim.
Four prospects holding Michigan offers went off the board since last Wednesday; three decisions went as expected, while one came as a bit of a surprise.
Nobody was shocked when both five-star OLB Justin Hilliard and four-star DL Jashon Cornell committed to Ohio State during simultaneous announcements last week; each favored the Buckeyes recently and stated a desire to play together. Jumbo WR Miles Boykin's commitment to Notre Dame was similarly predictable.
Then there's three-star TX WR A.D. Miller, who holds offers from the likes of Arizona State, BYU, Miami (YTM), Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington. He chose...
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) July 6, 2014
With Boykin and Miller off the table, expect Michigan to make a hard push for another big wideout, 6'4" FL four-star Auden Tate, whose recruitment may come down to a battle between the Wolverines, Florida State (the presumed leader), and Florida. With the other offered receivers on Michigan's board likely ticketed elsewhere, it wouldn't surprise if some new offers went out, as well.
Michigan stopped recruiting Cornell because he'd gained enough weight to project inside; they'd previously wanted him as a weakside DE, and the top option there remains five-star California prospect Keisean Lucier-South, who gave an update on his recruitment to Brandon last week. As for outside linebacker, U-M is high on the respective lists of UT four-star Osa Masina and in-state four-star legacy Tyriq Thompson. Four-star TN ILB Joshua McMillon, who's had very good things to say about the Wolverines recently, could also project to the outside.
2015 Visit Updates
Per 247's Ryan Bartow, four-star NC CB Mook Reynolds, a current Virginia Tech commit, will visit Ann Arbor for July 27th's BBQ at the Big House. While a few other big-name schools are also in pursuit, that's the only visit he's got planned for now. He'll be at The Opening, as well, where he'll likely get some attention from Michigan's pair of commits in attendance.
Also planning a BBQ visit is three-star NC DE Kengera Daniel, whose ranking belies an impressive offer sheet that includes Alabama, Miami (YTM), and Tennessee in addition to Michigan. According to Tim Sullivan($), Daniel plans to take his official visits before making a decision during his senior season; securing one of those officials will be key for landing his commitment.
Scout's Sam Hellman caught up with recently offered four-star NJ ATH Ahmir Mitchell, who told him that unlike all the other schools that have offered him as a receiver, Michigan is recruiting him as a safety ($).
Four-star IN DE Auston Robertson, who camped at Michigan and is expecting an offer relatively soon, will be back in Ann Arbor for the BBQ, per 247's Steve Lorenz ($). While Notre Dame is his early leader, he said that the Wolverines would join them at the top of his list if they come through with an offer.
Five-star Cincinnati (OH) Elder OL Tommy Kraemer told Lorenz that Michigan could join a pair of familiar foes at the top of his list should the coaches, as expected, extend him an offer ($):
Kraemer, who holds offers from Ohio State and Notre Dame among others, says the Wolverines would immediately join that top group with an offer.
"They're the team I grew up following," he said. "My dad coached a former Michigan player and I've always been told about how great of a place it is there. I would want to visit and see it for myself first, but I am pretty sure they would be right there with the other schools I'm highly considering."
Kraemer was invited to the BBQ, but is unlikely to attend because of a conflict with his high school team's camp; he's looking to set up a visit before that camp starts on July 17th. With Kraemer planning to make a decision after his junior season, expect Michigan to throw their hat in the ring whenever he gets on campus.
Starting With The Good...
It'll take, at most, four plays for you to yell "DO WANT."
2015 TN ILB Joshua McMillon visited Michigan back in April, and it apparently made quite the impression on him. McMillon told GBW's Josh Newkirk that the Wolverines "stand very high on the charts" in large part because of their focus on academics ($):
“They separate themselves from everybody else because they set their [academics] standards so high,” McMillon said. “So they actually expect their student-athletes to actually be students first instead of athlete-student. I love that about them. They make sure they get their work. They base their schedule around their major instead of around their athletics. Even though they are on athletic scholarship, they make sure they get an education.”
