"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
The last piece of the 2013 puzzle.
Welcome to the debut of the MGoBlog recruiting mailbag, which will be a regular feature moving forward. The initial response to the mailbag was fantastic, so thanks to everyone who wrote in and apologies for not being able to answer every question here. For future mailbags, be sure to email me or send your questions on Twitter with the hashtag #mgomailbag.
Without further ado, on to your questions:
Do you see us having any significant holes left in the recruiting class of 2013? Who should fill them for us? — @craiglaluk
The one glaring need in the class is a top-flight wide receiver; while I like the size and upside of both Jaron Dukes and Csont'e York, Michigan still lacks a blue-chip talent who can contribute early, a necessity given the unproven nature of the current receivers on the roster. Obviously, Laquon Treadwell is the main target here and the Wolverines are the overwhelming favorite to land him, so it's highly unlikely this need goes unaddressed.
With USC's class, is our "best case scenario" a number 2 overall class ranking? — @kasualt
USC is putting together the most talented class in the country, without question; among their 14 commits are the Rivals #1 quarterback (Max Browne), #1 safety (Su'a Cravens), #1 guard (Khaliel Rodgers), #2 and #5 defensive ends (Kenny Bigelow and Eddie Vanderdoes, respectively), and #3 and #5 running backs (Ty Isaac and Justin Davis). Their class currently consists of three five-stars and 11 four-stars. I hate to say it, but Lane Kiffin is doing some serious work.
Where USC may come up short, however, is in sheer size of the class. Thanks to NCAA penalties, the Trojans can only take four more players in the class, and with Michigan poised for a class of 24 I'm guessing the Wolverines can still take the top spot if they land Treadwell and another four-star to finish the class. For pure star average, however, it's going to be very tough to top USC this year. Alabama and LSU should also be serious contenders for best class.
Hi Ace. 2013 is shaping up to be one of the most amazing recruiting crops in years. Priorities for 2014 class? — @craiglaluk
Matt Pargoff recently posted a complete depth chart by class for the class of 2014, which gives us a great starting point for this discussion. Before I dive into the needs, it's worth noting that the 2014 class will be expected to replace the production of graduating players like Courtney Avery and Jibreel Black, whom you may note just finished their sophomore seasons. Anything written here is subject to some serious change.
That said, there are several position groups that will need to be addressed in two years regardless of future attrition. First among them is quarterback; once Devin Gardner graduates, only Russell Bellomy and Shane Morris remain as scholarship QBs on the roster. Michigan is already taking a hard look at MI QB Chance Stewart and OH QB DeShone Kizer, though no offers have gone out at the position as of yet. While a top-flight guy probably isn't necessary—or realistic—given the presence of Morris, a player with starting potential is a definite must.
With Michigan all but assured to miss out on feature backs like Ty Isaac, Derrick Green, and Jordan Wilkins in the current class, running back will be a huge priority yet again. The Wolverines already have offers out to four of the top 2014 running backs in the country—Leonard Fournette, Jonathan Hilliman, Jalen Hurd, and Bo Scarbrough—and more are sure to follow.
Even if Treadwell comes on board, wide receiver will once again be a need. We should find out in 2014 if Al Borges plans to utilize any slot-demon types, as the only receivers on the roster will be Jerald Robinson, incoming freshmen Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson, and the class of 2013 commits. There's not a true slot among those players, so unless Justice Hayes moves to receiver, that position will need to be filled by an incoming freshman or simply ignored entirely.
As always, depth on both lines is a priority, especially on defense. Frank Clark and Brennen Beyer both graduate after the 2014 season, leaving only Mario Ojemudia and Taco Charlton—two boom-or-bust prospects, in my opinion—at weakside DE. Strongside end won't be much deeper with Keith Heitzman, Chris Wormley, and Tom Strobel. Depending on the collegiate position of Maurice Hurst Jr., nose tackle could also become a glaring need.
Blake Countess, Delonte Hollowell, and Raymon Taylor will all be seniors in 2014, leaving holes to fill at cornerback even in the unlikely event that Michigan picks up a player like Kendall Fuller or Leon McQuay III to round out 2013. Keep a close eye on Cass Tech's Damon Webb and Illinois prospect Parrker Westphal, both of whom are early favorities to join the 2014 class; landing that duo would be a great start to filling needs in the secondary.
So, um, basically everything besides linebacker. I hope this was helpful and not a complete waste of time.
