"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Beards Require No Context Or Reason
— Tim Sullivan (@TimS_Wolverine) October 30, 2013
Tim did this because he's still a blogger at heart, obviously.
Consider that George Campbell's treat, accompanied by this nifty trick:
Da'Shawn And The Battle Of Academic Departments
As more details emerge from Da'Shawn Hand's official visit to Alabama, it's clear that (1) the Tide are very much in the running, and (2) Professor Needs A Raise has a Southern counterpart, per Rivals's Adam Friedman ($):
"The engineering dean is the man!" Hand exclaimed. "He is that guy! I met with the business professor too and he was good. The academic support is amazing. They have individual tutors and that's good to help you manage your time."
In talking with TomVH, Hand revealed this his decision may in fact come down to his choice of major ($):
Hand says that if he wants to go into sports management it will be Michigan, and if he wants to go into engineering it will be Alabama. Florida offers both, so he will be spending time with professors in both fields on that trip to see if that has any impact on his decision.
The 6-foot-4, 262-pound defensive end says for right now he’s just focused on Florida, though, and will head out to Gainesville on November 9.
One of the Michigan coaches may want to alert him to this.
In other pursuits of 2014 blue-chip prospects, Oregon has become a major player for CA ATH JuJu Smith after he visited Eugene in place of a planned trip to Ole Miss; he told Rivals's Adam Gorney($) that the Ducks are "another top team to beat." Smith already had very positive official visit experiences at Notre Dame and Ohio State, has USC and UCLA under consideration, and has two officials left: Alabama (vs. LSU) and Michigan (vs. OSU). With that much competition, it's tough to peg Michigan as anything but a longshot, even with whatever edge they might get from receiving Smith's final official.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on the 2014 running back situation—there seems to be a situation—plus Freddy Canteen makin' moves, evaluations of a couple M commits, and more.]
Bye Week Visits: A Trip To Colorado (No, Not For That)
Well played, Maison Bleue.
Last weekend's bye afforded the coaches an opportunity to hit the recruiting trail, and Michigan coaches checked in on the likes of top 2015 MN DE Jashon Cornell, 2015 four-star NC OL Mason Veal, 2015 four-star RB Nasir Bonner, 2015 NJ WR Irvin Charles, and several others.
The most interesting prospect to receive a visit, however, is 2014 ATH Kalen Ballage, as Coach Funk stopped by his school last week, per Sam Webb ($). Michigan originally recruited Ballage as a running back, and it's been long thought that the Wolverines had cooled on him—that obviously isn't the case, even if Ballage is simply a backup option, and the fact that he can also play linebacker or safety is likely fueling at least some of Michigan's renewed interest. With a few spots left in the class and only a handful of prospects under consideration, his versatility could be the key should he want to end up in Ann Arbor.
[EDIT: Per Brandon, Michigan may not have talked to Ballage at all:
Just talked with 2014 ATH/RB Kalen Ballage and he tells me that the #Michigan coaches did NOT visit him.
— Brandon Brown (@CoachBrown3) October 28, 2013
Webb is pretty plugged in and I can't find any sort of retraction from him; since there are rules about contact with recruits, it's possible Funk stopped by Ballage's school but never actually was in contact with him. I'll try to clarify the situation when more information is available.
UPDATE TO THE EDIT: Per 247($), school was not in session when Michigan dropped by; the Wolverines are still recruiting Ballage but obviously didn't talk to him first-hand when they were out there.]
Another visit recipient that caught my eye: 2015 NC jumbo athlete Anthony Rush, who told 247's Steve Lorenz that Michigan is "leaning towards" extending an offer ($). Rush is listed at 6'4", 280 pounds as a junior, and the Wolverines are recruiting him as a tight end. Clearly, the coaches would like more blocking and size up front—most schools are looking at Rush as a defensive tackle.
Prepare For PANIC
(Aw, crap, it's already started.)
As you're probably well aware, Da'Shawn Hand took his official visit to Alabama over the weekend, and reports from the trip have been quite positive. Here's Hand himself:
This visit couldn't of been any better. Had a great time in T-Town
— Da'shawn Hand (@TheHand54) October 27, 2013
Despite the good visit experience for Hand, Alabama insiders around the internets seem to think the Tide still have ground to make up if they're going to catch Michigan; if that's the case, the Wolverines just have to survive Hand's official to Florida—just five days before his Nov. 14th announcement—and they should be in the clear. Still, Alabama is a serious contender, and that's always a frightening opponent to face on the recruiting trail.
To keep the good times rollin', Malik McDowell took a surprise visit to Ohio State for their evisceration of Penn State; he was his usual verbose self in the aftermath:
On my way home from Ohio State. Good game.
