further adventures in Jed York being unsuited for his position
PSU Visit Recap: KLS Enjoys His Official
Keisean Lucier-South on his official visit [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
Thanks to their 2-4 start to the season, Michigan saw their visitor list dwindle significantly by the time their biggest recruiting weekend of the season came around, but a win in front of 113 thousand at night in the Big House still left an impression on those who came.
The biggest name to hit campus, of course, was five-star CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South, who schmoozed with Jabrill Peppers, watched the game with a trio of Michigan commits (Tyree Kinnel, Alex Malzone, and Darrin Kirkland), and seemed to thoroughly enjoy his official visit. Time will tell if Michigan is truly a threat to land KLS, but the initial returns are good, at least.
Most of the other 2015 recruits in attendance were the aforementioned commits, and while Kinnel and Malzone seem quite solid with their M pledges—Kinnel called Saturday "one of [his] best visits," per 247's Steve Lorenz—that's not the case with Darrin Kirkland, who spent the weekend prior in South Bend. After Saturday's unofficial visit, Kirkland told Rivals' Josh Helmholdt where he currently stands ($):
"My options are going to continue to be open, but I do love Michigan and am still committed to Michigan," he said. "It is a great place to be, a great atmosphere and a lot of great opportunities for myself as well as for my family. But, I still remain… I would say a good word is 'neutral,' for right now."
Besides Notre Dame, Kirkland has also been hearing from Texas, Oklahoma, Oregon and USC recently. Each of those schools had offered him prior to his senior season except USC.
Kirkland told TomVH today that he still plans to take all five of his official visits, and will determine with his family today where he'll take them. He's still in the class for now, of course, but if Saturday didn't solidify his commitment, it's hard to see that remaining the case.
Commits Visiting Elsewhere: An Ongoing Series That Probably Won't End Anytime Soon
In totally unsurprising news, TE commit Chris Clark announced on Twitter that he'll take an official visit to North Carolina, the school he initially committed to before eventually flipping to Michigan. If your head is spinning, I understand. Clark's another guy who seems very likely to end up elsewhere.
According to Mike Farrell, CB commit Garrett Taylor will take officials to Ohio State and Penn State in November. His commitment also seems highly unlikely to stick at this juncture.
2016 QB Messiah deWeaver, at least, isn't setting anything up, though it's hard not to take notice of the last bit of this quote he gave to 247's Steve Wiltfong($)...
“For me when I picked the school, it was more than playing football. It was academics and football second. The football part, they were going through a tough time, but they’re going to start winning. They’re young, and you have to take the losing with a grain of salt. I saw something bigger than that because they’re so young. I think the winning is ahead of them. They're not a bad team, they’re just very, very young. I wasn’t getting too worried about them losing because I know better times are ahead of them.
“I think they’re about to start winning here. I’m still watching closely to make sure Coach (Brady) Hoke is going to be there, which I think he is.”
...and get a little concerned about whether or not he'll stick if/when Michigan goes through with a change. At this point, though, hanging onto 2016 recruits is well down the list of priorities for this program.
No, This Also Doesn't Contain Good News
Ex-commit Darian Roseboro committed to NC State over the weekend. Happy trails, sir.
Finally, four-star UT OLB Osa Masina has seemed like a longshot for a while, and now his planned official visit to Ann Arbor may not even materialize, per Scout's Doug Kimmel ($):
"Michigan is another school that I've been high on. Obviously, I've heard some of the rumors about coaching changes and see there recent struggles, but I still really like that program. It's got great history and academics that are hard to beat. I am looking to set up a trip to Michigan. There is also a chance I take an official visit to Utah, but it's likely that I take an unofficial there. I am still leaning towards leaving the state, but the Utes definitely have my attention."
He's saying positive stuff about the program; at the same time, he still hasn't actually scheduled the visit, and if he takes an official to Utah that'd likely leave M out of it. UCLA is considered the favorite in his recruitment.
