TO THE HOT TAKE CANNON
Today's recruiting roundup covers the MSU visitor list, a potential 2014 commit, Michigan's gentle giant of a commit, and more.
Denzel Ward: Michigan's next commit?
Last weekend, Michigan offered 6'9" IL OT Denzel Ward, who visited for the Illinois game and came away gushing about the visit and talking about receiving his "dream offer" from the Wolverines. Ward spent the game with Logan Tuley-Tillman, who gave him his best recruiting pitch, per Tim Sullivan ($):
"Me and a 2014 tackle, Denzel Ward, we both were there," Tuley-Tillman explained. "We hung out like the whole day, and we'll come back next weekend together. We had a lot of fun, and everybody already thinks we're brothers. We're going to start going along with it, too. We had fun, we both had a good time.
"I was just showing him what it was, and how it really is a family atmosphere up there, and how he would already have someone that would be there for him to help him with anything."
The pitch appears to be working—Ward will be back on campus this weekend after spending the week tweeting all of the positive things about Michigan. He might have something up his sleeve, too:
— Logan Tuley-Tillman™ (@LoganTillman) October 17, 2012
An early commitment is a definite possibility here.
Ward won't be alone as a big-time visitor for the State game; Tremendous has the whole list, and it is lengthy. Michigan's two biggest 2013 targets, VA RB Derrick Green and IL WR Laquon Treadwell, will both be present, as will a pair of backup options at wide receiver in MI WR DaMario Jones and OH WR Elijah Bell—neither hold offers but could pick one up as we near signing day if Treadwell doesn't commit. Don't expect Green or Treadwell to make a decision this weekend, but a good visit could go a long way towards locking up a commitment in both cases, especially when it comes to Green.
Visiting 2014 prospects with Michigan offers are MI WR/DB Damon Webb, FL OL Mason Cole, PA S Montae Nicholson, PA TE Brenon Thrift, and OH ATH Marshon Lattimore. The first 2015 offer, KY RB Damien Harris—who projects to be one of the top handful of prospects in that class—will also be on campus; he camped at Michigan over the summer.
There's also a major basketball recruit slated to visit in improbably-named 2015 five-star WI C Diamond Stone. He already holds offers from UCLA and Wisconsin, among others, and is likely to pick one up on his visit [EDIT: As multiple commenters reminded me of, Beilein doesn't offer prospects until the summer after their sophomore year, so Stone won't be picking one up on this trip]. Fellow 2015 five-star IL PG Hyron Edwards might make the trip up for the game, as well.
This is obviously Michigan's biggest recruiting weekend of the season, and we could see several offers go out to 2014 prospects; we'll see if a commitment is in the cards.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on the Dawson replacement situation and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup wraps up last weekend's high school football action and more.
Jake "Butts" In Early*
Tim Sullivan reports that tight end commit Jake Butt made arrangements with his high school and the Michigan coaching staff to graduate in December and enroll early ($). Kyle Bosch, Taco Charlton, Ross Douglas, and Logan Tuley-Tillman are also slated to arrive in Ann Arbor this winter, and Dymonte Thomas will likely join that number as well.
Given the lack of depth at tight end, this is great news for the Wolverines. Devin "The Funchess" Funchess emerged on Saturday as the future at the position, but he's more of an H-back ("U"-back in the Borges offense) or big wide receiver than a traditional tight end, while Butt has the versatility to play with his hand down or off the line. Butt has a good shot at earning a large role in the offense next year and this increases his shot of earning a starting job right away.
*Jesus, I'm sorry.
Backs On Backs On Backs
Michigan only has two running backs committed in the class of 2013, but you wouldn't know that based on last weekend's high school football games. Cornerback commit Ross Douglas rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries to lead Avon to a 40-14 victory. Future Wolverine linebacker Ben Gedeon tallied 107 yards on 18 carries to help Hudson to a win of their own. Safety Dymonte Thomas spearheaded a Marlington comeback with 166 yards and two touchdowns—including the go-ahead score—on 19 carries. Then there was 285-pound nose tackle Maurice Hurst Jr., who pounded in a one-yard touchdown in a Xaverian Brothers blowout victory, set up by a 24-yard run in which he dragged two defenders to the brink of the goal line.
Actual running back DeVeon Smith toted the rock 26 times for 183 yards and the game-winning touchdown for Warren Howland despite a sore shoulder, but that's to be expected, right?
It's hard to believe, but some Michigan commits had the nerve to excel at non-RB positions over the weekend, as well. Two-way lineman Chris Fox, who is slated to play guard for Michigan, paved the way for a 34-14 Ponderosa victory and earned the admiration of a Highlands Ranch coach:
"Hey, Foxie," an opposing assistant coach yelled Saturday afternoon after the final play. "Great job. You kicked our butts."
