if you seek an image of the most Wisconsin OL ever, enter here
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.]
Mike Weber [Photo: Dave Nasternak/MGoBlog]
Yes, FBO is back after being mostly absent last year; if you're unfamiliar, this is the series in which I go to high school games involving Michigan commits/targets, get some video, and provide my best attempt at a scouting report. Helping me this year is MGoRightHandMan Dave Nasternak, who took all the photos and video for us at Friday's Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State.
The two featured games this week are Southfield vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary's and Cass Tech vs. Oak Park; despite our two spare batteries, the camera started running out of juice during the late game, so I've only included highlights from Cass Tech's offense for that one. Show? On with it.
Southfield vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary's
Overview: OLSM pulled out a 21-19 victory thanks to a big-time performance from soph. QB Kanye Harris (21-36, 303 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT) and long touchdowns by senior MSU commit Tyson Smith (60-yard receiving TD) and sophomore WR Kahlee "KJ" Hamler (47-yard punt return TD). Despite being at a major size disadvantage up front, OLSM dominated Southfield in the trenches, leaving no room to run for four-star 2016 RB Matt Falcon (5 carries, 5 yards), who missed a decent portion of the game with an apparent ankle injury.
[Hit THE JUMP for video highlights and scouting reports on Mike Weber, Josh Ross, Lavert Hill, Matt Falcon, and several others.]
Introducing The Kugler Scale™
slight mismatch here
After making a previous, short-lived commitment to North Carolina, newest Michigan commit Chris Clark wasn't taking any chances before making another pledge, checking out all of his top options before announcing yesterday he'll be a Wolverine. Clark ensured Brandon, in an interview posted here this morning, that this decision is final:
"When you look at recruiting, decommitting happens all the time. I'm not necessarily saying that it's the right thing to do, but when someone commits, later on sometimes it just doesn't feel right." Clark expressed. "I know because I've been there, but that's in the past for me. I'm very happy that it worked out like this and I ended up at Michigan. I'm sure people are going to be like, 'Well how is he not just going to do that again?' Well, I know now that I found the school that is right for me. I have now visited all of the schools that I'm interested in. There isn't another school out there that I'm interested in that I haven't seen. Michigan is the best school out of all of the schools that I really liked, that I was considering. Michigan's the spot, I'm not changing my mind. When I committed to UNC I hadn't visited Michigan, Michigan State, or Ohio State. Now that I've seen them all, Michigan is the spot for me."
That nearly wasn't the case, according to Clark. The Spartans made a strong push on Clark's visit to East Lansing, just a day before he committed on his unofficial in Ann Arbor:
Honestly, if the visit didn't go how it went today, I was probably going to end up at Michigan State. Today just went so well. My mom and dad loved the coaches, as did I. I've known that for a while obviously, my relationship with them has been great for a long time, but today couldn't have went any better."
That's a solid 8/10 on the Kugler Scale™.*
Clark's commitment caught the attention of one of Michigan's top 2015 targets, five-star CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South, who sent out a cryptic tweet when the news broke; he later elaborated to 247's Steve Lorenz ($):
One player who tweeted immediately regarding the commitment, and says it has an effect on his outlook with the Wolverines is five-star defensive end Keisean Lucier-South.
"That's great for Michigan," he said. "Right now it definitely makes them more attractive to me. Michigan is a great school though; it is not a surprise that big time players want to play there."
Getting talented commits helps recruiting in and of itself; Clark's also on the record as saying he committed yesterday so he can get a head start on recruiting for Michigan before The Opening, saying he plans to get in touch with such prospects as Damien Harris, Miles Boykin, and Justin Hilliard.
[*Current U-M center Patrick Kugler, if you don't recall, visited East Lansing several times, looked poised to become a Spartan, took a trip to Ann Arbor, and committed to Michigan one day before another scheduled MSU visit. State fans, as you can imagine, didn't take too kindly to this.]
