also duty-free guys falling over and grabbing their shins
Fasten Your Seatbelts?
Four-star 2016 PA WR Cameron Chambers will announce his college choice tomorrow, and while he released a top five on Monday the overwhelming consensus is he'll pick between Michigan and Michigan State, the two schools he visited most recently. No one seems to have a good read on which of the two he'll pick, however, including his high school coach, per Scout's Brian Dohn ($):
"I really don't know what he wants to do," Timber Creek coach Rob Hinson. "I think he had a good time at Michigan, and had a great time at Michigan State. He was at Michigan for two days, and he said Michigan State was awesome, and he said the same thing about Michigan.
I haven't been able to find a specific time for the announcement tomorrow—I don't think Chambers has determined one—but I'll update if/when one comes out.
KLS Top Five: Michigan In, USC and ND Out
Five-star CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South trimmed his list to five schools this week. Michigan made it, which won't shock anyone, but a pair of omissions might, per Scout's Greg Biggins ($):
On the recruiting front, Lucier-South cut his list down to a final five that consisted of Florida, Oklahoma, Oregon, Michigan and UCLA.
"Those are the five schools that I felt most comfortable with and the ones that I felt matched my style the best," Lucier-South said. "It was really hard to cut Notre Dame and USC. Those two schools have been on me hard for a long time but I just felt like the five I choose were the best fits for me."
KLS had mentioned Notre Dame as a school he planned to see on an official visit, while USC is one of just two schools—along with UCLA—that he's visited unofficially. Now he's planning to take trips to each of his top five schools before a Signing Day decision.
Oregon and Oklahoma are relative newcomers to the party, though they could both very well be a major factor in Lucier-South's recruitment going forward. For now, UCLA and Michigan are generally regarded as the schools out in front.
More BBQ Reactions: Jalen Bates
Sam Webb's latest Detroit News article* is a great wrapup of last Sunday's BBQ at the Big House, and it includes some very glowing quotes from three-star LA DE Jalen Bates, who moved Michigan into his top five after his visit:
“(Michigan is in) the top five right now for sure,“ said Bates. “(The barbecue) was fun. It was one of the (most fun) times I’ve had. They treated me like family. All the coaches, they all treated me like they have been recruiting all their life. They all kind of flocked to me and they treated me like I was a celebrity. I liked the way they treated my family — all the coaches’ wives and their kids.”
“(Michigan assistant Fred Jackson) was like one of my uncles. It was like he missed me. We hung out almost the whole time. It was like I was out here visiting family, and I haven’t even met some of these people. It was cool.”
Bates had a September 19th decision date set before the visit, and he plans to stick to that timeline. A Scout article published yesterday appeared to indicate that Michigan was suddenly out of the mix, as it quoted Bates saying he'd choose between Mississippi State, Texas Tech, and Louisiana-Lafayette. While that is apparently Bates' top three, he insisted on Twitter that isn't a concrete top group, and Michigan is still very much under consideration:
Why would I kick UM out . Grew up watching UM. They just have a few negs & pos. That I have to weigh out
— Jalen Bates (@KINNG_MEE) July 31, 2014
One of those negatives is almost certainly distance from home, and getting Bates back on campus before his decision could go a long way towards convincing him that shouldn't be a huge factor. Luckily, Bates told 247's Steve Lorenz that a return trip to Ann Arbor is likely to happen ($):
"I am gonna try to get to a game before I decide," he said. "Michigan is probably going to get an official. They were already in my top five going into this visit and they really, really helped themselves on this visit. It was a real surprise how much I liked it there and how much fun I had. I know Michigan is great academically; top 10 in the country and top 20 in the world. They definitely stand out that way. I'm looking for a school and coaching staff that can develop me. That's the biggest thing for me. Wherever I go, I am ready to work as hard as I can; I want to play for coaches that can take that hard work and help turn me into a great player."
I like Michigan's chances if Bates follows through on that official; if he doesn't, I'd be surprised if he ends up straying too far from home.
*Strongly suggest you click through and read that whole thing, as there's a lot of good stuff in there I'm not bothering to reprint here since it's free and all.
Even More BBQ Reactions: Bredeson, Holyfield
Michigan got a nice leg up in the recruitment of top-50 2016 WI OT Ben Bredeson when his older brother, Jack, committed to the baseball team while the family was in town for the BBQ. Per Lorenz, Bredeson is already planning a game visit, and he'll likely see the Wolverines a couple times on the road, as well ($):
Going forward, Bredeson does not look to make a commitment until sometime next spring or summer. A group of schools has separated themselves at this point with Michigan, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Ohio State being among those considered most at this point.
"It's a really good feeling to have such great programs wanting you to play for them," he said. "Right now, I'm looking at returning to Michigan for a visit when they play Penn State. I also might end up seeing them play at Notre Dame and at Ohio State this season as well. It will depend on how I am able to work my schedule because I have practice on Saturday mornings after my games on Friday. I'm hoping to make it work though."
The Penn State game, as expected, is shaping up to be Michigan's biggest in-season recruiting event.
2016 four-star RB Elijah Holyfield camped at Michigan this summer; he told Tim Sullivan that coming back for the BBQ—and bringing his mother and step-father—was actually his idea, which sounds pretty encouraging from Michigan's perspective ($):
"A couple recruits had told me about it, and I called Coach Hecklinski and he thought it'd be a good idea to get my parents up there, and I wanted my parents to see it also," Holyfield explained. "I really like Michigan a lot, so I wanted them to see it and see how they like it also. I thought it'd be a good time to come back up.
