Don't Buckle Up Yet, But...
check the 2:57 mark to see a defender get spot-shadowed before getting juked to the ground.
...stay vigilant? 247's Steve Wiltfong just put in a Crystal Ball pick for four-star CT WR Tarik Black to Michigan:
I was hearing rumblings coming out of the Barbecue at the Big House that the Wolverines moved into pole position for the Cheshire (Conn.) Academy standout.
I'm also told Stanford and Alabama are the biggest threats to Michigan. Notre Dame was once considered the top contender but the Irish have faded some. The Cardinal staff is expected out to see Black next week.
Black wants to announce at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl but I would not be surprised if he did something sooner.
Notre Dame was considered the leader for a long time; if they're not the main contender, that's great news for Michigan.
[Hit THE JUMP for a quick McCaffrey eval and more.]
Jim Harbaugh Is Different, Part 347
The San Francisco Chronicle has a lengthy feature on the number one prospect in the country, Antioch (CA) RB Najee Harris, an Alabama commit who's also considering Michigan. As he has throughout the process, Harris keeps the state of his recruitment under wraps, but he did put forth one of the better Harbaugh recruiting stories I've seen:
On one of his two visits this year to Antioch High, the former 49ers coach sat in Principal Louie Rocha’s office, his feet propped on Rocha’s desk and his cap pushed back from his forehead as he chewed on licorice.
When Harris walked into the office, Harbaugh animatedly declared, “You’re a beautiful young man!” The room burst into laughter. He subsequently told Harris he should pursue a career in movies.
“It was kind of funny how he said it,” Antioch head coach John Lucido says. “It made Najee comfortable and kind of broke the ice with everybody.
Harris had more to say about Harbaugh. While I wouldn't read too much into it, I'd definitely check out that full article.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Real, Live, Actual Football
— EliteFootballNetwork (@EliteFBNetwork) August 20, 2016
That's the good stuff.
High school football season is here, with scrimmages dominating the slate last weekend and the real games getting under way for the most part this weekend; the MGoCrew will be at the Prep Kickoff Classic on Saturday to see Southfield A&T vs. Detroit King and Cass Tech vs. Oak Park.
One Michigan commit performed so well last weekend that he's already earned a rankings bump on one site and could see a second follow suit soon. Four-star GA DT Aubrey Solomon ranked #207 overall on 247's (non-composite) rankings when he committed in June; after Barton Simmons saw his scrimmage, he's up to #110:
In Aubrey Solomon's first game of the year on Thursday night, he was totally dominant. The 6-3, 305-pound Michigan commit out of Leesburg (Ga.) Lee County showed outstanding motor, physicality and quickness in his team's win over Jones County High School. During a cycle in which the defensive tackle position doesn't have a lot of depth, Solomon is one of the rare interior defenders that would be among the best in the country in any recruiting class.
Scout's top analyst in the south, Chad Simmons, had a similarly glowing review:
Aubrey Solomon was a force against Jones County week zero in the Corky Kell Classic. He may not have had a dozen tackles, but he was consistently pushing offensive linemen backwards, pushing the pocket back, forcing the running backs to change their lanes, and forcing the quarterback to throw early Thursday night. Solomon has come into this season is great shape 295 pounds, and he played fast. He flashed great quickness off the ball and a motor that did not stop. He chased the ball, he had a key sack, and he was a force all night. Solomon is currently the No. 2 defensive tackle in the South behind LSU commit Tyler Shelvin — that could change.
Solomon looked great on the field. Off the field, he gave a 15-minute interview to 247 that requires its own section. Let's get to it after the jump.
Bama's Gain Is... Michigan's Gain, Too?
