The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses the Dawson decommitment and potential replacements, the updated 2013 Top247, the return of Shane Morris, a potential early 2014 commit, and more.
Point Of No Return
Ethan Pocic: Potential Dawson replacement?
Despite an summer flirtation with Florida, David Dawson seemingly decommitted out of the blue yesterday. He was quick to name a new leader in the Gators, however, and InsideTheGators.com suggests that this may have actually been a long time coming ($) [emphasis mine]:
Word of the two-sides parting ways first started gaining momentum back in the summer, when during The Opening Dawson openly spoke of decommitting from Michigan, telling several of his fellow Wolverines commitments of his plan.
However, after speaking with the UM coaching staff, Dawson decided to stand pat.
Then a month ago, a person close to the situation told Inside the Gators that Dawson was on the verge of making a change, and it would happen in a matter of days, before then saying that it would happen during the week leading up to the Florida-LSU game.
Chatter on Florida message boards suggests that Dawson reached out to Florida multiple times attempting to set up a visit, including before the LSU game, and it may in fact have been a Gator coach who clued in the Michigan staff to what was going on. It that's indeed the case, this quote from Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher should not come as a surprise at all ($):
“They are done,” said Wilcher regarding whether the Wolverines will continue courting his star lineman. “That ship has sailed… sunk.. whatever you want to call it.”
Regardless of how things went down, I'd encourage everyone to wish Dawson well and move on. Sour grapes are not a good look when we're talking about the decisions of high school kids.
Michigan is certainly moving on, as The M Block reports that the Wolverines have already reached out to LSU commit Ethan Pocic, who was very high on Michigan before the available spots on the line filled up. Pocic maintains that he's firmly committed to the Tigers and will take his only official visit there; that's to be expected at this juncture, of course, so we'll see how things develop. While Dawson was slated to play guard and Pocic is a pure tackle prospect, Michigan could easily shift Chris Fox down to guard and maintain a full five-man line class with every position covered—Logan Tuley-Tillman and Pocic at tackle, Fox and Kyle Bosch at guard, and Patrick Kugler at center.
Tremendous throws in their two cents about potential replacements for Dawson, including Pocic, Notre Dame commit Colin McGovern, MSU commit Dennis Finley (yet to be offered, but one could come), and UCLA commit Scott Quessenberry, a high school teammate of freshman Erik Magnuson. They also dispel the notion that Dawson's departure could affect the recruitment of VA RB Derrick Green; the pair had struck up a friendship over the summer, but Green told Tremendous that the decommitment will "not at all" affect his status with the Wolverines.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of today's recruiting nuggets.]
According to TomVH($)—and confirmed by Sam Webb and Josh Helmholdt($)—Michigan and 2013 Cass Tech OL David Dawson have parted ways. Dawson had wavered in his commitment back in July, when he mentioned at The Opening that he wanted to camp at Florida, and it appears that there's still serious interest in visiting Gainesville and potentially a couple other SEC schools. Given the visit policy of Brady Hoke's staff, if Dawson wanted to follow through on a visit he would no longer be considered a commit; my guess is that's what caused the mutual break.
While the Wolverines still have four blue-chip offensive line commits in Kyle Bosch, Chris Fox, Patrick Kugler, and Logan Tuley-Tillman, it's likely that they'll look to add one more to replace Dawson. While all of the current offerees on offensive line are committed to other schools, it's possible the staff looks to reconnect with IL OL Ethan Pocic, a current LSU commit who had very high interest before the available spots filled up, and IL OL Colin McGovern, a Notre Dame commit. If the staff decides to go after an unoffered prospect, the likely top target is Dawson's high school teammate, MSU commit Dennis Finley, who impressed at the Sound Mind Sound Body camp this summer.
UPDATE: 247's Steve Wiltfong reports that Dawson will take an official visit to Florida this weekend ($).
Also, Dawson sent out this tweet just a few minutes ago. I expect Michigan fans to show the same level of class:
Would like to wish the university of Michigan the best of luck ..nothing against anybody associated with that program
— David Dawson (@D3_FutureLegend) October 14, 2012
Today's recruiting roundup checks out Shane Morris's new highlight tape, goes over the laundry list of top prospects who took notice of last weekend's commitment extravaganza, and details Michigan's new offers and expected visitors.
What, No Punting Highlights?
Shane Morris unleashed his junior tape yesterday, and the first full minute features him... running. And hurdling a guy. I'm seriously, you guys:
Oh, there's also your standard fare of cannon-launched deep balls and precision touch passes, but SHANE MORRIS HURDLED A GUY AND HE'S TOTALLY DENARD 2.0. Also, he punts, though disappointingly that wasn't in the video:
Don’t underestimate Morris’ potential in the punting game. While a left-handed thrower, he kicks right-footed. According to De La Salle’s special teams coach, Morris averaged a shade under 40 yards a punt last season and had a 58 yarder in one game. Morris played soccer for seven years.
