"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."
Michael Ferns, Da'Shawn Hand, and Ian Bunting at last weekend's Columbus NFTC (via)
[Reads Between Lines] [Tries To Hold It Together] [Fails]
So... this quote [emphasis mine]:
"Bud Foster is my favorite coach, but I haven't talked with him in a while," [Da'Shawn] Hand said.
"But my favorite coaching staff is Michigan," Hand said. "With Michigan, what you see if what you get. It's professional. With some, you feel like when you get to college it might, change, but with Michigan, everyone says they're straight.
According to the author of the article, SBNation's Bud Elliott, Michigan and Virginia Tech are "running neck and neck" for the lead in Hand's recruitment. Hand refuses to acknowledge even that much—he's says he enjoys the suspense—and he does have an unofficial visit set up to Alabama in July and is looking at trips to Florida, LSU, and USC, per 247's Steve Wiltfong ($). That said, his only planned official visit thus far is to Michigan, for the Notre Dame Game (a trip he recently locked in), and of the previously listed schools only Alabama appears to be a serious threat to his presumed top two.
One school we know for sure won't be pushing for his commitment is Ohio State, despite a campus visit last weekend that went better than his first trip to Columbus:
With the NFTC on the Ohio State campus, Hand took the opportunity and made an unofficial visit to the Buckeyes, along with friend Tim Settle, one of the top players in the class of 2015.
'It was straight, we talked," Hand said. "But I was with Tim, and he's a beast, and it was kind of his visit. Everyone knows that my first visit wasn't all that, but this visit was better. Still, I don't want to get anyone's hopes up."
Meanwhile, Hand revealed in an interview with Bruce Feldman that he's being recruited by at least one insane person:
Q: What is the craziest thing that has happened to you since you've been named the nation's No. 1 recruit?
Hand: Well, I ain't gonna say any names, but one coach told me that since I'm the No. 1 player, I'm gonna get to meet Michael Jackson. I said, "Isn't he already dead?" The coach goes, "Well, all right, you can meet Tito." I was like, all right. OK, I'm done.
It was crazy, but it is what it is.
all hypothetical internet dollars entire real-life savings account on Les Miles]
In the SBNation article, Hand said he's unsure of his timeline for a commitment. Regardless of when that comes, he told Feldman the announcement will be low-key:
I don't want to be like everybody else and be all flashy and do this and play around with people. For my commitment day, I just want to have it at my school. I'm not going to have three hats. I'm going to have one hat. I'm gonna call the coaches the night before. Tell them what school I'm going to and that's it.
At this point, it's looking more and more likely that hat will have a block 'M' on it. Which, uh, would be pretty nice.
[Hit THE JUMP for more on newest commit Chase Winovich, the latest on Artavis Scott and Adoree' Jackson, a Michigan commit earning an invite to The Opening, and more.]
BREAKING: ESPNU Host Doesn't Understand Concept Of "Freestyle"
In case you didn't put off your Sunday dinner plans while the Nebraska/Oregon softball game dragged on interminably, above is Jabrill Peppers' unsuspenseful-but-still-quite-worthwhile announcement of his college decision. Peppers decided on Michigan, of course, and you can find what I'm pretty sure is the longest "Hello" post in MGoHistory here if you spent your Memorial Day weekend doing things like "go outside and grill like a normal person."
The commitment post covers Peppers' considerable potential to make an on-field impact; he should also make a big splash as a recruiter now that he's in the fold, and told WolverineNation's Mike Rothstein that he's already got some key targets in mind:
"Oh yeah. Tell Da'Shawn Hand I'm coming," Peppers said. "They call me, 'Commish.' Commissioner Peppers. Malik McDowell. Da'Shawn Hand. You need those defensive linemen.
"A great defensive line makes a great DB and a great defensive secondary. Those guys are definitely on my radar. I'm coming strong. Emphasis on strong."
It may not stop there, though. The mere presence of the nation's best defensive back in Michigan's class should have other elite prospects giving the Wolverines a hard look—instead of shying away from competition, top prospects are looking to play with other top prospects these days—and Tim Sullivan lists a couple of very intriguing possibilities to fill the final defensive back spot should IL CB Parrker Westphal also join the class ($):
If U-M reels in Westphal, there may be only one space remaining in the secondary. It could be either a safety or a cornerback, thanks to the versatility of both Peppers and Westphal, but would almost certainly go to an elite player. Prospects such as Gardena (Calif.) Serra five-star cornerback Adoree' Jackson and Long Beach (Calif.) Poly safety John "Juju" Smith are likely options.
