that is nice bonus change
Dramatization. The real song our coaches sing on road trips is ram-a-lamma-ding-dong. Insiders believe Nussmeier could be the tenor the staff has been lacking.
The Michigan coaches have been traveling all over the country checking in on commits, offerees, and targets in recent weeks. I have been reaching out to recruits for the past couple of days to see who has been visited or who still might be. I’m sure this list isn’t all-encompassing but I was able to get in touch with a lot of prospects from the 2015 class. I mean A LOT of prospects:
Athletes and Defensive Backs
ATH David Dowell & RB Andrew Dowell – Lakewood, OH/St. Edward – Teammates of Shaun Crawford, the Dowell brothers were visited by Coach Mattison in the early part of the week and he told them he’d like them to come up for a visit, but it’s not planned yet.
ATH Osa Masina – Salt Lake City, UT/Brighton – Masina wasn’t visited this time around but Coach Hoke and Coach Ferrigno did visit him back in mid-December. There aren’t a ton of reasons to stop in Utah so visits to Salt Lake City will probably be few and far between.
ATH Jerome Baker – Cleveland, OH/Benedictine – Baker holds a Michigan offer and was visited by Coach Mattison on Tuesday and says that he is feeling Michigan a lot.
|Cole could wind up the top-ranked player in the state. [Sam Webb]|
ATH Brian Cole – Saginaw, MI – Heritage – Cole was visited by Coach Hoke earlier in the week.
CB Kei Beckham – Trotwood, OH/Trotwood-Madison – Coach Smith stopped by Trotwood-Madison on Friday but Beckham missed him due to his class schedule. TMHS is a frequent stop for the coaching staff so Beckham is confident he’ll see them again.
CB Marcus Lewis – Washington, DC/Gonzaga – One of four prospects to chat with Coach Mallory from Gonzaga. Lewis really liked Coach Mallory and plans to stay in close touch with him moving forward.
CB Iman Marshall – Long Beach, CA/Poly – Marshall’s father told me that a Michigan coach stopped in to see his son on Monday of last week, he was unsure of who it was but I’d guess Ferrigno.
[After the jump: look at the tags above. There's a lot.]
Position: Weakside Defensive End
Ht/Wt/40: 6'6" / 218 lbs. / 4.70
Location: Lutheran High School (2015) – Orange, CA
Offers: Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, California, Colorado, Miami, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oregon, Oregon State, TCU, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt, Washington
Ranking: ★★★★ .9783 (247 Composite)
In a move that everyone expected, although most thought it should’ve happened already, the Michigan coaches offered defensive end Keisean Lucier-South today while sweeping through California. Lucier-South is rated very highly by all four major sites with Scout having him the highest as a 5-star recruit.
I talked with Keisean and he was very passionate when I asked him how he felt about receiving the Michigan offer. “I was just in shock. (Laughs) I mean I felt like it might be coming but I didn’t know for sure. I didn’t actually see the coach (Ferrigno) but my coach told me about the offer.”
Early on in his recruitment Lucier-South referred to Michigan as his “dream offer.” That may still be the case but he wasn’t so quick to call the Wolverines his outright leader after receiving the offer. “I don’t have a leader right now but Michigan is up high on my list.” Being a California kid Lucier-South has never been to Michigan and says he definitely plans on making a trip to Ann Arbor whenever he can. He told me that will go a long way to see how much he really likes the Wolverines.
Moving forward in his recruitment Lucier-South said he just wants to take his time and enjoy the process. He wants to take some unofficial visits this spring and summer and with the way his list looks right now his main focus is trying to see what the right school is for him and if he fits at each school.
That plan sounds like a well-calculated idea but there could be an issue with Lucier-South’s approach when it comes to Michigan’s tendency to fill up the class early. Keisean told me that he’d like to wait until National Signing Day before he commits. The problem with that is that Michigan’s 2015 class could potentially be even smaller than the 2014 class and running out of space could be a concern if Lucier-South does indeed wait that long to make a decision. I asked him about that and he said, “I honestly just don’t know how that will factor in.”
