to play football, not to play trumpet
Catching Up: St-Juste, Hamilton, Kareem
Benjamin St-Juste [photo via 247]
We're slowly getting more information on the unexpected commitment of Canadian cornerback Benjamin St-Juste. Tim Sullivan suggested earlier this week that St-Juste could come in as early as this fall. Based on what St-Juste told TMI's Brice Marich after his commitment, however, 2016 is the most likely option:
“I have already graduated high school in Canada because we graduate one year earlier than the U.S. and now I need to add the same courses they have in the U.S. to be eligible. It is not fair for Canadians. So I need to do extra courses to be eligible and do another year. As soon as I get that, then I will be leaving Canada to be playing at Michigan.”
This isn’t the first time the Maize & Blue have harvested talent from Vieux Montreal. St-Juste will be following in the footsteps of former Wolverines Renaldo Sagesse, Alain Kashama, Emmanuel Casseus and Deitan Dubuc. If all goes according to plan he will make his way to Ann Arbor as part of the 2016 class.
247 is the first to rank St-Juste, giving him three stars based on the admittedly scant information available. Steve Lorenz caught up with former Michigan CB and current Bolingbrook (IL) head coach Todd Howard, who helped coach the defensive backs at Michigan's camp, to get his thoughts on St-Juste:
"The first thing that stood out to me was his size," Howard said. "He's a legitimate 6'3" and with a helmet and cleats, he looks all of 6'4"-6'-5". The other thing that stood out immediately about him was that he is definitely a true cornerback. When we first started working, he asked if he should be working with the safeties. I don't think he even realized he has the athleticism and length to play the cornerback spot at a high level. He showed excellent footwork and played with a very low pad level for someone of his size as well. He was very impressive."
That's a tall corner. If St-Juste's feet are quick enough, there's a lot to work with.
There were two major announcement yesterday, one that went Michigan's way and one that didn't. Four-star Farmington Hills Harrison DE Khalid Kareem chose Alabama over Michigan, even though he came very close to ending up with the Wolverines, per MLive's Nick Baumgardner:
"At one point, yeah, I did think I'd end up at Michigan," Kareem said Wednesday. "But I really just had to think about what the best decision was for me and my family."
Kareem mentioned a particular recruiting factor that will work against Jim Harbaugh until he's had time to turn the program around:
The competition Alabama will face on the field in the Southeastern Conference and the competition Kareem will face in practice every day with the Crimson Tide's established roster were the tipping points.
Right now, Michigan's not on that level. Kareem said the chance to play for a national title right away was important to him. If Michigan were in that spot right now, would his decision be different?
"Yeah, it might've been another factor," he said. "I know they're going to get there. But (Alabama's there right now)."
Despite all that, Kareem didn't feel totally firm in his choice until yesterday morning. We'll see if the coaches continue pursuing him or if they move on to other targets.
On the flip side, four-star MD OT Devery Hamilton joined the class yesterday afternoon. He told Rivals' Adam Friedman that Michigan's academic presentation played a major role in his commitment ($):
With academics played a huge part in his decision, Michigan went the extra mile to show Hamilton everything at its disposal.
"I met a professor from the business school," he said. "He was very open and inviting. He seemed like a nice person. I also talked to a pediatric oncologist at their hospital. He was very friendly. Both of them made sure that, if I was interested in going into either one of those fields, Michigan had the resources to point me in the right direction."
I think we've retired "The Pattern™" as a thing, but if we're still using it, Hamilton fits the bill.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Note: The slew of commitments pushed this back, but I'm still taking questions via email or Twitter (use the hashtag #mgomailbag) for a recruiting mailbag that—any further recruiting developments pending—should go up tomorrow.
A4 To Your Door/No Sleepers No More
Just another totally normal Harbaugh picture. [Fuller]
Michigan hosted their "Aerial Assault" quarterback camp over the weekend. It featured such football activities as fielding ground balls and dodgeball; reportedly, the quarterbacks also threw an actual football around a little bit. Because Jim Harbaugh was involved, they kept score for the top campers, and M commit Brandon Peters came out on top, per TMI's Brice Marich:
The headliner of the camp was Avon, Indiana junior quarterback and Wolverine commit in Brandon Peters. The 6-4, 209-pound gun slinger showed off his strong arm and his footwork in several drills. He was in the top overall group and performed very well even in dodgeball. He clearly soaked in tutelage from signal callers like Jay Cutler and ultimately earned the crown as the camp’s top performer.
2017 four-star NY QB Jack Coan, the only rising junior offeree in attendance, found the camp as strange and informative as one would expect, per 247's Steve Lorenz ($):
"The camp itself was one of the most unique experiences I've ever had since I started playing football," Coan said. "I didn't go into the camp expecting to play baseball or dodgeball or anything like that, but it worked and it was one of the most rewarding experiences I've had from a camp standpoint. I learned a lot from a lot of great current and former players and coaches. It was really great to work with someone like Jay Cutler and a coach like Coach Harbaugh who has seen the position from every different angle."