Shane Morris, who received his Under Armour All-American Game jersey at a school pep rally last Thursday, completed 9-of-18 passes for 101 yards and a touchdown as De La Salle beat Dearborn Fordson, 40-19.
Wide receiver Jaron Dukes hauled in six catches for 92 yards and a touchdown to help Marion-Franklin to a 28-3 victory over Canal Winchester.
Perhaps the biggest star of the weekend, however, was Gilman DT Henry Poggi, who tallied 11 tackles and 3 1/2 sacks in a 13-6 triumph over national powerhouse Don Bosco Prep. The loss snapped a 46-game winning streak for the Ironmen.
While the Air Force game wasn't the huge visit weekend that Michigan State will be, there will still some major targets on campus. A large Cass Tech contingent made the short trip from Detroit, including 2014 CB Damon Webb, who told Tremendous that he could see himself ending up in Maize and Blue. 2014 Grand Rapids Christian OL Tommy Doles took in the game and told Allen Trieu($) that the B2 stealth bomber flyover was "incredible." 2013 in-state kicker J.J. McGrath was on hand as well and told Tremendous the visit really helped Michigan, though the deciding factor for him will likely be which school offers him a scholarship.
Things have been quiet on the Joe Mathis front, at least where Michigan is concerned, and it sounds like it could stay that way for the 2013 California four-star: he told Rivals analyst Adam Gorney that he plans to take official visits to Texas A&M, Washington, and Utah, and isn't sure where else he'll visit following a good trip to UCLA ($).
Happy trails to 2014 five-star AL RB Bo Scarbrough, who predictably made an early pledge to hometown squad Alabama.
Previously: In-State Primer
Yesterday, I went over the schedules of Michigan's in-state commits, highlighting certain matchups for this fall's Future Blue Originals. Today's out-of-state primer is going to look a little different, mostly because I didn't want to embed 20-something tables into this post. Last year we got some great reader submissions of scouting reports, photos, and even video of Michigan commits for games I could not attend. We'd love to get even more of those this year, so I've compiled a couple of handy resources that should make this easy to organize.
View Future Blue Originals Commit/Target Map in a larger map
Say you live in—to take a completely random example—eastern Ohio, and you're wondering how you could help the blog. Well, wonder no more. The map above features the high school locations for each of Michigan's 23 senior commits, as well as Detroit Loyola (Malik McDowell) and St. Clairsville (Michael Ferns). If you live close to any of the above locations and think you could contribute a passable scouting report, mark it down on the...
Handy Master Schedule
...master schedule for each of Michigan's commits and select targets. It's a Google Doc that I've made editable by the public (please use this privilege wisely); as you can see, games I'll be attending are in bold, followed by my name. If you plan to attend a game and submit a report, photos, or video, mark it down in the same fashion. If you're willing, please also include your email; if you (understandably) don't want it on a public document, just shoot me an email, but please make sure to still mark the game you're attending so others know what's covered as well.
If you're one of those people who watches a lot of football but you aren't sure you've got the chops to do a detailed report, please contact me anyway; I'm happy to give a few pointers about what to watch for a particular position or prospect. If we get enough user-submitted reports, I'll either include them in each week's FBO post or compile them in a weekly feature.
Now, on to the primer itself, broken down by region.
Eastern Ohio/Western Pennsylvania
CB Ross Douglas (2013 Commit), Avon High School, Avon (OH): Avon is coming off a 13-2 season that ended at the hands of Mike McCray, Cam Burrows, and their Trotwood-Madison squad in the Division II state title game. Douglas plays running back as well as corner for the Eagles, so there will be plenty to scout if you check him out.
LB Ben Gedeon (2013 Commit), Hudson High School, Hudson (OH): Hudson finished 10-2 in 2011, bowing out in the second round of the OHSAA playoffs. Gedeon does a little bit of everything, playing tight end, H-back, wide receiver, kick returner, and even quarterback. He might be the recruit I most wish lived three hours closer to Ann Arbor.
CB Gareon Conley (2013 Commit), Washington High School, Massillon (OH): Perennial powerhouse Massillon Washington had a down year by their standards in 2011, going 7-3 and missing the state playoffs. Conley managed to record four interceptions and nine PBUs last year despite playing much of the season in a cast; there's a good chance he'll be making big plays if you decide to head to a game.
RB DeVeon Smith (2013 Commit), Howland High School, Warren (OH): Howland's perfect 9-0 regular season in 2011 was spoiled with a first-round exit from the Division II playoffs. Smith has combined for just under 4,000 rushing yards over the last two seasons; if you're looking for a prospect that's easy to scout and will have plenty of opportunities to show his stuff, it's probably Smith.