While the Wolverines aren't the favorite to land either Jackson or Smith, both plan to visit Ann Arbor during the recruiting process—Smith even set up an official for the Notre Dame game—and we've seen what this coaching staff can do while hosting a prospect on campus. The limited space in the class, number of interested top prospects, depth on the current roster, and positional flexibility of the current/recent recruits (i.e. 2013's defensive back haul) all give Michigan the ability to hone in on a few top targets; think last year's USC class minus the overhanging NCAA sanctions and Lane Kiffin factor.
Oh, and regarding one particular five-star...
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on Da'Shawn Hand—is Michigan now his leader?—and more.]
Most of the recent recruiting content has centered on the nation's #2 overall prospect, Jabrill Peppers. Today's mailbag, in contrast, focuses on the nation's #1 overall prospect, Da'Shawn Hand.
Michigan football recruiting: not doing too bad these days. On to your questions...
My question concerns "saving spots" for higher ranked prospects. We've seen with other (less ethical) coaches, that they will take a commitment from a lower ranked prospect and then abruptly take that scholarship promise away to give to a higher ranked prospect before signing day. Since our coaching staff seems unwilling to do that (thankfully), how do we see this staff balancing between saving room for the higher ranked prospects while also not leaving themselves in a position to be completely hosed on signing day if a bunch of those prospects choose to go another way? This question occurred to me in relation to Marshall's visit this weekend, and how a commitment from him might prevent one (or both) from McDowell or Hand further down the road.
Thanks for your articles on MGoBlog!
I'll address the "saving spots" issue here, and move on to Michigan's 2014 D-line situation below (as you'll see, this is a pressing question for those following recruiting). Last year's recruiting class gave a lot of insight into how the coaches handle a potential numbers crunch at a position. For the 2013 class, the coaches stopped recruiting two position groups with highly interested four-stars after filling up early: offensive line and linebacker. In both cases, they approached the number they wanted early on in the process, informed the remaining recruits in each group that they'd have to commit soon or potentially lose their spot in the class, and filled the final spot quickly.
Ben Gedeon's commitment effectively ended the recruitments of Dorian O'Daniel and E.J. Levenberry at linebacker. Patrick Kugler's commitment did the same on the offensive line until David Dawson briefly looked around; Michigan stopped targeting Ethan Pocic (eventual LSU commit), and by the time the coaches realized they could take a sixth lineman, he was off the board. In both of those cases, however, the current commits in the class—and the recruits that took the final spots—were of comparable talent to the available uncommitted prospects.*
The situation with this year's defensive line is a bit different, and apparently of some concern to you guys...
[Hit THE JUMP for my attempt to sort out the D-line situation and answers to a couple questions about quarterback recruiting.]
Running back: I guess we should get one
Jonathan Hilliman has two Is in his last name.
ESPN's Jared Shanker reports Michigan was visiting NJ RB Jonathan Hilliman recently. Sort of:
Michigan was at the school of RB Jonathan Hilliman today, who at the beginning of the month put Michigan No. 2 on his top 10. He said today that he would no longer rank his top seven (his original top 5 of OSU, UM, Bama, Rutgers, Stanford plus Vandy and BC) but those are the schools he is focusing on. That is very subject to change, though.
He did not get to see the Michigan coaches today, however, as they came after school and Hilliman was already gone.
They were also checking out a couple teammates, one the a spectacularly-named 2015 CB named Minkah Fitzpatrick. Hilliman is a consensus three-star who claims mega offers: not only the midwest powers but Alabama, Georgia, Oregon, Florida, etc. Sometimes those lists are a little inflated—or a lot—but Hilliman is getting Florida coaches in and the Bama 247 site seems to think got a real offer, so…
In any case, with the Smith/Green duo of a year ago and a couple of promising 2015 kids waiting in the wings, tailback is not a huge priority for this class. They'll take one.
Hand continues giving interviews, not eating reporters
Unfortunately, VA DE Da'Shawn Hand didn't respond to an ESPN guy's question about how he feels about being #4 on the ESPN 150 with "TOO LOW /consumes reporter." He did talk his top five, sounding more enthusiastic about Alabama and Florida than he did previously but reiterating he's changing his major from engineering to sports management—Michigan has a whole school for that—and talking about the Wolverines thusly:
The coaches are genuine; the players love the coaches. The town itself. It's cold, but I can get used to that. Everything… the sports management professor was amazing; he blew me away.
Hand talks up South Carolina's food. On VT:
Bud Foster's my favorite coach. When I go there I feel like I'm at home. It's like going to your grandparent's house. And then you don't have to worry about any coaches changing positions or anything or getting fired. … nobody's leaving.
