Even though Devin Funchess is
more of a wide receiver these days, the tight end position is once again a prominent piece in the Michigan offense. Jake Butt had great success as a true freshman and Ian Bunting looks like a Funchess-style matchup problem who could grow into a combo star in the future. The 2015 class for Michigan is expected to be around 15 or so and the coaches would like for two of those spots to go to tight ends. At this point five tight ends have been offered and two of them do seem like possible eventual commits. There are multiple others who have been in contact with the coaches to some degree and may earn an offer moving forward.
Devonaire Clarington – Champagnat Catholic – Hialeah, FL (★★★★ .9535)
Clarington is a Funchess-type of athlete at 6’6” and just over 220 lbs. and could be the same type of weapon at the next level. While he holds a Michigan offer I don’t see much of a chance he ends up in Ann Arbor. Clarington told me that he hears the most from Miami, living just miles from campus it’s easy to understand why. He also said this his entire recruitment is extremely difficult to sort through. He says that he has no leader and all teams are even right now, but I’m pretty confident that Ann Arbor won’t be his future home.
Chris Clark – Avon Old Farms – Avon, CT (★★★★ .9386)
Chris Clark surprised a lot of people by committing to North Carolina just a few days ago, including me. I intro’d Chris back in December when he only had 10 offers, a list that didn’t include Michigan at the time and when he committed he had over 40. I had actually been in pretty regular contact with Chris as he was set to visit Ann Arbor this upcoming weekend and I didn’t get the slightest feeling that the Tarheels had a chance with him. I actually thought he’d be a Wolverine, Buckeye, or a Sun Devil based on our conversations. He told me that in the end North Carolina just felt like home to him when he visited. He also cited the way that UNC uses their tight ends as a reason he liked them and that the recent success of Eric Ebron was a good testament to that. Chris was really looking forward to his visit to Ann Arbor but the charm of Chapel Hill won him over before the visit happened.
Hale Hentges – Helias – Jefferson City, MO (★★★★ .9378)
Hentges told me that he and Chris Clark are actually close friends and talked about their recruitment weekly and even he was surprised by Clark’s commitment to Carolina. That being said, Hentges may be the new top target for Michigan and they are preparing for his visit the weekend of April 4th. Hentges actually spoke with Coach Ferrigno the day I spoke with him and he said he was getting anxious to check out Ann Arbor. Hentges rattled off an unofficial top 5 of Michigan, Ohio State, Alabama, Florida State, and LSU when I asked him what schools he was serious about. He plans to visit all of those schools and possibly a few others. Hentges will not camp at Michigan this summer be he said he would like to see a game during the fall. Competition will be stiff for him, but his upcoming visit to Ann Arbor could really help Michigan’s chances.
Tyrone Wheatley Jr. – Canisius – Buffalo, NY (★★★★ .9252)
“TJ” as he’s known, is thought of by most as a virtual Michigan lock, but everything he has ever told me doesn’t necessarily support that. He was very open with me when I asked him about his recruitment.
I have no leaders or favorites. My recruitment is still wide open and I’m talking to new schools every day. I was recently offered by Louisville and Auburn so I’m still just trying to get to know everyone and see all of my options. I’m still not even sure if I want to play tight end or defensive end at the next level.
247Sports has 25 Crystal Ball predictions for Wheatley Jr. and 100% of them say Michigan is the future spot for him. I asked him about that and asked him to clarify why “expert opinions” are so strong in favor of the Wolverines and his answer was pretty interesting.
I mean they probably think that because my dad played there and I have lived there, but you’d really have to ask them how they came up with that because I’ve honestly never spoken to any of them. I myself wonder sometimes how they come up with that stuff. I mean I have talked with some of the Michigan guys (I mentioned Lorenz, Webb, Sullivan) but not in a while, but there’s like 25+ predictions. I’ve talked with like four people.
Wheatley Jr. says he’d like to take officials but won’t know where to until much later in the process. He is not looking that far ahead yet, he’s just trying to succeed in the now.
