Hello. I'm writing these for a bit since recruiting and basketball are going to be most of what goes on for the next month, and by splitting it up we can do a better job at both.
Early Christmas presents, or coal
A couple of recruits high on Michigan's radar are announcing this week. On the 16th, FL LB Devin Bush announces. He says he's already decided, but that didn't prevent Michigan and FSU from dropping in on him with in-home visits last week. Michigan has been supremely confident in Bush's recruitment for a long time, but the departure of DJ Durkin did throw a wrench into things:
"For us it was bittersweet. It was like, ‘dang! We didn’t get a chance to work underneath him,” if he (Bush Jr.) choose (Michigan). But my son hasn’t chosen a school yet. So we’re just happy for D.J. and we’ve had to sit back and see what else unfolds.”
That quote has an air of someone trying to put the cat back in the bag. Uncertainty at DC—every single one of Bush's finalists save FSU has seen their DC depart—has Michigan people a bit more doubtful. Meanwhile Josh Newberg, an FSU mod who is a person to pay attention to, just ballz'd Bush to FSU.
Michigan still thinks they're getting the guy, but significant doubts are cropping up. Allen Trieu has an article in the News quoting Webb heavily that offers the lay of the land.
NJ RB Kareem Walker announces on the 17th. Walker announced that date after an in-home with Harbaugh, and before his official visit to Arizona State this weekend. FSU and Auburn are regarded as the only real competition. The the 247 FSU mods are not at all optimistic($), the main Auburn guy ballz'd Walker to Michigan, and Wiltfong isn't wavering.
That is looking good, but it doesn't seem like it's the 100% lock it felt like a month ago. New Jersey-based recruiting guy Todderick Hunt feels like it'll be Florida State, FWIW, but I'm not sure how seriously to take that when he's commenting on his own article thusly:
Obviously Michigan is the overwhelming favorite and he could very well end up there, but the recent sequence of events has me thinking FSU.
Official visit weekend: commits
Michigan brought in a bunch of commitments: IN RB Chris Evans, NJ DE Ron Johnson, NJ WR Brad Hawkins, IN QB Brandon Peters, FL CB Antwaine Richardson, and TX DT Jordan Elliott. Commit visits are usually no-news events and these were no exception. The most newsworthy thing about any of those guys is that Richardson is no longer enrolling early.
Two of the visits should move a couple commitments from 98% to 99%. Evans had a slight waver as he announced visits to both in-state schools, but none of the three major sites have a report that indicates he actually went to either. Meanwhile Elliott returning with his mom two weeks after he came up for the Ohio State game should further solidify that commitment.
Elliott seems somewhat annoyed he has to keep telling people that Michigan is final answer. This is mostly because Texas folks keep saying there's a chance; in response Elliott's twitter feed is nonstop Michigan boosterism. He is not giving the appearance of a guy who is going to flip again.
Nate Johnson adds self to above list
[Shelley Mays/The Tennessean]
Michigan also had a handful of uncommitted prospects. TN WR Nate Johnson dropped for M about the instant he arrived. Ace's Hello post covers him in detail, including a couple of excellent explanations for why 247 is high on him while others aren't:
Then the season came and Johnson validated his camp performances and was just unstoppable. It was a crime that he didn't win Mr. Football. He played with a quarterback that he had been with for years and their offense was crazy good (undefeated with very few close contests) but Johnson made it tick. He's one of the best route-runners in the country, has great hands, fantastic body control and he has a much bigger catch radius than his 5-11 size would suggest. He's also added good weight and strength as he's progressed in high school. At this point, he reminds me some of Christian Kirk down at Texas A&M in terms of body type.
That's a free post with plenty more at the link. With the flood of impressive late offers (Penn State, Miami, Tennessee and Michigan just last week) maybe other sites take another look. Scout hasn't even ranked the guy, which is kind of boggling since he had over a thousand receiving yards in both of his last two years in high school and was committed to a Power 5 school for months.
