“The player development is the main thing I like (about Michigan),” Williams said. “You can see that they develop their players. They get them in the gym and they work them hard. And their hard work pays off.”
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.
The last piece of the 2013 puzzle.
Welcome to the debut of the MGoBlog recruiting mailbag, which will be a regular feature moving forward. The initial response to the mailbag was fantastic, so thanks to everyone who wrote in and apologies for not being able to answer every question here. For future mailbags, be sure to email me or send your questions on Twitter with the hashtag #mgomailbag.
Without further ado, on to your questions:
Do you see us having any significant holes left in the recruiting class of 2013? Who should fill them for us? — @craiglaluk
The one glaring need in the class is a top-flight wide receiver; while I like the size and upside of both Jaron Dukes and Csont'e York, Michigan still lacks a blue-chip talent who can contribute early, a necessity given the unproven nature of the current receivers on the roster. Obviously, Laquon Treadwell is the main target here and the Wolverines are the overwhelming favorite to land him, so it's highly unlikely this need goes unaddressed.
With USC's class, is our "best case scenario" a number 2 overall class ranking? — @kasualt
USC is putting together the most talented class in the country, without question; among their 14 commits are the Rivals #1 quarterback (Max Browne), #1 safety (Su'a Cravens), #1 guard (Khaliel Rodgers), #2 and #5 defensive ends (Kenny Bigelow and Eddie Vanderdoes, respectively), and #3 and #5 running backs (Ty Isaac and Justin Davis). Their class currently consists of three five-stars and 11 four-stars. I hate to say it, but Lane Kiffin is doing some serious work.
Where USC may come up short, however, is in sheer size of the class. Thanks to NCAA penalties, the Trojans can only take four more players in the class, and with Michigan poised for a class of 24 I'm guessing the Wolverines can still take the top spot if they land Treadwell and another four-star to finish the class. For pure star average, however, it's going to be very tough to top USC this year. Alabama and LSU should also be serious contenders for best class.
Hi Ace. 2013 is shaping up to be one of the most amazing recruiting crops in years. Priorities for 2014 class? — @craiglaluk
Matt Pargoff recently posted a complete depth chart by class for the class of 2014, which gives us a great starting point for this discussion. Before I dive into the needs, it's worth noting that the 2014 class will be expected to replace the production of graduating players like Courtney Avery and Jibreel Black, whom you may note just finished their sophomore seasons. Anything written here is subject to some serious change.
That said, there are several position groups that will need to be addressed in two years regardless of future attrition. First among them is quarterback; once Devin Gardner graduates, only Russell Bellomy and Shane Morris remain as scholarship QBs on the roster. Michigan is already taking a hard look at MI QB Chance Stewart and OH QB DeShone Kizer, though no offers have gone out at the position as of yet. While a top-flight guy probably isn't necessary—or realistic—given the presence of Morris, a player with starting potential is a definite must.
With Michigan all but assured to miss out on feature backs like Ty Isaac, Derrick Green, and Jordan Wilkins in the current class, running back will be a huge priority yet again. The Wolverines already have offers out to four of the top 2014 running backs in the country—Leonard Fournette, Jonathan Hilliman, Jalen Hurd, and Bo Scarbrough—and more are sure to follow.
Even if Treadwell comes on board, wide receiver will once again be a need. We should find out in 2014 if Al Borges plans to utilize any slot-demon types, as the only receivers on the roster will be Jerald Robinson, incoming freshmen Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson, and the class of 2013 commits. There's not a true slot among those players, so unless Justice Hayes moves to receiver, that position will need to be filled by an incoming freshman or simply ignored entirely.
As always, depth on both lines is a priority, especially on defense. Frank Clark and Brennen Beyer both graduate after the 2014 season, leaving only Mario Ojemudia and Taco Charlton—two boom-or-bust prospects, in my opinion—at weakside DE. Strongside end won't be much deeper with Keith Heitzman, Chris Wormley, and Tom Strobel. Depending on the collegiate position of Maurice Hurst Jr., nose tackle could also become a glaring need.