What's your best guess on Treadwell's decision date? — @TKBigCrew
Treadwell's recent quotes indicate that he's not entirely sure himself; he says he'll commit on a "random day," admits Michigan is almost certainly his choice, and says that day will be "soon," but he still wants to take official visits. My guess is he's tiring of the process and will make his decision before the season—which means before officials—but I wouldn't be surprised if he at least checked out Oklahoma State before an announcement. Regardless of timetable or visits, it's going to take a heck of a lot to dethrone the Wolverines from his top spot.
What's up with Mike Farrell's analysis of Taco [Charlton] at the opening? Seems contradictory to what we've heard elsewhere. — @natebburn
This award goes to the player who lowered his stock the most from the camp. While Pickerington (Ohio) Central defensive end Taco Charlton looks the part, he really struggled. He has great size, long arms and he is very athletic. However, he is also very upright, only has an outside move and when coaches tried to teach him misdirection or crossover, he didn't grasp it well at all. He was beaten on almost every 1-on-1 rep he took.
Without seeing the event itself, I can't add my own opinion of Charlton's performance, but I'll say that this jives with a lot of what we know about him. Charlton is a very raw prospect who possesses all the athletic ability needed to be an elite end, yet still was a situational pass-rusher as a sophomore. It's not a mystery that he was recruited because of his sky-high upside. Pitting a player like that against the best linemen the country has to offer is a recipe for a sub-par performance.
However, I wouldn't be too concerned about Farrell's review of Charlton. He still acknowledges that Taco has the frame and athleticism to make a big impact. We already knew that he isn't advanced technically and will almost certainly need a redshirt year and some coaching up before he sees the field. I don't think what happened at The Opening—which is obviously up for interpretation in the first place—changes any of that. If Charlton had excelled against the top linemen in the country it would have been a very pleasant surprise. As it stands, I still think he's got one of the highest ceilings of any recruit in Michigan's class.
Stribling The Stripling
Channing Stribling via MNBN
The most notable development from Michigan's summer camp was of course the offer to and commitment from NC CB Channing Stribling. The Hello post was pretty light on scouting content because there wasn't any before Michigan's camp kicked off. Let me try to fill in a couple of holes. First, Maize and Blue News has a bit on Stribling's post-offer activities:
In more than 10 years of attending the Michigan summer camp, Channing Stribling pulled something today that we don't remember seeing before. A rarity at the very least. In the past, the rule of thumb was that if a player earned a scholarship offer at the camp, they were done. Whether they committed or not, it was sort of a “mission accomplished” type of event and the player would either head home or stick around to watch without competing. Not so with Stribling.
The young defensive back pledged to the Wolverines this morning, then went out and kept working to improve his game. He continued to attentively go through drills and was even running full speed demonstrating the wide receiver position for other campers, where many are often inclined to take it easy. In the sweltering 90 degree temperatures he had to endure, it speaks well of the work ethic of the Wolverines’ latest commitment.
247 got some quotes from his coach($):
“One of things that made him attracted to them is his size. I think he might grow another inch. Long arms. He controls his body very well. You see a lot of kids in high school that size, they have a tough time managing where everything is going, but Channing does a great job with body control.”
He is declared the "epitome of an athlete." Coincidentally, that is the working title of Charlie Weis's soon-to-be-published memoirs.
GBW's Kyle Bogenshutz has an excellent article on how Stribling went from random guy in a gray helmet to Michigan's latest commitment($):
“I think the first day after we did drills and we did Air Force ball [ed: must be a drill] and I started doing little moves,” he explained to GoBlueWolverine, “and they asked me what my name was—and I told them I was Channing Stribling, and they started looking at me more the next few days." …
“It was the next day, that next night after Air Force ball, that they asked me to go meet the defensive coordinator. And I met him and he said he’s going to look at me the next few days,” said Stribling.
Unfortunately paywalled, but if you've got the subscription check it out.
Stribling's commitment may have yoinked a scholarship offer from 2013 OH CB Aregeros Turner, who impressed($) but did not leave camp with an offer. Despite having offers from Washington, Tennessee, and Illinois he still told 247 Michigan was "probably like my top school or at least top two right now." In the event of a DB decommit (not likely) or an open slot he may be a guy to keep an eye on.
