“On the offense last year, they had great spacing. That’s what I remember. Great spacing, great shooters, like Nik Stauskas, who’s not there right now. But they always have someone to fill the roles. They have a cutting offense, kind of hard to guard.”
Cool Story, Br-- Wait, That's Legitimately Cool
Michigan pulled in a commitment from four-star NJ OT Grant Newsome yesterday—his commitment post is here if you missed it—and shortly thereafter we learned you don't want to mess with Grant Newsome or anyone related to Grant Newsome:
Grant Newsome has a cool story, too. Dad was secret service during W. Bush presidency. Grant has eaten at the White House w the President
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) June 11, 2014
Nor would you want to mess with his favorite historical figure:
— Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) June 11, 2014
Chamberlain was a professor with no formal education in military strategy who nonetheless rose to the rank of brigadier general, earning the Medal of Honor for his heroics at Gettysburg, then receiving the great honor of commanding the Union troops for Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox. He later served four terms as the Governor of Maine. Solid choice, Mr. Newsome.
Fun facts that are actually fun aside, Newsome is now putting on his recruiting hat, per 247's Steve Lorenz ($):
"(Recruiting other players to Michigan) is a role I plan to take head on," he said. "You want to surround yourself with the best players possible, and knowing you can have a hand in that makes me want to do what I can to help get some more top players on board. I think the #1 target for me right away is going to be Chris Clark out of Avon in Connecticut. I think he's a player that would be a great fit at Michigan and I know he's really interested in us. He's going to be the first guy I contact."
In addition to all of this, Newsome is a highly touted offensive tackle with huge upside. Consider me a fan.
no, not this guy. he can stop preaching posthaste.
We've been on the "don't tweet at recruits" warpath for a long time around here, but there no way I can't link Ramzy's evisceration of those who think they're somehow making a difference—or somehow better informed than the coaches—and while he mentions the Dick Costolo incident, most of it is a valiant effort to better his program's fanbase:
Fans of irony will love Jeff's twitter feed which - in addition to all of the assholery - is full of pleas from him to others begging them to stop tweeting at him. [Ed: Jeff deleted his Twitter account shortly after this article was published]
That's because tweeting at strangers and telling them what you would like them to do with their lives is creepy. Always. There are no exceptions to this rule, and those who break it are categorically assholes.
You'll have to click through to see Jeff's remarkable Twitter feed, as well as Ramzy using every possible form of the word "asshole" in truly glorious fashion. There's also a section on how to properly react to verbal commitments. Read the whole damn thing.
Surprise, It's A Running Backs Section
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) June 11, 2014
Four-star FL RB Jacques Patrick took a two-day trip to Ann Arbor this week, striking the pose in Desmond Howard's legacy jersey and receiving a downright understated Fred Jackson-ism, per Sam Webb ($):
“I spent a lot of time with the players just trying to get a certain feel for the place,” said Patrick. “Wilton Speight, Devin Gardner… a lot of them. I (also) spent time with Coach Nuss and Coach Jackson. They showed me a video of what they are going to be doing next year, and a video of what I’ve done in the past. They compared the two and showed me how I could fit in and stuff.”
“(Coach Jackson) said I remind him of (Tim) Biakabutuka.”
I'm not seeing "...but fast," and now I'm a little worried about Freddie Jax, you guys. Patrick added that the Ty Isaac transfer won't affect his opinion of Michigan, and the visit "definitely improved their chances." It's still going to be tough to pluck him from Florida (especially FSU), but this visit moved the needle, at the very least.
With the Sound Mind Sound Body camp underway, a lot of in-state prospects are giving updates on their recruitments, Cass Tech RB Mike Weber included. He told GBW's Josh Newkirk that the change in offensive coordinators made a big difference in his view of Michigan, and for good reason ($):
“When Michigan got the commit of Damian Harris, they kind of stopped recruiting me,” Weber admitted. “I guess that’s what their offense coordinator wanted. So Michigan wasn’t really on me like that. So I wasn’t really interested in Michigan. But when they fired their offensive coordinator and [Coach Nussmeier] came in, he kind of came straight to Cass and told me how he wanted me.
“So I am back on [with Michigan] now.”
Weber also said Michigan will receive one of his official visits. Michigan still lags behind his top three of MSU, OSU, and Wisconsin, but it feels like the gap is narrowing, and with how frequently he's been to campus lately that momentum may continue building.
2015 Linebacker Update
Detroit King OLB Tyriq Thompson has been considered a heavy lean to both Michigan and MSU over the course of his recruitment, and now he's saying the schools are in a dead heat, per 247's Steve Wiltfong ($):
“It’s just hard to say, they’re so, they’re kind of neck and neck,” Thompson said of the two in-state powers.