Blake Countess, Delonte Hollowell, and Raymon Taylor will all be seniors in 2014, leaving holes to fill at cornerback even in the unlikely event that Michigan picks up a player like Kendall Fuller or Leon McQuay III to round out 2013. Keep a close eye on Cass Tech's Damon Webb and Illinois prospect Parrker Westphal, both of whom are early favorities to join the 2014 class; landing that duo would be a great start to filling needs in the secondary.
So, um, basically everything besides linebacker. I hope this was helpful and not a complete waste of time.
What's your best guess on Treadwell's decision date? — @TKBigCrew
Treadwell's recent quotes indicate that he's not entirely sure himself; he says he'll commit on a "random day," admits Michigan is almost certainly his choice, and says that day will be "soon," but he still wants to take official visits. My guess is he's tiring of the process and will make his decision before the season—which means before officials—but I wouldn't be surprised if he at least checked out Oklahoma State before an announcement. Regardless of timetable or visits, it's going to take a heck of a lot to dethrone the Wolverines from his top spot.
What's up with Mike Farrell's analysis of Taco [Charlton] at the opening? Seems contradictory to what we've heard elsewhere. — @natebburn
This award goes to the player who lowered his stock the most from the camp. While Pickerington (Ohio) Central defensive end Taco Charlton looks the part, he really struggled. He has great size, long arms and he is very athletic. However, he is also very upright, only has an outside move and when coaches tried to teach him misdirection or crossover, he didn't grasp it well at all. He was beaten on almost every 1-on-1 rep he took.
Without seeing the event itself, I can't add my own opinion of Charlton's performance, but I'll say that this jives with a lot of what we know about him. Charlton is a very raw prospect who possesses all the athletic ability needed to be an elite end, yet still was a situational pass-rusher as a sophomore. It's not a mystery that he was recruited because of his sky-high upside. Pitting a player like that against the best linemen the country has to offer is a recipe for a sub-par performance.
However, I wouldn't be too concerned about Farrell's review of Charlton. He still acknowledges that Taco has the frame and athleticism to make a big impact. We already knew that he isn't advanced technically and will almost certainly need a redshirt year and some coaching up before he sees the field. I don't think what happened at The Opening—which is obviously up for interpretation in the first place—changes any of that. If Charlton had excelled against the top linemen in the country it would have been a very pleasant surprise. As it stands, I still think he's got one of the highest ceilings of any recruit in Michigan's class.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses The Opening, the David Dawson thing that's no longer a thing, the latest on Laquon Treadwell, and more.
Ask And Ye Shall Receive Some Answers, Hopefully
Before I get into the events of the weekend, we're introducing a new feature: the recruiting mailbag (witty title pending witty thought). If you've got any recruiting-related questions—whether about Michigan, the Big Ten, or a more general query—send them to me via email or on Twitter and I'll do my best to provide an informed answer.
Author Gloating Section
So, remember this? You should, since I posted it on Friday:
Speaking of nothing to see here, David Dawson caused a stir yesterday when he tweeted that his Michigan teammates had "left [him]" while at The Opening, then saying he was chilling with a group of Florida commits. Dawson has recently discussed camping at Florida, so we now have a new panic about a possible decommitment. I'll only say this on the matter: STOP hanging onto every word a recruit says on Twitter. In fact, I'll reiterate that you should probably stop following recruits entirely, especially if you're the type to worry about stuff like Dawson's tweet. It's just not worth it. It's the job of people like myself, TomVH, Tim Sullivan, and Steve Lorenz to follow these recruits and pass along any information that's actually pertinent. If anything newsworthy arises out of the Dawson situation—and hanging out with Florida commits is beyond not newsworthy—we'll keep you posted.
Let's move on, shall we?
Cloudy With A Chance Of Ground Beef
As far as I'm concerned, the most important thing to come out of The Opening was this headline from Scout for a three-picture slideshow of Taco Charlton jumping over a tackling dummy:
The Opening: Taco Skies
Mmmmmmmmmm, Taco skies:
Setting aside food-related fantasies, Charlton appears to be a freak athlete for a defensive end, a feeling backed up by his impressive 100.29 SPARQ score, best among Michigan commits and 50th overall among The Opening participants.