One point is awarded to whoever that kinesiology professor is. Here is some super-bonus deduction: Hand mentions that he still needs to talk to the Alabama guy in that field, says the South Carolina guy is a good guy but not "amazing," and seems to have changed his major plans after his Michigan visit. (He hasn't been to Florida yet.) That bodes well for M.
Here's a guy at OSU's ESPN site telling Buckeye fans to brace themselves as "Hand is likely gone to Michigan." /selfhighfive
Google Image Search for Chase Winovich: slightly terrifying
The M Block has acquired optimism in re: PA LB Chase Winovich, a consensus three-star that is nonetheless the subject of a heated recruiting battle between Michigan and Ohio State. Pitt is the other school in his top three($), and while the Panthers actually have a good track record against Michigan for WPIAL kids* it doesn't look like Winovich is going to stay in-state. He just made a second trip to Ohio State and is returning to Ann Arbor May 10th.
As for that optimism, the M Block:
The M Block has uncovered some information regarding the final linebacker spot in the 2014 class and we feel very confident that it could belong to Chase Winovich. Several sources close to the situation have informed us that Winovich will visit Michigan on May 10th and will have a chance to commit while on that visit.Obviously these situations are never 100% guaranteed but this one seems to be headed in that direction.
And a reiteration:
I talked to 2014 LB Chase Winovich last night...I'm standing by my prediction that he'll be a Wolverine.
HOWEVA, Rivals got a different vibe($) from their just-completed Pittsburgh camp, wherein Winovich said it was "always a dream" of his to go to OSU. Commit Michael Ferns was working on him and Winovich said that M visit "could be a watershed visit"—Rivals' words, not his—with a decision soon to follow. Momentum is with OSU, declareth Rivals.
Winovich would be an interesting addition to Michigan's class. At 6'4", 205, he's got a lot of filling out to do and likely projects to the SAM spot most had assumed the 6'3", 230 pound Ferns was headed for. If Michigan adds him they'd likely bring in Ferns as an MLB.
Winovich plans to pull the trigger in July.
@JabrillPeppers Bro Follow Back We Might Be Team Mates One Day ...
I'd be surprised if Watson is uncommitted into June.
Side note: Watson is about to be a father. In Let's Get Way Ahead Of Ourselves Theater, that provides plenty of motivation since it seems like the place he lives is not one he'd like to stay. If he does develop into a guy with significant NFL interest, he's probably not going to pull a Lewan. This has been Let's Get Way Ahead Of Ourselves Theater.
*[Jonathan Baldwin comes to mind most prominently.]
Between two Ferns: the camp
So Ferns showed out for Rivals and came away with an invite($) to the "Rivals Five Star Challenge," which is one of these nouveau invite-only camps like the Opening. Mike Farrell on Ferns:
"He is the stereotypical Big Ten linebacker," Farrell said. "He is explosive to the football and takes great angles. He is hard-nosed and physically impressive. He is exactly what you expect when you think of a major prospect from this area at that position."
I think that's supposed to be nice, but after this most recent NFL draft I am not entirely sure. The other guy to get an invite was PA S Monate Nicholson, who's taking his recruitment easy, man. Tim Sullivan notes that he's still in contact with Darrell Funk($) and tentatively plans a summer visit.
Speaking of that Peppers fellow
Not even the birth of TomVH's daughter (congrats!) could move NJ CB Jabrill Peppers's announcement date up to last weekend, but he did rumble about getting things over with a lot faster than anyone expected. Also via the M Block:
Jabrill Peppers head coach says "He is getting close to a decision. He will prob make his decision in early June to focus on Sr. year."
(Peppers retweeted that, FWIW.) That would be very good for Michigan. He's got a Stanford visit upcoming… in July($). Either that gets bumped up or it's all over but the awkward self-high-fiving at your computer.
TomVH also talked to Peppers on an ESPN podcast. He's noncommital for the most part, but does say he'll only take two officials… if he goes that long uncommitted.
UPDATE: Sam Webb talked to Peppers' coach($), who says that a Stanford visit will occur before any decision is made.
Show's over folks
WR commit Drake Harris:
I'm not talking to anymore coach's I'm happy with the decision I made, and nothing is going to change my mind
Send your missives, Mississippi State, and they will be ignored. Meanwhile, some guy asked Harris "do you even lift bro?" Harris said he just started a month and a half ago.
