...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses early returns on Shane Morris at the Elite 11 finals, 7-on-7 highlights of Khalid Hill and Csont'e York, and a few happy trails in both the '13 and '14 classes. Also included is an interview with 2014 TX CB Nick Watkins.
Arm Cannon: Engaged
Embedded again, both for informative purposes and so I can make a "Tom Luginbill got his watch from a Happy Meal" joke.
The Elite 11 finals are under way in California, and naturally they feature Shane Morris throwing a football a very long distance:
So the QBs are throwing 55 yards at a target, Shane Morris dropped back to the 35 and hit the End line, 75 yards
— Scott Kennedy (@ScoutKennedy) July 19, 2012
Shane Morris, Warren (Mich.) De La Salle: Morris clearly has the biggest arm at the event and loves to show it off. But this is even more encouraging: He is improving his touch and the ball didn't sail on him nearly as frequently as it has in past showcases. His long ball wobbled a bit, but it wasn't too concerning. Morris' ceiling is very, very high.
And his Day 2 performance even moreso, as he landed atop Farrell's list of standouts ($):
1. Shane Morris, Warren (Mich.) De La Salle - Morris earned the gold jersey for the afternoon after winning the accuracy contest in the morning and he continued his fine play in 7-on-7 situations. While all of the quarterbacks have been encouraged to check down quickly, Morris keeps his eyes downfield more than others, has a cannon arm and fit the ball into some tight windows. He still clearly prefers to throw to his left so he needs to work on field vision, but he has shown the most overall tools through two days.
The lefty's tendency to focus on only half of the field appears to be the area he must work on the most, as it also cropped up in Scout's rundown of the second day's top performers ($):
4. Shane Morris - There shouldn't be much question of who has the strongest arm any more. Including the college players acting as counselors, the strongest arm at the Elite 11 Finals belongs to Morris. When push comes to shove, Morris has a laser-like focus on the left side of the field. That's a habit he'll need to outgrow.
That arm, though; counselors at the event include Georgia's Aaron Murray and Clemson's Tajh Boyd, and if Scout is to be believed Morris already has more arm strength than those two.
With the event still ongoing, I'll have more on Morris's Elite 11 performance in Tuesday's roundup. Other early standouts include Miami commit Kevin Olsen, USC commit Max Browne, and Notre Dame commit Malik Zaire.
Khalid Hill And Csont'e York 7-on-7 Highlights
GBW's Josh Newkirk recently uploaded Maximum Exposure player highlights from the IMG 7-on-7 National Championships, giving us a close look at tight end commit Khalid Hill...
...as well as wide receiver commit Csont'e York:
Hill's more extensive highlight reel suggests that he was a more frequent target of Morris at the event, and you can see why: he does a nice job working underneath the coverage as well as finding space up the seam. York gives defenders trouble with his length, but the brief clip doesn't tell us a whole lot more about him as you can't see him run most of the routes.
Speaking of MaxEx, 247's Steve Wiltfong recapped their summer performances thus far, including blurbs on Morris, York, Hill, Jourdan Lewis, Damon Webb, and Malik McDowell.
Not much news on the 2013 recruiting front this week, but we do have a few happy trails, unfortunately.
It should come as no surprise that TN RB Jordan Wilkins pledged to Auburn after previously eliminating the Wolverines from contention. VA RB Derrick Green is now the lone remaining running back target in the class.
There had been some talk of five-star FL CB Vernon Hargreaves III putting Michigan back into the mix in his recruitment, but he tweeted yesterday that he won't be able to visit Ann Arbor; he's releasing a top five momentarily, and the Wolverines won't be on it.
HI DT Scott Pagano named a top four of LSU, Alabama, Florida, and Clemson, and will name his choice on August 10th ($). He hasn't visited Michigan and I don't believe the coaches are taking another defensive tackle regardless.
OH LB Michael Ferns has already narrowed his list down to a final three of Michigan, Penn State, and Notre Dame. ESPN's Jared Shanker reveals he's also ahead of the game when it comes to academics:
Ferns will return to the Red Devils basketball team after taking his sophomore year off. His head coach at St. Clairsville, Brett McLean, said Ferns will be in the running for valedictorian in 2014, and to top it off the imposing, hard-hitting linebacker is preparing to go pre-med when he gets to college.
"As soon as I got into high school science and math stuck out for me," Ferns said. "From a social aspect, I feel like I could make (football and pre-med) work. Every college at this level is going to have a great education. I'm focusing on going to school but also the opportunities I'll have after my four years and what it takes to finish up pre-med."
[ed-S: Med School rankings by USN&WR, just sayin': Michigan-10th; Penn State-unranked, at least worse than 110th; Notre Dame-doesn't have one]
Matt Pargoff recently caught up with Ferns, who says he's looking to make a decision by the end of his junior year, and he plans on graduating early. Ferns made trips with his whole family to Notre Dame and Penn State, but on his prior visit to Ann Arbor was accompanied only by his father; he plans to rectify that situation for next weekend's BBQ at the Big House.
Those hoping Cass Tech CB Damon Webb would make an early decision to Michigan might want to temper those expectations after Webb camped at LSU and came away with an offer ($). Webb's father told Allen Trieu that a decision won't come until "probably this time next year," and they'll make a return trip to Baton Rouge before then. He's also quoted by Steve Wiltfong($) as saying that "LSU is right up there with Michigan." Webb is looking like a top-100 player who will garner attention from a who's-who list of national powers, which gives me the feeling his recruitment is far from over, even though Michigan holds home-field advantage.
Here's a fun example of why I don't often post links here when recruits say they want to visit a school but don't set a date. Two days ago, 247's Todd Worly posted an article on FL ATH Javon Harrison containing this quote($):
“I’ll try to visit [Michigan],” Harrison said. “I’ll try to go this fall during the week, and I probably could make it for a game. Probably both.”
On the same day as the article was posted, Harrison announced his commitment to Virginia Tech. It's always a good idea to take any quote like the above with a grain of salt when it's given to a reporter from a team-specific site.
