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Tournaments, Visits, Decisions. Oh My!
FL RB Dee Hart and his Dr. Phillips teammates participated in the Nike 7ON tournament last weekend, and though the team results weren't the best, Dee tore it up:
Hart was easily the best player on the field for Dr. Phillips and when the team seemed out of sorts to start the competition, he stepped up to make some key plays.
That's an extremely positive review, the type that Michigan fans are used to seeing by now. That, along with Dr. Phillips's fourth place finish, earned Hart a spot on the all-tournament team, and the Orlando Sentinel explains why:
"One play sums up Hart's style of play: He caught the ball for a short gain and put a swift move on a linebacker and then sprinted toward the middle of the field to gain some separation. When two defensive backs came to meet him he side-stepped them and they collided as he ran past for an even bigger gain. Hart is electric with the ball in his hands and he can catch coming out of the backfield.'
Craig Haubert points out that he's great at going up to get the ball, despite his smaller stature. Here's a bit of recruiting fluff on Hart and his teammate FL S HaSean Clinton-Dix. Hart is also cryptic in his recruiting interviews, though reporters still haven't realized that he just wants to be left alone. He'll be in Ann Arbor today with 2012 FL QB Nick Patti.
"It went well," said Walsh of his one-on-one time with Michigan's head coach. "We talked a lot about (different) stuff, and not always about football. He told me about the new additions to the Big House, the town, and everything. I like him. I guess you could say he's different from how he is portrayed. He's a really cool, laid-back person. He's always smiling, and the way he talks about things, you kind of just feel good talking to him."
Walsh, who grew up a Michigan fan, plans to make a pre-season decision. He is down to eight schools, including Michigan, conference mates Michigan State, Iowa, and Northwestern, and a pair each from the PAC-10 and SEC in the Los Angeles schools and the Tennessee schools.
LA CB Daren Kitchen has been openly lobbying for a Michigan offer, going so far as to say he'd commit to the Wolverines on the spot. According to Tom, he's not only been offered, but also upheld his pledge to accept. Rich Rodriguez recently returned from vacation, so we'll have to see if that offer becomes committable. If so, look for a Hello: Daren Kitchen post i the near future.
Happy Trails, NC QB Marquise Williams. After the commitment of FL QB Kevin Sousa, it was clear that Michigan's staff knew Williams was heading elsewhere, now it's just been made official—he'll be a Tar Heel.
Michigan is not mentioned in a Rivals article about PA DE Desimon Green, who "knows where he wants to go." He's still on the board, but close to a Happy Trails moment.
Adios, FL LB AJ Johnson. He's narrowed his list to three, and Michigan is nowhere to be found.
Paring It Down
LA DT Mickey Johnson is down to a final five schools:
“UCLA, Nebraska, Michigan, Tennessee, and LSU are my final 5 in that order. I’m going to take 4 official visits, I won’t take one to LSU since it’s so close. I may enter a 5th visit down the line but we’ll see. I’m up to over 40 total offers right now so it’s been tough to narrow them down.”
Here's Johnson in action during his junior season:
Johnson is probably Michigan's last best hope for a high profile nose tackle in this class, though he maintains that UCLA and Nebraska have a healthy lead on the other three schools.
PA DE Deion Barnes plans to narrow his list to four or five schools by the start of his high school season.
GA S Avery Walls has a top 11, which includes Michigan. He plans to visit Virginia and Oregon, the only schools on the list that he hasn't seen yet, before making his mid-season decision. Remember, he spoke glowingly of Ann Arbor when he came through last month.
He announced a cut down list of 14 Saturday night that included the Gamecocks, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Stanford, Vanderbilt, UCLA and South Florida.
Michigan hadn't seemed too involved in Lyons's recruitment, but we'll see if interest increases now that it's obviously mutual. From the same article, Michigan is in a top 9 for FL S/WR Sammy Watkins. Clemson and Miami are his top two.
Michigan is in the final eight for OH CB Doran Grant. Ohio State and Michigan State (where his dad played) are still the presumed favorites.
FL RB DeVondrick Nealy has a Michigan offer and the Wolverines are in his top five. He's likely a backup plan if Demetrius Hart doesn't end up in Ann Arbor.