Coan also took a campus tour while in Ann Arbor. Michigan seems to be in pretty good shape for him.
2018 Paramus (NJ) Catholic QB Allan Walters also worked with the top group. He showed enough to earn an offer, and he was still having a hard time expressing his excitement when 247's Steve Wiltfong caught up with him:
"I'm so excited I can't express it," Walters said. "I don't know a better offer for a quarterback. Harbaugh and Michigan that's unbelievable. I'm in shock and so excited."
Walters also has early offers from Rutgers and Temple. The ever-strengthening connection between Michigan and Paramus Catholic should help here.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
"Pace Yourself" Isn't In The Harbaugh Lexicon
Michigan's already reeled in ten commitments this month, and with several highly interested prospects set to visit campus soon, recruiting shows no sign of slowing down.
Three-star FL OLB Jonathan Jones has been among the handful of prospects most expected to join the class sooner or later, arrived on campus today for what will be a five-day unofficial visit, per Steve Lorenz. That long a visit is almost unheard of, and while Jones made the very reasonable request for people to stop asking if he'll commit, it's definitely on the table.
Starting next Wednesday, a whole crew will arrive from the east, per Lorenz: four-star PA TE Naseir Upshur, four-star NJ WR Ahmir Mitchell, four-star NJ WR Brad Hawkins, four-star NJ DE Ron Johnson, and 2017 four-star NJ C Cesar Ruiz will all spend three days on campus. Upshur and Johnson both have Michigan at the top of their lists, Mitchell seems like a strong possibility, and Hawkins has Michigan and South Carolina tied at the top.
2017 four-star Paramus Catholic OLB Drew Singleton is expected to visit on Friday, per Lorenz. His five-star 2016 teammate, DT Rashan Gary, told Rivals' Adam Friedman that he plans to be in Ann Arbor on June 25th, and his mother will come along with him ($).
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup]
Sound Mind, Bad Posture
Harbaugh demonstrates my "big recruiting weekend" resting position. [Bill Rapai/MGoBlog]
There's no way I'm getting this post up today unless I go rapid-fire and skip any commentary. If you've got questions you'd like answered, I'm planning a recruiting mailbag this week, so either email me or tweet me (use the hashtag #mgomailbag, please) your questions.
First, the essentials: If you missed it, Michigan added commitments from FL CB Antwaine Richardson and FL DE/TE Rashad Weaver over the weekend. They could be close to more: safeties Devin Gil and Josh Metellus, who visited campus along with linebacker teammate Devin Bush Jr., decommitted from Miami (YTM) and Georgia Southern, respectively, while they were in Ann Arbor.
Michigan had a ton of weekend visitors due to the nearby Sound Mind Sound Body camp. Reactions ahoy.
Top-100 KS DE Xavier Kelly had "a great visit," per 247's Steve Wiltfong ($). He has a who's-who list of offers and claims no favorites at the moment.
Top-100 FL WR Binjimen Victor stopped by campus after SMSB, and he's now considering the Wolverines, per TMI's Brice Marich ($):
“I’m pretty interested now in Michigan," said Victor. "I’m wide open for everybody, so I’m just giving everybody a chance and see what they've got. I canceled my top four and basically I am wide open to everybody. I’m just opening up to everybody and giving everybody a chance. I want to see what schools bring to the table and basically show me what they got. (Michigan) brought it to the table, so I like them.”
Florida (the presumed leader), LSU, Ohio State, and Tennessee were Victor's top four heading into last week.
Top-50 FL CB Trayvon Mullen told Marich that Michigan is "in it with me and I'm interested," and mentioned a desire to come back to campus ($). He'll be a tough pull from the usual SEC/ACC suspects.
Three-star CN TE/WR Chase Claypool got a lot of attention from the coaches at SMSB after visiting campus earlier in the week. He told TMI's Josh Newkirk that Michigan is now in his top three with Oregon and Washington ($). Notably, that list only includes schools he's visited, so it's subject to change, but it sounds like M made a significant move for him this week.
Another tight end possibility, three-star Sean McKeon, put Michigan in his top group along with Syracuse, Pitt, Boston College, and Virginia after his visit, per Marich ($). McKeon plans to decide at the end of this month.
In the 2017 class, four-star Cass Tech S Jaylen Kelly-Powell named Michigan his leader following the weekend, per 247's Steve Lorenz. Lorenz also reports($) that Michigan and Michigan State are the two schools out in front for four-star 2017 OLSM WR KJ Hamler.
