this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
"East Lansing's Big Ten Team" Doesn't Have The Same Allure, For Some Reason
It's been a quiet week, relatively speaking, for Michigan recruiting, so today's roundup kicks off with an update on the program making a serious run for the #3 spot in the Big Ten recruiting rankings: Northwestern.
Yes, you read that right.
No, seriously, you read that right.
The Wildcats built upon their on-field success under Pat Fitzgerald with a solid recruiting class in 2013, landing consensus four-star QB Matt Alviti, underrated RB Godwin Igwebuike, and a solid group of three-stars—not just Midwest kids, either, with signees hailing from Texas (3), California (3), Florida, and New Jersey.
On the heels of a ten-win season and their first bowl win in 63 years, Northwestern is now poised to put together their best recruiting class in... ever? The Wildcats have already hauled in another four-star signal-caller, Clayton Thorson, giving Northwestern future four-star depth at quarterback, a position where they've already managed to turn an array of middling recruits with varying levels of scrambling ability into competent (at the very least) conductors of their up-tempo spread in recent years. Now the Wildcats have jumped up to 19th(!) in the 247 Composite Team Rankings after reeling in MI OL Tommy Doles and OH ATH Dareian Watkins in the last week.
Doles, of course, was long thought to be a heavy Michigan lean—I lost count of the number of times the Grand Rapids Christian product has been on campus in the last year. Given his other offers—Army, Air Force, Iowa State, and Northwestern—and the fact that he seemed on the verge of committing for months, it appears Doles' choice has as much to do with Michigan backing off as Northwestern coming on strong; regardless, the Wolverines should be fine when it comes to O-line recruiting, and the academic-minded Doles found a great fit from an on- and off-field perspective in Evanston.
Watkins, who announced his choice this morning, is the more interesting example of a prospect choosing the Wildcats over several Big Ten (and beyond) options previously thought to be more desirable. Michigan State was his other finalist, and he also held offers from Illinois, Iowa, Louisville, Maryland, NC State, Penn State, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, among others. When Watkins' father explained his choice, Northwestern's academics were cited as a huge reason for the commitment, but the football reasons played a large role as well ($) [emphasis mine]:
"We're all very very excited about the chance to go to Northwestern. We think it's not just an amazing academic opportunity, but an amazing football opportunity. The academics overshadow the football part sometimes, but Coach Fitz has turned the program around. They were 10-3 last year, won the Gator Bowl against an SEC football team, and he was 2-0 against the SEC last year. We think it's undervalued what they are as a football program. As much he chose a life path, he's also very competitive. He wants to be part of a Big Ten Championship and compete for national championships and we think that can be done at Northwestern."
We'll, um, see about the national championships, but there's no question Fitzgerald has put the program in a position to contend for conference titles.
Unlike me, Brian is willing to wade into the shallow end* of the RCMB, and he passed along this glorious response to the usual unhinged ranting following Watkins pledging to Not Michigan State:
*There is no deep end, thankfully. It's actually an inflatable kiddie pool filled with horse manure.
[For the rest of the roundup, including updates on Jamarco Jones, Clifton Garrett, and Jae'Sean Tate, hit THE JUMP.]
Today's recruiting roundup previews this week's Sound Mind Sound Body camp, reminds you why you shouldn't pay attention to every recruit's tweet, updates Kendall Fuller's recruitment, and more.
Move Along, Nothing To See Here
I underestimated you, MGoBoard. When I saw this tweet (later deleted by Logan Tuley-Tillman) come across my feed last night, I fully expected at least one thread bracing for the worst:
— Stephen J. Nesbitt (@stephenjnesbitt) June 12, 2012
After half an hour of semi-rampant decommitment speculation, Logan broke the big news:
— Logan Tuley-Tillman (@LoganTillman) June 12, 2012
Let this serve as your regular reminder that breathlessly hanging onto every word in a recruit's twitter feed is a terrible way to live.
In more relevant news on current commits, I'll be attending the Sound Mind Sound Body camp in Southfield on Wednesday and Thursday, which features a lengthy list of Michigan commits and targets. Shane Morris, Khalid Hill, David Dawson, Csont'e York, and Jourdan Lewis are the commits expected to attend, as is uncommitted CA DE Joe Mathis. There will also be the usual Cass Tech contingent as well as top 2014 in-state DE target Malik McDowell. I'm not sure how much I'll be able to write up this week, as I'm taking a vacation starting Friday morning and the camp runs all day, but I'll be updating on Twitter frequently.
