the season has truly begun now
Maybe four of these guys will wear that number at Michigan, but go ahead and update your NCAA dynasty anway
With the regular season in the books and almost three weeks until the bowl game the upcoming weekend has turned into a commit party, with almost every committed 2014 prospect planning to be in attendance. There are a couple that can’t make it and with good reason but the coaches are expecting almost every future member of Team 135 on campus.
DT Brady Pallante
DB Jabrill Peppers
OL Juwan Bushell-Beatty
DB Brandon Watson
WR Freddy Canteen
WR Drake Harris
LB Chase Winovich
OL Mason Cole
DE Lawrence Marshall
QB Wilton Speight
TE Ian Bunting
LB Jared Wangler
WR Moe Ways
LB Noah Furbush (was told by other recruits he will be there)
RB Vic Enwere (Currently committed to Cal, was recently visited by Fred Jackson, wants to wait until signing day to make final decision)
LB Michael Ferns – Ferns used his official visit for the Ohio State game and won’t be able to make the trip this weekend. His parents are busy with basketball season for his younger siblings and Michael is very busy finishing up his coursework as he prepares for early enrollment.
DT Bryan Mone – In about a month Mone will also enroll early and has decided that the lengthy trip from Utah isn’t necessary since he’ll be in Ann Arbor on a more permanent basis very soon.
The closeness and camaraderie that this class has developed since Ferns first committed over a year ago has always been apparent from the joke-tweeting back and forth between them and the Project 135 campaign created by Ferns and his family. All of the recruits seemed very excited to be getting together this weekend and the visit should help to solidify that bond as signing day nears.
If anything changes or any other names surface I will update as needed.
Position: Linebacker/Tight End
Ht/Wt: 6'3" / 232 lbs.
Location: Jackson High School – Jackson, OH
Offers: Kent State, Ohio
Ranking: ★★★ .8599 (247 Composite)
Linebacker/Tight end prospect Reagan Williams was one of many recruits to attend The Game at The Big House a couple of weekends ago and I was able to chat with him about that a little bit. Williams is being recruited by most schools as a linebacker but the Michigan coaches appear to have a fondness for him at the tight end spot. Williams was a very nice kid to talk to and had some great things to say about his visit to Ann Arbor.
He was not shy at all about how much he enjoyed his visit to The Big House by saying, “It was awesome! One of my best visits yet.” He actually claimed it was a tie between Michigan and Michigan State. Not bad considering his other visits include trips to Ohio State, Penn State, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Cincinnati, and Louisville, among a few others.
The coaches in particular stuck out to Reagan while he was on his visit.
The coaching staff was very, very personable. I talked to every single position coach and they really made it feel like they have a family atmosphere with their players. The Big House was insane as well.
Reagan is an extremely intelligent kid, boasting a 4.0 GPA and a very respectable ACT score of 26, and that was easy to sense when I asked him if he had any type of affinity for his home-state Buckeyes. (Normally I wouldn’t post a test score like that but he’s proud of it and wants it to be public. It’s part of his profile on his HUDL link.)
I’m a big Buckeye fan. I have been since I was a little kid, but recruiting changes your outlook on a lot of things as far as seeing what every school has to offer. If Ohio State offered it would definitely be something that would be seriously considered. It hasn’t happened yet though so I can’t totally describe the emotions that would be involved.
I was surprised by how much he admitted to liking the Buckeyes, while at the same time ranking his Michigan visit above their rivals from Ohio.
Every visit has it’s pros and cons, but it seemed that the Michigan visit was VERY well organized.
As mentioned above the coaches have talked to Reagan about playing a fullback/h-back type of position because they really like how physical he is on both sides of the ball. Reagan says he doesn’t really have a preference he just wants to play wherever it helps his team the most.
When I asked him about his plans for his senior season, Williams said all of the right things about wanting to excel in the classroom, work toward a state championship, and develop a strong relationship with a coaching staff from a school that fits well for him. When it comes to fit, he said he must play for a coach and a team that has a strong tradition of defense and an emphasis on physicality. He doesn’t understand how the game can be played any other way. Pretty much the exact sentiment you’d expect from a fullback/linebacker.
