Winter Is Coming
I posted most of the post-Opening evaluations of Michigan commits yesterday, but these highlights of Benjamin St-Juste were published after that went up, and they make it clear why he's almost certainly headed for a ratings bump. St-Juste didn't just test well—though he certainly did that, posting the second-best shuttle time at the combine—he also made a lot of plays on the ball in the 7-on-7 portion, and his quickness is on full display in the drills at the end of the video. 247's Barton Simmons:
"(St-Juste) may have been the best big cornerback at the event," Simmons told Wolverine247. "He moves so well for a guy of his size and was the most impressive cornerback physically as well. He was challenged a lot but was rarely beaten. He was really impressive and really stood out throughout the weekend."
247 hasn't updated their rankings yet; when they do, I'll be surprised if St-Juste is still a three-star. There aren't many 6'3" corners that move like that.
Simmons also went into more detail on Dylan McCaffrey's performance for Steve Lorenz's latest post at the Freep:
"He was an upper-tier quarterback at the event," Simmons said. "The biggest reason for that is the mental grasp he has on the position. He's a guy that was so decisive with his reads. He knows where the ball needs to go and gets it there quickly. In that setting, knowing where the open man is and connecting with him quickly should be routine and he was able to do it all day.
"He has some slight mechanical issues he has to correct, but he has a coaching staff at Michigan that is obviously fully capable of getting him where he needs to be. The coaches at the event raved about his ability to take coaching and wanting to learn about the game. He's far beyond your average quarterback in that regard."
Still no word on the specifics of those mechanical issues, unfortunately, but Simmons clearly isn't too concerned, especially once Harbaugh gets involved—he called the Harbaugh/McCaffrey pairing "a perfect match."
File this away for later: Bleacher Report's Michael Felder, who helps coach at The Opening, had an enlightening exhange with Jaylen Kelly-Powell:
Jaylen Kelly-Powell worked inside CB and S, is strong in his man coverage & is working to feel comfortable in multiple zone looks
— Michael Felder (@InTheBleachers) July 12, 2016
@InTheBleachers Real talk. Have to master my weaknesses
— Jaylen Kelly-Powell™ (@JKellypowell) July 12, 2016
@InTheBleachers Yeah. I'm switching to the up FR this year so I can get use to it. Just used to playing man press/off from the SS and nickel
— Jaylen Kelly-Powell™ (@JKellypowell) July 12, 2016
Playing more free safety should help Kelly-Powell improve on his zone coverage. He's clearly a coachable kid—something that was noticeable at SMSB, too.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
To avoid a 5000-word post, I'm breaking the roundup into two parts. Today's covers the performances of Michigan's commits—plus a new offer—from the weekend's The Opening finals. Tomorrow's will cover the considerable recruiting fallout from the weekend.
McCaffrey Builds Rapport With Iowa McCaffrey
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) July 10, 2016
This year's iteration of Nike's elite camp, The Opening, has come and gone, and Michigan's commits and top targets acquitted themselves well. Team Hypercool, the squad comprised largely of Michigan recruits, made a nice run in the 7-on-7 tournament—knocking off Buckeye-heavy Team LunerBeast in the process—despite minor injuries causing Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins to both sit out by the end of the tourney.
Michigan commit Dylan McCaffrey - He looks like a pro on the field. Not in terms of his size or physical traits, not even his technique. The way he processes what's in front of him is elite though. He has a glaring technical flaw that he needs to clean up but when that happens, he's going to be special for Jim Harbaugh.
Unfortunately, Simmons didn't elaborate on the "glaring technical flaw," which I assume has something to do with McCaffrey's long delivery—he brings the ball down low before releasing, a habit that can be fixed over time.
With Peoples-Jones and Collins both sidelined by the final day, McCaffrey had to build a rapport with other receivers, and he found a pair of unlikely go-to targets. One was four-star MI CB Ambry Thomas, who flipped sides of the ball and showed he's a very talented receiver prospect. TMI's Josh Newkirk:
He already had a stellar Saturday showing at cornerback, but late in the evening he switched to offense due to injuries at wide receiver for Hypercool.
