this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Note: I'm getting error messages like whoa from 247Sports, so I can't access some of the tabs I had saved for this post. Apologies in advance if something gets left out; if you notice anything glaring that I've overlooked, let me know in the comments (and, if you can, please link to an original source of information).
Recruiting: Now Reaching Ludicrous Speed
"They've gone to plaid!"
I doubt this fact will surprise many Michigan fans, but the pace at which players are committing in the 2013 recruiting cycle appears to be unprecedented. SBNation's Jason Kirk—co-host of the incomparable Shutdown Fullback—took a look at early commitments in the past few years, and even in that short time span there's a very clear trend:
Over the past three years, the nation's top 75 recruiting teams have averaged about three commitments at this point in the year, though that doesn't include decommitments. Right now, they're averaging more than five.
And, of course, the main case in point is Michigan [emphasis mine]:
The big story is the Michigan Wolverines, whose 17 commits make for more than they've had in any combined two years of the Rivals era, and, thus, probably ever. It's noteworthy that Brady Hoke was the Big Ten coach most supportive of Urban Meyer back during Recruit-TakingGate. But almost across the board, schools are getting more and more early commitments.
The Wolverines had six commitments through April 30th for the 2012 class, and just three in 2011.
Kirk doesn't spend much time examining why this is the case, and I don't want to spoil tomorrow's recruiting roundtable podcast (yes, there's a podcast!) in which this very topic is discussed at length. One point I will make, however, is that the greatly increased attention on recruiting from both traditional and non-traditional media has placed enough stress on recruits that I believe many decide to end the process in part to get out of the increasingly-bright spotlight.
That brings me to IL RB Ty Isaac, who had an extensive profile in CSNChicago giving the latest on his recruitment [emphasis mine]:
"I took unofficial visits in March, when it worked out for my parents," he said. "Now my visits are out of the way. Nothing else is planned now. To be honest, I don't know if I will visit any more schools. Some have asked me to visit. But if I don't have any interest, I don't want to waste either side's time. If the schools I have visited, I'd be perfectly fine to go to either one of them."
However, he is sure of one thing at the moment. "I'm not a fan of the recruiting process at all. When I started, like everybody, I was excited. After you get the first couple of offers, you know you will have an opportunity to play at the next level. But now it gets overwhelming. It feels like it never stops," he said.
Isaac's apparent lack of interest in taking visits to new schools bodes well for Michigan. More trips to places like Notre Dame and USC could still be in the cards, but he's already seen those campuses and the Wolverines have remained in a strong position to land him. Also, given his justifiable disdain for the recruiting process, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him wrap things up in the near future—Isaac still maintains no public timetable.
Thomas Firmly Committed, New Offers, Etc.
While OH S Dymonte Thomas has remained steadfast in his insistence that he's firmly committed to Michigan, it's been difficult to keep a lid on discussion that he could still end up joining his cousin Bri'onte Dunn at Ohio State. In a two-part feature($) by GoBlueWolverine's Josh Newkirk, Thomas reiterates that he's "100-percent committed." In addition, we could see Thomas in Ann Arbor pretty soon, which would finally end any rumors about him flipping to the Buckeyes:
Thomas also plans on starting his Michigan career as early as possible. He is currently awaiting the results of his ACT test scores. He said he should receive the results within the next three to five weeks. If he receives passing test scores, Thomas said he will graduate early and enroll at Michigan next January.
Any doubt that Thomas ends up as a Wolverine can probably be dispelled at this point. Ohio State insiders don't like their chances and the Buckeyes continue to target other safeties for the class.
Michigan sent out a few new offers this week, and one is NOTY-worthy: 2013 NY DE Ebenezer Ogundeko is a three-star prospect to every service but Scout (who currently has him unrated), but his recruitment is picking up serious steam, as he received unexpected offers from Michigan, Notre Dame, and Marshall on the same day ($). According to Scout, Ogundeko also holds offers from Alabama, Arizona State, Boise State, Florida, Georgia Tech, and Ohio State, among several others, so he could be a guy who makes a rapid rise up the rankings; those offers aren't the type you'd expect for a guy on the three-star/unranked borderline.