Joining Harrison in the happy trails category are AZ OT Casey Tucker, who pledged to USC this week, and SC LB K.C. Crosby, who will choose on Sunday between a final five that doesn't include Michigan ($).
An Interview With Nick Watkins
TX CB Nick Watkins has already garnered offers from Michigan, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M. He's also ranked as the #36 overall prospect in the class of 2014 by 247. At 6'0", 180 pounds, he has frame to be an elite cornerback, and with those early offers it's easy to see him maintaining his blue-chip status through the recruiting process. I had the chance to briefly chat with Nick earlier this week, and here's the transcript of our interview:
ACE: First of all, which schools have been in contact with you the most so far, and how many offers are you up to?
NICK: I am up to I think 13, and all of the schools have been in contact with my coaches about me.
ACE: Do you have any favorites or a top list right now?
NICK: Nah, not really, all of them are at the top right now.
ACE: What do you know about Michigan, and what was your reaction to getting an offer from them?
NICK: I know that they're a winning program, with great tradition. My reaction was surprised because they hadn't sent me any mail or been in contact with my coaches until the last week of spring football.
ACE: Now that they've offered have you been in touch with the coaches more? If so, which coach or coaches do you talk to?
NICK: Yes, I have been. I talk to Coach Mallory and Coach Funk.
ACE: What schools have you visited so far, and do you have plans to take any visits during the rest of the summer?
NICK: I only visited Texas. And nah, not right now.
ACE: I know it's a long way away, but what factors will determine where you want to go to school?
NICK: The education [is] first. So a good business major! Also, where I can compete and get on the field early, a good school atmosphere and a good coaching staff!
ACE: If you had to scout yourself, what would you say is your biggest strength and what do you want to improve before you get to the next level?
NICK: My biggest strength would be my length. I have great hips for a tall corner, and I can make plays! I want to improve my strength right now.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses rankings updates from three recruiting services, a few more tidbits from The Opening, a potential surprise five-star visitor, and more.
In the wake of The Opening, three recruiting sites—Scout, 247, and ESPN—have updated their top lists. Instead of going over each update individually, I've jammed the results into a (chart?) chart below. The number in parentheses is the change from each site's last update; a positive means a rise and a negative means a drop, just to be clear. Notable stuff in bold.
|Shane Morris||29 (-1)||19 (+2)||26 (+6)|
|Patrick Kugler||30 (+1)||158 (-4)||116 (-4)|
|Dymonte Thomas||35 (—)||52 (-1)||94 (+4)|
|Kyle Bosch||48 (+1)||75 (-23)||126 (-6)|
|Deveon Smith||60 (-7)||222 (+4)||NR|
|Chris Fox||134 (+5)||100 (-27)||112 (-4)|
|Henry Poggi||136 (-1)||107 (-2)||259 (-9)|
|Jake Butt||137 (+15)||NR||171 (+61)|
|Ben Gedeon||155 (-2)||177 (-2)||278 (-8)|
|Jourdan Lewis||168 (+5)||NR||92 (—)|
|David Dawson||179 (-1)||138 (+19)||89 (—)|
|Logan Tuley-Tillman||194 (-4)||95 (-6)||102 (-8)|
|Maurice Hurst Jr.||215 (-2)||NR||NR|
|Mike McCray||216 (-2)||178 (-2)||108 (-4)|
|Gareon Conley||233 (-1)||229 (-7)||63 (+1)|
|Taco Charlton||269 (NR)||90 (—)||120 (-6)|
|Wyatt Shallman||268 (-5)||NR||NR|
|Jaron Dukes||296 (-1)||NR||222 (-6)|
Starting from the top, Shane Morris may have only moved up two spots on 247, but that was enough to earn him a fifth star:
Michigan quarterback commit Shane Morris displayed consistency and his trademark big left arm at The Opening. Morris was a top two quarterback at the event for its entirety and continues to be one of the most important recruits in the history of Wolverines football considering his leadership in helping the nation’s current No. 2 overall class come together. Morris was on the verge of five-star status for most of this cycle and his showing last week put him over the top.
Morris also rose six spots on ESPN, but the Worldwide Leader has only handed out seven five-stars in the class thus far, decidedly fewer than any other service.
Kyle Bosch rather surprisingly dropped 23 places on 247; he gave it a go at The Opening on day one before leaving the camp due to an illness, which may have affected his ranking (whether fairly or unfairly is up to you). Less surprising was Chris Fox's 27-spot plunge on 247, as he's had an up-and-down camp season.
The biggest beneficiary of an outstanding performance at The Opening was Jake Butt, who ascended 15 spots on Scout and a whopping 61 on ESPN. Strangely, 247 still doesn't have him ranked in their Top 247, which stands out as they normally seem to have big swings in rankings (see: Bosch, Fox, Dawson) after camps. Butt and Jourdan Lewis both have very legitimate cases for entering 247's list, yet neither makes an appearance.
David Dawson saw his stock rise on 247 to the tune of 19 spots as he continues to impress with every camp appearance. Fellow lineman Logan Tuley-Tillman saw slight drops across the board, however, as his camp showings have revealed a need to get in better shape and improve technically.
The subject of much debate since The Opening, Taco Charlton went from an unranked three-star to a four-star and the #269 overall player on Scout. 247 and ESPN think very highly of him, even with a slight ding in the rankings from ESPN, but we'll see where he ends up on Rivals after Mike Farrell's disappointing review.
If someone could please come to a consensus on the relative abilities of Deveon Smith, it would be much appreciated.
Closing The Opening
I'm as sick of coverage of The Opening as I'm sure you are, but a few more nuggets of info have trickled out since Tuesday's roundup. IL WR Laquon Treadwell earned mention on Scout in both their top ten offensive performers and their five offensive surprises ($):
While Treadwell came into the weekend ranked #9 at his position and 4-stars overall, his performance still caught us by surprise. Almost all of the top ranked receivers in the country were at The Opening and few played as well as Treadwell. He showed a great ability to go up and get the ball, easily pulling it down over defenders. Treadwell was also consistent and found success in every drill and game throughout the weekend.