Four-star 2017 MD DE Josh Kaindoh added an offer shortly after visiting campus this weekend, per The Wolverine's Brandon Brown.
The top-ranked 2017 quarterback in the country, Hunter Johnson, was on campus this weekend, per 247's Steve Wiltfong ($). Other campus visitors included four-star 2016 IL DE Daniel Joseph, four-star 2017 GA CB Jamyest Williams, four-star 2017 Detroit King CB Ambry Thomas, and five-star 2017 Cass Tech WR Donovan Peoples-Jones.
Michigan even extended another 2018 offer, this one to Oak Park OG Marquan McCall, per Wiltfong. McCall is teammates with 2017 four-star OT JaRaymond Hall. Michigan looks to be in very good shape with both of them.
[Take a deep breath, then hit THE JUMP.]
More On Weekend Commitments
The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan caught up with Antwaine Richardson to talk about his commitment and what he'll bring to the table ($):
"I'm a 6-0, 170-pound cornerback," he said. "I love pressing, I'm aggressive, love to tackle. I can jump up for the ball and catch it. I don't like nobody to catch the ball on me. Basically you're going to get a lockdown corner. Now, since Michigan plays a shuffle technique [in the defensive backfield], I would love to improve that. I'm good at it right now, but I want to be great at it. I would love to improve that.
"The camp was good. I came in their competing. During the drills, when we did the shuttle drill, we were going against the DB group, and nobody could [beat] me out there in the shuttle drill. Working hard throughout every drill, I was asking questions, and once it came to position drills, I did good too."
Over on Scout, Corey Bender posted an article on Rashad Weaver with an evaluation tacked on the end:
Weaver is a big-bodied athlete with the makings of an impressive strong-side defensive end. He shows good change of direction for a player of his stature, and does a good job of disengaging off blocks and making a play on the football as well. The defensive lineman simply reads and attacks.
Weaver has a frame that should be able to pack on an additional 20-30 pounds without hindering much of his athleticism in the trenches. He's a kid who's still fairly under the radar after surfacing earlier this offseason, but you can expect that to change.
He's a high-character and coachable kid that the Wolverines loved a few weeks back at their satellite camp in Davie, Florida. Weaver is just scratching the surface of his potential with his best football yet to come.
Weaver really looks like a 3-4 end, and that should prove valuable in DJ Durkin's defense.
Meanwhile, Michael Onwenu once again was a standout at a camp featuring lots of talent. This time, he came in fifth on Rivals' list of the top SMSB offensive performers ($):
The 6-foot-4, 368-pound Onwenu had an outstanding performance at the Five-Star Challenge last week, and he carried that momentum into the Sound Mind Sound Body Camp. After having competed against the best defensive linemen in the country out in Baltimore, Onwenu was easily able to dispatch all comers on Friday, displaying outstanding power and very good feet.
With all these solid camp performances, Onwenu is a good bet to move up the rankings.
More Offers, Visits, Etc.
Michigan appears to be open to taking a second 2016 quarterback after offering three-star CA ATH Victor Viramontes, who earned a lofty comparison from Harbaugh:
— Justin Hopkins (@JHopkins247) June 12, 2015
The Wolverines also offered 2017 top-100 ATH Bruce Jordan-Swilling, per 247's Sonny Shipp.
After working with M's coaches at the Dallas satellite camp, four-star OLB Jeffrey McCullough told Sam Webb that the Wolverines "will be there to the end" of his recruitment ($).
Three-star NC WDE Jimmie Taylor told Scout's Michael Clark that Michigan is one of four schools standing out to him, and he'll visit campus on Thursday ($).
Top-100 2017 WR Tarik Black will be on campus Friday, per Tarik Black.
Four-star 2017 FL WR Daquon Green, who added a Michigan offer after the South Florida satellite camp, also attended SMSB and told Rivals that Michigan, Ohio State, and Florida comprise his early top three ($). Green plans to visit Ann Arbor in either June or July.
Coach Plastic Man
The satellite camp tour certainly can't produce anything stranger than shirtless Peruballing Harbaugh, right?
— Chris Brown (Chrissoo_valid) June 9, 2015
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) June 10, 2015
Michigan has made their way through two stops in Texas and is now in California; meanwhile, the Sound Mind Sound Body camp (TomVH preview here) is underway in Michigan, and many of the participants in that camp are expected to drop by Ann Arbor this weekend.
The satellite camps are moving so quickly—and the visitor lists have been so fluid—that I can only say I'm doing by best to hit the highlights here. Coverage of all this is certainly going to bleed into next week as reporters are able to catch up with the various high-profile participants.
