"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
Today's recruiting roundup covers the latest on Michigan's remaining 2013 targets, a surprise move in the 2014 class, and more.
Weekend Visit Recap: One Decision Down, Three To Go
TX TE Durham Smythe is back on the market and looking at Michigan
As signing day rapidly approaches, Michigan's path to closing out the 2013 class becomes more clear. Over the weekend, the Wolverines picked up IN OL Dan Samuelson, who told Scout's Allen Trieu that his decision came down to distance ($):
"It came down mostly to distance," he explained. "I shouldn't say mostly, it was completely distance. It is only about a three hour drive, Nebraska being an 11 1/2 hour drive."
With Samuelson in the fold, Michigan now has six offensive lineman committed; does that leave room for CA OL Cameron Hunt, who was also on campus over the weekend? According to Hunt, per an interview with Scout's Greg Biggins, the answer is 'yes' ($):
“The coaches told me they still had room for me,” Hunt said. “I know six offensive linemen is a lot but I’m not afraid to compete. After taking all my trips, if I feel Michigan is the best spot for me, I’ll still go there and be ready to win a job. There is going to be competition anywhere you go so that doesn’t bother me.”
Hunt went straight from his Michigan official to one at Ohio State, and also has trips lined up to Oregon and Cal (where he's still a very soft commit) before he makes his decision.
OH CB Reon Dawson, an Illinois commit, also took a Michigan official over the weekend; he told ESPN's Jared Shanker that a decision is coming soon ($):
A final decision will come Wednesday after talking with his family and his girlfriend’s mother, with whom he has a very close relationship.
“I’ve been thinking about it ... and first off, education will be big. You can get hurt on any given play and you need something to fall back on,” Dawson said. “I’ll talk to my family, and by Wednesday it’ll be done. I need a couple of days to think about this decision.”
Dawson will choose between Michigan and Illinois; given that he'll be just a few days removed from checking out Ann Arbor when he makes his choice, there's definitely reason for optimism.
That won't be the only decision coming down this week, as in-state kicker JJ McGrath tells The Big House Report that he'll choose between Michigan, LSU, and Southern Miss on Friday. McGrath doesn't hold a scholarship offer—he'd come on as a preferred walk-on—but says that he'd have the opportunity to earn one when Brendan Gibbons graduates. The Wolverines are in a strong position to land McGrath, who also was on campus last weekend.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on Derrick Green and Durham Smythe, a surprise commitment to Ohio State's 2014 class, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers MSU visit reactions, a friendly bet between a future Wolverine and a future Buckeye, how not to deal with the Dawson decommitment, and more.
Visit Reactions: Positive (Surprise!)
The overall ugliness of the Michigan-MSU game wasn't enough to dampen the excitement of visitors to the Big House, even when you put aside Denzel Ward's pre-game commitment. In fact, Ward could be joined sooner or later on the 2014 offensive line by four-star FL lineman Mason Cole, who said this to 247's Todd Worly ($, info in header):
“I liked everything about it,” Cole said. “Just the atmosphere and everything. It just feels like home. Just the coaching staff and Ann Arbor.”
When asked where Michigan stands, Cole stated that they're "really high" on his list—impressive considering an offer list that includes USC, Ohio State, Florida, Florida State, and Notre Dame.
GBW's Kyle Bogenshutz caught up with Cass Tech junior CB Damon Webb, who normally plays things close to the vest but had high praise for the visit ($):
“This time when I was up at Michigan it was different,” Webb told GoBlueWolverine. “The crowd was more live. Other Michigan games it wasn’t really this big, but I was really impressed by this visit.”
“It helped a lot,” added Webb.
Top 2013 target VA RB Derrick Green:
Derrick Green responded one word on how visit is going so far at #Michigan -- "great"
— Mike Farrell (@rivalsmike) October 21, 2012
I have to think—given the poor seasons of Auburn and Tennessee—that Michigan is in the driver's seat for Green at this point.
While IL WR Laquon Treadwell was unable to make the trip—I'm a broken record on this subject, so react as you will (sorry, mods)—the Wolverines did host a pair of 2013 prospects currently committed elsewhere. Westland John Glenn WR Da'Mario Jones (CMU commit) was in the Big House for the second straight week, telling Tim Sullivan($) that "it was probably one of the hypest games that I've been to." Scout's Simone Scott posted on The Victors Board($) that Pickerington (OH) North RB Godwin Igwebuike—Northwestern commit and HS teammate of Jake Butt—was also in attendance, though it sounds like he just took the opportunity to catch a game with his friend and teammate. Both Jones and Igwebuike could be backup options should the Wolverines miss out on Treadwell and Green.