Rivals released their 2013 rankings for the state of Michigan, and the Wolverines unsurprisingly dominate, taking four of the top five spots. Morris tops the list, followed by Notre Dame commit Steve Elmer, Lewis, Dawson, and Wyatt Shallman. York comes in at #8, one spot behind MSU commit Jon Reschke, and Hill sits at #23. Hill's placement strikes me as unusually low, especially since he comes in three spots behind a fellow tight end from Howell whose only offers are from Air Force, Bowling Green, and Western Michigan.
Kendall Fuller Update, Lists, and Visits
Fox Sports/Scout reporter Kristen Kenney caught up with five-star MD CB Kendall Fuller to get the latest on his recruitment in the following video, which strangely is stuck behind a paywall despite having embedding enabled:
Fuller mentions Maryland, Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Michigan as the four schools making the strongest push for him. He's got current or former teammates at all four: Stefon Diggs at Maryland, his older brothers at VT, Dorian O'Daniel at Clemson, and Blake Countess at Michigan. According to Fuller, a decision could come before the season if he's 100% sure of the school he'd like to attend. Fuller's fellow Good Counsel defensive back, Kirk Garner, also has the Wolverines in his top six.
Tremendous dropped off an intriguing tidbit in their notes column as FL CB Leon McQuay III says he's trying to set up a visit to Ann Arbor with teammate WR Alvin Bailey for some time in the next couple weeks. Getting Bailey on campus would be big, and in my opinion the prospect of McQuay making multiple visits in a matter of weeks is even bigger. Click through on the link to see Bailey's outstanding high-top fade in action.
Several prospects are narrowing down their lists as the season approaches. CA ATH Darren Carrington, one of Michigan's most recent offers, told 247's Clint Brewster that the Wolverines "in the top couple schools" that he's considering ($). Carrington appears to be waiting on some potential big-time offers, but also says that he'll try to camp at Michigan and plans to use one of his officials to see Ann Arbor. CA ATH Elijah Qualls, who Michigan is recruiting as a DT, has the Wolverines in his top seven ($). VA DE Wyatt Teller has his eye on four schools($): Virginia, Virginia Tech, Michigan, and Notre Dame, though the two in-state schools appear to have a distinct edge.
Quickly: CA WR Sebastian Larue earned a USC offer this week, and he tells Rivals's Adam Gorney that he's spending the next few days pondering an early commitment ($). If he drops this weekend, it won't be to Michigan. GBW initially reported this week that Michigan offered OH ATH Caleb Day, but that report has been refuted by Rivals and later retracted by GBW. Happy trails to OH WR Kevin Gladney, who committed to Nebraska.
Brief 2014 Updates
...are very brief this week.
Tremendous gets a visit reaction from IN LB Brandon Lee, who checked out campus on Friday and enjoyed the trip.
Five-star AL ATH Bo Scarbrough will visit Ann Arbor later this month ($, info in header). Scarbrough is being recruited by all of the major powers, and while it's a tall task to get a recruit from Tuscaloosa, getting him on campus is a good start.
Four-star IL LB Clifton Garrett, who trains with Core 6 alongside LTT and Laquon Treadwell (among others), will attend July's BBQ at the Big House ($).
2013 commit Kyle Bosch has a younger brother in the class of 2015 who just picked up his first offer($) from Illinois. His name? Brennan Bosch. That won't get confusing at all for the Tigers fans among us.
Today's recruiting roundup is short and sweet, because I feel like, well, another 's' word.
Weekend Visitors and O'Daniel/Fuller Update
A refreshing concept: a recruiting site releasing a free list of the weekend's unofficial visitors. Tip o' the cap, Wolverine247. Six 2013 prospects will be in Ann Arbor, and a couple could be nearing decisions:
- Warren (OH) Howland RB DeVeon Smith, who told Sam Webb that while classes filling up isn't going to factor into his decision, the promise of getting a shot to see the field as a freshman would potentially put Michigan over the top.
- Pittsburgh (PA) Seton LaSalle TE Scott Orndoff, a Wisconsin decommit who mentioned earlier this week that he's very aware of Michigan's rapidly-dwindling scholarship situation and that could affect his timeline.