Lucier-South likes Michigan quite a bit, make no bones about it, but he has a lot of very high-level offers and lives in California. Those two factors are usually quite tough for Michigan to overcome. I fully expect Lucier-South to check out Michigan in person and if he does that the Wolverines as as good a shot as anybody, but if he really plans to wait all the way until NSD 2015 it’s hard to imagine that the recruiting class for Michigan won’t already be full. If the coaching staff aggressively pursues Keisean now that he’s offered his timeline could be sped up or Michigan might save a spot for him (as they've done for similarly-rated McDowell). It will be interesting to see what direction his recruitment takes now that he’s got an offer.
Wrenches keep getting thrown into the system when it comes to Michigan’s 2014 running back recruiting. Until about two weeks ago it didn’t really look like Michigan had any realistic running back options in the 2014 class, then there appeared to be one, then he recommitted to Cal, and now there could be two and maybe a long-shot third.
On January 3rd Jeff Jones was offered after a stellar performance at the Under Armour game and it was quickly learned that the interest was mutual. He told me that it was a big deal to get the Michigan offer and he was excited to have it. Jones has been on campus before but wasn’t recruited very aggressively immediately following his brief visit to Ann Arbor. I’ve had limited conversation with Jones and he basically just told me that he has to finish all of his visits before he can make a final decision. The good news for Michigan is that he will take his final visit, to Ann Arbor, on January 31st, just five days before signing day. It’s believed that Jones is considering only Michigan, Florida, and the team he’s currently committed to, Minnesota, so with Michigan getting the last crack at him, there’s reason for optimism.
Just two weeks after Jones was offered another name was thrown into the hat when the coaches decided to offer Marlon Mack, coincidentally on the same day he decided to decommit from UCLA.
Jeff Hecklinski was at Mack's house and stayed for about an hour, with that visit culminating with an offer. Mack said that he was feeling Michigan quite a bit after meeting and talking with Coach Heck and news of his decommitment followed later that evening. He obviously has a lot to mull over and didn’t give me much about what he was going to do. He told me that Michigan definitely has a chance but right now he has no leader, no top group, and no timeline for when he’ll make his final decision.
Kalen Ballage is a name that Michigan recruitaholics are very aware of but fell by the wayside after he, somewhat surprisingly, committed to Arizona State on December 11th. I was able to confirm with Ballage today however that Michigan is indeed actively recruiting him again and that he has been in contact with Coach Funk.
Before Ballage committed to ASU he was always a bit tough to read and today was no different. I asked him if he was solid to Arizona State or if he was considering Michigan again and he cryptically said, “I’m not sure right now.” To me that means he’s at least entertaining the idea of reopening his commitment but right now there’s no real reason to think he’ll decommit or flip to Michigan or anyone else for that matter.
I feel confident in saying that Michigan will definitely add a running back to the 2014 class but right now it is very tough to predict who. Jones seems like option #1. He will officially visit Ann Arbor just five days before National Signing Day and that bodes well for the Wolverines but also leaves them little time to deal with surprises.
Mack is likely option #2 if Jones doesn’t pan out although Coach Heck being in his house and offering in person shows a high level of legitimate interest. Neither Jones or Mack was able to specifically tell me if their offers were committable, but with just 18 days until signing day one would assume that they both are. I never thought Michigan had a great chance with Ballage and I still don’t. He doesn’t appear to be solid to Arizona State but I just don’t think Michigan can suddenly become his leader and flip him within the next two weeks.
It’s been tough to get a good grasp on this situation. The vibes I’m getting suggest it’s about 60/40 in favor of Jeff Jones being Michigan's running back of this class, with Mack a possibility to join regardless of that decision, and the most likely to commit if Jones doesn't.
Ht/Wt: 6'1" / 215 lbs.
