Niko Porikos grew up in an NTDP billet home. Cool story.
Today's recruiting roundup covers a huge visit weekend, new offers, and more.
Big February Visit Weekend Is An Annual Thing, Apparently
It's that time of the year again, when Michigan rounds up a large group of highly-touted recruits, shows off their program with the coaches and current commits in full-on recruiting mode, and renders me unable to leave my laptop for the weekend. Those hoping for a repeat of last year's eight-man commitapalooza should temper their expectations, but there's nothing wrong with getting excited about the talent that will be on campus ($). Here's a rundown of this weekend's visitors (all are 2014 prospects unless otherwise noted):
- OH LB Michael Ferns and VA QB Wilton Speight — Two of Michigan's three commits—and the two that have been most active in recruiting other prospects—will be on campus doing their best Shane Morris impressions. Both have been mentioned by other prospects as doing an impressive job of selling Michigan.
- OH LB Kyle Berger — Berger hails from the same Cleveland St. Ignatius program that produced Jake Ryan, and it could come down to a Michigan/OSU battle for the four-star linebacker.
- FL OL Mason Cole — If a player is going to commit this weekend, it's probably Cole, a four-star guard who's already made multiple trips up from Florida. Getting Cole would be big in its own right, and it would also give Michigan the inside track at his high school teammates, four-star WR Artavis Scott and 2015 blue-chip ATH George Campbell—both have offers, and Campbell will accompany Cole on this weekend's visit.
- MI WR Drake Harris — This will be the first visit for Harris since his commitment to Michigan State; he's since opened up his recruitment after deciding he'll focus exclusively on football at the next level, though he still remains a soft Spartan verbal. Wilton Speight told Sam Webb he's been talking with Harris on a daily basis and convinced him to spend two days on campus this weekend. While Harris doesn't seem close to making a final decision, a productive visit could move him closer to making a change in his commitment.
- NC RB Elijah Hood — The four-star back had Michigan tied for fifth in his recruitment as of last week, but he's since updated that list and now has the Wolverines in fourth, per ESPN's Kipp Adams ($). This weekend will be key if Michigan hopes to make up ground on Notre Dame, Hood's leader, especially since he plans to make a decision before his senior season.
- MI DE Lawrence Marshall — Marshall briefly committed to Ohio State a couple weeks ago before opening up his recruitment after visits to Michigan State and Michigan forced him to reconsider. I'd expect the Southfield four-star end will take a little longer before making another pledge.
- MI DE Malik McDowell — While McDowell has been a familiar face around Ann Arbor, he's yet to spend a lot of time with the coaches—that should change this weekend, obviously. McDowell has been mum about his leaderboard, but it's believed that Michigan and Notre Dame hold an edge over Ohio State and Michigan State, and this will be a chance for the Wolverines to separate themselves from the pack.
- 2015 FL ATH George Campbell — As said above, Campbell is teammates at Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake with Mason Cole and Artavis Scott, and he appears ticketed for five-star status when the 2015 rankings eventually come out. This will be his first visit to Ann Arbor.
- 2015 MI ATH Brian Cole — Cole projects to be one of the top athletes in Michigan's rising junior class and could end up at receiver or defensive back at the next level. The 6'2" product of Saginaw Heritage already holds offers from both Michigan and MSU. This will be his first visit to Ann Arbor.
- 2015 OH CB Shaun Crawford — Crawford doesn't yet hold a Michigan offer, but that didn't stop him from pegging the Wolverines as his favorites in an interview with Scout's Bill Greene ($). He already holds offers from Illinois and Tennessee and ran an electronic 4.52 40-yard dash at a Nike SPARQ combine last week, so don't be surprised if Michigan comes through with an offer sooner or later.
The only player on this list that can be reasonably expected to commit this weekend is Mason Cole, and that's by no means a guarantee. As we've seen in the past, however, strange things can happen when this many prospects get on campus at the same time.
[Hit THE JUMP for the early leading candidate for dumbest rumor of the 2014 cycle, a couple of new offers, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup discusses Maximum Exposure's performance in the IMG 7-on-7 nationals, the latest on Laquon Treadwell, upcoming 2014 visits, and more.