And the switch worked for Thomas, how well exactly? Well, the four-star standout caught four touchdowns of 40+ yards on simple go routes, he simply just out ran his opponent. It was one of the better performances you’ll ever see in a camp setting.
While Thomas is first and foremost a (very good) cornerback prospect, he's got the potential to play both ways in college. His performance earned him a spot on the all-tournament team.
McCaffrey's other favorite target came in as a nondescript three-star who'd had only MAC offers until last month. IA WR Oliver Martin left with a Michigan offer after earning the trust of his potential future teammates, per Sam Webb:
His chemistry with McCaffrey was readily apparent on an over the shoulder throw 40 yards down the seam for a score in the semis. That was clearly Martin single biggest play, but where he consistently did damage was in the short and intermediate areas. He consistently moved the chains. Michigan fans should picture Grant Perry, but bigger, stronger, faster, and with more shake. This isn’t a kid that the Wolverines were heavily involved with before The Opening, but they are now. Thanks to some not-so subtle suggestions from the Michigan commits at The Opening, the Maize & Blue offered Martin a scholarship Sunday night. He spoke to The Michigan Insider afterward and expressed his strong interest.
247's Steve Wiltfong wrote a feature on Martin today that is well worth your time; in addition to being a football prospect who's going to rise up the rankings considerably, Martin is a D-I baseball prospect and state champion swimmer, and his younger sister just nearly made the Olympic swim team as a rising high school junior. Their father was a standout swimmer; their mother the same in track. Michigan might have just found the Iowa McCaffreys.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Nico Collins Update: M Still #1
Another week, another positive Nico Collins update. This time, the top-100 receiver from Alabama told AL.com that Michigan still leads for him. Collins has built a rapport with Dylan McCaffrey, who's targeting Collins with both passes and recruiting pitches:
McCaffrey and Collins are on Team Alpha Pro at The Opening with more targets that the Wolverines are after. The two have thrown together plenty in the first two days of competition.
"Every day we're up here, he's having a conversation with me about Michigan," Collins said. "We were walking through the headquarters and we saw some Jordans. He said, 'You'll get these every day if you come to Michigan.' It's just the little stuff. We're getting to know each other out here, running routes."
McCaffrey has put on his recruiting hat at The Opening; 247's Isaiah Hole reports he's also working on Donovan Peoples-Jones and four-star CA TE Josh Falo—that is, when he's not dealing with the perils of being a McCaffrey:
But being in the shadow of Christian McCaffrey has its...challenges, the younger McCaffrey says.
"I have plenty of girls asking me, talking to me--cute girls--and they'll be like, 'Hey! Can you introduce me to your brother?'"
Chin up, kid. Michigan quarterbacks have done okay in that regard.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Edit: Oh, right, it's Tuesday.
Herbert Announcing Tomorrow
Michigan is in prime position to pick up another offensive lineman when four-star FL OT Kai-Leon Herbert announces his decision sometime tomorrow between the Wolverines, Florida, and Miami (YTM). Michigan got his most recent visit and has the last nine picks on his Crystal Ball, including that of 247 scouting director Steve Wiltfong. When previewing his decision for 247's Luke Stampini, Herbert may have tipped his hand in what's been considered a Michigan/Florida battle with Miami on the periphery [emphasis mine]:
“It’s the relationship I have with Coach [Mike] Summers, Coach [Randy] Shannon, and Coach [Jim McElwain] himself,” Herbert said of Florida. “They were my leader for quite some time and they definitely know how to recruit.