Location: Martin Luther King High School (2015) – Detroit, MI
Offers: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, NC State, Northwestern, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin
Ranking: ★★★ .8792 (247 Composite)
The Michigan coaches were all over the country today checking in with commits and targets but when the dust settled only one new offer was extended, the recipient being linebacker Tyriq Thompson. The in-state product already held multiple B1G offers including Michigan State, the school most people think could provide the most competition for Michigan to reel in Thompson. In a very mature, politically-correct tone, he had a response for that thought. “I think people must’ve forgotten about Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Pitt and NC State.”
Without being able to see him I’m certain he said it with a grin. Despite his rebuttal, one would think that the chance to play at Michigan carries a little more weight for Thompson. A legacy, his father, Clarence, playing defensive back for the Wolverines in the early 90’s.
Greg Mattison was the coach assigned to visiting Thompson at Detroit King yesterday, and he and Tyriq were able to have the first of likely many in-depth conversations, ultimately leading to the offer. “I’m feeling pretty good about it. I got on the phone with Coach Mattison after he left and he let me know that they really like what I can do on the field and that they want me to come and play linebacker at Michigan.” Tallying 142 tackles as a junior generally pleases a defensive coordinator looking to recruit you. Mattison specifically offered Thompson at the WILL position.
Thompson was able to tackle everything moving during his junior campaign and I asked him about what made him able to rack up such gaudy numbers. “My coaches do a great job with our defense and they put me in a position and expected me to make plays and that’s what I did.” He wasn’t certain but he thought he might’ve tackled more people than anyone in the state of Michigan. “It just might have been the top in the state, I’m not sure. The way I see it though is that I can only get better and I think I can get even more next season.”
As previously mentioned Thompson has a unique connection to Michigan being the son of a former player. I asked him how his dad was feeling after the offer came through and if it would factor into his decision. “I think he’s just proud. He basically just congratulated me. As for him playing there affecting me, not at all. He’s even told me that it’s totally my decision to make and to make the best move for ME.”
With the unique opportunity to look at this from the perspective of a former player, who happens to be the father of an offered prospect, I reached out to Clarence Thompson to get his thoughts. “I think it’s great that he has the opportunity to continue the legacy. Tyriq knows that I’m Maize and Blue through and through, but ultimately he has to make a decision that’s best for him for the following four years.” I also took the opportunity to ask Clarence what stuck with him as a former student-athlete at Michigan that he would promote to any recruit, his son included. “First and foremost the tradition and respect that comes along with being a Michigan football player. The family atmosphere and supportive community is unmatched.” Clarence was proud about where his loyalties lie, but wanted me to stress the fact that Tyriq’s final decision will be his and his alone. You’ve got to respect the informed, fatherly support.
It was very clear that Tyriq and his father have a strong relationship and Clarence has done a good job instilling priorities in his son as evidenced by the factors that will lead to his commitment. “Number one will definitely be education. After that playing time, the bond with the coaches, and the potential to win championships fall in.” Thompson admitted that it will take some time to figure all of those things out. “I can’t really put a timeline on when I’ll commit. I just know I’ll commit when I’m 100% sure about where I want to spend the next four years of my life. As far as my announcement goes I’m not really caught up in the whole, big announcement thing with the hats and stuff.”
Finally, what exactly did Tyriq have to say about that strong relationship with his dad? “Yeah, he’s where I get my cool from.”, followed son-ishly by a laugh.
That last sentence included, there’s a lot to like about Tyriq. He’s a legacy offer which means he understands what it takes to succeed at Michigan. He’s a tackling machine. He’s an in-state kid and gets the passion involved in Michigan’s big games. He has a good head on his shoulders, and fits The Profile(tm) for the kids Coach Hoke recruits. You’d have to think Michigan is in really good shape with him and you know dad is going to be in his ear, but Michigan State offered a long time ago and that always means something to recruits. I picked Michigan for my Crystal Ball prediction with Sparty being the most likely alternative.
Position: Running Back
Ht/Wt: 6'0" / 190 lbs.