Michigan even made waves in the 2015 class, especially with their first offered prospect, KY RB Damien Harris. Harris has spent the season putting up video game numbers after camping in Ann Arbor over the summer; he came away from the visit in awe of the stadium atmosphere, according to TomVH ($):
“I’d say that Michigan was already on top, but it just moved them up even more for me because that’s definitely the type of atmosphere I’d like to play in,” he said. “That makes me want to go there even more. To know that the fans are that into the game, it definitely moved them up.”
Harris added that he couldn't "put it into words how amazing it really was," so yeah, that went well. He's a potential five-star who's already getting serious national attention, and it's safe to say the Wolverines are leading the way right now. It's worth noting that his mother accompanied him on the visit, as well.
The Cass Tech pipeline could continue, meanwhile, in the form of sophomore DE Joshua Alabi, who told 247's Todd Worly that he wants to stay close to home ($):
“Everyone around you is family, so if I could go there, I would,” Alabi said. “I’ve been to Michigan already, and if I could stay home, I would. I don’t want to leave home if I don’t have to. I’d just stay in Michigan.”
Alabi is an impressive young prospect who already stands at 6'5", 245 lbs.; while he doesn't have an offer yet, he's a candidate down the road, and it sounds like Michigan would be in a very good position to land him.
For more visit reaction, Tremendous has you covered.
[Mike McCray throws down the gauntlet against Cam Burrows, a roundup of last weekend's high school action, and more after THE JUMP.]
Today's recruiting roundup features the latest on Derrick Green, Laquon Treadwell's potential fifth star, the new 2014 Scout 300 rankings, and more.
Momentum Changing For Green?
Tremendous caught up with VA RB Derrick Green, newly-minted Scout five-star and one of the top three targets remaining on Michigan's 2013 board, for a thorough rundown of his recruitment. Six schools—Michigan, Auburn, Tennessee, Ole Miss, Oregon, and Virginia Tech—are currently in the running for his services, though the general sense is that the Wolverines, Tigers, and Vols stand out from the pack at large. Green says he could make a decision at any time between now and signing day:
Decision: "It could be NSD; it could be tomorrow. It's going to be a feeling thing for me. Whenever it feels right, I'll make my decision then. I'm not really putting pressure on myself to decide at a certain date, so I'm just going with the flow".
As for where that flow will take Green, much remains uncertain. If he's swayed at all by success in the 2012 season and coach job security, however, Michigan could have a distinct edge provided they don't fall flat in the Big Ten, something also pointed out over at Tremendous. Auburn, thought to have the edge after multiple visits from Green, currently sits at 1-3, with their only victory on the year coming against Louisiana-Monroe; Gene Chizik has one of the hottest seats in the country and his job prospects don't look bright considering the tough SEC slate ahead. Tennessee's in better shape with a 3-2 record, but they're 0-2 in the SEC and face ranked teams in each of the next three weeks, with a home contest against Alabama sandwiched between trips to Mississippi State and South Carolina.
While a sub-par season from Auburn or Tennessee may not be enough to dissuade Green from making an SEC commitment—he doesn't mention team success as a prominent factor in his decision—the very first thing he mentions is his relationship with each team's respective coaching staffs; obviously, if the Tigers or Vols clean house that likely takes them out of the running. While that could open the door for Ole Miss or Oregon to jump to the forefront, it would also likely thrust Michigan into the driver's seat.
There's a long way to go, of course, and this is largely conjecture; the outside forces surrounding Green's recruitment, however, could easily favor Michigan so long as they take care of business in conference play.
[Hit THE JUMP for details on the 2014 Scout 300 and much more.]
In a game that matched the weather, Orchard Lake St. Mary's ground out a 13-6 victory over Cass Tech in a driving rainstorm on Friday, handing the Technicians their first loss of the season. OLSM dominated the line of scrimmage, rushing for over 200 yards, and Cass Tech couldn't overcome a third-quarter muffed punt by Jourdan Lewis that led to the final St. Mary's score.
Due to the constant rain, I wasn't able to take video last weekend, so unfortunately there are no highlights in this post. I did, however, spend the game talking to a Detroit-area high school coach who's been coaching in the region for over 40 years. He unequivocally stated that Cass Tech junior CB/WR Damon Webb was the best player on the field for either team—overall, not just in that single game—and in fact he'd tried to get Webb to transfer to his school when he left U-D Jesuit last year. I also asked him about RB commit Wyatt Shallman; the coach is convinced Shallman's best position is running back and compared his combination of size and athleticism to NFL Hall of Fame back John Riggins.
[After THE JUMP, full scouting reports on the Michigan commits, Webb, and more.]
David Dawson receives his Under Armour All-American jersey in a halftime ceremony
Last weekend, the definitely-not-a-van made its way to Cass Tech for their matchup against Detroit Renaissance. For the second straight week, the Technicians came away with a blowout victory, jumping out to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter en route to a 44-0 final. With the win, Cass Tech starts their title defense with a 3-0 record, including a season-opening triumph over defending Division II state champion Brother Rice.
