"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
McDowell's: Still Open For Business
Malik McDowell committed to Michigan State last Wednesday, so why is he leading off another recruiting roundup? Well, his mother still refuses to sign a LOI that will send him to East Lansing, leaving his recruitment at an impasse. Now it appears McDowell may not end up a Spartan after all; 247's Steve Wiltfong has the latest ($):
The elder McDowell says all four schools remain in play and that they are in the process of scheduling unofficial visits back to the Buckeyes, Seminoles and Wolverines campuses. He added a return trip to Michigan State is not necessary for the family.
“He wants Michigan State, he wants that,” Greg McDowell said. “I know he wants that.”
Greg McDowell says he’s fine with his son attending Michigan State if that’s what he truly wants, while McDowell’s mother Joya Crowe has yet to come around on the Spartans.
In case matters weren't complicated enough, the News' Tom Markowski caught up with McDowell's high school coach, who said the visits are "something his dad is wishing for, but Malik hasn’t said anything but MSU."
It still looks like Michigan is on the outside looking in, but it also looks a lot less likely McDowell will end up at Michigan State than it did just a few days ago.
New 2015 and 2016 Offers
A couple more offers went out in recent days as Michigan continues to go after more and more underclassmen targets.
Four-star 2015 IN ILB Josh Barajas (junior highlights) told Wiltfong he was "still in shock" shortly after receiving his Michigan offer ($). UPDATE: Brandon spoke to him. The Wolverines appear to have timed this offer well; despite fielding recent interest from Michigan State and Notre Dame, only Illinois and Purdue offered Barajas before Michigan. He's got visits scheduled to U-M, MSU, and ND in the next month.
Michigan also offered 2016 TX OL Greg Little, who's quickly transition from tight end to burgeoning tackle prospect, per Steve Lorenz ($). His offer list—which includes the likes of Arizona State, Baylor, Clemson, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech—suggests he's one of the top tackle prospects in his class; while Little says he will try to visit Michigan, he could be a very tough pull.
PSA: Phones Can (And Should) Film Horizontally
Jabrill Peppers released the first of an unspecified number of YouTube videos documenting his visit to Michigan and why he chose the Wolverines. I haven't had the chance to go through the 15-minute episode above, but a quick scan reveals that arrrrrgghhh vertical video whyyyyyyyyy. Aside from that poor choice, however, this should be a very interesting watch.
In other commit news, here's a fun quote from 2015 CB Shaun Crawford:
On Wednesday, during an interview with Cleveland.com, Crawford was once again asked about his Buckeye offer and what it meant to him.
Without much hesitation, Crawford reached for a Michigan hat, put it atop his head and fully declared where his heart resides at the moment.
"I'm Michigan all the way," Crawford said. "Picking up the Ohio State offer was great.
"But they were a little too late."
Ali-esque rhyming dig right there. I like it.
Recently offered four-star NJ OT Grant Newsome told Sam Webb he will "definitely" visit Michigan and placed the Wolverines among the top schools he plans to visit ($):
Sam Webb: Aside from Michigan, do you know off the top of your head some of the other schools that you for sure are going to visit?
Grant Newsome: “I haven’t really set the list yet. I will probably be taking a visit to Penn State and Northwestern, maybe South Carolina. I think those are four I will probably take visits to but I really haven’t set the list.”
Newsome wants to make a decision before his senior year; with his recruitment picking up steam, Michigan looks to be a strong contender.
Another recent OL offer, 2015 PA four-star Ryan Bates, told Webb that new offers from Michigan and Michigan State will be compared to his current favorites, Penn State and South Carolina; that should happen soon, as he plans to decide in the spring or early summer ($).
Michigan made the top ten for four-star TX dual-threat QB Jarrett Stidham, though Texas Tech is still regarded as his early leader.
Scout updated their top 300 for the 2015 class. Shaun Crawford comes in at #65 (#8 CB), Tyree Kinnel at #220 (#27 CB), and Jon Runyan Jr. at #294 (#20 OG).
Signing Day: It Happened, I Guess
OFFICIALLY OURS NOW
By the time I was able to get my laptop to start yesterday*, Michigan had already received LOIs from every committed prospect, and Malik McDowell had announced his intention to attend Michigan State. Brandon caught up with all the freshly inked signees on Tuesday night; other than the usual coachspeak-filled presser, there was little else of note to happen on the recruiting front yesterday for the Wolverines.
Of course, there's the McDowell situation, which is a mess. He committed to MSU in a ceremony at Southfield High School. His father attended, though he's still not a big fan of the decision; his mother did not. As of now, McDowell's LOI remains unsigned, and potentially could for a while:
“I’m not legally able to do it because I’m not the custodial parent,” Greg [McDowell, Malik's father] told The Detroit News, noting that Malik is only 17. “[Joya Crowe, Malik's mother] has to sign it and I have to sign it, too. I don’t know when it will happen. Malik has to handle that with his Mom. I’m willing to do whatever my son wants. It’s been a long process and an uneasy process.