McMillon is planning a return trip to Ann Arbor with both his parents in tow—only his father was able to accompany him on the previous visit—and he spoke very highly about his rapport with the coaches, especially Greg Mattison (who, surprise!, busted out the Ray Lewis comparison). U-M is firmly in McMillon's top five as he nears an August decision, and they could very well be on top already while waiting for the all-important Mom Stamp of Approval. They've already got one from McMillon's dad, per 247's Steve Lorenz ($).
It's been a while since we've heard a major update on NY TE/DE Tyrone Wheatley Jr., and after Chris Clark's commitment there was concern it'd negatively affect Michigan's chances to land the son of the great U-M running back. Not so, says the younger Wheatley himself, per Sam Webb ($):
Many observers wonder if Clark’s presence in the Wolverines’ recruiting class will adversely affect their standing in Wheatley’s eyes.
“No,” he replied swiftly. “I actually know Clark. I’ve been talking to him for a while. He actually contacted me a while back. We’ve just been talking about the recruiting process and different schools. He had a lot of big schools as well.”
Wheatley named Michigan to his top five alongside Alabama, USC, UCLA, and Miami (YTM), and he plans to take official visits to all five schools.
The Wolverines are poised to make the top five for another top target, five-star CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South, per Tim Sullivan ($):
"Right now, I don't know who'll be in the top five yet, I'm still figuring it out. [UCLA and Michigan] probably," he admitted with a chuckle. "I think they're going to be in there. I know the coaches, they're good to me, and they're always talking to me, so they're probably going to be in that list. All the other schools are still talking to me too, so it's going to be really hard to see what my top five is going to be."
KLS will see Ann Arbor for the first time when he takes an official visit for the Penn State game, which should be a huge recruiting event.
Three-star FL WR/TE Auden Tate, whose ranking belies an excellent offer sheet, checks in at 6'4", 200 pounds and Michigan is recruiting him as a big wideout in the Devin Funchess mold. U-M's pitch that Tate could eventually replace Funchess looks to be working—he's planning a visit for this month's BBQ at the Big House, and Michigan is also in line to receive one of his officials despite an upcoming planned decision, per Scout's Amy Campbell ($):
Tate hopes to have his decision wrapped up in the next month, but he plans to take several officials this fall too.
“Florida State and Michigan will be official visits, I don’t know about the other three yet,” he said.
Florida State—the presumed team to beat—and Clemson should be the biggest competition here. Florida is also a factor.
...And Moving On To The Less Good
Three Midwest prospects who at one point or another have been top Michigan targets will their respective decisions tomorrow, and the outlook isn't good for U-M.
MN DL Jashon Cornell and OH LB Justin Hilliard are holding press conferences at the same time tomorrow morning (10 am ET), and it looks like Ohio State will be the ultimate destination for both of them. Michigan stopped pursuing Cornell recently after he bulked up to interior lineman size—U-M isn't taking a DT in this class—but Hilliard was their top target at outside linebacker, a position they've recruited heavily for 2015.
Michigan has a slightly better shot at landing IL WR Miles Boykin, but not by much—Notre Dame is the prohibitive favorite to get the commitment when Boykin announces on Twitter at an undetermined time tomorrow.
If a Hello post goes up tomorrow, it'll be written from scratch.
2015 Top247 Updated
247 updated their 2015 rankings, and they featured rises from Darrin Kirkland and Alex Malzone. Kirkland slotted just inside the top 200 after impressing on the camp trail:
Darrin Kirkland Jr. – Michigan is getting a good one in Kirkland. Checking in at No. 199 overall, Kirkland was arguably the top linebacker in attendance at the Ohio Nike Camp and he’ll be looking to raise his stock even more at The Opening.
While Malzone didn't quite get his fourth star on 247, he improved his standing and closed the gap between his ranking and that of Ohio State QB commit Joe Burrow:
Heading into the Elite 11 in Columbus, Michigan commit Alex Malzone was rated as 3-star with an 86 grade. Ohio State commit Joe Burrow was a four-star with a grade of 90. After watching them workout side by side at the event, we’ve moved the two to the same grade of 88. Burrow has more physical and athletic upside and we like we he does with his feet on film but after watching him throw in person for the first time, he’s still got some work to do in his consistency as a passer. Malzone on the other hand is a little bit undersized but has outstanding feet in the pocket and a really live arm. He doesn’t have the ceiling of Burrow but he’s the more college ready player right now.