Morris, MaxEx Fall Short Of Recapturing 7-on-7 Title
Detroit-based Maximum Exposure took the trip to Bradenton, Florida, to defend their title in the IMG 7-on-7 National Championships over the weekend, with commits Shane Morris, Khalid Hill, and Csont'e York in tow. The event drew a star-studded field, and not just among high school recruits—Cam Newton coached a team from Georgia, appearing in a T-shirt that read "CAM GOES H.A.M."* MaxEx struggled in pool play but returned to form during the knockout stage, making it to the finals before losing for a second time to Team Tampa, which featured Michigan targets Alvin Bailey and Leon McQuay III, as well as the nation's top cornerback, Vernon Hargreaves III (in Tampa, top recruits come in IIIs, apparently).
Scout's Scott Kennedy lauded Morris's performance in the tournament—calling him "the prototypical gunslinger"—and provided video highlights of the future Michigan quarterback ($):
Elsewhere, 247's Steve Wiltfong ranked Morris as the event's third-best performer, trailing only Hargreaves and Notre Dame commit Jaylon Smith:
The nation’s No. 2 pro-style signal-caller and No. 22 prospect overall got off to a slow start, but when tournament play began, Morris quickly heated up. The velocity and touch was there for the future Michigan Wolverine, as the 6-foot-3, 201-pound Morris fit the football in several tight windows. He spread the ball around to his top targets, fellow Michigan commits Csont’e York and Khalid Hill, along with Teo Redding and Jack Wangler. Morris hit several big plays downfield, and other than a couple of tough throws against a swarming Team Tampa squad, he was close to perfect on the tournament’s second day.
SBNation's Bud Elliott had Morris atop his list of standout quarterbacks, noting his ability to throw on the run.
York and Hill missed out on any mentions from the recruiting sites, but that doesn't mean they didn't perform; as you can see in the above video, York (#17) and Hill (#20) were Morris's favorite targets. I managed to tune in to a live stream of the event for the final, and while MaxEx's offense had difficulty moving the ball against a star-studded Tampa secondary, Hill presented a serious matchup problem for defensive backs unaccustomed to handling a player with his combination of size and athleticism. Hill runs crisp routes and has soft hands, so while he doesn't wow you with his frame or speed, he finds a way to get open and has developed a great rapport with his future college quarterback.
While Jourdan Lewis wasn't able to make the trip, 2014 Cass Tech teammate Damon Webb played cornerback for MaxEx, though he understandably struggled to defend 6'4", 230-pound Miami (YTM) tight end commit Travis Johnson. On the Tampa side, both Bailey and McQuay impressed; Bailey showed off his top-flight speed and McQuay had the play of the day with a leaping interception (pictured above) on a Morris overthrow.
*Not a shock from a guy who recently self-applied the nickname "Ace Boogie," then referred to himself in the third person using said self-applied nickname during a radio interview.
Must-Read Of The Week
ESPN's Christopher Parish details the story of commit David Dawson, whose father was stuck and killed while working as an MDOT employee just days before David participated in the Columbus NFTC:
Nobody would have blamed the Cass Tech (Detroit) junior and Michigan commit for skipping the camp. But Dawson went anyway, the pain from the funeral still fresh in his mind.
"It played a big role in Columbus," Dawson said. "That was all I was thinking about. I knew I had to get that Opening invite."
Not only did Dawson land the invite to The Opening, he also earned offensive lineman MVP honors, and he'll be one of the headliners for the Elite Lineman Challenge at the event in Beaverton, Ore., from July 5-8.
You're strongly encouraged to click through for the whole article, which also discusses Dawson's competitive nature and his move from Houston back to Detroit.
All Of The Treadwell Coverage
IL WR Laquon Treadwell remains Michigan's top target at wide receiver, even as he continues to consider several other schools (how dare he!) and maintains that he'll take official visits (the nerve!). Before getting into the current landscape of his recruitment, let's remind ourselves why he's the top receiver on the board with Treadwell's newly-released junior highlights:
Yes, please. Treadwell traveled all the way to California for the B2G Elite Camp over the weekend, and ESPN's Erik McKinney saved his highest praise for the Illinois product ($):
In a high-scoring affair that was eventually secured for the offense with a leaping touchdown grab from wide receiver Laquon Treadwell (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee), both sides had players step up and contribute.
But it began and ended with Treadwell, who hauled in three touchdown passes and was awarded the offensive MVP of camp. The nation's No. 38 player and No. 4 wide receiver had two long catch-and-run touchdowns, then made his mark on the final drive with a tough catch in traffic along the sideline to set up the final score.