“Michigan, it’s the legacy, the history. Michigan State it’s the defense, Coach (Mark) Dantonio and the way he focuses on the relationships with the players.”
If one program has a slight edge, it appears to be the Spartans; Thompson stated flat-out they're recruiting him harder than anyone. He plans to decide before his senior season begins, so it's getting to be crunch time if U-M wants to lock up a top-flight prospect who happens to be a Michigan legacy.
Four-star IN OLB Asmar Bilal told Wiltfong that Notre Dame is his team to beat, and he's taking a trip to South Bend with his mother on Thursday; Michigan will get a shot to impress mom and son, as well, as they'll be on campus on June 20th ($):
“Pretty much the same thing with Notre Dame,” Bilal said of what he’s looking forward to at Michigan. “Getting my mom involved and showing here what I’ve seen and seeing more. Coach (Greg) Mattison came down here twice so I want to go up there again. I want to get as much information as I can to further my decision.”
Wiltfong added that Michigan is "likely the biggest challenger" to ND.
Four-star UT OLB Osa Masina told The Wolverine "I still love Michigan," and he's trying to make it back to Ann Arbor for this summer's BBQ at the Big House, but there's also a note at the bottom from the UCLA Rivals site stating the Bruins appear to be the current favorite, and Utah is also a major threat ($). If U-M can't get Masina on campus this summer, I won't be too optimistic about their chances.
Orchard Lake St. Mary's four-star OLB Daelin Hayes talked to Lorenz about his current comfort level with the coaching staff ($):
"I'm talking to Coach Singletary and Coach Jackson about once a week," he said. "I'm just working on building a relationship with their staff. I talk with them about different ways I can try to make myself better, and working on ways to build our relationship. It's just civil, regular talk. I can talk to them like I talk to my coaches at OLSM."
I'd call that a good sign.
The initial Scout 300 for the 2016 class came out this week, and Michigan's lone commit, Erik Swenson, ranks as the #8 offensive tackle and #86 overall prospect. So many prospects with early Michigan interest are on the list that it's best just to click through if you'd like to see where they land. The top-ranked in-state prospect is Hayes, who comes in at #67 overall, one spot behind...
OH OLB Brendan Ferns, brother of Michael, who just pulled in a couple major offers, per Scout's Bill Greene ($):
"Getting Oklahoma and Ohio State within seven days is pretty special, and it's kind of hard to believe," he admitted. "Things are picking up and it's been crazy, but fun for me. I think I'm going to concentrate on basketball the few days with my school team, so I'm going to put recruiting aside for a while."
"I won't be making a decision anytime soon at all, but it will be before my senior season, not my junior season," Ferns stressed.
That last quote is important, as U-M fans have increasingly wondered when Ferns will get an offer, especially as he adds offers from rival programs. There's plenty of time for Michigan to continue evaluating him, and the younger Ferns has said previously that the presence of his brother will be a factor if an offer comes through. Patience, grasshoppers.
2016 four-star OH WR Justin Layne took part in Michigan's basketball camp last weekend—he's still considering both sports for college, though he's leaning towards football—and he told Sam Webb two schools currently stand out for him ($):
Sam Webb: What schools have you offered you scholarships so far besides Michigan?
Justin Layne: “Michigan, Michigan State, Pitt, Miami, Florida and West Virginia.”
Sam Webb: Have any of those schools started sticking out for you yet?
Justin Layne: “Michigan, Michigan State and…that is it for right now.”
A caveat is required: Layne grew up a fan of Ohio State, and if they offer expect them to leap into contention.
Another rising junior from Ohio, St. Ignatius OT Liam Eichenberg, placed Michigan in his top three, per Bill Greene ($):
"I would say Ohio State, Notre Dame and Michigan are my top three right now," he explained. "With Ohio State, it's obviously my home state and I love Coach (Urban) Meyer. It just feels like home for me when I'm here, and I will be coming back here again this summer to visit."
"Michigan has a great program, and (assistant coach) Greg Mattison is a great guy," he stressed. "It feels like family up there, and it's a lot like Ignatius in that regard. I will be at Michigan's camp on June 17."
The Buckeyes are considered the heavy early favorite, but Eichenberg said he's in no hurry to make a decision.
If you missed it, Brandon posted an update last night on U-M's latest 2016 offer, four-star PA TE Naseir Upshur.
Whenever you're feeling down about the football program, repeat this to yourself: At least we're not Florida.
Please be on his birth certificate RT @JimmyDetail: 2016 CB Greedy Williams picked up Texas A&M offer a couple of days ago.
— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) June 11, 2014
Sadly, it's not, but that's still the best nickname for a cornerback... ever? Leaning towards ever.
Newsome at Michigan (via 247) and on the field (Rivals)
Lawrenceville (NJ) Prep OT Grant Newsome announced his commitment to Michigan this morning via a very heartfelt note he posted on Twitter [click for full size]:
Newsome, who chose U-M over Penn State after recent return visits to both schools, is the seventh commit in the 2015 class, joining Jon Runyan Jr. among offensive linemen.
4*, #20 OT,
4*, #21 OT,
4*, 81, #25 OT,
4*, 92, #22 OT,
4*, #19 OT,
Newsome is rated with remarkable consistency by scouts, to the point that he's ranked higher among offensive tackles on the 247 Composite than any of the four recruiting services. I don't think I've seen that for any player, let alone one who's yet to play his senior season.
There's almost universal agreement about his size, as well. He's listed at 6'7 everywhere but 247 (6'6"), and everybody but Rivals (280 lbs.) pegs his weight at 290. There's little question where Newsome fits on an offensive line—that's prototype tackle size.
Newsome made his first major mark on the recruiting scene after his sophomore year, when he picked up an offer from Penn State shortly after standing out in their summer camp ($). Unfortunately, no scouting report at that link, but pulling in an offer from a strong recruiting Penn State program that showed major interest in him through two coaching regimes is a pretty good sign.
Scout's free eval likes his mobility and notes he needs some work on technique, which will be two running themes throughout this post:
Newsome is athletic, strong in pass protection and can get to the second level quickly in the running game. He is good drive blocking and does a nice job in pass protection. He has good length and is able to protect the edge, but does need to refine his technique. Newsome also gets to the second level quickly. -- Brian Dohn
He gets to the second level so quickly it needs to be noted twice in a four-sentence span, apparently. Getting another look at U-M's latest commit, Dohn ranked Newsome's performance third among offensive linemen, one spot ahead of Runyan, in a strong field at the New Jersey NFTC ($):
3. Grant Newsome, 6-6, 290, The Lawrenceville (N.J.) School
Skinny: Newsome had the unenviable task of being a left tackle in a 1-on-1 competition, which is slanted greatly toward defensive ends. His kickstep was good, he did a good job of not reaching and he used his length to tie up and frustrated defensive ends. Newsome also showed a good initial punch, and his lateral slide and footwork was also solid.
It appears Newsome's already improving on some of the technical aspects. While he came up short of position MVP honors and an automatic spot in The Opening, 247's Steve Wiltfong thought his performance could've merited an invite to Nike's elite camp:
Mclean (Va.) Lawrenceville School Top247 offensive tackle Grant Newsome could have easily won offensive line MVP honors and been invited to The Opening as well. Perhaps he still will. Has the ideal frame one wants in a left tackle, has nice length, he can bend, he keeps defensive linemen off him, not letting them get their hands on him.
ESPN's junior eval is just a condensed version of their longer one, so I'll reprint it here; it reflects the general consensus that Newsome has the ideal size and potential to be a great left tackle, but needs to add strength and technique—like most every offensive lineman coming out of high school—to put it all together ($):
STRENGTHS: Is very tall with a lean blend that looks to be capable of supporting additional bulk. Can move adequately in space for a guy his size with the ability to pull and block what is directly in front of him. Flashes the ability to get set quickly in pass to slide feet and mirror. ... AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT: Needs to continue to develop functional strength. Does not always roll hips and explode through contact. Can deliver a punch and jolt defender when given the angle but first step is not consistently on proper angle. Hand placement will need to improve as an edge protector. ... BOTTOM LINE: Newsome has the frame and athletic ability to develop but is still a bit raw at this stage. His size and athleticism will garner interest from some bigger schools down the road.
NJ.com placed Newsome second in their state rankings—ahead of Penn State's trio of highly touted New Jersey commits and 2016 five-star Rashan Gary—published this February after he earned first-team all-state honors:
Attributes: Newsome is as good an athlete as you will find playing offensive tackle. He possesses terrific feet and initial quickness. His lateral agility, anticipation and overall athleticism project him to left tackle in college. He displays good willingness in the run game and the potential to become a standout BCS offensive lineman.