On the other side of the ball, commit Jourdan Lewis make the cut for the top ten defensive performers:
Lewis was one of the top cornerbacks at The Opening in 2012. He broke on the ball very well, he locked up his man much of the time, and he showed the ability to open up his hips and run with the wide receivers. He had some picks and those were nice, but his coverage stood out the most.
Lastly, 247's Barton Simmons tabbed a surprise performer who could end up on your radar soon:
Delano Hill, DB- I’ve seen Delano Hill on a couple of different occasions and he’s always been a steady performer, always one of the better safeties in attendance. With his performance this weekend, he was once again one of the best safeties in attendance but among a much stronger field. Not only does Hill have great size but he really popped for us early in the weekend when he added one of the fastest 40-yard dash times of the event with a 4.42. Iowa is getting a star.
Hill is currently committed to Iowa, but he goes to uber-pipeline Cass Tech. If Michigan misses out on their blue-chip targets at defensive back, Hill could merit a late offer to fill the last spot in the class.
Priest Willis: An Option?
Tremendous dropped a very interesting tidbit in their recruiting notes yesterday, revealing that five-star CA CB Priest Willis could be more of an option than previously thought (previous thought was "not an option at all") [emphasis mine]:
I was able to talk with Priest the other day, who recently named a top 16. He said he was going to cut it to 8 pretty soon. My assumption was Michigan would not make this second cut, but I was wrong. Priest gave me the following schools (again, huge grain of salt, as I was shocked Michigan was in his group): USC, LSU, Arizona State, UCLA, Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame and Michigan. He also said he wants to set up an official visit to Michigan because of its distance from his hometown of Tempe, Arizona. Priest told me this even after he acknowledged that he hadn't heard from the Michigan coaches in a while.
We'll see if there's still interest from the coaches, though I'd have to believe they'd be happy to host a five-star defensive back. If Willis still maintains interest even though he's not hearing much from the school, that sounds like a pretty good sign; that said, I'm still considering him a longshot until further developments.
Also in the above post is clarification from MD WR Paul Harris, who says his purported cut to USC and Tennessee was misreported. Harris maintains a top five of USC, Tennessee, Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State, according to the Washington Post. Odds of landing him still appear slim due to the presence of Treadwell.
Sam Webb's latest DetNews offering profiles Cass Tech CB Damon Webb, the breakout star of the summer circuit. Damon claims that Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State stand out among his offers, and though he won't name a leader at this time he does mention the Wolverines as a childhood favorite while also noting the presence of so many Technicians as a positive. Allen Trieu gives a very positive scouting report and an idea of where Webb stands among players in the state:
"In-state, it's him, (Grand Rapids Christian's) Drake Harris and (Detroit Loyola's) Malik McDowell as the top three right now. With it being as early as it is, I could see that ending up in any order, or new guys moving in. What I've learned is early rankings and hype don't always hold until signing day. McDowell is considered the top dog right now, but that can change.
With Webb now focused more on cornerback—he also plays wide receiver—we could see him continue to rise as he learns the position.
FL OL Mason Cole will be at July 29's BBQ at the Big House with wide receiver teammate Artavis Scott, according to Tim Sullivan ($).
IN WR Austin Roberts also plans to be at the BBQ, via 247's Clint Brewster ($).
Tremendous enlists the help of a couple of the 11W recruiting guys to put together an early Midwest hot list for the class of 2014. This is a great starting point if you're looking to get familiar with the prospects who will be targets of the top Big Ten programs, including Michigan.
The last piece of the 2013 puzzle.
Welcome to the debut of the MGoBlog recruiting mailbag, which will be a regular feature moving forward. The initial response to the mailbag was fantastic, so thanks to everyone who wrote in and apologies for not being able to answer every question here. For future mailbags, be sure to email me or send your questions on Twitter with the hashtag #mgomailbag.
Without further ado, on to your questions:
Do you see us having any significant holes left in the recruiting class of 2013? Who should fill them for us? — @craiglaluk
The one glaring need in the class is a top-flight wide receiver; while I like the size and upside of both Jaron Dukes and Csont'e York, Michigan still lacks a blue-chip talent who can contribute early, a necessity given the unproven nature of the current receivers on the roster. Obviously, Laquon Treadwell is the main target here and the Wolverines are the overwhelming favorite to land him, so it's highly unlikely this need goes unaddressed.
With USC's class, is our "best case scenario" a number 2 overall class ranking? — @kasualt
USC is putting together the most talented class in the country, without question; among their 14 commits are the Rivals #1 quarterback (Max Browne), #1 safety (Su'a Cravens), #1 guard (Khaliel Rodgers), #2 and #5 defensive ends (Kenny Bigelow and Eddie Vanderdoes, respectively), and #3 and #5 running backs (Ty Isaac and Justin Davis). Their class currently consists of three five-stars and 11 four-stars. I hate to say it, but Lane Kiffin is doing some serious work.
Where USC may come up short, however, is in sheer size of the class. Thanks to NCAA penalties, the Trojans can only take four more players in the class, and with Michigan poised for a class of 24 I'm guessing the Wolverines can still take the top spot if they land Treadwell and another four-star to finish the class. For pure star average, however, it's going to be very tough to top USC this year. Alabama and LSU should also be serious contenders for best class.
Hi Ace. 2013 is shaping up to be one of the most amazing recruiting crops in years. Priorities for 2014 class? — @craiglaluk
Matt Pargoff recently posted a complete depth chart by class for the class of 2014, which gives us a great starting point for this discussion. Before I dive into the needs, it's worth noting that the 2014 class will be expected to replace the production of graduating players like Courtney Avery and Jibreel Black, whom you may note just finished their sophomore seasons. Anything written here is subject to some serious change.
