go go go
Brian is out of town until tomorrow and I'm desperately trying to finish up my HTTV obligations before taking some much-needed time off, so posting will be light today.
Big Ten Recruiting, SEC-Style
After replacing Bill O'Brien with Vanderbilt's James Franklin, Penn State's become a most unlikely source of SEC-style recruiting insanity. That refers both to their ability to haul in top recruits—the Nittany Lions rank second in the 2015 247 Composite rankings—and their general approach to promoting the program. Let's check in on OL coach Herb Hand and various other members of the PSU coaching staff to see how their Easter weekend went:
— Herb Hand (@CoachHand) April 19, 2014
If you've seen something like this before, it's highly recommended that you stop mixing hallucinogens with your morning bowl of Trix. If you continue to see such images, seek immediate professional counseling.
Big Ten Recruiting, B1G-Style
Iowa assistant Eric Johnson was a member of Kirk Ferentz's original Hawkeye staff in 1999 as a grad assistant, and since 2003 he's been the program's recruiting coordinator. Until yesterday, that is, when Marc Morehouse reported that Johnson left the program to "pursue opportunties outside of football." After 15 years, that must've been one heck of an opportuni--
— Eric Johnson (@HawkeyeCoachEJ) April 19, 2014
In the most Big Ten thing to ever Big Ten in the Big Ten, a Big Ten recruiting coordinator chose opening a franchise of a Wisconsin-based fast food joint specializing in butterburgers and frozen custard over a major college football coaching job.
Thanks for keeping up appearances, Iowa.
The Wolverines hosted a few top targets over the weekend, including four-star CT TE Chris Clark, who'd been high on Michigan before committing, then subsequently decomitting, from North Carolina. He spoke highly of his time spent with Jake Butt, the coaching staff, and the M-PACT program when he recapped his visit to 247's Steve Lorenz ($). After capping off his weekend with a visit to Ohio State, Clark told 247's Bill Kurelic his recruitment could very well become a classic Michigan-OSU battle ($):
“Honestly, it’s starting to feel a little like Ohio State and Michigan,” Clark said. “Both are right there. I like both schools a lot. I don’t know if I’ll visit Auburn now. Those two schools (Ohio State and Michigan) are definitely the best schools I’ve been to so far.
“I want to get back to Ohio State and Michigan with my mom,” Clark said. “My mom has to see both schools (before I decide). I’ll probably visit both in June.”
Caveats about here, however. Clark committed to UNC in a surprise move last month, only to have that commitment last a week before he opened his recruitment back up. He seems like the type of kid who gets blown away by a lot of his visits—this isn't a knock on Clark, just a reason why his recruitment is difficult to predict.
That said, Auburn is the only other visit Clark has set right now—one he's considering canceling after seeing U-M and OSU—and he did see Notre Dame at the end of March, so there's reason to believe his current top two will stick. The tentative plans for return trips to both schools are big here. Proceed with caution, but leave room for optimism.
Four-star VA DE Clelin Ferrell also left Ann Arbor impressed enough to want to see it again, per Lorenz ($):
"I want to come back (to Michigan)," he said. "It will either be sometime this summer or for an official visit. I haven't fully decided where I want to take my official visits yet, but there's a good chance that Michigan will be one of them. I just want to take some more unofficial visits to get a better idea of the types of schools I want to consider and will go from there."
Ferrell is working on narrowing down from a list of 11 schools, so his process should take more time than Clark's.
I haven't seen a full article yet, but 247's latest Inside Michigan Recruiting post($) includes a one-word visit reaction from the top tackle seriously considering U-M, VA four-star Grant Newsome: "awesome."
Newsome spent all weekend on campus with his father, so expect to hear more on him soon. His recruitment could come down to Michigan and Penn State; in this case, fellow tackle Sterling Jenkins's heavy interest in PSU could actually help the Wolverines.
