Today's recruiting roundup features the initial 2014 Top247, the inspiring story of Dareian Watkins, Shane Morris's strange celebratory dance, and more.
I See Your Raekwon And Raise You A Draequan
Swagger advantage: Suleiman, barely
Given that it's the August before their junior year, it's way too early for a 2014 Top247, but I'll be damned if there isn't one. Michigan commit Michael Ferns* lands at #98, a four-spot drop from his placement in 247's early top 100. Other prospects with Wolverine offers:
- VA DE Da'Shawn Hand — #1 overall
- NJ CB Jabrill Peppers — #3
- LA OT Cameron Robinson — #4
- LA RB Leonard Fournette — #5
- TX S Edward Paris — #11
- KS OT Braden Smith — #12
- AL ATH Bo Scarbrough — #13
- MD OT Damian Prince — #14
- NC OT Bentley Spain — #18
- CA TE Tyler Luatua — #19
- OH LB Dante Booker — #20
- DC CB Jalen Tabor — #21
- MI DE Malik McDowell — #24
- TX CB Nick Watkins — #30
- FL OT Kc McDermott — #38
- FL DT Khairi Clark — #43
- FL OT Mason Cole — #44
- TX OT Demetrius Knox — #47
- TN ATH Jalen Hurd — #48
- TN WR Josh Malone — #60
- AT OT Casey Tucker (USC commit) — #63
- MO OT Andy Bauer (Mizzou commit) — #68
- IL OG Jamarco Jones — #82
- AZ TE Mark Andrews — #85
- MI WR Drake Harris (MSU commit) — #89
- MO OT Roderick Johnson — #91
- OH LB Michael Ferns — #98
- SC DT Dexter Wideman — #103
- TX S T'Kevian Rockwell — #115
- NJ ATH Kiy Hester — #128
- NC TE Jeb Blazevich — #164
- IL CB Parrker Westphal — #165
- TN OT Alex Bars — #168
- DC CB D'Andre Payne — #171
- SC TE Kevin Crosby — #181
- MI CB Damon Webb — #192
- IL TE Nic Weishar — #205
- PA S Montae Nicholson — #212
- MI OT Tommy Doles — #219
- TX S Brandon Simmons — #226
- OH DE Joe Henderson — #241
- GA OT Orlando Brown Jr. — #242
By my count, Michigan has offered 27 of the top 100 prospects and 42 of the top 247. That's... a lot. In case it hasn't been made abundantly clear, the coaching staff is focusing on getting offers out to the top national prospects before focusing on evaluating and offering regional talent.
Of course, there are more important matters at hand. Namely, who are the Name of the Year (NOTY for short) candidates in the 2014 class? The class of 2013 had a very strong group, but I think it's surpassed by their younger counterparts. There is GA LB Raekwon McMillian for the Wu-Tang fans, though he may be one-upped by AL S Draequan Murphy. CA CB Adoree' Jackson tacks on not only the extra 'e', but a completely unnecessary apostrophe. LA WR Speedy Noil is an early leader for best nickname. LA WR Malachi Dupree easily beats out NC ATH Elijah Hood for best biblical moniker. The aforementioned T'Kevian Rockwell can't quite match FL LB D'ronzjiah Mathews(!) in the "let's come up with a name before my epidural wears off" category. I'm not sure what an Aggadoria Bowers is, but such a thing exists.
For my money, however, none of those can match the power of CA ATH Sulaiman Hameed, potential lost heir to the Ottoman Empire. If his nickname isn't "The Magnificent," I'll lose all faith in humanity.
*Great tidbit on Ferns: As pointed out in the comments of yesterday's FBO primer, he is not only Michigan's first recruit from Southeastern Ohio, but the only four-star prospect from the region in the Rivals era. This makes Michigan the only school to pull in a four-star recruit from each region in Ohio.
Now Lean Back, Lean Back, Lean Back, Lean Back
Part 2 of Shane Morris's Elite11 camp experience has been posted by MGoVideo. I would like to draw your attention to the 1:06 mark:
Fat Joe appreciates your support for the Terror Squad, but thinks you should dial it back a little.
Alvin Bailey: Still Probably Not Happening
Tuesday's update included a story on FL WR Alvin Bailey, who's looking to make his decision soon and has UCF as his stated leader. Things didn't look good for Michigan then, and they certainly don't now that he's picked up a Florida offer ($):
"Alvin was offered by Florida today and no he's not committing tonight and he's not going to commit tomorrow either," [Bailey's HS coach Sean] Callahan said. "He said he'd like to make his decision before September 1 and I expect he'll be a man of his word and get it done before then."
