here's one vote for "John Beilein's head in a Futurama jar"
Today's recruiting roundup covers MSU visit reactions, a friendly bet between a future Wolverine and a future Buckeye, how not to deal with the Dawson decommitment, and more.
Visit Reactions: Positive (Surprise!)
The overall ugliness of the Michigan-MSU game wasn't enough to dampen the excitement of visitors to the Big House, even when you put aside Denzel Ward's pre-game commitment. In fact, Ward could be joined sooner or later on the 2014 offensive line by four-star FL lineman Mason Cole, who said this to 247's Todd Worly ($, info in header):
“I liked everything about it,” Cole said. “Just the atmosphere and everything. It just feels like home. Just the coaching staff and Ann Arbor.”
When asked where Michigan stands, Cole stated that they're "really high" on his list—impressive considering an offer list that includes USC, Ohio State, Florida, Florida State, and Notre Dame.
GBW's Kyle Bogenshutz caught up with Cass Tech junior CB Damon Webb, who normally plays things close to the vest but had high praise for the visit ($):
“This time when I was up at Michigan it was different,” Webb told GoBlueWolverine. “The crowd was more live. Other Michigan games it wasn’t really this big, but I was really impressed by this visit.”
“It helped a lot,” added Webb.
Top 2013 target VA RB Derrick Green:
Derrick Green responded one word on how visit is going so far at #Michigan -- "great"
— Mike Farrell (@rivalsmike) October 21, 2012
I have to think—given the poor seasons of Auburn and Tennessee—that Michigan is in the driver's seat for Green at this point.
While IL WR Laquon Treadwell was unable to make the trip—I'm a broken record on this subject, so react as you will (sorry, mods)—the Wolverines did host a pair of 2013 prospects currently committed elsewhere. Westland John Glenn WR Da'Mario Jones (CMU commit) was in the Big House for the second straight week, telling Tim Sullivan($) that "it was probably one of the hypest games that I've been to." Scout's Simone Scott posted on The Victors Board($) that Pickerington (OH) North RB Godwin Igwebuike—Northwestern commit and HS teammate of Jake Butt—was also in attendance, though it sounds like he just took the opportunity to catch a game with his friend and teammate. Both Jones and Igwebuike could be backup options should the Wolverines miss out on Treadwell and Green.
Michigan even made waves in the 2015 class, especially with their first offered prospect, KY RB Damien Harris. Harris has spent the season putting up video game numbers after camping in Ann Arbor over the summer; he came away from the visit in awe of the stadium atmosphere, according to TomVH ($):
“I’d say that Michigan was already on top, but it just moved them up even more for me because that’s definitely the type of atmosphere I’d like to play in,” he said. “That makes me want to go there even more. To know that the fans are that into the game, it definitely moved them up.”
Harris added that he couldn't "put it into words how amazing it really was," so yeah, that went well. He's a potential five-star who's already getting serious national attention, and it's safe to say the Wolverines are leading the way right now. It's worth noting that his mother accompanied him on the visit, as well.
The Cass Tech pipeline could continue, meanwhile, in the form of sophomore DE Joshua Alabi, who told 247's Todd Worly that he wants to stay close to home ($):
“Everyone around you is family, so if I could go there, I would,” Alabi said. “I’ve been to Michigan already, and if I could stay home, I would. I don’t want to leave home if I don’t have to. I’d just stay in Michigan.”
Alabi is an impressive young prospect who already stands at 6'5", 245 lbs.; while he doesn't have an offer yet, he's a candidate down the road, and it sounds like Michigan would be in a very good position to land him.
For more visit reaction, Tremendous has you covered.
[Mike McCray throws down the gauntlet against Cam Burrows, a roundup of last weekend's high school action, and more after THE JUMP.]
According to WolverineNation's Chantel Jennings($), Michigan has picked up their second commitment of the 2014 class in IL OL Denzel Ward, a 6'9" tackle who started playing organized football this year. Informative update coming either tonight or tomorrow, depending on how this game goes.
Semi-informative update ahoy:
|NR OT||NR OT||NR OT||NR OT|
As noted above, Ward didn't start playing organized football until this season, so there's very little in the way of scouting on him. Rivals and ESPN have yet to release full rankings for the 2014 class, and Ward isn't listed yet by Scout or 247; again, that doesn't mean much a handful of games into his football career. All but Scout (6'8") list Ward at 6'9", with his listed weight ranging from 285-295 pounds, so he's a rather gargantuan human being.
The only quotes we have at this juncture about Ward's football ability are from his head coach, via Jennings ($):
"He's dominant," Hales Franciscan coach Randall Townsel said. "The game is very fast when you start playing football. The first time you take the varsity field, the game is moving fast -- and it still is for him -- but for him to go in, understand his role and be as dominant as he has been is pretty incredible."
Ward was a constant surprise to Townsel. After his first practice, Ward stayed after to run a mile by himself. As practices progressed, so did he. At his first game, he drove a player 20 yards down field into a fence because he was a little too excited and wasn't sure when he was allowed to stop, when his quarterback assuredly would be safe.