That said, there are several position groups that will need to be addressed in two years regardless of future attrition. First among them is quarterback; once Devin Gardner graduates, only Russell Bellomy and Shane Morris remain as scholarship QBs on the roster. Michigan is already taking a hard look at MI QB Chance Stewart and OH QB DeShone Kizer, though no offers have gone out at the position as of yet. While a top-flight guy probably isn't necessary—or realistic—given the presence of Morris, a player with starting potential is a definite must.
With Michigan all but assured to miss out on feature backs like Ty Isaac, Derrick Green, and Jordan Wilkins in the current class, running back will be a huge priority yet again. The Wolverines already have offers out to four of the top 2014 running backs in the country—Leonard Fournette, Jonathan Hilliman, Jalen Hurd, and Bo Scarbrough—and more are sure to follow.
Even if Treadwell comes on board, wide receiver will once again be a need. We should find out in 2014 if Al Borges plans to utilize any slot-demon types, as the only receivers on the roster will be Jerald Robinson, incoming freshmen Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson, and the class of 2013 commits. There's not a true slot among those players, so unless Justice Hayes moves to receiver, that position will need to be filled by an incoming freshman or simply ignored entirely.
As always, depth on both lines is a priority, especially on defense. Frank Clark and Brennen Beyer both graduate after the 2014 season, leaving only Mario Ojemudia and Taco Charlton—two boom-or-bust prospects, in my opinion—at weakside DE. Strongside end won't be much deeper with Keith Heitzman, Chris Wormley, and Tom Strobel. Depending on the collegiate position of Maurice Hurst Jr., nose tackle could also become a glaring need.
Blake Countess, Delonte Hollowell, and Raymon Taylor will all be seniors in 2014, leaving holes to fill at cornerback even in the unlikely event that Michigan picks up a player like Kendall Fuller or Leon McQuay III to round out 2013. Keep a close eye on Cass Tech's Damon Webb and Illinois prospect Parrker Westphal, both of whom are early favorities to join the 2014 class; landing that duo would be a great start to filling needs in the secondary.
So, um, basically everything besides linebacker. I hope this was helpful and not a complete waste of time.
What's your best guess on Treadwell's decision date? — @TKBigCrew
Treadwell's recent quotes indicate that he's not entirely sure himself; he says he'll commit on a "random day," admits Michigan is almost certainly his choice, and says that day will be "soon," but he still wants to take official visits. My guess is he's tiring of the process and will make his decision before the season—which means before officials—but I wouldn't be surprised if he at least checked out Oklahoma State before an announcement. Regardless of timetable or visits, it's going to take a heck of a lot to dethrone the Wolverines from his top spot.
What's up with Mike Farrell's analysis of Taco [Charlton] at the opening? Seems contradictory to what we've heard elsewhere. — @natebburn
This award goes to the player who lowered his stock the most from the camp. While Pickerington (Ohio) Central defensive end Taco Charlton looks the part, he really struggled. He has great size, long arms and he is very athletic. However, he is also very upright, only has an outside move and when coaches tried to teach him misdirection or crossover, he didn't grasp it well at all. He was beaten on almost every 1-on-1 rep he took.
Without seeing the event itself, I can't add my own opinion of Charlton's performance, but I'll say that this jives with a lot of what we know about him. Charlton is a very raw prospect who possesses all the athletic ability needed to be an elite end, yet still was a situational pass-rusher as a sophomore. It's not a mystery that he was recruited because of his sky-high upside. Pitting a player like that against the best linemen the country has to offer is a recipe for a sub-par performance.
However, I wouldn't be too concerned about Farrell's review of Charlton. He still acknowledges that Taco has the frame and athleticism to make a big impact. We already knew that he isn't advanced technically and will almost certainly need a redshirt year and some coaching up before he sees the field. I don't think what happened at The Opening—which is obviously up for interpretation in the first place—changes any of that. If Charlton had excelled against the top linemen in the country it would have been a very pleasant surprise. As it stands, I still think he's got one of the highest ceilings of any recruit in Michigan's class.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses The Opening, the David Dawson thing that's no longer a thing, the latest on Laquon Treadwell, and more.
Ask And Ye Shall Receive Some Answers, Hopefully
Before I get into the events of the weekend, we're introducing a new feature: the recruiting mailbag (witty title pending witty thought). If you've got any recruiting-related questions—whether about Michigan, the Big Ten, or a more general query—send them to me via email or on Twitter and I'll do my best to provide an informed answer.
Author Gloating Section
So, remember this? You should, since I posted it on Friday:
Speaking of nothing to see here, David Dawson caused a stir yesterday when he tweeted that his Michigan teammates had "left [him]" while at The Opening, then saying he was chilling with a group of Florida commits. Dawson has recently discussed camping at Florida, so we now have a new panic about a possible decommitment. I'll only say this on the matter: STOP hanging onto every word a recruit says on Twitter. In fact, I'll reiterate that you should probably stop following recruits entirely, especially if you're the type to worry about stuff like Dawson's tweet. It's just not worth it. It's the job of people like myself, TomVH, Tim Sullivan, and Steve Lorenz to follow these recruits and pass along any information that's actually pertinent. If anything newsworthy arises out of the Dawson situation—and hanging out with Florida commits is beyond not newsworthy—we'll keep you posted.
Let's move on, shall we?
Cloudy With A Chance Of Ground Beef
As far as I'm concerned, the most important thing to come out of The Opening was this headline from Scout for a three-picture slideshow of Taco Charlton jumping over a tackling dummy:
The Opening: Taco Skies
Mmmmmmmmmm, Taco skies:
Setting aside food-related fantasies, Charlton appears to be a freak athlete for a defensive end, a feeling backed up by his impressive 100.29 SPARQ score, best among Michigan commits and 50th overall among The Opening participants.