Callahan had said that Bailey was excited about the Florida offer but has a lot of thinking to do.
Any time such a vehement denial of an imminent commitment is required, it's usually a sign that one could very well happen. Even if Bailey still waits until September, it seems very unlikely that he'll leave the state, let alone go all the way up north.
OH ATH Dareian Watkins is a 2014 Michigan target and a freshly-minted member of the Top247. He also has a remarkable backstory, featured in this must-read article from Allen Trieu:
The story begins painfully, but through years of struggle, persistence and faith, and with the help of good people, it is headed full speed towards a happy ending. Dareian was adopted at 11 years old by Heath and Cheryl Watkins. He calls it the second biggest day of his life. The biggest is the day he was taken from his biological mother.
“I was at school and I got called down to the office,” Dareian said. “Thinking I was in trouble, I took my time. I saw a lady walk out of the office towards me and I didn't know what was going on. They had told me to go straight home after school and say bye to my mom. I didn't think anything of it. I got there and my mom was crying and I hugged her, then they pulled me away and said we had to go.”
The whole thing, obviously, is well worth your time. Watkins is one of those recruits you'll root for regardless of where he ends up.
Michigan sent out an offer this week to three-star PA LB Brenon Thrift, according to 247's Clint Brewster ($). Thrift also has scholarship offers from West Virginia and Pittsburgh and says he'll look to visit sometime in the future.
IL DL Brian Allen, who has yet to earn an offer from the Wolverines, has Michigan in his top five with Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Ohio State, according to 247's Evan Flood.
Matt Pargoff continues his look at the 2014 class with a rundown of ten cornerback prospects to watch.
Today's recruiting roundup looks at Michigan's remaining scholarships and how they might be used, checks out visit reactions from last weekend, and more.
The Remaining Spots
After DeVeon Smith committed over the weekend, Michigan now has 16 commits in a class projected to hit 23-24 players. Yes, it is still March, and the Wolverines have 2/3 of their class wrapped up. Recent events have added some clarity to the positions Michigan is targeting with the remaining 7-8 spots, so I thought I'd go over the potential options, position-by-position.
Quarterback (1 commit/0 spots remaining): Shane Morris. Period. Yes, there are concerns about depth at QB, but with the number crunch in the class taking a second signal-caller appears highly unlikely.
Running Back (2/1): Michigan has Wyatt Shallman and DeVeon Smith in the fold, but they aren't done. The coaches told Richmond (VA) Hermitage RB Derrick Green that they would take a third back in the class during Green's visit last weekend ($)—a visit that went quite well, by the way—and they've said the same to Cordova (TN) four-star Jordan Wilkins ($, info in header). Ty Isaac is the top target here, and we'll see what his timetable looks like after he returns from his USC trip this weekend.
Wide Receiver (1/2): Jaron Dukes is a big receiver with big-play ability, and the Wolverines will add two more to his position group. There's a strong focus on bringing in another big outside guy—Laquon Treadwell (right) fits that mold—and it wouldn't surprise to see the coaches target a smaller, faster player like Phoenix (AZ) Brophy Prep's Devon Allen to play the slot. Gone are the days of the 5'9" slot ninjas, but the 6'1" track star Allen could signal what the current staff wants in a slot receiver. A laundry-list of other receivers have interest in Michigan, including Marquez North, Darrell Daniels, Eldridge Massington, Sebastian Larue, Marcell Ateman, Zach Bradshaw, Damore'ea Stringfellow, Kevin Gladney, and Uriah LeMay. Four-star prospects Robert Foster and James Quick look like longshots for now.
Tight End (2/0?): When Michigan continued to offer scholarships to TEs after gaining commitments from Khalid Hill and Jake Butt, it looked like a third TE would definitely be a part of the class. Now that Scott Orndoff has committed to Pitt, however, only one uncommitted tight end remains holding a Michigan offer, New Orleans prospect Standish Dobard. It seems unlikely that Dobard will leave SEC country. With the Wolverines not rushing to hand out any more offers at the position coupled with the news that they'll take a third running back, it looks like they might be content with two TEs.
Offensive Line (5/0): The coaches have informed all offensive linemen holding an offer—yes, this includes Ethan Pocic—that they're full along the offensive line. Barring a decommitment, I don't think that will change.
Defensive Tackle (0/1-2): Michigan must take at least one nose tackle in the class, and it certainly wouldn't hurt to bring in a second depending on how the other position groups shake out. The Wolverines are in a strong position with Henry Poggi—more on him later—and got Dadeville (AL) DT Rod Crayton up for a visit, and they're also pursuing high-profile prospects like Montravious Adams, Eddie Vanderdoes, and Greg Webb, among others.