- Richmond (VA) Hermitage RB Derrick Green, the four-star running back who's been lost in the shuffle in discussions about Smith and Ty Isaac. Green has maintained that a decision won't come from him until signing day, however, which makes it unlikely at this juncture that he'd be a part of the class.
- Baltimore (MD) Gilman DT Henry Poggi, who will be making his third trip to campus. Poggi recently shot down rumors that he was planning to commit this weekend, but he's one of the top targets on the board for Michigan.
- Detroit Cass Tech S Delano Hill and DT Kenton Gibbs, the only unoffered '13 prospects on campus this weekend. Hill coming to campus in the hopes that Michigan will reciprocate his high interest. He currently holds offers from Illinois, Iowa, and Syracuse. Gibbs, who also has an Illinois offer, also has high praise for the Wolverines but no offer as of yet ($).
Four 2014 prospects from Cass Tech will also visit this weekend, including their entire linebacker corps of William White, Gary Hosey, and Deon Drake. Cass Tech WR Damon Webb and '14 Hinsdale (IL) Central OL Brian Allen round out the visitor list.
The big news so far this week, however, came down yesterday, when linebacker Dorian O'Daniel tweeted that his planned spring game visit to Michigan was cancelled. Subsequent tweets indicated that O'Daniel had been told Michigan is full at linebacker, and this was confirmed by Mike Farrell of Rivals ($). All indications point to the Wolverines landing Ben Gedeon sooner or later, and saving an extra spot in the class for E.J. Levenberry. Farrell also noted that O'Daniel's Good Counsel teammate, five-star corner Kendall Fuller, plans on visiting Ann Arbor for the spring game at least for now, but that situation could easily change ($).
Running Backs, Future Visitors, Etc.
Webb's DetNews feature on DeVeon Smith also included quotes from his older brother Lance, a former Warren Howland standout himself before playing college ball at Wisconsin and Memphis:
"When I was in high school I believe I was 5-10, 190 pounds, and I was running about a 4.5," Lance recalled. "I worked hard in the weight room. I was doing 225 pounds probably about 20 times in high school. I could have been physical if I wanted to, but that's not the style I attacked with. What's different about me and Deveon is I've never ever, including the college level, seen a person run so hard. He doesn't have the moves I had, but I didn't have the power he has."
Michigan fans are obviously keeping a close eye on DeVeon to see what happens with Ty Isaac. Webb talked to Isaac this week to dispel some rumors surrounding his recruitment [emphasis mine] ($):
“I tell people all of the time that I don’t care (about how many backs my suitors recruit),” the five-star runner insisted. “If that was the case I might as well be going [to] play somewhere that’s really small, that’s not bringing in a lot of players. If I’m afraid to compete with someone in my class, how am I going to compete with someone older or younger than me?”
“Competition makes you better. If you don’t have someone behind you pushing you to be better, you might get sloppy. If I’m the only back in the class, yeah that’s cool with me… but if I’m not, it’s not a turnoff and I’m not scared of it. I would expect people to be disappointed in me if I was talking like that. As a coach if I heard somebody say that, I’d understand. But at the same time, to me that sounds like you’re scared of competition.”
It's worth noting that Isaac has split time in the backfield with D-I tailbacks as both a sophomore and junior, so he's very much used to competition. This statement would suggest that Michigan could take both Smith and Isaac if they wanted to commit, though a source tells me the plan is for Michigan to take just two running backs, and that's including Wyatt Shallman. Isaac, as he has maintained, will fly out to USC next Thursday for a weekend visit.
A quick happy trails to WR James Onwualu, who followed in the path of former Cretin-Derham star and family friend Michael Floyd by committing to Notre Dame on Wednesday.
Quickly: Washington (DC) Gonzaga CB Devin Butler will visit March 24th ($, info in header). NJ DE Dajuan Drennon is setting up a visit for the spring game ($, info in header). Tremendous catches up with MA WR Zach Bradshaw after last weekend's visit, and Bradshaw reveals that the coaches are looking to take three WRs in this class. Michigan made an early impression on '14 QB Chandler Kincade after he visited a few weeks ago ($, info in header). The Wolverines are one of several big-name schools currently showing interest in Plainfield (IL) South LB Clifton Garrett, one of the top sophomores in the region ($, info in header). TomVH goes over the top wideout targets in the '13 class ($). LOLMSU.