While numbers are getting tight now, Sam Webb says Michigan might take another wideout. It won't be FL WR Eddie McDoom(!), who committed to Oregon on an official this weekend. We are of course all devastated to lose such a name but if it can't be Michigan, Oregon seems appropriate for a fast guy named MCDOOM. Oregon's up to 25 commitments but has just two WRs and still has room for CA WR Dylan Crawford. They're in on a couple other WRs; if one of those guys drops then it might be time to talk about Crawford getting pushed over to M.
Delance on campus
Things are looking up for TX OT Jean Delance, who has been a major priority for Harbaugh and company for months now. Delance was popularly thought to be favoring Texas, but now the buzz is that it's a Michigan-LSU battle. Steve Wiltfong reports that he's close to putting in a crystal ballz($) for Michigan… and that he's close to putting a ballz for LSU. Dangit, Wiltfong.
Let's read too much into a tweet with a colloquial phrase in it, shall we?
Ann Arbor it's been real see you all again! 〽️ pic.twitter.com/qLMzO7ALKM
— Jean Delance (@JeanDelance74) December 13, 2015
Delance told an LSU site that he was planning to be committed by January, so it's one of those three teams, period, and with Texas on route to RichRodding Charlie Strong it looks like Texas is suddenly playing from behind.
Read between the linebackers
The considerable, if indirect, debate between the various recruiting sites as to how hard Michigan is recruiting CA LB Caleb Kelly has been resolved by Kelly himself:
As for his recruitment, Kelly said he has not talked with Michigan since his visit, which he thought was strange so he hoped to get in communication with them soon. Oklahoma remains a serious contender and he said the Sooners have not stopped their aggressive approach to recruiting him.
Kelly seems to like Michigan more than Michigan likes him. I would not expect Kelly to end up at Michigan unless there is a 180 by the coaching staff.
Meanwhile, vibes are still mostly good with FL LB Jonathan Jones. He took his official visit this weekend as well, and while this is not a great quote when you think you're leading for a guy…
Jones was accompanied on the trip by his mother and she came away equally impressed.
“She said my decision just probably got a bit harder,” said Jones. “It's a great school and she said there are great people. If I went there she would feel very comfortable.”
…later he said he "most definitely" thought about committing on his trip and even the Notre Dame side of this thinks Michigan is the likely choice. He's got a visit to Duke next weekend, and plans on a Signing Day announcement.
Bush and Jones are Michigan's clear top targets. They must be supremely confident in both to all but invite a David Reese decommit and go forward with few or no obvious other options save TX LB Dontavious Jackson on their board.
Cornerbacks moving things around
CA CB David Long, a Stanford commit most people don't think will end up at Stanford, did not make a planned visit to Washington this weekend. UCLA and Michigan have "a little more of his attention" according to Rivals' Adam Gorney. Meanwhile the 247 mods at Washington were recently all but guaranteeing Long flipping to the Huskies. 'Crootin'.
Long told Scout that Michigan hiring Lance Anderson away from Stanford would "give them the upper hand," but that he doesn't think Anderson would take the DC job if offered.
Meanwhile, MI CB LaVert Hill's recruitment has also gone full 'crootin' after months during which he was reputed to be the most locky lock on Michigan's board despite a nominal commitment to Penn State. So:
- Hill likes DJ Durkin and his departure shook up Hill's recruitment extensively. Webb reports that Greg Jackson will be key, and that his brother will vouch for the guy all day.
- Despite the uncertainty, Hill took his official visit this weekend. This marks the 750th time Hill has been in Ann Arbor this year, for which he receives a tiny pewter tree from the mayor's office.
- He's now planning to take all five visits, with UCLA and USC on the docket. He has already been to Tennessee and Michigan; MSU is other team scheduled to get a visit.
- Hill and MI WR Donnie Corley are now planning to announce on the same day. Corley was set to announce on the 18th but now that's off the table. That's probably good for M since they're believed to trail a couple schools in his recruitment. Corley claiming there is "a significant chance" he and Hill are a package maybe not so much.