With Michigan’s 2015 class being so limited on scholarships the staff has already informed Reagan that he is being evaluated but they have to be meticulous with who they offer. The coaches did say that they’d like to check Williams out in person sometime during the spring.
At the end of our conversation it came up that Williams is a die-hard Patriots and Tom Brady fan and that he was awestruck by Brady’s speech to Team 134 earlier this season. It’s pretty clear that the Michigan coaches have done well with Williams thus far, but if they and the Buckeyes get more involved in his recruitment, it sounds entirely realistic that the Wolverines could be on the outside looking in.
Coach Hoke and his staff have made a habit out of filling recruiting classes up rather early with little to no defection. That trend has already started again in the 2016(!) class with the very early commitment of OL Erik Swenson. Swenson is just a sophomore but already stands at 6’7” and tips the scales at right around 300 lbs. His size, athleticism, and rather solid technique for a young player has earned him some big-time offers from the likes of in-state programs, Illinois and Northwestern, along with Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Virginia Tech. As soon as Michigan offered him he wasn’t shy about naming the Wolverines his leader and it was only a matter of time before he made it as official as he can for now.
As a sophomore what kind of a player is Erik Swenson right now? What are some of your strengths and weaknesses?
I’ve already gotten a lot faster and stronger off the ball. I still want to develop my punch so I can really deliver a blow to somebody. My pass blocking is probably my biggest strength right now and I wouldn’t say I really have a weakness just some things to perfect.
When you arrive in Ann Arbor in a couple of years what kind of player do you want to be then? How would you like to be different from now?
I just need to be bigger, stronger, and faster. The rest of it will come with training and coaching.
I know you’ve been to Ann Arbor quite a few times. How many visits have you made and why do you like going there so much?
I’ve been there six times and they get better and better each time. The people, city itself, the coaches, the facilities, the restaurants. I just love it up there.
Liking it so much did you ever even think about anywhere else?
Northwestern was a little hard to say no to, but not that hard compared to Michigan. (Laughs)
You mentioned the coaches, tell me about your relationship with them.
They’re wonderful! Their wives act like they’ve known you for 20 years already. You can just tell that they all really care about you. The entire family feel is not forced at all. It’s very genuine.
So when did you definitely know that Michigan was going to be the place for you?
Right after the Notre Dame game. I wanted to wait until my season was over to announce it but I knew it after that game. I just knew I didn’t want to go anywhere else and no other college could compare to Michigan.
Tell me about how your commitment actually happened.
I called Coach Funk on Sunday night (11/24) telling him that I wanted to verbally commit and then on Saturday at the game I was able to shake all of the coaches hands and they just smiled and said welcome to the family.
The commits for Michigan are notorious for being close before they even arrive on campus. Has that started for you yet?
Yeah a little. Ian Bunting is probably #1 as far as who I’m closest with right now. All of the guys are friendly though. It was easy to see during my last visit.
I know there are only a few 2016 with offers from Michigan right now but are you eyeing anybody to recruit?
Not really yet. I tweeted at Issac Nauta soon after I committed. I’m definitely eyeing him for sure!
The number 77. What’s that mean to you and especially to you at Michigan?
Yeah man, I talked to Coach Hoke about that already. I just asked how do you get #77 and he said that he picks if you are worthy enough to wear it. That was pretty much it, but I know it’s a big deal.
Legends numbers, The Big House, the history. Tradition is obviously a big deal at Michigan. What does it mean to you to be a Michigan Man?
I think it is a great honor to be considered a Michigan Man. I can not wait to play on that field.
