this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
If you missed it, Brian handled the recruiting primer for which needs Michigan should fill to finish out the 2015 class. Today's recruiting roundup will attempt to figure out which prospects are most likely to fill the ten or so remaining spots.
THE MOST LIKELY CANDIDATES
CT TE Chris Clark (4*, #2 TE, #80 Ovr. on 247 Composite): Clark, a former Michigan commit, consistently stated over the last few weeks that his interest in the Wolverines would rise significantly if Harbaugh took the job. He spoke with Harbaugh—whom he called the "LeBron James of coaching"—this week and told MLive's Nick Baumgardner it went very well:
"We kind of just talked about how he hopes Michigan turns into 'Tight End U,' and all the top tight ends he produced while he was at Stanford," said Clark, who will play in the Under Armour All-American Game on Friday. "I think six of them went on to the NFL. He said he thinks I could be a great leader for the class, and he's just hoping I'll be a part of it.
"He was a really cool guy, I liked him a lot."
Clark is now down to Michigan and UCLA, and I'd guess he ends up back in the fold.
MI ATH John Kelly (3*, #57 ATH): Kelly could play either running back or defensive back at the next level, though given Michigan's needs I'd guess he'll be recruited for defense. He spoke with Harbaugh within the last couple days and told 247's Steve Lorenz he was "really pumped" about the conversation ($). Even prior to that, he indicated Michigan was moving up his list ($):
"I would love to play for Coach Harbaugh," Kelly said. "I hear he's a tough coach. I'm looking to play for a coach that will try to squeeze out all of the talent and potential in me. His hiring is a great thing for Michigan as well. As long as he contacts me and my family, the chances of me playing at Michigan will definitely increase."
Michigan State is Michigan's chief competition, with Minnesota and Iowa also factoring in. Getting Kelly could help M's efforts in pulling in another major target: former RB commit and current OSU pledge Mike Weber, who's close friends with Kelly; they'd stated in the past they'd like to play together in college, and the Buckeyes aren't pursuing Kelly.
[Hit THE JUMP for probable visitors, other candidates, and the names you can scratch off the wish list.]
Happy Trails, Definitely
ack (also, PROTIP: do NOT do a GIS for "happy trails")
After Michigan nabbed a top-100 receiver, Brian Cole, away from Michigan State the week before, the Spartans returned the favor on Friday when they landed 2016 four-star Cameron Chambers. Point, MSU. Several negative points, meanwhile, to these guys.
Unfortunately, the bad news doesn't end there. The Damien Harris saga appears to be over for Michigan, as the former Wolverine commit announced on Twitter that he'd narrowed his list to five finalists: Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Ohio State, and Texas A&M. Michigan's made a big push for Cass Tech four-star RB Mike Weber in the last couple months, and their efforts to land him should only intensify with this news.
Happy Trails, Probably
Two major U-M targets will announce their commitments to Schools Other Than Michigan soon, though both will remain on the board thanks to their future visit plans.
The first is four-star FL WR Auden Tate, who'll choose between Clemson, Michigan, USF, Maryland, Florida State, Florida, and Georgia tomorrow; the decision is expected to go FSU's way, and since Tate hasn't been to Ann Arbor it won't be U-M. Despite the impending decision, however, Tate told 247's Josh Newberg that he has two official visits planned ($):
“I’m taking one to FSU and I’m taking one to Michigan. I don’t know if I’ll take the other three.”
While Tate will commit elsewhere tomorrow, Michigan isn't totally out of it, even if their ultimate chances of landing him probably aren't great.
The second is four-star MD OG Patrick Allen, who informed Wolverine247 yesterday that he'll officially visit Michigan for the Minnesota game on September 27th. Just hours ago, he told 247's Ryan Bartow that he'll make a decision "in a week or two," which bodes unwell since Allen, like Tate, hasn't yet made it to campus; he has, however, taken trips to the other two schools in his top three, Georgia and Oklahoma. Again, Michigan should get the chance to change his mind, as Allen said he'll still take his official visits.
New 2015 Offer
Michigan offered 2015 four-star CA OG Zach Robertson on Saturday, per 247's Clint Brewster. While Robertson holds a laundry list of offers from powerhouse programs, he plans to check out Ann Arbor on an official visit:
Robertson told Wolverine247 shortly after the Michigan offer went out, "It's a great school for sure. An official visit will be set up."