Next week we'll learn that Morris throws a 90-mph slider with either arm, turned down Red Berenson's overtures to be Shawn Hunwick's successor, and is the only person to defeat The World's Most Interesting Man in a game of jai-alai.
Morris, as you're well aware, is also pretty good at this whole recruiting thing—that Hoke guy isn't bad himself, I hear—and top prospects have taken notice of Michigan's dynamite start to the 2013 class. Joliet (IL) Catholic RB Ty Isaac is one of those prospects, though he's also trying to take his time with his decision ($, info in header):
“It’s hard not to notice (Michigan’s recruiting success), but I kind of told myself ‘don’t let that be a deciding factor,” said Isaac. “I know there are a few places that I really want to see. I know that being somewhere with a good class is a big deal, and to me it’s very important, but I didn’t really want to make a rash decision just because everyone else was doing it.”
Isaac will visit Ann Arbor on March 10th between trips to Notre Dame and USC, who appear to be the other schools in contention for the Midwest's top back, though he's yet to narrow down his list ($, info in header). One factor very much playing in Michigan's favor is their depth chart, something Isaac is keeping a close eye on, as he wants the opportunity to play early. Another top Illinois prospect, Crete (IL) Monee WR Laquon Treadwell, is also keeping a low profile, but he's willing to say that the Wolverines are among his leaders ($, info in header):
While he claims to have no top list, Treadwell will admit Michigan is one of his leaders. After this past weekend, when Michigan picked up eight commitments, there might not be much time before he will have to make a decision, something that Treadwell says won't deter him from his timeline.
"That won't change anything for me," he said. "It's not my time yet."
One player who has flat-out stated Michigan is on top is four-star linebacker E.J. Levenberry in a free ESPN article linked by Brian yesterday. The Wolverines are also in good shape with four-star linebackers Dorian O'Daniel and Mike McCray; with Michigan likely to take just one or two at the position they should be able to get a very high-quality haul there.
247 Sports updated their Top247, and for the most part the new rankings were kind to the Wolverines, though Jake Butt took a rather perpelxing tumble. Touch the Banner provided a summary of the movement:
- Shane Morris dropped from #12 to #14
- Dymonte Thomas dropped from #35 to #40
- Chris Fox dropped from #39 to #47
- Kyle Bosch jumped from #55 to #42
- Jake Butt dropped from #70 to outside the top 247
- Taco Charlton jumped from #115 to #99
- Wyatt Shallman dropped from #149 to #187
- Jourdan Lewis dropped from #218 to outside the top 247
- David Dawson jumped from outside the top 247 to #195
My only guess as to why Butt would drop so far is that 24/7 initially evaluated him as a DE, and when he committed to a school as a TE they adjusted accordingly; I still don't know why he fell all the way out, as most first-hand accounts have him as a better offensive prospect than defensive. C'est la vie. Click that TTB link to see where all of Michigan's targets landed in the new list, which provides further confirmation that the Wolverines are offering the cream of the crop this year.
New Offers, Scheduled Visits, Visit Reactions, Etc.
Sam Webb's latest DetNews article focuses on one of the many high-profile offensive linemen to come out of Illinois in 2013, New Lenox Lincoln-Way West's Colin McGovern, who could vie for that last offensive line spot in the class:
"I spoke with Coach Funk over the weekend and (Wednesday), and he let me know there is one spot left (for an offensive lineman)," McGovern reported. "I'm just glad that I'm going to be visiting really soon there so I can sort of get a look at things and maybe compare it to schools that I've visited in the past. But I'm not looking to commit right now. I'm going to let it play out and whatever happens, happens. If they stay available that'd be nice because that's an extra choice for me. I know Michigan is a great school and a powerhouse football team, but I'm not going to rush into a decision that I might regret."
McGovern will visit on March 10th, and he's also got visits scheduled for Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Northwestern, and possibly Washington over the next couple months. He's not in a rush to make his decision, but he also doesn't have a set timetable; when he feels like he's ready to make a choice, he'll go ahead and do just that. He doesn't claim any favorites right now, though he says Michigan would be near the top of his list if he had one (he doesn't).
The top-ranked lineman in Illinois, Ethan Pocic, was the only Saturday visitor to not commit last week, but that doesn't mean he wasn't impressed with Michigan. Pocic released a top ten and the Wolverines are included ($, info in header). As of right now, he hasn't set up any other visits. Michigan also impressed a pair of Monday visitors in TE Jacob Matuska, who talked to Tremendous—it looks like the Wolverines will take a third TE in the class—and DT Donovan Munger, who still doesn't have a Wolverine offer ($).
Your semi-weekly list of new offers:
- Four-star Reading (MA) Wyomissing Area OLB Alex Anzalone, who told 247 he's planning March visits to both Michigan and Notre Dame ($, info in header).
- Bastrop (TX) three-star CB Antwuan Davis received his offer from Coach Funk last week ($, info in header). He hasn't set up visits but mentioned Michigan among the schools he'd like to check out.