Erik Swenson is another great ambassador for the Wolverine football program. He was very polite and well spoken and his passion for Michigan is very clear and he will wear the uniform as proudly as anyone. He has a chance to be one of the highest rated offensive linemen in the midwest so nabbing him this early is a pretty big deal. He already has near prototypical size for a left tackle and he still has two more years of high school ball to hone his skills and grow. He could be an absolute monster by the time he gets to Ann Arbor. The number 77 has to be earned and after talking with him I think Swenson will earn it.
The Michigan coaching staff is being diligent when it comes to offering quarterbacks from the 2015 class. Josh Rosen is still the only signal caller to be offered but two new names have surfaced as potential offerees: Zach Gentry and Jimmy Fitzgerald are both receiving substantial attention from the Michigan coaches. I was able to catch up with both to see how they are feeling the Wolverines and gauge interest from both ends.
Name: Zach Gentry
Ht/Wt: 6'6"/230 lbs.
Location: Eldorado High School – Albequerque, NM
Offers: Louisville, New Mexico, New Mexico State, San Diego State
When you are the grandson of the all-time winningest high school coach in your home-state you are expected to be a student of the game. Zach Gentry is just that as the grandson of Bill Gentry, a National High School Hall of Famer and all time wins leader in New Mexico. Grandpa Bill taught his grandson well and has helped mold him into a coveted prospect in the 2015 class.
Gentry was invited by the Michigan staff to attend the Ohio State game last weekend but being a New Mexican the travel arrangements and his basketball schedule proved to be too much to overcome. Gentry was legitimately bummed out that he couldn’t make it.
I wish I could’ve went but unfortunately between expenses and my basketball schedule I just couldn’t do it. I watched it on TV though! Michigan is a place that I am definitely interested in so I could see myself visiting at some point for sure. I would love to visit and it’s something I will discuss with my family, but I need to know where exactly they stand with me too.
It’s easy to understand why the coaches are interested in Gentry. At 6’6”, and over 230 lbs. he has prototypical size to run the pro-style offense. He’s also more athletic than most people give him credit for, running a 4.67 forty. I asked him to describe his own game.
I think that I’m described as a pocket-passer but people don’t realize that I can actually tuck the ball and I feel really comfortable running. If people watched me play they would see how I can sling the ball around well, but move and make quick cuts also for how big I am.
A few college coaches have told Gentry that he reminds them of a more athletic Ryan Mallett with his big frame and strong arm.
Michigan has shown an increased level of interest in Gentry recently and he is starting to form a pretty solid relationship with the staff.
They have done a great job staying in contact with me via game invites and mail. I’d say that of all the teams interested in me, Michigan has arguably sent me the most mail and invited me to the most games. I really like the staff there a lot and I think Coach Hoke will always have Michigan competitive. The staff has done a great job with me.
The young quarterback kept it PC and didn’t tip his hand to any type of leader or favorite at this point when it came to desirable offers. Being from New Mexico he didn’t really grow up rooting for any particular team.
A family friend of Zach’s currently attends Michigan and has spoken very positively of her experiences on campus and in the stands.
She has been to a lot of games and has said that they are absolutely awesome! She says that the crowd and pregame festivities are unbelievable!
Since Zach has never even been to the state of Michigan this influence from a family friend is a nice boost in his perception of student life in Ann Arbor. He hopes to someday experience it himself during a visit.
As always west coast kids can be hard to pull from home, but New Mexico isn’t California with multiple high-level universities to choose from. Gentry is 1,500 miles from Ann Arbor but that distance isn’t enough to keep the tradition and history out of his mind. He expressed how grateful he was that a school and program like Michigan was interested in him.
With a few offers already in his pocket and a senior season still to play Gentry has a while until a decision needs to be made and he is not in a hurry.
I’d like to let things happen and just play out for now, but if I feel really comfortable with a place I’ll go ahead and decide. As far as factors are concerned, the coaching staff, academics, and the type of offense they run are all important to me. I’d like an offense where I can sit in the pocket and throw the ball from a drop-back, but I’d also love to get the ball in my hands to carry it too. Michigan definitely fits the bill at this point.