U-M Camp Makes Huge Impact On 2016 Recruits
Michigan's technique camp already paid off in the form of an offer to, and subsequent commitment from, four-star 2016 OH QB Messiah deWeaver. DeWeaver's commitment post focused almost entirely on his ability as a pocket passer, so I'll add this bit from Tim Sullivan's extensive scouting report ($):
DeWeaver is a true pocket passer, but he is slightly underrated as an athlete on account of it. While he'll never be a scrambler first, he does have the wheels to escape pressure and throw on the run (or even pick up a few yards on the ground if his team needs him to).
Meanwhile, after working closely with Darrell Funk and Brady Hoke during the camp, five-star 2016 Cleveland St. Ignatius OT Liam Eichenberg, whose recruitment is shaping up to be a battle of the Midwest powerhouses, told Lorenz he has a new leader ($):
"Michigan has the upper hand right now," he said. "They're a lot like St. Ignatius and I really liked working with the coaches yesterday at camp."
Notre Dame and Ohio State round out his top three. Encouragingly, Michigan's lead isn't a product of Eichenberg seeing them more than his other leaders; he camped at Ohio State last week for the second year in a row and took an unofficial to Notre Dame back in March, so he's had a chance to compare all three schools. Landing Eichenberg, who most experts peg as a future Buckeye, would be a coup.
Michigan also extended a couple new 2016 offers, including one to the son of the former boxing heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield, three-star GA RB Elijah Holyfield. The younger Holyfield gave his reaction to the offer to Tim Sullivan ($):
"Coach Hoke just told me that he looked over watching my film, and he looked at my film from camp," he said. "He said he really liked what I did, and that I could help out the program. Then he said that he wanted to offer me a scholarship.
"I was really excited. I told him thanks and everything like that. A Michigan offer is real big. It's always been one of the teams I grew up watching, and they have a long history that I know about. I'm really excited to have the chance to be a part of that."
While Holyfield isn't close to making a decision, Michigan has positioned themselves well to be in it until the end.
Speaking of famous names, Michigan offered a 6'6" prospect named... Michael Jordan. This MJ isn't a lanky shooting guard from North Carolina, however, but a 265-pound rising junior offensive lineman from nearby Plymouth High. Michigan is the first team to offer Jordan, who told Scout's Allen Trieu that it's too early to be thinking commitment ($):
With it being so early, making a commitment is not on his mind yet.
"Michigan has a very good program," he said, "but I have to decide that later. I haven't made any decisions yet."
If he eventually commits, that Hello post is going to be impossible to put together in a timely fashion.
ESPN 300 Updated
ESPN updated their top 300 prospects for the 2015 class, and the movement for Michigan commits was minimal:
- TE Chris Clark dropped from #104 to #108
- CB Garrett Taylor dropped from #106 to #110
- S Tyree Kinnel dropped from #182 to #188
- OT Grant Newsome dropped from #235 to #240
- MLB Darrin Kirkland moved up from #265 to #263
No change of more than six spots leaves little room for commentary.
In other news, 247's Ryan Bartow released a list of the 15 prospects who best fit the school to which they're committed, and Garrett Taylor came in at #10:
10. Garrett Taylor, CB, Michigan - High academics, storied tradition of producing big defensive backs, can play man and zone equally well. ... The fits don’t slow down for Taylor in Ann Arbor. He could develop into an All-Big Ten type of player for the Wolverines.
The list seems more focused on a school's reputation of putting players at certain positions into the NFL than anything else—playing man and zone concepts isn't exactly a signature scheme—so take it for what it's worth.
Weekend Visitors, 2015 Updates
Per Steve Lorenz, Michigan is hosting a few weekend visitors: commit Tyree Kinnel, 2015 four-star IN LB Asmar Bilal, and 2016 four-star DE Janarius Robinson. Kinnel should help the coaches try to close the gap between Michigan and Notre Dame, Bilal's (NTB) current leader, while Robinson will be seeing Ann Arbor for the first time.