Recruit capsule: Grant Newsome
• Frame - 10
• Pass Blocking - 9
• Run Blocking - 8
• Awareness - 7
• Upside - 10
Only consensus five-star corner Minkah Fitzpatrick ranks in front of Newsome; the locals really like his game. That article also featured the requisite glowing review from his coach:
"He's a very unique player in the sense that he combines anything that anybody who coaches college football would want in a young man. He is smart, articulate, tall, long and athletic. He's got a great sense of the game, a great work ethic and he's smart on the field and in the class room. And he's a gentleman. And I know that's a lot of superlatives, but he's doing a fantastic job all-around and we are lucky to have him." – Lawrenceville head coach Danny O'Dea
The above and the note Newsome posted upon committing probably covered any concerns about fitting The Pattern™. Just in case they didn't, it's worth noting Newsome heavily emphasized academics throughout his recruitment, taking looks at the likes of Cal, Duke, and Northwestern, and going into exacting detail on how Michigan's combination of excellent academics and support made a major impression after his most recent visit ($):
Newsome, who is looking to major in Civil War history [ed-Ace: my man] , said the academic tour, and specifically the M-PACT program and its director Shari Acho were a major plus for the Wolverines.
"It's definitely something I would say will factor into my decision," he said. "Michigan's academic support system is really unique for their athletes and it's something my mom and I were both really, really impressed with. They gave me a clear cut idea of the types of classes I would be taking and what the life and schedule is like for a student athlete. Michigan's APR and graduation rates were something I had heard about, but it's not something I'm concerned about at all. I know I am capable of succeeding anywhere I go, and for me the support system stood out so much, I know I will have more than enough resources to be successful in school if I decide to choose Michigan."
It appears at least one negative recruiter didn't get the updated APR scores.*
Michigan is getting a lineman who fits the left tackle mold to a T, has excellent athleticism for his size, displays no off-field warning signs, and needs to add strength and technique to get to where he needs to be. Given U-M's recent offensive line classes, he should be afforded time to develop, and after that the potential is very high.
[*Honestly, negative recruiting doesn't really get a rise out of me—it happens everywhere in some form or another—but at least get the facts right.]
In addition to Michigan, Newsome earned offers from Alabama, Cal, Duke, Georgia, Louisville, LSU, Maryland, Miami (YTM), Michigan State, North Carolina, NC State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Pitt, South Carolina, Syracuse, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, among others. A decent list, I guess.
Lawrenceville Prep went 5-3 last season, and while the Rivals search function is still not working for me, they've got an alumni page that gives you a solid idea what level of program they are—the vast majority of their graduates who play college football do so at Ivy League schools or the like.
Offensive lineman, no stats.
FAKE 40 TIME
No 40 time is readily available, but, you know, offensive lineman. The quick feet, as described by seemingly every scout, are what matter here.
Sophomore highlights are available on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
He'll be a tackle.
Okay, that's both obvious and uninformative. Newsome should be able to take a redshirt year; when he gets to campus, Erik Magnuson and Ben Braden will be redshirt juniors, Chris Fox and Logan Tuley-Tillman redshirt sophomores, and Juwann Bushell-Beatty should be a redshirt freshman. Early enrollee Mason Cole and David Dawson, who's in the same class as Fox and LTT, may also be in the mix at tackle, though at least one of those two should eventually slide inside.
Newsome most likely will get a multi-year apprenticeship while he's refining his technique and hulking out, then he'll get his shot at earning a starting job.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan has the offensive tackle they needed, and while they could add another lineman—probably a good idea for class balance if they have the room—they're in a position to take the two they've got and focus on other positions given the depth along the line in the last few classes.
With Ty Isaac's transfer taking up a scholarship, we're projecting 15 or so players in the class with normal attrition, though that number could certainly grow. That leaves eight spots remaining for U-M to add a running back, a wide receiver or two, a tight end (a spot they could fill soon with Chris Clark), a defensive end or two, an outside linebacker or two, and perhaps another defensive back to fill Shaun Crawford's vacated spot. Add all those needs up and you get to nine players—space is limited, something that Michigan has used to their advantage on the recruiting trail in the past.
But Is He ELITE? (Yes.)
Before rankling a certain perpetually aggrieved blogger with one of the most innocuous rivalry tweets ever, Alex Malzone earned himself a bid to the Elite 11 finals with an outstanding performance at the Columbus regional. 247's Barton Simmons put him at the top of the list when running down the best QBs in the "Pressure Chamber" drill (video above):
Alex Malzone – Malzone, the Michigan commit, had a very solid evening and had one of the better arms at the event. He also has good active feet in and outside the pocket. He could blend in at times but he definitely rose to the occasion during his pressure chamber showing. Of his five throws, four of them were dimes that he threw with a lot of command. He missed on a dig route but all in all, he had a strong output on his rival’s field. Later Monday night Malzone earned an invitation to the Elite 11 finals, securing one of the final 18 spots.