I am not paying attention to 2016 recruits($) until they are out of the womb, okay? If I was, I might mention that there's an instate WR kid at Farmington Hills Harrison named Desmond Fitzpatrick who is probably going to be one of the top five kids in the state. But I won't, because that kid is still in the developmental stage where he's got flippers.
Happy trails to NC RB Elijah Hood, who committed to Notre Dame, which makes me sad since it's basically irrelevant. Boo on you, end of ND series. Also happy trails to PA S Dravon Henry, who didn't include Michigan in his top four.
Michigan is still looking at($) MI TE Kyle Rachwal as a FB or LB after confirming to him that Ian Bunting fills their single spot at TE.
Tick tock, Maurice Ways
MI WR Maurice Ways did get his offer over the weekend. He did not commit, possibly so that he could follow through on a promise to go up to Michigan State's spring game. Ways said a Michigan commitment was a "huge possibility($). Huge!
But Ways did not commit. Why:
“I’ve got a scholarship so it’s a good chance. But my parents were very excited, growing up a Michigan fan, being in the state of Michigan, playing for Michigan football it just seems like the right thing to do.
“But once again I do want to wait my options and not rush into anything and make sure it’s the right fit for me and my family as a football player and as a young man.”
Ways is setting up another Ann Arbor trip. When that occurs I will eat my hat if he doesn't commit. #justpullthetriggeralready
Visitors and such
Westphal is #21
IL CB Parrker Westphal was the headliner. Afterwards he told 247 that "Michigan was still the standard($)" and that he considered committing but decided to hold off until he goes on another couple visits in May. This was his sixth trip to Ann Arbor. If not for Ways, Westphal would be your leading candidate for next commitment. #jptta
BONUS: Westphal came in for a full-on (free) profile from 247. I lol'd:
“When my friends were out partying, I’d be at home studying, doing situps and pushups and go for a run at night,” Westphal said. “I’d try and do what Herschel Walker did. Those 3,500 situps, 1,500 pushups, that dude was a freak. I think he lied about that. That’s hard. You need time to do that.”
AZ TE Mark Andrews visited OSU, told Eleven Warriors some noncommital things about Ohio State, visited Michigan, about which I can find nothing, visited ND, and told 247 some nice things about ND($). With Michigan seemingly days away from its second commitment from a 6'4" wide receiver, Andrews's positional preference probably means this is the last we'll hear about his recruitment:
“I don’t want to be the guy that sits on the line and blocks. I want to be the guys making plays with the ball in his hands,” the No. 62 overall prospect in the line said. “But with how Notre Dame uses the tight end it fits my skill set well. I love Notre Dame’s offense and how they utilize the position.”
Michigan has filled his spot if he's averse to playing TE. Also I can't turn up anything from the Michigan sites on him. Bad sign.
IL TE Ian Bunting was a little more open about his thought process:
"I liked it a lot. They have great people and just a really cool culture there." Bunting wasn't ready to name a leader yet but he did say he was going to sit down and narrow his list in the next couple of days. He wasn't sure if his list was going to be a top 2, 3, or even 5, but he did say Michigan would be on that list regardless of the length.
The M Block's vibe is that Michigan is still behind… someone. The conventional wisdom is that would be Notre Dame. He told Allen Trieu much the same($), saying Michigan was "near the top" and he'd have a shortlist soon. 247 got some more detail($):
"I got to sit down with the coaches and we watched a lot of film," he said. "We didn't just watch film from Michigan games, but also San Diego State games as well. They wanted to show me first hand the transition they are making from where they were when Denard was their quarterback to where they eventually want to get to in using their tight ends. I've played receiver my entire career, but know I will be a tight end at the next level and am ready to work hard and show that I can play on the blocks as well."
Turning Bunting's head is a little more important because of part of this next section.
A guy Michigan does lead for
Rivals's Josh Helmholdt interviewed MO LB Kyron Watson at the St. Louis camp that occurred over the weekend, and Watson flat-out said Michigan was his leader($):
Helmholdt: Is there a team you're really excited about right now?
Watson: Yeah, it's Michigan right now. [coy smile]
Evaluations are all over the place on Watson. He's 100th on ESPN, a 3/4 star borderline guy on Rivals, and a generic three star at the other two places. TCU, Missouri, and Illinois are the main competitors.
IL TE Daniel Helm was at that same event and impressed Helmholdt:
"I think he has the ability to play at an elite level," Helmholdt said. "He is a receiving tight end and won the MVP of the Rivals Underclassman Challenge last year, so we will see what happens."
Helmholdt said that, along with his physical makeup, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound player has a personality that draws others to him.
"First of all, he is a super-nice kid who is shy in the way that even he is impressed that we think he is a four-star player," Helmholdt said. "He is respectful and humble.