"Me and my parents got there the day before, so I got the chance to sit down with all the coaches one-on-one and talk to them. That really helped a lot. Any questions that my parents had, they were able to answer. It was really nice, I really enjoyed myself on the whole visit."
Holyfield said the trip "definitely helped Michigan" in his recruitment, and he indicated that his parents were also quite impressed. He might come back again for a game this fall.
Steve Lorenz reported that the top-ranked running back in the 2016 class, five-star New Jersey product Kareem Walker, will visit Michigan next week ($). While there will be tons of competition for Walker's signature, Michigan has a couple things going for them: they were one of the first programs to offer Walker a scholarship, and Walker's connected with fellow Jersey native Jabrill Peppers.
Congratulations to 2015 commit Darrin Kirkland, who accepted an invite to the Army All-American Game yesterday.
Happy trails to former commit George Campbell, who released a top ten that didn't include Michigan ($). The only two non-ACC/SEC schools to make the list are UCLA and... Maryland. Okay, then.
An off-the-radar name to remember: Darrin Paulo, a three-star 2015 OL from Sacramento, told Scout's Brandon Huffman that Michigan is under consideration for his final official visit spot ($):
“I know where I’m going to visit, but I don't have dates,” said Paulo. “Washington State, UCLA, USC and Oregon are the main four I know I want to visit. I think I will take all five though and I’m debating the last one in my mind. I’m still considering Wisconsin, Michigan and Arizona State for the last one.”
Scout and Rivals both list Paulo as holding a Michigan offer. It seems unlikely anything will come from this, but it's at least worth noting.
Promising Quote Is Promising
Is four-star LB Josh McMillon looking blue? [photo via 247]
It's no secret that Michigan's scholarship availability for the 2015 class is dwindling. Per Sam Webb, that fact is not lost on four-star TN LB Josh McMillon, who's spoken very highly of the Wolverines lately ($):
One of the topics of discussion in recent weeks has been Michigan’s dwindling scholarship availability. McMillon is well aware that there is only one scholarship left for a linebacker, but he has made it a point to not let it affect his recruitment.
“They said I was number one on their boards, so I feel like if they did take someone it would be my loss rather than theirs,” he stated.
Well, hello there.
McMillon will visit for the BBQ at the Big House on July 27th, and he's also got trips planned to Alabama (July 12th) and Auburn (TBD) before a decision he'll make either in August or September. McMillon spoke in glowing terms about his last visit to Ann Arbor—when he was the first recruit to see the new Schembechler Hall renovations—from both a football and academic standpoint, as well as his close relationship with Chris Singletary.
A potential commitment from McMillon could leave four-star UT OLB Osa Masina, who named Michigan to his top five on Thursday, out of a spot—he doesn't plan to decide until the Army AA Game, per 247's Evan Flood ($). This is what we call a good problem.
Prospects are looking up on the defensive line, as well. Four-star NC SDE Darian Roseboro has Michigan as the only non-ACC/SEC school in his top six thanks to the connection he and his family have made with the coaching staff, especially Roy Manning, per Webb's latest DetNews article:
“I like the coaching staff,” said Roseboro to Scout.com. “They’re all down to earth and I have a real good relationship with them. I also enjoyed being around the players when I visited and I like the environment.”
His connection with Michigan assistant Roy Manning served as the catalyst for his initial interest. During the visit that bond quickly expanded to also include Roseboro’s parents.
“We got along perfect,” Roseboro’s father Johnny said. “(Manning) was like someone I have known for years. We just clicked and I liked that. He didn’t try to be anybody else. They are themselves. What you see is what you get. I like that.
Webb confirms that Roseboro will be in attendance at the BBQ, which gives U-M the chance to make another strong impression before he makes his college choice on August 29th. The whole article is well worth your time; notably, both Roseboro's mother and father made sure to note that distance won't play a factor, which is excellent news for Michigan given the other finalists. There's a very good chance the Wolverines add two highly touted defenders to the 2015 class before football season begins.
Obligatory 2015 Running Backs Update
While Damien Harris, Jacques Patrick, and Ray-Ray McCloud were also in attendance, the 2015 running back creating the most Michigan recruiting buzz at The Opening was Mike Weber, who showed up rocking the Maize and Blue, something both Alex Malzone and Darrin Kirkland were eager to point out. Whether on their own volition or by instruction from the coaches, Michigan's current commits have made Weber their top recruiting priority at the position, per GBW's Josh Newkirk ($):
“I’d probably say Mikey (Weber),” Malzone said, when asked which running back he wanted this years class. “I talk to Mikey a lot. I’ve known him from Cass Tech, Michigan native.
“Mike Weber, we’re getting him to go blue.”
With Malzone and Nussmeier both making Weber their No. 1 priority, Weber has no choice but to choose Michigan, right?
“Alex [Malzone] has just been saying come down there and have a good time with him,” Weber said on conversation with Malzone. “Hopefully that will affect my decision.”
Weber's recruitment has increasingly looked like an in-state battle; according to Newkirk, one-time contender Tennessee has backed off lately in their efforts to land Weber, potentially eliminating one of his top five schools.