- Upland (CA) DE/OLB Joe Mathis grabbed an offer last week and is looking at taking one of his official visits to Ann Arbor ($, info in header).
- 2014 Bishop (MD) McNamara OT/DT Damian Prince received offers from Michigan, Florida State, Iowa, and North Carolina last week, bringing his total to 11 already ($, info in header).
- 2014 Grand Rapids Christian ATH Drake Harris is primarily a basketball recruit—he's been in heavy contact with John Beilein—but he also says he's received an offer to play football for the Wolverines ($, info in header). He's the rare player who could be a legit scholarship player at two sports.
- 2014 Washington (DC) Friendship Academy CB Jalen Tabor was offered on Sunday ($, info in header). He already holds offers from schools like Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, and Virginia Tech, and he's looking to visit Ann Arbor this summer.
As you can see, the coaching staff has been able to turn some of their focus to the sophomore class—identifying 2014's top targets—with half of the junior class already wrapped up.
There's a short list of weekend visitors after last weekend's junior day atmosphere (though it wasn't an official junior day): four-star OL Patrick Kugler, who holds an offer; Barrington (IL) OL Jack Keeler ($, not offered); Logan Tuley-Tillman (yes, again); and 2014 QB Chandler Kincade, who's an early Pitt commit.
Several other players are planning future trips to Ann Arbor. Pittsburgh (PA) TE Scott Orndoff, Wisconsin's lone commit in the class of 2013, told Tremendous that he'll take a visit to Michigan after being offered recently—further evidence that the Wolverines want a third TE in the class. PA OT Mike McGlinchey is looking to take a spring trip to check out the Wolverines ($, info in header). Erial (NJ) Timber Creek teammates DT Greg Webb and DE Dajuan Drennon might be a package deal, according to Webb, and plan on visiting Ann Arbor in the future ($, info in header).
A quick note: Despite a recent MaxPreps article saying Michigan had renewed interest in Midland OT Steven Elmer, Sam Webb has confirmed with Elmer's father that he's not interested and is solidly committed to Notre Dame. End of discussion.
Quickly: SBNation editors pick their favorite tales from the recruiting trail, and it's a hilarious read (I must agree with Andrew Sharp—Willie Williams is tough to top). MnB's Zach Travis answers questions about recruiting and the renewed fervor of the Michigan-Ohio State battles for SBNation's main recruiting page. Chantel Jennings goes over the remaining needs in the class ($). TomVH focuses in on the top remaining targets along the offensive line ($).
So... that happened. Let's just start right in, shall we?
My Totally Normal, Uneventful, Relaxing Weekend
I was tipped off about the impending Kyle Bosch commitment on Friday evening, so I pre-wrote the "Hello" post, called it a night, and felt like I was ahead of the game.
At 3:20 pm on Saturday, I got this message from Heiko: "LOL your job." I would get the same message again 24 hours later. Over the course of 48 hours, I ended up writing eight commitment posts: Kyle Bosch, Wyatt Shallman, Jourdan Lewis, David Dawson, Chris Fox, Taco Charlton, Jake Butt, and Logan Tuley-Tillman. I no longer have the words to describe what went down—though the progressively more slap-happy tone of my posts as the weekend wore on serves this purpose well—so luckily other people wrote stuff, too.
Maize n Brew's Zach Travis discussed the implications of the weekend haul and compared it to Texas's ritual Junior Day bonanza:
That is eight four-star recruits all considered to be in the top-200 to Rivals.com, two linemen with a realistic chance of moving up to five-star range, and one of the best single day hauls outside of Texas's annual Junior Day Commitment Extravaganza.
Michigan, to my knowledge, has never had a six-commit day or an eight-commit weekend—at least in the documented internet recruiting era*—and Texas came up with exactly zero commits on their Junior Day this year. We need a new benchmark, though I think "That Weekend in February of 2012" is now it. Rivals.com's Mike Farrell utilizes the same comparison, mostly because there isn't anything else to equate this to:
"I've never seen anything like this—it's Texas territory," Farrell said in comparing U-M to the Longhorns, notorious for cleaning up early. "This is something new. It's pretty remarkable. I think they got the right guys on campus and that they really know the kids they are recruiting. They've got a good feel for kids who might be ready to pop - that said, they still did a good job to actually get them to jump on board.
"Got the right guys on campus" is probably in reference to Hoke, Mattison, et al, but it could just as easily refer to Shane Morris, whose role as a recruiter is clearly having a huge affect. Morris was the subject of an Angelique Chengelis profile today centering around his efforts as a pitchman:
The affable, congenial Morris has taken hold of the social media and works Twitter and Facebook, sending messages to potential future Wolverines. He makes calls, sends texts and emails, helping to secure commitments from the best high school players with whom he'll be teammates at Michigan.
"Oh, definitely. Hope so," Morris said enthusiastically when asked if he has impacted the Wolverines' recruiting. "I'm definitely recruiting all the time. We want to win national championships at Michigan and we're going to need the best players in the nation to do that."