"As far as being a prospect, I think he has a lot of upside. Right now he has coat-hangar shoulders, and I could see him easily getting up to 240 or 250 pounds."
Also he is refreshingly honest about his F5-pounding abilities in re: his ranking:
"(I look) more than I should," Helm joked. "That is all I'm going to say."
Helm said he knew he was the No. 201 player in the country, as well as the No. 6 tight end. He added that he wasn't checking the rankings as a motivational tool but a measuring stick.
In an interview similar to the Watson one($) he mentioned that Florida had not actually offered him yet despite their presence in his top four. If that decision does come soon they would not be a factor, leaving just Tennessee and Ole Miss as competition.
Unfortunately, Rivals's Dallas Jackson came away from that camp thinking Tennessee was his leader:
If I had to make one prediction about YOUR FACE it is that is is WRONG sorry sorry be professional… be professional.
We'll see if that's just a one-off thing or not. If you're looking at Helm's unease at waiting and possibly passing up a spot as a good thing for Michigan, Tennessee already has a TE this year and took two last year; Ole Miss took three last year. Options are limited at all of his top schools.
Wouldn't it be nice
ESPN has a feature breaking down the recruitments of their top ten players. Michigan is involved with four: CA CB Adoree' Jackson, VA DE Da'Shawn Hand, VA DT Andrew Brown, and NJ CB Jabrill Peppers. It won't surprise you to find out that ESPN says Michigan leads for Peppers, but they buck the conventional wisdom($) with one Mr. Hand:
Who's in the driver's seat: Michigan
Other candidates: Alabama, Florida and South Carolina
Dark horse: Virginia Tech
Most recent visit: Hand recently took a visit to South Carolina.
What they said: On Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison: "He's always energetic. That dude is insane. I don't know how old he is, but at heart that dude is 21," he said. "We get there and he is listening to Rihanna and Drake, he was dancing and singing. The players said he's really like that, too. That dude is wild."
TomVH says Mattison is Michigan's "secret weapon." If Michigan does manage to snatch Hand away from VT there will be Bud Foster Forever Alone ragecomics.
Virginia is leading for Brown, and Jackson—an Illinois transplant who's only been in California for one year—is completely wide open. HOWEVA, Michigan was mentioned as a team "rising" for Brown at 247 and he told Scout that he plans an M/OSU trip($) "in the near future," presumably after he makes a southern swing through Alabama, Florida, FSU, and Not That USC.
Also in Hand positive vibes, Steve Lorenz says Hand's dad is on board($) with M and that they're even with VT.
Everything's coming up Milhouse
NJ DE/TE Garrett Dickerson has a top five($), and it's an interesting one: Michigan, Alabama, Ohio State, Stanford, and Northwestern. His brother already plays for the Wildcats, if you're playing the One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other game. On Michigan:
“I visited there last year and had a great time, and really enjoyed that atmosphere and the coaches are great. The facilities are great as well.”
Dickerson hasn't been back since that November visit. He also saw OSU around then. He just went to Stanford and Northwestern, and hasn't been to Tuscaloosa at all yet. The nerd schools have to be the favorites, then, until Dickerson finds his way to others in his top five. He had to shoot down some rumors that he committed to Stanford, FWIW.
Scott impresses, says recruiting is a foreign thing
FL WR Artavis Scott may not like talking to reporters about what he's thinking
One of the most impressive athletes out on the field at IMG Academy was Tarpon Springs (Fla.) East Lake wide receiver Artavis Scott. The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder caught upwards of five touchdowns passes on Saturday, showing his ability to run nearly every type route.
"I don't know. I really don't worry about all that stuff right now. I really don't have any standings on any team," said Scott.
His mom likes Florida "but, I don't know, it's whatever I want."
Semi-weekly Damien Harris tweet
2015 KY RB Damien Harris's latest foray into indicating to everyone he would like to go to Michigan:
Me and my bro
@GeorgeCampbell0 need to take a trip to Ann Arbor together soon! #136
Campbell, the massively-touted 2015 teammate of commit Mason Cole and target Artavis Scott, retweeted it. Let's all have a tizzy.
Just got off the phone with Coach Borges. Had a productive conversation! Go Blue!
The suspense is not killing me here. #jptta
Etc.: Michigan offers FL LB Darrion Owens($). Reminder: Tim Sullivan of Rivals confirms that offer to TX RB Vic Enwere I was a little suspicious of was a reporter getting M and MSU mixed up.