The Wolverines also offered a trio of 2014 prospects. AZ OT Casey Tucker is getting early interest from several of the nation's top programs and could be one of the top linemen in his class. IL CB Parrker Westphal (first name: not a typo) picked up his first two offers from Michigan and West Virginia this week. Tim Sullivan reports on The Fort($) that Michigan has also offered FL DB Javon Harrison, who could play corner or safety at 6'2", 195 pounds.
Quickly: The soft-spoken MD DT Henry Poggi on his Alabama trip ($): "It was good." TomVH reports that Michigan is getting interest from consensus four-star FL S Leon McQuay III, who plans to visit on May 18th ($). VA DE Wyatt Teller is planning a decision in the late spring or early summer, and Michigan is in his tentative top five ($). OH CB Darian Hicks has yet to receive an offer, but says Michigan would be "extremely high on [his] list" if they do ($). Hicks will camp at Michigan this summer. Jerry Montgomery almost certainly had to put up a fight in order to secure Hawaii as part of his recruiting territory. Happy trails to OH WR Rob Wheelwright, who committed to Wisconsin over the weekend.
Today's recruiting roundup recaps Shane Morris's Elite11 regional camp appearance, talks Ty Isaac (what else is new?), and goes over past and future visits.
Shane's Bad Day > Your Bad Day
Shane Morris attended the Dallas Elite11 regional camp last weekend, getting tips from guys like Trent Dilfer and Tony Romo while hoping to lock up one of the coveted invitations to the Elite11 finals. Review of Morris were mixed but mostly positive, and this clearly wasn't good enough for Michigan's quarterback commit, who told ESPN he needs to work on "everything" (also, any idea why Morris is randomly wearing stunner shades for the second throw in this clip?):
While Morris was disappointed to not earn the finals invitation (more quotes in a free ESPN article here), he'll get another crack in Columbus on May 4th, and he still flashed the ability that has made him a potential five-star. Rivals.com's Brian Perroni listed Morris at #5 among his top performers, noting arm strength as his biggest positive ($):
The Michigan pledge made his presence known early by coming in decked out in Wolverine gear. There was a lot of anticipation as people wanted to see the nation's No. 16 overall prospect in person after he traveled a long way to compete. A lefty, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound Morris had the best velocity on his ball of any quarterback in attendance and made some very good deep throws as well. His accuracy was a bit off at times but nothing too concerning.
Scout's Greg Powers had a similar take, saying Morris had some great throws and not-so-great throws but "definitely [had] his wow moments," in turning in a "very solid showing" ($). Morris was disappointed, yes, but he also has very high standards for himself. That's by no means a bad thing.
Morris didn't provide the only recruiting action of the weekend, as Michigan hosted several prospects for unofficial visits. The top 2013 target on campus was Washington (DC) Gonzaga CB Devin Butler, who's in the midst of a long string of Midwest visits but took the time to tell 247 that Michigan "seemed like a great place to be as a football player, as a student and a young man" ($). Several Cass Tech targets spanning three classes also made the trip. '13 DT Kenton Gibbs caught up with Will Campbell and also said that Michigan's coaches want to see him at their summer camp before extending an offer ($). '14 LB William White was impressed by what he saw from the linebackers in spring drills ($), while '14 RB/DB Johnny Miggins and '15 QB Jayru Campbell also enjoyed the visit ($). '14 WR Damon Webb was also on campus along with several other Cass Tech players.
Isaac Watch, Future Visits, Etc.
Ty Isaac has returned from his trip to USC, the school that poses perhaps the biggest threat to Michigan in his recruitment, so it's time to read far too much into some post-trip quotes. They are... meh ($):
"There were really no set expectations, it was just a good visit," Isaac said. "It was nothing that I wasn't expecting. I got to see things and talk to coaches."
