OH LB Michael Ferns is one of a handful of early 2014 targets from the Midwest (photo via DetNews)
It's time for another edition of the Recruitin' Mailbag. Today, much of the focus is on the 2014 class, though of course there's a Laquon Treadwell question for those of you not ready to look that far ahead yet. You can ask a question for the next mailbag via email or with the hashtag #mgomailbag on Twitter.
Huge fan, you do an outstanding job. My recruiting question for you is, with so many scholarships given out to the 2014 class I've noticed that there has been a "lack of interest" so far with student athletes from the Midwest. My meaning of "lack of interest" doesn't mean they don't have kids from that area on their recruiting board. I'm wondering if the reason for that is because there is a lack of talent for the 2014 class in the Midwest compared to this 2013 class. Thank you for reading and answering my email. Take Care!
Going by Touch The Banner's 2014 offer board (and adding in OH RB L.J. Scott, who picked up an offer last week), Michigan has sent out 52 offers in the class, but only 13 have gone to prospects within the Big Ten footprint. A quick glance at 247's early 2014 rankings, however, should tell you what this staff is thinking: the Wolverines have offered six of the top ten players in the country and ten of the top 20.
This early in the cycle, the emphasis has been on gauging the interest of the blue-chip national prospects; with that level of prospect, it's often the case of getting in early or not getting in at all. They're also the players who need the least amount of evaluation to determine if they're worthy of an offer. It's not like the Midwest isn't represented, either, and offers have gone out to in-state standouts Malik McDowell, Damon Webb, and Tommy Doles; I don't believe this is an issue of lack of local talent, even though we may not see Illinois produce the same level of prospects that they have in 2013.
I'd expect you'll see many more offers go out to Midwest prospects when the fall rolls around and the coaches have some junior-year film to evaluate. With a year-and-a-half until 2014 signing day, there's still a lot of time before we can begin to question the talent level in the area.
Is there any indication that Hoke & staff prefer to have the class wrapped up early? What I mean is, do they put pressure on the kids (saying "hey, we're not going to hold a scholarship and we're recruiting others for your position") and that's part of the reason some guys (i.e. LTT, Treadwell's possible earlier decision) commit early?
The Wolverine asked Brady Hoke about the trend of early commitments in recruiting at Big Ten media days, and while Hoke said he's unsure if he liked sending out offers so early, he may not have much of a choice:
If they didn't take kids early, he added, they'd be in danger of falling behind.
"If we didn't, somebody else would," he said. "We're going to be aggressive in what we do. You can't sit back, or somebody's going to pass you, but I don't know what they're going to do [to slow it], or who's going to handle it["]
As for pressuring players to commit, several recruits have noted that the coaching staff has done no such thing; they want recruits to commit only if they're ready to do so. That said, the coaches are very open with recruits about the current scholarship situation and whether other recruits are poised to commit—see: the staff informing Leon McQuay III before Ross Douglas committed—with the implication that time may be running out to secure a spot in the class. They're not going to give a player an ultimatum; at the same time, they're not going to put the class on hold to wait on one prospect.
How much of an impact is the "no other visits" rule having on early commits for '14? — @Bry_Mac
Well, hey there, Blue in South Bend. I think the rule is absolutely having an impact at this stage, and that's a good thing; it's quite possible that without the rule in place a guy like Damon Webb would have committed by now, even though he's still getting offers from schools like LSU that would understandably make him think twice about that commitment. At this stage, the 2014 prospects haven't had much of a chance to see schools outside of their immediate area, and asking them to make an ill-informed decision is begging for some decommitment drama down the road.
Once some of the local prospects take a few visits to check out other schools, I think you'll start seeing the commitments trickle in; I'd be surprised if Michigan entered the 2012 season without at least one junior committed. They're in great position with a few prospects—especially OH LB Michael Ferns—and should get off to a strong start when the time comes. That time just might not be now.
How much does HS coaching (or lack thereof) shade our views of recruits? Can a great coach oversell a meh talent? — @hooverstreet
At a certain level, possibly, though that would be limited to positions like quarterback where the system really has a big impact, and usually you're able to tell regardless of stats whether a QB has the frame and arm strength to make it at the collegiate level.
I actually think that playing for a poorly-coached team can have a strange way of benefiting certain players; if a physically impressive prospect plays in a system not tailored to their game, the hype can build around untapped potential. To take an example—and I'm by no means saying he'll be a bust—Taco Charlton is now a four-star on the basis of his athletic ability, frame, and camp performances, but so far in high school he's been a situational pass-rusher. If he was out there every down and we got to see how he stood up against the run, it's quite possible that he wouldn't be as highly regarded.
For the most part, with all the camps and 24/7 recruiting coverage, I think it's difficult at this point for a recruit to get too overrated due to the high school system they play in; eventually, they either have to match up with other top prospects or they'll get dinged for shying away from top competition. That's a big reason why camps have taken on such a life of their own; in this day and age, it's all about seeing how top prospects handle playing against other top prospects.
why the sudden interest in Florida, lsu, auburn from QuonT. Is he cooling on mich? — @natebburn
It's important to note that this "sudden interest" in Laquon Treadwell from SEC schools is still coming six months before signing day; even last year this wouldn't be considered getting into the race late. As for Treadwell's interest in Michigan, I'll believe he's "cooling" on the Wolverines when he says so himself, and he's said nothing to indicate that they're anything but his clear-cut top school.