Pulling Robertson out of California will be difficult—UCLA has been a consistent presence among his top schools, and he also holds a USC offer—but getting him on campus would be a good start.
U-M Makes Top Five For HOLY HAIR
Michigan offered 2016 four-star MD WR Steven Smothers in May, and while he hasn't been able to visit yet, he still has Michigan is his top five, per GBW's Josh Newkirk ($):
“I would say my top-five schools are West Virginia, Alabama, Michigan, Florida and Ohio State,” said the four-star wide out.
“The Michigan offer is big,” Smothers said. “That’s a big time school. It’s a long time traditional powerhouse. That’s really big. Them and Ohio State, they are really a big deal to me, a powerhouse that’s been on top a long time. So I’m just ecstatic about the [Michigan] offer.” Smothers, who was offered by U-M back in May, says would like to possibly take a visit when Michigan plays host to Penn State on Oct. 11.
Importantly, Michigan is very much in the mix for one of the top receivers in the 2016 class. More importantly, this is Steven Smothers' hair (photo via above link):
Must-get recruit, obviously.
Four-star 2016 OH TE Luke Farrell holds a Michigan offer and was on campus for last month's BBQ, but right now his home-state school tops his list, per Scout's Derek Young ($):
"I'd say Ohio State is out front right now," he admitted. "Overall, they're number one on my list so far. I'm not sure when I will make my decision, yet. I'll take care of it once I feel like I am ready."
While Ohio State is winning that battle, it's a more even race for four-star 2016 GA RB Elijah Holyfield, who holds both schools in very high regard after visiting Columbus for OSU's Friday Night Lights camp and Ann Arbor for the BBQ, per 247's Alex Gleitman ($):
After multiple trips to both programs, it is clear that both Ohio State and Michigan are high on Holyfield’s list. He spoke about where the two schools stand, as well as how they compare to each other with 247Sports.
“I don’t have any leaders right now, but those two are definitely in my top group,” he said. “There are others in there too, but I know when I make a top 10 or top 5, whatever, that both Ohio State and Michigan are going to be in there. I’ll definitely be back to each school this fall to see a game at both.
“The schools are definitely a little different though. Michigan is more laid back and chill. Ohio State is up-tempo and intense. They’re different, but I enjoy both coaches and both styles.
Finally, there's reason to keep an eye on Brother Rice this season beyond QB commit Alex Malzone and '15 WR Grant Perry, who's getting a close look from U-M as a potential late offer candidate. Senior DE Jack Dunaway came to the BBQ with his teammates and left holding a preferred walk-on offer, per GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz ($):
Holding offers from Davidson, Saginaw Valley State, Notre Dame College, Cornell, and Harvard, Dunaway is also receiving walk-on interest from Stanford and Notre Dame.
Michigan’s defensive coordinator is telling Dunaway to simply enjoy the process and see what happens.
“[Greg Mattison] said, for your senior year just have fun, you have us, don’t worry about us,” Dunaway said. “He said just get whatever else you can so what’s best for you but just know you have a preferred walk-on for Michigan.”
Dunaway, who's also getting some MAC interest, said his parents are willing to pay his way to Michigan if he wants to walk on there over taking a scholarship at a smaller school. With a very small number of available scholarships, adding a walk-on of Dunaway's caliber at a position of need would be a great way to add depth to the 2015 class.
The annual recruiting extravaganza known as the BBQ at The Big House is just a couple of weeks away on July 27th and already the list of visitors is quite star-studded. A blend of committed and uncommitted prospects from multiple classes will be in attendance for what has proved to be a huge recruiting tool in past classes. Below is who I’ve been able to contact in order to start putting together a list of who will be in attendance and who won’t be. Of course there are many prospects that are still unsure, they are listed as well.
CB Marcus Lewis
CB Mook Reynolds
CB Garrett Taylor
DE Kengera Daniel
K Andrew David
LB Darrin Kirkland Jr.