Positive news for Michigan State could also be positive news for Michigan in this case. The Spartans pulled a recruiting coup on Friday, landing four-star OH RB LJ Scott in a head-to-head win over Ohio State. The Only Colors is projecting a relatively small class for MSU, and it's quite possible the Spartans are done with running back recruiting for 2015. That'd leave Ohio State, Wisconsin, and possibly Miami (YTM) as Michigan's competition for Weber, and the Wolverines would likely be out in front of that group. We should find out more when he's on campus for the BBQ.
That's good news on its own, and better still since U-M is on the outside looking in for their other top running back targets. Four-star FL RB Jacques Patrick told Scout that while Michigan is staying in regular contact with him, Florida State and Alabama are his top two schools ($). With an announcement already planned for October 27th, it looks unlikely U-M will climb back into contention.
Same goes for four-star FL ATH/RB Ray-Ray McCloud, who told Rivals' Adam Krohn that he'll decide on July 28th, and he already has his mind made up ($):
"I know the school I'm choosing," he said. "It felt right for me every time I went on campus, and the relationships I have with the coaches."
Florida is the overwhelming favorite. McCloud hasn't made it to Michigan's campus and doesn't plan to before his decision, so it's about time to wish him happy trails.
U-M isn't entirely out of quality options if Weber ends up elsewhere, however. There's always the chance Damien Harris re-commits, though that's not my expectation, and GBW reports that four-star Florida back and current soft Miami commit Dexter Williams will take official visits to Michigan, USC, and possibly Notre Dame ($).
In 2016 running back news, Michigan could be in on another ex-North Carolina commit after previously reeling in 2015 TE Chris Clark after his decommitment from the Tar Heels. The coach of four-star NC RB Antonio Williams told 247's Steve Lorenz that Michigan is "absolutely under consideration" after Williams decommitted from UNC over the weekend ($). Once again, it's Roy Manning making a major impact in that area:
"I know [Williams and Manning] had a great relationship for a long time," [Williams' coach] said. "We had always been led to believe that Michigan was going to make Antonio the first RB offer in their class, but they backed off a bit after he made his commitment to North Carolina. Antonio really likes Michigan a lot and always have. We are going to sit down in the very near future and discuss what his next moves are going to be as far as visits go."
Williams himself said he's looking to talk to Manning "as soon as he can," presumably to set up a visit. If he gets on campus, an offer is likely to follow for the nation's #8-ranked running back on the 247 Composite.
Kirkland, deWeaver Impress At Camps
While I can't find anything on Alex Malzone that isn't recruiting-related, Darrin Kirkland's performance at The Opening earned positive reviews, impressing Scout's national scouting guru over the course of the three-day event, per Newkirk ($):
“Kirkland stood out early in footwork drills and then showed his change of direction and straight ahead speed in one-on-one drills,” said Scout national recruiting analyst Brian Dohn, on Kirkland’s Tuesday performance. “He moved fast but remained patient. He was able to beat the running back to the point of attack on several drills and used his length well.”
Kirkland also took the opportunity to pitch Michigan to Weber, Harris, Patrick, and Masina. 247's Clint Brewster listed him as one of five Michigan commits or targets who look primed for a ratings bump after The Opening; Weber also made the cut after showing some impressive receiving ability out the backfield.
Meanwhile, 2016 QB commit Messiah deWeaver participated in the Rivals250 Underclassmen Challenge on Saturday, and Josh Helmholdt ranked him as the fourth-best signal-caller in attendance ($):
DeWeaver came to Jacksonville on a run of outstanding off-season performances, and he continued that momentum on Saturday. A year ago, the Ohio native had real loose mechanics and struggled with consistency, but he has developed into one of the more well-rounded quarterbacks in the 2016 class with clean mechanics and good footwork. The recent Michigan commit made some of his best throws during one-on-one play, fitting passes into tight windows and varying his trajectory well.
At the same event, 2016 Orchard Lake St. Mary's four-star Daelin Hayes won positional MVP honors among linebackers ($). He picked up a Notre Dame offer after a standout performance at their camp last month, adding to a list that already includes U-M, OSU, MSU, PSU, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. While this is a Midwest battle in the early going, and Michigan should be in good position to land him, expect more big-time competition to appear—he's looking like one of the top LB prospects in the class regardless of region.
Elite 11/The Opening Updates: Michigan Commits
Alex Malzone didn't make the cut from the 18 quarterbacks invited to the Elite 11 finals down to the top 11, as he couldn't put together enough consistency to move on, according to the camp's resident QB coach, Trent Dilfer (via the Freep):
“When you put him in an environment like this where it’s really fast and great athletes around you and every little microsecond of timing matters, there’s been some inconsistencies. His good is extremely good. His bad has been bad at times, and he’ll be the first to tell you that.”
Dilfer noted that Malzone's baseball background affects his mechanics as a quarterback—the football throwing motion requires a more compact delivery—which makes it tough to maintain consistency. That's apparent on the film from the first day of camp; on a few throws, Malzone keeps his motion pretty tight, but on others—especially the throws when he has to avoid rushers, a situation where a QB is likely to revert to their most natural-feeling delivery—he lets his throwing arm dip down too far, elongating the motion.