Recently anointed five-star 2016 WI OT Ben Bredeson took the trip with his mom, who was very impressed with the M-PACT academic presentation, and told Lorenz that Michigan should be in it for the long haul ($):
"Michigan has it all, and I've been able to see that now," Bredeson noted. "Their academics are great, the athletics are amazing and the people within the program are all really good people too. Michigan is definitely going to be a strong consideration for me throughout the process."
Michigan, Ohio State, Tennessee, and Wisconsin have all offered in the last couple months, and interest in Bredeson won't stop there. While it should be a battle for his services, it's a good sign that he's taken two unofficials to Michigan in a three-week span.
Two New Offers
According to multiple outlets, Michigan offered a pair of top-100 2016 receivers in the last week, Tampa (FL) Catholic's Nate Craig and Sicklerville (NJ) Timber Creek's Cameron Chambers.
Michigan is on the outside looking in for Craig, as he named Auburn his leader among a top five that didn't include the Wolverines just a couple days ago, per 247's Keith Niebuhr ($). He held his U-M offer by that point, so they're a longshot at the moment.
Chambers is more focused on Midwest schools, namely Ohio State, and it looks like Michigan could get into the running with him—he certainly looks like a more likely option than Craig.
The Wolverine's Brandon Hunter checks in with 2016 MI OL Thiyo Lukusa, who came close to committing to Michigan in February but has decided to take his time ($):
Many expected Lukusa to become Michigan's second commitment in the 2016 class, but didn't pull the trigger when he visited Ann Arbor in February. Still, Michigan is in excellent shape with the talented young lineman, though he no longer claims any school as his favorite. A commitment from him may come later on in his process, as he plans to visit more schools and participate in summer camps.
"All the schools are cool for now," Lukusa said. "I haven't seen enough from anyone to say they are my favorite yet."
Lukusa mentioned that Michigan has been the school in closest contact with him; while he may not claim a favorite, U-M is still in very good shape.
The NCAA has stopped accepting coursework from 24 "nontraditional" high schools run by a company called K12 Inc. While Eastern Christian Academy, the football-focused school with online courses that produced Freddy Canteen and Brandon Watson, isn't among the listed programs, it's difficult not to wonder how long it'll take before the NCAA starts taking a hard look at them, too.
Alabama, being Alabama, hauled in four blue-chip recruits last weekend. Among them was five-star NJ CB Minkah Fitzpatrick, who held a Michigan offer; happy trails to him.
Hayes Gets Wisconsin Offer, Postpones Decision
Michigan looked to be sitting pretty with 2016 Orchard Lake St. Mary's LB Daelin Hayes last week when he announced his intention to make an April 27th decision. After receiving an offer from Wisconsin yesterday, however, Hayes has decided to take more time with his recruitment, per Rivals's Josh Helmholdt ($):
"Once [Wisconsin] offered I was in complete shock," Hayes said. "I honestly didn't see it coming. It was an amazing feeling and I immediately thanked God."
"My parents are the reason I decided to wait things out," he said. "[They] want me to slow down the process."
Brandon said Hayes will now wait until after his junior season to make a decision.
According to TomVH, Hayes now has Wisconsin in his top three with Michigan and Michigan State. While the second quote above indicates that the postponement wasn't entirely due to the new offer, it's clear the Badgers are going to be a factor moving forward.
In related news, 247 is the first outlet to release complete rankings for the 2016 class, and Hayes comes in at #126 overall (#8 RB—he's being recruited at multiple positions). Michigan's lone commit in the class, IL OT Erik Swenson, gets an initial ranking of #233 overall (#23 OT); that comes as a bit of a surprise, as Swenson had been billed as a potential five-star when he committed.
Given that these players have yet play their junior seasons, and most of the offseason camps are still to come, I wouldn't put a great deal of stock in these rankings. By the time these players sign their LOIs, the list will have changed dramatically.
[Hit THE JUMP for details on two recent offers, a big-time weekend visitor, Michigan commits in the updated ESPN300, and more.]