Michigan's pursuit of five-star OH OLB Justin Hilliard looks like it'll be a fruitless one, unfortunately. Hilliard plans to make a decision within the next month or so, visited finalist Iowa—where his older brother will be a freshman in the fall—last weekend, and has final visits planned to Notre Dame and Ohio State, but he told Scout's Dave Berk that a Michigan unofficial is "possible but not planned" for now ($). Unless he finds his way to campus one more time, I highly doubt he commits to Michigan.
A visit to Tennesse allowed the Vols to replace Florida State in his top five, but four-star 2015 MD OL Pat Allen kept Michigan in his top group, per Rivals' Adam Friedman ($):
"My top five right now is Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Michigan and Tennessee," said Allen. "I wouldn't say Georgia is the leader but they're really high. Ohio State and Georgia are tied for the lead. Oklahoma, Michigan and Tennessee are third, fourth and fifth. I really think my decision is going to be based off my visits. There are still some schools I want to see like Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Michigan. Michigan might be my next visit."
That makes it sound like U-M has a decent shot to move up if they can get Allen on campus.
Talking to GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz, four-star Detroit King OLB Tyriq Thompson denied rumors that Michigan State is his leader ($):
Some rumors circulating indicating Thompson could have a leader in the form of the Michigan State Spartans, the Detroit product denied a leader of any kind, unsure of where these reports are coming from.
“I don’t know,” Thompson said. “I really don’t know what to say because I’ve heard so much.
“Somebody told me that there’s a rumor going around that I’m committed to Michigan State so, I don’t know what to say.”
He added that he plans to wait until after his senior season to fully focus on his recruitment, so Michigan has a lot of time to make their pitch to the in-state legacy recruit.
I Guess I Have To Acknowledge This Is Happening
— Anthony Hines III (@2017D1Prospect) June 18, 2014
In case you didn't gather this from his username, newly offered Anthony Hines is a class of 2017 prospect. Hines, an outside linebacker from Texas powerhouse Plano East, is currently a (very) early Mississippi State commit who, as you also may have deduced from the tweet, already holds 42 offers.
Michigan's camp produced another 2017 offer, as Tim Sullivan reported this morning that GA DB Jaymest Williams, a camp standout with early offers from Clemson and Georgia Tech, got the call from the coaches this morning ($).
The Wolverines have now sent out six offers to rising sophomores, including Orchard Lake St. Mary's LB Josh Ross, younger brother of current U-M LB James Ross.
Happy trails to OH SDE Dre'Mont Jones, who surprised nobody by committing to Ohio State on Wednesday.
SBNation's Bud Elliott lists Michigan as the top school that needs to start winning more on the field if they'd like continued success on the recruiting trail, which... yeah.
Junior Day: No Commits, Still A Success
Shaun Crawford (left) and Tyree Kinnel at the MSU game [Fuller]
Brandon continues to round up reactions from yesterday's Michigan State game/Junior Day, which featured high-profile visitors such as Damien Harris and Brian Cole. Michigan nearly secured their second commit of the 2016 class; while Traverse City West OL Thiyo Lukusa ultimately decided to take his time, the Wolverines are his team to beat:
OL Thiyo Lukusa – It was sweet, super fun! I decided to put my commitment on hold for now. I just have to be 100% sure. The visit and the activities were 1st class as always. I’m still all Michigan right now but I just want to enjoy my recruitment.
Lukusa understandably wants to see more schools before he makes a commitment at this early juncture; it's tough to see a school overcoming Michigan even with so long to go until he signs an LOI. Hit the link for more reactions from yesterday's visitors.