Herbert would be an impressive pull from a powerhouse program (American Heritage), and a commitment from him could also help Michigan land five-star OG teammate TJ Slaton, whose recruitment may become a Michigan/Clemson battle.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Nico Collins gets Friday Night Lights'd
This is from AL.com and thus rather AL centric, but it's well done all the same:
Michigan doesn't get a mention except at the very tail end when he's listing his top schools, but I believe this is the second workout that Collins has been taped at where a certain Maize and Blue item features:
We'll see if that matters long term. Better than nothing.
Package or no
MI CB Ambry Thomas talks to Kyle Bogenschutz and says 1) that he's "more than open to leaving the state" and 2) that playing with MI S Jaylen Kelly-Powell is kind of a big deal:
"It's very important, that's like blood," he said. "It is very important. 10 (out of 10)."
Also MSU is "real smooth." These things don't go together, but when someone asks you about school X it's not like you say "those guys suck and their coach is an eggplant." Thomas currently plans a Signing Day decision.
California camp folk
CA RB Najee Harris, the #1 prospect in the country depending on who you listen to, came out to Michigan's LA camp and actually worked out, which is a rarity for big-timers. Isaiah Hole got some video of Harris getting coached by Ty Wheatley, and reports that Michigan seemed to help themselves out:
Pretty much the entire staff -- save for Jim Harbaugh, who spent his time interacting with all the campers -- got some face time with Harris. It was something of a cacophony in the way the staff moved from station to station, working with the bulk of the camp and then spending a little time with Najee himself. Harris seemed to really enjoy himself, especially his time with Wheatley.
Harris is a nominal Alabama commitment but showed up at the camp in USC gear and what does commitment even mean, you know?
CA TE Josh Falo seems like he's had a bad experience or two during his recruiting process:
“It's pretty up there because they use the tight end a lot,” Falo said. “[Coach Jay Harbaugh is] a relaxing dude, he's straight forward with you and he doesn't lie to you.”
Falo is one of this year's mystery recruits. I haven't seen any indication where he might be leaning. That might be good for Michigan in the long run, as they don't have a slam dunk second TE target in the class. M and Falo could circle back around late and find something mutually appealing. FWIW, Falo is on Team Hypercool, AKA team Michigan Targets And Commits Except Jaylen Kelly-Powell For Some Reason, at the Opening.
CA DE DJ Johnson is similarly mysterious; it's not often you get a California kid whose crystal ball consists of four picks split evenly between Ole Miss and Miami. Johnson has a murky top four of Michigan, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Miami. He showed at Michigan's camp as an observer and talked to Isaiah Hole:
“They told me they're going to have an attack defense,” Johnson said. “It's going to be a great one. I like what I'm hearing from them and stuff like that. It should be a great experience, hanging out with them and watching them play live when I go out there and watch them play."
He'll take an official to Michigan in the fall. Nothing would surprise in his recruitment.
CA OL Jalen McKenzie says he'll take an official visit after hitting up a satellite camp. McKenzie has a brother at Tennessee and they're the tentative leader.
Peppers 3.0, Hudson 2.0, And Other Reasonable Coach Scouting
2018 GA LB commit Otis Reese's coach talks with Brandon Brown about his game:
"We play Otis all over the place because of how multi-faceted he is," Fabrizio said. "We’ll bring him off the edge because he’s a mismatch for anyone trying to block him. We’ll roll him down into the box to help against the run and we’ll also split him out to cover the other team’s best receiver. We ask a lot of him and we try to take advantage of the wide range of abilities he has."
That gentleman is destined to be a SAM linebacker a la Peppers. I love the fact that Michigan's defense now has a dedicated slot for a hybrid space player. I'm excited to see Michigan finally deploy a modern anti-spread D.
Brown also talked to CT OL commit Andrew Stueber's coach:
"What sets him apart is that, although he’s 6-6 and around 300 pounds, is the way he moves. I know the Michigan coaches saw that in person. He won a bunch of the speed and agility tests out at the camp. Coach Brown called me up and told me how impressive he was and I said, ‘Yup! I told you so.’”