This is a recruiting post, so I should start off by mentioning that top-ranked 2015 WDE Jashon Cornell told 247's Steve Wiltfong he plans to announce his decision on August 28th ($). I should also tell you that Cornell mentioned his strong relationships with coaches at Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa, Northwestern, and Notre Dame, and that he's planning to swing by a few West Coast schools during the summer.
|The long-overdue return of Swag Mattison|
But really, all I want to do is blockquote the hell out of this:
“Coach Mattison is a really nice person,” Cornell said. “He’s not what you expect, I can say that. You expect that old guy who listens to country music. He put on hip hop in his office. He turned on his radio and the first thing that came out was hip hop.”
Mattison’s taste in music isn’t the only thing Cornell likes about Michigan.
“Largest stadium in America,” he said. “The Michigan alumni. This is Michigan.”
If you ever wanted to know why Mattison has the reputation of an elite recruiter, look at the picture on the right, imagine sitting in that guy's office while he flips the radio to Hot 97, and... yup, you just committed to Michigan in your daydream.
OFFSEASON INTERLUDE: TOP FIVE SONGS I'D MOST LIKE TO IMAGINE GREG MATTISON PLAYS IN HIS OFFICE
- Young Jeezy, "Soul Survivor"
- Dr. Dre, "What's The Difference?"
- Kanye West, "Drive Slow"
- Freddie Gibbs, "National Anthem"
- Three 6 Mafia, "Stay Fly"
#5 could easily be an x-way tie between every Three 6 Mafia/Juicy J song ever made.
[Hit THE JUMP for a potential commit watch, Michigan impressing a big-time visitor, an in-state back running a laser-timed 4.26 40, and more.]
A Rumor, Dispatched
Track Meet 1, Touchdown Jesus 0
On Tuesday, a tweet appeared in my mentions, seemingly out of the blue, asking how long it would be until I wrote the "Goodbye" post for Shaun Crawford. This caused a great deal of confusion until I noticed the thread on The Wolverine's message board that discussed "slight rumblings" from Notre Dame posters that Crawford would visit for the Irish's spring game this weekend ($). That, of course, would be a bit of an issue with the Michigan coaches regarding his status as a commit.
While Tim Sullivan rightfully attached a healthy amount of skepticism to the rumor, noting Crawford is scheduled to run in a track meet in the Cleveland area on the day of ND's spring game, it wasn't debunked entirely. The internets, as they are wont to do, took it and ran. Well, for a bit.
247's Steve Lorenz left no room for speculation ($):
Shaun Crawford: Shaun has a track meet this weekend. He is not visiting Notre Dame.
Sam Webb also posted a thread on the GBW premium board stating Crawford's camp touched base with the coaches and said he isn't visiting South Bend ($).
In the interest of objectivity, I'll note that Crawford showed a great deal of interest in Notre Dame before his Michigan commitment, and back in December he considered visiting Ohio State before discussing the matter with U-M's coaching staff. Until he says so himself, the possibility that he wants to look around can't be eliminated; by that same token, I'll believe he's willing to risk his spot in the class to visit another school when a trip actually materializes.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on Jake Fruhmorgen, a big-time weekend visitor, 2015 quarterback targets, spring game visit reactions, and more.]
Three New Offers
After seeing coveted four-star 2015 IN LB Josh Barajas make a surprise commitment to Penn State a couple weeks ago, Michigan didn't wait long to offer two more four-star Hoosier State linebackers: Darrin Kirkland Jr. and Asmar Bilal. Brandon has the full rundown on both of those offers, as well as a third that went out over the weekend to 2016 WI OT Ben Bredeson, who's expected to be one of the top-ranked linemen in his class.
While the recruitments of Bilal and (especially) Bredeson should take a while to play out, Kirkland plans to announce his decision on May 30th, and his top group is murky; Penn State and Tennessee appear to stand out along with Michigan among schools that have offered him, and his 247 predictions are all over the place. Kirkland told Brandon he may make another trip to Ann Arbor before his decision. If he does, I like Michigan's chances of landing him; if not, it's quite possible James Franklin continues to tear up the recruiting scene.