Just because the trend has gone towards early commitments doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with taking your time, checking out as many schools as possible, and waiting until you're 100% ready before making a commitment. Give Treadwell a chance to do his due diligence; I'd expect that whenever he's ready, you'll be happy with his decision.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses the BBQ, the latest on Laquon Treadwell and Leon McQuay III, Shane Morris at the Gridiron Kings, 247's composite rankings, and more.
Skew It On The Bar-B
The commits plus Derrick Green (back row, fourth from the left) via Sam Webb
The BBQ at the Big House has come and gone without a commit, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a very successful recruiting weekend for the Wolverines. The big story was VA RB Derrick Green, as Michigan's commits put on the full-court press for a commitment—one several commits expect to happen sooner or later—and while Green decided against ending his recruitment, he told Matt Pargoff that the visit "definitely helped Michigan." Green did say that, despite what others have said, he wasn't close to committing on the visit, though he did tell Tremendous that Michigan will definitely be in his top five when he names his list this week. With the news that both Clemson and Ohio State are no longer recruiting Green, the Wolverines appear to be in the driver's seat. Green is no longer certain that he'll take all of his officials before committing, which could indicate a decision in the near future.
Though AZ WR Devon Allen couldn't stay for the BBQ, instead visiting on Saturday, he told 247's Todd Worly the trip "really opened my eyes" and increased his interest in Michigan ($). I think Allen is still a longshot to end up in the class, but he's a viable alternative should the unexpected happen with Laquon Treadwell.
While Green got most of the attention, he may not have been the recruit closest to pulling the trigger this weekend; 2014 OH LB Michael Ferns told 247's Steve Wiltfong that committing "crossed my mind" during the BBQ ($). At this point, Ferns is the clear favorite to kick off Michigan's 2014 class.
Another 2014 prospect who could make an early commitment is IL CB Parrker Westphal, who told Wiltfong that Michigan is "still the standard" in his recruitment following the BBQ ($).
2014 WI DE Conor Sheehy picked up an offer at the BBQ, according to 247's Clint Brewster ($). The 6'4", 260-pound rising junior also holds an offer from Wisconsin and says he has no timeline for a commitment.
After visiting with a group of Cass Tech teammates, CB Damon Webb gave Sam Webb($) a top four of Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, and LSU. Webb holds offers from all four as well as Toledo, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Thus far the 2014 quarterback discussion has mostly centered around in-state prospect Chance Stewart and Ohio product DeShone Kizer, but there's a non-Midwest name on the radar: OK QB Coleman Key, who's now driven(!) to Ann Arbor twice and was told by the coaches he's the #1 target at the position, according to Tremendous. He's now got Michigan in his top three with Oklahoma and Texas and is waiting to get an offer from one of those schools.
2014 Grand Rapids Christian OL Tommy Doles says Michigan is the school he's "looking into the most," according to Tim Sullivan ($).
Michigan has also made an impression on Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake teammates OL Mason Cole and ATH Artavis Scott, who were both at the BBQ. Cole told Sam Webb that Michigan is "definitely" one of his top schools($), while Scott said "hell yes" when asked by Tremendous if the visit helped Michigan.
Treadwell Visits: Probably Happening
IL WR Laquon Treadwell's recruitment continues to show that having four dedicated recruiting services often means you get four slightly different—or even wildly disparate—quotes in the span of a couple days. Here he's quoted by Sam Webb in the Detroit News last Thursday [emphasis mine]:
For his part, Treadwell says he will visit Oklahoma State soon. Whether he will take trips after that remains to be seen.
"August," replied Treadwell when asked when he would make his way down to the Sooner State. (After that) I'll probably take officials, but I'm not sure."
The next day, Treadwell gave this statement to ESPN's Kipp Adams:
"I am going to take some officials to LSU, Auburn, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State," Treadwell said. "I should be ready to make my decision after I see a couple of schools."
247's Keith Neibuhr got this quote on Sunday:
Along with the Wolverines, Illinois, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State make up Treadwell's top five, he said.
"I haven't decided when I'll make my decision," Treadwell said. "I'll probably just have it randomly -- when I'm ready and comfortable. I really want to see those schools over again before I make a decision. I've been to Illinois, Michigan and Michigan State. I want to get to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State."
According to the 6-feet-3, 195-pound Treadwell, Auburn, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State probably will get official visits from him. Florida is another school he might check out, and soon.
"I'm dying to get up there with (Florida commits) Vernon [Hargreaves] and Tre [Bell]," Treadwell said. "The coaches are wanting to get me up there, so they can offer me a scholarship and I can see everything."
When might that visit happen?
"Whenever I can when I'm down here," he said. "Maybe this weekend."
So, as he's maintained throughout his recruitment, Treadwell is going to take some visits. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State appear to be lined up for August, while LSU and Florida are two schools that only recently showed major interest—he's mentioned each as a potential visit destination, but he's done this before when new schools pop up on the radar without anything coming to fruition. I still think this one's just a matter of time.
Webb's article above also discusses the situation with FL DB Leon McQuay III, who moved Michigan out of his top three after the commitment of Ross Douglas:
"He didn't drop (Michigan)," clarified McQuay's father, Leon McQuay Jr. "They wanted to move on the Penn State commit and they informed us on Tuesday. It came down all of a sudden. But Leon is not ready to commit. It's a business and I understand that. I had a conversation with his head coach, and between the two of us and the conversations he had with the coaching staff at Michigan, he kind of thought that it was best that if there is no (definite) scholarship available, why would they be in his top three?"
Florida State has taken Michigan's spot alongside USC and Vanderbilt, though there's still mutual interest. Yesterday news popped up that McQuay would make his announcement today, but that isn't happening. That's probably for the best, as given the above the Wolverines would probably be on the outside looking in if McQuay made a decision now.
