"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
If you missed it, Brian handled the recruiting primer for which needs Michigan should fill to finish out the 2015 class. Today's recruiting roundup will attempt to figure out which prospects are most likely to fill the ten or so remaining spots.
THE MOST LIKELY CANDIDATES
CT TE Chris Clark (4*, #2 TE, #80 Ovr. on 247 Composite): Clark, a former Michigan commit, consistently stated over the last few weeks that his interest in the Wolverines would rise significantly if Harbaugh took the job. He spoke with Harbaugh—whom he called the "LeBron James of coaching"—this week and told MLive's Nick Baumgardner it went very well:
"We kind of just talked about how he hopes Michigan turns into 'Tight End U,' and all the top tight ends he produced while he was at Stanford," said Clark, who will play in the Under Armour All-American Game on Friday. "I think six of them went on to the NFL. He said he thinks I could be a great leader for the class, and he's just hoping I'll be a part of it.
"He was a really cool guy, I liked him a lot."
Clark is now down to Michigan and UCLA, and I'd guess he ends up back in the fold.
MI ATH John Kelly (3*, #57 ATH): Kelly could play either running back or defensive back at the next level, though given Michigan's needs I'd guess he'll be recruited for defense. He spoke with Harbaugh within the last couple days and told 247's Steve Lorenz he was "really pumped" about the conversation ($). Even prior to that, he indicated Michigan was moving up his list ($):
"I would love to play for Coach Harbaugh," Kelly said. "I hear he's a tough coach. I'm looking to play for a coach that will try to squeeze out all of the talent and potential in me. His hiring is a great thing for Michigan as well. As long as he contacts me and my family, the chances of me playing at Michigan will definitely increase."
Michigan State is Michigan's chief competition, with Minnesota and Iowa also factoring in. Getting Kelly could help M's efforts in pulling in another major target: former RB commit and current OSU pledge Mike Weber, who's close friends with Kelly; they'd stated in the past they'd like to play together in college, and the Buckeyes aren't pursuing Kelly.
[Hit THE JUMP for probable visitors, other candidates, and the names you can scratch off the wish list.]
PSU Visit Recap: KLS Enjoys His Official
Keisean Lucier-South on his official visit [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
Thanks to their 2-4 start to the season, Michigan saw their visitor list dwindle significantly by the time their biggest recruiting weekend of the season came around, but a win in front of 113 thousand at night in the Big House still left an impression on those who came.
The biggest name to hit campus, of course, was five-star CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South, who schmoozed with Jabrill Peppers, watched the game with a trio of Michigan commits (Tyree Kinnel, Alex Malzone, and Darrin Kirkland), and seemed to thoroughly enjoy his official visit. Time will tell if Michigan is truly a threat to land KLS, but the initial returns are good, at least.
Most of the other 2015 recruits in attendance were the aforementioned commits, and while Kinnel and Malzone seem quite solid with their M pledges—Kinnel called Saturday "one of [his] best visits," per 247's Steve Lorenz—that's not the case with Darrin Kirkland, who spent the weekend prior in South Bend. After Saturday's unofficial visit, Kirkland told Rivals' Josh Helmholdt where he currently stands ($):
"My options are going to continue to be open, but I do love Michigan and am still committed to Michigan," he said. "It is a great place to be, a great atmosphere and a lot of great opportunities for myself as well as for my family. But, I still remain… I would say a good word is 'neutral,' for right now."
Besides Notre Dame, Kirkland has also been hearing from Texas, Oklahoma, Oregon and USC recently. Each of those schools had offered him prior to his senior season except USC.
Kirkland told TomVH today that he still plans to take all five of his official visits, and will determine with his family today where he'll take them. He's still in the class for now, of course, but if Saturday didn't solidify his commitment, it's hard to see that remaining the case.
Commits Visiting Elsewhere: An Ongoing Series That Probably Won't End Anytime Soon
In totally unsurprising news, TE commit Chris Clark announced on Twitter that he'll take an official visit to North Carolina, the school he initially committed to before eventually flipping to Michigan. If your head is spinning, I understand. Clark's another guy who seems very likely to end up elsewhere.
According to Mike Farrell, CB commit Garrett Taylor will take officials to Ohio State and Penn State in November. His commitment also seems highly unlikely to stick at this juncture.
2016 QB Messiah deWeaver, at least, isn't setting anything up, though it's hard not to take notice of the last bit of this quote he gave to 247's Steve Wiltfong($)...
“For me when I picked the school, it was more than playing football. It was academics and football second. The football part, they were going through a tough time, but they’re going to start winning. They’re young, and you have to take the losing with a grain of salt. I saw something bigger than that because they’re so young. I think the winning is ahead of them. They're not a bad team, they’re just very, very young. I wasn’t getting too worried about them losing because I know better times are ahead of them.
“I think they’re about to start winning here. I’m still watching closely to make sure Coach (Brady) Hoke is going to be there, which I think he is.”