S Dymonte Thomas (2013 Commit), Marlington High School, Alliance (OH): Marlington posted an 8-2 record in 2011, which wasn't quite good enough to earn them a spot in the state playoffs. Thomas rushed for 875 yards and 13 TDs as a running back while tallying 102 tackles and an interception on defense. In fact, I'd say he's the best guy to scout over Smith, but safety play is a little tougher to evaluate than a running back.
LB Michael Ferns (2014 Commit), St. Clairsville High School, St. Clairsville (OH): St. Clairsville finished 10-2 last season, going down in the second round of the Division IV playoffs. Ferns tallied 136 tackles at linebacker and also was a very dangerous weapon at both running back and tight end.
OL Patrick Kugler (2013 Commit), North Allegheny High School, Wexford (PA): North Allegheny advanced all the way to the state semifinals before suffering their first loss of the season in 2011.
TE Jake Butt (2013 Commit), Pickerington North High School, Pickerington (OH): Despite an 8-2 record, Pickerington North failed to make the playoffs last season. Butt starred at both tight end and defensive end, tallying 427 yards and seven TDs on offense and ten sacks on defense. I'm planning to watch North take on their cross-town rivals, who feature...
DE Taco Charlton (2013 Commit), Pickerington Central High School, Pickerington (OH): Central not only defeated North last season, they made it all the way to the Division I title game before falling to St. Ignatius. Charlton had 60 tackles and seven TFL as a situational player last year and should see his role expand this season.
WR Jaron Dukes (2013 Commit), Marion-Franklin High School, Columbus (OH): The Red Devils went 13-1 in 2011, losing only to Trotwood-Madison in the Division I state semifinals. Dukes contribted 36 catches for 673 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Marion-Franklin faces off against Pickerington Central on August 31st at 7:30 pm; I'll be in Dallas, so if someone could cover that game it would be a huge help.
Definitely Not The Columbus Area*
LB Mike McCray (2013 Commit), Trotwood-Madison High School, Trotwood (OH): Trotwood-Madison captured the Division II state title last season over Douglas's Avon squad to cap off a perfect 15-0 season. McCray had a big year statistically at linebacker—88 tackles, two forced fumbles, five interceptions, and three defensive touchdowns—and also contributed heavily at tight end. They open on August 26th with a televised game against Ft. Lauderdale University School.
*Apologies, Trotwood natives.
OL Kyle Bosch (2013 Commit), St. Francis High School, Wheaton (IL): St. Francis went 8-3 last season, falling in the second round of the Class 5A state playoffs. Bosch earned all-area and all-state honors and should do the same this season.
OL Logan Tuley-Tillman (2013 Commit), Manual High School, Peoria (IL): Manual struggled to a 3-6 record last season. Tuley-Tillman will once again start at left tackle; his development is one to watch closely given his raw talent.
LS Scott Sypniewski (2013 Commit), Marquette High School, Ottawa (IL): Marquette finished just 2-7 last fall. Scouting the long snapper is probably quite unnecessary, but if you'd like to, it's a free country.
OL Chris Fox (2013 Commit), Ponderosa High School, Parker (CO): Ponderosa finished just 4-6 last season. Fox starred on both the offensive and defensive lines.
DT Maurice Hurst Jr. (2013 Commit), Xaverian Brothers High School, Westwood (MA): Xaverian Brothers went 6-5 in 2011. Hurst was a first-team all-state defensive tackle, and perhaps more impressively also toted the rock as a massive running back. Fat guy touchdowns, ahoy!
DT Henry Poggi (2013 Commit), Gilman School, Baltimore (MD): Gilman, coached by Poggi's father Biff, finished 10-1 in 2011 against an impressive schedule, with Henry posting ten sacks. This year Gilman opens against three powerhouse programs: Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller (8/26), Our Lady of Good Counsel (8/31), and Don Bosco Prep (9/8). Any one of those games would be great to attend and scout.
CB Channing Stribling (2013 Commit), Butler High School, Matthews (NC): Butler capped off an 11-2 season with a run to the Class 4AA state quarterfinals in 2011. Stribling excelled on both sides of the ball, catching eight touchdowns as a receiver and intercepting six passes at corner. As one of Michigan's least-scouted prospects, I'd love to hear reports on him, as well.
If you're able to attend any games for the above players—or the in-state recruits, as well—update the Google doc and send me an email. I'll be in contact with those who express interest in scouting as the season approaches.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses rankings updates from three recruiting services, a few more tidbits from The Opening, a potential surprise five-star visitor, and more.