A few happy trails to report this week: FL CB Vernon Hargreaves III committed to Florida, MD CB Kendall Fuller pledged to join his brothers at Virginia Tech, and KY DE Jason Hatcher adds to the ridiculous recruiting haul at USC.
BREAKING: RECRUITING SERVICE ACKNOWLEDGES EXISTENCE OF OTHER RECRUITING SERVICES
Well, it's about damn time this happened, even if 247 won't mention their competitors by name:
In an effort to communicate a more accurate evaluation of prospects and recruiting classes for fans, 247Sports is pleased to launch the 247Composite rating/ranking system for college football and basketball recruiting.
The 247Composite Rating is a proprietary algorithm that compiles prospect "rankings" and "ratings" listed in the public domain by the major media recruiting services. It converts average industry ranks and ratings into a linear composite index capping at 1.0000, which indicates a consensus No. 1 prospect across all services.
247 is now basing their team rankings on the composite formula, which weighs Rivals's, Scout's, and ESPN's rankings equally with their own. MGoUser Turd Ferguson has helpfully compiled the composite overall rankings of Michigan's commits and targets of interest:
Here's where the Michigan recruits landed in 247's calculation of the four-site average:
16. Shane Morris
55. Dymonte Thomas
62. Kyle Bosch
74. Patrick Kugler
82. Chris Fox
114. Henry Poggi
116. Mike McCray
122. David Dawson
133. Logan Tuley-Tillman
137. Taco Charlton
146. Jourdan Lewis
153. Jake Butt
191. Ben Gedeon
203. DeVeon Smith
215. Gareon Conley
242. Wyatt Shallman
301. Maurice Hurst, Jr.
311. Jaron Dukes
355. Ross Douglas
541. Csont'e York
641. Khalid Hill
Also of note:
40. Leon McQuay
41. Laquon Treadwell
60. Derrick Green
I don't see Channing Stribling or Scott Sypniewski in the top 1250.
Unfortunately, this is a really good idea that appears to be marred by some seriously flawed methodology, as noted in the comments of the above board post:
Ross Douglas is ranked the Composite #355 overall prospect (#28 CB) while Darian Hicks is ranked the Composite #256 overall prospect (#24 CB). Rivals, Scout, ESPN, & 247Sports all have Ross Douglas ranked above Hicks in their indvidual rankings so it is unclear how Douglas is lower in the Composite.
The rankings are using the top n lists from each site and averaging a player's overall ranking in those lists, but if a player isn't ranked on the top list by a particular service, it's omitted entirely from the average. Thus, you get this:
They only used inputted the data from each services top prospects lists(Rivals 250, ESPN 300, Scout 300) into their system. Because Hicks is not ranked in any those lists, he maintains only his 247Sports ranking (which turns out to be his highest). Douglas is ranked by a lot of those lists and that actually ends up bringing his ranking down because it is below his 247Sports ranking.
Hopefully there will be a formula tweak in the near future; otherwise, this is great for comparing recruits who made it onto all four lists, and totally worthless otherwise.
Morris, Treadwell, Bailey At Gridiron Kings
Michigan's top non-coach recruiter wasn't present at the BBQ, as Shane Morris instead was in Florida competing in the Gridiron Kings 7-on-7 tournament, where he piloted his Midwest squad to the finals before falling to a stacked Southeast team. Morris impressed on day one, according to Josh Helmholdt ($)...
In general, the quarterbacks did not have a banner day on Saturday. Morris was the best when he was on and made some spectacular throws downfield. He also had times when he had trouble going through his progressions and getting the football where it needed to be on time. Overall, though, Morris was solid and helped his team put a lot of points on the board despite its 1-2 record in pool play. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound passer let the fastball rip on a number of occasions, but also varied his speed and was spotting his passes well most of the day.
...but failed to make the top performers lists after day two, when he threw a couple of picks to Leon McQuay III in the finals. He did, however, display a strong rapport with Laquon Treadwell, again via Helmholdt ($):
Warren (Mich.) De La Salle quarterback Shane Morris is committed to Michigan and Crete-Monee (Ill.) wide receiver Laquon Treadwell has the Wolverines as his favorite. It remains to be seen if the two will hook up in college, but they connected more than any other wide receiver-quarterback duo over the course of the two days.
When it came time to name a top performer for Sunday, Rivals's Chris Nee went with another Michigan target, FL WR Alvin Bailey:
Bailey didn't win offensive MVP honors, which went instead to his quarterback, Brice Ramsey. But Bailey nonetheless had an outstanding day in the Gridiron Kings Championship. He showed the ability to stretch the field and get a step on vertical routes against defensive backs while also displaying great work in the middle of the field and underneath. He had numerous big receptions and regularly found the end zone.
Treadwell also earned mention as the #6 overall Sunday performer.
Quick 2014 Updates
Michigan has handed out scholarship offers to the top national prospects at running back in the 2014 class, but hadn't given one to a Midwest back until this week, when they offered Marion (OH) Harding RB L.J. Scott, according to Tremendous. Scott is a big back at 6'0", 215 pounds, and also holds an early offer from Kent State.
Two blue-chip 2014 prospects say they'll be in Ann Arbor for a game this fall. Behemoth GA OT Orlando Brown Jr. had to cancel a visit set for earlier this month, but says he's "definitely going to go up" to Ann Arbor ($). TX CB Edward Paris, the #10 overall prospect in the early Top247, wants to check out the Alabama game($), though since that's a neutral-site game he would not be an official visitor.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses newest 2013 commit Ross Douglas, Shane Morris's Elite 11 finals performance, BBQ at the Big House visitors, and more.