LB Joshua McMillon
QB Alex Malzone
RB Damien Harris
RB Mike Weber
S Tyree Kinnel
TE Chris Clark
WR Grant Perry
CB Iman Marshall
DE Darian Roseboro
LB Tyriq Thompson
OL Jon Runyan Jr.
TE Tyrone Wheatley Jr.
WR Brian Cole
LB Asmar Bilal
OL Grant Newsome
OL Patrick Allen
OL Connor Williams
RB Alec Murphy
S Kahlil Haughton
WR Lawrence Cager
CB Lavert Hill
QB Messiah deWeaver
RB Elijah Holyfield
TE Luke Farrell
TE Naseir Upshur
WR Austin Mack
LB Daelin Hayes
OL Ben Bredeson
OL Erik Swenson
CB Levonta Taylor
OL Liam Eichenberg
OL Michal Menet
RB Kentrail Moran
RB Kareem Walker
TE Jake Hausmann
WR Binjimen Victor
A visitor list for an event like this is always subject to change and I know there are several others who belong in one of the categories that I just haven’t heard back from yet. Unfortunately for the readers I am embarking on my honeymoon tomorrow so I won’t be adding or subtracting to or from this list for at least a week.
Elite 11/The Opening Updates: Michigan Commits
Alex Malzone didn't make the cut from the 18 quarterbacks invited to the Elite 11 finals down to the top 11, as he couldn't put together enough consistency to move on, according to the camp's resident QB coach, Trent Dilfer (via the Freep):
“When you put him in an environment like this where it’s really fast and great athletes around you and every little microsecond of timing matters, there’s been some inconsistencies. His good is extremely good. His bad has been bad at times, and he’ll be the first to tell you that.”
Dilfer noted that Malzone's baseball background affects his mechanics as a quarterback—the football throwing motion requires a more compact delivery—which makes it tough to maintain consistency. That's apparent on the film from the first day of camp; on a few throws, Malzone keeps his motion pretty tight, but on others—especially the throws when he has to avoid rushers, a situation where a QB is likely to revert to their most natural-feeling delivery—he lets his throwing arm dip down too far, elongating the motion.
Playing in a loaded field while tweaking his mechanics on the fly, with a very limited number of reps to work with, Malzone making the final cut was a tall order. When I say limited reps, I mean limited reps, as Malzone relayed to Scout's Sam Webb and Kyle Bogenschutz ($):
“Yesterday, all we had on the field was a red zone session, seven on seven, each quarterback had six throws, missed a couple of guys. I felt like I could have done better myself. I made up for it in the end. I threw one touchdown at the end and today I came out and did what I could do.”
Ultimately not selected in the top group of the Elite 11 following the rigorous workouts, Malzone just sees it as extra motivation, noting he most definitely gave it his all.
Malzone's moved on to The Opening, which is in its final day today, and as expected recruiting for Michigan is as much a focus as playing at the camp, per 247's Steve Lorenz ($):
"I've talked to [George] Campbell, [Mike] Weber, Keisean [Lucier-South], [Auden] Tate, Ray-Ray [McCloud], Damien [Harris], [Mook] Reynolds and Iman [Marshall]," [Malzone] said.
When asked which player seemed the most receptive to Michigan? "Mike Weber."
More on that last bit later in this post.
Michigan's other representative at The Opening, Darrin Kirkland, stood out as one of the best defensive performers on Tuesday, garnering top ten honors from Scout's Allen Trieu...
Darrin Kirkland - Linebacker, Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence Central
Kirkland, a Michigan commit, has worked hard on his ability to run and move in space and that was on display today as he was one of the top linebackers in coverage. He could run with backs and did a nice job playing the ball in the air, coming away with a couple of interceptions.
...and earning a mention as one of the top four linebackers in attendance from 247's Barton Simmons:
Michigan commit Darrin Kirkland Jr. doesn’t strike you as an overwhelming kid athletically but he is always in the right place, he doesn’t get shaken in space, he can get in the hip pocket of a tight end or running back and he can make a play downfield on the football.
For a prospect whose ability to stuff the run is supposed to be his biggest strength, Kirkland sure gets a lot of camp praise for his coverage. That came up a fair amount during last year's camp season, as well.