Playing in a loaded field while tweaking his mechanics on the fly, with a very limited number of reps to work with, Malzone making the final cut was a tall order. When I say limited reps, I mean limited reps, as Malzone relayed to Scout's Sam Webb and Kyle Bogenschutz ($):
“Yesterday, all we had on the field was a red zone session, seven on seven, each quarterback had six throws, missed a couple of guys. I felt like I could have done better myself. I made up for it in the end. I threw one touchdown at the end and today I came out and did what I could do.”
Ultimately not selected in the top group of the Elite 11 following the rigorous workouts, Malzone just sees it as extra motivation, noting he most definitely gave it his all.
Malzone's moved on to The Opening, which is in its final day today, and as expected recruiting for Michigan is as much a focus as playing at the camp, per 247's Steve Lorenz ($):
"I've talked to [George] Campbell, [Mike] Weber, Keisean [Lucier-South], [Auden] Tate, Ray-Ray [McCloud], Damien [Harris], [Mook] Reynolds and Iman [Marshall]," [Malzone] said.
When asked which player seemed the most receptive to Michigan? "Mike Weber."
More on that last bit later in this post.
Michigan's other representative at The Opening, Darrin Kirkland, stood out as one of the best defensive performers on Tuesday, garnering top ten honors from Scout's Allen Trieu...
Darrin Kirkland - Linebacker, Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence Central
Kirkland, a Michigan commit, has worked hard on his ability to run and move in space and that was on display today as he was one of the top linebackers in coverage. He could run with backs and did a nice job playing the ball in the air, coming away with a couple of interceptions.
...and earning a mention as one of the top four linebackers in attendance from 247's Barton Simmons:
Michigan commit Darrin Kirkland Jr. doesn’t strike you as an overwhelming kid athletically but he is always in the right place, he doesn’t get shaken in space, he can get in the hip pocket of a tight end or running back and he can make a play downfield on the football.
For a prospect whose ability to stuff the run is supposed to be his biggest strength, Kirkland sure gets a lot of camp praise for his coverage. That came up a fair amount during last year's camp season, as well.
2015 Updates: Running Backs
Things are happening on the running back front, as both Damien Harris and the aforementioned Mike Weber will visit for this month's BBQ at the Big House. Harris, who's at The Opening, told 247's Luke Stampini that he's still searching for that feeling he had when he initially committed to Michigan ($):
“I still talk to Coach (Doug) Nussmeier and Coach (Brady) Hoke now and then. People think I lost all connections with Michigan because I decommitted. That wasn’t the case. I just wanted to step back and reevaluate my options.”
He’ll be looking for that spark he once had with Michigan the next time he’s in Ann Arbor.
“Just that feeling I got when I was there initially, the first couple times when I was committed,” Harris said. “That family feel I got with Coach Hoke and the staff. Just kind of reconnect with them.”
Alabama, Kentucky, and Ohio State are the other schools that seem to have separated themselves from the pack. After landing commitments from Jashon Cornell and Justin Hilliard last week, the Buckeyes may very well have the edge, per Webb ($):
“I’d be lying if I said (the Hilliard and Cornell commitments) didn’t impact me a lot,” Harris stated. “Those are just two of my good friends that I’ve become friends with in this whole recruiting process. We all talked about playing together like you said, and now that they’ve committed it gives me more to think about… if I do still want to play with them, or if they (just) went to the school that I like. I just have to take all these things into my thought process and making my decision.”
Harris plans to cut his list to five just before his senior season, then take official visits to each of those schools. Michigan should make the cut, but I get the feeling Ohio State will be tough to overcome. Don't everybody sigh at once, now.
The good news is Michigan still seems to be trending up with Weber, and he's not the only other option should Harris end up elsewhere. Four-star FL RB Dexter Williams, who's "80-percent committed to [Miami]," told Scout's Gerard Martinez that Michigan is one of three other schools he plans to visit ($):
“I know I’m taking an official visit to USC and Michigan as well. I might also officially visit Notre Dame too if I can’t get out there this summer on my own.”
Another, potentially more realistic, option is three-star MO RB Alec Murphy, who recently named a top four of Iowa, Purdue, Mississippi State, and Michigan. Among that group, only the Wolverines haven't offered him, which leads me to believe they'd have a great shot to land him if they eventually extend one. The quote he gave to Scout's Derek Young about Michigan and his decision timeline makes it seem like he may even be waiting on U-M before making his choice ($):
Michigan: "They haven't offered me, yet. An offer could come at some point. They've had a lot of interest in me. I'm hoping they possibly offer because they are a great program."
A summer decision is not out of the question for Murphy.
"I'm thinking about making my decision over the summer," he pointed out. "I'm not real sure yet. If I find the right place before the season then I will make my commitment."
With Ty Isaac in the fold and likely redshirting, my guess is Michigan will wait on the higher-ranked backs before moving on to Murphy—they only need one back in the class, and Murphy seems like a prospect they could offer late in the process and earn a commitment even if he's pledged elsewhere.
2015 Updates: Everything Else
While also mentioning that he's trying to set up a visit for the BBQ, as well as confirming U-M will receive one of his official visits, four-star TN LB Josh McMillon told 247's Clint Brewster two schools are currently standing out to him ($):
Ranked as the 11th best player in Tennessee and the 17th best outside linebacker, McMillon mentioned some programs that have an edge at this point in the process.