Top performers from the Houston camp included four-star OLB Jeffrey McCullough and 2017 five-star DT Marvin Wilson, who has Michigan in his top five, per Steve Lorenz. Four-star TX DT Jordan Elliott, a Houston commit, also dropped by to connect with the coaching staff, per Scout's Ahmard Vital.
The Dallas camp featured a lot of talent, including top-100 OT Jean Delance, who told Lorenz that he's got a "great relationship with the staff," and he plans to visit Ann Arbor soon. Three-star DE Rahssan Thornton, whose recruitment has seemingly become a Michigan/LSU battle, told 247's EJ Holland($) it was "the best camp I've gone to that I can remember." (He also said "Jim Harbaugh is like someone's cool dad.") 2017 five-star QB Shawn Robinson called Harbaugh "a quarterback genius."
Michigan leads for a couple prospects from their camps in Florida. Three-star DE Terrell Lucas told Steve Lorenz that Michigan "is on top" in his recruitment ($). He laid out a timeline for The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan ($):
"I like the whole thing about Michigan," Lucas explained. "When I hear 'Michigan,' I hear 'family.' You think of Ann Arbor, the town, you don't just think of the football team, you think of the city itself.
"Right now I'm open and trying to keep my options open. I'm considering all the colleges and trying to evaluate. I don't think it should take me that long to make my decision on which college I'm going to go to. Well before the end of the summer, I will have made my decision. End of the month or two I'll be done with it."
If he sticks to that timeline, Michigan is in very good shape. The Wolverines also emerged as the leader for DE/TE Rashad Weaver, who was offered as a jumbo athlete a few days after performing in front of the coaches, whose promise to uphold their end of the bargain stood out to Weaver, per TMI's Brice Marich:
“I would have to say yes (Michigan leads),” said Weaver. “At first when they offered, I had no leader, but when he said they would honor my commitment even if I got hurt, then that put them at the top of my list. They are the only coaches that have told me that.”
That's all from the camp tour for the moment; with SMSB this weekend, there will be much more next week.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Camp Commits: Two Down, More To Go?
— Corey Bender (@Corey_Bender) June 7, 2015
If you actually did things this weekend, you missed two commitments, one piece of inflammatory recruiting material, and enough Harbaugh headlines that Brian mercifully covered the satellite camp stuff not directly related to recruiting in today's UV, or this post would be 19,000 words and published posthumously.
The camp tour continued on to Florida, and the in-person evaluations led to several offers, including the one that set off the latest commit watch:
— Terrell Lucas Jr. (@_TerrellLucas) June 7, 2015
Lucas is a three-star WDE/OLB, and he stood out to 247's Ryan Bartow as one of the top five performers at the Miami satellite camp:
2016 DE Terrell Lucas - Has over a dozen verbal offers. Michigan added their name to the list along with Syracuse and Minnesota, among others. Lucas is a prep defensive end that will likely transition to a 3-4 outside linebacker in college. He has a good frame. Takes coaching well. He was outstanding at last week's Alabama camp and was equally good in front of Michigan's staff.
- Three-star 2016 CB Antwaine Richardson, a high school teammate of incoming freshman DE Shelton Johnson.
- Two-star 2016 S Josh Metellus, a Georgia Southern commit.
- Two-star 2016 SDE/TE Rashad Weaver.
- 2017 WR Clevan Thomas, who reportedly stole the show at the Miami camp.
- 2017 RB Jordan Merrell, a Cincinnati commit.
- 2017 WR Daquon Green, who's added several top-notch offers recently.
This seems like a good opportunity to talk about recruiting rankings and camp offers, since the commitment of largely unranked Dytarious Johnson, the possibility of Lucas also committing, and the number of offers going out to lower-ranked prospects has caused consternation among a certain segment of the fanbase.
Yes, recruiting rankings have been proven time and again to matter when it comes to projecting success. Final recruiting rankings, that is. I'm not saying Johnson is going to turn out to be a five-star, but I'd also be shocked if he were anything less than a solid three-star come February, and I doubt there'd be complaints about his commitment if that were his current ranking. Recruiting rankings change all the way up to Signing Day because the services get more data to inform their ratings; that includes senior film and the very camp evaluations Michigan's coaches are making in-person at each of these stops.
If Michigan is frantically adding unranked recruits on Signing Day, there'd be plenty of reason for worry. It's June. Despite several top-tier players showing high interest, the coaches were comfortable extending these offers and accepting commitments from prospects they'd had the chance to see up close. Given Harbaugh's track record of identifying and developing talent—not to mention the potential readily apparent in Johnson's junior highlights—it's far too soon to use incomplete recruiting rankings as the ultimate gauge for the recruiting class. Michigan still has room to add blue-chippers—and lest we forget, they added a consensus four-star last week, too. Sounding the "it's RichRod recruiting all over again" alarm before it's officially summer is an overreaction at best.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]