“That’s something he’ll have to deal with, because at the end of the day it’s all about him and he has to work it out.”
State's coaches sounded confident that he'll be a Spartan eventually—if worst comes to worst, McDowell doesn't even need a LOI in order to get his scholarship and enroll in the fall, though that leaves MSU in the unenviable position of hoping he sticks to his commitment without any binding document.
Could Michigan potentially get back into his recruitment in the meantime? It's highly unlikely. Malik is obviously intent on going to MSU; if he's forced to compromise with his mother, FSU and OSU are also possibilities—and there's also the matter of whether or not the coaches would want a player who may not really want to be in the program. Usually in these types of situations, the prospect eventually gets his wish, and that's what I expect to happen here.
As for actual newsworthy bits regarding Michigan's commits, there's one worth reprinting: Drake Harris, who missed his senior season with a torn hamstring, is "feeling more and more 100 percent," according to Jeff Hecklinski, and should be healthy for spring practice.
[Hit THE JUMP for a great Bo Schembechler story, Bo Pelini's unusual recruiting methods, lolTimBeckman, actual evidence that tweeting at recruits doesn't work, and more.]
Gonna start around 10 a.m.
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Ht/Wt/40: 6'2" / 212 lbs. / 4.6
Location: St. Peter’s Prep School – Jersey City, NJ
Offers: Boston College, Connecticut, Maryland, Miami, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers, South Carolina, Syracuse, Temple, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech
Ranking: ★★★★ .9248 (247 Composite)
Brandon Wimbush isn’t exactly a new name on the recruiting radar for Michigan but he is starting to get more regular attention now that Coach Nussmeier is part of the staff. Wimbush’s recruitment is starting to pick up across the country and Michigan is definitely in that new, more aggressive group of suitors.
With New Jersey becoming one of the more frequented states along the recruiting trail these days Wimbush has received plenty of attention from the Michigan staff. Coach Nussmeier has especially taken a strong liking to Wimbush and has started to show some serious interest in him and talked of a potential offer. Brandon spoke with Coach Nuss on Monday.
I called Coach Nuss and we were able to talk for a little while. He’s a great guy and he said he really wants to get to see me in person and throw a little bit for him. That will probably happen in the spring and after that he might extend an offer.
I have found that if an offer has been been mentioned it’s very likely that it will come to fruition. Even though it seems as if the coaches have been a little “offer-happy” lately, they do not throw that around carelessly with the recruits. The coaches are straight shooters when it comes to that. Plenty of recruits have told me that the coaches have never mentioned an offer to them so if it’s been brought up, it’s a very real possibility.
For a long time it seemed as if Wimbush was an Ohio State lock and while he maintains an affinity for the Buckeyes he said that he has pulled back from that stance as his recruitment has really started to pick up.
The stuff with Michigan is sounding very promising so I can’t say I’m leaning towards anyone right now because things are really starting to open up. The SEC is starting to come in and a wider variety of schools are starting to show interest.
I’ve talked to Brandon in the past and he was very forward about how much he liked Ohio State and he has cooled on that sentiment significantly. He now says he has no sort of top list at all.
Ohio State was early to offer Wimbush and he clearly appreciated that but now that he is garnering more attention his comments seemed earnest about slowing down a bit and looking at a bigger picture. I think if Nussmeier continues to show genuine interest, visits to watch a throwing session, and decides to offer, Michigan could make a real push for Wimbush. Michigan has offered DB Minkah Fitzpatrick and shown interest in LB Jordan Fox, both teammates of Wimbush so the Maize and Blue presence in St. Peter’s Prep will continue to be prominent giving plenty of opportunity to pursue all three prospects.
Michigan Out For McDowell?
Michigan entered last weekend with one last shot at impressing Malik McDowell before the top-50 prospect from Detroit made his Signing Day decision. With McDowell's parents firmly in Michigan's corner, the hope was that they'd help the coaches sway Malik from an apparent Michigan State lean during the Wolverines' in-home visit.
Michigan made their final push, and McDowell's recruitment still looks like it will come down to his wishes to attend MSU versus his parents' desire for him to go elsewhere. One problem: "elsewhere" now appears to mean "out of state," per TomVH ($):
“As far as myself, I think he should leave town. I think he should leave the state because he has some friends who aren’t athletes,” [Malik's father] Greg said. “I don’t want them to be a distraction. If he stays close to home, they’re capable of driving up and distracting him. I want him to establish himself on his own.”