It obviously wouldn’t surprise anyone if Wheatley Jr. eventually did choose Michigan, but I don’t believe it’s 100% guaranteed like many might think. TJ has a stacked offer list and Michigan isn’t the only place he could make an impact.
Jalen Wilkerson – Coffee – Douglas, GA (★★★ .8845)
Wilkerson is a Georgia product that doesn’t appear to be leaving the south as 247Sports says he’s high on Florida State, Auburn, and Alabama. Wilkerson hasn’t responded to me recently and his name is almost never brought up in Michigan circles. He doesn’t appear to be a realistic option.
[after the jump: targets]
Damien Harris and Nussmeier, BFFForeverever!!!! [MFRHQ Facebook Group]
I plan to add to the few prospects that I didn’t hear back from yet, but I wanted to post the information that I did gather. Still waiting for responses from some of them; those will be added as they come in this evening.
CB Shaun Crawford - It was great! We toured campus, ate together, and watched the game!
K Andrew David – It was awesome! I’ve never been to a basketball game there before but it was a crazy atmosphere! I couldn’t have picked a better first game though. I got to catch up with some of the other guys which was nice too. I talked with Jake Ryan and Dymonte Thomas who are close friends of mine. I was with Shaun Crawford and Tyree Kinnel most of the time. I was next to Thiyo Lukusa for a while during the game and he was enjoying it to say the least. (laughs) I talked to a couple of the 2016 guys. They seemed really enthusiastic with everything.
S Tyree Kinnel – It was great!
ATH Brian Cole
LB Tyriq Thompson – It was nice, I had a good time. I got a chance to meet the entire staff for the first time. It was a laid back visit. I just sat back and enjoyed the game. Of course I like Michigan but I don't have a leader right now. I'll probably visit again when spring practices start. After that I want to focus on my senior season and my team before I even think about making a decision. No commitment plans or anything like that will happen until my senior season is over.
LB Darrin Kirkland Jr. – It was a great day and a great overall experience. I really hope they pull the trigger soon! The coaches and I did talk about an offer a little bit. They said that they would call me later this week. I could see myself as a Wolverine and if they offer I will strongly consider them.
LB Troy Henderson – It was amazing! From talking to the coaches, the game, meeting the other recruits, and seeing the facilities. I could definitely see myself rocking the Maize and Blue!
LB Asmar Bilal – It was good. Great tradition, winners, with nice facilities! The stadium was huge! Yeah, it was nice overall. The coaches didn’t mention an offer they just said they were going to keep in tough and that they brought me there for a reason. I could possibly see myself playing there.
RB Damien Harris
TE Austin Ervin – It was really good. I was able to see the practice field, walked onto the game field, interacted a lot with the coaches, and of course the basketball game was fun. Talking with the coaches was real casual. Coach Ferrigno wants me to come to camp this summer to see my blocking skills. He already likes how I can spread out, my athleticism, my hands, my ball skills, but he wants to see me block on the line.
TE David Edwards – It was great! It really stuck out to me that the coaches are extremely committed to making sure that you're set for life after football. Their athletic advisors set up a program and they have this huge networking. There was a lot of emphasis on education.
TE/OL Harrison Moon – Loved it! I had a great first visit! We didn’t talk about an offer but hopefully one will come through. I got to meet the coaches, see the facilities and the academic areas, eat, watch the basketball game and toured The Big House. The Big House was crazy! It was the coolest stadium I’ve ever seen. It’s a special place. If Michigan decides to offer me I’d still keep my options open because it’s early, but they are definitely a place of interest. I would really like to go back up there and just keep building the relationships. I think we will try to get back up there this spring or over the summer.
ATH Daelin Hayes – The visit was great. (Daelin said he is waiting until tomorrow for other comments.)
OL Thiyo Lukusa – It was sweet, super fun! I decided to put my commitment on hold for now. I just have to be 100% sure. The visit and the activities were 1st class as always. I’m still all Michigan right now but I just want to enjoy my recruitment.