2015 Updates: Running Backs
Things are happening on the running back front, as both Damien Harris and the aforementioned Mike Weber will visit for this month's BBQ at the Big House. Harris, who's at The Opening, told 247's Luke Stampini that he's still searching for that feeling he had when he initially committed to Michigan ($):
“I still talk to Coach (Doug) Nussmeier and Coach (Brady) Hoke now and then. People think I lost all connections with Michigan because I decommitted. That wasn’t the case. I just wanted to step back and reevaluate my options.”
He’ll be looking for that spark he once had with Michigan the next time he’s in Ann Arbor.
“Just that feeling I got when I was there initially, the first couple times when I was committed,” Harris said. “That family feel I got with Coach Hoke and the staff. Just kind of reconnect with them.”
Alabama, Kentucky, and Ohio State are the other schools that seem to have separated themselves from the pack. After landing commitments from Jashon Cornell and Justin Hilliard last week, the Buckeyes may very well have the edge, per Webb ($):
“I’d be lying if I said (the Hilliard and Cornell commitments) didn’t impact me a lot,” Harris stated. “Those are just two of my good friends that I’ve become friends with in this whole recruiting process. We all talked about playing together like you said, and now that they’ve committed it gives me more to think about… if I do still want to play with them, or if they (just) went to the school that I like. I just have to take all these things into my thought process and making my decision.”
Harris plans to cut his list to five just before his senior season, then take official visits to each of those schools. Michigan should make the cut, but I get the feeling Ohio State will be tough to overcome. Don't everybody sigh at once, now.
The good news is Michigan still seems to be trending up with Weber, and he's not the only other option should Harris end up elsewhere. Four-star FL RB Dexter Williams, who's "80-percent committed to [Miami]," told Scout's Gerard Martinez that Michigan is one of three other schools he plans to visit ($):
“I know I’m taking an official visit to USC and Michigan as well. I might also officially visit Notre Dame too if I can’t get out there this summer on my own.”
Another, potentially more realistic, option is three-star MO RB Alec Murphy, who recently named a top four of Iowa, Purdue, Mississippi State, and Michigan. Among that group, only the Wolverines haven't offered him, which leads me to believe they'd have a great shot to land him if they eventually extend one. The quote he gave to Scout's Derek Young about Michigan and his decision timeline makes it seem like he may even be waiting on U-M before making his choice ($):
Michigan: "They haven't offered me, yet. An offer could come at some point. They've had a lot of interest in me. I'm hoping they possibly offer because they are a great program."
A summer decision is not out of the question for Murphy.
"I'm thinking about making my decision over the summer," he pointed out. "I'm not real sure yet. If I find the right place before the season then I will make my commitment."
With Ty Isaac in the fold and likely redshirting, my guess is Michigan will wait on the higher-ranked backs before moving on to Murphy—they only need one back in the class, and Murphy seems like a prospect they could offer late in the process and earn a commitment even if he's pledged elsewhere.
2015 Updates: Everything Else
While also mentioning that he's trying to set up a visit for the BBQ, as well as confirming U-M will receive one of his official visits, four-star TN LB Josh McMillon told 247's Clint Brewster two schools are currently standing out to him ($):
Ranked as the 11th best player in Tennessee and the 17th best outside linebacker, McMillon mentioned some programs that have an edge at this point in the process.
“Michigan, Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, and Vanderbilt. Michigan and Alabama are pretty much on top I would say.”
Florida State, Ohio State, and USC are also in the mix, as McMillon said he plans to take official visits to those schools—he can visit the SEC schools among his top group without having to use officials. While that's stiff competition, Sam Webb posted a very positive outlook on Michigan's standing with McMillon on the GBW board ($). Michigan looks to be in very good shape here.
Another standout linebacker at The Opening, four-star UT OLB Osa Masina, plans to cut his list to five before the season starts, per TomVH ($). In that same board post, Webb suggested Michigan could be on the outside looking in due to distance playing a bigger factor that Masina originally expected. Tyriq Thompson and Asmar Bilal are more realistic candidates to end up in the class, as Brandon suggested earlier today.
The pipe dream of landing five-star CA CB Iman Marshall seems to be exactly that; while Marshall previously mentioned a possible July visit in addition to a potential official visit, he told Webb and Bogenschutz at The Opening that nothing has been set yet ($):
One other visit Marshall has been toying with taking is to Ann Arbor to check out Brady Hoke and the Michigan Wolverines.