2014 Caremeter: further incremented
In non-Stribling news, Michigan offered a handful of 2014 kids. Most prominent amongst them is MI WR Drake Harris, a dual-sport star with a Michigan State offer in basketball but possibly a higher ceiling in football. Sam Webb's News article this week is on Harris:
"(Brady) Hoke sat down with us and was reiterating again how much he liked Drake," said Harris' father, Mike. "It was nice. He definitely made Drake feel like they really want him. It was fun for him. We had a good time down there. Hoke is straight up and real, and I like guys like that. He let me know what he thought and I like that. It was definitely a great feel."
He's still figuring out what he wants to do in college.
Other 2014 offerees included FL WR Corey Holmes (first offer) , OH LB Joe Henderson (first offer), PA S Montae Nicholson (PSU, Pitt), and DC CB D'Andre Payne (Auburn, Arkansas, Georgia, OSU, VT).
Cass Tech CB Damon Webb would have been amongst them if Michigan hadn't fired one off a week earlier after seeing him at the SMSB camp. He impressed again. Pargoff:
Rising junior Damon Webb of Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech continued to live up to the hype, showing up for the afternoon session and performing exceptionally well. He breaks and closes so quickly and attacks the ball in the air that there were times it appeared quarterbacks had mistaken him for their primary target. As we noted after the Sound Mind Sound Body Camp, he is easily a top-100 prospect for 2014.
The rest of these guys are just names at this juncture. We can try to fix that. Webb on Nicholson:
This ball-hawking safety had to be the leader in interceptions during his time on campus Tuesday. He showed great range and made quarterbacks pay for any passes they hung in the air.
At 6-3 and 200 pounds, Nicholson is big enough to play strong safety, but his exceptional leaping ability and ball skills make him tailor-made to roam the field at free. The surprising thing about this talented youngster is his camp performance was below his own standards.
That begs the question — if he earns a Michigan scholarship on one of his "off days," how good is he when he's on?
For his part, Holmes tweeted out a "mission accomplished" after landing his offer. He then told 247 Michigan had the "early edge($)" with him:
“The offer just kind of gave me butterflies because I have always been a big Michigan fan,” said Holmes. “It was my goal to earn an offer there and I’m really glad I could accomplish it. Michigan is definitely my top school right now.”
He wants to get his commitment out of the way before his senior season, which still gives him a full year to come to a decision. Pargoff:
Corey Holmes continued to display excellent speed, quickness and athleticism as he did yesterday, but his performance late in the morning session was marred by dropped passes. He definitely has all of the athletic ability needed to earn a scholarship offer from the Wolverines, but he needs to become more consistent with his hands.
He goes to St. Thomas Aquinas, a school Michigan has recruited frequently over the last decade or so. They've had little success when it comes to actually securing Aquinas kids but that's usually because they've gone to Notre Dame instead. It's a school that sends a lot of guys North, is what I'm saying.
Payne says some nice things about Mallory($) and vaguely positive things about Michigan but it seems like he's a long way from figuring things out. He says he'll be in for a visit to see what the game atmosphere is like. Henderson is a 6'4", 220 pound guy as a rising junior so he would be a SAM at M.
Meanwhile, 2014 IN WR Dominque Booth did not get his camp offer but feels one is coming($) after a couple of games in his junior season.
Quarterbacks : wolves :: scholarship : t-bone steak equidistant from them
Michigan has not thrown out any offers at quarterback yet but after getting a look at MI QB Chance Stewart and OH QB DeShone Kizer one or both is probably going to get the call soon. Tremendous caught up with Stewart after the camp:
Chance was at Michigan all day Tuesday after earning an offer from Wisconsin last Sunday. Chance felt like he performed really well at Michigan, and even "threw better than I did at Wisconsin".
He was able to talk a little with the Michigan coaches about a potential offer and they told him "they had to evaluate a couple other guys at their camp, and after camp they will figure it out". he went on to say "they said we would be in contact by the end of the week".
Michigan and Wisconsin would be Stewart's top two if Michigan does pull the trigger, and given what Stewart told 247($)…
“I really hope I can pick up that offer because Michigan is a special place to me. They have the best of the best in everything and I feel like Coach Borges and I really communicated well and he helped me become a better player at camp.”
…I don't think Wisconsin would have much of a chance, especially since he says he wants to make a decision as soon as possible.
TomVH and Chantel Jennings make it sound like it's edge Stewart($) in an article on offensive top performers:
2014 Chance Stewart -- Looks the part of a top quarterback. He had a few struggles but took well to coaching and made some nice throws. He's a Michigan kid who's familiar with the program.
2014 DeShone Kizer -- Had a shaky start but brought it back together towards the end of the day on Wednesday. He got his technique down and threw well in the final one-on-ones.
