I did not make this headline up
Michigan Football: The Clone Wars
Michigan hosted a large group of visitors last weekend, and reactions are beginning to come in, including those from a couple of the top defensive linemen in the country.
The nation's #1 overall prospect, NJ DT Rashan Gary, told Rivals' Adam Friedman that one of the highlights was seeing his former high school coach ($):
"It was exciting seeing coach Partridge again," Gary said. "I gave him a hug as soon as I saw him.
"The visit was a lot like Ohio State," he said. "As soon as I walked into the building the coaches were giving me high-fives, giving me hugs. It was good to see all that love. The campus is set up basically like my hometown is with how the houses are. Everything is together on campus and I like the way it looks. I got to see Michigan's academics. They showed me their great plan for the student athletes."
Gary was also excited to see Michigan offer his 2017 teammate, DE Corey Bolds, on the trip. He told Friedman that both Michigan and Ohio State—considered by many the two programs to beat in his recruitment—will make it into his next top group, which should be determined when he's done with a lengthy list of visits. Among other tidbits, Sam Webb posted on The Victors Board that he believes Michigan made a better impression on Gary than Ohio State ($).
Top-100 IL DE Josh King saw a significant difference in the quality of Michigan's practice under the new regime, per 247's Steve Wiltfong ($):
“Oh man it was pretty cool,” King started in. He had been to Ann Arbor in the past and was really high on the Wolverines prior to last fall.
“Michigan was different with Coach (Jim) Harbaugh stepping in. He completely turned it around. I remember last year we went there and they were struggling to this year they were flying around. They looked better. They look like a much different team.”
King added "you're not going to find a coach like [Harbaugh] anywhere else." It sounds like Michigan is working their way back into the thick of his recruitment.
Four-star PA TE Cary Angeline mentioned to Wiltfong that OH NO CARY THAT WAS OUR LITTLE SECRET ($):
“Coach Harbaugh, his past of breeding tight ends, he’s one of the best at doing that and he said he’s trying to build an army of big fast tight ends and it’s intriguing how he uses his tight end.”
PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE LARGE MACHINE BEHIND THIS CURTAIN. IT'S OUR COFFEE MAKER. WE'RE VERY PROTECTIVE OF OUR COFFEE PRACTICES, AND IN NO WAY CLONING AN ARMY OF COBY FLEENERS.
ANYWAY, Michigan made a strong impression on top-100 NJ WR Ahmir Mitchell, per 247's Steve Lorenz ($):
"They moved way up my list," Mitchell said. "I don't really know specifically right now how much, but I loved this visit. I like it a lot there."
Mitchell, who also visited Ohio State this weekend, also had the Buckeyes in his top group along with Rutgers (leader), Notre Dame, Ole Miss and Virginia Tech.
I'm quickly becoming familar with the Rutgers Effect, in which they offer talented in-state prospects early in the cycle, stake claim to an early lead, and then watch helplessly as other programs shoot past them. The Sun rises in the East, and sets as far away from Piscataway as possible.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Now Touring: The Jim Harbaugh Experience
Remember last summer, when Penn State coach James Franklin ruffled some feathers by hosting satellite camps in Florida and Georgia? Jim Harbaugh is taking the same tack. The Wolverine's Brandon Brown reports that Michigan's coaches will run a camp at Prattville High School in Alabama, which produced 2015 signee Keith Washington, one June 5th. Four days later, they'll do the same in Dallas, per MLive's Nick Baumgardner. It wouldn't surprise at all if additional camps were set up in, say, Florida and California before all is said and done.
This is a great situation for Michigan, of course. The coaches get to see a ton of prospects in states they can't get to during the season, make connections with local coaches, and hopefully make some progress with recruits they've offered. There's really no downside to this that I can imagine.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
In-State Updates: Michigan Moving Up
While 2015 was a down year for prospects in the state of Michigan, 2016 boasts a solid crop of in-state recruits, and there's no question Jim Harbaugh has to work from behind for many of them; he's just getting to know players who've been recruited by the likes of Meyer and Dantonio for years, in some cases.
Visits over the last few days have spurred progress in that regard. In four-star Cass Tech OG/DT Michael Onwenu's case, so did a certain issue with a teammate, per Rivals' Josh Helmholdt ($):
"[My Ohio State interest] lowered a little after the (Mike Weber) incident," Onwenu said. "My position is they should have told him anyway. He had a bond with the coaches, and if I had a bond with a coach and was excited to play for that coach, that is something I should know."