After hosting him last weekend for their Underclassmen Day, Michigan offered 2017 Orchard Lake St. Mary's LB Josh Ross, the younger brother of Michigan LB James Ross. The younger Ross already holds offers from Oklahoma and Michigan State, and he told Steve Lorenz that U-M provides a point of comparison for the other schools pursuing him ($):
"I hear stories about [James's] work in the weight room and he is definitely enjoying his time at Michigan," [Ross] said of his brother. "It does give Michigan a bit of advantage because I've been around it a lot and know everyone in the program so well, whether it be players, coaches or even parents and all of that stuff. I know exactly what Michigan is all about and what they have to offer me. They give me something to compare other programs to going forward."
With his early offers and pedigree, Ross has the look of a national-level prospect—expect Michigan to have plenty of competition for his signature.
Offers keep going out to 2015 prospects, as well; four-star DC CB Marcus Lewis got one late last week and told Lorenz he plans to visit Michigan and MSU either this spring or summer ($). Curt Mallory has already established a strong connection with Lewis, including multiple in-school visits, which should help the Wolverines moving forward.
Michigan Adds Walk-On Long Snapper/Potential YouTube Sensation
Allen Trieu reports Michigan has added 2014 Troy Athens long snapper Andrew Robinson as a preferred walk-on:
"It is great to be given this opportunity. I have worked so hard and put so much time into my snapping, i would have never thought it could get me this far and especially to a school with such football tradition like Michigan. I never doubted myself, I just knew it was going to be a long process and I didn't know where I would end up at the end."
As you can see from the video above, Robinson has some skills—the coaches said he'll have the opportunity to compete for a starting job this fall.
Michigan's first 2017 offeree, OH OL Josh Myers, told Tim Sullivan about his reaction to getting offered by the Wolverines ($):
"My expectations were to meet the coaches, and have a good time and get to meet some of the other players that are getting recruited and are committed. I wasn't quite expecting an offer or anything going into it. With that being said, it surpassed my expectations bigtime. I couldn't really believe it to be honest. I had tears in my eyes. I thanked them - I couldn't thank them enough - and I was just really excited."
Michigan is the best program among Myers's five offers, though there's a long time to go, of course. He's still open to all schools and planning to visit Kentucky, Ohio State, and Tennessee over the new few weeks.
Fast-rising 2015 IN LB Josh Barajas put Michigan among his top schools after receiving an offer, per Allen Trieu ($):
Barajas also visited rival Michigan State and several new offers have come since. Even though he remains open, he does have a few programs he is liking.
"For the most everyone is on the same level but I'd say Michigan, Penn State, Virginia Tech and Ole Miss are my top right now."
In variations on the same theme, coveted 2015 CA DE Keisean Lucier-South won't name leaders but did note the schools pursuing him the hardest, per Scout's Anna Hickey ($):
Though Lucier-South does not have any favorites at this point, he did name five schools that were recruiting him the hardest.
"UCLA, USC, Michigan, Notre Dame and Tennessee," Lucier-South said.
This one won't end any time soon, as KLS plans to take all his officials before making a commitment. LSU just put forth an offer, as well.
If you missed it, Brandon got an offer reaction from VA CB Garrett Taylor, who's got Michigan among his top schools.
Shaun Crawford: Fast
— The Opening (@TheOpening2014) February 15, 2014
Commit Shaun Crawford posted the second-best SPARQ rating at the Massillon (OH) Nike combine en route to becoming the third 2015 prospect invited to The Opening. Scout's Bill Greene caught up with Crawford to get his reaction and discuss his recruitment ($):
"I only trained the past two weekends for this, and it's hard to find indoor fields right now," he added. "My forty time was 4.50, and I know I can run faster than that. I can't complain because it's faster than last year, but my start wasn't good. I really wanted to beat last year's score of 90.0, and I blew that out of the water, so I'm happy with how everything turned out."
It's safe to say Crawford holds himself to a high standard. It's also safe to say he's strong in his commitment, as he also said, "every time I visit there I become more Michigan and more Michigan," before mentioning that he plans to do some recruiting of his own. Crawford will get a chance to do so this weekend when he visits for U-M's Junior Day.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest turn in the Malik McDowell recruitment, where things stand with a trio of 2015 running backs, a potential summer commit, and more.]