The timeline Kizer was given($) also suggests the staff might prefer the instate kid:
“(Borges) explained to me that he didn’t want to offer an 2014 quarterbacks before camp, and he doesn’t feel he has ‘that guy’ yet,” Kizer said. “He wants to see a couple of games at the beginning of the season and see if I improve from camp before he makes any moves.”
Either way, if Michigan picks up a four-star-ish guy after Shane Morris that's moving towards the Gutierrez-Henne-Richard embarrassment of riches (that was just enough to get Michigan one starting QB—lottery tickets, man).
A window of Derrick Green hope
You know what they say about getting a kid on campus and Seeing What Happens($).
“I want to get out there again to speak with the head coach,” Green said. “I’m definitely going to get back there. I want to go up there and see what (Brady Hoke) has to say – what he likes about me, why they want me, and just to get a feel for who I might be playing for one day.”
That visit won't happen until the fall, though, at which point Michigan may be ultrasounding athletic-looking pregnant ladies.
The Distant Future, The Year 2000
Michigan pulled the trigger on what I believe is their first 2015(!) offer when they slyly implied but did not promise 2015 KY RB Damien Harris that he would get an offer in August of his senior year… which is still two years away for the rising sophomore. Obviously this dude is a manchild. Webb:
At 5-11 and 195 pounds, he is powerfully built, but still very fluid; he does yoga to maintain that fluidity. In drills and 7-on-7 action he showed great burst and caught the football very well. One really can't fully appreciate how talented and physical Harris is without the pads on. One look at his film and those things become abundantly clear. Michigan clearly thought so. So too did Fresno State, Ohio, Wake Forest, Kentucky, Illinois and Tennessee.
Damien Harris of Berea (Ky.) Madison Southern was easy to spot among the running back group. Standing in at around 5-10, 200 pounds, the young rising sophomore already has the build of an upperclassman. He showed off plenty of speed and skill to go with that. While it seems incredibly early to offer a 2015 prospects, it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that the Wolverines pulled the trigger to do just that. He really was that impressive.
I think Webb or Trieu mentioned that Harris was a Michigan fan who geeked out when Mike Hart was one of his position coaches at the camp. I'm guessing we'll see an article from one of the premium sites that can confirm or dis-confirm this in the near future.
Next week's event
That would be the visit($) of FL WR Alvin Bailey, Leon McQuay III teammate and four-star slot receiver. FSU is a considerable favorite; maybe Hoke can shake that assumption.
Recently offered CA WR Darren Carrington commits to Oregon.
Etc.: Michigan does not offer a kicker. 2014 five-star Jabrill Peppers says M will make his top ten($). Damon Webb says he's been a Michigan fan his whole life($) and commiting early is a "possibility" but he doesn't think it will happen.
Today's recruiting roundup is the last one you'll get from me for a little while, as I'm taking next week off to recharge. Inevitably, there will be a deluge of recruiting news that I'll miss and the next Tuesday Recruitin' will be so long that it undoes all the rest I'll get on my vacation, but this is life in the Hoke regime. Hoke uber alles.
Updates on Massington, Treadwell, Isaac, and More
Tremendous caught up with Mesquite (TX) four-star WR Eldridge Massington, who told Aquaman that Michigan is currently his leader. He also said that his standard McDonald's order is eight(!) cheeseburgers. This immediately brought to mind a classic Belushi-era SNL skit, but since SNL is the Major League Baseball of television shows when it comes to allowing classic moments to be uploaded to YouTube, this is the best I could do:
Massington also plans to visit Ann Arbor for the first time this summer, but a date hasn't been set yet. One receiver who has finalized a visit date, however, is Laquon Treadwell; he'll be on campus on April 7th before visiting Ohio State and Oklahoma over his spring break ($). When you feel envious of big-time college prospects, remember that they sometimes sacrifice trips to Cancun for chaperoned visits to Norman.
Scout's Sam Webb posted a two-part interview with Tyrone Isaac, father of Ty. The first part is mostly a rehashing of Isaac's USC visit, but in part two the elder Isaac reveals what he knows about his son's current timeline ($):
If I had to guess, I would say before his senior season starts he will have made a decision as to where he’s going. He has made mention of it a few times that he didn’t want to go into his senior season with this hanging over his head heavy. He wanted to finally breathe again… take a deep breath, let it out, and start his senior year.