Onwenu, who'd previously named the Buckeyes as his leader, now claims no favorites. He visited Michigan, which is one of a couple schools recruiting him for offense, last week.
Four-star Detroit King WR Donnie Corley also made it campus last week, and his father told Sam Webb that M is moving up his son's list ($):
Sam Webb: Before it seemed like Michigan was on the outside looking in. It seemed like Michigan was like fourth or fifth on his list. Do you think Michigan is more in the picture with him now?
Donnie Corley Sr.: “Yeah, most definitely. It was real impressive. We were real impressed with it.”
Three-star Farmington WR Desmond Fitzpatrick, who recently added a Michigan offer, was back on campus Tuesday for a practice and also plans to attend the Spring Game, according to Allen Trieu.
The father of four-star Plymouth OT Michael Jordan told Webb that the new staff is "very high" on his son, and he plans to camp at Michigan for a day this summer ($).
2017 Orchard Lake St. Mary's LB Josh Ross, younger brother of James Ross, told GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz that the new staff "definitely does" help Michigan's chances to land him ($). The coaches have re-affirmed Ross' offer from the previous staff.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
The Best Players In Michigan...
...well, at the very least, they're getting offers from Michigan.
Tuesday's MSU game gave Michigan the opportunity to host several in-state prospects and dole out some offers. 2016 four-star Southfield RB Matt Falcon received one, though with Tennessee as his stated leader it'll be an uphill climb to gain his commitment, per MichiganPreps.com's Branden Hunter ($):
"It was pretty sweet seeing two quarterbacks on their way to the league. Something special," said Falcon. "I really enjoyed spending time with the coaching staff, and getting to know everyone and how they operate. I think Coach Harbaugh has his team headed in the right direction. He will do big things with the Wolverines. I could see myself playing there, but I don't know if that will happen. I still have to enjoy the process."
While there's plenty of time to catch up to Tennessee, the Vols are in strong position right now. Michigan should get more traction with a couple more offers from the evening. Three-star Farmington WR Desmond Fitzpatrick, a Louisville commit, grew up a Michigan fan, and his father told Allen Trieu that the offer meant a lot to him ($):
"As he got older," Fitzpatrick continued, "and watched the program struggle, it appeared those childhood feelings faded. When he received the offer last night, his reaction surprised me. He was a little emotional."
Fitzpatrick remains committed to Louisville, but it sounds like he's quite open to the possibility of playing closer to home. So is four-star Cass Tech DB Demetric Vance, who also added an offer Tuesday night, per GBW's Josh Newkirk ($):
“I was real excited,” Vance said of Michigan offer. “I really liked the coaching staff. They made really think I want to go there. It was just a good experience. For me to meet the new coaching staff, it seem liked I already knew them for so long. It feels good.”
Vance plans to decide after the summer. Michigan's main competition should be MSU, though Pitt and Tennessee are also involved. Vance's teammate, elite 2017 WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, could hardly talk when Harbaugh offered him, per The Wolverine's Brandon Brown ($):
"It happened at halftime of the basketball game," Peoples-Jones explained. "Coach [Jim] Harbaugh came and talked to me one on one and told me that I had a scholarship offer from the University of Michigan.
"I was honestly at a loss for words. I managed to say, 'Thank you coach, I really appreciate it.' It felt great to know that I could possibly be coached under a man with so much success."
Peoples-Jones is a national-level prospect and his recruitment could very well come down to a Michigan-OSU battle.
M also hosted a couple prospects already holding offers. 2016 Farmington Hills Harrison four-star DE Khalid Kareem is now seriously considering the Wolverines, his father told 247's Steve Wiltfong ($):
“It was amazing. It was a good atmosphere. It was my first time going up there with the new staff, and to be honest with you it was probably one of our best visits. We had the opportunity to get a lot of 1-on-1 time with Coach (Greg) Mattison and Coach (D.J.) Durkin. When we got there they kind of immediately gravitated towards us, ate with us, took us in the meeting room, watched film, saw how Khalid fit in their defense, different body types, things like that.
“It opened up his mind to the idea of playing for Michigan.”
Kareem previously committed to MSU for all of two days before his parents helped convince him it was too early to make a commitment. Let's hope this goes the way of Lawrence Marshall.
Rounding out the Cass Tech contingent was 2016 four-star OG/DT Michael Onwenu, who told 247's Steve Lorenz that the coaches were jokingly fighting over which side of the ball he'd play in Ann Arbor ($).
2016 Southfield LB Will Small self-reported an offer, but that's been refuted by multiple outlets.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
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)