OH WR AJ Jordan is up to 21 offers. He'll also make a return trip to Ann Arbor:
"I'm visiting Illinois, Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana and Michigan this summer and hopefully I'll be able to make a decision before the start of the season.
He's been to Ann Arbor a couple times, so Michigan is likely near the top of his list. At this time, I think most people expect him to be Michigan's second outside wideout in this class. Here's his junior video, for those who are interested.
MI OL Anthony Zettel won't decide until after at least one official visit, to Iowa ($, info in header). Even just that header mentions that Michigan and Michigan State have a big lead on the field.
The Oakland Press's Scott Burnstein obviously turned on his BROTASTIC filter before writing this article about MI CB Valdez Showers:
Then summertime hit and with the increase in temperature, the Eagles very own, "REIGN MAN," caught red-hot fire and proceeded to BLOW UP like DA BOMB he is.
So, uh, yeah. Not really sure how I should react to that.
PA CB/S Dondi Kirby tore his ACL at Michigan's camp ($, info in header), and will miss his senior year of football.
Michigan is giving attention to OH CB Roger Williamson ($, info in header). I've added him to the board.
The Distant Future. The Year 2012.
As mentioned above, FL QB Nick Patti (right) is in town this weekend with his 2011 teammate, FL RB Dee Hart. Though he's a little guy, the Orlando Sentinel still points out that he's one heck of a QB:
"[H]e's going to make some school happy. He has a big arm, is smart and capable and was one of the better quarterbacks at the event."
Patti, just a junior, is heading into his first full season as the starting QB at Dr. Phillips. He recently won the Golden Gun award for accuracy, hitting all eight targets at the Las Vegas Elite 11 camp.
Offers, much less a commitment, for Patti are a long way off, but keep him in the back of your mind.
Michigan has picked up a couple players from Columbus St. Francis DeSales in the past couple years (Patrick Omameh in 2008, Chris Rock in 2011), so don't be surprised if they go after OH RB Warren Ball, who should be one of the Midwest's top running backs. Alas, they'll have to fight Ohio State if they want to land him.
SC WR Dorial Green, who holds a Michigan offer, will be a big-time recruit next year:
He helped lead the Hornets to a Class 5 basketball state championship. He also closed his sophomore year by winning two state titles, including the 100 meters, at the track and field championships.
Projections will have him as one of the most highly regarded national football recruits of the Class of 2012. The top programs in the country will be offering to Green, who is 6-foot-5.
The rest of the article is of the variety "his Rivals profile says he's interested in...," so take it with a grain of salt.
The 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board lives here. Remember, you may need to log in and/or refresh a few times for the latest updates because the technology has been pretty mischievous lately.
Giving Offers Out Like Candy
The spring evaluation period started a couple weeks ago, and that's seen Michigan's coaching staff hand out a number of new scholarship offers lately.
Johnson has over 26 offers now, and said that he might have to use an official visit if he wants to see Michigan in person. "If my dad isn't home, then I would probably use an official. If he's home, then I think we'd be able to make the drive," Mickey told me.
Johnson is a very, very strong tackle, with a state-record 450-lb bench press, and a 700-lb(!) mark on the squat rack. Tom's diary has both weight-lifting and football highlights.
OH LB Sean Duggan has received a Michigan offer. Tom speculates that he might make it to campus for the BBQ at the Big House, and shares his junior year highlight video:
Duggan has good size (6-4, 215), and MIchigan is in need of linebackers, so it could be a good fit.
The Wolverines have also offered a more highly-regarded linebacker, FL LB AJ Johnson. His offer list looks like a who's-who of bigtime programs, including most of the SEC and the USC Trojans. He has decommitted from Tennessee. It might be tough for the Wolverines to lure him north.
Michigan apparently has an offer out to FL LB Jermaine McKinney. He's not in the Rivals database, so Michigan is in on him early. His high school, Seffner Armwood, is the home of 2012 RB Matt Jones, who isexpected to be a top prospect.
Michigan has offered PA WR/LB Armstead Williams.
OH WR Darius Patton has received a Michigan offer, which he found "exciting ($, info in header).