“Michigan, Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, and Vanderbilt. Michigan and Alabama are pretty much on top I would say.”
Florida State, Ohio State, and USC are also in the mix, as McMillon said he plans to take official visits to those schools—he can visit the SEC schools among his top group without having to use officials. While that's stiff competition, Sam Webb posted a very positive outlook on Michigan's standing with McMillon on the GBW board ($). Michigan looks to be in very good shape here.
Another standout linebacker at The Opening, four-star UT OLB Osa Masina, plans to cut his list to five before the season starts, per TomVH ($). In that same board post, Webb suggested Michigan could be on the outside looking in due to distance playing a bigger factor that Masina originally expected. Tyriq Thompson and Asmar Bilal are more realistic candidates to end up in the class, as Brandon suggested earlier today.
The pipe dream of landing five-star CA CB Iman Marshall seems to be exactly that; while Marshall previously mentioned a possible July visit in addition to a potential official visit, he told Webb and Bogenschutz at The Opening that nothing has been set yet ($):
One other visit Marshall has been toying with taking is to Ann Arbor to check out Brady Hoke and the Michigan Wolverines.
“It’s still in the planning stages,” Marshall said. “Like I said it’s really been a hectic couple of months and stuff like that so I want to sit down with my parents and discuss what our visit plans are going to be, our travel plans are going to be, so it correlates all together.”
Working in Michigan's favor, however, is the presence of Freddy Canteen, who's been recruiting Marshall since they worked out at the same gym recently. If Marshall is going to get to campus, though, it seems like an official visit is the best bet, and regardless of the visit situation he'll be an extremely tough pull from the West Coast.
Another potential Shaun Crawford replacement, DC CB Marcus Lewis, a current Florida commit, told GatorBait.net that—along with Miami and Oregon—Michigan is one of three schools that'll receive an official visit from him ($):
On Michigan: "They've been recruiting me really hard even though I'm committed. Coach (Kurt) Mallory, coach (Roy) Manning and the whole staff down there. I've heard it's a nice campus, and they're rebuilding. They got a good 2014 class in, so we're going to see what they can do in the Big Ten.
"Right now they look good. Coach (Brady) Hoke, we had a good conversation. I mean he basically said he needs corners. They've got corners on the way out and they need that next Reed to come in. They've got Garrett Taylor and another kid committed, so they need one more DB.
Lewis doesn't seem very strong in his Florida pledge; in the same article, he mentioned concern over the number of cornerbacks they've taken recently (four in the 2014 class, two in 2015). If that's a major factor, uh, nobody show him the depth chart, okay?
Four-star NC SDE Darian Roseboro named Michigan to his top six along with Alabama, Clemson, North Carolina, NC State, and Tennessee, per Scout's Michael Clark ($). He's set to announce on August 29th, and Michigan looks to have serious momentum in their favor right now; if he picked today, they'd likely be the choice.
Four-star FL WR Auden Tate is another top prospect who's trying to set up a visit to the BBQ, and he's slated to take an official to Ann Arbor during the season, per 247's Luke Stampini ($). Tate described U-M as a "dream school" and his "favorite school" growing up, though Florida State, Florida, and Georgia are also serious contenders. With Miles Boykin off the board to Notre Dame, expect the coaches to make a serious push for Tate.
ESPN released their initial Junior 300 for the 2016 class. Messiah deWeaver came in at #115 overall (#11 pro-style QB), while Erik Swenson landed at #256 (#20 OT). ESPN's scouting report on Swenson is quite light on details, so it's quite possible he moves up after further looking into his game (assuming ESPN does so).
The #50 overall player on that list (and #41 in the 247 Composite), LA OT Willie Allen, told Tim Sullivan that Michigan will get a visit from him, though the timing could be a ways off ($):
"I know they're close to an Ivy League school academically, but I really don't know too much about them," [Allen] said of the Wolverines. "I plan on taking a visit up there, but financial-wise, it's when my family can really afford it. I'll have to talk to Coach Fred and see what we can do. It'll probably be next summer. If I can get the money this year, I'll definitely take a visit to Michigan. I plan on waiting it out until senior year, and then making my commitment to a school. But I'm open right now. Every offer that I have as of now is equal. I just want to wait it out."
If Allen makes his way to Ann Arbor, Michigan will be in on one of the most coveted prospects in the 2016 class; as always, however, a top-flight prospect from Louisiana should be presumed to go to LSU or Alabama until all signs say otherwise.
Four-Star Vine, I'd Say
It's perhaps the biggest week in camp season, as the Elite 11(-ish) is underway and Nike's elite camp The Opening begins tomorrow. Quarterback Alex Malzone is representing Michigan in both events, and linebacker Darrin Kirkland will join him for The Opening; tight end Chris Clark was also slated to attend the latter event, but pulled out due to personal reasons, per Tim Sullivan ($).
Day one of the Elite 11 finals is already in the books, though the meat of the event takes place today. Malzone measured in at 6'1", 202 pounds when he arrived, and told 247's Barton Simmons of his recruiting plans for later this week:
"I've built some good relationships with a lot of our top targets," he said. "Auden Tate and Michael Weber are a couple guys I'm looking to talk to. Keisean Lucier-South is another big one. Ray-Ray McCloud is another. The coaches have mentioned some guys I should talk to, but I've done most of the work on my own. I'm looking forward to meeting all the players Darrin (Kirkland) and I have been talking to and finding out the interest."