Anyone who is on Twitter is likely aware of Morris's dogged recruiting efforts, and Taco Charlton took to the social media platform last night to relay his story of how he came to commit:
— Taco Charlton (@thekidTC33) February 21, 2012
I'll give Farrell the last word from an article hyping up the upcoming recruiting battles between Michigan and Ohio State, who all of a sudden find themselves playing catch-up despite having a five-star and three four-stars in the fold (the rest of the B1G—four total commits, period):
"Urban Meyer's the Axl Rose of recruiting," Farrell said. "He's the rock star. Brady Hoke is not out there like that. He's not the same type of guy. He's an old-school, shoot-it-straight guy. But he's obviously getting the job done at an equal level. With these two, recruiting will be fun because they're unlike each other. That's going to make things very interesting. They each have different approaches to things. It's going to be a great battle.''
Let's hope Florida was Meyer's Appetite for Destruction, and we'll now spend a decade waiting for Chinese Democracy before realizing we don't care anymore. Alright, there's no way that's how things will turn out, but one can hope.
*The six listed by Rivals for one day in 2003 did not actually happen that way; I think they were just catching up and didn't specify the exact dates. Seth, who probably summed up my weekend better than anyone, has the correct listing.
Hoke Never Sleeps, 'Cause Sleep is the Cousin of Death
The fallout from this weekend spills over into a second section because it deserves as much. Steve Wiltfong caught up with both Kyle Bosch and David Dawson in the aftermath of their commitments to get their thoughts on why they committed, and both are well worth a read. Here's Bosch, who had this gem [emphasis mine]:
At the beginning of the day, I started to hint that I was going to commit. I told Coach Borges maybe next month I could see myself commit. Then the director of player personnel Coach Singletary came over to me and I said maybe next week. I then went in the bathroom and talked to my mom on the phone and we talked about it, Michigan State and Stanford. It came down to academics. I have a ton of respect for Michigan State and Stanford. I think they’re both outstanding schools, but it came down to academics. Michigan is the right place for me.
Those of you still smarting from Josh Garnett's decision to go to Stanford will find that especially cathartic. The only thing that could make that quote better would be if Jim Harbaugh was still coaching the Cardinal.
I guess I got the order wrong when putting up Dawson's and Lewis's commitment posts, because it sounds like the offensive lineman beat his teammate by a matter of seconds:
I talked to my mom about if Michigan offered me, would I commit on the spot. She was okay with it. She liked it for the academics, and the academics came before the football.
We were talking to Coach Hoke and he offered me. I looked at my mom and then looked at him and I told him I’d like to commit. He asked me if I was serious, and he jumped up and started yelling. He shook my hand and gave my mom a hug, gave me a hug. Everyone was screaming and it didn’t make it any better when J (Jourdan Lewis) walked in and said he was committing too. It was a great feeling yesterday.
Given Hoke's propensity for screaming and hugging when a recruit commits in person, I'm kindly requesting that the next player who plans on doing this records the whole thing on their smartphone. I imagine it's a sight to behold. Speaking of Hoke, he apparently doesn't sleep, because by the time Jake Butt committed on Sunday, he was in Florida schmoozing with some bigwig donors:
Before offering his pledge the Pickerington North star decided to travel home and mull things over just a little bit more, but that he was close to making his choice was likely evident to all. Even so, that didn’t stop his future coaches from reacting to the news like they had received the surprise of the year.
“I actually told Coach Hoke, Coach Borges, and Coach Ferrigno and they were all really excited," Butt stated. “Coach Hoke was down in Florida talking to some boosters for the university, and he just let out a big scream when he heard it. (Laughter) They all said I made their night and they can’t be happier for me. This is really great.”
I wonder if Hoke had any voice left by the time Tuley-Tillman committed. Given that he can barely talk after games, I have to imagine the weekend was hell on his larynx.
Ethan Pocic—one of just two weekend visitors to not commit, along with Rod Crayton—reportedly enjoyed his visit and said Michigan "went up in [his] view." ($, info in header). There was a false Twitter report out there that he had named a top three that didn't include Michigan, but Pocic soundly denied doing so.
That wasn't all on the weekend, by the way. Michigan also managed to pick up a couple of preferred walk-on for 2012, both long-snappers. Saline's Taybor Pepper—the #7 long-snapper in the 2012 class on Chris Sailer Kicking—actually jumped the gun and committed on Thursday. Fenton's Tyler Tokarsky announced his commitment via Twitter yesterday. Both links contain video and more info on a couple of guys who will hopefully remain anonymous barring a Jareth Glanda moment.
Offers, More Offers, Visits, Lists, Etc.
Prepare for a massive bulleted list, as Michigan has sent out a ton of offers in the last week. These are in no particular order, just how my tabs happened to show up:
- Dadeville (AL) DT Rod Crayton was offered a scholarship while on his Sunday visit to Ann Arbor ($). Crayton was very impressed by the fact that he would have three D-line coaches at Michigan.