2015 stuff: Add the name "Tim Settle" to your radar; the VA DT has local offers and is claiming interest from all three Big Ten heavyweights. MI OL Kyonta Stallworth has offers from… uh, UCLA and Florida($)? Wow? M offers($) IL LB Terry Beckner Jr. M makes top ten($) for CO RB Christian McCaffrey (yes that McCaffrey).
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN WE ARE RECRUITING IN SPACE
Hi. Ace is off for the next week and I, Brian, am piloting you through the interstellar gulf that exists between your brain and those of extremely talented young football players who haven't instantly chosen to play at Michigan, which like come on man.
Shall we take stock?
Michigan's scholarship count stands at 15 right now. Technically it's 14 since Michigan is at 86, give or take a long snapper scholarship and Will Hagerup's existence. It'll be 15 by August. From there normal levels of attrition will see them reach 20 or so. Assuming 20:
QB(1): Wilton Speight, check.
RB(1): Unknown. Michigan has a few offers out to three-star sorts. Colorado Kalen Ballage may be your leading candidate; more likely Michigan's RB in this class will be someone you haven't heard of yet.
WR(3): Drake Harris is in the barn, mid-four-star KJ Williams is still saying Michigan is his leader after the post-visit glow has worn off. Instater Maurice Ways is reputedly on the verge of an offer he won't take long to accept. Mason Cole teammate Artavis Scott has backed off the promise of a package deal but is still high on Michigan and just visited for spring. Childhood M fan Corey Holmes is another possibility.
TE(1): Whoever it is, he'll probably be from Illinois. Daniel Helm has backed off after announcing Michigan his leader and now maintains a top four with Michigan and a few Southern schools. Alarmingly, Ole Miss is amongst them. Ian Bunting may favor Notre Dame at the moment but will visit USC and Michigan before a forthcoming decision. Nic Weishar is also coming up on a decision.
OL(4): Mason Cole is in the barn. Jabrill Pepper's teammate Juwann Bushell-Beaty maintains Michigan as his leader; Blake Bars's brother Alex Bars is a top 100 prospect at tackle; Drake Harris's teammate Tommy Doles has seemed to be on the verge of dropping for months but recent scuttlebutt has him holding off despite the possibility of a crunch.
NT(1): Bryan Mone in the barn. With Hurst/Pipkins/Henry(?) in front of him Michigan can be done. Mone could play three tech, but if Michigan gets Hand and McDowell, he's the nose in that group.
SDE/3T(2): Michigan trails VT for #1 overall player Da'shawn Hand… probably. See below. Instate star Malik McDowell is rumored to be a Michigan lean.
SAM/WDE(1): Ferns barn, likely a SAM. With Ojemudia and Charlton they could skip a WDE. If they don't there's an obvious candidate in instater Lawrence Marshall. He was briefly an OSU commit; he'll come down to those guys and the two in-state schools.
ILB(2): A spot where OSU has held onto some in-state stars Michigan was after; now M is on to plan B. Those appear to be IL LB Kyron Watson and PA LB Chase Winovich. Winovich is a big guy a 6'4" and may end up a SAM type; Watson is more of a WLB. Both are three stars, but Winovich also has an OSU offer.
CB(2): If Michigan can hold off Stanford they'll reel in consensus five star Jabrill Peppers. Todd Howard protégé Parrker Westphal seems likely to join up. Californian Adoree Jackson is another five-star who has Michigan high on his list.
S(2): Californian Juju Smith has Michigan a solid member of a top five that leads you to believe a CA exit is possible; he could play WR but Michigan's in on a bunch of those. Pennsylvanian Montae Nicholson is another option.
K/P(0): With Wile, McGrath, and Allen on the roster next year they can go without. Would not be surprised to see them look for a quality walk-on kicker to compete with McGrath.
ESPN ranks them all
ESPN has put out its top 300. Players of interest (bold: commit; italics: have at least a 50-50 shot):
- #2 NJ CB Jabrill Peppers
- #4 VA DE Da'Shawn Hand
- #5 CA CB Adoree Jackson
- #29 LA WR Malachi Dupre
- #55 TN OL Alex Bars
- #62 CA S John "Juju" Smith
- #69 MI DT Malik McDowell
- #72 UT DT Bryan Mone
- #75 FL WR Corey Holmes
- #85 FL WR Artavis Scott
- #87 IL CB Parrker Westphal
- #96 MI WR Drake Harris
- #107 MI DE Lawrence Marshall
- #112 OH LB Michael Ferns
- #120 NJ OT Juwan Bushell-Beatty
- #125 VA QB Wilton Speight
- #145 FL OT Mason Cole
- #208 AZ TE Mark Andrews
- #239 PA S Montae Nicholson
That's a pretty long list of targets, one that includes every Michigan commit so far in their top 150. Michigan has a good shot at bringing in ten to twelve of the ESPN 150. Pants? Off.