I really like Gentry on film and he’s not lying when he says that he moves well for a kid his size. Louisville is a nice early offer for him but he didn’t mention the Cardinals at all when I asked him about a leader or favorite group. If offered I expect Michigan to get a very serious look from him.
Name: Jimmy Fitzgerald
Ht/Wt: 6'3"/220 lbs.
Location: Centennial High School – Champaign, IL
Offers: Akron, Harvard, Illinois, Yale
Clearly a smart kid, Jimmy Fitzgerald knew that he needed to be on hand last Saturday for The Game to take in his first experience at Michigan. Despite the outcome he came away more than impressed with the atmosphere of the The Big House.
Fitzgerald has made a big enough impression on the coaching staff for Coach Mallory to make a trip to Centennial High School on Tuesday to watch him throw in person. Fitzgerald told me that he threw it well enough to warrant a return trip from Coach Borges next week.
His offers from Harvard and Yale prove that he’s an intelligent young man and when I asked him to describe his game he answered just how you’d expect him to.
I’m about 6’3” and 220 lbs. and I ran a 4.71 40. I consider myself a coach on the field and I love to distribute the ball to our athletes and give them room to work.
He compared himself to Andrew Luck, which is obviously a tall order to live up to, but clearly this kid has confidence in his ability and his intelligence.
Michigan has been recruiting Fitzgerald pretty aggressively and he spoke very highly of the university and the coaching staff.
Michigan is a great school academically and athletically. It really would be a great opportunity. I already feel like I’m pretty close with Coach Mallory. I had a brief conversation with Coach Hoke on Saturday during my visit but Coach Mallory is my main contact.
Fitzgerald admitted to following the Illilni growing up in Champaign but he’s grown to like a lot of other schools realizing that they all have something different to offer a student athlete. He didn’t mention any specific schools as a leader or an early favorite, rather he said his main focus right now is just working hard in the weight room and concentrating on his studies.
Fitzgerald is nowhere near a decision at this point in his recruitment but he did say he will commit whenever it feels right. He is very serious about his academics and that is going to factor in just as much if not more than his athletic desires. It is worth noting that his grandmother is a Michigan graduate so he does have some Wolverine blood in him.
Fitzgerald is actually listed as a dual-threat quarterback on Rivals but on film his mobility appears slightly above average. He’s not going to run all over the place but he can move the chains and keep a defense honest. He seems to be pretty high on the quarterback board as Coach Mallory and Coach Borges have already made plans to watch him throw again next week. He is definitely an offer possibility.
It appears that the Michigan coaches are focusing in on about 4-6 quarterbacks in the 2015 class and Gentry and Fitzgerald appear to be two of them. I still believe the rest of the list consists of Kyle Kearns, Riley Neal, Nick Johns, and Alex Malzone. If the coaches approach the quarterback position like they did last year we are still about two months away from finding out who will claim the #2 spot behind a Cali-school-bound Josh Rosen.
“Another week. How are we doing?”
What was the biggest takeaway after reviewing the film?
“Well, individual breakdowns. We had a lot of individual breakdowns that caused a lot of three-and-outs, you know? Too much 10-man football. It’s the same story. When we don’t play well, we don’t get in sync, and a lot of individual breakdowns that caused that to happen. At this point in the season, there’s just way too much of it. We’ve got to go back to work and see if we can get something fixed because we’ve got the biggest game of the season coming up.”
Brady implied that it’s a different guy every time?
[No MGoQuestions because of Thanksgiving and ennui. Audio for the following transcription is courtesy of Chantel Jennings.]
“As far as last game, I was disappointed that we gave up that lead. That’s not what our defense tries to do. No matter what happens, we have to hold onto it. But moving forward, we’ve got to get this one.”
What kind of challenges does Braxton Miller give you?
“Braxton Miller is a great football player. I am very very impressed with his development. He’s becoming a complete quarterback. He’s not only a tremendous athlete but he’s got a very good arm and he’s making a lot of great decisions. I mean, he’s going to be a great challenge. That’s why they are who they are. He’s really done a great job.”