Simmons suggested both Malzone and Kirkland are poised to move up in 247's rankings if they turn in solid performances this week; Malzone recently moved into high three-star territory (and picked up a fourth star on the 247 Composite) and seems likely to earn a fourth from 247 sooner or later. The E11 quarterbacks who haven't already been selected will also get the opportunity to play for a spot in the Army All-American Bowl. In a brief, free update from the first day of E11, Simmons praised Malzone's presence, focus, and arm strength. So far, so good.
If you're looking to watch any of the camps, The Opening will be televised on ESPNU starting tomorrow night; the full schedule is here.
Happy Trails: Four Off The Board
I'm equally confused, Tim.
Four prospects holding Michigan offers went off the board since last Wednesday; three decisions went as expected, while one came as a bit of a surprise.
Nobody was shocked when both five-star OLB Justin Hilliard and four-star DL Jashon Cornell committed to Ohio State during simultaneous announcements last week; each favored the Buckeyes recently and stated a desire to play together. Jumbo WR Miles Boykin's commitment to Notre Dame was similarly predictable.
Then there's three-star TX WR A.D. Miller, who holds offers from the likes of Arizona State, BYU, Miami (YTM), Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington. He chose...
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) July 6, 2014
With Boykin and Miller off the table, expect Michigan to make a hard push for another big wideout, 6'4" FL four-star Auden Tate, whose recruitment may come down to a battle between the Wolverines, Florida State (the presumed leader), and Florida. With the other offered receivers on Michigan's board likely ticketed elsewhere, it wouldn't surprise if some new offers went out, as well.
Michigan stopped recruiting Cornell because he'd gained enough weight to project inside; they'd previously wanted him as a weakside DE, and the top option there remains five-star California prospect Keisean Lucier-South, who gave an update on his recruitment to Brandon last week. As for outside linebacker, U-M is high on the respective lists of UT four-star Osa Masina and in-state four-star legacy Tyriq Thompson. Four-star TN ILB Joshua McMillon, who's had very good things to say about the Wolverines recently, could also project to the outside.
2015 Visit Updates
Per 247's Ryan Bartow, four-star NC CB Mook Reynolds, a current Virginia Tech commit, will visit Ann Arbor for July 27th's BBQ at the Big House. While a few other big-name schools are also in pursuit, that's the only visit he's got planned for now. He'll be at The Opening, as well, where he'll likely get some attention from Michigan's pair of commits in attendance.
Also planning a BBQ visit is three-star NC DE Kengera Daniel, whose ranking belies an impressive offer sheet that includes Alabama, Miami (YTM), and Tennessee in addition to Michigan. According to Tim Sullivan($), Daniel plans to take his official visits before making a decision during his senior season; securing one of those officials will be key for landing his commitment.
Scout's Sam Hellman caught up with recently offered four-star NJ ATH Ahmir Mitchell, who told him that unlike all the other schools that have offered him as a receiver, Michigan is recruiting him as a safety ($).
Four-star IN DE Auston Robertson, who camped at Michigan and is expecting an offer relatively soon, will be back in Ann Arbor for the BBQ, per 247's Steve Lorenz ($). While Notre Dame is his early leader, he said that the Wolverines would join them at the top of his list if they come through with an offer.
Five-star Cincinnati (OH) Elder OL Tommy Kraemer told Lorenz that Michigan could join a pair of familiar foes at the top of his list should the coaches, as expected, extend him an offer ($):
Kraemer, who holds offers from Ohio State and Notre Dame among others, says the Wolverines would immediately join that top group with an offer.
"They're the team I grew up following," he said. "My dad coached a former Michigan player and I've always been told about how great of a place it is there. I would want to visit and see it for myself first, but I am pretty sure they would be right there with the other schools I'm highly considering."
Kraemer was invited to the BBQ, but is unlikely to attend because of a conflict with his high school team's camp; he's looking to set up a visit before that camp starts on July 17th. With Kraemer planning to make a decision after his junior season, expect Michigan to throw their hat in the ring whenever he gets on campus.
The California Of The Midwest
Between last weekend's Sound Mind Sound Body camp and the ongoing U-M technique camp, Michigan's had the opportunity to see many of their top recruits in person over the last few days. Among those prospects were two 2016 California quarterbacks, five-star dual-threat Malik Henry—who wowed at SMSB before making his way to campus on Sunday—and four-star pro-style QB KJ Costello, who also made it into town on Sunday. A beautiful spring weekend in Ann Arbor made Costello feel right at home:
Michigan is unreal... The weather feels like Cali
— kj costello (@kj_costello) June 15, 2014
NOBODY SAY A DAMN WORD.
SMSB: Malzone, Kirkland Stand Out
Michigan's two participating commits didn't disappoint in front of their future coaches at SMSB, as both Alex Malzone and Darrin Kirkland turned in outstanding performances. After not having his best showing on Thursday, Malzone came back with a standout showing on Friday that impressed GBW's Josh Newkirk ($):
Malzone came to work on day two. Maybe, just maybe, having his future coach Doug Nussmeier in attendance was an added incentive as well. The future Wolverine looked sharp in drills and listened closely whenever Nussmeier addressed him. In the one-on-one portion of the camp, Malzone excelled. He showcased his arm – like always – and made nice precise throws. He doesn’t seem to mind the added attention of being Michigan’s quarterback of the future, even when everyone is watching. An overall great performance by the four-star prospect.