Prep Kickoff Classic Presser Wrap
The Detroit Sports Commission Prep Kickoff Classic—formerly known as the Big Day Prep Showdown—will be held this year at Wayne State on August 24-25, and features a headlining matchup between Division 1 state champ Cass Tech and Division 2 champs Birmingham Brother Rice. Yesterday, the Detroit Sports Commission held a luncheon promoting the event, so I made the drive up to Detroit with the promise of an opportunity to interview some of Cass Tech's top players.
Unfortunately, every team but Cass Tech sent a contingent of players, and I left the event empty-handed. Well, save for this photo of Southgate Anderson's terrifying mascot:
Don't all thank me at once, now.
Hello: Ross Douglas
As ryebreadboy noted in the comments of yesterday's Hello post, recruits have a knack for making my job a little difficult, so of course OH CB Ross Douglas committed yesterday while I was in Detroit. There's this guy named Brian who does a decent job of blogging himself, however, so the site didn't miss a beat. Douglas's commitment has spurred the usual slew of scouting reports, including one from Scout's Bill Greene that compares him to the same player Brian did, Courtney Avery. More from Greene ($):
Douglas is a pure speed athlete, first and foremost. He can run and jump with the best of Ohio's top defensive backs ... He has a lot of upside as a cornerback, because he has a lot to learn about playing the position. The skill set is more than adequate, and all he lacks is game experience at the position, but he will get another year's worth this season.
The usual concerns about height crop up, as well. The fact that Douglas has done so well at corner despite his inexperience at the position is a good indicator of his natural athletic ability.
ESPN's Billy Tucker also provides a report; this excerpt comes from above the paywall fold:
Not the biggest perimeter defender but he can cover with very good footwork, transitional skills and above average speed. Does a good job in both man and zone schemes. While not the biggest or fastest, Douglas closes with good burst, is instinctive, technically sound and well-rounded.
Matt Pargoff caught up with Douglas's high school coach, who had nothing but good things to say about his character:
“No one works harder than Ross when it comes to football,” said Elder. “In all my years of coaching high school football, I’ve probably never had a kid that works as hard at it as he does. I’ve watched him grow from the freshman that started at corner for us to the senior that he is now, and it’s been a lot of fun to coach him and watch him develop.
“He’s a high character kid. He comes from a great family. I just talked to Coach [Brady] Hoke on the phone probably about an hour ago and the one thing I told him was, I can promise you – obviously they know he’s a great football player or they wouldn’t recruit him – but I said he’s a great kid who will never embarrass your program. That’s something that I’m proud of as a coach. He’s a good kid. He treats people with respect. He’s a good student. He’s going to do things the right way and work hard.["]
A welcome addition to the program, to be sure.
Bonus: Rivals has a free article on sleeper prospects that is largely devoted to Michigan's recruitment of Channing Stribling.
Elite 11 Or 25 Or Whatever
Depending on where you look, Shane Morris was either the best quarterback at the Elite 11 (Scout), in the top four (Rivals), or outside of the top 11 (the Elite 11 staff). You can judge for yourself, as Fox Sports/Scout provides video of all of Morris's throws from the camp. His performance was a little uneven, especially when throwing deep, but then you watch the throw at 2:25 and swoon:
Scout's Scott Kennedy cites Morris's big arm in naming him the top QB at the camp, though he also has the same concerns you likely do after watching the above video:
The biggest arm at the camp, Morris shook off a rough outing on his first day to steadily improve each week. Morris is capable of making throws that only a few in this class can hope to match. Needs to develop better field vision and consistency.
Rivals has a slightly more in-depth evaluation ($):
4. Shane Morris, Warren (Mich.) De La Salle: Morris is at the top because of his high ceiling. He has great size, a cannon of an arm and he has started to show the ability to put more touch on his ball. His long ball didn't sail like it has in the past and no one can sling it where it needs to be faster. The interesting thing about Morris is that while he's learning to drop the ball into spots rather than zip it all the time and learning to throw across his body more, he becomes more impressive. He's no longer just a kid with a hose for an arm, he's becoming a complete quarterback.
Morris has consistently improved his ability to change speeds since last fall if you believe his camp evaluations (and I'm not sure why you wouldn't).
If you're curious, South Florida commit Asiantii Woulard took home camp MVP honors; other standouts included Penn State commit Christian Hackenberg, USC commit Max Browne, and Miami (YTM) commit Kevin Olsen.
BBQ Visitors and 2013 News
I've been asked several times for a list of this weekend's BBQ at the Big House visitors, and thankfully Tremendous has done the legwork for me. The list of 2013 uncommitted recruits is small, just VA RB Derrick Green (AZ WR Devon Allen visits the day before the BBQ). One notable name not on the list is IL WR Laquon Treadwell, but fear not: he'll be at the Gridiron Kings camp with, you guessed it, Shane Morris. A slew of 2014 prospects will attend, including offered recruits like MI CB Damon Webb, IL CB Parrker Westphal, and OH LB Michael Ferns. Ferns, especially, could be one to keep an eye on, as he's already named a top three of Michigan, Notre Dame, and Penn State with plans for an early decision; given the situation in Happy Valley, this could already be a two-horse race.