"I got to see things," is my new favorite non-answer from a recruit. It certainly doesn't sound like Isaac, who was accompanied by his father, was blown away by the trip. He says he's now going to "chill for awhile" before making any kind of decision about his future, and he's not tipping his hand, though he said his top schools "know who they are."
Phoenix (AZ) Brophy Prep WR Devon Allen is one of the top receivers on the board for Michigan, and his recent athletic exploits reveal a major reason why that is the case: Allen just broke a 32-year-old Arizona state record in the 110-meter hurdles, running a 13.62 to edge out the old mark by .07 seconds. He was also just three-hundreths of a second from breaking the 300-meter hurdles state record, as well. Allen starts his spring break next week, and he plans on taking a trip to the Midwest, where Michigan is one of several schools in the running for a visit ($).
One player taking a visit this weekend is Solon (OH) CB Darian Hicks, who already holds 11 offers but is hoping to add Michigan to the list when he comes to campus on Friday ($). Brookfield (WI) Central DE Chikwe Obasih will swing by Ann Arbor between April 12th and 14th—he'll also visit MSU and Illinois during those days, and hasn't set the order yet ($).
Two players have stated their intention to take one of their official visits to Ann Arbor. Petaluma (CA) Casa Grande ATH Elijah Qualls—at 6'5", 265 lbs., likely a DT/SDE recruit for Michigan—is one, having built a strong relationship with coach Dan Ferrigno ($). The other is Dadeville (AL) DT Rod Crayton, whose coach says Michigan "might be recruiting Rod the hardest out of anyone" ($). Crayton plans to take a second unofficial visit for a game this fall, then use an official visit after his season.
Happy trails to two offensive linemen, Colin McGovern and Hunter Bivin, who both committed to Notre Dame over the weekend. Both held Michigan offers but were told, like all uncommitted OL, that the Wolverines are full along the O-line.
Quickly: Taco Charlton's Pickerington Central squad defeated Chris Wormley and Toledo Whitmer, 45-40, in the Ohio Division I basketball state title game. Chantel Jennings gives a progress report on the 2013 class, including quotes from current commits on what the coaches like about them ($).
Today's recruiting roundup eagerly awaits Mike McCray's decision (and Ben Gedeon's, too?), looks at the other linebackers strongly considering Michigan, and goes over a recent offer plus several interested visitors.
Good Problems: Linebacker Edition
We've been over this before, but Michigan has more linebackers strongly interested in the school than they know what to do with; filling the 2-3 (likely 3) spots at LB could very well come down to who commits the fastest.
If that's the case, Trotwood-Madison (OH) SLB Mike McCray (right) will probably be the first to drop; he could commit as soon as today, and likely no later than tomorrow. McCray told Tremendous that he actually has already made his decision, and his only other move will be to inform the coaches of his choice—there will be no hat game or press conference. He narrowed down his decision to Michigan, Arizona, Oklahoma, Tennessee, South Carolina and Illinois; while the Vols appeared to be in a strong position for him quite recently, the latest message board scuttlebutt—even among Tennessee partisans—has him pledging to Michigan.
Hudson (OH) MIKE/WILL Ben Gedeon may not be far behind after visiting Ann Arbor last weekend. Sam Webb caught up with Gedeon after his visit, and it's clear the junior is well aware of the scholarship situation at linebacker ($):
“I’m not sure if they want (where things currently stand with linebacker recruiting numbers) out there.”
“I won’t be making a decision tonight, but (the numbers crunch) definitely will be taken into account and could speed (my making a decision) up.”
Gedeon won't name a leader, but it isn't too difficult to read between the lines in this situation.