[Hit THE JUMP for visitor reactions from the spring game, updates on Sterling Jenkins and Kyonta Stallworth, and more.]
Malik McDowell will play for MSU after all. [Fuller]
Finally, the book is closed on the 2014 recruiting class:
The recruiting saga of Malik McDowell is over.
The No. 5-rated defensive tackle in the Class of 2014 delivered a signed letter of intent Wednesday to Michigan State, the school to which he committed on signing day amid a flurry of confusion.
I think everyone is happy to move on at this point, and it's nice to see that Malik ultimately got his wish—this was, after all, his decision.
Spring Game Visitors: A Legacy On Campus?
Scout's Allen Trieu caught up with Tyrone Wheatley to discuss the recruitment of his son, 2015 TE/DE Tyrone Wheatley Jr., and the elder Wheatley revealed a visit to Ann Arbor could happen this weekend ($):
"There is a good chance we might hit the Michigan spring game this weekend and this summer, we're going to go to Miami (Fla.), Florida and we will try to catch Auburn. Coming up on spring break, we're going on a West Coast trip. We're going to go out to see UCLA and USC."
Wheatley is still considering many options, and it appears his recruitment won't end for a while; Michigan is the presumed favorite, however, and could cement that status with a good visit should Wheatley make it into town for the spring game.
Tim Sullivan posted a list of other weekend visitors ($). They include:
- Four-star 2015 IL WR Miles Boykin (unoffered)
- Four-star 2015 MO TE Hale Hentges (offered)
- Three-star 2015 Northville OL David Moorman (unoffered)
- 2016 OH LB Brendan Ferns (unoffered, brother of Michael Ferns)
- 2016 Orchard Lake St. Mary's LB Daelin Hayes (offered, cousin of Justice Hayes)
- 2016 Cass Tech DB Lavert Hill (unoffered, brother of Delano Hill)
- 2017 OLSM LB Joshua Ross (offered, brother of James Ross)
It'll be interesting to see if any of the unoffered prospects picks one up this weekend. Boykin holds offers from Notre Dame, Michigan State, and in-state Illinois, among several others; at 6'5", 208 pounds, he's the type of big wideout Michigan covets. Meanwhile, Brendan Ferns recently pulled in offers from Cincinnati, Kentucky, and West Virginia; if Michigan wants to get in on him early, now would be the time.
Four-star FL OT Jake Fruhmorgen visited Michigan, Notre Dame, and Ohio State last weekend, and his father told 247's Steve Lorenz that the trip to Ann Arbor impressed his son the most ($):
"Michigan was definitely his favorite visit of the three schools he saw this weekend. I think they're in it still for sure; I haven't gotten to talk to him in-depth about it because he had to get back to school today after getting home late last night. I know he really liked the Michigan coaching staff and got along with the players really well too. Of course, the Big House was impressive too."
Before the visit, insiders expected Fruhmorgen to pick Clemson, and soon; it'll be good news if he decides to wait on making a decision.
Four-star FL RB Jacques Patrick will announce his decision on October 27th, per Scout's Jamie Newberg, and Michigan is still in the running:
“I like about ten schools,” Patrick said. “My favorites are Miami, FSU, Florida, Michigan, Tennessee, Ohio State, UCF, Notre Dame, Auburn and Alabama. I want to go visit Auburn, Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan and all the in-state schools this spring and summer.”
Florida State and Florida are the schools to beat right now; the planned spring/summer visit will be huge if Michigan wants to have a real shot here.
One option that can be taken off the board is four-star Texas RB Ronald Jones II, who narrowed his list to five schools and didn't include Michigan ($).
Either Mark Richt is spending a significant amount of time hand-drawing recruits or, well, somebody in Georgia's athletic department is, and either way it's in that gray area between impressive and creepy that recruitniks know all too well.