Alabama picked up two commits on the offensive line at the end of July, and they're expected to add five-star OT Jedrick Wills any day now. That may not seem like news that would lead a Michigan recruiting roundup, but word from multiple Bama insiders is the numbers crunch in Tuscaloosa will have a direct impact on at least one top Michigan target. Here's 247's Steve Lorenz on four-star IMG OC Cesar Ruiz:
I spoke with Hank South, our Alabama insider this morning, who confirmed that Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy Top100 offensive lineman Cesar Ruiz is NOT a take for the Crimson Tide, and barring more than one change to their current class, would not be regardless
When that news made its way over to the Scout board, their Bama insider, John Garcia Jr., confirmed he was hearing the same about Ruiz and added that four-star NY OT Isaiah Wilson could also get squeezed out by Wills:
Bama took in state OL Hunter Brannon on July 23, a kid who earned the offer at camp (UA wanted Ruiz to camp but he didn't make it). Numbers are tight and tackles are a much bigger need at this time. I'm not even sure they would take both Wills and Wilson should each want to join the class. Like with Nico Collins, a late spot may not be there for Wilson. Things can change but Bama feels good about each, the difference is Wills is much closer to ending his recruitment.
Alabama has been considered Michigan's primary competition for both Ruiz and Wilson. Ruiz said at the beginning of this month that Alabama, Michigan, and Oklahoma were tied at the top of his list; only a few days later, the Sooners landed four-star center Creed Humphrey. If Ruiz sticks to those top schools, his decision may have been made for him—he's also mentioned North Carolina as a school of interest recently but I haven't seen any indication they'd beat out Michigan.
— Zay (@_LayZay_) August 10, 2016
Wilson, meanwhile, set up official visits to Florida State (Nov. 11), Michigan (Nov. 19), and Alabama (Nov. 25), with dates for Georgia and USC to be decided based on his basketball schedule—we'll see if those latter two materialize, as Wilson plans to make a decison in December. In the aftermath of his BBQ visit, he told Sam Webb that Michigan's "family atmosphere" stood out and played it coy about where the Wolverines currently stand:
These most recent Michigan experiences reconfirmed for Wilson why he has the storied program in his top five. They’ve also caused those observing his recruitment to wonder if the Wolverines have moved up his list.
Said Wilson, “my response to that question is, Go Blue!’”
Take that how you will.
Yet another four-star lineman, CA OT Aaron Banks, is set to cut his list down to ten soon. After a better-than-expected BBQ visit, Michigan should make the cut:
"The trip to Michigan was cool," said Banks. "It was nice. It was better than I expected. The school was bigger than I expected it to be. I was with Coach (Tim) Drevno and one of his assistants. We met up with Coach (Jim) Harbaugh but didn't get to spend as much time with him. I met up with Jay Harbaugh some too. Then we went to one of the stores and got some of the new Jumpman gear."
Banks plans to enroll early. Getting him back for an official visit will be of great importance if Michigan wants to push for his commitment.
Oh, and Scout's main analyst in SEC country, Chad Simmons, is projecting that Michigan will get four-star OG TJ Slaton:
This is probably the toughest one out of this group. Slaton likes to keep to himself, a lot about his recruitment is unknown, and he could end up at a number of program. Today though, over six months out, Michigan is the favorite. The Wolverines landed his good friend, teammate Kai-Leon Herbert over the summer, and this only helps UM. Herbert made his mind up when him and Slaton were in Ann Arbor a couple of months ago. Clemson is in this, Florida State is there, and we will see what Slaton does this fall in terms of visits.
While Slaton isn't a lock, he's kept Michigan on top for a while now despite seeing other schools. There's a very real chance Michigan picks up three more elite O-line prospects, at which point one or two current commits might take a look around. No matter how it shakes out, it's hard to see a way in which Michigan doesn't have a great finish at OL.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
BBQ Leftovers: Hudson Commits
Three-star OH DT James Hudson committed to Michigan yesterday, giving the Wolverines a head-to-head win over Michigan State. TMI's Brice Marich made his way to Toledo for Hudson's announcement and scored an interview afterwards in which Hudson detailed the reasoning behind his decision:
"Michigan is just a different type of feeling," he said. I could really connect with lot of the players there like Carlo Kemp and Rashan Gary, me and those two get along really well. Me and Rashan, we speak almost every day. We're great friends and we're going to be great teammates."
