“The player development is the main thing I like (about Michigan),” Williams said. “You can see that they develop their players. They get them in the gym and they work them hard. And their hard work pays off.”
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.
But Is He ELITE? (Yes.)
Before rankling a certain perpetually aggrieved blogger with one of the most innocuous rivalry tweets ever, Alex Malzone earned himself a bid to the Elite 11 finals with an outstanding performance at the Columbus regional. 247's Barton Simmons put him at the top of the list when running down the best QBs in the "Pressure Chamber" drill (video above):
Alex Malzone – Malzone, the Michigan commit, had a very solid evening and had one of the better arms at the event. He also has good active feet in and outside the pocket. He could blend in at times but he definitely rose to the occasion during his pressure chamber showing. Of his five throws, four of them were dimes that he threw with a lot of command. He missed on a dig route but all in all, he had a strong output on his rival’s field. Later Monday night Malzone earned an invitation to the Elite 11 finals, securing one of the final 18 spots.
Scout's Allen Trieu was also impressed, though it sounds like Malzone still has a little work to do on his mechanics ($):
Malzone was generally on the money. His passes down the seam were excellent and showed the arm to hit the deep outs as well. As noted in the past, he has a hitch in his delivery, but the ball comes out of his hand nicely, with good pace, and he's an accurate passer.
Fellow commit Tyree Kinnel took the field last weekend at the Rivals Five-Star Challenge and ranked #5 on their list of top defensive backs at the invite-only event ($):
Multiple times on out routes, Kinnel came up and stepped in front of the pass. He showed off great instincts and a great ability to read receivers' routes and then come up to make the play. Kinnel's backpedal is smooth and then he turns and runs well with receivers. Kinnel is set with his Michigan commitment.
Interestingly, Rivals listed Kinnel as a cornerback; while Michigan recruited him as a safety, he's displayed the requisite coverage ability to have positional flexibility in the secondary. After the event, Kinnel told the Daily's Alejandro Zuniga he's fully committed to U-M despite recent overtures from Alabama and Michigan State.
[Hit THE JUMP for coverage of Ty Isaac's impact on the 2015 RB situation, Grant Newsome's upcoming decision, weekend visit reactions, a potential five-star visitor, and more.]
Michigan hosted four-star Illinois jumbo receiver Miles Boykin and his family for an unofficial visit over the weekend, and after receiving the full campus tour with a special "here's how we'll use you like Devin Funchess" film session, at least one of the Boykins was ready to sign up, per GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz ($):
“My dad and my brother are the biggest Michigan fans I know,” Boykin said. “So they loved it.”
Boykin adding, “When we got back home my brother looked at me and he said, ‘Miles, you’re a better man than I am.’ And I asked what are you talking about? And he was like, ‘I would’ve committed already bro.’
Miles told 247's Steve Wiltfong that he thought the trip "went awesome," and he "loved it" when Jeff Hecklinski showed him how he'd be utilized in the offense($), so while Boykin claimed no leaders it's tough not to feel like Michigan is in a very good position for him—especially since he already visited for the Spring Game and already plans on taking another summer unofficial to Ann Arbor before an August decision. Notre Dame is a serious contender and they're up next on his visit list, so this is far from over, but I like where Michigan stands.
The Wolverines also continue to look good for a few of their top targets, as well. Sam Webb's latest Detroit News article details a slight shift in recruiting strategy by the coaches—focusing on recruiting their position of specialty, as opposed to a set region, earlier than in years past—and how that's affected Michigan's chances with CT TE Chris Clark and NJ OT Grant Newsome.
Both have developed a close relationship with their potential future position coaches—Dan Ferrigno for Clark, Darrell Funk for Newsome—and will be on campus for critical unofficials this month, each accompanied by their mothers this time around. Michigan is Clark's stated leader, while Newsome is down to U-M and Penn State. Read Webb's whole article, which includes details on Alex Malzone's recruiting efforts, and you'll come away feeling good about Michigan's chances to land both.
Newsome won't be the only four-star tackle on campus this summer. According to Webb and Josh Newkirk, TN OT Drew Richmond has been impressed enough with Funk's continued recruiting efforts—even after Richmond left U-M out of his top 11 in March—that he's going to visit in July ($):
“I feel like he knows what he’s talking about and he cares about what he’s doing,” Richmond said about Funk.
The four-star offensive tackle continued: “They have just been consistently recruiting me. I really love the fan base.”
Meanwhile, recently offered TX WR A.D. Miller is on campus today while on a Midwest swing from Illinois to Ohio State, and he told Tim Sullivan he'll narrow down his focus to "about eight schools" after these trips ($). In other positive 2015 news, four-star TN LB Josh McMillon put Michigan in his unordered top ten.
Trending Not So Well...
Ohio State's campus hosted a Nike camp over the weekend, and the recruiting updates from Columbus weren't so good on the Michigan front. Damien Harris, in particular, came away singing the praises of OSU and Urban Meyer, per Doug Lesmerises:
"It's still kind of cool the way things go with Coach Meyer," Harris told cleveland.com Sunday, while attending a Nike Football Training Camp at Ohio State. "As a kid growing up, I'd see him on TV and I was like, 'Man, he's the man.' And now I get to be real cool with him. We walk into a basketball game together, we just get to enjoy life together right now - maybe for the next four years. It' definitely been a blessing. I get to be looked at as important enough to spend time with one of the greats of all time. It's definitely an honor. I don't take it for granted. I'm real thankful for it."
Harris told Steve Wiltfong that Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio State were the programs recruiting him the hardest; in the same article, he discussed how much he "loves" various aspects of OSU, UK, Florida, and Alabama, but when asked about Michigan he mentioned trying to "continue to develop a better relationship" with Doug Nussmeier ($). Harris, if you'll recall, was close with Al Borges before U-M changed OCs; I've finally given in and flipped my Crystal Ball pick for Harris to Ohio State.