For a first-time player, regardless of size, to garner serious BCS attention is a testament to Ward's potential, and it's apparent that he's picking the game up in a hurry. Given that he'd been a serious AAU basketball player—a teammate of top-ranked 2013 recruit Jabari Parker, in fact—it's safe to say that he possesses the athleticism necessary to develop into a viable tackle prospect.
Ward's only other offer was from Purdue at the time of his commitment, but Rivals also lists interest from Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio State, USC, and Wisconsin. According to 247, Ward camped at Purdue, Ohio State, and Wisconsin over the summer, earning his Boilermaker offer during his camp appearance.
FAKE 40 TIME
Ward doesn't have a highlight tape available yet. When he does, it will make an appearance in the next recruiting roundup.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Given the complete dearth of scouting and film available on Ward, I'm only comfortable putting forth that he will likely develop into a left tackle prospect; given his size, this isn't exactly going out on a limb.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Ward joins linebacker Michael Ferns among Michigan's 2014 commits; Michigan's coaches have made it clear that they'd like to take at least four—and preferably five or six—offensive linemen in each recruiting class, so expect Ward to be joined by at least one more tackle prospect and a couple other linemen.
Today's recruiting roundup covers the MSU visitor list, a potential 2014 commit, Michigan's gentle giant of a commit, and more.
Denzel Ward: Michigan's next commit?
Last weekend, Michigan offered 6'9" IL OT Denzel Ward, who visited for the Illinois game and came away gushing about the visit and talking about receiving his "dream offer" from the Wolverines. Ward spent the game with Logan Tuley-Tillman, who gave him his best recruiting pitch, per Tim Sullivan ($):
"Me and a 2014 tackle, Denzel Ward, we both were there," Tuley-Tillman explained. "We hung out like the whole day, and we'll come back next weekend together. We had a lot of fun, and everybody already thinks we're brothers. We're going to start going along with it, too. We had fun, we both had a good time.
"I was just showing him what it was, and how it really is a family atmosphere up there, and how he would already have someone that would be there for him to help him with anything."
The pitch appears to be working—Ward will be back on campus this weekend after spending the week tweeting all of the positive things about Michigan. He might have something up his sleeve, too:
— Logan Tuley-Tillman™ (@LoganTillman) October 17, 2012
An early commitment is a definite possibility here.
Ward won't be alone as a big-time visitor for the State game; Tremendous has the whole list, and it is lengthy. Michigan's two biggest 2013 targets, VA RB Derrick Green and IL WR Laquon Treadwell, will both be present, as will a pair of backup options at wide receiver in MI WR DaMario Jones and OH WR Elijah Bell—neither hold offers but could pick one up as we near signing day if Treadwell doesn't commit. Don't expect Green or Treadwell to make a decision this weekend, but a good visit could go a long way towards locking up a commitment in both cases, especially when it comes to Green.
Visiting 2014 prospects with Michigan offers are MI WR/DB Damon Webb, FL OL Mason Cole, PA S Montae Nicholson, PA TE Brenon Thrift, and OH ATH Marshon Lattimore. The first 2015 offer, KY RB Damien Harris—who projects to be one of the top handful of prospects in that class—will also be on campus; he camped at Michigan over the summer.
There's also a major basketball recruit slated to visit in improbably-named 2015 five-star WI C Diamond Stone. He already holds offers from UCLA and Wisconsin, among others, and is likely to pick one up on his visit [EDIT: As multiple commenters reminded me of, Beilein doesn't offer prospects until the summer after their sophomore year, so Stone won't be picking one up on this trip]. Fellow 2015 five-star IL PG Hyron Edwards might make the trip up for the game, as well.
This is obviously Michigan's biggest recruiting weekend of the season, and we could see several offers go out to 2014 prospects; we'll see if a commitment is in the cards.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on the Dawson replacement situation and more.]
Wyatt Shallman was the only in-state commit I hadn't had a chance to see so far this season, so last Friday I ventured back to Orchard Lake St. Mary's for a Catholic League tilt against his Detroit Catholic Central squad. Needing a victory to stay alive for a playoff berth, CC came away with a decisive 35-13 upset victory on the strength of their defense and a big rushing day from senior back Anthony Darkangelo.
Shallman, who's been nursing a hamstring injury that's kept him from playing on offense, spent the entire game at strongside defensive end. While St. Mary's ran almost entirely away from Shallman, he still managed to make an impact, recording two solo tackles, a pair of assists, and the pass breakup pictured above. 2014 defensive end Dylan Roney saw a lot more action from his weakside spot and acquitted himself well, recording eight tackles, including a couple impressive stops near the line of scrimmage. Here are some highlights of Shallman and Roney from Friday's game (apologies for the sometimes shaky camera-work; in order to get a good shot, I had to stand and go sans tripod):
Soundtrack: (Don't Be Comin' With No) Weak Sauce — Stanton Moore
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting reports on the defensive end duo plus an interview with Shallman.]