Weekend Visitors: KLS "Really Excited" To See M
Before the season went south in a hurry, Michigan was supposed to host a handful of uncommitted official visitors this weekend for their marquee home game. That number has dwindled to one, but it's the one everyone's been waiting for: five-star CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South, who confirmed to 247's Steve Lorenz that he and his parents are "really excited" for the trip to Ann Arbor ($):
"Everyone keeps assuming that I'm losing interest in Michigan because they've started out badly, but it's not true at all," he said. "I still really like Michigan a lot. They haven't been as good as I thought they were going to be this season, but football is only part of the equation for me. I want to see the rest of what they have to offer me. You play football for about three months of the year, so it's things like the campus and school itself that will make a major difference for me. I just need to see if I feel comfortable there and see how much I like it."
I'm still quite skeptical KLS ultimately ends up at Michigan, but he's saying all the right things heading into his official, at least.
The rest of the offered, uncommitted visitors are from the 2016 class, headlined by a couple blue-chip offensive lineman in Ben Bredeson and Clark Yarborough. 247 and The Wolverine have both put together full visitor lists for your perusal. One of the other top targets slated to be on campus this weekend is four-star 2016 IN WR Austin Mack, who took a big picture approach when discussing the program with The Wolverine's Brandon Brown ($):
"Michigan is one of the powerhouses in the Big Ten and has been for many years," Mack said. "Every organization has to fall a little bit eventually. I mean Alabama has fallen before, they just lost somewhat unexpectedly. You can't be perfect continuously. Other teams start to catch up. There's so much talent out there that it will happen. Michigan is always going to have talent but sometimes it just doesn't work out. I feel like Michigan is going to be just fine. Even if it is a couple of years, it's just a matter of time, they'll be back on top."
It'll be very interesting to see if Mack continues to exhibit high interest in Michigan after a potential (okay, exceedingly probable) coaching change. Four-star 2016 GA RB Elijah Holyfield, who's had Michigan in his top group for a while, is already contemplating that possibility, per Brown ($):
"I like the school itself a lot. That's one of the reasons I'd wait and see what happens. At some schools if the coaching staff was to leave, I'd probably not be into that school anymore. Michigan is one of those schools that I like for the school itself. I like it up in Ann Arbor, I like the field, I like the town and everything about Michigan. Regardless of what staff is there I'm sure Michigan would still be in my top group until I commit so we'll see."
Holyfield is also expected to be on campus this weekend, and the above quote is quite a good sign for Michigan's chances of eventually landing him.
A small group of current commits will also be in attendance, including both QB commits from the upcoming two classes (Alex Malzone and Messiah deWeaver) and, notably, Darrin Kirkland, who's visiting unofficially after checking out Notre Dame last weekend. The Irish appeared to make a big move for him, so a good visit is paramount if M wants to keep him in the fold.
Commit Updates: Taylor Plans Officials, Malzone Fielding Interest
Add CB Garrett Taylor to the list of players who's setting up officials to other schools:
"It's a little shaky (at Michigan), I know people are bouncing ideas of whether coach Hoke is going to get fired at the end of the season or not," Taylor said. "I know Michigan's program isn't where people thought it would be or where coach Hoke wants it to be. We'll see how things go.
"Hopefully they can turn it around."
Taylor says he's "pretty sure" Penn State, Virginia Tech, Ohio State and "maybe" Tennessee will get official visits from him between now and signing day.
Notably, Michigan is not on the list of planned officials, and Lorenz confirmed that if Taylor is taking an official to Ann Arbor at all, it'll be after the season ($):
"Maybe in the winter," [Taylor] said. "I still am committed at this point, but it could change depending on how the coaching situation ends up and how the rest of the season ends up."
It probably goes without saying that this isn't a good sign. I'd be surprised if Taylor ended up in the class come Signing Day.
TomVH reports that multiple schools have reached out to Alex Malzone, including Penn State, which is now looking for a 2015 QB after Brandon Wimbush flipped his commitment to Notre Dame. Malzone appeared to be as solid a commit as one could get, so if he starts looking around, all bets are off on keeping this class together; so far, though, he hasn't set up any visits elsewhere.
This was inevitable: Wisconsin is taking a look at 2016 commit Erik Swenson, and while Swenson remains firmly committed for now, he's keeping an eye on the situation in Ann Arbor, per 247's Evan Flood ($):
"I just want to see how it goes this season and see how next season goes," he said. "After this season, I'll probably take some unofficial visits. I think Michigan is going to get a new coach next year, if not this year. I want to see how the coaching staff is. I just want a backup plan in case it doesn't work out with Michigan."