...and get a little concerned about whether or not he'll stick if/when Michigan goes through with a change. At this point, though, hanging onto 2016 recruits is well down the list of priorities for this program.
No, This Also Doesn't Contain Good News
Ex-commit Darian Roseboro committed to NC State over the weekend. Happy trails, sir.
Finally, four-star UT OLB Osa Masina has seemed like a longshot for a while, and now his planned official visit to Ann Arbor may not even materialize, per Scout's Doug Kimmel ($):
"Michigan is another school that I've been high on. Obviously, I've heard some of the rumors about coaching changes and see there recent struggles, but I still really like that program. It's got great history and academics that are hard to beat. I am looking to set up a trip to Michigan. There is also a chance I take an official visit to Utah, but it's likely that I take an unofficial there. I am still leaning towards leaving the state, but the Utes definitely have my attention."
He's saying positive stuff about the program; at the same time, he still hasn't actually scheduled the visit, and if he takes an official to Utah that'd likely leave M out of it. UCLA is considered the favorite in his recruitment.
Things Fall Apart
Is Darrin Kirkland the next to go?
Since last week's roundup, Darian Roseboro officially decommitted from Michigan, bringing the 2015 class down to just ten players. In distressing, but by no means surprising, news, that class is likely to get smaller before it gets any bigger, as several other commits are now looking around.
Four-star LB Darrin Kirkland Jr. took an official visit to Notre Dame over the weekend, and he told TomVH that Michigan's coaching staff is now taking a different approach to commits taking visits ($):
In the past, the Michigan coaches have held a no-visit policy, but Kirkland had a different conversation when he told the staff of his intentions.
"They said take the time that you need to make the best decision," he said.
If the coaches hope to keep any semblance of a class together, I don't think they have a choice here. So, Kirkland visited Notre Dame with Hoke's approval, and in a rather painful twist took in the game with former M commit Shaun Crawford; Kirkland told Rivals' Josh Helmholdt he came away impressed with ND ($):
Saturday's visit to Notre Dame has given Kirkland plenty to think about as he enters the final four months of his recruitment.
"I'm just taking it one day at a time," Kirkland said. "I'm staying close with my family and hopefully we can make the best decision for me. At the end of the day I'll sign my letter of intent where I feel most comfortable at."
Kirkland remains committed to Michigan and is not sure what schools he could visit in the future, but he is keeping his options open.
I'd be surprised if M held on to Kirkland through a coaching change.
Of course, Kirkland isn't the only one looking around. 247's Steve Lorenz posted an overview of where the commits stand at the moment, and only four appear to be locks to stay committed ($):
- Quarterback Alex Malzone, who's still been recruiting other prospects like Marcus Lewis and Auden Tate, per Sam Webb ($). Malzone is also working hard to try to keep the class together.
- Offensive tackle Grant Newsome, who doubled down on his "I didn't not commit to the University of Brady Hoke" statement from last week by telling GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz he's "fully committed" to Michigan.
- Offensive guard Jon Runyan Jr.—as a legacy commit, it'd be quite surprising if he even looked around.
- Kicker Andrew David, who received a scholarship as a kicker at an early juncture, so he's also quite solid in all likelihood.
Everyone else—including RB Mike Weber, per The Wolverine's Brandon Brown($)—is at least considering other options, and among that group of six only Tyree Kinnel seems like he's still leaning heavily towards remaining in the class. As TE commit Chris Clark told MLive last week, coaches from around the country know an opportunity when they see one:
"I think they see an opening," Clark said. "They smell the blood in the water."
Clark recently added a USC offer and is fielding heavy interest from Alabama and UNC, among many others. He also seems like a longshot to stay in the class for much longer.
Meanwhile, in the 2016 class, four-star QB Messiah deWeaver maintains he's still "100 percent to Michigan," per Helmholdt ($). I haven't seen word on M's other 2016 commit, four-star OT Erik Swenson, but his commitment seemed rock-solid; hopefully that doesn't change.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on this weekend's visitors, Keisean Lucier-South, Auden Tate, Thiyo Lukusa, and more.]
Even before Saturday's debacle, Michigan's 11-member recruiting class of 2015 was beginning to fall apart. Four-star NC DE Darian Roseboro, who committed to M at the very end of August, took an official visit to NC State over the weekend, per Tim Sullivan ($):
Now, however, Roseboro is on an official visit across the state to Raleigh, and Michigan's grip on him may be slipping.
"How much he liked NC State, and if that was enough to beat Michigan, wasn't the same before his commitment," Rivals.com Mid-Atlantic Recruiting Analyst Adam Friedman said. "This is clearly a reaction to the way Michigan's season is going and the reported instability of the coaching staff."
In that same article, Lorenz mentions two other commits are looking around. The first is four-star TE Chris Clark, which comes as little surprise considering he'd already considered taking other official visits in recent weeks. The second is four-star CB Garrett Taylor, who says that he's "going to take my five official visits and see what happens," and won't even confirm whether or not Michigan will receive one of those visits.