247's Clint Brewster concurred, saying Malzone showed he could "make all the throws" with excellent accuracy and solid velocity. He sounded even more impressed with Kirkland, praising his coverage and blitzing ability after giving rave reviews of his play against the run ($):
Kirkland Jr. immediately stood out among the defensive players at the camp because of how well put together he is. Kirkland has an NFL linebacker type of body with a thick muscled frame. You can easily point him out among the linebackers there. Kirkland was able to overpower running backs in one-on-one coverage and he doesn’t wait to attack. He plays with good body-lean and pad level to get underneath ball carriers and gain leverage. Kirkland isn’t going to Wow you with his athleticism or quickness but he plays so hard. He closes on ball carriers and takes the right angles because it seems like he wants to make the tackle more than the next guy. His intensity and technique is really what stood out to me.
Kirkland continues to sound like a prototype MIKE; it's gonna be fun seeing Brian try to come up with a YMRMFSPA for his recruiting profile that isn't David Harris.
[Hit THE JUMP for a couple happy trails, updates on a pair of 2015 running backs, where Michigan stands after offering Dele' Harding, a few camp offers, and more.]
Michigan hosted four-star Illinois jumbo receiver Miles Boykin and his family for an unofficial visit over the weekend, and after receiving the full campus tour with a special "here's how we'll use you like Devin Funchess" film session, at least one of the Boykins was ready to sign up, per GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz ($):
“My dad and my brother are the biggest Michigan fans I know,” Boykin said. “So they loved it.”
Boykin adding, “When we got back home my brother looked at me and he said, ‘Miles, you’re a better man than I am.’ And I asked what are you talking about? And he was like, ‘I would’ve committed already bro.’
Miles told 247's Steve Wiltfong that he thought the trip "went awesome," and he "loved it" when Jeff Hecklinski showed him how he'd be utilized in the offense($), so while Boykin claimed no leaders it's tough not to feel like Michigan is in a very good position for him—especially since he already visited for the Spring Game and already plans on taking another summer unofficial to Ann Arbor before an August decision. Notre Dame is a serious contender and they're up next on his visit list, so this is far from over, but I like where Michigan stands.
The Wolverines also continue to look good for a few of their top targets, as well. Sam Webb's latest Detroit News article details a slight shift in recruiting strategy by the coaches—focusing on recruiting their position of specialty, as opposed to a set region, earlier than in years past—and how that's affected Michigan's chances with CT TE Chris Clark and NJ OT Grant Newsome.
Both have developed a close relationship with their potential future position coaches—Dan Ferrigno for Clark, Darrell Funk for Newsome—and will be on campus for critical unofficials this month, each accompanied by their mothers this time around. Michigan is Clark's stated leader, while Newsome is down to U-M and Penn State. Read Webb's whole article, which includes details on Alex Malzone's recruiting efforts, and you'll come away feeling good about Michigan's chances to land both.
Newsome won't be the only four-star tackle on campus this summer. According to Webb and Josh Newkirk, TN OT Drew Richmond has been impressed enough with Funk's continued recruiting efforts—even after Richmond left U-M out of his top 11 in March—that he's going to visit in July ($):
“I feel like he knows what he’s talking about and he cares about what he’s doing,” Richmond said about Funk.
The four-star offensive tackle continued: “They have just been consistently recruiting me. I really love the fan base.”
Meanwhile, recently offered TX WR A.D. Miller is on campus today while on a Midwest swing from Illinois to Ohio State, and he told Tim Sullivan he'll narrow down his focus to "about eight schools" after these trips ($). In other positive 2015 news, four-star TN LB Josh McMillon put Michigan in his unordered top ten.
Trending Not So Well...
Ohio State's campus hosted a Nike camp over the weekend, and the recruiting updates from Columbus weren't so good on the Michigan front. Damien Harris, in particular, came away singing the praises of OSU and Urban Meyer, per Doug Lesmerises:
"It's still kind of cool the way things go with Coach Meyer," Harris told cleveland.com Sunday, while attending a Nike Football Training Camp at Ohio State. "As a kid growing up, I'd see him on TV and I was like, 'Man, he's the man.' And now I get to be real cool with him. We walk into a basketball game together, we just get to enjoy life together right now - maybe for the next four years. It' definitely been a blessing. I get to be looked at as important enough to spend time with one of the greats of all time. It's definitely an honor. I don't take it for granted. I'm real thankful for it."
Harris told Steve Wiltfong that Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio State were the programs recruiting him the hardest; in the same article, he discussed how much he "loves" various aspects of OSU, UK, Florida, and Alabama, but when asked about Michigan he mentioned trying to "continue to develop a better relationship" with Doug Nussmeier ($). Harris, if you'll recall, was close with Al Borges before U-M changed OCs; I've finally given in and flipped my Crystal Ball pick for Harris to Ohio State.
The above makes this bit of news from TomVH a little tougher to stomach:
RB Mike Weber told me he does have a top 3 within his top 5. Ohio State, MSU, Wisconsin but Michigan and Tennessee still in it.