That boosted Malzone's score enough to be a four-star, ranked #300 overall and #10 among pro-style quarterbacks, on the 247 Composite.
Michigan's other commits in the Top247:
- Garrett Taylor is the team's highest-ranked commit at #77 overall (#10 CB), up two spots from when he committed.
- 247 remains the least bullish on Chris Clark, also moving him up two spots to #189 (#5 TE).
- Grant Newsome held steady at #192 overall (#23 OT).
Sam Webb's latest at the Detroit News is a feature on 2016 Eastern Christian Academy OLB Dele' Harding, whose high opinion of U-M in the wake his recent offer hasn't changed. Harding's father said Dele' was "elated" upon receiving the offer, and Dele' himself said the presence of his two former high school teammates will be a factor when he considers U-M:
Said Harding: “I would probably say (Canteen and Watson being at Michigan) helps just for the simple fact that they are my coolest teammates and talk to me almost every day. So I would say it would probably be a plus.”
Harding has tentative plans to make a decision after his upcoming junior season. USC seems to be the main competition among schools that have offered, though Harding noted that he's not nearly as familiar with the new Trojan coaching staff as he was with the Kiffin regime. While it's still early, U-M looks to be in very good position for him.
Michigan offered 2016 TX S Brandon Jones, the top-ranked safety in the class, last Thursday, per Jones himself. As you'd expect, Jones has a very impressive offer sheet, and so far all 13 picks on the 247 Crystal Ball have him heading to Texas A&M.
After a recent visit and Michigan offer, four-star PA RB Miles Sanders has Michigan in his top three, per Sam Webb ($):
Miles Sanders: “Right now I have Penn State first and Michigan and Michigan State tied.”
Sanders has a Michigan connection, as he attends the same high school (Woodland Hills in Pittsburgh) that produced Steve Breaston and Ryan Mundy, both of whom have talked to Sanders while stopping by their old school.
Michigan is one of six schools standing out for behemoth four-star guard Richard Merritt, per 247's Ross Martin:
"I don't have any favorites right now, " the 6-foot-5, 345-pound Washington D.C. product said. "but the schools that are standing out are Alabama, Florida State, Michigan, Michigan State, West Virginia, and Virginia Tech."
Offensive lineman highlights aren't always the most interesting watch, but you're gonna want to click play on the reel embedded above. Merritt is ranked as the #53 overall player and #2 guard in the early composite rankings.
Four-star NC RB Robert Washington told GBW's Josh Newkirk that Fred Jackson informed him an offer should come within the next week ($).
This has nothing to do with Michigan, in all likelihood, but it must be posted here. 2017 FL WR Emmanuel Greene already holds offers from Clemson and Miami, and this video gives you a pretty good idea why:
If this was the And1 tour, Greene would've just chucked the ball out of bounds after the third juke, and the entire camp would've ended at that moment. Life should be more like the And1 tour.
Five-Star Planning Visit, Maybe Two?
2015 five-star CA CB Iman Marshall has mentioned Michigan as one of his planned official visit destinations. According to 247's Steve Lorenz, that's not the only visit to Ann Arbor in the works for the nation's #2 corner ($):
Yesterday, 247Sports National Analyst Ryan Bartow reported that Michigan is expected to receive an official visit from Long Beach (CA) Poly 2015 five-star cornerback Iman Marshall. Per his father, that will not be the only visit he will make to Ann Arbor as they are planning a late July visit.
"Yes, it's looking that way," the elder Marshall said. "It'll be a dead period between school and football after the Opening. That will be a perfect time for us to visit Ann Arbor."
Marshall is reportedly in frequent contact with freshman receiver Freddy Canteen; they worked out together during the offseason and struck up a friendship. It's obviously huge news that Marshall plans to pay his own way to visit campus next month.
In looking at Bartow's original report($) and a free Scout article on Marshall posted on Saturday, however, I'm a little skeptical the original planned official is set to go—when asked about which schools he plans to use officials on, he mentioned Florida State and Notre Dame, but not Michigan. That's not to say he doesn't plan on taking one, just that it isn't set in stone yet. Regardless, the planned July unofficial is a big deal.