FL WR Alvin Bailey narrowed his list to a group of eight: UCF, Georgia, Florida State, Texas A&M, Auburn, South Carolina, Michigan, and Notre Dame. He gave more detail to Rivals's Chris Nee, saying that among those schools, UCF, Georgia, South Carolina, and Michigan stand out ($). Word is Bailey even has favorites among that top group, South Carolina and UCF, and given Michigan's scholarship situation and the difficulty pulling a prospect from the South, I'd still bank on Treadwell as the most likely WR to end up in the fold.
As mentioned above, Derrick Green will be in Ann Arbor this weekend. He recently took a trip to Auburn, however, and came way saying he "got that feeling," about the school, as did his mother ($). I've never been particularly optimistic about Michigan's chances of landing Green, and that stance hasn't changed.
CA DE Joe Mathis, for whatever it's worth, tells 247's Todd Worly that Michigan remains in his top three with Nebraska and Washington, with all three schools even for now ($).
Happy trails to HI DT Scott Pagano, who committed to Clemson yesterday.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses early returns on Shane Morris at the Elite 11 finals, 7-on-7 highlights of Khalid Hill and Csont'e York, and a few happy trails in both the '13 and '14 classes. Also included is an interview with 2014 TX CB Nick Watkins.
Arm Cannon: Engaged
Embedded again, both for informative purposes and so I can make a "Tom Luginbill got his watch from a Happy Meal" joke.
The Elite 11 finals are under way in California, and naturally they feature Shane Morris throwing a football a very long distance:
So the QBs are throwing 55 yards at a target, Shane Morris dropped back to the 35 and hit the End line, 75 yards
— Scott Kennedy (@ScoutKennedy) July 19, 2012
Shane Morris, Warren (Mich.) De La Salle: Morris clearly has the biggest arm at the event and loves to show it off. But this is even more encouraging: He is improving his touch and the ball didn't sail on him nearly as frequently as it has in past showcases. His long ball wobbled a bit, but it wasn't too concerning. Morris' ceiling is very, very high.
And his Day 2 performance even moreso, as he landed atop Farrell's list of standouts ($):
1. Shane Morris, Warren (Mich.) De La Salle - Morris earned the gold jersey for the afternoon after winning the accuracy contest in the morning and he continued his fine play in 7-on-7 situations. While all of the quarterbacks have been encouraged to check down quickly, Morris keeps his eyes downfield more than others, has a cannon arm and fit the ball into some tight windows. He still clearly prefers to throw to his left so he needs to work on field vision, but he has shown the most overall tools through two days.
The lefty's tendency to focus on only half of the field appears to be the area he must work on the most, as it also cropped up in Scout's rundown of the second day's top performers ($):
4. Shane Morris - There shouldn't be much question of who has the strongest arm any more. Including the college players acting as counselors, the strongest arm at the Elite 11 Finals belongs to Morris. When push comes to shove, Morris has a laser-like focus on the left side of the field. That's a habit he'll need to outgrow.
That arm, though; counselors at the event include Georgia's Aaron Murray and Clemson's Tajh Boyd, and if Scout is to be believed Morris already has more arm strength than those two.
With the event still ongoing, I'll have more on Morris's Elite 11 performance in Tuesday's roundup. Other early standouts include Miami commit Kevin Olsen, USC commit Max Browne, and Notre Dame commit Malik Zaire.
Khalid Hill And Csont'e York 7-on-7 Highlights
GBW's Josh Newkirk recently uploaded Maximum Exposure player highlights from the IMG 7-on-7 National Championships, giving us a close look at tight end commit Khalid Hill...
...as well as wide receiver commit Csont'e York:
Hill's more extensive highlight reel suggests that he was a more frequent target of Morris at the event, and you can see why: he does a nice job working underneath the coverage as well as finding space up the seam. York gives defenders trouble with his length, but the brief clip doesn't tell us a whole lot more about him as you can't see him run most of the routes.
Speaking of MaxEx, 247's Steve Wiltfong recapped their summer performances thus far, including blurbs on Morris, York, Hill, Jourdan Lewis, Damon Webb, and Malik McDowell.
Not much news on the 2013 recruiting front this week, but we do have a few happy trails, unfortunately.
It should come as no surprise that TN RB Jordan Wilkins pledged to Auburn after previously eliminating the Wolverines from contention. VA RB Derrick Green is now the lone remaining running back target in the class.
There had been some talk of five-star FL CB Vernon Hargreaves III putting Michigan back into the mix in his recruitment, but he tweeted yesterday that he won't be able to visit Ann Arbor; he's releasing a top five momentarily, and the Wolverines won't be on it.
HI DT Scott Pagano named a top four of LSU, Alabama, Florida, and Clemson, and will name his choice on August 10th ($). He hasn't visited Michigan and I don't believe the coaches are taking another defensive tackle regardless.
OH LB Michael Ferns has already narrowed his list down to a final three of Michigan, Penn State, and Notre Dame. ESPN's Jared Shanker reveals he's also ahead of the game when it comes to academics:
Ferns will return to the Red Devils basketball team after taking his sophomore year off. His head coach at St. Clairsville, Brett McLean, said Ferns will be in the running for valedictorian in 2014, and to top it off the imposing, hard-hitting linebacker is preparing to go pre-med when he gets to college.
"As soon as I got into high school science and math stuck out for me," Ferns said. "From a social aspect, I feel like I could make (football and pre-med) work. Every college at this level is going to have a great education. I'm focusing on going to school but also the opportunities I'll have after my four years and what it takes to finish up pre-med."