- Auburn (CA) Placer DT Eddie Vanderdoes ($, info in header), the #21 overall recruit in the country according to Rivals.
- Petaluma (CA) Casa Grande ATH Elijah Qualls, who told aquaman he's being offered as a DE.
- Wyomissing (PA) Area LB Alex Anzalone, a four-star on Rivals who also has offers from Ohio State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and West Virginia.
- Everett (MA) OL John Montelus, the #214 prospect on Rivals—I had a chance to catch up with him last week and he mentioned a desire to visit Michigan.
- Moreno Valley (CA) Rancho Verde WR Damore'ea Stringfellow, the #107 player on Rivals, recently grabbed offers from Michigan, Arizona State, Nebraska, UCLA, and Washington State.
- Santa Monica's Sebastian LaRue is another California wideout to grab an offer ($, info in header). He's the #141 overall player in the Rivals250.
- Rancho Cucamonga (CA) DB Chris Hawkins told TomVH that a Wolverine offer was one he and his father were waiting on ($). Hawkins is the #159 prospect according to Rivals.
- Washington DC Gonzaga ATH Devin Butler is a three-star on 24/7, and he told Clint Brewster he plans on visiting in the spring ($).
- Dallas (TX) Kimball DT Justin Manning, the #89 player on Rivals, also picked up an offer ($, info in header).
- Massillon (OH) Washington CB Gareon Conley is another in a long line of D-I prospects from one of Ohio's most storied high school programs. He told Scout that he grew up as a Michigan fan and was very excited by the offer ($).
- A third Rivals250 WR from California, Oakley Freedom's Darrell Daniels, now has offers from Michigan, Colorado, UCLA, and Oregon State after a strong showing at the U.S. Army combine ($).
- Tempe (AZ) Marcos De Niza CB Priest Willis is the #84 overall prospect on Rivals, and Michigan's offer gave him 16 total ($, info in header).
- Los Angeles (CA) Loyola CB Cameron Walker is a four-star and the #214 prospect to 24/7, but Michigan became one of his first two offers along with, coincidentally, San Diego State ($).
- Three-star Randolph (NJ) guard Brendan Mahon added offers from Michigan and Temple last week ($, info in header).
- Belton (TX) TE Durham Smythe—who I posted an interview with this morning—got his Michigan offer last week, though it might be difficult to pull him from Texas.
- Upland (CA) DE Joe Mathis, the #93 prospect on Rivals, got his Michigan offer last week.
- The Wolverines also offered 2014 DT Andy Bauer, a big-time recruit from St. Louis (IL) De Smet who visited two weeks ago.
As you can see, the Wolverines are heavily targeting the top talent in California, a likely product of Brady Hoke's connections there from his time at San Diego State. That offer list is also littered with prospects from the Rivals250, as Michigan is able to focus on blue-chip players with a small class that's now already halfway full. We'll see how judicious they are with their offers moving forward; three players—Donovan Munger, De'Niro Laster, and Ross Douglas—visited on Monday and did not get offers extended. Tight end Jacob Matuska, who does hold an offer, also was on campus yesterday.
Several players have expressed interest in visiting lately, and a couple of them are quite noteworthy. Five-star CA S/LB Su'a Cravens told Scout that Michigan will get one of his five official visits, in large part due to his relationship with Hoke dating back to his days with the Aztecs ($, info in header). Two blue-chip prospects from Good Counsel in Maryland will visit for the April 14th spring game in five-star corner Kendall Fuller and four-star linebacker Dorian O'Daniel. Four-star WR Robert Foster has confirmed that he'll visit Michigan State next weekend, and it's a possibility that he'll swing by Ann Arbor as well. Richmond (VA) Hermitage RB Derrick Green, the #64 prospect on Rivals, will visit Ann Arbor this weekend ($, info in header).
Unfortunately, it can't all be sunshine and lollipops, as some players either named top groups that exluded Michigan or committed elsewhere. Five-star FL OT Laremy Tunsil named a top two of Florida and Georgia ($, info in header). Four-star VA DE Jonathan Allen named Alabama as his favorite after receiving an offer ($, info in header). Four-star VA safety Tim Harris named a top two of Virginia and Virginia Tech, though he expressed interest in visiting both Michigan and Ohio State ($, info in header). Louisville (KY) Trinity CB Ryan White named a top two of Louisville and Illinois, and his teammate, DE Jason Hatcher, has also expressed strong interest in the Cardinals.
We wish happy trails to four recruits: Dallas (TX) Jesuit WR Jake Oliver committed to Texas, while his teammate, OL J.J. Gustafson, committed to Texas A&M. Vorhees (NJ) Eastern CB Eli Woodard pledged to the Buckeyes. While he didn't hold an offer, Birmingham Brother Rice LB Johnny Reshke will likely be one the top 2013 prospects in the state, and he committed to MSU last week.