Strengths: Great acceleration. Good mirroring instincts. High energy player. Seems to be one of team's emotional leaders. Solid tackler despite small stature. Squares up and wraps up ballcarrier. Great special teams player, Fearless in kick coverage. Has knack for blocking kicks and punts. Good running skills once ball is in his hands. Ability to change directions quickly. Excellent blitzer off the edge
Weaknesses: Does not run legs on contact. Leaves feet too often when making contact. Can be too aggressive at times without breaking down to tackle, leaving him open to missing tackles. Lacks ideal height. Good but not great speed, despite superb acceleration. Average ball skills when ball is in the air.
You can watch him block a bunch of kicks and get his blitz on here. His older brother plays for Central Florida, and the Knights have offered Jonathan.
This Is How You Eat A Rib
The ongoing saga of FL RB Dee Hart may just keep on going after the BBQ at the Big House, as Hart tells the Orlando Sentinel:
"I was thinking May 22, but that might not work out … so we'll just see where it goes. I'm not in any rush anyway. I'm graduating early, but I'm really not in a rush."
Is it just keeping the suspense up, or is there a chance he doesn't commit on the visit? I guess we'll find out in a couple weeks. Great graphic design by the Sentinel, by the way.
From Old Virginia speculates that it's likely VA DE Corey Marshall will visit for the Barbecue at the Big House, and could even be on commitment watch. Michigan and Virginia Tech lead a group of four. Marshall's in Rivals' initial 250 to watch and would give Michigan an excellent pair of bookends with the previous commitment of MI DE Brennen Beyer.
Michigan Sports Zone catches up with PA CB Dondi Kirby, who says he will visit for the BBQ at the Big House.
One thing that is for sure is Dondi is set on waiting until signing day to announce his decision. However, if signing day were to be in the next month there are some schools that stand out.
"Well definitely Michigan, Michigan, Maryland, Ohio State, Illinois and Iowa."
Dondi further narrowed his list down to three schools which are Michigan, Maryland and Ohio State and not in any particular order.
PennLive.com talks about not only Kirby, but a couple of his teammates at Gateway High School, a former Michigan stomping ground.
The Combine Circuit
OH QB Cardale Jones is the subject of this week's Detroit News profile by Sam Webb. First, what he's like on the field:
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Jones turned a lot of heads last season, using his rifle arm to account for more than 2,500 yards and 23 touchdowns through the air. Meanwhile, he used his 4.55 40 speed to accumulate more than 500 yards and six touchdowns on the ground...
"I know I got a lot better over the past year, and I need to continue to get better. I want to work on my speed and I need to keep working on learning the game through film study. I need to get the ball out quicker and that will come through maturity and playing the position more. I think my accuracy during the offseason has gotten way better. I can remember this time last year, and the throws that I'm making now I couldn't make until the end of last season."
Since we've been following Jones for a while now, that info should come as no surprise, but it's nice to be able to put actual numbers to it. A now, for the recruiting information:
Jones hopes to make his way back to East Lansing in the summer months. The same goes for others on his offer list like West Virginia and Iowa. At the moment the only scheduled visit after this week's trip to Ohio State is to Michigan's "Barbecue at the Big House" on May 22. He insists that doesn't indicate the preferred status of either the Buckeyes or Wolverines -- only that he is focused on more pressing matters at moment.
He loves Ohio State, but it's unlikely that the Buckeyes offer - at least not before they lock down OH QB Braxton Miller. [Ed: I think that conventional wisdom may be shifting. There are a lot of rumors Jones may pick up an OSU offer soon.] That leaves the door open for various schools, including Michigan, to win him over. Jones also got some love from ESPN following the Elite 11 combine:
With Miller out of the line-up, Jones got an opportunity to showcase his raw, but very impressive physical tools. He looks like a taller version of another quality QB in this class Marquise Williams (Charlotte, N.C./Mallard Creek). Jones has a big arm, great size and a lot of physical tools to mold. He too must adjust to playing from under center and developing consistent footwork so that his accuracy can become more consistent. But there is no question he is capable of making all the throws.
Obviously if he attends Michigan, that whole "under center" thing becomes less of an issue.