Since there was an unprecedented amount of coverage for a high school camp, I'm breaking up the remaining news from The Opening by player. Here's the lowdown on the performance of Michigan's seven commits in attendance plus another prospect who could join that number soon:
QB SHANE MORRIS
Morris had a typically outstanding weekend, and even with a couple rough patches he stood out as one of two top-tier quarterbacks at the event along with USC commit Max Browne. CBSSports's Bryan Fischer on Morris's overall performance:
It is pretty easy to pencil in Morris as the second-best quarterback at The Opening because there was a significant drop off after him to the other four QB's. We've seen him in action a few times this year and we can't help but notice that his arm is much stronger than it was this time last year. He was the top guy during pool play but was hot and cold during the tournament go around, tossing a few interceptions and sailing the ball high at times. He did a good job of getting the ball out quickly but when he had to move on to other reads, that's when he started to struggle. There were some grumbles that Morris was the reason his team didn't win the championship but, frankly, they wouldn't have even been in a position to play for it if it were not for the five-star's precision passing most of the weekend.
247 listed Morris behind Browne among their top performers and praised his arm strength, while SBNation mentioned his "quick and decisive" reads in the 7-on-7 portion. He also did a pretty spot-on imitation of Mark Dantonio for ESPN—though as Sean Yuille points out, nothing compares to Ondre Pipkins's Brady Hoke—and was the subject of an ESPN feature article on the stories behind his many bracelets.
TE JAKE BUTT
8. TE Jake Butt, Pickerington (Ohio) North: Butt has been overshadowed a bit by [Alabama TE commit O.J.] Howard, but who wouldn't be? He was a very reliable target for his team and the guy Tyrone Swoopes relied on in the short and intermediate passing game. He sits down well in spots, presents a good target and has reliable hands. He doesn't do anything great but he does everything well.
He isn't noted as a player who will beat you based on pure athleticism, but his well-rounded game should make him an early contributor given Michigan's weak depth at tight end.
OL DAVID DAWSON
Most of the news on Dawson from the weekend focused on the canceled Florida trip, but he did manage to earn mention from Farrell for his performance on Saturday ($):
12. OL David Dawson, Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech: Dawson has become more patient in two short weeks. A couple weeks ago at the Rivals100 Five Star Challenge he would punch out of his stance and if he connected he would win and if he didn't he was easy to pass. On Saturday he showed the ability to get out, move his feet, keep his arms extended and not rely on a big punch off the snap. This allowed him to effectively ride defenders outside the target area and let him use his long arms much more effectively.
Dawson weighed in at 6'3.5", 282 pounds, further cementing the opinion that he's destined for guard. His advanced technique should offset any concerns about lack of size, especially considering he's got over a year before he suits up for Michigan.
OL KYLE BOSCH
Unfortunately, Bosch was ill during the event and flew home early, so there's nothing on him from the drills. Bosch did measure in at 6'5", 311 pounds; he's got the size to play guard or tackle at the next level.
DE TACO CHARLTON
Although OHSAA rules prevented Charlton from competing in pads, he still managed to stand out due to his 6'6", 249-pound frame and athletic potential. Scout's Chad Simmons listed him as the #4 defensive end after Saturday's session ($):
Charlton is without question one of the best athletes in this group. He looks the part, he was very fluid during the drills, and although he couldn't compete in pads (State of Ohio rule), he showed enough to make Scout think he could end up being one of Michigan's top recruits in 2013. He is still raw and he needs to get stronger, but he is athletic, he is very quick, he has good length, and a lot of potential.
247 also listed Charlton as a day one standout. Charlton is a raw prospect, and one whose game lends itself to standout camp performances that may not be entirely indicative of his true football ability. His potential is tantalizing, however, and he's already close to the size desired in a weakside DE. If Charlton progresses significantly against the run this fall, he's poised to make a big rise in the rankings.
LB MIKE MCCRAY
McCray managed to make it through The Opening without being mentioned in any of the scouting articles I can find. His strengths—read-and-react against the run and utilizing his size—don't translate very well to a camp setting, especially in 7-on-7 play, so it's not particularly surprising that he didn't stand out.
CB JOURDAN LEWIS
Like Butt, Lewis made the All-Tournament squad in 7-on-7 play. Lewis measured in at just 5'10", 159 pounds, but that didn't stop him from standing his ground against the country's top receivers:
"He made a lot of flash plays, a couple of interceptions -- including one he returned for a touchdown," [Scout's Allen] Trieu said. "He’s probably got the toughest job, too, as a corner. You’re going up against some of these top-end receivers in seven-on-sevens, and that’s not an easy task they gave him."
"When you got him going against 6-5, 6-4 receivers who are nationally recruited guys, the worry is whether he’s going to get out-jumped, out-physicaled, kind of out-manned by some of these bigger receivers. And that has not happened. He came out here and really held his own against some mammoth receivers."
Lewis also made SBNation's list of defensive standouts. While size is certainly a concern, his coverage skills are at a level that should allow him to compete for early playing time.
WR LAQUON TREADWELL
247 placed Treadwell among the weekend's top offensive players:
Treadwell, who is considered a heavy lean to Michigan over Oklahoma State, USC and Michigan State, proved to be the quickest off the line of scrimmage of all the taller receivers on hand, as well as showing the ability to high-point the ball with ideal timing and body control.
He also made SBNation's list:
Laquon Treadwell, Monee (IL) -- A major collision over the middle sidelined Treadwell for part of a game early on Sunday, which only served to illustrated how valuable he was to his team. With a frame like a smaller [Texas commit Ricky] Seals-Jones, Treadwell has remarkable quickness for his size, which allowed him to get in and out his breaks.
More on Treadwell's weekend coming in the next section.
In non-Opening news, Logan Tuley-Tillman and Team USA earned a silver medal in the U-19 World Championships, falling to Canada in the final*. Tuley-Tillman, who turned down an invitation to The Opening to represent his country, made first-team all-tournament alongside Notre Dame commit Hunter Bivin.
NC CB commit Channing Stribling unleashed his junior highlight tape on Twitter. I haven't had a chance to really break it down, so I'll save comment for a later date.
