Update 8/19: Linked to articles on AR CB Darius Winston, FL S Angelo Hadley (video, fluff), FL CB Josh Robinson, MA OL Brennan Williams, VA OL Morgan Moses, TX QB Shavodrick Beaver. Did Marcus Hall drop us or not drop us (and does it matter)? (As per usual, some links from VB.)
Removed GA WR Braxton Lane (chose baseball).
Fluff on the Pahokee kids.
Moved TX K Anthony Fera to committed.
Winston probably to Mississippi, for some reason
This got asked a thousand times in the chat yesterday despite it getting answered twice: it appears AR CB Darius Winston is staying in the south. He suddenly moved up his announcement date to September 5th and has canceled his scheduled official visits except for one. He wasn’t shy about letting the cat out of the bag in this SuperPrep article:
What stands out about Ole Miss?
"I just love that whole coaching staff. I feel like they are going to turn it around at Ole Miss. I would love to be a part of that. I plan on taking an official visit to Ole Miss on Labor day weekend, when they play Memphis."
Anymore official visits on tap?
"That is it."
Should people read anything into that?
"I guess you could say that, yes sir (laugh)."
Frustratingly, Ole Miss appears to be the destination. Someone in Winston’s camp must be super best friends with Houston Nutt.
So that’s lame. Not lame: the commitment of Texas kicker Anthony Fera. If you remember the zen peace you achieved watching Zoltan the Inconceivable sky punts on youtube, you will want to watch this practice video of Fera:
I am the world’s greatest expert on these matters and declare him a future first-round pick. Others agree: Fera is one of only a few kickers to pick up a third star from Rivals and is their #2 rated kicker overall. ESPN gives him an 80—a better score than Will Campbell received—and says thusly:
Good leg extension and follow through on kickoffs. Consistent field goal kicker that demonstrates the ability to make field goals well into the 40's distance wise; longest is 58 yards.
Also there is this from their ticker:
"Fera gets all 230 pounds into his kicks. He has an extremely strong leg and powers his kickoffs into the endzone and has made several field goals of forty plus yards including a 58 yarder in competition. The Under Armor All-American kicker also is a decent punter and can be used as a back-up if needed at the collegiate level."
The 230-pound kicker was 15 for 16 on field goal attempts as a junior and had a long of 58 yards.
That guy said Rodriguez would “get a kick” out of Fera, though, so you might want to ignore him. Or kick him in the giblets. Either way.
Specialist offers are relatively rare, so Fera’s collection of Michigan, Penn State, Kansas State, and Ohio State (grayshirt) is impressive, especially because Ohio State just took a kicker last year. He’s one of the top kicking prospects out there this year and has to be the favorite to start when Kicking Competency Lopata’s graduates. Bryan Wright appears to have washed out; Michigan will probably carry two kickers in 2009 and not extend him a fifth year.
Beaver enrolling early
This Free Press article on TX QB commit Shavodrick Beaver has quotes like this…
“It’s not about getting a shot as soon as I get there, it’s about going in there, lifting weights and getting stronger and faster with the team,” Beaver said. “Then my shot will come with the competition and everything. I’m just going to be competing everyday, working hard and going in to lead the team.”
…and one piece of what I believe is new information: Beaver will join Kevin Newsome and enroll early.
Guy who’s probably not coming here prolongs the tease
Conflicting information on OH OL Marcus Hall. TSN says we got dropped:
Hall, rated the No. 7 offensive tackle prospect in the nation by Rivals.com, has whittled it down to Ohio State, Illinois and Southern Cal, he revealed to Sporting News Today.
Bucknuts says we didn’t get dropped and that USC never even offered:
"I want to say it's down to three (schools). It's somewhat down to three. It's Illinois, Ohio State and Michigan. But I still have my eyes open."
Hall added that LSU and Miami-FL sit behind his three favorites. Additionally, the Trojans now seem out on contention, after not extending an offer.
The ESPN article is from two days later so it’s likely to be the accurate one. Probably moot given Hall’s presence at OSU feeder Glenville.
Guy who doesn’t know what conference UCF is in has Michigan offer
Keep an eye on FL CB Josh Robinson from inappropriately-named powerhouse Plantation. He’s moving up the Rivals rankings and reports a Michigan offer. I don’t think this report of a Florida offer…
Robinson’s top two schools are UCF and USF right now, but he could generate more interest during his senior season. Florida and Michigan have also offered Robinson.
… is accurate but he’s at least got serious interest. Oh, and apparently favors USF and a CUSA school over, like, Michigan. Hopefully that changes if/when Michigan can get him on campus.
Update 8/4: Linked to articles on FL LB Brandin Hawthorne and FL RB Vincent Smith (one, two), AR CB Darius Winston (second), FL RB Jaamal Berry, MD DE Jason Ankrah and MD CB Travis Hawkins, OK RB David Oku, MI S Thomas Gordon, GA LB Devekeyan Lattimore, FL S DeAngelo Hadley, FL CB Mywan Jackson, TN CB Marsalis Teague, MD CB Travis Hawkins, header on FL CB Mywan Jackson. Moved FL S Mike Jones to committed. Linked to video on FL WR Jeremy Gallon, FL RB Vincent Smith.
Also, an article on Michigan's recruitment of kickers from Helmholdt; not adding Jerome Swinton just yet but keep an eye on him, I guess. And WTKA's recruiting insider podcast has useful info on Bryce McNeal and FSU commit Willie Haulstead; also some interesting items on defensive ends and Mywan Jackson. (As per usual, some links from VB.)