A couple commits have reaffirmed their commitments, at least. The headline regarding S Tyree Kinnel on The Wolverines says it all—he "committed to a program." OT Grant Newsome kept it simple in talking to Rivals' Adam Friedman: "I committed to the University of Michigan, not the University of Brady Hoke."
This is inevitable when there's this much turmoil surrounding a program: the recruits are looking around, and even if Brady Hoke keeps his job, he's either going to have to make some serious compromises about how he handles commits taking visits to other schools or risk losing a large portion of this class.
[Hit THE JUMP for updates on Tyrone Wheatley Jr., Daelin Hayes, and more.]
No Bad Plays
As recruits turn their focus to the first couple weeks of their high school season, the recruiting news firehose has slowed to a trickle for the moment. Thankfully, scouting of Michigan prospects is in full swing.
There are a lot of things that Roseboro does well, that's been documented, but sometimes it's difficult for casual followers to find weaknesses. When highlights are viewed they are just that - highlights. Snider insists that a lot of times what you see is what you get with Roseboro.
"I think it's really tough to identify weaknesses with him," Snider admitted. "He's pretty tough to block. I think that as a sophomore he might've taken a play off now and then, but last year he didn't really do that. He was much more aggressive and tough."
Roseboro's highlights are, well, highlights, so if he's bringing that on a snap-to-snap basis, that's great to hear.
Reports continue trickling in from last weekend's games. Josh Newkirk spoke with LB commit Darrin Kirkland Jr. after he recorded 17 tackles, four TFLs, a fumble recovery, and an interception in his team's opener to discuss the improvements in his game this year ($):
At 6-foot-2, 226-pounds, Kirkland says he worked on his strength mostly this off-season and it showed in his game on Saturday.
“I feel like my strength could be one of the key assets of my game,” Kirkland said. “Being able to shed blockers. That’s one of the biggest things I needed to conquer. As well as my quickness and my speed. Just not to be blocked by lineman, because some are very athletic. It’s helped me a lot. I have been covering sideline to sideline, and it’s really helped me in coverage as well.”
That extra work certainly appeared to pay off in week one. Kirkland also mentioned that he's struck up a friendship with five-star CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South; both will be on campus for the Penn State game.
[Hit THE JUMP for Where In The World Is Tim Sullivan, the latest on Chris Clark, several 2016 prospect updates, and more.]
Hello: Darian Roseboro
You'd be excused if you missed four-star NC DL Darian Roseboro's commitment post as Friday's content avalanche swept posts off the front page at an alarming rate; if you're among that number, click here for the full post. Scout's Michael Clark caught up with Roseboro's coach in the wake of the commitment:
According to the Lincolnton coach, Roseboro’s relationship with [Roy] Manning played pivotal role in his commitment.
”I feel like coach Manning really connected with Darian,” Cloninger said. “Darian felt very comfortable with him. And I know Darian and his family went up there a few times, and they all felt very comfortable and enjoyed the coaching staff. If anything, coach Manning was the connector for Michigan and that was a big part of it.”
Manning has been Michigan's best recruiter on the road, and on this staff that's quite the accomplishment.
While U-M isn't going to compete for a team recruiting "title" due to the small size of the class, they're now second in star average behind only Alabama on the 247 Composite. Only two of the 11 commits aren't composite four-stars, and one of those is a kicker; the 2015 class may not have a lot of quantity, but it sure has quality.
Weekday Warriors: Week One
I'll have a lot more on a one Michigan commit and several current and potential targets in the grand return of Future Blue Originals, as I was at Wayne State—along with our helpful right-hand man Dave, who handled camera duties—to take in Southfield/OLSM and Cass Tech/Oak Park. Scouting and video will be up on those games tomorrow.
247's Steve Lorenz posted a comprehensive, free roundup of Michigan's commit stats from last week, which makes my life a whole lot easier. The standout is Brian Cole, who you can see doing hilarious things to Saginaw Arthur Hill in the above video. Cole carried the ball 11 times for 91 yards and a long touchdown after fielding a low snap at punter (yes, he punts), caught three passes for 71 yards and a TD, and brought back an interception to the house to account for all three TDs in a 24-6 Heritage victory.
Mike Weber rushed for 142 yards and three TDs on 22 carries for Cass Tech, breaking a 70-yarder up the gut with impressive burst to open the scoring for the Technicians. Again, much more on his performance coming tomorrow.
Alex Malzone connected on 20 of 34 passes for 363 yards and four TDs in Brother Rice's season opener against... Brother Rice (Chicago). The top defensive standouts among U-M commits were Darrin Kirkland Jr., who had 17 tackles, four TFLs, a fumble recovery, and a pick, and Roseboro, who added 100 yards rushing and two TDs to his ten-tackle effort on the other side of the ball (highlights here). Hit the link above for the rest of the commit stats.
[Hit THE JUMP for a hopefully irrelevant update on Chris Clark, a quick overview of last weekend's visitors, and more.]