"I really spoke with Coach Mattison of course, DL oach, also spoke with Coach Brown and Coach Zordich. My relationship with Coach Matty is great. He's definitely my favorite D-Line coach I've met. Coach Matty has a plan for me and I like that."
That plan is for Hudson to play three-tech. Some sites still list him as an SDE, but he's reportedly up in the 290-pound range already. We'll (eventually) see what Brian comes up with for a YMRPFSPA; Hudson's impressive strength reminded me of Willie Henry when I watched his highlights.
The Wolverine's Brandon Brown caught up with Hudson's high school coach, who in detailing what he's working on with Hudson this spring may have explained why Hudson's first step doesn't stand out on film:
"Here’s how good his camp’s been thus far. We’ve been focusing on his first step being a little bit too big. That gets him a little overextended sometimes. That’s it," Dempsey said. "His hands are great, his feet are great, his motor has been great. It’s been very limited in terms of what we need him to work on.
"The biggest thing is that we’re going to watch him since he’s playing both ways so much. The effort he’s been putting into offensive tackle has been just as good as what he’s been doing on defense. We’re expecting a lot so I’m glad he’s expecting a lot out of himself. He’s a disruptive force at this level. He’s really started to master his position so I’m very excited for his senior season."
If that gets corrected, I really like Hudson's potential; as we saw with Henry, overwhelming strength can make up for a lot.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
BBQ Visitors: Offense
The weekend in which I can't leave my laptop for more than 30 seconds is nearly upon us. The BBQ at the Big House is on Saturday, and it features a visitor list absolutely loaded with top-end talent. 247's Steve Lorenz has the full, updated list posted for free, as well as an excellent VIP post that goes in-depth on each uncommitted 2017 and 2018 prospect who'll be on campus. I'll do my best to cover the highlights. Keep in mind that every 2017 Michigan commit save for Aubrey Solomon, Kai-Leon Herbert, and AJ Dillon is slated to be in attendance.
The headliner, of course, is #1 overall prospect Najee Harris, the California running back committed to Alabama. According to Lorenz, Bama insiders think Michigan is the top threat to flip him from his current commitment, and Harris will be accompanied by his mother on the trip. Harris won't be the only back at the BBQ; four-star UT RB Sione Heimuli-Lund is a Stanford commit who could wind up at RB, FB, or LB (or, given Harbaugh, all of them).
Michigan's top four targets at wide receiver will all be in attendance. Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins need no introduction at this point; Michigan leads for Collins and is the presumed leader for DPJ. Four-star IA WR Oliver Martin is ramping up his recruitment now that baseball season is over—this weekend should give us a good idea of where Michigan stands compared to MSU, Iowa, Wisconsin, and his other contenders. Four-star CT WR Tarik Black has Michigan in his top group, though Lorenz thinks Notre Dame and Stanford are out ahead at this point. Michigan's top tight end on the board, four-star CA TE Josh Falo, will also be at the BBQ.
With three-star AL OT Toryque Bateman naming Michigan his leading heading into his BBQ visit, the offensive line is the most likely (though far from only) source of a weekend commitment—Bateman pegged his chances of committing at 50% and potentially higher if the visit goes as well as his last trip to Ann Arbor. Four-star tackles Isaiah Wilson and Aaron Banks are also on the list; Wilson is a Michigan/Bama battle right now, while the Wolverines are hoping to lure Banks away from top-tier Pac-12 programs.
As I was writing this, Steve reported that four-star OT Henry Bainivalu will make the trip from Washington. This is the second unofficial for Bainivalu, which is especially notable for a prospect from the other side of the country—Michigan definitely has a shot, and...
...oh boy, we might have a situation here.
One prospect who'd been mentioned as a possible visitor who won't make it: five-star KY OT Jedrick Wills, who looks like a longshot at best.
In the 2018 class, four-star Oak Park OG Marquan McCall—who could also wind up at DT—will accompany his committed teammate, OT JaRaymond Hall. While I've avoided mentioning the 2019 class, early rankings have Belleville OT Devontae Dobbs as a five-star prospect; he'll be at the BBQ with a couple classmates from a program that's got a lot of young talent.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]