Stueber isn't even 17 yet, which means he might add another inch or two of height and is far away from his physical ceiling. His coach thinks he's a left tackle all the way. If he ends up at 6'8"—he's already measured in at 6'6.5" at an Opening regional—and able to move he'll certainly be groomed as one.
OH OL Joel Honigford released a top four of M, MSU, Auburn, and Oregon. Michigan was a hot name for him for a minute but Andrew Stueber's commitment probably means that Michigan focuses on the big fish they've got on the hook.
Michigan's offered TN OL Obinna Eze, who is another left tackle type at 6'7" or 6'8" depending on who you listen too. Wingspaaaaaan:
Anyway, Brown reports that Eze was shocked at a Michigan offer because it shows "people on the other side of the country" know about him. (Please do not get out your maps and #wellactually a recruit.) We're big in Nigeria:
"Michigan is a big institution. My mom in Nigeria knows what school Michigan is. I’m just grateful for it."
Eze worked out at Michigan's Tennessee satellite camp; his recruitment has zero shape right now. There's one Bama crystal ball in for him; meanwhile his 247 profile lists Kentucky and only Kentucky as "warm." I seriously doubt he ends up at either place. As of about ten days ago Eze was trying to get his recruitment wrapped up relatively quickly, so Michigan will have to get an unofficial real soon or an early-season official to stay involved.
VA OL Mekhi Becton is expected to stay close to home but he will visit Michigan and various other Midwest schools in the near future:
“I have my best relationships with Michigan, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Penn State and Michigan State,” Becton said. “I’m still talking to a lot.”
At 6'7", 345 he is a massive human being.
CA OL Drew Dalman visited last week. He's a three-star center and could be a Plan B if Michigan doesn't end up getting Cesar Ruiz.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Grudging 2018 items
— D-ROB. (@DoriansTweets) June 27, 2016
NV QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson hit up Michigan's LA camp. He's got his offer in hand now and continues to display a dual threat aspect to his game that is pretty enticing:
Thompson-Robinson won approximately half -- if not more -- of the drills that he participated in, including fastest man in camp and the backpedal drill. Jim Harbaugh openly acknowledged, "This is a first! We haven't had a quarterback win these drills!" The Michigan legacy was fast and showed a lot of composure in every drill he competed in.
You may remember that Thompson-Robinson had some contradictory thoughts about Michigan and Ohio State after a Midwest visit sweep a few months ago. That appears to be a moot point with OSU focused on another QB prospect. Thompson-Robinson told Sam Webb that UCLA, Michigan, and Arizona State were sticking out and that mom, an alum, was a little excited with the Michigan offer:
"I was actually in the car with my mom when I got it," Thompson-Robinson said. "She was so happy she almost crashed the car. It was a really fun time. I was really happy I got that one."
I think she's in our corner. Brandon Brown reports that Thompson-Robinson is thinking about coming up for the BBQ in August and doesn't have any other unofficials on the docket.
CA WR Jalen Hall also worked out at Michigan's camp, and is really good. This is a pretty crootin quote right here:
“I would say that (they stick out) as well as the other schools,” Hall said.
Hall's already been out to Ann Arbor with his team.
OH RB Jaelen Gill released a top 9 including M. Also now I know that Gill goes by "Squizzy Squirt" on twitter, which is really something.
MI LB Ovie Oghoufo picks up a Michigan offer. Oghoufo is Mario Ojemudia's cousin and Mario's all like cumong man:
"With Rio he has a great relationship with them so he can fill me in a lot about what they’re all about. I talked to him right after I got offered and he was like, ‘Hurry up and commit.’ He was very excited for me — it was a great moment."
Oghoufo just picked up a Notre Dame offer on his visit and has been up to MSU multiple times.
CA OL Wyatt Davis committed to OSU; FL WR Michael Harley committed to WVU; FL WR Jhamon Ausbon committed to LSU. 2018 NJ DE and LB Jayson and Justin Ademilola both committed to ND, which sucks mostly because we had crystal balls for them to Michigan.