“It’s still in the planning stages,” Marshall said. “Like I said it’s really been a hectic couple of months and stuff like that so I want to sit down with my parents and discuss what our visit plans are going to be, our travel plans are going to be, so it correlates all together.”
Working in Michigan's favor, however, is the presence of Freddy Canteen, who's been recruiting Marshall since they worked out at the same gym recently. If Marshall is going to get to campus, though, it seems like an official visit is the best bet, and regardless of the visit situation he'll be an extremely tough pull from the West Coast.
Another potential Shaun Crawford replacement, DC CB Marcus Lewis, a current Florida commit, told GatorBait.net that—along with Miami and Oregon—Michigan is one of three schools that'll receive an official visit from him ($):
On Michigan: "They've been recruiting me really hard even though I'm committed. Coach (Kurt) Mallory, coach (Roy) Manning and the whole staff down there. I've heard it's a nice campus, and they're rebuilding. They got a good 2014 class in, so we're going to see what they can do in the Big Ten.
"Right now they look good. Coach (Brady) Hoke, we had a good conversation. I mean he basically said he needs corners. They've got corners on the way out and they need that next Reed to come in. They've got Garrett Taylor and another kid committed, so they need one more DB.
Lewis doesn't seem very strong in his Florida pledge; in the same article, he mentioned concern over the number of cornerbacks they've taken recently (four in the 2014 class, two in 2015). If that's a major factor, uh, nobody show him the depth chart, okay?
Four-star NC SDE Darian Roseboro named Michigan to his top six along with Alabama, Clemson, North Carolina, NC State, and Tennessee, per Scout's Michael Clark ($). He's set to announce on August 29th, and Michigan looks to have serious momentum in their favor right now; if he picked today, they'd likely be the choice.
Four-star FL WR Auden Tate is another top prospect who's trying to set up a visit to the BBQ, and he's slated to take an official to Ann Arbor during the season, per 247's Luke Stampini ($). Tate described U-M as a "dream school" and his "favorite school" growing up, though Florida State, Florida, and Georgia are also serious contenders. With Miles Boykin off the board to Notre Dame, expect the coaches to make a serious push for Tate.
ESPN released their initial Junior 300 for the 2016 class. Messiah deWeaver came in at #115 overall (#11 pro-style QB), while Erik Swenson landed at #256 (#20 OT). ESPN's scouting report on Swenson is quite light on details, so it's quite possible he moves up after further looking into his game (assuming ESPN does so).
The #50 overall player on that list (and #41 in the 247 Composite), LA OT Willie Allen, told Tim Sullivan that Michigan will get a visit from him, though the timing could be a ways off ($):
"I know they're close to an Ivy League school academically, but I really don't know too much about them," [Allen] said of the Wolverines. "I plan on taking a visit up there, but financial-wise, it's when my family can really afford it. I'll have to talk to Coach Fred and see what we can do. It'll probably be next summer. If I can get the money this year, I'll definitely take a visit to Michigan. I plan on waiting it out until senior year, and then making my commitment to a school. But I'm open right now. Every offer that I have as of now is equal. I just want to wait it out."
If Allen makes his way to Ann Arbor, Michigan will be in on one of the most coveted prospects in the 2016 class; as always, however, a top-flight prospect from Louisiana should be presumed to go to LSU or Alabama until all signs say otherwise.
|Malzone. [photo: MI Prep Zone]|
Total Needs: 1
Commits: 1 (Alex Malzone – Bloomfield Hills (MI) Brother Rice)
Moving Forward: The Wolverines are all set at quarterback for the 2015 cycle.
Total Needs: 1-2
Top Candidates: Damien Harris – Berea (KY) Madison Southern, Mike Weber – Detroit (MI) Cass Tech
Honorable Mentions: Jacques Patrick – Orlando (FL) Timber Creek, Johnny Frasier – Princeton (NC) Princeton
Moving Forward: With the transfer addition of Ty Isaac the Wolverines will probably be satisfied with just one running back commitment in the class. If both Damien Harris and Mike Weber decide they’d like to be Wolverines, I’m sure the coaches would find a way to let it happen. That being said, neither of them are sure things and Michigan could end up landing neither. It appears that Weber has now become the top target while Harris may be leaning toward the Buckeyes. Either way, both have said that they will be in attendance for the BBQ at The Big House on July 27 which will be another huge recruiting event. Jacques Patrick and Johnny Frasier remain longshots at this point, but both are still being recruited by the staff.