In the wake of The Opening, three recruiting sites—Scout, 247, and ESPN—have updated their top lists. Instead of going over each update individually, I've jammed the results into a (chart?) chart below. The number in parentheses is the change from each site's last update; a positive means a rise and a negative means a drop, just to be clear. Notable stuff in bold.
|Shane Morris||29 (-1)||19 (+2)||26 (+6)|
|Patrick Kugler||30 (+1)||158 (-4)||116 (-4)|
|Dymonte Thomas||35 (—)||52 (-1)||94 (+4)|
|Kyle Bosch||48 (+1)||75 (-23)||126 (-6)|
|Deveon Smith||60 (-7)||222 (+4)||NR|
|Chris Fox||134 (+5)||100 (-27)||112 (-4)|
|Henry Poggi||136 (-1)||107 (-2)||259 (-9)|
|Jake Butt||137 (+15)||NR||171 (+61)|
|Ben Gedeon||155 (-2)||177 (-2)||278 (-8)|
|Jourdan Lewis||168 (+5)||NR||92 (—)|
|David Dawson||179 (-1)||138 (+19)||89 (—)|
|Logan Tuley-Tillman||194 (-4)||95 (-6)||102 (-8)|
|Maurice Hurst Jr.||215 (-2)||NR||NR|
|Mike McCray||216 (-2)||178 (-2)||108 (-4)|
|Gareon Conley||233 (-1)||229 (-7)||63 (+1)|
|Taco Charlton||269 (NR)||90 (—)||120 (-6)|
|Wyatt Shallman||268 (-5)||NR||NR|
|Jaron Dukes||296 (-1)||NR||222 (-6)|
Starting from the top, Shane Morris may have only moved up two spots on 247, but that was enough to earn him a fifth star:
Michigan quarterback commit Shane Morris displayed consistency and his trademark big left arm at The Opening. Morris was a top two quarterback at the event for its entirety and continues to be one of the most important recruits in the history of Wolverines football considering his leadership in helping the nation’s current No. 2 overall class come together. Morris was on the verge of five-star status for most of this cycle and his showing last week put him over the top.
Morris also rose six spots on ESPN, but the Worldwide Leader has only handed out seven five-stars in the class thus far, decidedly fewer than any other service.
Kyle Bosch rather surprisingly dropped 23 places on 247; he gave it a go at The Opening on day one before leaving the camp due to an illness, which may have affected his ranking (whether fairly or unfairly is up to you). Less surprising was Chris Fox's 27-spot plunge on 247, as he's had an up-and-down camp season.
The biggest beneficiary of an outstanding performance at The Opening was Jake Butt, who ascended 15 spots on Scout and a whopping 61 on ESPN. Strangely, 247 still doesn't have him ranked in their Top 247, which stands out as they normally seem to have big swings in rankings (see: Bosch, Fox, Dawson) after camps. Butt and Jourdan Lewis both have very legitimate cases for entering 247's list, yet neither makes an appearance.
David Dawson saw his stock rise on 247 to the tune of 19 spots as he continues to impress with every camp appearance. Fellow lineman Logan Tuley-Tillman saw slight drops across the board, however, as his camp showings have revealed a need to get in better shape and improve technically.
The subject of much debate since The Opening, Taco Charlton went from an unranked three-star to a four-star and the #269 overall player on Scout. 247 and ESPN think very highly of him, even with a slight ding in the rankings from ESPN, but we'll see where he ends up on Rivals after Mike Farrell's disappointing review.
If someone could please come to a consensus on the relative abilities of Deveon Smith, it would be much appreciated.
Closing The Opening
I'm as sick of coverage of The Opening as I'm sure you are, but a few more nuggets of info have trickled out since Tuesday's roundup. IL WR Laquon Treadwell earned mention on Scout in both their top ten offensive performers and their five offensive surprises ($):
While Treadwell came into the weekend ranked #9 at his position and 4-stars overall, his performance still caught us by surprise. Almost all of the top ranked receivers in the country were at The Opening and few played as well as Treadwell. He showed a great ability to go up and get the ball, easily pulling it down over defenders. Treadwell was also consistent and found success in every drill and game throughout the weekend.
On the other side of the ball, commit Jourdan Lewis make the cut for the top ten defensive performers:
Lewis was one of the top cornerbacks at The Opening in 2012. He broke on the ball very well, he locked up his man much of the time, and he showed the ability to open up his hips and run with the wide receivers. He had some picks and those were nice, but his coverage stood out the most.
Lastly, 247's Barton Simmons tabbed a surprise performer who could end up on your radar soon:
Delano Hill, DB- I’ve seen Delano Hill on a couple of different occasions and he’s always been a steady performer, always one of the better safeties in attendance. With his performance this weekend, he was once again one of the best safeties in attendance but among a much stronger field. Not only does Hill have great size but he really popped for us early in the weekend when he added one of the fastest 40-yard dash times of the event with a 4.42. Iowa is getting a star.