Even though the basketball game didn’t go the way Michigan fans would’ve liked, there were plenty of recruits on hand and the football coaches still used the opportunity to show the underclassmen around campus. That interaction led to two new offers going out on Sunday to 2016 offensive lineman Liam Eichenberg and 2017 offensive lineman Josh Myers.
Name: Liam Eichenberg
Position: Offensive Tackle
Ht/Wt: 6’5" / 275 lbs.
Location: St. Ignatius High School (2016) – Cleveland, OH
Offers: Michigan, Ohio State
St. Ignatius is a big time program in Ohio boasting multiple state championships and even a few national titles. Michigan’s most recent coup from St. Ignatius is Jake Ryan and while he’s easily the most notable alumnus, Michigan has recruited Wildcats since the late 1960s. The Wolverines offered Liam Eichenberg in hopes that he could become the next Wolverine from the storied high school.
Eichenberg spoke of his special moment, spanning three generations of his family.
I was taken into a separate room right before the basketball game with my dad, my grandpa, and Coach Hoke. Coach Hoke told me that he and his staff took a long time evaluation my film and really liked what I do. He told me that he really liked the program that I come from and how I’m dedicated to football and academics.
Liam now holds two offers, Ohio State and Michigan. As an Ohio recruit you always expect the Buckeyes to be a factor but Liam told me that he did not grow up a Buckeye fan and that he still doesn’t even have a team that he pulls for.
Liam spent most of his time with Coach Mattison as he toured campus and the facilities and he came away more than impressed.
The indoor practice facility was insane! I loved all of the coaches too. Michigan is just overall amazing. It felt a lot like St. Ignatius.
Name: Josh Myers
Position: Offensive Lineman (unspecified)
Ht/Wt: 6'5" / 275 lbs.
Location: Miamisburg High School (2017) – Miamisburg, OH
Offers: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan
Josh Myers became the first 2017 recruit to receive a Michigan offer today while he was visiting Ann Arbor. As a freshman in high school Myers already holds five offers spanning the Big Ten, SEC, and MAC. Myers could barely contain his excitement when he spoke of his latest offer.
Well I got there and as soon as I walked in the door I talked to Coach Funk and then Coach Hoke came by and we talked for probably 45 minutes. The coaches and me and my parents were all just talking and Coach Hoke casually told me that they were offering me a scholarship! I was shocked honestly, I wasn’t expecting it all. It made tears come to my eyes.
As usual the coaches have made a phenomenal first impression on a recruit. Josh couldn’t stop iterating the family feel and genuineness that the coaches possess.
The best way for me to describe it was just a real home type of feeling. The coaches preached about how academics come first and about how they are not just there to make us a better football player, but better people too. Also the facilities were incredible.
With Myers being an Ohio kid as well you almost have to assume that he grew up loving the Buckeyes, but I found out that that wasn’t necessarily the case.
I didn’t grow up a Buckeye fan, but the recruiting process has changed my view of colleges. It’s hard to really dislike certain schools especially once you get to meet the coaches and see what great people they are.
The lone commitment of the 2016 class, Erik Swenson, spent some time with both new offerees and he feels pretty good about both.
I didn’t talk to Liam as much but he is quiet and seems like a good kid. He definitely enjoyed today, but I think he wants to visit a lot of other schools so.
Swenson was able to get a much better feel from Josh as they sat next to each other for the entire basketball game.
Josh is very intelligent and very friendly. I think with Josh it’s going to come down to Michigan and Kentucky. His dad and his brother both played at Kentucky so they’ll be in it. I really think he’s going more with Michigan though. His dad REALLY liked his visit today.
Once again the coaches have killed the first impression portion of recruiting these two young men. Michigan as a school, the facilities, and the history of the program all sell themselves, but these coaches take it to another level when it comes to creating a welcoming environment. It genuinely sounds like Michigan will be in it with both of these early offered linemen.