Quickly: Sam Webb profiles RB Deveon Smith—whose recruitment will likely come down to Michigan and Ohio State, and says it's "50-50" between the schools regarding his favorite right now—in his most recent DetNews column. Wiltfong recaps the Best of the Midwest combine, which featured five-star linebacker Jaylon Smith—the event's MVP—as well as linebacker Tim Kimbrough, defensive end Elijah Daniel, and several potential Michigan targets. Allen Trieu scouts last week's Elite Big Man Camp in Wixom—ND commit Steven Elmer, Cass Tech junior DT Kenton Gibbs, and 2014 Detroit Loyola DE Malik McDowell are mentioned as standouts ($).
Brian is off doing super-important Brian things for the day (read: aimlessly driving around Ann Arbor while listening to The Smiths, probably), so you're stuck with me for an entire Friday. I know, I'm sorry too. Anyways, today's recruiting roundup looks at the new Rivals250—replete with many magnificent monikers—new offers, lists, and visits for the 2013 class, and a study on recruiting exenditures in the NCAA.
NOTY, NOTY, NOTY, Can't You See? Sometimes Your Names Just Hypnotize Me
Rivals is the latest recruiting service to release rankings for the class of 2013, putting out the Rivals100 on Wednesday before unveiling the full Rivals250 yesterday. There are only 11 five-stars on the list, but Shane Morris is in position to earn that status in the near future as he comes in at #16 overall (#3 QB). Fellow commit Dymonte Thomas is ranked at #77, and Josh Helmholdt discussed his status in the "toughest decisions" article:
Alliance (Ohio) Marlington safety Dymonte Thomas is one of the fastest players in the Midwest for 2013, and overall an outstanding athlete. As a junior, though, he mostly played close to the line of scrimmage and we did not get a chance to see much of him in coverage. So, we did not get too bullish on his ranking until we were able to more thoroughly assess his coverage skills.
If Thomas can show off his coverage ability in camps this summer, expect him to make a move up the board. Meanwhile, your suspicions that Michigan has offered a ton of blue-chip prospects early is correct. TTB has the full rundown on Wolverine offerees in the Rivals100 and the Rivals250—Michigan has offered 35 prospects in the top 100 alone and an additional 19 in the 101-250 range. Two of those are Morris and Thomas, and five players are committed to other schools, but needless to say the Wolverines are targeting the best of the best in what should be a smaller class than 2012.
As impressive as Michigan offer list is, perhaps more incredible is the sheer amount of Name of the Year candidates from the Rivals250. A sampling, for your reading pleasure:
- Alabama RB commit Altee Tenpenny
- Vianna (GA) DT Montravius Adams
- Muscle Shoals (AL) DE Dee Liner
- Fort Worth (TX) DT A'Shawn Robinson
- Fultondale (AL) ATH ArDarius Stewart
- Virginia Beach RB Taquan Mizzell
- My personal favorite: Moreno Valley (CA) WR Demorea Stringfellow
- Cedar Hill (TX) ATH Laquvionte Gonzalez
- Pickerington (OH) DE Taco Charlton (real name: Vidauntae)
- Dallas (TX) WR Ra'Shaad Samples
- New Orleans TE Standish Dobard
- Shreveport (LA) ATH Tre'Davious White
- Pomfret (MD) OL Na'Ty Rodgers
- Milpitas (CA) DE Vita Vea
- Mesquite (TX) WR Eldridge Massington
That's leaving out some pretty strong names, too. I highly recommend perusing the entire list, not only to educate yourself on this year's top prospects, but for some serious entertainment value. Throw in South Carolina CB De'Andre "Chocolate" WIlson, who missed the cut, and I nominate this for the best class of names in recent memory.
Speaking of Names... Jake Butt
Sam Webb's latest DetNews piece covers Pickerington (OH) North TE/DE Jake Butt (#96 overall in the Rivals250), who says Michigan is his leader "by far" early in the process. Butt doesn't have a concrete timeline yet and childhood favorite Ohio State could become a major factor in his recruitment should they choose to offer, so this one is far from over. That said, the Wolverines are in great position early, and while they're recruiting Butt as a tight end (stifle those giggles, children), he's also a strong prospect on the other side of the ball:
"Jake is an athletic kid with a great frame," [Scout.com's Allen] Trieu said. "He still has to add more weight and strength to his game, but he runs well for a kid of that size and is a very coordinated athlete. On offense he catches the ball well, his height makes him a matchup problem, and his athleticism allows him to create separation. At the same time, Jake is one of those rare kids who I think projects very well to both sides of the ball. I think he's a BCS prospect on both sides of the ball. For most schools it sounds like he's a defensive end right now, but a handful see him as a tight end too."
"Jake is right there as a potential top-10 prospect in Ohio. It's a fairly deep year down there, as usual, it's just not as top heavy (as it was in the 2012 class). We haven't really finalized anything yet, but it wouldn't surprise me to see him end up in the top eight to 12 prospects in the state."