Hill is currently committed to Iowa, but he goes to uber-pipeline Cass Tech. If Michigan misses out on their blue-chip targets at defensive back, Hill could merit a late offer to fill the last spot in the class.
Priest Willis: An Option?
Tremendous dropped a very interesting tidbit in their recruiting notes yesterday, revealing that five-star CA CB Priest Willis could be more of an option than previously thought (previous thought was "not an option at all") [emphasis mine]:
I was able to talk with Priest the other day, who recently named a top 16. He said he was going to cut it to 8 pretty soon. My assumption was Michigan would not make this second cut, but I was wrong. Priest gave me the following schools (again, huge grain of salt, as I was shocked Michigan was in his group): USC, LSU, Arizona State, UCLA, Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame and Michigan. He also said he wants to set up an official visit to Michigan because of its distance from his hometown of Tempe, Arizona. Priest told me this even after he acknowledged that he hadn't heard from the Michigan coaches in a while.
We'll see if there's still interest from the coaches, though I'd have to believe they'd be happy to host a five-star defensive back. If Willis still maintains interest even though he's not hearing much from the school, that sounds like a pretty good sign; that said, I'm still considering him a longshot until further developments.
Also in the above post is clarification from MD WR Paul Harris, who says his purported cut to USC and Tennessee was misreported. Harris maintains a top five of USC, Tennessee, Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State, according to the Washington Post. Odds of landing him still appear slim due to the presence of Treadwell.
Sam Webb's latest DetNews offering profiles Cass Tech CB Damon Webb, the breakout star of the summer circuit. Damon claims that Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State stand out among his offers, and though he won't name a leader at this time he does mention the Wolverines as a childhood favorite while also noting the presence of so many Technicians as a positive. Allen Trieu gives a very positive scouting report and an idea of where Webb stands among players in the state:
"In-state, it's him, (Grand Rapids Christian's) Drake Harris and (Detroit Loyola's) Malik McDowell as the top three right now. With it being as early as it is, I could see that ending up in any order, or new guys moving in. What I've learned is early rankings and hype don't always hold until signing day. McDowell is considered the top dog right now, but that can change.
With Webb now focused more on cornerback—he also plays wide receiver—we could see him continue to rise as he learns the position.
FL OL Mason Cole will be at July 29's BBQ at the Big House with wide receiver teammate Artavis Scott, according to Tim Sullivan ($).
IN WR Austin Roberts also plans to be at the BBQ, via 247's Clint Brewster ($).
Tremendous enlists the help of a couple of the 11W recruiting guys to put together an early Midwest hot list for the class of 2014. This is a great starting point if you're looking to get familiar with the prospects who will be targets of the top Big Ten programs, including Michigan.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses the latest on Laquon Treadwell, Kendall Fuller, and Derrick Green, plus much more. Also included is an interview with 2014 running back Jonathan Hilliman.
Pursuit Of Quon: Successful?
The eyes of the recruiting world are on Oregon this weekend as Nike's mega-camp The Opening officially kicked off yesterday. Michigan sends a contingent of seven commits—Shane Morris, Kyle Bosch, Jake Butt, Taco Charlton, David Dawson, Jourdan Lewis, and Mike McCray—and other top targets are in attendance. None is getting more attention right now than IL WR Laquon Treadwell, however, after he tweeted yesterday morning that a decision could come imminently:
So much going on my decision coming soon.
— Laquon Treadwell (@SuccessfulQuon) July 5, 2012
This is a stark departure from Treadwell's recent statements about taking his officials before making a decision, but a later tweet appeared to indicate that his mind is largely made up. Mike Farrell subsequently reported that a decision could come as soon as this weekend; even if Treadwell waits until he gets home, there's an overwhelming sense that this one is just about over.
By a stroke of luck, Sam Webb had the same flight to Oregon as Treadwell, and he posted a two-part video interview from the gate at Chicago O'Hare. Part one is free; Treadwell attributes his change of heart to simply waking up with that feeling in his gut and says that his mom has given him the go-ahead to commit if he so desires. In part two($), he reiterates that Michigan leads for his services; Oklahoma State is the other school mentioned as a favorite despite Treadwell not visiting Stillwater yet. He also discusses his friendship with Shane Morris, saying that Morris is practically his "best friend."
Treadwell does say that he still wants to see a couple of his favorites—likely Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, as he had a previous trip set up there that was cancelled due to a tornado—so one gets the sense that he's still trying to sort things out. While his decision timing is uncertain, there's little doubt as to the favorite for his services: Treadwell says Michigan "feels like home," while he's yet to even set foot on the campus of the one school (Ok. St.) that appears to have even a remote chance to unseat the Wolverines. Now Treadwell will spend the weekend with seven Michigan commits—including recruiter extraordinaire Morris—in his ear. You know what to do...