Ty has been under a lot of pressure during the recruiting process, and a summer decision—or even a spring choice—is quite possibly in the cards.
A decision date was set this week by Washington (DC) Gonzaga CB Devin Butler, who tweeted that he'll announce his choice on May 12th. Butler recently visited Michigan and has also taken trips to Wisconsin and Notre Dame over the past week. He'll be back in Ann Arbor for the spring game and is also looking to visit Madison again ($). He also enjoyed his trip to South Bend, too, so this recruitment appears pretty wide open.
Quickly: 2013 Grand Blanc DE Daniel Davis was on campus Tuesday, and while he had a positive reaction to the trip, he left without an offer ($). Peoria (IL) DE Josh Augusta, who holds an offer, will visit campus sometime this week while on his spring break ($, info in header). Also, I did a Q&A with Cari Greene of Black Shoe Diaries about the state of Michigan recruiting, and you're encouraged to check it out.
A Note on Rod Crayton
There's been talk coming from both TomVH and Sam Webb about Dadeville (AL) DT Rod Crayton, who holds an offer and has visited campus, and his current status as a Michigan recruit. Tom and Sam have recently maintained that Crayton, likely due to a childhood foot injury, won't be a part of the class. While I assume Tom and Sam have good reason to say that, I spoke with a source close to the situation yesterday, and here's what he told me:
- Crayton spoke with the Michigan coaches on Wednesday, and they're telling Rod that he's their top nose tackle on the board right now.
- The coaches were aware of Crayton's foot injury—as a fourth-grader, he lost part of his foot in a lawnmower accident—before he ever visited campus. He plays with a custom-made brace and the injury hasn't hampered his impressive production and athleticism in high school.
- Crayton wants to head out of state for school. In fact, he's the one who first contacted Michigan, instead of the other way around. The Wolverines are up there among his favorites, as is LSU. The source expects an Auburn offer to come soon, but said that he still doesn't think Crayton will stay in Alabama.
Given the fact that the coaches have been very forthright with players about whether or not they're being actively recruited—Alex Anzalone and Shane Jones stand out as strong examples—I'd be surprised if Crayton wasn't still being pursued, at least based on what I'm hearing. We'll see how this one plays itself out.
Scout posted a free article on Detroit Loyola sophomore DE Malik McDowell, another player who's visited Michigan recently. McDowell is already 6'6", 260 lbs. at the age of 15, and his coach, John Callahan, is seeing him improve up close:
"He's 15 and he's 6'6, 260, and he plays basketball, so he does a lot of running, so his conditioning is good, but also, he's not your typical lineman where he'll eat two or three pork chops and go to bed and be 290-300-lbs. He's slim. You look at his body, he's not skinny, but he can carry 35-40-lbs. He's 260, but he's a slim 260. I'll tell you what, he's deceivingly strong. The thing about Malik where I've seen the biggest improvement is in the weight room. Last year, I'd bring him in the weight room and keep an eye on him and he'd be missing some reps and some sets. He goes in now and we have a pretty structured weight program and he makes sure every single rep, every single exercise is done and sometimes we'll go back and repeat a few things if he feels he hasn't gotten enough out of it, so his mindset in the weight room has improved 100%."
Being a "slim 260" at 15 is pretty mind-boggling. McDowell appears in line to be one of the top prospects in the class of 2014, and Michigan should be in good position to land him. He's got freakish potential as a defensive end.
Sam Webb profiled Beaver Falls (PA) Blackhawk QB Chandler Kincade, who made a (very) early commitment to Pitt but is now reconsidering his options after the departure of coach Todd Graham. He visited both Michigan and MSU recently and came away impressed. Kincade fits the mold of a pro-style gunner:
"[Former MSU QB Jeff] Smoker I considered more of an athletic guy that could throw the ball," said Scout.com East regional manager Bob Lichtenfels. "He was more an athlete that could get out of the pocket and hurt you in other ways. Chandler is what you expect when people say pro-style pocket quarterback. He's a 6-5, 200-pound kid standing back there slinging the rock. Chad Henne played that way, but didn't have that kind of size."
Whatever they're feeding kids these days, I'm pretty mad I missed out on it.
Quickly: TomVH on '14 Toledo (OH) Central Catholic QB DeShone Kizer, who has early offers from Bowling Green, Syracuse, and Toledo, and has early interest in Michigan ($, info in header). Tremendous gets a visit recap from Indianapolis (IN) Pike WR Dominique Booth, who made a quick trip to campus yesterday and had a very positive reaction.