Scout's Allen Trieu was also impressed, though it sounds like Malzone still has a little work to do on his mechanics ($):
Malzone was generally on the money. His passes down the seam were excellent and showed the arm to hit the deep outs as well. As noted in the past, he has a hitch in his delivery, but the ball comes out of his hand nicely, with good pace, and he's an accurate passer.
Fellow commit Tyree Kinnel took the field last weekend at the Rivals Five-Star Challenge and ranked #5 on their list of top defensive backs at the invite-only event ($):
Multiple times on out routes, Kinnel came up and stepped in front of the pass. He showed off great instincts and a great ability to read receivers' routes and then come up to make the play. Kinnel's backpedal is smooth and then he turns and runs well with receivers. Kinnel is set with his Michigan commitment.
Interestingly, Rivals listed Kinnel as a cornerback; while Michigan recruited him as a safety, he's displayed the requisite coverage ability to have positional flexibility in the secondary. After the event, Kinnel told the Daily's Alejandro Zuniga he's fully committed to U-M despite recent overtures from Alabama and Michigan State.
[Hit THE JUMP for coverage of Ty Isaac's impact on the 2015 RB situation, Grant Newsome's upcoming decision, weekend visit reactions, a potential five-star visitor, and more.]
Michigan hosted four-star Illinois jumbo receiver Miles Boykin and his family for an unofficial visit over the weekend, and after receiving the full campus tour with a special "here's how we'll use you like Devin Funchess" film session, at least one of the Boykins was ready to sign up, per GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz ($):
“My dad and my brother are the biggest Michigan fans I know,” Boykin said. “So they loved it.”
Boykin adding, “When we got back home my brother looked at me and he said, ‘Miles, you’re a better man than I am.’ And I asked what are you talking about? And he was like, ‘I would’ve committed already bro.’
Miles told 247's Steve Wiltfong that he thought the trip "went awesome," and he "loved it" when Jeff Hecklinski showed him how he'd be utilized in the offense($), so while Boykin claimed no leaders it's tough not to feel like Michigan is in a very good position for him—especially since he already visited for the Spring Game and already plans on taking another summer unofficial to Ann Arbor before an August decision. Notre Dame is a serious contender and they're up next on his visit list, so this is far from over, but I like where Michigan stands.
The Wolverines also continue to look good for a few of their top targets, as well. Sam Webb's latest Detroit News article details a slight shift in recruiting strategy by the coaches—focusing on recruiting their position of specialty, as opposed to a set region, earlier than in years past—and how that's affected Michigan's chances with CT TE Chris Clark and NJ OT Grant Newsome.
Both have developed a close relationship with their potential future position coaches—Dan Ferrigno for Clark, Darrell Funk for Newsome—and will be on campus for critical unofficials this month, each accompanied by their mothers this time around. Michigan is Clark's stated leader, while Newsome is down to U-M and Penn State. Read Webb's whole article, which includes details on Alex Malzone's recruiting efforts, and you'll come away feeling good about Michigan's chances to land both.
Newsome won't be the only four-star tackle on campus this summer. According to Webb and Josh Newkirk, TN OT Drew Richmond has been impressed enough with Funk's continued recruiting efforts—even after Richmond left U-M out of his top 11 in March—that he's going to visit in July ($):
“I feel like he knows what he’s talking about and he cares about what he’s doing,” Richmond said about Funk.
The four-star offensive tackle continued: “They have just been consistently recruiting me. I really love the fan base.”
Meanwhile, recently offered TX WR A.D. Miller is on campus today while on a Midwest swing from Illinois to Ohio State, and he told Tim Sullivan he'll narrow down his focus to "about eight schools" after these trips ($). In other positive 2015 news, four-star TN LB Josh McMillon put Michigan in his unordered top ten.
Trending Not So Well...
Ohio State's campus hosted a Nike camp over the weekend, and the recruiting updates from Columbus weren't so good on the Michigan front. Damien Harris, in particular, came away singing the praises of OSU and Urban Meyer, per Doug Lesmerises:
"It's still kind of cool the way things go with Coach Meyer," Harris told cleveland.com Sunday, while attending a Nike Football Training Camp at Ohio State. "As a kid growing up, I'd see him on TV and I was like, 'Man, he's the man.' And now I get to be real cool with him. We walk into a basketball game together, we just get to enjoy life together right now - maybe for the next four years. It' definitely been a blessing. I get to be looked at as important enough to spend time with one of the greats of all time. It's definitely an honor. I don't take it for granted. I'm real thankful for it."
Harris told Steve Wiltfong that Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio State were the programs recruiting him the hardest; in the same article, he discussed how much he "loves" various aspects of OSU, UK, Florida, and Alabama, but when asked about Michigan he mentioned trying to "continue to develop a better relationship" with Doug Nussmeier ($). Harris, if you'll recall, was close with Al Borges before U-M changed OCs; I've finally given in and flipped my Crystal Ball pick for Harris to Ohio State.