*Before you chalk this up as an upset that shakes the very core of America, note that the U.S. fields a team of 16- and 17-year-olds while the other countries put 19-year-olds on the field.
Obligatory Treadwell Section
The big news before The Opening was Laquon Treadwell changing his tune on a commitment timetable, saying he could drop at any time. Treadwell didn't commit, but the weekend was by no means a loss for Michigan; he was photographed throwing up the 'M' for Shane Morris and wouldn't deny the consensus opinion that he'll inevitably pledge to the Wolverines. The only question is about timing: Treadwell told ESPN that he doesn't have a timetable($) and will decide on a "random day," and he told Scout's Allen Trieu($) that taking official visits "will probably happen."
Treadwell obviously feels very strongly about Michigan, but at the same time he still feels a (justifiable) pull to do his due diligence and check out some other schools. It would be a shock at this point if he didn't end up in the class, and Treadwell deserves credit for putting aside his emotions, ignoring outside pressure, and making sure he's 100% sure of his decision before he makes a choice. If Treadwell follows through on his plan to take visits, expect him to go see Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Notre Dame.
Treadwell wasn't the only big-time Michigan target in attendance. VA RB Derrick Green told CBSSports that he's keeping his 13 finalists on a level playing field for now. He also mentions excitement at the prospect of speaking with Brady Hoke in person for the first time when he heads to Michigan for the July 29th BBQ at the Big House.
AZ WR Devon Allen will make it to Ann Arbor after all, telling Tremendous that he's ticketed to visit on July 28th. It would be great if Allen could move that trip back a day so he can interact with the recruits at the BBQ, but we'll see if he can work that into a busy Midwest visit schedule.
MD WR Paul Harris, who previously had Michigan is his top four, has now narrowed his field to USC and Tennessee. Happy trails also go out to PA LB Alex Anzalone, who committed to Notre Dame at The Opening.
Michigan offered NJ ATH Kiy Hester, who said he'll visit Ann Arbor within the next couple weeks, according to Mike Farrell ($). Hester also holds offers from Miami (YTM), Michigan State, Pitt, Syracuse, Maryland, Rutgers, Boston College, and Connecticut.
NY OL/DL Jay Hayes will visit Michigan on July 31st, according to 247's Clint Brewster ($).
FL OL K.C. McDermott hopes to visit sometime shortly after the BBQ, which he can't attend, via 247's Todd Worly ($).
Cass Tech corner Damon Webb will be in attendance at the BBQ, via Scout's Josh Newkirk ($).
Today's recruiting roundup discusses Maximum Exposure's performance in the IMG 7-on-7 nationals, the latest on Laquon Treadwell, upcoming 2014 visits, and more.
Morris, MaxEx Fall Short Of Recapturing 7-on-7 Title
Detroit-based Maximum Exposure took the trip to Bradenton, Florida, to defend their title in the IMG 7-on-7 National Championships over the weekend, with commits Shane Morris, Khalid Hill, and Csont'e York in tow. The event drew a star-studded field, and not just among high school recruits—Cam Newton coached a team from Georgia, appearing in a T-shirt that read "CAM GOES H.A.M."* MaxEx struggled in pool play but returned to form during the knockout stage, making it to the finals before losing for a second time to Team Tampa, which featured Michigan targets Alvin Bailey and Leon McQuay III, as well as the nation's top cornerback, Vernon Hargreaves III (in Tampa, top recruits come in IIIs, apparently).
Scout's Scott Kennedy lauded Morris's performance in the tournament—calling him "the prototypical gunslinger"—and provided video highlights of the future Michigan quarterback ($):
Elsewhere, 247's Steve Wiltfong ranked Morris as the event's third-best performer, trailing only Hargreaves and Notre Dame commit Jaylon Smith:
The nation’s No. 2 pro-style signal-caller and No. 22 prospect overall got off to a slow start, but when tournament play began, Morris quickly heated up. The velocity and touch was there for the future Michigan Wolverine, as the 6-foot-3, 201-pound Morris fit the football in several tight windows. He spread the ball around to his top targets, fellow Michigan commits Csont’e York and Khalid Hill, along with Teo Redding and Jack Wangler. Morris hit several big plays downfield, and other than a couple of tough throws against a swarming Team Tampa squad, he was close to perfect on the tournament’s second day.
SBNation's Bud Elliott had Morris atop his list of standout quarterbacks, noting his ability to throw on the run.
York and Hill missed out on any mentions from the recruiting sites, but that doesn't mean they didn't perform; as you can see in the above video, York (#17) and Hill (#20) were Morris's favorite targets. I managed to tune in to a live stream of the event for the final, and while MaxEx's offense had difficulty moving the ball against a star-studded Tampa secondary, Hill presented a serious matchup problem for defensive backs unaccustomed to handling a player with his combination of size and athleticism. Hill runs crisp routes and has soft hands, so while he doesn't wow you with his frame or speed, he finds a way to get open and has developed a great rapport with his future college quarterback.
While Jourdan Lewis wasn't able to make the trip, 2014 Cass Tech teammate Damon Webb played cornerback for MaxEx, though he understandably struggled to defend 6'4", 230-pound Miami (YTM) tight end commit Travis Johnson. On the Tampa side, both Bailey and McQuay impressed; Bailey showed off his top-flight speed and McQuay had the play of the day with a leaping interception (pictured above) on a Morris overthrow.
*Not a shock from a guy who recently self-applied the nickname "Ace Boogie," then referred to himself in the third person using said self-applied nickname during a radio interview.
Must-Read Of The Week
ESPN's Christopher Parish details the story of commit David Dawson, whose father was stuck and killed while working as an MDOT employee just days before David participated in the Columbus NFTC:
Nobody would have blamed the Cass Tech (Detroit) junior and Michigan commit for skipping the camp. But Dawson went anyway, the pain from the funeral still fresh in his mind.
"It played a big role in Columbus," Dawson said. "That was all I was thinking about. I knew I had to get that Opening invite."