This is going to be the MO until a coaching change occurs; there's far too much uncertainty surrounding the program for commits to ignore—it's impossible to blame them for this—and coaches looking to reel in big-time prospects see the opportunity to poach them while Michigan's in a state of flux.
Things Fall Apart
Is Darrin Kirkland the next to go?
Since last week's roundup, Darian Roseboro officially decommitted from Michigan, bringing the 2015 class down to just ten players. In distressing, but by no means surprising, news, that class is likely to get smaller before it gets any bigger, as several other commits are now looking around.
Four-star LB Darrin Kirkland Jr. took an official visit to Notre Dame over the weekend, and he told TomVH that Michigan's coaching staff is now taking a different approach to commits taking visits ($):
In the past, the Michigan coaches have held a no-visit policy, but Kirkland had a different conversation when he told the staff of his intentions.
"They said take the time that you need to make the best decision," he said.
If the coaches hope to keep any semblance of a class together, I don't think they have a choice here. So, Kirkland visited Notre Dame with Hoke's approval, and in a rather painful twist took in the game with former M commit Shaun Crawford; Kirkland told Rivals' Josh Helmholdt he came away impressed with ND ($):
Saturday's visit to Notre Dame has given Kirkland plenty to think about as he enters the final four months of his recruitment.
"I'm just taking it one day at a time," Kirkland said. "I'm staying close with my family and hopefully we can make the best decision for me. At the end of the day I'll sign my letter of intent where I feel most comfortable at."
Kirkland remains committed to Michigan and is not sure what schools he could visit in the future, but he is keeping his options open.
I'd be surprised if M held on to Kirkland through a coaching change.
Of course, Kirkland isn't the only one looking around. 247's Steve Lorenz posted an overview of where the commits stand at the moment, and only four appear to be locks to stay committed ($):
- Quarterback Alex Malzone, who's still been recruiting other prospects like Marcus Lewis and Auden Tate, per Sam Webb ($). Malzone is also working hard to try to keep the class together.
- Offensive tackle Grant Newsome, who doubled down on his "I didn't not commit to the University of Brady Hoke" statement from last week by telling GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz he's "fully committed" to Michigan.
- Offensive guard Jon Runyan Jr.—as a legacy commit, it'd be quite surprising if he even looked around.
- Kicker Andrew David, who received a scholarship as a kicker at an early juncture, so he's also quite solid in all likelihood.
Everyone else—including RB Mike Weber, per The Wolverine's Brandon Brown($)—is at least considering other options, and among that group of six only Tyree Kinnel seems like he's still leaning heavily towards remaining in the class. As TE commit Chris Clark told MLive last week, coaches from around the country know an opportunity when they see one:
"I think they see an opening," Clark said. "They smell the blood in the water."
Clark recently added a USC offer and is fielding heavy interest from Alabama and UNC, among many others. He also seems like a longshot to stay in the class for much longer.
Meanwhile, in the 2016 class, four-star QB Messiah deWeaver maintains he's still "100 percent to Michigan," per Helmholdt ($). I haven't seen word on M's other 2016 commit, four-star OT Erik Swenson, but his commitment seemed rock-solid; hopefully that doesn't change.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on this weekend's visitors, Keisean Lucier-South, Auden Tate, Thiyo Lukusa, and more.]
Even before Saturday's debacle, Michigan's 11-member recruiting class of 2015 was beginning to fall apart. Four-star NC DE Darian Roseboro, who committed to M at the very end of August, took an official visit to NC State over the weekend, per Tim Sullivan ($):
Now, however, Roseboro is on an official visit across the state to Raleigh, and Michigan's grip on him may be slipping.
"How much he liked NC State, and if that was enough to beat Michigan, wasn't the same before his commitment," Rivals.com Mid-Atlantic Recruiting Analyst Adam Friedman said. "This is clearly a reaction to the way Michigan's season is going and the reported instability of the coaching staff."
In that same article, Lorenz mentions two other commits are looking around. The first is four-star TE Chris Clark, which comes as little surprise considering he'd already considered taking other official visits in recent weeks. The second is four-star CB Garrett Taylor, who says that he's "going to take my five official visits and see what happens," and won't even confirm whether or not Michigan will receive one of those visits.