Editorial Opinion: Safety Mike Jones looks to be just the tip of a three-star Florida commitment iceberg. A couple of Pahokee kids, FL LB Brandin Hawthorne and FL RB Vincent Smith, are announcing August 29th, but all indications are the "announcements" are a foregone conclusion. Josh Helmholdt:
FlaVarsity.com publisher Michael Langston, who has covered both Pahokee prospects' careers the past few years, feels Michigan is the team that has the best chance to land both players.
"With Vincent, it's the ties there, how he would fit into the system and the fact that Michigan offered him first," Langston said. "With Brandin, he feels comfortable with that staff and feels he can come right in and play linebacker or whatever position they are going to play him. There's no guarantees, but those are reasons why I think those two will pick Michigan." ...
Hawthorne said Monday that his decision will come down to Michigan, West Virginia and South Florida, but he also predicted that he and Smith would be playing together in college. Michigan is the one school remaining on both prospects' lists, so the writing appears to be on the wall.
The Facebook wall, more specifically. Varsity Blue:
Pahokee Blue Devils Brandon Hawthorne and Vincent Smith won't announce their respective college decisions until August 30th, but it appears as though Michigan has a very good shot at landing both. Several readers have chimed in to let me know that each has changed various aspects of his Facebook page to indicate impending commitment to Michigan.
We saw something similar with MN WR Bryce McNeal, who decked out his Myspace page with an eye-gouging Michigan layout and told at least a couple questioners he'd decided on Michigan; public disavowals were for show and McNeal ended up committing publicly -- more publicly, at least -- a few weeks later. You can pencil those guys into the class. (McNeal, by the way, has backed off on his official visit plans and now says he is 100% Michigan.)
So we can pencil those guys into the class. Hawthorne's a slightly undersized outside linebacker sort while Smith may be the smallest guy Rodriguez has recruited to Michigan, which is saying something. Pat Summerall narrates a fluff piece with some swanky junior-year highlights:
That kid might look like he's starring in an urban remake of "Honey, I Shrunk The Kids" but he looks like he's going to break the sound barrier on a couple of those runs.
Keep your pencils out for FL CB Mywan Jackson , too:
Jackson has made unofficial visit to several programs this summer, including all of the major in-state programs as well as Louisville, Middle Tennessee State and North Carolina. Michigan, though, stood out above the rest.
"Oh, yes. Definitely," Jackson said when asked if Michigan was the best he's seen.
Jackson's actually a quarterback for his high school team but most everybody's recruiting him as an athlete with an eye towards making him a defensive back. He visited Auburn with a couple teammates this weekend; he may commit right quick or extend his decision a bit further into the fall.
Aaaand one more: some kicker. Though TX K Anthony Fera was reported to have an offer last week, it appears this is not the case and that Michigan is still deciding between him and some guy from, yes, Florida. Said guy is FL K Brendan Gibbons. Someone will get an offer soon and quickly commit:
"I went to (Michigan's) camp and I think I'm their number one guy," Gibbons told Rivals.com last week.
Fera also feels strongly about his chances of being Michigan's top guy. He reported Sunday evening that he had received an email from Michigan assistant coach Fred Jackson saying the decision was down to two guys. If the lot is cast in Fera's favor, he is ready to make a decision.
"If they end up offering both of us at the same time and it is first come, first serve, then I will probably take it," Fera said. "But if they give me a week or two, then I would probably take that week or two and talk it over with my parents."
Add those guys in and Michigan is suddenly getting full before football season even starts. Jackson, Smith, Hawthorne, and Some Kicker Guy would be commitments 15 through 18; Michigan's current count of open scholarships for 2009 is 17. There will be further attrition before February -- probably four or five guys, if not more -- but spots are rapidly dwindling. There is an undercurrent of panic on the message boards about the three-star flood, especially in relation to Ohio State's monster haul. I'll address all that in a separate post.
Onto non-impeding-commitment news: a few weeks ago, five star AR CB Darius Winston decommitted from Arkansas and named Michigan his leader; unfortunately, in recent articles he's backed off that assertion. His coach still thinks he's leaning north, though:
"I know Michigan has come on strong as of late and if I had to guess I'd say that's where Darius is currently leaning," Smith added. "But Darius is really open to everyone right now."
Long way to go there, obviously.
Two Southern defensive backs have three-star ratings but pretty wicked offer sheets and are listing Michigan. First, FL S Angelo Hadley :
Another school whose tradition of great players impresses Hadley is Michigan. "They have great tradition too," he said. "They always have good defensive backs and I liked guys like Charles Woodson and Desmond Howard. They always have their players highly drafted and I like the new coaches. They seem nice and I definitely plan to take a visit there this fall."
If he's serious he'll schedule an official; that's up in the air. Meanwhile, TN CB Marsalis Teague has had some interesting conversations with Michigan coaches:
Most of the schools in Teague's top six are recruiting him for cornerback, except for Michigan which he says are liking him as a signal caller. "I love their new style of offense they are gonna run under coach Rich Rodriguez ," he said. "It's the same offense we run at my high school and they said I could play quarterback there.
"Coach Rodriguez says they need a guy like me to run his offense," he said. "But they are also looking at me for corner or receiver. I guess the defensive coordinator wants me for cornerback and the offensive coordinator wants me for quarterback. Either way they've got a spot for me."
Teague is 5'10" and I will bet anyone other than the coaching staff one million dollars that even if he commits -- unlikely as he has a Miami offer and has liked them since he was a wee tyke -- he never sees a snap at quarterback.
Bonus random Southern defensive back! This one's FL CB Jayron Hosley:
Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez may also be on the verge of offering Hosley.
"They (Michigan) want to come see me play. They haven't seen me play in person; they've just seen my film. They are going to see a game and go from there. I think in September," said Hosley.
The two Michigan assistants handling Hosley's recruitment are Quarterbacks Coach Rod Smith and Defensive Coordinator Scott Shafer.
Hosley's a Rivals 250 guy.