VA DT Darnell Ewell hasn't committed yet, but after an OSU/M/ND swing this was his mom's reaction…
"Notre Dame is one of a kind … Michigan was nice too."
…so that's not happening. Also nevermind all the Baylor defectors, who were split up by Texas and Oklahoma like the jerks they are.
Maybe we can split him in half
AJC reporter Jeff Sentell appeared on the DawgNation podcast (DawgNation appears to be an AJC silo for Georgia athletics content) to talk recruiting, and naturally struck on GA DT Aubrey Solomon. Sentell talked to both Solomon and mom and came away saying that "from listening to [Solomon's] mother, that's 100% committed right there" and that he would be "stunned if Aubrey Solomon went anywhere but the University of Michigan." Sentell further reports that Solomon ducked out of the visit for a moment, claiming he had to go to the bathroom, so he could call his mom and get her blessing to pull the trigger. That's the opposite of a high-pressure pitch that might backfire as time goes by.
So of course the Georgia 247 site is reporting that Solomon will visit Georgia in July. This isn't as bad as it sounds: the visit was planned in advance of the sudden turn in Solomon's recruitment. It's common for guys to follow through on their word when coaches ask them to. I wouldn't be worried about that visit; any subsequent ones would be game on.
FWIW, that article contains a number of positive quotes about Georgia from Solomon's mother that were gathered before the trip to Ann Arbor. While I don't doubt Georgia is at least some threat the article gives off a bit of a whiff of saving face amongst subscribers—Sentell appears to have the latest, and he's considerably more neutral than a team site.
Give 'em the clamps, Holmes
CA CB Deommodore "Clamp Clampington" Lenoir hasn't drawn much mention around these parts since he first popped up on the radar, but Brandon Brown catches up with him and discovers he is planning an official, ideally when CA CB Darnay Holmes comes in. That would be all right. Argh Dave Brandon, part MCMXI:
"I really wanted to go to Michigan against Michigan State or Ohio State but those are both away."
Nebraska and Oregon are the other officials he's certain of. [UPDATE: Lenoir committed to Oregon yesterday. Nevermind.]
Speaking of Holmes, it looks like David Long's presence in Ann Arbor means at least a little something:
— Darnay Holmes (@DarnayHolmes) June 22, 2016
Holmes also has three officials he knows he'll take: Nebraska, OSU, and Michigan. The date for the M visit is also up in the air; he'll go to Columbus for the Game. UCLA's also involved heavily.
I see that eyebrow, but don't scoff at the Cornhuskers. Nebraska is doing some work in California this year. They've got two commits from Holmes's teammates, both four stars.
On Wednesday I mentioned that Steve Lorenz had fired off a crystal ball for FL WR Mike Harley to Michigan. Yesterday Brandon Brown interviewed Harley, who says Michigan is his #1 and he will be pulling the trigger "either this weekend or next weekend," which gives other schools vanishingly little time to catch up.
Despite our KJ Hamler-related garment-rending, Harley looks like a solid pickup should he follow through. His stock is on the rise after an excellent Five Star Challenge…
— Mike Harley Jr. Ⓜ️ (@harleyxvi) June 22, 2016
…and whatever spurred 247 to put him on the ol' rankings rocket:
Blue is 247, green the composite. (That line is also an excellent demonstration of the usual pattern for recruits: get ranked, drop slowly as more dudes get slotted in front of you, big change only when you get re-evaluated.)
Baylor recruits released
Per Texas sources, Baylor's released five of the seven players who wanted out. The main guys of interest to Michigan fans in the aftermath of the Devery Hamilton are the two offensive linemen; Barking Carnival believes that TX OL Patrick Hudson will head to Texas and that TX OL JP Urquidez is a possibility "depending on mutual interest and swiftly tightening [scholarship] numbers." Urquidez is a 6'6" tackle and composite four-star who Michigan did have some early contact with. Longshot, obviously.