He loves me, he loves me not
ESPN has just released preliminary rankings—remember when they were supposed to be getting rankings out before these kids' junior year?—and we're getting a look at their usual idiosyncrasies. One to the good is Wilton Speight, who makes Tom Luginbill's top ten quarterbacks:
7. QB-PP Wilton Speight
Richmond, Va./Collegiate School
This guy has some juice to him. The more you watch Speight, the more subtle, savvy traits show up. Physically he reminds us of Brock Osweiler (the Arizona State Osweiler, not the high school version). He possesses great size and adequate bulk. He's strong with deceptively good mobility and athleticism. Stands tall and is balanced in the pocket. Drop speed and set up is quick and steady. Plays with poise and confidence in his abilities.
Luginbill says the position is down a bit nationally. FWIW, he's the #4 pocket passer in their rankings. Last year the #4 pocket guy was 64th overall (Stanford commit Ryan Burns). Shane Morris was 8th; the top 10 were in their 150. Ballpark Speight around 100th, it would seem.
On the other hand, while two Michigan WR targets do appear in Luginbill's take on the WR class Drake Harris does not. Luginbill on Holmes:
7. WR Corey Holmes
Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas
Holmes is a lean and lanky prospect with ideal height and long limbs. He is flexible and plays primarily on the inside as a slot in high school, but could be an outside threat for the next level. He is shifty and fluid, which makes it difficult to gauge his deceptively good speed and acceleration.
Complete eval | Highlights
9. WR Artavis Scott
Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake
Scott has very few physical weaknesses, but he also lacks ideal measurables in terms of bulk and strength. Given his frame, he still needs to add strength to aid his physicality. He displays good straight-line burst off the line of scrimmage. This is a very fluid and smooth player in his overall movements. Does not show breakaway speed on tape, but does have good enough downfield speed and quickness to be an adequate outside route runner at the next level.
Complete eval | Highlights
Harris must have been #11.
The next to drop
If aforementioned MI WR Maurice Ways does pick up an offer that means a couple things: Michigan is ready to take his commitment and they like the kid quite a bit since they've got higher rated guys on the hook and are willing to push one of them elsewhere. The offer situation as of ten days ago($):
"They said I'm very high on their radar," Ways explained. "I've been their most talked-about recruit the past two weeks. They're saying just to be patient. They're going to watch my film again as a staff Monday, and make a decision from there."
Monday was, uh, Monday, and the chatter out there indicates that offer could be forthcoming soon. Other candidates include Pick A Tight End and the aforementioned Parrker Westphal, who will also be in this weekend.
Tight ends resolved while you wait
More on that Ian Bunting kid: the small-forward-sized Illinois TE did just go to Notre Dame and came back speaking thusly:
“I found out that Notre Dame is a special place,” Bunting said. “It’s really cool with all the history. There is something special there with all the tradition they have and I love the way they use their tight ends. I’m definitely higher on them than I was before.”
He's at USC today; tomorrow he will be at Michigan. A decision "could come shortly after." Bunting's been reticent about stating anything more than a vague top group. ND is probably the team to beat given the above quote; his only other visits since last year's football season were to Oregon, Wisconsin and Northwestern, and I can't find anything similarly positive on those trips. Hoke and company have shown an ability to flip kids' minds once they get on campus, which I think we say every week but you're probably not tired of that fact yet. It is thus concluded we will keep saying it.
IL TE Daniel Helm's timeline is getting shorter($) as well:
"Originally I was hoping to take official visits, now I am realizing positions fill up and sometimes the scholarship you may want might not be there. So, I am pretty confident I will make a decision before the season, but I'm not sure when."
Helm's been to each of his top four schools (Michigan, Tennessee, Ole Miss, and Florida); Michigan may have an advantage since they just got a second, this one with his dad. Helm also publicly favored Michigan not too long ago($), and was telling Nebraska sites it was M.
Meanwhile, IL TE—they're all IL TEs—Nic Weishar will visit($) the twin spires of Mordor this weekend, whereupon he'll sit down and come out with a short top list. Weishar visited Michigan a month ago($), and hit up a few other schools earlier. Dollars to donuts this comes down to an old-fashioned Midwestern three corners match between ND, M, and OSU.