The above makes this bit of news from TomVH a little tougher to stomach:
RB Mike Weber told me he does have a top 3 within his top 5. Ohio State, MSU, Wisconsin but Michigan and Tennessee still in it.
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) June 1, 2014
So that's not good. Michigan may be left looking for other options, and they at least have a couple. Tim Sullivan reports that Michigan offered three-star MO RB Alec Murphy (highlights above) a few weeks ago, and Murphy says he's looking at visiting U-M when he attends the Sound Mind Sound Body camp this month ($). The Wolverines could make a quick move here—at the moment, Iowa is his next-best offer.
There's also three-star GA RB Mikell Lands-Davis, who was offered a month ago. Steve Lorenz wrote a couple weeks ago, after U-M dropped by for an in-school visit, that the Wolverines could very well be the #2 team for him behind Clemson ($). If they can get him on campus—and they're working on setting that up—we'll see what happens.
Michigan was one of the first schools to seriously pursue four-star MN DE Jashon Cornell, and at the very least its paying off with continued mentions among his very top schools. The trouble is that the Wolverines have never seemed to quite reach the peak of his list; Notre Dame has the Cretin-Derham pipeline, Michigan State was his stated leader at one point, and now Ohio State has made a move to the forefront, per Wiltfong ($):
Sources close to Cornell told 247Sports Ohio State is now the team to beat. Cornell himself said the Buckeyes are in his top three now. They were on the outside looking in until this visit.
“Something about Coach (Larry) Johnson and Coach (Urban) Meyer,” Cornell said. “They bumped up high.”
Who else is in the top three?
“Maybe Michigan and Penn State,” Cornell said.
The bad news, of course, is that the Buckeyes appear to be on top. The good news is Michigan is still very much in the hunt, and they'll get another chance—along with Michigan State—to jump atop his list after an unofficial when he's in the state for SMSB.
Darrin Kirkland: NFTC LB MVP
One definitively good piece of news to come from the Columbus NFTC—commit Darrin Kirkland Jr. is doing quite well at the whole football thing, per Allen Trieu:
Linebacker MVP: Darrin Kirkland – Lawrence Central (Ind.)
The Michigan commit was impressive with his lateral agility. He did well in pass coverage, not something that was necessarily considered his forte coming in. He was invited to The Opening.
There's something about Kirkland and excelling in Columbus—his excellent coverage in passing drills "surprised" scouts at both the Nike and Rivals camps held there last summer. At some point, maybe it won't surprise anymore.
Recent Offers, Visitors
After receiving a Michigan offer last Wednesday, four-star FL DE Janarius Robinson told 247's Chris Nee he plans to visit Ann Arbor on June 20th ($). While Florida State will be tough to beat, a campus visit with these coaches can't be overlooked.
Another relatively recent offer that went unreported—or at least I didn't notice—until Tim Sullivan dug it up is four-star MD OL Pat Allen, who plans to visit this summer and expect U-M to fall within an impressive top five ($):
"Michigan is going to be in my top five, Georgia's going to be in my top five," he started. "I'm going to have those two, Ohio State is definitely in my top three, Florida State most likely top five.
"With Georgia, it's really the area. I've been there a couple times. It's a really good school, and I think Georgia's a solid program. I don't know much about Michigan yet. They do have a good program, and honestly anybody would be a fool not to go to Michigan. At Ohio State, I'm comfortable when I've been there. The region's really good, the coaching staff is great, the people there are comfortable to be around, I like the city of Columbus, it's really cool.
While OSU is in very good position, that could change once Allen sees U-M for the first time.
In the 2016 class, offers continue to go out to top national quarterback prospects. California five-star, #1 dual-threat QB Malik Henry pulled in an offer last week. Henry's already got serious national interest, and as always, it's best to take a wait-and-see approach with any top California prospect.
Michigan also offered the nation's top pro-style quarterback in WA five-star Jacob Eason, per 247's Clint Brewster. His offer list is even more impressive than Henry's, so he'll also be a tough pull from the West Coast.
The third QB to pull in a recent offer is four-star CA pro-style prospect KJ Costello, who told Scout's Greg Biggins he's visiting Ann Arbor on June 15th to kick off a trip that'll have him see several of the nation's top programs ($). Same deal here—we'll see how he feels after the visit.
GBW reports offers out to a pair of 2016 receivers. Four-star MD slot (5'9", 152) Steven Smothers was very excited to hear the news ($):
“[Mattison] called my coach,” Smothers said on his Michigan offer. “I had the offer for a week or two [before he told me]. But my coach just told me today. I’m really at a loss for words. A big school like that offering is shocking.
“I was pumped, I mean, what more can I say? It’s Michigan!”
U-M is now in his top six along with Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Tennessee, and West Virginia. While FL WR Binjimen Victor is unranked on the recruiting services thus far, he's also received some impressive offers, and he immediately brought up Denard Robinson upon hearing that U-M offered; unfortunately, the Wolverines still have work to do to crack his top group ($):
Victor, who stands at 6-foot-4, 170-pounds, says he is planning on making his final decision sometime during his senior season. While he wouldn’t name a leader, he did say there were a few schools sticking out early on in his recruitment.
“I’m not trying to (commit) or anything but the schools I really like right now are Miami, Ohio State, and Clemson,” said Victor.
Finally, 2016 OH LB Brendan Ferns—younger brother of U-M LB Michael Ferns—visited campus last weekend, and while he doesn't yet have an offer he told GBW having his brother on campus "will help" should one come along ($). After he pulled in a recent offer from Michigan State, it wouldn't surprise if U-M followed suit before too long.