A couple commits have reaffirmed their commitments, at least. The headline regarding S Tyree Kinnel on The Wolverines says it all—he "committed to a program." OT Grant Newsome kept it simple in talking to Rivals' Adam Friedman: "I committed to the University of Michigan, not the University of Brady Hoke."
This is inevitable when there's this much turmoil surrounding a program: the recruits are looking around, and even if Brady Hoke keeps his job, he's either going to have to make some serious compromises about how he handles commits taking visits to other schools or risk losing a large portion of this class.
[Hit THE JUMP for updates on Tyrone Wheatley Jr., Daelin Hayes, and more.]
Alex Malzone (#12) to Grant Perry (foreground) is arguably the top passing combination in the state. [Ace Anbender/MGoBlog]
Dave and I once again found ourselves at Wayne State last weekend, this time for a Catholic League rivalry tilt between Birmingham Brother Rice and Warren De La Salle. After a slow start against an aggressive Pilots defense, Brother Rice pulled out a dramatic 28-21 victory after a 31-yard pass from Michigan commit Alex Malzone to Michael Roney set up the game-winning one-yard TD run by Bobby Dixon III in the waning minutes. The win kept the defending state champion Warriors undefeated this season (5-0).
Brother Rice ran just 15 offensive plays in the first half, as De La Salle's defense put Malzone under heavy fire and their offense ate up nearly a quarter's worth of time. The Warriors finally put it together offensively on their last drive of the first half, which Malzone capped off with the first of his three touchdown passes on the evening, an absolute dart to slot receiver John Garry on a six-yard slant that he fit into a small window.
From that point forward, Malzone took over, spearheading three second-half scoring drives with plenty of help from his top target, senior receiver Grant Perry. Malzone finished 14-of-20 for 203 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions, with Perry catching seven of those passes for 103 yards. Michigan preferred walk-on commit Jack Dunaway led the Brother Rice defensive effort with seven tackles (by my unofficial count) with three TFLs.
[Hit THE JUMP for exclusive video highlights and scouting on Malzone, Dunaway, Perry, and a trio of De La Salle standouts.]
Commit Updates: Look, Ma. No Tee.
2015 Michigan commit Andrew David connected on a 58-yard field goal over the weekend, breaking the school record for Ohio powerhouse Massillon Washington in doing so. I'm told that's quite a long way for a high schooler to kick a football accurately, let alone from off the ground instead of a tee. I'm sure there won't be any jokes about trying to sneak this kid onto the team this week. Nope. None at all.
Steve Lorenz has your free wrapup of the rest of Michigan's commits in action over the weekend. Some highlights:
- Alex Malzone finished 13-for-20 for 201 yards and three TDs in a dramatic 28-21 Brother Rice win over Warren De La Salle (Shane Morris' former school). Dave and I were at Wayne State for the game, and I'll have a full breakdown of the tape tomorrow.
- Chris Clark finally began his senior season and did so in style with 14 catches for 165 yards and a TD. Highlights from the game are on his Hudl page.
- Darian Roseboro had seven tackles as a defensive lineman. Oh, and 186 yards and four TDs as a jumbo running back. Sadly, no highlights of this yet.
After dispatching De La Salle on Friday, Malzone attended Saturday's game along with fellow commits Brian Cole, Jon Runyan Jr., and Mike Weber, and according to TomVH he's "confident" that group—and the other commits—will stick with Michigan. At least one anonymous uncommitted target, on the other hand, is reevaluating his stance on the Wolverines after Saturday's debacle ($):
One prospect who has been hearing from Michigan said the season has impacted how he feels about the Wolverines. He has had second thoughts about his interest, not just because of the wins and losses, but because of what he has seen on the field.
Of note: Tom mentioned specifically that 2015 five-star WDE Keisean Lucier-South and 2016 four-star OT Ben Bredeson haven't changed their opinion of U-M, though KLS attached a disconcerting "yet" to his statement.
[Hit THE JUMP for updates on a pair of 2015 targets, Brian Cole's early enrollment plans, yet another school interested in flipping Chris Clark, and more.]