One linebacker who Michigan will have to wait for—and likely will, given his talent—is Woodbridge (MD) C.D. Hylton's E.J. Levenberry, who confirmed yesterday that the Wolverines are his leader, holding an edge over Florida State. Steve Wiltfong talked to Levenberry last night and got the latest on his timetable ($):
“I’m 100 percent sure I won’t announce until the Army Bowl.”
Alabama and Florida round out the 6-foot-3, 227-pound Levenberry’s top four.
Levenberry plans to visit Michigan for the Wolverines spring game on April 14. He will also try and get to Alabama and Florida State for spring practices.
E.J.'s father told Wiltfong that the coaches have made it clear to him that there will be a scholarship available to the potential five-star prospect; if the Wolverines lock up two linebackers in the near future, they'll likely reserve that last spot for Levenberry.
Oh, but there's more. Four-star Olney (MD) Good Counsel LB Dorian O'Daniel has Michigan in his top group with Clemson and Tennessee, and he'll be visiting Ann Arbor—along with five-star CB teammate Kendall Fuller ($)—for the spring game on April 14th ($). Four-star Matthews (NC) Butler LB Peter Kalambayi, meanwhile, has already visited Michigan once and now has the Wolverines near the top of his list with plans to check out the school again in the near future ($). In the race to grab the two spots not reserved for Levenberry, however, these two blue-chip recruits just might be too late. We'll know much more after this week.
New Offer, Planned Visits, Etc.
There's one recent offer I don't think I've noted here yet, and that went out to Charlotte (NC) Zebulon B. Vance LB Larenz Bryant. Just to be clear, (1) yes, another linebacker, and (2) the school's name is "Zebulon B. Vance," not the player's. Bryant is a four-star and the #86 overall recruit to 247, and he holds most of his offers from SEC and ACC schools.
Massilon (OH) Washington CB Gareon Conley told Sam Webb that Michigan is his leader, and he's scheduled to visit this weekend ($, info in header). Conley is a big—6'1"—corner who's currently rated as a three-star recruit on 247. Another weekend visitor will be College Station (TX) A&M Consolidated OL Christian Lacouture, who just decommitted from Texas A&M, though he still has a lot of interest in the hometown Aggies ($, info in header). He won't be the only offensive lineman in Ann Arbor, as New Lenox (IL) Lincoln Way West four-star Colin McGovern will also be on campus, despite knowing that Michigan doesn't currently have a spot for him ($).
A pair of cornerbacks are also planning future visits. Solon (OH) four-star Darian Hicks will be in Ann Arbor on March 27th, and he says that the Wolverines would vault to the top of his list if he receives an offer ($). Jersey City (NJ) St. Peter's Prep CB Tre Bell, who does hold an offer, is looking to set up a summer visit ($).
Three more prospects want to take visits but haven't set dates yet: Baltimore (MD) Gilman DT Henry Poggi, who's already been to Ann Arbor twice but wants to visit again either this month or next ($); Matthews (NC) Butler WR Uriah LeMay—high school teammate of Peter Kalambayi—has Michigan among the schools he'd like to see this summer ($); and Peoria (IL) High School DE Josh Augusta, who's recently talked to the Wolverines about a potential offer ($).
One player who did visit recently is Crete (IL) Monee LB Nyles Morgan, a class of 2014 teammate of Laquon Treadwell, who told 247 he'd "have to seriously consider [Michigan] when [he] start[s] considering colleges."
Quickly: Happy trails to blue-chip running back Keith Ford, who committed to Oklahoma over the weekend. The Sooners offered Ty Isaac last week (we'll see how the Ford commitment affects his interest), and SoonerScoop has a free article on Michigan's top running back target. MnB's Zach Travis looks at recent offensive line recruiting and tries to project future two-deeps. Black Shoe Diaries's Cari Greene puts together an early team rankings list for the Big Ten; Michigan, as you'd expect, is well out in front for now. I'll start the Big Ten Recruiting Rankings back up when Scout releases their top 300, which should be coming soon.