The Latest On KLS
Five-star CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South released a top 11 over the weekend; as expected, Michigan made the cut. KLS told Lorenz that he talks to Michigan "almost every day," and he's already hearing the U-M recruiting pitch from their latest 2015 commit ($):
"I hear from Alex (Malzone) and Darrin (Kirkland) almost every day," he said. "Chris Clark got in touch with me only a couple hours after he committed. I hear from Garrett Taylor quite a bit too. I know most of their guys will be at the Opening, so I'm looking forward to meeting them in a few weeks. We'll also all be taking our official visit the week of the Penn State game, so I'll get to spend some time with them then as well."
Clark wasn't kidding about wanting to get a jump start on recruiting before The Opening.
While KLS has called Michigan his "dream school" at times in his recruitment, UCLA is thought to be the team to beat, and after a recent trip to that other school in Los Angeles, another in-state threat looms, per Rivals' Adam Gorney ($):
"I'm starting to like SC a lot," Lucier-South said. "I'm feeling the vibe. It's kind of like the old SC when Pete Carroll was there.
"I think coach Sark is doing a really good job with the program and I especially like the d-line coach, coach Wilson. He's a great guy and he used to coach in Georgia and do big things so I really like SC right now."
While KLS told Lorenz that U-M "will be in it the entire way," it won't be easy to pull him from his home state.
Other 2015 Updates: Michigan, ND "Neck And Neck" For Bilal
Four-star IN LB Asmar Bilal entered his weekend unofficial to Michigan with Notre Dame at the top of his list. Per 247's Steve Wiltfong, he left with Notre Dame in the same position, but with new company ($):
The decision-making process just got more difficult for the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Bilal, who would like to have his mind made up before the fall.
He says Michigan is neck and neck with the Irish moving forward.
“They’re both, I’m juggling with both right now,” Bilal said. “They both have a good academic program and good football program.
Bilal wants to make a decision before the fall, and he doesn't have any other visits scheduled right now, so this looks like a two-team battle, and U-M may have the momentum.
Michigan made a top group of six schools for four-star TX WR AD Miller, but they've got work to do to land an eventual commitment, per Rivals' Jason Howell ($):
"I'm favoring Miami, Arizona State, Cal, Michigan, Ohio State, and Illinois, and I'm leaning towards those schools because they all give me an opportunity to play early, they all have great coaching staffs, and I get along with all the coaches, and I feel like all the academic standards are at a high level," Miller said. "They're good programs."
Three of those programs have begun to separate from the others.
"Yeah schools starting to take that lead are probably Miami, Illinois, and Cal," Miller said.
Yes, I also did a double-take at "Illinois".
Per TomVH, four-star Washington (DC) Gonzaga athlete Marcus Lewis, a Florida commit, plans to visit Michigan next month. He's listed in various places as a wideout, corner, and safety—I assume U-M would want him at corner to replace Shaun Crawford.
2016 Updates: Leads Don't Always Last
The last recruiting roundup contained the encouraging news that blue-chip 2016 OH OT Liam Eichenberg named Michigan as his leader after camping in Ann Arbor. That lead turned out to be short-lived:
2016 OT Liam Eichenberg just told ISD that after camping at #notredame yesterday, the Irish are his new leader. The reason? Harry Hiestand.
— Irish Sports Daily (@ISDUpdate) June 22, 2014
Hiestand is ND's O-line coach, FWIW.
Per Steve Lorenz, Michigan is set to host a four-star receiver whose name I'm just gonna copy-and-paste, if you don't mind:
Suwanee (GA) North Gwinnett 2016 four-star wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe has set a visit date to see Michigan, he tells me.
"I am planning on visiting on the 24th of June right now," he said. "I will be visiting with my brother and mother."
Imatorbhebhe received an offer back in May.
247 updated their 2016 rankings. Tackle commit Erik Swenson moved up two spots to #231, while Messiah deWeaver climbed five spots to #238.
Happy trails to the nation's #1 overall 2016 recruit, TX OT Greg Little, who committed to Texas A&M.
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.