FL QB Kevin Sousa continues to impress every scout he comes across:
Once again Kevin Sousa (Lake Nona, Fla./Lake Nona) shows up to an Elite 11 regional camp and each time he gets better. In fact, this was by far his best outing and he is starting to really iron out some kinks in his delivery and become more smooth and fluid as a passer. Athletically he is ultra impressive, but there were times on Friday when he got his feet, timing and delivery to sync up and for that moment, was the best guy in the camp.
Michigan is looking at Sousa, but he doesn't have an offer. Both he and his coach, however, think he'd be a great fit at Michigan, and are hoping Rich Rodriguez extends one soon. At this point he's the most likely candidate to be Michigan's lone QB recruit of 2011
MI WR DeAnthony Arnett was the wideout MVP at the Columbus Nike Combine. He's currently favoring Michigan State, Notre Dame, and USC, but a good season by the Wolverines would put him right back near the top for him. He actually showed up to Ohio State wearing Michigan gear, but Bill Kurelic (who has an erratic track record for such things), says Michigan is out of the running (Tom says don't worry about it just yet). Arnett has been nominated for the Army All-American Bowl. His recruitment is going to be a long and winding one.
Bill Kurelic also drops a bit of info about some other Michigan targets:
As good as Daniels was, Lamar Dawson (Danville, Ky./Boyle County) might have been even better. Dawson measured in at 6-2 and 232 pounds but looked even bigger. He certainly played big. Dawson took on blockers well, was able to track down running backs on the perimeter and made plays in coverage en route to the linebackers MVP award.
As noted above, Dawson recently received a Michigan offer. Also, on commit MI CB Delonte Hollowell:
Hollowell (Detroit/Cass Tech), as previously noted, was among a talented group of defensive backs. He made one of the best plays of the day with a spectacular one-handed interception on a long pass play.
Man, if only there was vide... oh. Video:
Lookin' good, son.
FL WR Sammy Watkins will be trimming his list to ten schools soon, and only Florida, Miami (Yes That Miami), and Michigan are locks to make it. That trio likely makes up a tentative top three. Watkins also excels on the track.
Michigan and USC are the co-leaders for AZ OL Andre Yruretagoyena, according to Duck Sports Authority's Tony Di Francisco. Should Oregon offer, they'll be in the mix.
Keep an eye on FL OL Errin Joe, who attends the same high school as current Wolverine Ricky Barnum. He's noted as a fast-rising prospect, and a certain Detroit newspaper of no repute says he's gotten an offer from the Wolverines.
The Distant Future. The Year 2012.
NJ LB/S Vin Ascolese (pictured at right) visited Michigan for the Spring Game, and came away impressed:
"Michigan was great. I had a lot of fun with all the other kids and had a great experience checking out all the facilities." Vin said about his his trip to Ann Arbor."
Vin may be unsure about the next time he is going to take a trip back to Ann Arbor but he insists Michigan is defiantly in the mix for his recruitment saying, "UM ranks top 5 in my list."
Don't get too excited, however, because he also took a liking to Penn State:
Vin summed up the impression that was left by saying, "PSU is easily in my top 3." "I am going up there again to camp and am looking forward to it!"
As Michigan Sports Zone notes, there's still a lot of time before this kid's recruitment is over, and the Wolverines will have a chance to work their way to the top.
NJ LB Jazzmar Clax also tell Michigan Sports Zone that he's hearing from Michigan.
IL OL/DL Jordan Diamond recently impressed at a National Underclassmen Combine in Chicago. He was also impressive at the Michigan Football Showcase, and is a guy to keep an eye on for the future.
Michigan is soon to offer AZ CB/Slot DJ Foster, and is also showing interest in his teammate, LB Brock Haman. They play on the same team as 2011 AZ OL Cyrus Hobbi.
Tom continues his position recruiting roundups with a look at the defensive line. Scout's Allen Trieu discusses Michigan's recruiting class with Dave Birkett of AnnArbor.com. He's higher on Beyer and Conway than the DBs. Michigan drops in on Black Righty Tebow, AR QB Kiehl Frazier. OH DT Michael Bennett has eliminated Michigan. LA OL Trai Turner is still liking Michigan. Florida has offered OH LB Trey DePriest. PA LB Quinton Alston's mom runs a blogspot page about the recruiting process, for those who are interested in the nitty-gritty.