Fuller, Green Plan Visits
If Treadwell does commit, Michigan will be left with one scholarship slot (barring unexpected attrition) and several worthy candidates to fill it. Several of those candidates, including MD CB Kendall Fuller and VA RB Derrick Green, are currently at The Opening, where they'll surely get a visit and recruiting pitch from the Wolverine crew.
Mike Farrell tweeted yesterday that Clemson and Virginia Tech are "neck and neck" at the top for Fuller, with Michigan in his top three but trailing. Fuller has visits to both of his leaders set for later this month. While this doesn't bode well for Michigan's chances, Tim Sullivan reports that Fuller plans to take an official visit to Ann Arbor ($, info in header). The Wolverines are playing catch-up here, so an opportunity to get Fuller on campus is one they must capitalize on.
Green, meanwhile, texted me a top 13 this week of Tennessee, Michigan, Oregon, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Virginia Tech, Auburn, Clemson, Alabama, Miami, Pitt, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma. He also talked to ESPN's Damon Sayles about visiting Ann Arbor for the BBQ at the Big House on July 29th($), saying he's looking forward to chatting with Brady Hoke in person since Hoke wasn't on campus for his first visit. Green has played things pretty close to the vest thus far but Michigan likely has ground to cover here, as well.
CA DT Eddie Vanderdoes trimmed his list to a final ten that does not include Michigan($), likely because the Wolverines are no longer in need of a defensive tackle.
247 updated their 2013 rankings. Tremendous has the full breakdown of risers and fallers; most moves were minor save for David Dawson (up to #157 from #196) and Patrick Kugler (up to #154 from #206).
Chris Fox "Fully Committed"
Despite recent rumors of a potential decommitment, Chris Fox told 247's Todd Worly($) that he's "fully committed to Michigan," and "nothing is going to change." Until further notice, there's nothing to see here.
Speaking of nothing to see here, David Dawson caused a stir yesterday when he tweeted that his Michigan teammates had "left [him]" while at The Opening, then saying he was chilling with a group of Florida commits. Dawson has recently discussed camping at Florida, so we now have a new panic about a possible decommitment. I'll only say this on the matter: STOP hanging onto every word a recruit says on Twitter. In fact, I'll reiterate that you should probably stop following recruits entirely, especially if you're the type to worry about stuff like Dawson's tweet. It's just not worth it. It's the job of people like myself, TomVH, Tim Sullivan, and Steve Lorenz to follow these recruits and pass along any information that's actually pertinent. If anything newsworthy arises out of the Dawson situation—and hanging out with Florida commits is beyond not newsworthy—we'll keep you posted.
Sam Webb's latest piece at the Detroit News covers FL WR Corey Holmes, one of Michigan's early offerees. Holmes talks about getting "butterflies" and being speechless upon receiving the offer, while his father has high praise for Michigan and Brady Hoke:
"I was thoroughly impressed with everything Michigan had to offer, from A to Z," Mr. Holmes said. "From the academics, to the facilities, the coaching staff, and definitely Coach Hoke. I've always respected him, and thought, 'Hey, what a great coach.' But to meet him in person — I walked away with a big smile on my face because he's a motivator, a straight shooter, and that's all you can ask for. You want your kid to be in the hands of someone that's going to take care of them. The family atmosphere that they preach is legit. I got a chance to see some of the players, and some of the coaching staff — they were unbelievable. It was better than I expected."
The younger Holmes grew up as a Michigan fan, and while he says he's still open, the Wolverines are "a favorite." Holmes also provided a diary of his Michigan camp experience to Tremendous, and you have to like Michigan's chances after reading a quote like this:
I sat in Coach's office and didn't really know what to do or say. It was such an indescribable feeling. He sat down and talked to my father and I about himself, his love for Michigan and complimented me on my performance at the camp. It was then that he offered me a scholarship to play for Michigan. I really had no idea how to react. I had accomplished what I set out to do. After getting offered, I was given a full tour of campus, the amazing facilities and best of all, the Big House. It was a breathtaking experience, one that I’ll never forget. To think that a kid from South Florida made it all the way to Ann Arbor and received an offer to play football for the University of Michigan is just too much to think about. Truly a mission complete.
Both articles are well worth your time. Holmes appears to be an early favorite to end up as a member of Michigan's class of 2014.
Massilon (OH) Washington OL Nathaniel Devers has visited several schools over the summer and he tells Matt Pargoff that Michigan and Northwestern have emerged as his top two. He's yet to earn a Wolverine offer, but if he does he's another player to keep an eye on.