Total Needs: 1-2
Top Candidates: Brian Cole – Saginaw (MI) Heritage
Honorable Mentions: George Campbell – Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake, Auden Tate – Tampa (FL) Wharton
Moving Forward: This position group worries me more than any other on the board. The staff has offered 11 wide receiver prospects. Four of them are committed elsewhere and outside of Brian Cole, the rest don’t seem to be very likely options. Cole is probably going to be an in-state battle between the Wolverines and Spartans and the upcoming season of each school could prove huge in his recruitment. George Campbell was once a Michigan commit but that seems like ancient history at this point. He’s likely to remain somewhere in Florida. Fellow Florida-native Auden Tate holds Michigan in high regard, but pulling skill players out of Florida has always been a tough task. I haven’t had direct communication with Tate so gauging his interest level is difficult. If Tate visits for the BBQ that will be an obvious move in the right direction.
|Clark: Committed to Power Words.|
Total Needs: 1
Commits: 1 (Chris Clark – Avon (CT) Avon Old Farms)
Top Candidates: Tyrone Wheatley Jr. – Buffalo (NY) Canisius
Honorable Mentions: N/A
Moving Forward: The Wolverines could very well be done at the tight end position. Chris Clark was a somewhat unexpected pleasant surprise, at least timing-wise, and with him in the fold landing another tight end isn’t a must. Tyrone Wheatley Jr. is a legacy offer and told me that he was definitely offered by Michigan as a tight end. That being said, he’s a pretty solid defensive end as well so if he decides he’d like to follow his dad’s footsteps to Ann Arbor, the coaches could give him a look on defense if they felt they were set at tight end. If Wheatley Jr. decides to commit elsewhere, it’s likely that the Wolverines won’t look at another tight end.
Total Needs: 2-3
Commits: 2 (Jon Runyan Jr. – Philadelphia (PA) St. Joseph’s, Grant Newsome – Trenton (NJ) The Lawrenceville School)
Top Candidates: Patrick Allen – Reistertown (MD) Franklin
Honorable Mentions: Drew Richmond – Memphis (TN) Memphis University School, Connor Williams – Coppell (TX) Coppell
Moving Forward: Solid recent recruiting classes have allowed the staff to build some much needed depth on the offensive line. The coaches have been able to secure verbal commitments from two offensive linemen in the 2015 class already and would take one more if he’s a big-time talent. The staff is currently content with Jon Runyan Jr. and Grant Newsome as the lone linemen commitments. Patrick Allen has a top four in order of Oklahoma, Ohio State, Georgia, and Michigan. I doubt Michigan can pass the other three, but by default he’s probably the most likely to become part of this class right now. Drew Richmond is one of the most coveted linemen in the country who has mentioned he’d like to see Michigan for himself, but with no plans to do so as of right now, he’s probably a pipe dream. Connor Williams compares to Richmond in terms of his Michigan interest and is also a longshot at best for the Wolverines.
Total Needs: 0
Moving Forward: Michigan does not appear to be taking a defensive tackle in this recruiting cycle. Solid recent recruiting at the position and a limited number of available scholarships in 2015 have allowed for this position to be a non-priority this time around. They’ve offered five prospects but two of them have committed elsewhere and the other three aren’t going to drop for the maize and blue.
Total Needs: 2
Top Candidates: Keisean Lucier-South – Orange (CA) Lutheran-Orange County, Darian Roseboro – Linconlton (NC) Lincolnton
Honorable Mentions: Kengera Daniel – Raleigh (NC) Millbrook, Jalen Bates –Kaplan (LA) Kaplan
Moving Forward: This position group has two of the more probable future Wolverines in it with Darian Roseboro and Keisean Lucier-South. Roseboro plans to attend the BBQ at the end of July and Lucier-South already has an official visit planned for the Penn State game. It wouldn’t surprise me if Roseboro pulled the trigger while at the BBQ. Lucier-South has tentative plans to commit on National Signing Day, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the environment during his official visit to Ann Arbor was enough to get him to commit. Kengera Daniel and Jalen Bates both also like Michigan quite a bit but are both a little lower down the board compared to Roseboro and Lucier-South.