Another top Midwest prospect holding a Michigan offer is Wheaton (IL) St. Francis OL Kyle Bosch, Rivals.com's #60 overall prospect, who has taken multiple trips to Ann Arbor and has an interesting way of going about his visits ($, info in header):
Normally when a recruit visiting Ann Arbor says he wants to talk to someone, the names that come up tend to be Denard Robinson, Taylor Lewan, Ryan Van Bergen -- the "famous" players on the Michigan football team.
But those aren't the guys 2013 offensive line recruit Kyle Bosch (Wheaton, Ill./St. Francis) is interested in talking to.
"I want to see where they stand going through their freshmen years, whether it lived up to the expectations that they had," Bosch said. "I'm more curious to get to know what the first year at Michigan is like compared to three or four years into it."
I've never heard that before, but it's a strategy that makes sense, especially for a highly-touted recruit who will have to make the transition from Big Man on Campus to lowly freshman when college begins. The whole profile by Chantel Jennings is well worth a read if you have Insider—it sounds like Bosch has a good head on his shoulders and is going about his recruitment the right way. He plans to visit Ann Arbor again on February 18th ($).
Here's your latest list of 2013 offers as Michigan continues to send them out in bulk:
- Indianapolis North Central DL Darius Latham, who Trieu profiled for free on Scout. He also picked up a Tennessee offer, joining Northwestern, Indiana, Ole Miss, Purdue, and Minnesota early.
- Richmond (VA) Varina S Tim Harris added offers from both Michigan and Ohio State on Tuesday ($, info in header).
- Another Richmond prospect, Hermitage High School RB Derrick Green, earned offers from the Wolverines and USC ($, info in header). They join a laundry-list of national powers pursuing Rivals.com's #64 overall player.
- Owensboro (KY) OT Hunter Bivin recently added offers from Michigan, Ohio State, LSU, Notre Dame, Miami, and several other Big Ten and SEC schools ($, info in header). He visited Michigan unofficially twice in the fall—including for the Ohio State game—and has high interest in the Wolverines early.
- Grand Rapids Christian two-sport star Drake Harris boasts an offer to play both football and basketball from Michigan, MSU, Indiana, and Notre Dame ($, info in header). The 6'4" wide receiver/shooting guard is coached by former Wolverine wideout Tai Streets in AAU basketball.
- Somerville (NJ) Immaculata DE Tashawn Bower—#250 in the Rivals250—picked up his Wolverine offer on Tuesday ($, info in header). His dad is a Michigan fan and he plans on taking a spring trip to Ann Arbor.
- Wisconsin tight end commit Scott Orndorff got offered by Michigan, Boston College, and Virginia; he plans on looking around after some recent changes to the Badger coaching staff ($, info in header).
Several players started narrowing down their lists this week. Blue chip linebacker E.J. Levenberry now has Michigan in his top three along with Florida and Florida State, though his father says that list is subject to change ($, info in header). Bloomfield (NJ) OT Marcell Lazard named a top four of UConn, Miami, Michigan, and West Virginia, and he plans to visit Michigan later this month ($). Michigan is one of 11 schools being considered by Louisville (KY) Trinity DE Jason Hatcher ($, info in header). As for players Michigan did not make the cut for, five-star tackle Laremy Tunsil now has a top three of Florida, Georgia, and Alabama ($, info in header), while top-ranked linebacker Jaylon Smith's top three includes Notre Dame, Ohio State, and... Purdue ($, info in header). Did not see that one coming.
Many players are setting up visits, as well. Michigan will host four juniors this weekend: offensive linemen Logan Tuley-Tillman and Chris Fox and receivers Jaron Dukes and Laquon Treadwell. Of the four, Dukes and Fox are the most likely to make early decisions—both have mentioned Michigan among their leaders, and Dukes has the Wolverines as his clear favorite—while both LTT and Treadwell will likely take a while before deciding after their offer lists expanded greatly in recent weeks.
Kyle Bosch won't be the only Illinois lineman on campus on the 18th—he'll be joined by Lemont's Ethan Pocic ($). Another Illinois lineman, Colin McGovern, plans to take a trip to Michigan on March 10th ($). Top-ranked tight end Adam Breneman, meanwhile, had to alter his visit plans, pushing back planned trips to Penn State (later this month) and Ohio State (sometime in the spring). I asked him on Twitter if he was still planning a trip to Ann Arbor, and he wasn't sure yet. The general consensus—and I agree with it—is that it will be very tough to beat out childhood favorite Penn State for him.
In very quick 2014 news, Michigan will host St. Louis OT Andy Bauer this weekend, and they've also shown interest in Mequon (WI) Homestead DT Brandon Hines ($, info in header).