An Interview With Jonathan Hilliman
One of Michigan's first offers for the 2014 class went out to NJ RB Jonathan Hilliman, who also holds offers from Miami (YTM), Nebraska, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State, and Wisconsin, among others. Hilliman stands at 6'0", 201 pounds, and according to 247 he rushed for 426 yards and four touchdowns on just 58 carries as a sophomore in 2011. I caught up with Jonathan earlier this week to talk about his recruitment, visits, timeline, and more:
ACE: First of all, which schools are talking to you the most right now in your recruitment, and how many offers do you have right now?
JONATHAN: I'd say the schools that have been reaching out the most have been Michigan, Miami, PSU, Rutgers, and Ohio State. I have 11 offers so far.
ACE: Out of the schools you've been in contact with, do you have any early favorites or a top group?
JONATHAN: I can't really say that yet. I'd have to take some visits and meet coaches before I could narrow it down.
ACE: Discussing Michigan specifically, who have you been in contact with from the school? What are the coaches telling you about your potential role in the offense?
JONATHAN: I talk to a lot of the coaches, but we haven't discussed those aspects as of yet—probably [will] during my potential visit.
ACE: Do you have any visits set up yet? Which schools would you like to check out?
JONATHAN: I'm taking four visits this summer and I pretty want to see every school at this point.
ACE: When you visit schools, what factors are you looking for that will help you make your decision?
JONATHAN: The support staff for student athletes, the coaching staff, the campus itself, and the recruits at the school.
ACE: I know it's very early in the process, but do you have any idea of when you'd like to narrow down your options or make a final decision?
JONATHAN: The end of my senior season.
ACE: If you had to scout yourself, what would you say are your biggest strengths as a player, and what are you working on to improve for your junior year and beyond?
JONATHAN: I'd say the speed and power I have for my size. I have good vision and I can elude tacklers. One improvement I would have to make is my explosiveness and flexibility.
ACE: Coming from St. Peter's Prep, I'm sure you've had the chance to talk with other D-I level recruits [they had three FBS signees last year]. What advice have you received for how to handle your recruitment?
JONATHAN: Stay humble, be personable, take all your visits, speak clearly, and give off a good impression to potential coaches.
Today's recruiting roundup recaps the Rivals Five-Star Challenge, discusses a pair of 2013 visits and Drake Harris's impending decision, goes over a slew of new 2014 offers, and more.
Five-Star Challenge Recap: New '13 OL Target?
Rivals hosted their first annual Five-Star Challenge last weekend as their answer to Nike's The Opening and four Michigan commits—David Dawson, Jourdan Lewis, Mike McCray, and Chris Fox—were in attendance alongside a bevy of the nation's top prospects. Dawson continued his outstanding camp season with an impressive performance, making Josh Helmholdt's "Surprise Standouts" list($) and earning the #4 spot on Helmholdt's rundown of the top offensive linemen ($):
4. OC David Dawson, Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech: The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Michigan pledge is listed as an offensive guard and plays tackle for his team but says he could end up anywhere on the line for the Wolverines. When the coaches needed a center, Dawson stepped in without hesitation. Though pass protection on the interior is completely different than at tackle he made a seamless transition. He has a strong base and used his lower body strength to hold the big noseguards at bay. Dawson should prove to be invaluable in Ann Arbor because of his versatility and willingness to play wherever he is needed.
Cass Tech's other camp stalwart, Jourdan Lewis, did not disappoint either, excelling in the 7-on-7 portion. Mike Farrell ($):
10. DB Jourdan Lewis, Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech: Lewis started off very well with one of the best interceptions you'll see when he showed off his closing speed and undercut a pass from Tyrone Swoopes, the only interception the Southwest quarterback threw. Lewis was solid throughout the day, flashed that speed and took on bigger receivers well at times. Despite his closing ability, he sometimes allowed too much of a cushion.
That last part is an issue that has shown itself in multiple settings, including the Sound Mind/Sound Body camp and during Cass Tech's season last year. On the positive side, Lewis continues to show exceptional ball skills.
According to Tim Sullivan, Fox performed well at several different positions along the line, while McCray displayed decent coverage skills against backs and tight ends but also measured in at just 6'1" ($). That's a lot smaller than expected for McCray and could be a point of concern if he ends up at strongside LB, as expected.
A new target may have emerged at the camp, as well, and the position he plays might surprise you. Tremendous caught up with 2013 MD OL Khaliel Rodgers, who revealed that David Dawson was selling him hard on Michigan at the camp. Rodgers now plans to visit for July's BBQ at the Big House and appears to have pushed back his decision date, which was originally set for this week. He also tweeted last night that having him and Dawson on the same O-line would be "epic" and "unreal". The scouting services are split on Rodgers, with Rivals listing him as their #1 guard and a top 100 overall prospect, ESPN giving him four stars, Scout putting him as a three-star but the #2 center, and 247 giving him a meh three-star rating.