[ed-S: Med School rankings by USN&WR, just sayin': Michigan-10th; Penn State-unranked, at least worse than 110th; Notre Dame-doesn't have one]
Matt Pargoff recently caught up with Ferns, who says he's looking to make a decision by the end of his junior year, and he plans on graduating early. Ferns made trips with his whole family to Notre Dame and Penn State, but on his prior visit to Ann Arbor was accompanied only by his father; he plans to rectify that situation for next weekend's BBQ at the Big House.
Those hoping Cass Tech CB Damon Webb would make an early decision to Michigan might want to temper those expectations after Webb camped at LSU and came away with an offer ($). Webb's father told Allen Trieu that a decision won't come until "probably this time next year," and they'll make a return trip to Baton Rouge before then. He's also quoted by Steve Wiltfong($) as saying that "LSU is right up there with Michigan." Webb is looking like a top-100 player who will garner attention from a who's-who list of national powers, which gives me the feeling his recruitment is far from over, even though Michigan holds home-field advantage.
Here's a fun example of why I don't often post links here when recruits say they want to visit a school but don't set a date. Two days ago, 247's Todd Worly posted an article on FL ATH Javon Harrison containing this quote($):
“I’ll try to visit [Michigan],” Harrison said. “I’ll try to go this fall during the week, and I probably could make it for a game. Probably both.”
On the same day as the article was posted, Harrison announced his commitment to Virginia Tech. It's always a good idea to take any quote like the above with a grain of salt when it's given to a reporter from a team-specific site.
Joining Harrison in the happy trails category are AZ OT Casey Tucker, who pledged to USC this week, and SC LB K.C. Crosby, who will choose on Sunday between a final five that doesn't include Michigan ($).
An Interview With Nick Watkins
TX CB Nick Watkins has already garnered offers from Michigan, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M. He's also ranked as the #36 overall prospect in the class of 2014 by 247. At 6'0", 180 pounds, he has frame to be an elite cornerback, and with those early offers it's easy to see him maintaining his blue-chip status through the recruiting process. I had the chance to briefly chat with Nick earlier this week, and here's the transcript of our interview:
ACE: First of all, which schools have been in contact with you the most so far, and how many offers are you up to?
NICK: I am up to I think 13, and all of the schools have been in contact with my coaches about me.
ACE: Do you have any favorites or a top list right now?
NICK: Nah, not really, all of them are at the top right now.
ACE: What do you know about Michigan, and what was your reaction to getting an offer from them?
NICK: I know that they're a winning program, with great tradition. My reaction was surprised because they hadn't sent me any mail or been in contact with my coaches until the last week of spring football.
ACE: Now that they've offered have you been in touch with the coaches more? If so, which coach or coaches do you talk to?
NICK: Yes, I have been. I talk to Coach Mallory and Coach Funk.
ACE: What schools have you visited so far, and do you have plans to take any visits during the rest of the summer?
NICK: I only visited Texas. And nah, not right now.
ACE: I know it's a long way away, but what factors will determine where you want to go to school?
NICK: The education [is] first. So a good business major! Also, where I can compete and get on the field early, a good school atmosphere and a good coaching staff!
ACE: If you had to scout yourself, what would you say is your biggest strength and what do you want to improve before you get to the next level?
NICK: My biggest strength would be my length. I have great hips for a tall corner, and I can make plays! I want to improve my strength right now.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses a shift in the 2013 team rankings, Dymonte Thomas's 7-on-7 performance, the latest on Jordan Wilkins and Kendall Fuller, and more.
Consensus No More
Last week's recruiting mailbag addressed the possibility that USC could pass Michigan for the top spot in the team recruiting rankings; this week that came to pass on Rivals—and 247, which already had Alabama ahead of the Wolverines—following Jalen Ramsey's commitment to the Trojans. Because this stuff matters, man, Rivals lays out the scenario in which Michigan can reclaim the first position; if the Wolverines land a top-75 overall commit (to take a completely random example, Laquon Treadwell), they'll pass USC barring any other movement in the rankings or future commitments, and since it's July that totally won't... oh, wait. This is really stupid.
Of much greater use is Tim Sullivan's breakdown of the Wolverine commits who could rise in the rankings: Shane Morris, Jourdan Lewis, Patrick Kugler, Csont'e York, and Gareon Conley are all mentioned as potential risers for various reasons spanning from proximity to the next ratings level (Morris, Lewis, and Kugler), camp performances (Lewis, again), and sleeper status (York and Conley).
If you're basing your recruiting service preference on their ranking of Michigan, both ESPN and Scout still have the Wolverines on top, though in ESPN's case that's likely due to their lack of continual updates. Viva Scout, I guess.
The Forgotten Five-Star
Oh yeah, that guy.
Whether it's due to his early commitment or relatively quiet summer on the camp circuit, Dymonte Thomas seems to be the forgotten marquee player in Michigan's 2013 class. Last weekend, however, he appeared in the NFL High School Player Development 7-on-7 tournament, and Steve Wiltfong reports that he lived up to his blue-chip billing:
Playing safety for the Browns was Michigan commit Dymonte Thomas, who was as good as advertised. A good looking prospect on the hoof, the nation's No. 7 safety glides around the secondary, eating up turf to make deflections on throws to the other side of the field. On one particular play Thomas ran right, only to change direction when he saw the play was going the other way to get a pass breakup on a throw to the left side of the field.
Khalid Hill also participated with the Detroit Lions team and was mentioned as one of 2014 MN QB Ricardo Johnson's favorite targets. I'm getting the distinct impression, based on this summer's events, that Michigan could compete for the NCAA 7-on-7 title if that ever becomes a thing, which I guess means we have a contingency plan if concussions destroy the game of football as we know it (always looking on the bright side, I am).