Michigan also has AZ WR/TE Mark Andrews coming in. He's ranked as a WR by most of the scouting services despite actually being heavier than Bunting and Helm; he's checking Michigan out as part of a ND/OSU/M Midwest swing. He grew up an Oklahoma fan($) and has a brother there, so they're the tentative favorite. Michigan will either be in a leading group or out after the weekend.
The Hand Of God
Da'Shawn Hand demonstrating the fish story coaches who do not successfully recruit him will tell.
That would be #1 overall player VA DT Da'Shawn Hand, who Michigan is after in a serious way. Hand talked to Yahoo radio recently, and declaimed thusly:
- he "recently decided" he wants to major in sports management, something that came up as he's talking Alabama.
- What is it about Michigan? "Everything. The coaches, the players, the town, the professors, the academic buildings, the food… it was cold, but I can manage that, I'm from Philly. Everything was just great about it."
- Meanwhile, on VT: "Well, first, they're close to home. Bud Foster's been my favorite coach… it just feels like home there. [garbled] …I'm just comfortable there and they play good football."
- He wants to take his officials; has no timeline.
He hasn't been down to Florida yet and his statements about the other SEC teams in his top five (South Carolina and Alabama) were considerably more lukewarm than the two I transcribed above. Everyone says VT is on top, but if you had to pick from the quotes above…
From Wolverine Nation, an article on the potential for guys to hop aboard($) the class before their spot gets full. MI OL Tommy Doles:
“I’d like to know by the summer and whether or not I’d have to [decide] before then, I guess I’d have to think about that when it came around,” Doles said. “But yeah, it could accelerate things if it were to happen.”
A couple of the WRs pop in to say similar things. We could see some quick movement at the catching positions if Ways is offered and commits as KJ Williams, Artavis Scott, and possibly Corey Holmes think it over.
Let's all debunk RCMB nuts
MI WR Drake Harris's recruiting process took a major turn during the course of his junior year, when he found out he was a capital-E Elite football prospect and only a good basketball prospect. He changed what sport he was going to play; thus the decommit. This is not an eyebrow-cocking Gunner Kiel saga.
“Drake is firmly committed to playing at Michigan, and I would be absolutely shocked if he didn’t follow through it,” Fellows said. “People forget that Drake was going to Michigan State to play basketball and football, and MSU was the best choice for him to play football and basketball. …
“Once he decided to play just football, that all changed, so it’s unfair to compare the two scenarios. Drake told me his heart is at Michigan, and I am taking his word at it. I’ve known Drake since the eighth grade, and he has never lied to me. He went to Ohio State on Friday and Michigan on Saturday, and he told me that’s all he had to see.”
Never say never and all that; Harris is no more likely to decommit than anyone else Brady Hoke's picked up in his three years. He in fact got his re-recruitment done early because he's sick of the song and dance. You have a 2% chance, decommit-chasing guys. Have fun storming the castle.
Michigan has an offer out to OH S Erick Smith, who is at Glenville and thus has visited OSU all the time($). He is planning a Michigan trip in the near future along with visits to Alabama and Tennessee; in general prospects with a Glenville kid who has an OSU offer are always going to be dim. This is a hill to climb for a guy who hasn't been on M's campus:
He’s seen the Buckeyes more than once and always walks away feeling good. His last visit was nine days ago at student appreciation day, where he brought his parents along for the ride. All three liked what they saw.
“It’s the atmosphere and the people,” Smith said. “When you go there, they’re all for real.
“My dad is getting used to it, so he enjoyed himself. My mom loved it. She talked about getting down there and getting to know them better.”
Michigan offers TX RB Vic Enwere, a three-star with middling offers. Unless it was actually Michigan State who offered. The usual with three-star sorts from far away: he'll be on the radar once he visits. [UPDATE: Rivals's Tim Sullivan passes along a note that the Enwere offer was erroneously reported; it's actually an MSU offer.]
The future: the usual
2015 KY RB Damien Harris, you have the power:
It would be pretty tight if me and Drake Harris both committed to Michigan!
Harris, regarded as one of the top tailbacks in his class, already has an offer and mostly tweets 1) things about how he likes Michigan and 2) retweets of other people telling him to go to Michigan (which is an NCAA violation, don't do that). If he doesn't end up in the next class it'll be a surprise.
Malik McDowell offered by Alabama and LSU. M offers LA S Mattrell McGraw, says he'll visit soon with teammate and consensus top 100 prospect Malachi Dupre. McGraw's rankings haven't caught up to a booming offer sheet. NJ OL Juwan Bushell-Beatty says he's "getting closer to a decision($)," possibly after visits to offerees Florida and Tennessee. An early decision is better for Michigan.