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) June 1, 2014
So that's not good. Michigan may be left looking for other options, and they at least have a couple. Tim Sullivan reports that Michigan offered three-star MO RB Alec Murphy (highlights above) a few weeks ago, and Murphy says he's looking at visiting U-M when he attends the Sound Mind Sound Body camp this month ($). The Wolverines could make a quick move here—at the moment, Iowa is his next-best offer.
There's also three-star GA RB Mikell Lands-Davis, who was offered a month ago. Steve Lorenz wrote a couple weeks ago, after U-M dropped by for an in-school visit, that the Wolverines could very well be the #2 team for him behind Clemson ($). If they can get him on campus—and they're working on setting that up—we'll see what happens.
Michigan was one of the first schools to seriously pursue four-star MN DE Jashon Cornell, and at the very least its paying off with continued mentions among his very top schools. The trouble is that the Wolverines have never seemed to quite reach the peak of his list; Notre Dame has the Cretin-Derham pipeline, Michigan State was his stated leader at one point, and now Ohio State has made a move to the forefront, per Wiltfong ($):
Sources close to Cornell told 247Sports Ohio State is now the team to beat. Cornell himself said the Buckeyes are in his top three now. They were on the outside looking in until this visit.
“Something about Coach (Larry) Johnson and Coach (Urban) Meyer,” Cornell said. “They bumped up high.”
Who else is in the top three?
“Maybe Michigan and Penn State,” Cornell said.
The bad news, of course, is that the Buckeyes appear to be on top. The good news is Michigan is still very much in the hunt, and they'll get another chance—along with Michigan State—to jump atop his list after an unofficial when he's in the state for SMSB.
Darrin Kirkland: NFTC LB MVP
One definitively good piece of news to come from the Columbus NFTC—commit Darrin Kirkland Jr. is doing quite well at the whole football thing, per Allen Trieu:
Linebacker MVP: Darrin Kirkland – Lawrence Central (Ind.)
The Michigan commit was impressive with his lateral agility. He did well in pass coverage, not something that was necessarily considered his forte coming in. He was invited to The Opening.
There's something about Kirkland and excelling in Columbus—his excellent coverage in passing drills "surprised" scouts at both the Nike and Rivals camps held there last summer. At some point, maybe it won't surprise anymore.
Recent Offers, Visitors
After receiving a Michigan offer last Wednesday, four-star FL DE Janarius Robinson told 247's Chris Nee he plans to visit Ann Arbor on June 20th ($). While Florida State will be tough to beat, a campus visit with these coaches can't be overlooked.
Another relatively recent offer that went unreported—or at least I didn't notice—until Tim Sullivan dug it up is four-star MD OL Pat Allen, who plans to visit this summer and expect U-M to fall within an impressive top five ($):
"Michigan is going to be in my top five, Georgia's going to be in my top five," he started. "I'm going to have those two, Ohio State is definitely in my top three, Florida State most likely top five.
"With Georgia, it's really the area. I've been there a couple times. It's a really good school, and I think Georgia's a solid program. I don't know much about Michigan yet. They do have a good program, and honestly anybody would be a fool not to go to Michigan. At Ohio State, I'm comfortable when I've been there. The region's really good, the coaching staff is great, the people there are comfortable to be around, I like the city of Columbus, it's really cool.
While OSU is in very good position, that could change once Allen sees U-M for the first time.
In the 2016 class, offers continue to go out to top national quarterback prospects. California five-star, #1 dual-threat QB Malik Henry pulled in an offer last week. Henry's already got serious national interest, and as always, it's best to take a wait-and-see approach with any top California prospect.
Michigan also offered the nation's top pro-style quarterback in WA five-star Jacob Eason, per 247's Clint Brewster. His offer list is even more impressive than Henry's, so he'll also be a tough pull from the West Coast.
The third QB to pull in a recent offer is four-star CA pro-style prospect KJ Costello, who told Scout's Greg Biggins he's visiting Ann Arbor on June 15th to kick off a trip that'll have him see several of the nation's top programs ($). Same deal here—we'll see how he feels after the visit.
GBW reports offers out to a pair of 2016 receivers. Four-star MD slot (5'9", 152) Steven Smothers was very excited to hear the news ($):
“[Mattison] called my coach,” Smothers said on his Michigan offer. “I had the offer for a week or two [before he told me]. But my coach just told me today. I’m really at a loss for words. A big school like that offering is shocking.
“I was pumped, I mean, what more can I say? It’s Michigan!”
U-M is now in his top six along with Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Tennessee, and West Virginia. While FL WR Binjimen Victor is unranked on the recruiting services thus far, he's also received some impressive offers, and he immediately brought up Denard Robinson upon hearing that U-M offered; unfortunately, the Wolverines still have work to do to crack his top group ($):
Victor, who stands at 6-foot-4, 170-pounds, says he is planning on making his final decision sometime during his senior season. While he wouldn’t name a leader, he did say there were a few schools sticking out early on in his recruitment.
“I’m not trying to (commit) or anything but the schools I really like right now are Miami, Ohio State, and Clemson,” said Victor.
Finally, 2016 OH LB Brendan Ferns—younger brother of U-M LB Michael Ferns—visited campus last weekend, and while he doesn't yet have an offer he told GBW having his brother on campus "will help" should one come along ($). After he pulled in a recent offer from Michigan State, it wouldn't surprise if U-M followed suit before too long.