2013 Options: Waning
While Michigan should have little trouble filling the last two spots in the 2013 class, the list of obvious candidates for those spots continues to shrink. TN RB Jordan Wilkins will announce his decision tomorrow morning, and according to Wilkins himself that choice will come down to Auburn (the favorite), Tennessee, and Vanderbilt. That leaves VA RB Derrick Green—who is slated to visit for the BBQ at the Big House—as Michigan's lone running back target.
Five-star MD CB Kendall Fuller has kept Michigan in his top three for a while now, but an interview with Mike Farrell indicated that they're on the outside looking in ($):
"If I am ready to announce in August then I would say it's a two-team race between Virginia Tech and Clemson," he said. "That's kind of where it is now, I wanted to visit Virginia Tech and Clemson back-to-back to compare them and see if I got a feeling one way or the other. If I decide to wait and decide at the U.S. Army All American Bowl then I will take official visits and Michigan will be one of them. Right now I don't know."
Don't hold your breath for that visit.
We can officially say "happy trails" to MD WR Paul Harris, who rather surprisingly chose Tennessee over USC($), the school long considered to be his favorite. Treadwell remains the clear leader to fill that last wide receiver spot, though Michigan did recently send out an offer($) to three-star NJ ATH Kyle LaPorte, who says he'd like to visit Ann Arbor in August. Unless things move very quickly on that front, however, it's still all about Treadwell.
For what it's worth, Cass Tech DT and Illinois commit Kenton Gibbs says he's still interested in Michigan($) and may attend the BBQ. If he's going to earn an offer, I'd expect he gets it much closer to signing day, as the staff looked at him during Michigan's camp and didn't extend one then; he'll have to step up his performance during his senior season.
Indecisive Joe Mathis Quote Of The Week
We haven't checked in with CA DE Joe Mathis in a while. Mathis, of course, was a one-time Washington commit who's named USC, Michigan, Nebraska, and Washington (again) as his leader at various points in time. Has he shed his fickle ways? It doesn't appear so [emphasis mine]:
When InsideTheU.com last checked in with Upland (Calif.) defensive end Joe Mathis, he was pretty sure that he wanted out of California.
Now that Mathis (6-4, 250) has had a little more time to think things over, he has softened his stance on that issue.
“It changed but then again it didn’t, I’m like fifty-fifty on that,” Mathis said. “I want to get out of state but USC, UCLA, or Cal could still be the best place for me. I’m not trying to shut myself off from those schools.”
Michigan, FWIW, is not mentioned in the article. We will now return to your regularly scheduled ignoring of pretty much everything he says until signing day.
Despite most of the coaches taking a vacation—how dare they, right?—Michigan hosted OH WR Derek Kief for a visit over the weekend. Tremendous has his reaction, as well as notes from a radio interview pertaining to the visit; Kief's expectations were low due to a childhood love for Ohio State, but he said Michigan "had everything I was looking for."
Several top 2014 prospects will make their way to campus in the coming weeks, including mammoth GA OT Orlando Brown Jr., who will visit this weekend after rescheduling from last week ($). Four-star FL OL K.C. McDermott will hit Ann Arbor on the 27th during a Midwest swing($), while MD CB Troy Vincent Jr. [LINK, $] and IL OL Jamarco Jones [LINK, $] plan to attend the BBQ.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses rankings updates from three recruiting services, a few more tidbits from The Opening, a potential surprise five-star visitor, and more.
In the wake of The Opening, three recruiting sites—Scout, 247, and ESPN—have updated their top lists. Instead of going over each update individually, I've jammed the results into a (chart?) chart below. The number in parentheses is the change from each site's last update; a positive means a rise and a negative means a drop, just to be clear. Notable stuff in bold.
|Shane Morris||29 (-1)||19 (+2)||26 (+6)|
|Patrick Kugler||30 (+1)||158 (-4)||116 (-4)|
|Dymonte Thomas||35 (—)||52 (-1)||94 (+4)|
|Kyle Bosch||48 (+1)||75 (-23)||126 (-6)|
|Deveon Smith||60 (-7)||222 (+4)||NR|
|Chris Fox||134 (+5)||100 (-27)||112 (-4)|
|Henry Poggi||136 (-1)||107 (-2)||259 (-9)|
|Jake Butt||137 (+15)||NR||171 (+61)|
|Ben Gedeon||155 (-2)||177 (-2)||278 (-8)|
|Jourdan Lewis||168 (+5)||NR||92 (—)|
|David Dawson||179 (-1)||138 (+19)||89 (—)|
|Logan Tuley-Tillman||194 (-4)||95 (-6)||102 (-8)|
|Maurice Hurst Jr.||215 (-2)||NR||NR|
|Mike McCray||216 (-2)||178 (-2)||108 (-4)|
|Gareon Conley||233 (-1)||229 (-7)||63 (+1)|
|Taco Charlton||269 (NR)||90 (—)||120 (-6)|
|Wyatt Shallman||268 (-5)||NR||NR|
|Jaron Dukes||296 (-1)||NR||222 (-6)|
Starting from the top, Shane Morris may have only moved up two spots on 247, but that was enough to earn him a fifth star:
Michigan quarterback commit Shane Morris displayed consistency and his trademark big left arm at The Opening. Morris was a top two quarterback at the event for its entirety and continues to be one of the most important recruits in the history of Wolverines football considering his leadership in helping the nation’s current No. 2 overall class come together. Morris was on the verge of five-star status for most of this cycle and his showing last week put him over the top.