Not only did Dawson land the invite to The Opening, he also earned offensive lineman MVP honors, and he'll be one of the headliners for the Elite Lineman Challenge at the event in Beaverton, Ore., from July 5-8.
You're strongly encouraged to click through for the whole article, which also discusses Dawson's competitive nature and his move from Houston back to Detroit.
All Of The Treadwell Coverage
IL WR Laquon Treadwell remains Michigan's top target at wide receiver, even as he continues to consider several other schools (how dare he!) and maintains that he'll take official visits (the nerve!). Before getting into the current landscape of his recruitment, let's remind ourselves why he's the top receiver on the board with Treadwell's newly-released junior highlights:
Yes, please. Treadwell traveled all the way to California for the B2G Elite Camp over the weekend, and ESPN's Erik McKinney saved his highest praise for the Illinois product ($):
In a high-scoring affair that was eventually secured for the offense with a leaping touchdown grab from wide receiver Laquon Treadwell (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee), both sides had players step up and contribute.
But it began and ended with Treadwell, who hauled in three touchdown passes and was awarded the offensive MVP of camp. The nation's No. 38 player and No. 4 wide receiver had two long catch-and-run touchdowns, then made his mark on the final drive with a tough catch in traffic along the sideline to set up the final score.
Rivals's Adam Gorney caught up with Treadwell at the event and got him to name a leader ($). You get zero guesses because the MGoBoard isn't on fire. (Okay, it's Michigan. There.) He also told 247's Barton Simmons that he intends to take official visits($) to USC, Auburn, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma. With a list of that caliber, Treadwell's recruitment is far from over, but the Wolverines remain in the driver's seat. With no obvious candidate for an upcoming commitment, he should have time to mull over his options before making a decision.
TN RB Jordan Wilkins narrowed his list to a final five of Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Michigan, Ole Miss, and Auburn, according to Scout's Yancy Porter ($). It doesn't appear that Michigan has much of a shot, however, as even after Wilkins's visit to Ann Arbor he lists Auburn and Vandy as his leaders.
Multiple outlets have reported that Michigan offered TX DE Gaius Vaenuku, but I've confirmed with a source in the know that he does NOT currently hold an offer.
Happy trails go out this week to CA ATH Elijah Qualls and CA WR Demorea Stringfellow,—both part of Washington's impressive eight commits in one day—SC DT Michael Hill (Ohio State), CA LB Michael Hutchings (USC), and MD WR/LB Zach Bradshaw (Penn State). Also committing this week was OH OL/DL Matt Miller, younger brother of Michigan center Jack Miller, who will head to Wisconsin; a Michigan offer wasn't in the cards. Meanwhile, PA LB Alex Anzalone will decide this week($) between Florida, Notre Dame, and Penn State.
Quick 2014 Updates
Scout's Allen Trieu released free articles on the top camp risers in the Midwest in both the 2013 and 2014 classes. Unsurprisingly, Damon Webb features prominently among the rising juniors:
Always considered more of a wide receiver, Webb has proven to be a big time cornerback over the summer and that has lead to several big time offers. With his size, ball skills and recent performances, locking down a few touted receivers, Webb earned offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin and West Virginia. He's still a BCS level receiver, but he's one of the very best corners in the 2014 class.
Also listed are several targets, including MI OL Tommy Doles (offer), OH WR Thaddeus Snodgrass, IL DL Enoch Smith Jr., and WI DE Conor Sheehy. 2013 commit Channing Stribling is listed with the top senior sleepers.
Michigan will get a summer visit from four-star NC OT Bentley Spain, possibly for this month's BBQ at the Big House ($).
Tremendous caught up with FL ATH Artavis Scott—a member of Team Tampa—who said he'll be in Ann Arbor for the BBQ with four-star lineman teammate Mason Cole.
Four-star KY QB Drew Barker also plans to be in attendance at the BBQ, according to 247 ($).
Today's recruiting roundup discusses visits from Alvin Bailey and Jordan Wilkins, the top lists of #1 overall prospect Da'Shawn Hand and other 2014 standouts, and more. Also included is an interview with Michigan's first 2014 offered prospect, UT DT Bryan Mone.
Future Touchdown Dance: The Funky Charleston
Pictured on the right is FL WR Alvin Bailey (photo via his Twitter) from his visit to Michigan on Wednesday. If Bailey and his Seffner Armwood teammate Leon McQuay III both end up as Wolverines, let me present the motion to nickname the duo "Kid 'n Play," both due to Bailey's spectacular high-top fade and the fact that it could spur Special K to play some decent music for once.
Anyway, Bailey was on campus this week, and the four-star receiver came away impressed, according to an interview with TomVH ($, info in header):
"It helped them a lot. I was already up on Michigan, but this definitely helped," he said. "I knew some things about them, but being able to see it in person it meant a lot."
Bailey is in the midst of a slew of trips that has also seen him visit Georgia, South Carolina, Notre Dame and Clemson, with Florida State, Georgia, and Auburn also on the docket for July. The Wolverines and Irish could be at a serious disadvantage, however, as Bailey said this to GBW's Kyle Bogenshutz ($):
One issue that plays against Midwest schools such as Notre Dame (which he visited on this trip as well, right before U-M) and Michigan, however, is the issue of distance from home—something Bailey admits is a factor for him.
“It’s big,” said Bailey. “I’m not going to lie, it’s real big. That’s something that I would probably have to sacrifice, so it’s big.”
Sounds like distance is a big factor, which would not bode well for Michigan's chances. Bailey also mentioned that the Wolverines will only take two more players—not a surprise, considering the current number crunch—and his decision could come either before or after his senior season.
While Bailey got the full tour, TN RB Jordan Wilkins stopped by on Tuesday for a quick three-hour visit, and there's very little in the way of visit reaction from him thus far. 247's Clint Brewster did post on their message board that Wilkins's father, who wasn't on the trip, said the visit went "very well" for Jordan ($). There's discussion of a potential visit later in the summer, which would greatly improve Michigan's chances of getting Wilkins, but for now it's safe to assume that Auburn is still the prohibitive favorite.