Rivals's Adam Gorney caught up with Treadwell at the event and got him to name a leader ($). You get zero guesses because the MGoBoard isn't on fire. (Okay, it's Michigan. There.) He also told 247's Barton Simmons that he intends to take official visits($) to USC, Auburn, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma. With a list of that caliber, Treadwell's recruitment is far from over, but the Wolverines remain in the driver's seat. With no obvious candidate for an upcoming commitment, he should have time to mull over his options before making a decision.
TN RB Jordan Wilkins narrowed his list to a final five of Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Michigan, Ole Miss, and Auburn, according to Scout's Yancy Porter ($). It doesn't appear that Michigan has much of a shot, however, as even after Wilkins's visit to Ann Arbor he lists Auburn and Vandy as his leaders.
Multiple outlets have reported that Michigan offered TX DE Gaius Vaenuku, but I've confirmed with a source in the know that he does NOT currently hold an offer.
Happy trails go out this week to CA ATH Elijah Qualls and CA WR Demorea Stringfellow,—both part of Washington's impressive eight commits in one day—SC DT Michael Hill (Ohio State), CA LB Michael Hutchings (USC), and MD WR/LB Zach Bradshaw (Penn State). Also committing this week was OH OL/DL Matt Miller, younger brother of Michigan center Jack Miller, who will head to Wisconsin; a Michigan offer wasn't in the cards. Meanwhile, PA LB Alex Anzalone will decide this week($) between Florida, Notre Dame, and Penn State.
Quick 2014 Updates
Scout's Allen Trieu released free articles on the top camp risers in the Midwest in both the 2013 and 2014 classes. Unsurprisingly, Damon Webb features prominently among the rising juniors:
Always considered more of a wide receiver, Webb has proven to be a big time cornerback over the summer and that has lead to several big time offers. With his size, ball skills and recent performances, locking down a few touted receivers, Webb earned offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin and West Virginia. He's still a BCS level receiver, but he's one of the very best corners in the 2014 class.
Also listed are several targets, including MI OL Tommy Doles (offer), OH WR Thaddeus Snodgrass, IL DL Enoch Smith Jr., and WI DE Conor Sheehy. 2013 commit Channing Stribling is listed with the top senior sleepers.
Michigan will get a summer visit from four-star NC OT Bentley Spain, possibly for this month's BBQ at the Big House ($).
Tremendous caught up with FL ATH Artavis Scott—a member of Team Tampa—who said he'll be in Ann Arbor for the BBQ with four-star lineman teammate Mason Cole.
Four-star KY QB Drew Barker also plans to be in attendance at the BBQ, according to 247 ($).
Today's recruiting roundup was done a while ago, then I derped and deleted the post. Friday! Pardon my brevity as I discuss updated MaxPreps rankings, Leon McQuay III, and a slew of new 2014 offers.
Alabama Ruins Everything
If you don't get this, watch Shutdown Fullback. All of them.
First, Alabama ruined the sanctity of the BCS (ha!), then defeated Michigan in the first game of their softball super regional last night, and now the Tide goes and passes the Wolverines for the top spot in the MaxPreps team recruiting rankings. Michigan still has the edge in overall commits (18 to 14), but Alabama's eight top 100 commits tops Michigan's five. MaxPreps's Tom Lemming updated that top 100 list this week, and here's where you can find Michigan's commits:
- QB Shane Morris, #16 (5*)
- OL Logan Tuley-Tillman, #50 (4*)
- LB Mike McCray, #63 (4*)
- OL David Dawson, #78 (4*)
- OL Kyle Bosch, #89 (4*)
Other notables include Su'a Cravens at #5, Henry Poggi at #25, and Laquon Treadwell at #30—all those players earned five-star ratings.
Mike McCray, by the way, finally got his Ohio State offer today. If this bromantic text conversation with Shane Morris is any indication, however, he's not going anywhere. If you remember, McCray's father was a captain at OSU. Unless McCray takes a visit to Columbus, there's little reason to be concerned.
One more recruit to get five stars from Lemming is FL DB Leon McQuay III, who's still talking about Michigan after his visit last week. McQuay talked to Tremendous about making beats—he wants to study audio engineering—with walk-on QB Jack Kennedy and also named Michigan to his top five:
"Michigan definitely made a move on this visit. They are in my top five along with USC, Florida, Notre Dame and Vanderbilt". This is a top five for now and is subject to change.