— BIG LEEK SOSA (@D1_LEEK) October 27, 2013
At this point, I might be more confident in Hand ending up at Michigan than McDowell, for the sole reason that we have some idea about what Hand thinks about Michigan, while getting information out of McDowell is like breaking into Fort Knox. If I had to bet, I'd wager both land at Michigan, but there's plenty of uncertainty.
[Hit THE JUMP for commit stat updates, the newest 2015 offer recipient, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup is a bit short and punchy since the MGoCar departs for Penn State early this afternoon. Also, there's just not a lot to talk about right now.
Noah Furbush Is Rather Tough
Self-reminder: Find a new stock picture of Noah Furbush.
Noah Furbush has racked up some pretty impressive tackling numbers this season, and he's done so while playing through a broken wrist. How did that happen? Well... he's not entirely sure, per Scout's Kyle Bogenschutz ($):
In true tough guy fashion, Furbush doesn’t even remember how he broke the bone.
“It happened a few months ago, I think during basketball maybe,” Furbush said. “I’m not even 100-percent sure when but we got it diagnosed after the second scrimmage and I’ve been easing up on it since.”
"Negatives: use of hands, ability to feel pain."
Talk About The Hand
Jabrill Peppers discusses his thoughts on Da'Shawn Hand in his latest blog for USA Today:
OK I know you guys want to know about me trying to bring my boy D Hand (DaShawn Hand) over to Michigan with me, and I'm still feeling really good about doing that.
His announcement date is Nov. 14 and it's getting closer and closer. I feel like we've got the upper hand because he visited us during the Notre Dame game and that was the perfect game for him to be at. The atmosphere was crazy and we got the win.
I hit him up every once in a while to see how he's doing so I know he's doing his thing in his last year like me. I'm feeling like we'll probably be doing our thing on the field together next year too.
But, at the end of the day, that's my dude; wherever he goes he's got a fan in me.
Over at Rivals, Mike Farrell broke the five-stars into high-, medium-, and low-risk categories based on their skill set and how likely they are to hit their potential at the next level. The first two players in the coveted low-risk category are, you guessed it, Jabrill Peppers and Da'Shawn Hand ($):
DE Da'Shawn Hand: Hand is an elite pass rusher with great balance and agility and an amazing work ethic. While he's also a guy who could stand up or play down like Carter, he's not a high-risk guy because he can do it all and could even hold his own inside if needed.
DB Jabrill Peppers: Peppers could play cornerback or safety in college, and he will be successful at either. Heck, he could even play running back, although that would make his risk factor much higher. It's hard to see him failing on defense.
We'll take both, please.
[Hit THE JUMP for a few quick-hitting recruiting notes, including high early interest from the son of the former heavyweight champion of the world.]
The Peter Principle Has Its Limits...
...those limits include allowing 62 points to Arizona State, apparently. (Photo: USA Today)
USC fired Lane Kiffin upon his return to Los Angeles after the Trojans fell 62-41 at Arizona State, their seventh loss in the last 11 games. The method? Coooooold bloooooded.
Lane Kiffin remained on the bus when a #USC administrator blocked the gate and stopped bus, asking Kiffin to step off
— InsideUSC (@InsideUSC) September 30, 2013
Lane Kiffin told bus to stay but adminisrator told driver to go to #USC with Kiffin's briefcase still on the bus
— InsideUSC (@InsideUSC) September 30, 2013
Pat Haden then fired Lane Kiffin in parking lot at Landmark Aviation at LAX. A football staff member then got sent to USC to get briefcase
— InsideUSC (@InsideUSC) September 30, 2013
The InsideUSC feed is a font of Kiffin schadenfreude; the players are just as happy as the admistrators to get rid of him, it appears. When you're done enjoying that, it's time to address the truly important question: how does Kiffin's firing affect Michigan's recruiting?
In all likelihood, not a great deal. Kiffin's firing at this juncture not only boosts USC's morale for the rest of the season—more importantly, it gives them a jump start on reeling in a big-name replacement, and the Trojans program carries enough cachet that the list of potential successors is quite distinguished. USC may experience a dip in recruiting efforts while they wait to find the right replacement; if they hire a coach worthy of the program—and I'm assuming they will—then they should be back to full speed for the 2015 class. Those in need of an example of how this works at powerhouse programs need only look at Michigan's recruiting efforts once Brady Hoke got to recruit for a full cycle.
There is, however, an opening in the 2014 class, as USC is one of the schools competing with Michigan for CA ATH John "JuJu" Smith—the childhood USC fan had already read the tea leaves, per 247:
Similar to five-star Adoree’ Jackson, Smith is one of the most highly recruited uncommitted prospects out west and is a five-star prospect that could play either side of the football. Also similar to Jackson, Smith is a major USC priority and hails from a talent factory at Long Beach Poly.
“I already knew it was coming. So it doesn’t change anything until they do something.”
