"...don't believe something because an "expert" is saying it. Believe it because of the evidence."
Name: Garrett Taylor
Ht/Wt: 6'1" / 188 lbs.
Location: St. Christopher’s School – Richmond, VA
Offers: Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Nebraska, North Carolina, NC State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Penn State, South Carolina, South Florida, Stanford, Syracuse, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Rating: ★★★★ .9566 (247 Composite)
Ranking: #90 NAT/ #9 CB (247 Composite)
From the onset of our conversation it was easy to see that Garrett Taylor was very happy to have received a scholarship offer from Michigan.
I was really pretty surprised. Coach Manning told me a little while back that they had to look at who they took for corners in the 2014 class and that the 2015 class was going to be really small so that’s why things were taking so long. My coach texted me today and said that I needed to call Michigan so I called and Coach Manning said I was offered. I was really excited.
With that offer sheet and a top-100 ranking it's not that shocking. Michigan has routinely spent time recruiting the talent-rich DC-Maryland-Virginia area. Even though he’s in the heart of ACC country he holds Michigan in high regard.
I was born and raised in Virginia but I’d say that Michigan is definitely in the mix. They are a school since the beginning of this recruiting process that I’ve had my eyes on. I wanted them to offer and I was really interested in them. It has taken a little while but they finally did offer and they are still solid with me.
Michigan has a lot to offer in many arenas and Garrett was able to tell me what exactly it was about the Wolverines that grabbed his attention early on.
First with the football program it’s just one of the most historic programs there is. I mean if you ask anyone for a storied college football program they might give you a Notre Dame, maybe an Alabama, and they’ll give you Michigan too. Also what they can offer in terms of academics as well as football is huge. Academics are very important to me and my family so just the fact that they can offer both at a very high level is really important to me. Also when I first started talking to Coach Manning he was just a great guy, he was really down to Earth, really honest. You could tell he wasn’t trying to pull anything, he was just really straight up, so I really like that about him. Coach Hoke too, was just really genuine and just showed me that Michigan has a lot to offer.
Taylor mentioned that he had been eyeing Michigan since the beginning of his recruitment so it was only natural to inquire about who else might be catching his eye.
There are a few schools that I’ve been interested in like Tennessee, South Carolina, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Michigan State, and Miami. Those are some of the schools that are sticking out to me right now.
With so many offers, Garrett is going to have some tough decisions to make when it comes to narrowing down his list, but he already has a basic timeline and plan in place.
Right now my plan is to start narrowing down my list. I know I have a lot of schools on my list and it’s really hard to take a very serious look at all of the schools I might be interested in. When you have all of the coaches coming at you with the same sort of intensity it’s really tough. Right now I’m going to try and narrow my list down to about 10 to 15 schools, hopefully closer to 10 by the end of the spring so I can start to plan some visits out during the summer. After that I’ll narrow it down again so I can get official visits set up during my season, maybe one or two after the season. At that point if I know which school I want to go to I’ll probably commit early to mid-winter. If all else fails and I am having a hard time deciding I would probably just wait until National Signing Day, but hopefully I can get it done at the early part of winter.
I always ask recruits if there is anything unique or interesting about themselves they’d like me to include because a lot of these Q&A’s start to sound alike; most of them kindly decline. Garrett chose to finish our conversation by telling me about his passion for literature.
I really like English. I’m in an AP English class so I can earn an AP credit. It’s a really cool class. I’ve always liked reading so I guess that’s something a little different. It can be hard to balance academics and football, especially with the school I’m at, St. Christopher’s, but I feel like I do a pretty good job. I’ve been there since like 1st grade so it’s always been normal for me to balance school and athletics.
[Lloyd Carr nods in solemn approval.]
I fully expect Michigan to make the cut/multiple cuts with Garrett and believe that they’ll have a chance to land him for a while. He looks great on film, was a joy to talk to, and seems to have his priorities in order. Whether he picks Michigan or not I will be a fan of Garrett Taylor.