Soundtrack: "Detroit Twice" — El Michels Affair
2013 CB/WR Jourdan Lewis (Michigan commit): Lewis focused largely on wide receiver in this game, rotating in on defense after the first couple possessions. He showed his shiftiness on offense, taking a tunnel screen 15 yards for a touchdown, then making a Braylon-esque leaping grab on a fade for the subsequent two-point conversion. Lewis recorded another receiving touchdown in the second half and also made an impact on special teams, breaking into the second level on a punt return.
Defensively, Lewis more than held his own in coverage and was not targeted by Renaissance, who chose to take their chances with Damon Webb and DaQuan Pace. This wasn't a great showcase for Lewis as a cornerback prospect; he continued to show that he's a viable candidate for either side of the ball at the next level, however, and he should also contribute as a return man. Lewis did record a late interception to preserve the shutout.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the scouting report plus photos from Dawson's jersey ceremony.]
Today's recruiting roundup wraps up last weekend's high school football action and more.
Jake "Butts" In Early*
Tim Sullivan reports that tight end commit Jake Butt made arrangements with his high school and the Michigan coaching staff to graduate in December and enroll early ($). Kyle Bosch, Taco Charlton, Ross Douglas, and Logan Tuley-Tillman are also slated to arrive in Ann Arbor this winter, and Dymonte Thomas will likely join that number as well.
Given the lack of depth at tight end, this is great news for the Wolverines. Devin "The Funchess" Funchess emerged on Saturday as the future at the position, but he's more of an H-back ("U"-back in the Borges offense) or big wide receiver than a traditional tight end, while Butt has the versatility to play with his hand down or off the line. Butt has a good shot at earning a large role in the offense next year and this increases his shot of earning a starting job right away.
*Jesus, I'm sorry.
Backs On Backs On Backs
Michigan only has two running backs committed in the class of 2013, but you wouldn't know that based on last weekend's high school football games. Cornerback commit Ross Douglas rushed for 116 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries to lead Avon to a 40-14 victory. Future Wolverine linebacker Ben Gedeon tallied 107 yards on 18 carries to help Hudson to a win of their own. Safety Dymonte Thomas spearheaded a Marlington comeback with 166 yards and two touchdowns—including the go-ahead score—on 19 carries. Then there was 285-pound nose tackle Maurice Hurst Jr., who pounded in a one-yard touchdown in a Xaverian Brothers blowout victory, set up by a 24-yard run in which he dragged two defenders to the brink of the goal line.
Actual running back DeVeon Smith toted the rock 26 times for 183 yards and the game-winning touchdown for Warren Howland despite a sore shoulder, but that's to be expected, right?
It's hard to believe, but some Michigan commits had the nerve to excel at non-RB positions over the weekend, as well. Two-way lineman Chris Fox, who is slated to play guard for Michigan, paved the way for a 34-14 Ponderosa victory and earned the admiration of a Highlands Ranch coach:
"Hey, Foxie," an opposing assistant coach yelled Saturday afternoon after the final play. "Great job. You kicked our butts."
Shane Morris, who received his Under Armour All-American Game jersey at a school pep rally last Thursday, completed 9-of-18 passes for 101 yards and a touchdown as De La Salle beat Dearborn Fordson, 40-19.
Wide receiver Jaron Dukes hauled in six catches for 92 yards and a touchdown to help Marion-Franklin to a 28-3 victory over Canal Winchester.
Perhaps the biggest star of the weekend, however, was Gilman DT Henry Poggi, who tallied 11 tackles and 3 1/2 sacks in a 13-6 triumph over national powerhouse Don Bosco Prep. The loss snapped a 46-game winning streak for the Ironmen.
While the Air Force game wasn't the huge visit weekend that Michigan State will be, there will still some major targets on campus. A large Cass Tech contingent made the short trip from Detroit, including 2014 CB Damon Webb, who told Tremendous that he could see himself ending up in Maize and Blue. 2014 Grand Rapids Christian OL Tommy Doles took in the game and told Allen Trieu($) that the B2 stealth bomber flyover was "incredible." 2013 in-state kicker J.J. McGrath was on hand as well and told Tremendous the visit really helped Michigan, though the deciding factor for him will likely be which school offers him a scholarship.
Things have been quiet on the Joe Mathis front, at least where Michigan is concerned, and it sounds like it could stay that way for the 2013 California four-star: he told Rivals analyst Adam Gorney that he plans to take official visits to Texas A&M, Washington, and Utah, and isn't sure where else he'll visit following a good trip to UCLA ($).
Happy trails to 2014 five-star AL RB Bo Scarbrough, who predictably made an early pledge to hometown squad Alabama.