AL OL Toryque Bateman named Michigan and Tennessee leaders. He'll announce a top eight shortly, one that presumably includes those two schools. CA OL Chuck Filiaga has no top list but definitely wants to visit. Moving to Texas this fall so distance probably not much of a factor.
On the other hand, Lorenz moved UT DT Jay Tufele up on 247's listing of Michigan's prospect as he is "far and away" the DT Michigan would most like to pair with Solomon. An OSU/M battle could be on the way; Michigan has a Polynesian edge in that case.
MI S Jaylen Kelly-Powell on Jourdan Lewis:
"He's a great player, a phenomenal person," Kelly-Powell said of Lewis. "He's humble, he's a great person just to be around. ... I watch him a lot and try to be just like him, try to be as good as him."
Kelly-Powell remains the lockiest lock on the board.
OH DE James Hudson reports back from his visit over the weekend, telling Brice Marich it was a "ten of ten". Hudson also provided some clarity on what spot Michigan is recruiting him for:
"I fit right into their defense because of my size. It means a lot (hearing about early playing time) and I feel like I could be a dominant 3-tech for them. They do a lot of the things that I do at my high school.”
Hudson's already 280 so that makes sense. If Hudson is a DT prospect for Michigan then you can fit a guy like CA DE DJ Johnson in the class relatively easily.
A Rivals reporter caught up with TX LB Baron Browning after his trips to Michigan and Notre Dame last weekend. Browning doesn't tip his hand at all, but making those trips with his brother and former Harbaugh player Barry can't hurt. Baron on Barry on Harbaugh:
“…he said ‘One thing I will say about Coach Harbaugh is that he is going to get the best out of you. He said that Harbaugh is really competitive. … He said that Coach Tolbert would definitely have me right and ready to compete."
A second planned unofficial to OSU next month is off. No indication where he's leaning or even where he might visit officially. Dude is one of the mystery recruits of the cycle.
Josh Henschke reports from Michigan's NorCal camp, which appears to be one of the more loaded camps they've had. CA DT Popo Aumave, CA DE DJ Johnson, CA TE Josh Falo and CA OL Aaron Banks all say they will take visits; CA RB Najee Harris also attended and worked out.
Johnson told Rivals that Michigan is "around his top schools" in part because Michigan will let him wear #1. I can get behind a DE with 1 on his jersey. Aumave says he'll officially visit M, USC, and probably Oregon.
So here's this guy
Also in dramatic smokebomb recruit entrances: GA LB Dennis Bell tells Maize and Blue News that he was on the verge of committing to Michigan:
Working at the U-M’s Shine Time Camp this week, he impressed the coaching staff enough to receive a scholarship offer from the Maize and Blue on Thursday. That was significant for Bell, who originally planned on committing the instant the offer came through, describing Michigan as his dream school. Ultimately though, cooler heads pulled him back from making the early decision.
“I was going to announce it today on Twitter, but then my coach was like ‘don’t do it yet,’” Bell said of his plan to commit. “He said wait until later in the summer. I think it will probably be the week before we go back to school.”
Bell, a former teammate of Elysee Mbem-Bosse, is a two-star only ranked by two sites and only has Georgia State and Miami (Not That Miami) offers per 247. His composite ranking is around 1700.
I'm dubious that this is actually a thing. Michigan appears to be "offering" people for PR purposes. For example, there was recently a farcical exchange between various sites about an offer to NC QB Jackson Gibbs, who is 1) a 2017 QB and 2) the grandson of Joe Gibbs. Gibbs reported an offer; various reporters said this was not a thing; Rivals got quotes that insisted it was a full offer, not a PWO; Rivals then clarified that this offer was not in fact committable. Soooooo… yeah. The destruction of the English language for marketing purposes continues apace.
Anyway, I don't expect anything to come out of either recruitment.
Happy trails to CA OL Wyatt Davis, who announces today. Nobody expects it to be Michigan; OSU appears to be it.