St. Thomas Aquinas could probably compete with some small level colleges as they pump out D1 prospects like some clever analogy for industriousness the other guys might come up with. The 2015 class alone boasts nine players who might play at the next level and Michigan has offered two of them.
Name: Devante Peete
Position: Wide Receiver
Ht/Wt: 6'6" / 200 lbs.
Location: St. Thomas Aquinas High School – Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Offers: Alabama, Cincinnati, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, LSU, Miami, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio State, South Carolina, West Virginia
Ranking: ★★★★ .9440 (247 Composite)
Devante Peete is a tall, smooth receiver at 6’6” and like most receivers of his stature he is a natural at high-pointing the ball and using every inch to his advantage. Peete told me that he hasn’t run a 40 recently but he looks to have very good speed for a receiver his size.
I was able to speak briefly with Devante and he came off as a young man of few words but he answered all of my questions with what felt like honesty and the expected levels of uncertainty. Coach Mattison chatted very briefly with Devante and just told him that the coaches all really liked what he can do on the field and extended him the offer in person.
Devante said he really likes the idea of Michigan Stadium, but admitted to not knowing much about Michigan at this time. “I really like their stadium. I’m feeling Michigan. It seems like it would be a great place to play football.” He assured me that he will be doing his research on the Wolverines.
Peete told me that he has no leader right now and he really is just trying to learn as much as he can about every school and program that has offered him. He plans to take his officials during his senior season and trim his list to a potential top 10, 5, or 3 before announcing his final decision at the end of the season. I asked him if Michigan would be one of his official visits and he said, “Most likely.”
Name: Rashard Causey
Ht/Wt/40: 6'0" / 190 lbs. / 4.4
Location: St. Thomas Aquinas High School – Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Offers: Arkansas, Cincinnati, Clemson, Eastern Michigan, Florida, Indiana, Miami, Michigan, Mississippi State, Nebraska, NC State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Carolina, South Florida, Tennessee, UCF, UCLA, Vanderbilt, West Virginia, Western Kentucky, Wisconsin
Ranking: ★★★ .8800 (247 Composite)
Even though Causey is rated lower than his fellow Raider, his offer list doesn’t reflect it. With good size, fantastic speed, and over 20 offers, it’s clear that Causey is a player. Rashard hasn’t played a season yet at Aquinas as he just moved into his new high school to finish out his prep career, a move that is sure to get more eyes on him.
Causey seemed to be genuinely excited about receiving the offer from Michigan. “I’m really excited man, I can’t wait to visit! I’m probably going to take an official during the season. I want to be in the crowd while it’s live!”
I had to admit to Rashard that I didn’t know much about him and didn’t realize Michigan was recruiting him and to my surprise he basically said the same thing. “I have no idea how long they’ve been on me. I met Coach Mattison yesterday and he told me to call him and they offered me. He said they all loved my film.”
It’s not much of a surprise but Florida kids don’t seem to know much about Michigan football and Rashard was no different. “I don’t really know much but I know their games be mad packed! I don’t know much about Big Ten football period.” Causey was born and raised in Florida and when I asked him if he liked any of the big schools from the Sunshine State he responded quickly and passionately with, “Noles!” Florida State hasn’t offered Causey but with his answer I had to ask what might happen if they do and he said, “It might change the game for me!”
Even though he clearly likes Florida State a lot, he seemed to be genuinely interested in the Wolverines too. He said he plans to cut his list down to a top 10 as soon as the spring rolls around and Michigan will 100% be in his top 10.