After the visit Wiltfong did re-iterate he still expects Hill to end up at Michigan, but he had backed off on his certainty that would happen. Rivals is reporting that Maryland is trying to get in, which isn't a huge surprise.
Prepare another 2017 Hello post, Ace, and then another maybe
Michigan picks up a commitment from 2017 GA WR Jeremiah Holloman, a teammate of 2017 RB commit Kurt Taylor. Tim Sullivan catches up with him:
The 6-3, 190-pounder is a three-star unranked within the state or at his position, but has plenty of physical potential. He won the Georgia 6A state title in triple jump this spring with an effort of 47 feet, 5.5 inches. He also placed sixth in both the long jump (22-0.25) and high jump (6-4). …
"Basically on the outside, I'm a big, dynamic player," he said. "I'm speedy with the routes, nice precision with my routes. I can cause a whole bunch of threats from short routes to going deep or jumping over corners. I'm just a threat on the field."
Ace will elaborate with a forthcoming Hello post. Meanwhile Michigan has offered a third 2017 player at Covington: GA LB Jaquan Henderson, a UCLA commit. He was also offered by Michigan's staff and in the aftermath of Holloman joining up Chad Simmons, Brice Marich, and Steve Lorenz all indicated a flip was somewhere between a real possibility and imminent.
TX DE Jeffery McCullough didn't include Michigan in his top five. He was always a longshot. As mentioned, FL WR Eddie McDoom(!) committed to Oregon.
Michigan will poke around Montana State transfer QB Conor Prukop, but most expect him to end up plugging Oregon's odd and ongoing hole at QB. Mattison and Partridge stop in on NJ DE Rashan Gary. NJ WR Donald Stewart has been trending away from M for a while but he had an in-home recently and may be back on the radar. TX RB Rakeem Boyd, an A&M commit, may visit in January.
Michigan had an in-home with AZ DE Connor Murphy, who plans a visit in January. He still seems very open.
Attrition, Expected and... Not So Expected
In a move that should surprise no one, three-star in-state ILB David Reese announced his decommitment from Michigan yesterday so he can find a program that will allow him to enroll early:
— REESE3⃣ (@Dreese18) December 10, 2015
The coaches assuredly saw that coming. That wasn't the case with the decommitment of three-star CA QB/ATH Victor Viramontes over the weekend, per 247's Clint Brewster ($):
The de-commitment came as a huge surprise to Michigan as coach John Baxter just saw Viramontes and reported back to Harbaugh that the visit went extremely well.
We have been told that Viramontes was given bad information from a member of his camp that Michigan wouldn’t give him a shot at quarterback and he would immediately be a fullback or linebacker, which is completely false.
Sam Webb discussed the Viramontes situation extensively on his radio show Monday; alum96 was kind enough to write up a summary on the board that's well worth reading. The upshot: while Michigan wasn't expecting Viramontes to leave the class, they don't consider him a must-get—they'll continue to pursue him but at this point there are other uncommitted prospects who are higher priorities.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Vicious Vic Decommits
I've decided to decommit. pic.twitter.com/6IZroWgdrY
— Victor viramontes (@Vicious_Vic10) December 7, 2015
The MGoStaff is going to have to find a new favorite commit. Three-star CA QB/ATH Victor Viramontes decommitted last night, leaving Brandon Peters as the only quarterback in the class and, well, nobody capable of being a quarterback/fullback/linebacker. Viramontes picked up a Cal offer right around the time he decommitted; he has a better shot of sticking at QB there. I look forward to seeing him play wherever he ends up.
