at least it's not just us?
In just about two weeks the Wolverine football family will grow by seven members. Bryan Mone, Michael Ferns, Mason Cole, Freddy Canteen, Brandon Watson, Wilton Speight, and Drake Harris will arrive in Ann Arbor on January 5th. As all seven young men prepare for the next chapter of their academic and athletic lives the winds of change have them anxious and excited.
Bryan Mone feels a little like the lost member of this recruiting class for the simple fact that he hasn’t been around as much as the others due to living in Utah. Mone also isn’t much for the spotlight and doesn’t do a lot of interviews or partake in social media like a lot of the other commits. Mone is set up to room with Scott Sypniewski a long-snapper already on the roster. At this point in time Mone is just ready to get on campus and do anything he needs to do to get on the field, even though he doesn’t know exactly what that is yet. Mone told me he’d like to wear #90, which should be possible as it’s currently not in use.
After flipping from Michigan State, Drake Harris has become one of the more popular commits in the 2014 class simply because of his seemingly unlimited potential at wide receiver. At 6’4” he has the kind of speed and size that can blow the top off of a defense, something that has been missing a bit in recent years. Harris missed most of his senior season with an injury so his level of anxiousness may be even more elevated than the rest. Harris will room with fellow incoming early enrollee Wilton Speight where to two hope to grow their chemistry. Harris says he hopes to do everything he can to earn the #1 jersey but believes he will start off in the #4.
Speaking of Wilton Speight, he told me he is coming to Ann Arbor with a chip on his shoulder. As a 3-star recruit he comes in a class behind Michigan native and golden boy, 5-star Shane Morris. That alone is enough to motivate him and he’s been working out non-stop and eating right trying to prepare anyway he can before starting a more regimented college workout and diet plan. He plans to hit the ground running with his offseason conditioning and lifting program as soon as he arrives. Look for Speight to rock the #19 in Ann Arbor just like he did in high school.
High school teammates Brandon Watson and Freddy Canteen were unsure of who their roommates would be, but both assumed it would be each other. Watson will arrive on campus at 6’1” and 190 lbs. which is bigger than I thought he was. He confirmed that he has definitely grown since any of his recruiting profiles were last updated. Watson plans to sport the #4 which will be available with the departure of Cam Gordon. Canteen didn’t have much to say but he did tell me that he was unsure of exactly what he will do as far as workouts, diet, and studying goes but he’s just ready to get to work.
Leaving the warmth and heading up north to the cold, Mason Cole can’t wait to get to Ann Arbor. The coaches haven’t told Cole what they want him to do as far as weight gain, working out, or what specific position he’ll play on the line, but he said simply, “It’s go time.” once he’s there. He just wants to get there and work out, get in shape, and study non-stop. Right now Cole is at 6’5” and 275 lbs. and he said he’d like to be at about 290 by the time fall camp rolls around.
Cole’s roommate, Michael Ferns was the only early enrollee I wasn’t able to talk to but I’d assume he’s very happy this day has almost arrived since he was the first commit of the class all the way back in August of 2012. If I do end up hearing from him I’ll add it in.
Lament, for 2013 is not done with you, human being with a Michigan soul dong. Per everybody, last night one of those awesome things you were hanging your hat on when the universe was all like "I'm going to put you in a Copper Bowl that doesn't even call itself the Copper Bowl" is also no longer happening:
No. 2 ranked WR George Campbell has decommitted from Michigan. He decommitted Friday, didn't want it out for awhile but that happens.
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) December 18, 2013
Campbell (hello post) is a top ten overall sort of recruit and like Peppers, is one of the guys Michigan could use as leverage to convince other top recruits that the program's on the upswing. He's teammates with 2014 OL commit Mason Cole, who is probably hiding in a bunker right now.
Hope? Tim Sullivan wrote last night that his status is "no longer a solid commitment" and that he's yet to call the coaches (not paywalled), postulating this could be a ploy to take in the visitation process. Lorenz notes that Michigan is "still being considered" before mentioning another receiver M may look at. Hope is nice, but I think it's a formality.
I don't have to remind you to be nice on Twitter, or ruthless with those who aren't.
Go now and die in what way seems best to you.
This past weekend almost every member of the 2014 recruiting class was in Ann Arbor to bond, catch a basketball game, and recruit a little bit themselves. Jabrill Peppers headlined the group as well as 2015 committed defensive back Shaun Crawford, mostly because there had been some rumors that they may both be interested in visiting elsewhere. Ace, with the help of others, all but squashed those rumors. Perhaps the most intriguing prospect among the commits was running back Vic Enwere, the Texas native who is currently committed to California.
Enwere is a 6’1”, 215 lb. bruiser of a running back with good speed, strong leg-drive, and phenomenal balance. He grades out as a 3-star prospect according to the 247 Composite and his offer list matches with some of the more notable schools being Kansas State, Michigan State, Missouri and obviously California and Michigan. I caught up with Vic to see how his visit went and where exactly the Wolverines stand for him after his first trip to Ann Arbor.
After talking to Vic a few times prior to his visit I’ve already determined that he isn’t the most excitable kid, keeps his responses short and sweet, and also doesn’t sugar coat anything. He said his visit to Michigan was “pretty good” and that he really enjoyed hanging out with the other recruits. As we know by now the future members of Team 135 are a very close knit bunch and Enwere said that he didn’t feel like he was an uncommitted guy while he was hanging out with everyone. “I felt no different than anyone else. They treated me the same. They are a good group of guys.” He then admitted that he definitely felt like he could be part of that group.
The coaches did their homework and paired Enwere up with Amara Darboh as his player-host due in part to both young men being of African descent. He said that Darboh was really cool and made the stay extremely comfortable for him.
Now that he is back home and waiting to take his official visit to Cal in January he says that his commitment is still the same, a soft verbal to the Golden Bears. I asked him if either team had an edge right now and he said, “I wouldn’t say it’s 50/50 yet. It all depends on how my visit to Cal goes. Cal still has the edge right now.” Once that visit is complete he will evaluate all of his options and make his final decision near National Signing Day.
My Crystal Ball pick right now is for Enwere to flip to Michigan but honestly after talking to him tonight I’m not so sure. He says Cal still has the edge, remains committed (albeit softly) even though he hasn’t taken a visit to Berkeley yet. He will take that visit in January and then sign his letter of intent while it’s still fresh in his mind. It will be very interesting to see how aggressively the Michigan coaches pursue him and what effect that has on his commitment. At this point it would be an impressive job if they can get him to flip.
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.