McDowell's parents are pushing hard for him to choose either Florida State or Ohio State, Malik's two finalists not located in the state of Michigan. 247's Steve Wiltfong notes that Malik still wants to attend MSU; again, his father is quoted as being strongly against this ($):
“From when we talked Friday he’s coming around because he knows how adamant we are about him not attending Michigan State,” the elder McDowell said. “I don’t have anything bad to say against Michigan State but I don’t think they’re the school for my son. I think the coaches are cool and they’re establishing a good program, but this is my son and I choose to not want him there. If he were to choose Michigan State I don’t know what I would do. It is what it is. I just want my son away from this environment and Michigan. I want him out of here.”
Malik himself hasn't been available for comment in quite some time (aside from tweeting his top four last week) and that's unlikely to change before his planned 9:30am NSD announcement. All indications, however, point to him choosing any of the three schools besides Michigan.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest wave of 2015 offers, Jashon Cornell's visit plans, ALABAMA DANCEOFF, and more.]
St. Thomas Aquinas could probably compete with some small level colleges as they pump out D1 prospects like some clever analogy for industriousness the other guys might come up with. The 2015 class alone boasts nine players who might play at the next level and Michigan has offered two of them.
Name: Devante Peete
Position: Wide Receiver
Ht/Wt: 6'6" / 200 lbs.
Location: St. Thomas Aquinas High School – Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Offers: Alabama, Cincinnati, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, LSU, Miami, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio State, South Carolina, West Virginia
Ranking: ★★★★ .9440 (247 Composite)
Devante Peete is a tall, smooth receiver at 6’6” and like most receivers of his stature he is a natural at high-pointing the ball and using every inch to his advantage. Peete told me that he hasn’t run a 40 recently but he looks to have very good speed for a receiver his size.
I was able to speak briefly with Devante and he came off as a young man of few words but he answered all of my questions with what felt like honesty and the expected levels of uncertainty. Coach Mattison chatted very briefly with Devante and just told him that the coaches all really liked what he can do on the field and extended him the offer in person.
Devante said he really likes the idea of Michigan Stadium, but admitted to not knowing much about Michigan at this time. “I really like their stadium. I’m feeling Michigan. It seems like it would be a great place to play football.” He assured me that he will be doing his research on the Wolverines.
Peete told me that he has no leader right now and he really is just trying to learn as much as he can about every school and program that has offered him. He plans to take his officials during his senior season and trim his list to a potential top 10, 5, or 3 before announcing his final decision at the end of the season. I asked him if Michigan would be one of his official visits and he said, “Most likely.”
Name: Rashard Causey
Ht/Wt/40: 6'0" / 190 lbs. / 4.4
Location: St. Thomas Aquinas High School – Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Offers: Arkansas, Cincinnati, Clemson, Eastern Michigan, Florida, Indiana, Miami, Michigan, Mississippi State, Nebraska, NC State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Carolina, South Florida, Tennessee, UCF, UCLA, Vanderbilt, West Virginia, Western Kentucky, Wisconsin
Ranking: ★★★ .8800 (247 Composite)
Even though Causey is rated lower than his fellow Raider, his offer list doesn’t reflect it. With good size, fantastic speed, and over 20 offers, it’s clear that Causey is a player. Rashard hasn’t played a season yet at Aquinas as he just moved into his new high school to finish out his prep career, a move that is sure to get more eyes on him.
Causey seemed to be genuinely excited about receiving the offer from Michigan. “I’m really excited man, I can’t wait to visit! I’m probably going to take an official during the season. I want to be in the crowd while it’s live!”
I had to admit to Rashard that I didn’t know much about him and didn’t realize Michigan was recruiting him and to my surprise he basically said the same thing. “I have no idea how long they’ve been on me. I met Coach Mattison yesterday and he told me to call him and they offered me. He said they all loved my film.”
It’s not much of a surprise but Florida kids don’t seem to know much about Michigan football and Rashard was no different. “I don’t really know much but I know their games be mad packed! I don’t know much about Big Ten football period.” Causey was born and raised in Florida and when I asked him if he liked any of the big schools from the Sunshine State he responded quickly and passionately with, “Noles!” Florida State hasn’t offered Causey but with his answer I had to ask what might happen if they do and he said, “It might change the game for me!”
Even though he clearly likes Florida State a lot, he seemed to be genuinely interested in the Wolverines too. He said he plans to cut his list down to a top 10 as soon as the spring rolls around and Michigan will 100% be in his top 10.
After talking with both of these young men I’d be beyond surprised if either of them ended up at Michigan. Peete just didn’t seem to have any genuine excitement surrounding his Michigan offer and while Causey did, if Florida State offers he’s a Seminole lock. Causey said that it was a 100% certainty that he’ll visit Michigan and Peete said he’d most likely check out Ann Arbor. It is worth noting that Michigan got serious attention from Corey Holmes who just finished his senior season at Aquinas and is a close friend of Peete. Holmes ultimately committed to Notre Dame but there was a time that Michigan looked like a real possibility. If Causey and Peete make trips to Ann Arbor happen, obviously my feelings could change but for now I’d say these guys are slim-to-noners.