The above makes this bit of news from TomVH a little tougher to stomach:
RB Mike Weber told me he does have a top 3 within his top 5. Ohio State, MSU, Wisconsin but Michigan and Tennessee still in it.
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) June 1, 2014
So that's not good. Michigan may be left looking for other options, and they at least have a couple. Tim Sullivan reports that Michigan offered three-star MO RB Alec Murphy (highlights above) a few weeks ago, and Murphy says he's looking at visiting U-M when he attends the Sound Mind Sound Body camp this month ($). The Wolverines could make a quick move here—at the moment, Iowa is his next-best offer.
There's also three-star GA RB Mikell Lands-Davis, who was offered a month ago. Steve Lorenz wrote a couple weeks ago, after U-M dropped by for an in-school visit, that the Wolverines could very well be the #2 team for him behind Clemson ($). If they can get him on campus—and they're working on setting that up—we'll see what happens.
Michigan was one of the first schools to seriously pursue four-star MN DE Jashon Cornell, and at the very least its paying off with continued mentions among his very top schools. The trouble is that the Wolverines have never seemed to quite reach the peak of his list; Notre Dame has the Cretin-Derham pipeline, Michigan State was his stated leader at one point, and now Ohio State has made a move to the forefront, per Wiltfong ($):
Sources close to Cornell told 247Sports Ohio State is now the team to beat. Cornell himself said the Buckeyes are in his top three now. They were on the outside looking in until this visit.
“Something about Coach (Larry) Johnson and Coach (Urban) Meyer,” Cornell said. “They bumped up high.”
Who else is in the top three?
“Maybe Michigan and Penn State,” Cornell said.
The bad news, of course, is that the Buckeyes appear to be on top. The good news is Michigan is still very much in the hunt, and they'll get another chance—along with Michigan State—to jump atop his list after an unofficial when he's in the state for SMSB.
Darrin Kirkland: NFTC LB MVP
One definitively good piece of news to come from the Columbus NFTC—commit Darrin Kirkland Jr. is doing quite well at the whole football thing, per Allen Trieu:
Linebacker MVP: Darrin Kirkland – Lawrence Central (Ind.)
The Michigan commit was impressive with his lateral agility. He did well in pass coverage, not something that was necessarily considered his forte coming in. He was invited to The Opening.
There's something about Kirkland and excelling in Columbus—his excellent coverage in passing drills "surprised" scouts at both the Nike and Rivals camps held there last summer. At some point, maybe it won't surprise anymore.
Recent Offers, Visitors
After receiving a Michigan offer last Wednesday, four-star FL DE Janarius Robinson told 247's Chris Nee he plans to visit Ann Arbor on June 20th ($). While Florida State will be tough to beat, a campus visit with these coaches can't be overlooked.
Another relatively recent offer that went unreported—or at least I didn't notice—until Tim Sullivan dug it up is four-star MD OL Pat Allen, who plans to visit this summer and expect U-M to fall within an impressive top five ($):
"Michigan is going to be in my top five, Georgia's going to be in my top five," he started. "I'm going to have those two, Ohio State is definitely in my top three, Florida State most likely top five.
"With Georgia, it's really the area. I've been there a couple times. It's a really good school, and I think Georgia's a solid program. I don't know much about Michigan yet. They do have a good program, and honestly anybody would be a fool not to go to Michigan. At Ohio State, I'm comfortable when I've been there. The region's really good, the coaching staff is great, the people there are comfortable to be around, I like the city of Columbus, it's really cool.
While OSU is in very good position, that could change once Allen sees U-M for the first time.
In the 2016 class, offers continue to go out to top national quarterback prospects. California five-star, #1 dual-threat QB Malik Henry pulled in an offer last week. Henry's already got serious national interest, and as always, it's best to take a wait-and-see approach with any top California prospect.
Michigan also offered the nation's top pro-style quarterback in WA five-star Jacob Eason, per 247's Clint Brewster. His offer list is even more impressive than Henry's, so he'll also be a tough pull from the West Coast.
The third QB to pull in a recent offer is four-star CA pro-style prospect KJ Costello, who told Scout's Greg Biggins he's visiting Ann Arbor on June 15th to kick off a trip that'll have him see several of the nation's top programs ($). Same deal here—we'll see how he feels after the visit.
GBW reports offers out to a pair of 2016 receivers. Four-star MD slot (5'9", 152) Steven Smothers was very excited to hear the news ($):
“[Mattison] called my coach,” Smothers said on his Michigan offer. “I had the offer for a week or two [before he told me]. But my coach just told me today. I’m really at a loss for words. A big school like that offering is shocking.