WR Desmond Fitzpatrick (via his father, Greg) – It was a great visit! We took a tour that included the academic center, The Big House, the weight room, and we also met the entire staff. After all of that we attended the basketball game. We also spent time with the new offensive coordinator, Doug Nussmeier and spent a ton of 1-on-1 time with Coach Heck. An offer wasn’t specifically mentioned, but I feel as though Desmond is on the right track based on the growing relationship and the evaluation of his film. We never talk about potential offers. He knows that if he continues to get bigger and stronger, the offers will come. The coaches were shocked when they saw how much he’s grown since they last saw him. He measured in at 6’2” and 184 lbs. He’s working hard hitting the weights, running track, and playing 7 on 7. That’s the regimen for the next few months. We develop this work ethic now and it becomes second nature later.
*Dre’Mont Jones, Mike Weber, Ray Buford Jr., and Kentrail Moran didn’t end up making the trip.
This weekend’s basketball game has huge implications in the B1G standings and something like above would be marvelous. Taking advantage of the expectedly electred atmosphere in Crisler Arena, the coaches scheduled a junior day for the big game. A few younger prospects will also be on hand for the biggest recruiting event of the year thus far. I heard back from about 50 prospects and each one will be listed and labeled with information as I dig it up.
CB Shaun Crawford
K Andrew David
S Tyree Kinnel
ATH Brian Cole
CB Ray Buford Jr.
DE Dre’Mont Jones (maybe, basketball schedule may interfere)
LB Tyriq Thompson
LB Darrin Kirkland Jr.
LB Troy Henderson
LB Asmar Bilal
RB Damien Harris
RB Mike Weber
TE Austin Ervin
TE David Edwards
TE/OL Harrison Moon
ATH Daelin Hayes
OL Thiyo Lukusa (commit watch)
RB Kentrail Moran
WR Desmond Fitzpatrick
OL Jon Runyan Jr. (will visit March 8 & 9)
CB Garrett Taylor (will visit for a spring practice)
CB Minkah Fitzpatrick
DE Darian Roseboro
DE Jake Pickard (will visit during the summer)
DE Josh Alabi
DE Jashon Cornell (visiting Ole Miss this weekend, no plans to visit at this time)
LB Josh Barajas (visited for Wisconsin game, may visit again for spring practice)
LB Jerome Baker (will visit for a spring practice)
LB Jake Cooper (has frequent contact with staff, no plans to visit at this time)
LB Justin Hilliard (would like to visit for a spring practice)
OL Drew Richmond (has no plans to visit at this time)
OL Sterling Jenkins (will visit for a spring practice)
OL Gabe Megginson (high interest, would like a Michigan offer)
OL Grant Newsome (will visit for a spring practice)
QB Nick Johns (will visit during his spring break)
QB Brandon Wimbush (will visit for a spring practice)
QB Ryan Willis (focusing more on schools that have offered, waiting on more interest)
QB Alex Malzone (will visit for a spring practice)
QB Riley Neal (not much contact since hiring of Nussmeier)
QB Jon Wassink (very interested, not much contact since hiring of Nussmeier)
RB Andrew Dowell (would like to visit for a spring practice)
S Omari Stringer (would like to visit for a spring practice)
TE Chris Clark (will visit March 22)
TE Tyrone Wheatley Jr. (will visit for a spring practice)
TE Austin Dorris (will visit March 1)
TE CJ Conrad (will visit for a spring practice)
TE Cole Chewins (has no plans to visit at this time)
WR David Dowell (would like to visit for a spring practice)
Dramatization. The real song our coaches sing on road trips is ram-a-lamma-ding-dong. Insiders believe Nussmeier could be the tenor the staff has been lacking.
The Michigan coaches have been traveling all over the country checking in on commits, offerees, and targets in recent weeks. I have been reaching out to recruits for the past couple of days to see who has been visited or who still might be. I’m sure this list isn’t all-encompassing but I was able to get in touch with a lot of prospects from the 2015 class. I mean A LOT of prospects:
Athletes and Defensive Backs
ATH David Dowell & RB Andrew Dowell – Lakewood, OH/St. Edward – Teammates of Shaun Crawford, the Dowell brothers were visited by Coach Mattison in the early part of the week and he told them he’d like them to come up for a visit, but it’s not planned yet.