After talking with both of these young men I’d be beyond surprised if either of them ended up at Michigan. Peete just didn’t seem to have any genuine excitement surrounding his Michigan offer and while Causey did, if Florida State offers he’s a Seminole lock. Causey said that it was a 100% certainty that he’ll visit Michigan and Peete said he’d most likely check out Ann Arbor. It is worth noting that Michigan got serious attention from Corey Holmes who just finished his senior season at Aquinas and is a close friend of Peete. Holmes ultimately committed to Notre Dame but there was a time that Michigan looked like a real possibility. If Causey and Peete make trips to Ann Arbor happen, obviously my feelings could change but for now I’d say these guys are slim-to-noners.
The Michigan coaches have been on the road, checking in on recruits from all corners of the country. Multiple offers have gone out over the past couple of weeks and two of the latest are to tight ends Hale Hentges and Chris Clark.
Name: Hale Hentges
Position: Tight End
Ht/Wt: 6'5" / 230 lbs.
Location: Helias High School – Jefferson City, MO
Offers: Arkansas, Florida State, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas State, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Tennessee, Wisconsin
Ranking: ★★★★ .9175 (247 Composite)
Hentges is one of the more coveted tight end recruits in the 2015 class according to his offer list (most of the Big Ten, Oklahoma, FSU, some SEC schools), and is a 4-star recruit according to the 247 Composite. Hale’s offensive coordinator is his father Chris, and I was able to catch up with him once I learned of the offer. Hale has a basketball game tonight so I plan on getting his opinion a little later on.
Hale tweeted about the Michigan offer and his father explains how it happened.
Evidently Coach Hoke and Coach Nussmeier said that they were looking at tight end tape this weekend and they put in some tape from a lot of tight ends around the country and they really liked Hale’s. They discussed it and came to a consensus that they’d like to offer him. Coach Hecklinski was the one who actually notified us of the offer so that was very exciting.
Chris also talked about how being the father and the offensive coordinator gives him a unique opportunity to be very involved in his son’s recruitment.
Once the coaches find out that I’m on staff it does make it convenient for the recruitment to go forward. Phil Pitts is the head coach and he’s very involved in the recruiting process as well.
With a change at offensive coordinator and two very solid tight ends on the roster already it will be interesting to see how involved the tight ends will be in Coach Nuss’s system and Chris had some insight to that as well.
The tight end is a position that the coaches really want to focus on in the 2015 recruiting class, they need to get two. They said they were looking for the best in the country and based on what they’ve seen they believe that Hale fits into that category.
The elder Hentges talked to me about how excited he and his son both were to have this Michigan offer moving forward. He spoke of Michigan’s proud tradition and rich academic and athletic history and said with a humbled laugh that the Michigan offer has definitely piqued their interest. Michigan is one of the schools Hale definitely plans to visit in the spring so that he can begin to narrow his list down to schools that fit the character and culture he will comfortable at.
Chris also spoke about the schematic fit that could best utilize Hale’s skillset which includes a toughness and ability to play with his hand in the dirt as well as the versatility and athleticism to play in the slot or out wide. Having guys like Devin Funchess and Jake Butt on the field should certainly catch the eyes of both father and son in that regard.
Chris seemed to be quite informed as it pertained to scheme which you’d expect but he was also pretty knowledgeable when it came to Michigan in general.
I’m aware that Coach Hoke has just finished his 3rd year. We follow football all across the country and we aren’t just SEC or Big 12 fans, we’re just football fans. We know of Michigan because of the big rivalry game every year with Ohio State. Ohio State is another school that’s already offered and we got their perspective on the Michigan/Ohio State rivalry and it will be really interesting to get Michigan’s take on it. We know that Michigan has an awful lot to offer academically and athletically and we are just intrigued, I think that’s the best way to put it.
With a very impressive offer list already Michigan has it’s work cut out for them but Hale’s father seemed very sincere when he mentioned the interest and intrigue involving the Wolverines. They plan to visit Ann Arbor and if they do I’d say Michigan has as good a shot as any to be a major factor in Hale’s recruitment.
Name: Chris Clark
Position: Tight End
Ht/Wt: 6'6" / 243 lbs.