This could be nothing, or it could be a sign—especially if we get word that the coaches are after Rodgers—that things aren't entirely settled along the line. I doubt Michigan would take a sixth lineman in the class, but with over 20 commits in June, it's almost certain that the class will experience a decommitment or two at some point before signing day. Rodgers looks like he can slide in at any spot on the interior of the line and he'd be a quality contingency plan should attrition occur.
Wilkins, Bailey Visiting This Week
Michigan will host two big-time 2013 recruits this week. TN RB Jordan Wilkins tweeted out plans to be on campus today and later confirmed the visit with TomVH ($). He also told Tom that his top four consists of Auburn, Vanderbilt, Michigan, and Tennessee, though Auburn is widely presumed to be his leader after he almost committed to the Tigers on a visit a couple of weeks ago. The Wolverines will need to make a big impression if they want to catch up.
FL WR Alvin Bailey is set to swing by Michigan and Notre Dame this week, and according to Scout's Tom Beaver his visit is set for Wednesday ($). Bailey is in the running for the last open receiver spot, and with the news this week that Laquon Treadwell wants to visit Auburn($), the race for that spot may be tighter than anticipated. Treadwell is still looking at a senior year decision, and if Bailey wants to come on board the coaches probably can't afford to wait on him.
The Wolverines made the cut on a couple of top lists, as well. MD CB Kendall Fuller revealed to Rivals($) that he now has a top three of Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Michigan. The Wolverines may have a tough time overcoming Fuller's close connections to VT and Clemson, but they've hung around a lot longer than expected with Fuller, so you never know. Meanwhile, VA DE Wyatt Teller now has a top five($) of Virginia, VT, Michigan, Clemson, and Oregon, and he told 247 he'd like to visit Michigan and Oregon before making a decision. He's looking to decide before his senior season, so things should move quickly on that front.
CA WR/CB John Ross has seen his stock blow up over the summer, and Michigan recently offered him at cornerback, according to Scout's Greg Biggins ($). With the Wolverines taking Channing Stribling at corner last week, I don't anticipate them taking another defensive back unless it's Fuller or Leon McQuay III, though that could change if Michigan misses on their wide receiver targets and the coaches decide to move Stribling to offense.
Harris Decision On Wednesday & More 2014 Updates
Sam Webb reported yesterday that 2014 Grand Rapids Christian two-sport star Drake Harris will decide between Michigan, Michigan State, and Notre Dame on Wednesday. Harris earned a Michigan offer for football while camping in Ann Arbor last week, which makes the timing of his announcement interesting, though he also was at a Tom Izzo basketball camp last weekend. Most pundits have him pegged for State, which has been recruiting him hard for both football and hoops for a long time, and we'll find out soon enough if the common wisdom is correct. Harris projects as a wide receiver on the football field, where most scouts think he has the most potential, and he'd also be a very solid shooting guard prospect on the hardwood.
More evidence of the trend towards an accelerated timeline in recruiting comes from OH LB Michael Ferns, who announced not a top three, but a final three of Michigan, Notre Dame, and Penn State. Ferns told Sam Webb that he wants to stay close to home and make a decision by the end of his junior year ($). The Wolverines appear to be in very good position here after a great visit to Ann Arbor for last week's camp.
Michigan sent out several offers recently, which I'll run down in bullet form:
- TX OLB Hoza Scott, who already holds offers from heavy hitters Alabama, Florida, LSU, Oregon, Texas, and USC, among others.
- TN OL/DL Alex Bars, younger brother of incoming freshman Blake Bars, was just offered according to TomVH ($).
- PA S Montae Nicholson earned an offer after camping at Michigan last week, according to 247's Clint Brewster ($).
- Drake Harris's high school teammate, OL Tommy Doles, picked up an offer on Friday, via Tim Sullivan ($).
- TX S Brandon Simmons pulled in offers from Michigan, LSU, and Ohio State last week, joining a list of over 20 schools ($).
- FL WR Corey Holmes added a Michigan offer after camping last week, and he told Brewster that the offer "gave [him] butterflies" before naming Michigan his top school ($). He's pondering a commitment prior to his senior year and is one to keep an eye on.
- OH LB/DE Joe Henderson also earned a post-camp offer ($). Not to be confused with this guy.
- Chantel Jennings reports that Michigan offered New Orleans RB Leonard Fournette, a massive prospect at 6'1", 232 pounds. Fournette's backstory, a heartbreaking account of surviving the streets of New Orleans in a pre- and post-Katrina world, is well worth your time.
Quickly: OH OL Nathaniel Devers is one tough kid. I'm sure you'll enjoy KY QB Drew Barker telling Eleven Warriors that he'd like to emulate the way Shane Morris has helped spearhead Michigan's recruiting efforts.