Since there was an unprecedented amount of coverage for a high school camp, I'm breaking up the remaining news from The Opening by player. Here's the lowdown on the performance of Michigan's seven commits in attendance plus another prospect who could join that number soon:
QB SHANE MORRIS
Morris had a typically outstanding weekend, and even with a couple rough patches he stood out as one of two top-tier quarterbacks at the event along with USC commit Max Browne. CBSSports's Bryan Fischer on Morris's overall performance:
It is pretty easy to pencil in Morris as the second-best quarterback at The Opening because there was a significant drop off after him to the other four QB's. We've seen him in action a few times this year and we can't help but notice that his arm is much stronger than it was this time last year. He was the top guy during pool play but was hot and cold during the tournament go around, tossing a few interceptions and sailing the ball high at times. He did a good job of getting the ball out quickly but when he had to move on to other reads, that's when he started to struggle. There were some grumbles that Morris was the reason his team didn't win the championship but, frankly, they wouldn't have even been in a position to play for it if it were not for the five-star's precision passing most of the weekend.
247 listed Morris behind Browne among their top performers and praised his arm strength, while SBNation mentioned his "quick and decisive" reads in the 7-on-7 portion. He also did a pretty spot-on imitation of Mark Dantonio for ESPN—though as Sean Yuille points out, nothing compares to Ondre Pipkins's Brady Hoke—and was the subject of an ESPN feature article on the stories behind his many bracelets.
TE JAKE BUTT
8. TE Jake Butt, Pickerington (Ohio) North: Butt has been overshadowed a bit by [Alabama TE commit O.J.] Howard, but who wouldn't be? He was a very reliable target for his team and the guy Tyrone Swoopes relied on in the short and intermediate passing game. He sits down well in spots, presents a good target and has reliable hands. He doesn't do anything great but he does everything well.
He isn't noted as a player who will beat you based on pure athleticism, but his well-rounded game should make him an early contributor given Michigan's weak depth at tight end.
OL DAVID DAWSON
Most of the news on Dawson from the weekend focused on the canceled Florida trip, but he did manage to earn mention from Farrell for his performance on Saturday ($):
12. OL David Dawson, Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech: Dawson has become more patient in two short weeks. A couple weeks ago at the Rivals100 Five Star Challenge he would punch out of his stance and if he connected he would win and if he didn't he was easy to pass. On Saturday he showed the ability to get out, move his feet, keep his arms extended and not rely on a big punch off the snap. This allowed him to effectively ride defenders outside the target area and let him use his long arms much more effectively.
Dawson weighed in at 6'3.5", 282 pounds, further cementing the opinion that he's destined for guard. His advanced technique should offset any concerns about lack of size, especially considering he's got over a year before he suits up for Michigan.
OL KYLE BOSCH
Unfortunately, Bosch was ill during the event and flew home early, so there's nothing on him from the drills. Bosch did measure in at 6'5", 311 pounds; he's got the size to play guard or tackle at the next level.
DE TACO CHARLTON
Although OHSAA rules prevented Charlton from competing in pads, he still managed to stand out due to his 6'6", 249-pound frame and athletic potential. Scout's Chad Simmons listed him as the #4 defensive end after Saturday's session ($):
Charlton is without question one of the best athletes in this group. He looks the part, he was very fluid during the drills, and although he couldn't compete in pads (State of Ohio rule), he showed enough to make Scout think he could end up being one of Michigan's top recruits in 2013. He is still raw and he needs to get stronger, but he is athletic, he is very quick, he has good length, and a lot of potential.
247 also listed Charlton as a day one standout. Charlton is a raw prospect, and one whose game lends itself to standout camp performances that may not be entirely indicative of his true football ability. His potential is tantalizing, however, and he's already close to the size desired in a weakside DE. If Charlton progresses significantly against the run this fall, he's poised to make a big rise in the rankings.
LB MIKE MCCRAY
McCray managed to make it through The Opening without being mentioned in any of the scouting articles I can find. His strengths—read-and-react against the run and utilizing his size—don't translate very well to a camp setting, especially in 7-on-7 play, so it's not particularly surprising that he didn't stand out.
CB JOURDAN LEWIS
Like Butt, Lewis made the All-Tournament squad in 7-on-7 play. Lewis measured in at just 5'10", 159 pounds, but that didn't stop him from standing his ground against the country's top receivers:
"He made a lot of flash plays, a couple of interceptions -- including one he returned for a touchdown," [Scout's Allen] Trieu said. "He’s probably got the toughest job, too, as a corner. You’re going up against some of these top-end receivers in seven-on-sevens, and that’s not an easy task they gave him."