“I was pumped, I mean, what more can I say? It’s Michigan!”
U-M is now in his top six along with Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Tennessee, and West Virginia. While FL WR Binjimen Victor is unranked on the recruiting services thus far, he's also received some impressive offers, and he immediately brought up Denard Robinson upon hearing that U-M offered; unfortunately, the Wolverines still have work to do to crack his top group ($):
Victor, who stands at 6-foot-4, 170-pounds, says he is planning on making his final decision sometime during his senior season. While he wouldn’t name a leader, he did say there were a few schools sticking out early on in his recruitment.
“I’m not trying to (commit) or anything but the schools I really like right now are Miami, Ohio State, and Clemson,” said Victor.
Finally, 2016 OH LB Brendan Ferns—younger brother of U-M LB Michael Ferns—visited campus last weekend, and while he doesn't yet have an offer he told GBW having his brother on campus "will help" should one come along ($). After he pulled in a recent offer from Michigan State, it wouldn't surprise if U-M followed suit before too long.
Of U-M's 2015 decommits, Damien Harris is the most likely to end up in Ann Arbor.
Previously: The Policy And Its Benefits
The two-part recruiting mailbag concludes today with a look at in-state recruiting, the likelihood of Michigan's decommits re-committing, and the outlook at running back.
— craig laluk (@CraigLaluk) May 28, 2014
First off, it's a relative down year for football prospects in the state, with only three players right now earning composite four-star status, though Alex Malzone is right on the edge and should end up there. Adding to the lack of in-state activity, four of the top seven Michigan prospects have already made commitments: OL Kyonta Stallworth (MSU), Malzone, OL David Moorman (Wisconsin), and CB Tyson Smith (MSU).
Michigan isn't in very active pursuit of any of the prospects outside of that top seven; Cass Tech DE Joshua Alabi is ranked #8, and while he holds a Michigan offer, Michigan State and Tennessee have been at the forefront of his recruitment for a long time now. Nobody ranked below him has received an offer or much interest; the only player down there I could see getting a late offer is Oak Park ATH John Kelly, who might get a harder look after the Shaun Crawford decommitment—MSU offered him at corner, and that's a pretty solid endorsement.
That leaves the two top players in the state—Saginaw ATH Brian Cole and Cass Tech RB Mike Weber—and a Michigan legacy at #6 in Southfield OLB Tyriq Thompson. I won't sugarcoat here: there's a distinct chance all three end up in East Lansing. Cole's been high on the Spartans for a long time, Weber's strongly considering them, and Thompson's recruitment has gravitated towards MSU despite his U-M ties.
With that out of the way, Michigan also has a legit shot at all three, and their cause would be helped greatly by a season this fall that at least shows the program is getting back on track. Cole and Weber have both shown more interest recently, especially Weber, who seems very open to the idea of playing in Doug Nussmeier's offense. Steve Lorenz recently posted that Michigan is pursuing Thompson as hard as any recruit on their board, and it could very well be a 50-50 tossup right now. I think Cole ultimately ends up at MSU, but I like Michigan's chances with Thompson. As for Weber...
— Jeremy C. Anderson (@the_ASGroup) May 28, 2014
...I think he's the most likely to end up in this class, both among the top in-state prospects and the current running back targets. The Wolverines have really trended well with him since the change in offensive coordinators.
Jacques Patrick is going to be really, really tough to pull out of Florida; right now, his 247 Crystal Ball is at 97% for Florida State and 3% for Miami, and he holds offers from just about any powerhouse program you can name. Michigan at least will have him on campus when Patrick is in the area for the Sound Mind Sound Body camp next month, but they have a lot of ground to cover to catch the Seminoles.
As for Harris (man, I'm nailing these segues)...
— Eddie Xiao (@edxiao) May 28, 2014
Not really, though there's still some optimism about Harris—this is much more opinion than anything else, as Harris has said all the right things since his decommitment, and he clearly has genuine interest in considering the Wolverines again.
That said, Ohio State is making a move, the Alabama/Auburn/FSU/USC-types are sniffing around, and we can't even rule out in-state Kentucky. Just based on the number of schools—and very good football programs—Harris is still seriously considering compared to Weber, I think the latter is more likely to end up in the class. While it wouldn't shock me if Harris ended up back in the fold, re-commitments are the exception, not the rule.