Total Needs: 2
Commits: 1 (Darrin Kirkland Jr. – Indianapolis (IN) Lawrence Central)
Top Candidates: Asmar Bilal – Indianapolis (IN) Ben Davis, Tyriq Thompson – Detroit (MI) Detroit Martin Luther King, Joshua McMillon – Memphis (TN) Whitehaven
Honorable Mentions: Osa Masina – Salt Lake City (UT) Brighton
Moving Forward: Linebacker is quickly becoming Michigan’s deepest positional group on defense and the 2015 class could continue to build upon that. Darrin Kirkland Jr. is already in the fold and the staff continues to recruit several prospects who are very high on Michigan. Tyriq Thompson is the son of former Wolverine, Clarence Thompson, so he seems to be a very real possibility. Asmar Bilal is believed to be favoring Notre Dame but Michigan is right there for his services. Perhaps the biggest surprise among this group is Tennessee native Joshua McMillon. At nearly 250 lbs. he is massive for a high school linebacker but he has the athleticism to handle it. Our own Ace recently predicted that McMillon will commit to Michigan on 247’s Crystal Ball, citing Sam Webb’s recent optimism regarding McMillon’s comments about the Wolverines. Plucking McMillon from SEC country with a slew of SEC offers would be a big time get for the Michigan coaching staff. At one point Michigan seemed to be in pretty good shape with Osa Masina but recent developments indicate he might be staying closer to home.
|Lewis is loosely tied to Florida at them moment. |
Total Needs: 2-3
Commits: 2 (Tyree Kinnel – Dayton (OH) Wayne, Garrett Taylor – Richmond (VA) St. Christopher’s School)
Top Candidates: Mook Reynolds – Greensboro (NC) Northern Guilford, Marcus Lewis – Washington (DC) Gonzaga
Honorable Mentions: Iman Marshall – Long Beach (CA) Long Beach Poly, John Reid – Philadelphia (PA) St. Joseph’s
Moving Forward: With two very solid commitments already in the fold in the secondary, Michigan can afford to be picky with any additional targets. All four of the potential future members of the class are highly coveted and two of them are actually committed elsewhere right now. Mook Reynolds is currently committed to Virginia Tech but will check out Michigan for the BBQ, while Marcus Lewis is currently considered a Gator. Lewis also plans to check out Michigan in the near future, possibly for the BBQ as well. There isn’t a lot of news out there on John Reid and I haven’t had much contact with him but he’s still on the radar and Garrett Taylor told me that he’s been recruiting him. Iman Marshall’s father told me that they are quite interested in Michigan and hope to check out Ann Arbor if it can be worked out. He’s another highly touted prospect from California that seems to be genuinely interested in Michigan, but probably won’t leave the west coast.
Total Needs: 1
Commits: 1 (Andrew David – Massillon (OH) Washington)
Moving Forward: Michigan identified the need for a kicker, offered Andrew David, and he committed. There isn’t a need for any other special teamers in the 2015 cycle.
I’m going to predict that the 2015 class will be right around 16 members when it’s all said and done. As of right now there are only 4 remaining scholarships available but with inevitable attrition that number should go up to around 8 or so bringing the total to 16 for the class.
Thursday afternoon Michigan picked up a commitment from big time tight end prospect Chris Clark. Clark's recruitment has been a bit unorthodox but after his visit on Thursday, he knew that Michigan was the place for him.
"It's been crazy. As you know I've always liked Michigan a lot. Ever since they offered me back in January I've always thought of them as a school I could end up at," Clark said. "I mean it's Michigan and they are a school I liked a lot growing up so that was always in the back of my mind. Just the visit today, after I actually had really good visits at Ohio State and Michigan State, I was just hoping to see what it could really be like at Michigan. Honestly, if the visit didn't go how it went today, I was probably going to end up at Michigan State. Today just went so well. My mom and dad loved the coaches, as did I. I've known that for a while obviously, my relationship with them has been great for a long time, but today couldn't have went any better."