"When you got him going against 6-5, 6-4 receivers who are nationally recruited guys, the worry is whether he’s going to get out-jumped, out-physicaled, kind of out-manned by some of these bigger receivers. And that has not happened. He came out here and really held his own against some mammoth receivers."
Lewis also made SBNation's list of defensive standouts. While size is certainly a concern, his coverage skills are at a level that should allow him to compete for early playing time.
WR LAQUON TREADWELL
247 placed Treadwell among the weekend's top offensive players:
Treadwell, who is considered a heavy lean to Michigan over Oklahoma State, USC and Michigan State, proved to be the quickest off the line of scrimmage of all the taller receivers on hand, as well as showing the ability to high-point the ball with ideal timing and body control.
He also made SBNation's list:
Laquon Treadwell, Monee (IL) -- A major collision over the middle sidelined Treadwell for part of a game early on Sunday, which only served to illustrated how valuable he was to his team. With a frame like a smaller [Texas commit Ricky] Seals-Jones, Treadwell has remarkable quickness for his size, which allowed him to get in and out his breaks.
More on Treadwell's weekend coming in the next section.
In non-Opening news, Logan Tuley-Tillman and Team USA earned a silver medal in the U-19 World Championships, falling to Canada in the final*. Tuley-Tillman, who turned down an invitation to The Opening to represent his country, made first-team all-tournament alongside Notre Dame commit Hunter Bivin.
NC CB commit Channing Stribling unleashed his junior highlight tape on Twitter. I haven't had a chance to really break it down, so I'll save comment for a later date.
*Before you chalk this up as an upset that shakes the very core of America, note that the U.S. fields a team of 16- and 17-year-olds while the other countries put 19-year-olds on the field.
Obligatory Treadwell Section
The big news before The Opening was Laquon Treadwell changing his tune on a commitment timetable, saying he could drop at any time. Treadwell didn't commit, but the weekend was by no means a loss for Michigan; he was photographed throwing up the 'M' for Shane Morris and wouldn't deny the consensus opinion that he'll inevitably pledge to the Wolverines. The only question is about timing: Treadwell told ESPN that he doesn't have a timetable($) and will decide on a "random day," and he told Scout's Allen Trieu($) that taking official visits "will probably happen."
Treadwell obviously feels very strongly about Michigan, but at the same time he still feels a (justifiable) pull to do his due diligence and check out some other schools. It would be a shock at this point if he didn't end up in the class, and Treadwell deserves credit for putting aside his emotions, ignoring outside pressure, and making sure he's 100% sure of his decision before he makes a choice. If Treadwell follows through on his plan to take visits, expect him to go see Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Notre Dame.
Treadwell wasn't the only big-time Michigan target in attendance. VA RB Derrick Green told CBSSports that he's keeping his 13 finalists on a level playing field for now. He also mentions excitement at the prospect of speaking with Brady Hoke in person for the first time when he heads to Michigan for the July 29th BBQ at the Big House.
AZ WR Devon Allen will make it to Ann Arbor after all, telling Tremendous that he's ticketed to visit on July 28th. It would be great if Allen could move that trip back a day so he can interact with the recruits at the BBQ, but we'll see if he can work that into a busy Midwest visit schedule.
MD WR Paul Harris, who previously had Michigan is his top four, has now narrowed his field to USC and Tennessee. Happy trails also go out to PA LB Alex Anzalone, who committed to Notre Dame at The Opening.
Michigan offered NJ ATH Kiy Hester, who said he'll visit Ann Arbor within the next couple weeks, according to Mike Farrell ($). Hester also holds offers from Miami (YTM), Michigan State, Pitt, Syracuse, Maryland, Rutgers, Boston College, and Connecticut.
NY OL/DL Jay Hayes will visit Michigan on July 31st, according to 247's Clint Brewster ($).
FL OL K.C. McDermott hopes to visit sometime shortly after the BBQ, which he can't attend, via 247's Todd Worly ($).
Cass Tech corner Damon Webb will be in attendance at the BBQ, via Scout's Josh Newkirk ($).