There's no such optimism when it comes to George Campbell or Shaun Crawford at this point. Crawford canceled his planned Ohio State visit for this weekend; a commitment to Notre Dame is imminent. Campbell, meanwhile, appears ticketed for either Florida (the presumed favorite) or Clemson (always a dark horse, and he could reunite with former East Lake teammate Artavis Scott), and his decommitment from Michigan coinciding with his uncle taking over command of his recruitment doesn't bode well.
— Bry Mac (@Bry_Mac) May 28, 2014
What have we told you about stealing people clothes, BiSB...
Dymonte Thomas (L) and Jourdan Lewis (R) both committed before receiving coveted offers.
It's been a long time since I did one of these, and after the Shaun Crawford decommitment the topic of discussion is Michigan's very simple policy: if a commit takes visits, the coaches will continue recruiting for that spot, and while they'll continue recruiting the prospect taking visits they'll no longer consider him a commit.
At this point, the policy itself is clear to the point that its particulars aren't up for debate. Its merits, on the other hand, have been questioned. Here's a great question that helps show why it works:
Two part question:
Have there been any Michigan signees that come to mind who benefited the most from the policy being in place? A guy who was locked in early before he blew up regionally or nationally and it kept him in Michigan’s camp maybe? Or a guy, maybe like Peppers, who by committing and not looking around was solely focused on his senior year and helping the recruiting effort.
And on the flip side can you think of a couple of specific names (not including Dawson and the guys who have decommitted this year) who were probably scared away by it and may otherwise have ended up in a Michigan class had it not been for the coach staffs visit rules?
Jabrill Peppers is a nice example to start with, as he considered taking visits a couple months before Signing Day, then reaffirmed his pledge after taking his official visit to Michigan and talking with both the coaches and his family. Who knows what would've happened if Brady Hoke had allowed him to remain committed and visit, say, Alabama? At best, it would've bothered a lot of the other commits. At worst, Peppers would've ended up in Crimson.
Two other current U-M defensive backs come to mind when answering the first part of the question. Dymonte Thomas committed nearly a year-and-a-half before signing his LOI; at the time, the Alliance, Ohio product didn't hold an Ohio State offer, which befuddled Buckeye recruitniks. Even though Thomas' cousin, Bri'onte Dunn, committed to OSU in the interim, when Urban Meyer extended an offer two months later Thomas laughed it off on Twitter. He'd committed, end of story, and he knew what a commitment to Michigan entailed—no trips to check out Columbus and see if he'd want to play with his cousin, something they'd discussed before their respective commitments.
There's also Jourdan Lewis, who eventually became an Army All-American but held this list of offers when he pledged during The Greatest Mid-February Weekend In The History Of Mid-February Weekends: Michigan and Toledo. That's it. Other schools tried to enter the fray, but Lewis remained firm in his pledge—again, in part because he knew the consequences if he started looking around. All he had to do was ask his teammate, David Dawson, the shining example of how the Damien Harris situation can still work out in Michigan's favor.
As for the flip side, there have been multiple prospects in recent years who very nearly committed to U-M while on visits, and in retrospect it's clear the policy helped avoid an eventual decommitment. Malik McDowell immediately comes to mind, as does Artavis Scott. If McDowell had committed, his journey to East Lansing—and I believe he'd have ended up there regardless—would've had even more twists and turns. Same goes for Scott, who took to Clemson's overtures so quickly it's difficult to imagine a Michigan pledge would've stuck.
The best example of the policy avoiding a major issue, however, is a prospect who did at one point commit to U-M: 2014 OT Denzel Ward. His recruitment requires bullet points:
- Committed to Michigan in October 2012, a week after receiving the U-M offer, his best to date. By the first week of January, he'd also hold offers from Arizona State, Florida, and Ohio State.
- Took an unofficial visit to Florida in January 2013 without informing the coaches; at this time, he also transferred high schools from the Chicago area to the IMG Academy in Florida, which also came as a surprise to Michigan's staff.
- Shortly thereafter, Michigan told Ward he was no longer a commit, and due to the lack of communication with the coaches they didn't plan to pursue him again.
- Ward named Florida as his leader in March. He picked up an Oklahoma offer around that time.
- Despite an impressive offer sheet, Ward committed to Purdue in June.
- Three days after an official visit to USF, Ward decommitted from Purdue in December.
- Less than a week after taking his final official visit to Syracuse, Ward committed to the Orange and signed his LOI.
When Michigan recognized Ward was a serious flight risk, they broke things off, and eventually replaced him in the class with a higher-rated, UA All-American tackle in Juwann Bushell-Beatty. If I had to guess whether JBB lasts longer at Michigan or Ward at Syracuse... well, I bet you can guess my answer.
This was going to be a full mailbag, but I got pretty wordy on this one, so I'll answer the rest of the questions in a separate post tomorrow.