ATH Osa Masina – Salt Lake City, UT/Brighton – Masina wasn’t visited this time around but Coach Hoke and Coach Ferrigno did visit him back in mid-December. There aren’t a ton of reasons to stop in Utah so visits to Salt Lake City will probably be few and far between.
ATH Jerome Baker – Cleveland, OH/Benedictine – Baker holds a Michigan offer and was visited by Coach Mattison on Tuesday and says that he is feeling Michigan a lot.
|Cole could wind up the top-ranked player in the state. [Sam Webb]|
ATH Brian Cole – Saginaw, MI – Heritage – Cole was visited by Coach Hoke earlier in the week.
CB Kei Beckham – Trotwood, OH/Trotwood-Madison – Coach Smith stopped by Trotwood-Madison on Friday but Beckham missed him due to his class schedule. TMHS is a frequent stop for the coaching staff so Beckham is confident he’ll see them again.
CB Marcus Lewis – Washington, DC/Gonzaga – One of four prospects to chat with Coach Mallory from Gonzaga. Lewis really liked Coach Mallory and plans to stay in close touch with him moving forward.
CB Iman Marshall – Long Beach, CA/Poly – Marshall’s father told me that a Michigan coach stopped in to see his son on Monday of last week, he was unsure of who it was but I’d guess Ferrigno.
[After the jump: look at the tags above. There's a lot.]
Ht/Wt: 6'6" / 230 lbs.
Location: Downers Grove North High School – Downers Grove, IL
Offers: Illinois, Indiana, Vanderbilt
Michigan has only offered one quarterback in the 2015 class in Josh Rosen out of California and he told me that he has a fairly clear idea of where he wants to go and it’s definitely not Michigan. With Rosen probably Stanford or Cal bound there are several signal callers on the coaches radar and David Edwards is one of them. Edwards is a big, strong-armed kid out of Illinois with high interest in Michigan already.
He was in The Big House this weekend for the Notre Dame game and came away more than impressed. “It was awesome,” Edwards exclaimed to me. He, his father, and his offensive line coach arrived in Ann Arbor around 6 pm, in time to attend a recruiting presentation put on by the coaches at 6:30. Edwards told me that the presentation consisted of a dinner, a video from the Big House BBQ, and was capped off by some on-field chauffeuring for the pre-game festivities by Team 134.
Edwards admitted to the recruiting portion of the trip to being a bit short-lived, but did say it was an “unbelievable atmosphere”. Edwards was able to spend some time talking with coaches Mallory, Funk, and Ferrigno, which speaks volumes to their interest in him considering the magnitude of the game and the fact that Edwards doesn’t even have an offer yet.
Edwards told me that his chat with the coaches was great but they didn’t really mention the possibility of an offer, saying only that they really want to watch him play in person first. So far, two games into his junior season, Edwards has compiled 133 yards rushing and 4 touchdowns while completing 16 passes for 147 yards and three more scores running an option attack. His Downers Grove North squad is 2-0 with two shutout wins scoring 45 and 28 points in the two contests. He hopes performances like that will earn a Michigan offer, saying it would be awesome to be considered by the staff. I think Edwards is a definite possibility to receive an offer down the line and may be near the top of the list behind the aforementioned Rosen.
As the Wolverines and the Irish prepare to square off in the second installment of Under the Lights many high profile recruits will begin arriving in Ann Arbor to take in the experience. Now that my internet is finally hooked up at my new house I’ve been able to touch base with just a few of them and see how they are feeling about what is poised to be an electric atmosphere.