With so many quarterbacks on the roster, including two who redshirted from the 2015 class, it's unclear if Jim Harbaugh will feel the need to add another; Viramontes' open spot may be better served going to an additional defensive prospect, especially one at linebacker.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Durkin Leaves, Partridge Stays
Recruits care more about the man in the middle. [Fuller]
While Michigan lost a strong recruiter when DJ Durkin accepted the head job at Maryland, it doesn't appear his departure is going to have a significant impact on the program's recruiting, at least in the short term. The latest Wolverine pledge, Jordan Elliott*, summed up the general feeling among the commits:
This don't change a thing
— ChadTough〽️ (@XCV____) December 2, 2015
The reaction from uncommitted targets depends on the prospect; for the most part, their ties are more to the program—Jim Harbaugh's program—or their primary recruiter. The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan posted reactions from several prospects that included four-star TX DE Levi Onwuzurike saying that it wouldn't affect him as long as Greg Mattison stayed on staff ($). Five-star CA OLB Caleb Kelly said it affects his recruitment, but he's been considered a long-shot at best for a while now. This is worth watching, though:
Los Angeles Loyola 2016 cornerback David Long Jr.
"That would be huge [to lose him], but if [Stanford defensive coordinator Lance] Anderson replaces him it would work perfectly, but that's in a perfect world."
Despite being a Stanford commit, Long seemed more likely to end up at Michigan. We'll see what comes of his imminent in-home visit; hopefully that clears up any concern.
Meanwhile, 247's Steve Wiltfong reported today that director of player personnel Chris Partridge will not follow Durkin to Maryland, which was rumored to be a strong possibility—Sam Webb added Partridge is in line for an "increased role" with the program. While Michigan's recruiting in New Jersey has reached the point where Partridge isn't essential to their ability to land that state's top talent—more NJ recruits mention Jabrill Peppers than Partridge these days—it's still a a significant plus to have his connections there.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
More On Jordan Elliott's Commitment
Sam Webb caught up with four-star TX DT Jordan Elliott in the wake of his commitment to Michigan; the former Baylor and Houston pledge assured Webb that Ann Arbor is his final destination ($):
That’s yet another reason why he insists his commitment to Michigan is firm. So firm that he answered the question what other schools he’d be visiting before it was done being asked.
“None at all,” he said. “I’m done. No more.”
And how will he respond when other schools persist in recruiting him?
“I won’t respond,” said Elliott.
Elliott mentioned that the coaches plan to play him "all over the line," but initially he'll get the most snaps at defensive end. He's enrolling for the spring semester in April, which means he won't make it in time for spring practice but he'll get a jump start on academics and conditioning.
For more on Elliott, read his commitment post here.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Elliott Takes The Cake
Great birthday wishes from a great coaching staff pic.twitter.com/yQxJ4lmoc9
— Its Lit (@XCV____) November 24, 2015
Alright, so, um, perhaps that cake doesn't look exactly like Texas. That apparently didn't matter to top-100 TX DT Jordan Elliott, who moved up his official visit to this weekend, joining a packed list of expected weekend visitors. The Wolverine's Brandon Brown is reporting "multiple sources" have informed him that Michigan is in great position to land Elliott, whether it's during or after his official visit ($).
Elliott is near the top of the list of potential weekend commitments for Michigan. 247's Steve Wiltfong put in Michigan Crystal Ball picks($) for Elliott and three-star FL WR Keyshawn "Pie" Young; he already had ones in for top-ranked MD OG Terrance Davis and four-star Detroit King CB LaVert Hill—the Hill pick is one he's especially confident about. Wiltfong also confirmed that four-star King WR Donnie Corley will be in Ann Arbor tomorrow.
There have also been two five-star additions to the 2017 visitor list: Davis' high school teammate, RB Anthony McFarland, and IMG Academy standout DE Joshua Kaindoh. While Michigan hasn't been mentioned among the favorites for either, that could change after this weekend.
While the focus of the coaching staff is still primarily on wrapping up the 2016 class, we could see their 2017 efforts pick up steam, especially since many big-time junior prospects seem excited about Michigan. To wit:
4 Star Top 100 DT prospect excited for Michigan visit this weekend. https://t.co/6VIrgPWpSx
— Cesar Ruiz (@_OverCees) November 25, 2015
4 OC, can tell that 4 DT Fred Hansard is excited for Michigan visit ! https://t.co/FViW60MpFl
— Fred Hansard (@Fred_Hansard56) November 25, 2015
Yup, safe to say they're excited.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]