In 2013 commit news, Jourdan Lewis was invited to the Army All-American Bowl, joining fellow commits Chris Fox and Mike McCray should he choose to participate (roster here). Michigan also has six commits—Shane Morris, Gareon Conley, David Dawson, Logan Tuley-Tillman, McCray (he'll have to choose just one, obviously), and Patrick Kugler—currently slated to participate in the Under Armour All-American Game.
First Journey Joke Earns a Banhammer
Sam Webb's latest DetNews profile is on 2014 OH LB Michael Ferns, who recently narrowed his list to a final three of Michigan, Notre Dame, and Penn State. While making such a cut this early is unusual, Ferns's father reveals that there's a very good reason his son has eliminated many of the schools pursuing him, including the home-state squad:
"It's not that he doesn't like the coaches, facilities, etc. (at Ohio State)," Mr. Ferns explained. "It's just that he grew up in a town of 3,500, so it's difficult to feel comfortable in a (large) city. It has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that he feels more comfortable in college town settings. Ideally, if Ohio State would work for him, it would be great for me from a geography and local hype standpoint. But if you don't feel comfortable living in a city, you simply don't. It's no different than the kid in the south having no interest in moving north. It's what they know."
He's just a small-town boy, you see, born and raised in [bans self]. The elder Ferns—no word on if Webb stood between the two during the interview, unfortunately—also had very high praise for their recent trip to Michigan and Jerry Montgomery as a recruiter—"He's as strong a recruiter as we've dealt with." As for future visits, Ferns plans to check out a game at all three of his final schools during the fall.
Also getting the profile treatment this week was IL CB Parrker Westphal, whose father spoke at length with TomVH. According to Mr. Westphal, Michigan has set the standard by which his son will measure his other suitors ($):
"I think what better school to base a standard from. Michigan is a big school with a big program, really good academics and facilities," he said. "If he would have gone to Nebraska first, though, that's a big school with modern facilities. That might have been the standard."
It doesn't mean that U-M is Parrker's favorite, but it is up there.
Westphal's father mentioned that Parrker would like to finish up his recruitment "sooner rather than later," but there's no rush as they make sure to examine each school carefully.
OH DB Darius West was one of the standouts at Michigan's camp, and although he didn't pick up an offer, he's got serious interest and reciprocated by putting the Wolverines in his top two with childhood favorite Ohio State, according to Matt Pargoff. You'll also enjoy this quote that he gave to Sam Webb ($):
Sam Webb: Talk to me about Michigan State. How did that camp go for you?
Darius West: “I mean, if I had to rank Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan camp, Michigan State would be third.“
West told Pargoff he'd like to decide by the end of his junior year, so he's one to keep a close eye on if Michigan comes through with an offer. He told Webb he's being recruited at both corner and safety at the moment.
247's J.C. Shurburtt caught up with the nation's #1 overall prospect for 2014, VA DT Da'Shawn Hand, and got an early top seven from him: Virginia Tech, Ohio State, UNC, Clemson, USC, Alabama and Michigan. VT seems to have the early edge—he's visited campus twice and mentions Bud Foster as his favorite recruiter—but he's yet to visit most of the schools on his list, including Michigan.
Happy trails to MI WR Drake Harris, who committed to Michigan State on Wednesday over Michigan and Notre Dame.
Quickly: Clint Brewster reports that Michigan offered CA TE Tyler Luatua, who's pegged as the top tight end in the class in 247's early rankings. Correction from Tuesday's post: TX LB Hoza Scott doesn't yet have an offer, according to Tim Sullivan, but he probably has to visit campus first, which may not happen soon due to the distance factor ($). MI CB Damon Webb continues to see his stock rise, recently picking up offers from Ohio State, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Catching Up With Bryan Mone
I had the chance to chat with UT DT Bryan Mone, a high school teammate of incoming freshman Sione Houma who picked up Michigan's first 2014 offer way back in December. This is the first time Mone has given an interview, and he updated me on the status of his recruitment, his current size and preferred position, and a potential visit next week:
ACE: First of all, how's everything going with your recruitment? Which schools are in contact with you right now?
BRYAN: So far, so good. It's just really a blessing sir. But the schools that I'm in contact with are Utah, BYU, and Utah State.
ACE: Which schools have offered you so far?
BRYAN: All of the three [as well as Michigan].
ACE: I know Michigan gave you their first 2014 offer. Have you been in contact with Michigan at all since then?
BRYAN: Yeah, well kind of. I keep in contact with the D-line coach. I might just go out to Michigan with my dad next week.
ACE: Do you talk to Sione Houma at all now that he's enrolled? What has he told you about Michigan?
BRYAN: Yes I do, I was just talking to him. He told me that it's really good out there and that some of the football players don't know what a Tongan is [laughs] and he was just saying it's a great program and all.
ACE: You mentioned possibly visiting Michigan. Are there any other schools you'd like to check out over the summer?
BRYAN: No sir, just Michigan.
ACE: I know it's early, but do you have any favorites at this point?
BRYAN: All my favorite schools are the ones that offered me and Colorado all because my other cousin told me about Colorado.
ACE: What's your height and weight right now, and what would you like to play at next season?
BRYAN: 6'4" height, 300 weight [Ed-Ace: Up from a listed 6'3", 255 last year]. I'm going to play D-tackle and offensive guard.
ACE: What would you say are your biggest strengths on the field, and what are you trying to improve for next year and the next level?
BRYAN: My biggest strengths are mainly [being able to play] on the line on both sides of the ball. I am trying to improve on my speed and strength for next year and the next level.
ACE: When looking at schools, what do you think will be the biggest factors in your decision? Do you know when you'd like to make a choice?
BRYAN: First of all my education and how I would fit in the program and the community and the brotherhood of the football team. I don't know [when I'd like to make a decision] ... like you said sir I'm still young.