Location: Booker High School (2014) – Sarasota, FL
Offers: Ball State, Florida Atlatntic, Florida Intl, Indiana, Iowa State, Marshall, Middle Tenn St, Northern Illinois, Ohio, South Florida, UCLA
Ranking: ★★★ .8365 (247 Composite)
The coaches have made it quite clear that they’d like to take a running back in the 2014 class. Unfortunately every running back they’ve offered is already committed elsewhere. That didn’t stop the coaches from offering Vic Enwere, who ultimately re-committed to California, and Jeff Jones who remains committed to the Golden Gophers but is definitely flirting with other schools, including Michigan. The most recent name to pop up on the RB radar is current UCLA commit Marlon Mack. I posted a forum about him the day Enwere reaffirmed his commitment, but things have advanced even further since then.
With the dead period ending on Tuesday the coaches are wasting no time to strengthen their relationship with Mack. I talked with him Tuesday evening and he informed me that Coach Jeff Hecklinski will be visiting him Thursday. Mack was honest in saying that he really doesn’t know if an offer will come his way or not and he also wasn’t really sure what to expect from Coach Heck’s visit.
Mack has rather impressive film but it was discussed by several commenters on the forum that he might not play the best of competition. He plays at a “big-ish” school in Florida for a team that enjoys moderate success, evidenced by a 7-4 overall record and a 2nd round exit from the Florida state playoffs. Running back is a position where competition level obviously makes a difference in how a player looks on film, but you can’t teach big and fast.
My guess would be that Coach Heck is heading to Florida to get a feel for Marlon and hopefully shoot him straight on what their plans are at the running back position for 2014. It seems pretty easy to figure out that Jeff Jones is the top target right now, but if he decides to honor his pledge to the Golden Gophers or flips to somewhere else, Mack will probably receive an offer. Even though his commitment to UCLA seems to be chinchilla-fur soft at this point, I don’t think an offer from Michigan automatically means a flip is imminent. Coach Heck making that trip to Sarasota does show that the interest is legitimate though. I will attempt to catch up with Marlon after his visit with Coach Heck on Thursday.
Position: Tight End
Ht/Wt/40: 6'6" / 245 lbs. / 4.85
Location: Columbia Central High School – Columbia, TN
Offers: Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Louisville, Memphis, Mississippi State, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech
Ranking: ★★★ .8704 (247 Composite)
Coach Nussmeier recruited Jackson Harris while still employed at Alabama, and on his first full day as Michigan’s offensive coordinator he messaged Harris with a simple message: “Go Blue! I’ll be in touch soon.” just to let him know that he’s still a priority. Nussmeier has been recruiting Harris since early fall, has visited Columbia Central multiple times, and he and Harris message back and forth quite a bit. Luckily for Michigan, big-bodied tight ends with a propensity to block work in Ann Arbor just as well as they do in Tuscaloosa.
On film Jackson doesn’t jump off the screen as an elite athlete, but he’s big and strong and drives on his blocks like some elite linemen you watch on film. He doesn’t possess great speed but he seems to have a knack for getting open and catches the ball smoothly. At 6’6”and 245 lbs. he could easily grow into a jumbo tight end, primarily used for blocking, with the ability to catch passes. He also looks pretty good at defensive end for what it’s worth.
Nuss is basically the reason Harris is even considering Michigan. “I hadn’t heard much from Michigan before so they weren’t really on my radar. I haven’t seriously considered them until now. Now that Coach Nuss is there I’m definitely going to look into them quite a bit. I honestly don’t know too much about Michigan so I can’t say too much yet.” Harris really appreciates that Coach Nussmeier thought enough of him to reach out so quickly. “He’s a good guy. He’s pretty straightforward for the most part, he seems all business but I really like him.”
With Jackson now paying attention to Michigan he says that an offer from the Wolverines would be something to take seriously. “Yeah, if they offer I would definitely like to check it out. I’ve heard good things about them and it would be cool to visit.”
Jackson obviously means something to Coach Nussmeier as he wasted no time in reaching out to him. With little attrition and few seniors next season the 2015 class is going to be small, and Tyrone Wheatley Jr. remains the most likely candidate for one obvious tight end spot. If things don’t pan out with Wheatley Jr. or Coach Nuss is given the opportunity to offer another TE, expect Jackson to be at the top of that list.