Clark's orginal plan was to commit at The Opening in a couple of weeks, but he just thought that he could serve a better purpose if he was comitted before he arrived in Oregon.
"Orginally I thought it would be cool to commit while I was there but I called the guys at The Opening and asked them if it was alright if I didn't and they said, 'Of course, it's your decision'." Clark explained. "I just want to get a head start on being able to recruit kids and these three weeks from now until The Opening a lot can happen for some of these recruits. I want to be able to let people know once I get out there that I'm committed to Michigan. In the most modest of ways I consider myself a pretty high-profile recruit, so other recruits might see that I'm committed and think about the opportunity to play with me and the other commits in our class. It's already a pretty stacked class."
Knowing that he can bring more talent into his class, Clark plans on putting a plan in place with the help of the coaches so he can maximize his abilities as a recruiter.
"I'm going to talk with the coaches and they are going to give me some guys to go after," Clark said. "I'm definitely going to talk to Damien Harris and try to get in his ear a little bit. I know he was once committed to Michigan and he's still considering them. I'd like to look at some wide receivers, maybe Miles Boykin. I would say maybe Justin Hilliard, but I'm not sure he's leaning toward Michigan or not but I'll definitely try. I'm going to talk to Coach Nussmeier and he's going to give me some names of kids so that's the plan."
Recruits as highly touted as Clark all have dreams of playing in the NFL, but he knows that it's not realistic to bank on that alone. Life after football, specifically life after Michigan football, was something that he couldn't pass up.
"The things in place at Michigan for football players are amazing," Clark said. "I mean football is going to end at some point for everyone, some sooner than others, and playing in the NFL is such a small chance. Even if you make it, the average career doesn't last very long, maybe three years. Most people are done playing football in their mid-20's and you have to have a plan for something else. A lot of people go to college just to play football and don't really have a plan for afterwards. At Michigan they do a great job of having you set up after college and networking. They help you branch out and meet important people who can help you get into a great job. I mean I hope I get a chance to play in the NFL, but if I don't I know that Michigan will have me ready for life after football. I mean the combination of football and academics at Michigan, you just can't go wrong."
Michigan obviously won Clark over on his final visit, but is it for real? Perhaps the biggest concern surrounding Clark and his recruitment is the fact that he already committed and decommitted once from North Carolina. He also seems to fall in love after each visit to the point where a commitment seems possible. His explanation of all that should put Michigan fans at ease.
"When you look at recruiting, decommitting happens all the time. I'm not necessarily saying that it's the right thing to do, but when someone commits, later on sometimes it just doesn't feel right." Clark expressed. "I know because I've been there, but that's in the past for me. I'm very happy that it worked out like this and I ended up at Michigan. I'm sure people are going to be like, 'Well how is he not just going to do that again?' Well, I know now that I found the school that is right for me. I have now visited all of the schools that I'm interested in. There isn't another school out there that I'm interested in that I haven't seen. Michigan is the best school out of all of the schools that I really liked, that I was considering. Michigan's the spot, I'm not changing my mind. When I committed to UNC I hadn't visited Michigan, Michigan State, or Ohio State. Now that I've seen them all, Michigan is the spot for me."
Now that Michigan IS the spot for Clark, he already seems to understand exactly what that means.
"I'm ready to win some championships and get Michigan back to the top," he said. "Especially starting to beat Ohio State, that's going to be big. I want to make sure that in my four years I don't lose to Ohio State once."
Everything that Clark said, he said with passion. He spoke about all of the things Brady Hoke preaches about when he talks about Michigan. Clark seems to understand the big picture at Michigan on and off the field. He also went on to speak about how close the recruits in his class already are as well, which is important for a small class. He said that Alex Malzone had been working on him for a while. Clark mentioned how close he already is with Grant Newsome. He's also already spent time with Tyree Kinnell at the Rivals 5-Star Challenge. Clark also spoke highly of Darrin Kirkland Jr. There's a chemistry building among this class which speaks to the character of each commit and the closeness that will hold the group together. Clark is definitely a big pickup for the class and provides some momentum moving into the rest of the summer as fall approaches.