2014 Uncommitted Prospects
Southfield DL Malik McDowell is a hard young man to get in touch with but I did speak with his trainer John Vickers to see what he thinks is going on inside Malik’s head. I asked John if there was any chance of Malik committing this weekend and he said, “I don’t think so. I’m pretty sure he’s waiting it out. We will see though. It’s really hard to say honestly. 99% he doesn’t. There is 1% slight chance though. He really wants to see other schools.” Most believe McDowell will be a Wolverine, but it doesn’t seem as though it will be anytime soon.
Big-time DE Da’Shawn Hand didn’t respond to me this time around, but after speaking with him last month I got the impression that he knows he’s coming to Michigan and I really believe this visit will solidify that decision. Alabama will get the last crack at him before he decides and that’s dangerous, but I think Michigan is in really good shape.
2015 Uncommitted Prospects
Potential top Ohio prospect LB Justin Hilliard will be in attendance as well and he holds the Wolverines and the Irish both in high regard. “It’s going to be a great game and definitely will have a lot of excitement. I’ve wanted to see Michigan football in full effect. I’m sure this visit will help out Michigan a lot but we’ll see.” Ace mentioned yesterday that his final four could very well consist of Ohio State, Iowa, and of course the two teams playing tonight under the lights. A Michigan victory could be a solid recruiting boost for his services.
6’6”, 215 lb. QB David Edwards will roll into Ann Arbor with his father and his O-line coach around 6 pm, just in time for a 6:30 recruiting presentation which will be packed with talented recruits. Edwards and I will speak after his visit so I can get the scoop on what the presentation was all about and see how his overall visit went.
In-state signal caller Alex Malzone will be in attendance for the game but not as a recruit this time. He’s going as a fan and he mentioned to me that he actually hasn’t talked with the coaches since he attended the Michigan camp in June. I’ve stated before that Malzone appears to be on the coaches radar but isn’t a top priority at this point in time.
Virginia OT Matthew Burrell is making the trip to Ann Arbor with fellow Virginians Da’Shawn Hand and 2015 DT Tim Settle. Burrell summed up his thoughts about the visit with one word, “Ecstatic!!!” in a text response to me last night. Burrell and Settle will probably both receive offers this weekend now that they’ve shown enough legitimate interest by visiting.
Safety prospect Tyriq Thompson out of Detroit King makes the quick trip to Ann Arbor looking for his third potential B1G offer after Illinois and Wisconsin saw enough in the young man to extend a scholarship. Thompson is a legacy recruit as his father played for the Wolverines in the 90’s. He knows the history between the two teams, “I’m excited to see the matchup. It’s a great rivalry.” He must’ve been listening to Brian Kelly…during the latter part of the week anyway.
The potential top player in the nation, DE Jashon Cornell has been texting with Wolverine commits George Campbell and Damien Harris all morning about the excitement surrounding this weekend in Ann Arbor. Cornell said “I’m feeling pretty good. I just can’t wait for my first College Gameday experience.” He said he was looking forward to hanging out with George and Tim Settle and the other recruits from his class. He also said that Notre Dame and Michigan might be his top two right now, but wouldn’t commit to that completely. Regardless of where the two schools currently rank for the five-star this game is a big one in his recruitment.
2016 Uncommitted Prospect
Stud OL Erik Swenson, who is supposed to be a Michigan lock, will be in Ann Arbor with his dad and had this to say, “It’s going to be a lot of fun! It’s giving me goosebumps just thinking about over 75,000 people singing Hail.” Don’t expect a commitment from Erik just yet, as he told me that “my parents don’t want me to decide until my junior year just to see all what happens.”
However, he then went on to say that he would like to commit right now…but you’ve got to listen to your parents. I think we can write his name on the 2016 commitment list, even if it’s in pencil for now.
This weekend is going to be invaluable in making connections between commits and targets across the 2014, 2015, and 2016 classes. A Michigan victory could tip the scales in the minds of some of the players in attendance but I don’t believe there will actually be a commitment this weekend. Many of the players attending have already set timetables. If there isn’t a commitment this weekend it is not cause for panic. The atmosphere will be electric and the experience enjoyable for all in The Big House. A “W” would be icing on the cake for fans and recruits alike.