Location: Avon Old Farms School – Avon, CT
Offers: Arizona State, Arkansas, Boston College, Georgia, Indiana, Miami, Michigan, NC State, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, South Florida, Syracuse, Temple, Tennessee, Texas Tech, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Wake Forest
Ranking: ★★★ .8800 (247 Composite)
A little over a month ago I posted a Names To Watch article on Chris Clark and today he was offered by Michigan. Clark, while not quite as highly rated as Hentges, boasts an offer list just as impressive with schools from all over the country (Ohio State and Georgia among them) extending scholarships to the big tight end. Clark spoke highly of the Wolverines before and now that he has an offer it appears that Michigan will definitely factor in to his recruitment.
Clark didn’t hide the fact that he was pumped about his Michigan offer, tweeting the news with a pretty indicative hashtag.
Got offered by the university of Michigan #dreamcometrue
— Chris Clark (@Clark8Chris) January 29, 2014
I had to ask him about that along with how the offer came about and just his reaction about the whole thing.
I’m really excited about it, it definitely was a dream come true. Coach Ferrigno checked in at my school today and told my coach that I had been offered by Michigan. He made it a point to say that at Michigan they offer the best players in the country and they didn’t want to let me slip away without showing how much they want me there. He said that Michigan plans to use the tight end in mismatches as much as possible whether it be in-line or in the slot which is cool.
Clark made mention of Michigan’s current tight ends and the talent level that’s already on the roster.
Michigan is intriguing to me because they have great tight ends right now. I love to compete though. I love to show that I’m better than the guy in front of me. There are a bunch of reasons why I like Michigan, just in terms of the competition, of what every day in practice would be like, it’s awesome. At a place like Michigan you can never take a day off because there will be guys in front of you and behind you that are so talented.
Connecticut doesn’t exactly have the reputation of being a great football state or a place where a lot of talent comes from, so I asked Chris about what it’s like being from Connecticut and how it might factor into his allegiances and recruitment.
Growing up I loved Boston College because my dad went there, he didn’t play for them but he attended BC and actually a lot of my family actually did. That has no influence in my recruitment either, but a lot of people ask me if I’m going to go there because my dad and other family members. I would never make a decision based off of something like that but they were the team I really liked growing up. Obviously everyone knows about Michigan, growing up I always watched them on TV. It’s one of the few programs in college football where you say the name and just think football. Michigan IS college football in some ways, just the fans and how they feel about the team, the stadium, the success that they’ve had. It’s really just the whole package.
Clark’s recruitment has really been picking up lately as he’s added almost a dozen offers since I posted the Name To Watch article on Christmas Eve. There are already a few schools rising to the top, again referencing the #dreamcometrue comment from his tweet about the Michigan offer.
There’s a couple of schools that I would say that for where it’s like, “Wow, that offer is a dream come true.” Georgia is definitely one of them too and so is Ohio State. Some people might have taken that out of context and assumed that Michigan is #1 now, they are definitely one of my favorites, but that statement doesn’t mean that I’m definitely a Michigan guy now. I love Michigan but there are a few other schools that could also make me say that. I would say that Michigan, Ohio State, Georgia, Tennessee, and Miami are the ones that I really like right now.
Clark won’t be able to attend the Junior Day event coming up at Michigan but he did say he already plans on attending a spring practice during his March break. He said visiting Michigan is “a priority and I will definitely attend a spring practice”. In the immediate future he leaves for Athens tomorrow to check out Georgia and will visit Ohio State on March 21st.
After talking with Hale’s father and Chris himself I fully expect Michigan to be in it toward the end with both tight end prospects. Michigan will apparently take two tight ends in the 2015 class with one of them assumed to be Tyrone Wheatley Jr., one of these young men could very realistically be the other. I like both of them on film and honestly am pretty indifferent when it comes to a preference. It seems both will definitely visit Michigan and once that happens a commitment is always a possibility.
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.