Defensive End (1/0): With Taco Charlton set to come in as a weakside DE, Michigan is in a position to stay pat after the bumper crop of DEs in the 2012 class. They could go after a strongside end, especially if Chris Wormley or Matt Godin moves inside to DT this fall, and they are after some talented prospects—Tashawn Bower seems to be showing the most interest (Michigan is in his top 10 [$]) and the Wolverines are also pursuing top recruits Joey Bosa, Alquadin Muhammad, Jonathan Allen, and others. They can afford to be picky here.
Linebacker (1/1*): The Wolverines have Mike McCray in the fold and it's pretty much assumed at this point that Ben Gedeon will join him in the class, given that the coaches have told prospects like Dorian O'Daniel, Alex Anzalone, and Shane Jones that they're full at linebacker. The asterisk represents E.J. Levenberry, who has Michigan as his leader over Florida State and has a spot apparently reserved for him in the class.
Cornerback (2/0): Jourdan Lewis and Gareon Conley should more than suffice for this year's class unless a five-star talent like Kendall Fuller (unlikely, considering his ties to Virginia Tech and Michigan turning away teammate O'Daniel) or Vernon Hargreaves III (also unlikely with his father coaching at USF and the Florida schools pushing hard for him) wants to come on board. Then again, the Wolverines still seem to be pursuing corners like Tre Bell, Devin Butler, Cole Luke, and Cameron Walker, so there's a chance they take one more.
Safety (1/0): Dymonte Thomas fills any pressing need for a safety, so much like at cornerback and defensive end, the Wolverines can be comfortable staying put while going after blue-chip talents. Or should I say, talent: five-star Su'a Cravens is the only uncommitted safety to currently hold a Michigan offer, and he plans to use one of his official visits to check out Ann Arbor.
Kicker/Punter (0/0): There's no need to take a specialist in this year's class.
If Michigan takes two linebackers (including Levenberry) and two defensive tackles along with a running back and two wideouts, the team has 23 scholarships accounted for with potentially one spot to use for a best player available (or, quite possibly, a third corner). If you want to drop a DT and project the Wolverines grab a strongside DE instead, be my guest—I think we'll see two more D-linemen in the class, and a nose tackle is a must, but that other spot could go to either.
As you can see, it's already time for the Wolverines to hone in on their top targets and be fairly selective with their remaining spots. The main question going forward isn't how Michigan will use their remaining scholarships, but how many they'll have to work with.
New Preferred Walk-On, Visit Reactions, Etc.
The Wolverines now have three preferred walk-ons in the 2012 class coming from Fenton High School, as tight end Quinton Mandle joined teammates Kenny Allen (punter) and Tyler Tokarsky (long snapper) in pledging to go to Michigan on Sunday. Mandle is 6'5", 220 pounds, and had 53 receptions for 700 yards last year, both school records. His addition bolsters depth at a position sorely in need of it.
Rivals released their 2013 position ranks and an initial group of three-stars, which included previously-unranked commits DeVeon Smith and Jaron Dukes. Shane Morris has the highest position ranking, coming in second among pro-style QBs. Also of note: Michigan has five of the top 23 offensive tackles (four in the top 13), though obviously the five linemen won't all play tackle at the collegiate level.
Henry Poggi was on campus last weekend amidst rumors of an imminent commitment, and while that didn't come to fruition, he still had a great trip. Here's his dad/coach Biff discussing Henry's third visit to Ann Arbor ($):
“It was a great visit,” Biff Poggi, Henry’s father and coach told 247Sports. “Just a great visit. It was really, everyone loved it. My wife really loved it. My son loves Michigan. Loves the coaches there, Coach (Greg) Mattison, Coach (Jerry) Montgomery, Coach (Brady) Hoke. We got a chance to spend a lot of time with them. My wife is getting comfortable with the academic piece which is good, and it was a very, very good trip.”
Poggi plans to head down to Texas and Texas A&M and possibly swing out to the West Coast, but his recruitment shouldn't last much longer; his father says they plan to have it "wrapped up by the end of April."
Quickly: 2013 Cass Tech DT Kenton Gibbs said "it was most definitely a good time," after his trip to Ann Arbor last weekend ($). He's still looking for a Wolverine offer. Four of Gibbs's sophomore teammates—LB Gary Hosey, LB William White, WR Damon Webb, and DB Johnny Miggins—were also on campus, and Tremendous has visit reactions from all four. Also visiting was 2014 OL/DT Brian Allen, who already has offers from Iowa and Michigan State ($, info in header). 2013 Los Angeles (CA) Loyola CB Cameron Walker will visit from April 12-14, which includes the spring game ($).