Smith seems to have cooled on USC since Kiffin's job security came under serious question; while the right hire could get the Trojans right back in the mix, there's a real chance that he heads out of state, with official visits already lined up to Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Oregon. UCLA is also in the mix. Pulling blue-chip recruits out of California is never easy, but Michigan's done so before, and Smith is actually in contact with one such player who hails from the same high school, per The Wolverine's Andy Reid ($):
"Michigan hasn't offered a kid from Poly since Donovan Warren. I'm the one that's next. I've talked a bit to him, good kid. Just saying the name 'Donovan Warren' is like saying Michigan right off the bat at Poly."
That's a good sign, as is Michigan getting Smith's final official visit. With such fierce competition for his signature—look out for Oregon, as Smith cancelled an Ole Miss official to get them on his schedule—and five visits to go, his recruitment could go in just about any direction; that includes USC if they make the right hire at the right time.
[Hit THE JUMP for Wilton Speight's thoughts on Da'Shawn Hand, a wrapup of Michigan commit performances from last weekend, and more.]
McDowell Lines Up Officials
Malik McDowell (#67) relaxes before playing Farmington (Bryan Fuller)
Southfield top-50 DL Malik McDowell has been quiet throughout the recruiting process to the point that I'm not entirely sure this is breaking news; regardless, Josh Helmholdt posted McDowell's official visit plans in his Around The Midwest column, and this is the time I've seen five schools lined up for visits ($):
While the Wolverines and fellow in-state Big Ten program Michigan State are strong contenders for McDowell's signature, the nation's No. 40-ranked prospect will take all of his official visits out of state. All will take place after his senior season. The five schools he has tabbed for those official visits are Alabama, Florida, Florida State, LSU and Ohio State.
Michigan and MSU won't get officials because McDowell has seen each school multiple times and can easily make his way to games if he wishes. The Wolverines are in the driver's seat of McDowell's recruitment and I don't think the official visit schedule changes that; while that's a who's-who list of top programs, depending on how far Southfield goes in the playoffs, McDowell's season could extend into November, limiting his options for visiting on actual game days—the visits that tend to have the biggest effect on a recruitment. McDowell is so familiar with the Michigan program at this point that it's hard to see him winding up elsewhere.
Cole: "They're All Even"
2015 Saginaw Heritage ATH Brian Cole's recruitment has already taken a couple twists and turns—first Michigan looked to be in command, then MSU, and now the Wolverines again as Saginaw natives haven't appreciated MSU's (lack of) usage of De'Anthony Arnett—and for now, Cole says there isn't a leader at all, per Sam Webb ($):
“(I like) Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Tennessee, Alabama, Wisconsin, Indiana, and a couple more schools,” Cole said. “They’re all even. They’re all about the same. They all treat me nice. I’m not committing anywhere yet.”
I'd expect this still comes down to an in-state battle—one that'll be hotly contested—though some schools on there (OSU, Alabama) cause more concern than others (Indiana? Word?). Michigan is recruiting Cole as a receiver, though he could also play defensive back at the next level.
[Hit THE JUMP for evaluations of Da'Shawn Hand, Lawrence Marshall, Jared Wangler, Erik Swenson, and Kyle Kearns, plus updates on a couple underclassmen.]
Hand Changes Plans
Da'Shawn Hand has altered his visit plans after his scheduled visit to Florida conflicted with taking the SAT; as a result, he'll now visit Alabama on October 26th, when they play Tennessee, and Florida on November 9th, when they host Vanderbilt. Rivals analyst Mike Farrell thinks this is another good sign for Michigan, and a particularly bad one for Alabama, which won't get to host Hand for their marquee game against LSU ($):
Now Alabama has lost the advantage of selling Hand on the Tide during what would certainly be a huge home game with "College GameDay" in attendance. The Gators now get the last chance to impress Hand. The question is this: Can Florida dazzle him enough in one weekend on a first impression just days before his announcement and overcome all the work Michigan has done with two great visits since the spring?
Considering how deliberately and thoughtfully Hand has handled the process, it'd surprise me if he picked Florida after one visit occurring just five days before he makes his announcement, especially since he had a spectacular official visit experience at Michigan.
Ken Burns Effect In Full, Er, Effect
A lengthy video on Jabrill Peppers featuring interviews with Peppers, Juwann Bushell-Beatty, their coach at Paramus Catholic, and lots of close-up shots panning across faces in slow motion (also, Jabrill Peppers highlights, which never stop being fun):
Per MLive's Josh Slagter, Peppers rushed for 116 yards and an 80-yard touchdown, hauled in a TD reception, and recorded five tackles and an interception last week, then discussed how he deals with calls from other schools:
"I've made it abundantly clear I'm a Michigan Man," Peppers told MSGVarsity.com recently. "I've been recruiting some of the top talent throughout the country for Michigan. I'm just trying to explain to people what I felt, and why I committed."
You can stop calling him now, everybody else.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting on the East Lake duo, the latest on Brian Cole, and much more.]