Today's recruiting roundup discusses the Dawson decommitment and potential replacements, the updated 2013 Top247, the return of Shane Morris, a potential early 2014 commit, and more.
Point Of No Return
Ethan Pocic: Potential Dawson replacement?
Despite an summer flirtation with Florida, David Dawson seemingly decommitted out of the blue yesterday. He was quick to name a new leader in the Gators, however, and InsideTheGators.com suggests that this may have actually been a long time coming ($) [emphasis mine]:
Word of the two-sides parting ways first started gaining momentum back in the summer, when during The Opening Dawson openly spoke of decommitting from Michigan, telling several of his fellow Wolverines commitments of his plan.
However, after speaking with the UM coaching staff, Dawson decided to stand pat.
Then a month ago, a person close to the situation told Inside the Gators that Dawson was on the verge of making a change, and it would happen in a matter of days, before then saying that it would happen during the week leading up to the Florida-LSU game.
Chatter on Florida message boards suggests that Dawson reached out to Florida multiple times attempting to set up a visit, including before the LSU game, and it may in fact have been a Gator coach who clued in the Michigan staff to what was going on. It that's indeed the case, this quote from Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher should not come as a surprise at all ($):
“They are done,” said Wilcher regarding whether the Wolverines will continue courting his star lineman. “That ship has sailed… sunk.. whatever you want to call it.”
Regardless of how things went down, I'd encourage everyone to wish Dawson well and move on. Sour grapes are not a good look when we're talking about the decisions of high school kids.
Michigan is certainly moving on, as The M Block reports that the Wolverines have already reached out to LSU commit Ethan Pocic, who was very high on Michigan before the available spots on the line filled up. Pocic maintains that he's firmly committed to the Tigers and will take his only official visit there; that's to be expected at this juncture, of course, so we'll see how things develop. While Dawson was slated to play guard and Pocic is a pure tackle prospect, Michigan could easily shift Chris Fox down to guard and maintain a full five-man line class with every position covered—Logan Tuley-Tillman and Pocic at tackle, Fox and Kyle Bosch at guard, and Patrick Kugler at center.
Tremendous throws in their two cents about potential replacements for Dawson, including Pocic, Notre Dame commit Colin McGovern, MSU commit Dennis Finley (yet to be offered, but one could come), and UCLA commit Scott Quessenberry, a high school teammate of freshman Erik Magnuson. They also dispel the notion that Dawson's departure could affect the recruitment of VA RB Derrick Green; the pair had struck up a friendship over the summer, but Green told Tremendous that the decommitment will "not at all" affect his status with the Wolverines.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of today's recruiting nuggets.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers Michael Ferns' touching gesture for a teammate, Derrick Green's latest visit plans, updates on a few key 2014 targets, and more.
Michael Ferns, Extremely Decent Human Being
Grab your Zyrtec and tissues, because pollen levels are about to get unusually high. This Facebook post, along with the above picture, made the rounds earlier this week regarding 2014 Michigan commit Michael Ferns:
"Teammates. In one of the most unselfish acts I can ever recall in high school sports, last Friday in St. Clairsville's game at Edison High School, No. 10 Michael Ferns took off on a 52 yard run and intentionally ran out of bounds at the 1 yard line. Logan Thompson, No. 17, took it from there...Thompson, who had lost his father, Paul on Wednesday of last week, was then handed the ball and ran through a giant hole to score in his father's memory. This pic was shot after Logan's TD run behind the St. C. bench. Please excuse the lack of complete clarity, but I think I might have been a little shaky... Thanks, Michael and Logan for sharing the moment and for teaching what it means to be a Teammate!~ God's Speed, Paul Thompson!~"
Sports, man; they can really bring out the best in people. Tremendous caught up with Ferns to get a few more details, and you really get an impression of just what kind of quality young man the Wolverines have committed to their 2014 class [emphasis mine]:
"It was a pretty tough week. Everything happened so unexpectedly and after we found out what happened, we knew we had to do what we could as a team to try to ease the pain; at least for a moment. We weren't really sure the opportunity was actually going to arise, but I pretty much made it my mission to get us into position to do it. Late in the game, I took a 23-iso up the middle and broke it. I immediately angled towards the sidelines and went out of bounds at the 1. Logan was on the sidelines and I don't think he knew what was going on. Coach called him to go in. I played fullback on the play and helped lead him into the endzone. After we got back onto the sidelines, I gave him a hug and told him I was proud of him. That's what I like about my team: we will do anything for each other. As a group, we'll help out anyone else on the team in any way we can".
The next time someone tells you sports contribute nothing to society, feel free to pass along that story (also, feel free to disassociate with that person entirely, because they sound like a total drag).
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on Gareon Conley, Derrick Green, a potential backup plan at wide receiver, and a few 2014 prospects.]