Just as importantly, McQuay expressed a desire to visit Ann Arbor again; Michigan won't have much of a chance unless that happens. McQuay also talked to 247's Josh Newberg and named a top ten($) that includes the five schools above plus Florida State, Miami, Clemson, Oregon, and UCLA.
McQuay's visit could pay dividends that go beyond his recruitment, as he got in the ear of Seffner (FL) Armwood teammate Alvin Bailey, a four-star receiver who also holds a Michigan offer. According to 247's Todd Worly, Bailey now plans on visiting Ann Arbor this summer, likely by the end of next month ($).
Recently offered TX DT Hardreck Walker "can't wait" to see Michigan, per 247's Clint Brewster, and he's planning to use one of his official visits to check out Ann Arbor ($). Walker also holds offers from West Virginia, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Auburn, Texas Tech, and Northwestern.
AZ WR Devon Allen is still very, very fast:
Allen says he's definitely looking to compete in track at the college level and that the school he picks will likely have a strong presence in track and field. To give you an idea of the caliber of track athlete Allen is, here are his PR's from this season:
110 hurdles: 13.52
300 hurdles: 36.39
Yowza. The downside to this is that if Allen is serious about attending a school with a top-flight track program, Michigan could be at a serious disadvantage when going up against Pac-12 and SEC schools. Allen did mention, however, that Michigan is in contact with him the most along with Arizona State and Arkansas.
Quickly: 247 breaks down film on CA S Su'a Cravens. They also, like everyone else, predict him to go to USC. NC WR Uriah LeMay will announce his decision on June 1st, and he'll likely join his brother Christian at Georgia. TTB gives a scouting report on TN RB Jordan Wilkins. Happy trails to VA LB Matt Rolin, who committed to South Carolina.
The Rain In Spain Never Mind I'll Stop Now
Sam Webb's latest offering at the Detroit News profiles 2014 NC OT Bentley Spain, who holds 12 offers, including one from Michigan. Spain's team didn't perform so well last year, but that problem didn't extend to Spain, who told Webb that he didn't give up a sack and recorded "about 60 pancakes." Spain also gave his thoughts on Michigan and mentioned a possible time for a visit:
"They're moving toward a pro-style offense, which I think is very good for me," Spain said. "That's the kind of offense I'd like to play in, ideally. I love what they're doing up there. I think they're really on the rise and they had a great season last year. I think I just need to keep developing relationships with all the coaches and get up there for a visit.
"I'm planning on coming out in early June, but I don't have anything set in stone yet."
Spain currently maintains no favorites and plans to wait on a decision until at least this time next year.
Michigan continues to send out offers to top-flight 2014 prospects, with four more going out this week:
- Michigan joined Baylor, Nebraska, and Virginia in extending early offers to TX S T'Kevian Rockwell, according to 247's Todd Worly ($). Rockwell is a big safety at 6'0", 202 pounds, but after being laser-timed at 10.47 in the 100-meter dash, speed is by no means a concern. He also plays outside linebacker and running back, and if he bulks up at all—probably, considering he's still just a sophomore—one of those will likely be his position in college.
- Tremendous reports that Michigan offered four-star NC TE Jeb Blazevich, who's already bringing in offers from a who's-who of top programs. Blazevich says he'll visit either this summer or, more likely, for a game in the fall. Click through to see his impressive sophomore highlights.
- AZ WR Dionte Sykes also claims an offer from Michigan($), though he tells 247's Clint Brewster that UCLA "will be hard to say no to." He does mention a desire to visit several schools, including Michigan, before he makes a decision.
- Four-star OH LB Michael Ferns already has nearly 20 scholarship offers, and Michigan joined the fray this week ($). Ferns says he'll visit Ann Arbor in June; he's already taken trips to Ohio State and Penn State.
Quickly: Canadian WR Jaylan Grandison will visit today, according to Tremendous. Michigan makes the early top five of DC CB D'Andre Payne, who will be on hand for the June one-day camp ($). Tim Sullivan with a writeup on IL CB Parrker Westphal, who has offers from Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Florida, and others. Westphal is coached by former Wolverine corner Todd Howard.