Morris also rose six spots on ESPN, but the Worldwide Leader has only handed out seven five-stars in the class thus far, decidedly fewer than any other service.
Kyle Bosch rather surprisingly dropped 23 places on 247; he gave it a go at The Opening on day one before leaving the camp due to an illness, which may have affected his ranking (whether fairly or unfairly is up to you). Less surprising was Chris Fox's 27-spot plunge on 247, as he's had an up-and-down camp season.
The biggest beneficiary of an outstanding performance at The Opening was Jake Butt, who ascended 15 spots on Scout and a whopping 61 on ESPN. Strangely, 247 still doesn't have him ranked in their Top 247, which stands out as they normally seem to have big swings in rankings (see: Bosch, Fox, Dawson) after camps. Butt and Jourdan Lewis both have very legitimate cases for entering 247's list, yet neither makes an appearance.
David Dawson saw his stock rise on 247 to the tune of 19 spots as he continues to impress with every camp appearance. Fellow lineman Logan Tuley-Tillman saw slight drops across the board, however, as his camp showings have revealed a need to get in better shape and improve technically.
The subject of much debate since The Opening, Taco Charlton went from an unranked three-star to a four-star and the #269 overall player on Scout. 247 and ESPN think very highly of him, even with a slight ding in the rankings from ESPN, but we'll see where he ends up on Rivals after Mike Farrell's disappointing review.
If someone could please come to a consensus on the relative abilities of Deveon Smith, it would be much appreciated.
Closing The Opening
I'm as sick of coverage of The Opening as I'm sure you are, but a few more nuggets of info have trickled out since Tuesday's roundup. IL WR Laquon Treadwell earned mention on Scout in both their top ten offensive performers and their five offensive surprises ($):
While Treadwell came into the weekend ranked #9 at his position and 4-stars overall, his performance still caught us by surprise. Almost all of the top ranked receivers in the country were at The Opening and few played as well as Treadwell. He showed a great ability to go up and get the ball, easily pulling it down over defenders. Treadwell was also consistent and found success in every drill and game throughout the weekend.
On the other side of the ball, commit Jourdan Lewis make the cut for the top ten defensive performers:
Lewis was one of the top cornerbacks at The Opening in 2012. He broke on the ball very well, he locked up his man much of the time, and he showed the ability to open up his hips and run with the wide receivers. He had some picks and those were nice, but his coverage stood out the most.
Lastly, 247's Barton Simmons tabbed a surprise performer who could end up on your radar soon:
Delano Hill, DB- I’ve seen Delano Hill on a couple of different occasions and he’s always been a steady performer, always one of the better safeties in attendance. With his performance this weekend, he was once again one of the best safeties in attendance but among a much stronger field. Not only does Hill have great size but he really popped for us early in the weekend when he added one of the fastest 40-yard dash times of the event with a 4.42. Iowa is getting a star.
Hill is currently committed to Iowa, but he goes to uber-pipeline Cass Tech. If Michigan misses out on their blue-chip targets at defensive back, Hill could merit a late offer to fill the last spot in the class.
Priest Willis: An Option?
Tremendous dropped a very interesting tidbit in their recruiting notes yesterday, revealing that five-star CA CB Priest Willis could be more of an option than previously thought (previous thought was "not an option at all") [emphasis mine]:
I was able to talk with Priest the other day, who recently named a top 16. He said he was going to cut it to 8 pretty soon. My assumption was Michigan would not make this second cut, but I was wrong. Priest gave me the following schools (again, huge grain of salt, as I was shocked Michigan was in his group): USC, LSU, Arizona State, UCLA, Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame and Michigan. He also said he wants to set up an official visit to Michigan because of its distance from his hometown of Tempe, Arizona. Priest told me this even after he acknowledged that he hadn't heard from the Michigan coaches in a while.
We'll see if there's still interest from the coaches, though I'd have to believe they'd be happy to host a five-star defensive back. If Willis still maintains interest even though he's not hearing much from the school, that sounds like a pretty good sign; that said, I'm still considering him a longshot until further developments.
Also in the above post is clarification from MD WR Paul Harris, who says his purported cut to USC and Tennessee was misreported. Harris maintains a top five of USC, Tennessee, Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State, according to the Washington Post. Odds of landing him still appear slim due to the presence of Treadwell.
Sam Webb's latest DetNews offering profiles Cass Tech CB Damon Webb, the breakout star of the summer circuit. Damon claims that Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State stand out among his offers, and though he won't name a leader at this time he does mention the Wolverines as a childhood favorite while also noting the presence of so many Technicians as a positive. Allen Trieu gives a very positive scouting report and an idea of where Webb stands among players in the state:
"In-state, it's him, (Grand Rapids Christian's) Drake Harris and (Detroit Loyola's) Malik McDowell as the top three right now. With it being as early as it is, I could see that ending up in any order, or new guys moving in. What I've learned is early rankings and hype don't always hold until signing day. McDowell is considered the top dog right now, but that can change.
With Webb now focused more on cornerback—he also plays wide receiver—we could see him continue to rise as he learns the position.
FL OL Mason Cole will be at July 29's BBQ at the Big House with wide receiver teammate Artavis Scott, according to Tim Sullivan ($).
IN WR Austin Roberts also plans to be at the BBQ, via 247's Clint Brewster ($).
Tremendous enlists the help of a couple of the 11W recruiting guys to put together an early Midwest hot list for the class of 2014. This is a great starting point if you're looking to get familiar with the prospects who will be targets of the top Big Ten programs, including Michigan.