Spendin' That Paper
The Business of College Sports blog released a list of the top 50 spenders in recruiting among all sports, and the list is dominated by the SEC, whose schools take up six of the top eight spots (Tennessee leads the way at nearly $2.3 million last year). Coming in at #9, and tops among Big Ten schools, is your very own Wolverines, spending just under $1.5 million. The order of the rest of the B1G schools is rather surprsing: Illinois (#14), Nebraska (#19), Ohio State (#23), Minnesota (#24), Penn State (#26), Purdue (#41), Michigan State (#42), Iowa (#43), and Indiana (#46) round out the schools in the top 50. It's best to keep in mind that this includes all sports for both men and women; it would be interesting to see how this compares to spending on football alone. [H/T: Lost Lettermen]
Tremendous interviewed preferred walk-on OL Dan Gibbs, who will join the 2012 class on campus this fall, and the young man is not only an Eagle Scout, but well-versed in the current Wolverine lingo [emphasis mine]:
Tremendous: What did it feel like when you finally decided to go with Michigan?
Dan: I'm about as excited as can be! It feels absolutely amazing to finally realize my life-long dream of playing Michigan Football.
Tremendous: Was it an easy decision given the scholarship situation?
Dan: It wasn't the easiest decision, per se. I was seriously considering Penn, especially after my visit there, and other Ivy League options. But this is Michigan fergodsakes! In the end, Michigan won out by a mile because I realized that it was where I always wanted to be.
With the Thursday Recruitin' posts getting lengthy and signing day just over a week away, we decided—with the help of some reader requests—that it would be best to do two recruiting roundups per week. So, welcome to Tuesday Recruitin', which should serve to wrap up the happenings of the previous weekend and set the table for the upcoming week. Thursday Recruitin' will now be moved to Friday and focus on any upcoming visits while catching up with the events of the week. This new setup allows me to get more recruiting information to you each week and should cut down on the total link overload that was quickly becoming an unwanted staple of my recruiting roundups. Anyways, there is much to discuss, so let's get this party started.
Caleb Stacey Decommits; How Will M Round Out The Class?
Caleb Stacey announced on Saturday that he was changing his commitment from Michigan to Cincinnati, citing a desire to stay close to home during college:
"When it came down to it, Caleb just wanted to stay closer to home," said Oak Hills assistant coach Kyle Ralph. "He's a Cincinnati kid, and as it came down to it, he was more comfortable staying home in Cincinnati."
In fact, Stacey actually got in touch with the Cincinnati coaching staff himself, as they had respected his pledge to Michigan and backed off from recruiting him. Stacey's decommitment leaves the Wolverines with 23 commits (four along the O-line) in the class of 2012, leaving up to five spots available. While Michigan looks to have a good shot with higher-ranked offensive linemen Josh Garnett, Jordan Diamond, and Alex Kozan, Stacey's absence will be felt—he was the only current commit projected to play center, a position of great need for the Wolverines, and only Kozan looks like he could fill that void.
This week will be huge for offensive line recruiting, starting with Josh Garnett's announcement on Thursday afternoon. Garnett has officially narrowed his choices to a final two of Michigan and Stanford ($, info in header), as expected. Michigan did get the last word, as Brady Hoke made the final in-home visit to Garnett on Sunday. I expect Garnett to end up as a Wolverine, though that's admittedly based on zero inside knowledge of his recruitment.
Hoke also has the final in-home visit with Kozan, who will choose between Michigan, Iowa, and Auburn. Kozan told GoBlueWolverine that he will announce his choice "right after the Coach Hoke visit," which is scheduled for this Friday ($). He claims no leader at this time, and Hoke has the chance to make a very strong pitch—with Stacey out of the class, Kozan could be the most important recruit left on the board due to his ability to play center.
Jordan Diamond, meanwhile, will announce his decision on February 3rd—two days after signing day—between Michigan, Ohio State, Arkansas, Auburn, and Wisconsin. Michigan coaches have an in-home visit with him today, and he also maintains there's no leader in his recruitment.
Moving on to other position groups, two major targets formally decommitted this week: cornerback Armani Reeves from Penn State (same as Diamond link) and tight end Sam Grant from Boston College ($, info in header). Both could make their decisions as soon as this week. Reeves is now down to Michigan and Ohio State, and hosted Brady Hoke on Saturday before welcoming Urban Meyer—along with OSU assistants Everett Withers and Mike Vrabel—to his home last night. While some Buckeye insiders anticipated a commitment, none has come, and Greg Mattison will see Reeves tonight for his final in-home visit. This looks like a 50/50 tossup.
Grant, meanwhile, will likely choose between Michigan, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.
A few happy trails: Yuri Wright found a home at Colorado despite recently being kicked out of Don Bosco Prep for his controversial tweets; Monty Madaris will decide on Wednesday, and he appears to be down to Cincinnati and Michigan State; four-star OL and soft Wisconsin commit Kyle Dodson plans to announce his choice on Saturday between the Badgers, Ohio State, Michigan State, USC and Auburn ($).
Receiver Commits: Anything But Divas
You have likely read the story of receiver commit Amara Darboh, who lost his parents to the civil war in Sierra Leone when he was just two years old before finding his way to Des Moines, where he found a family and eventually became a four-star football recruit. Chantel Jennings profiled Michigan's other receiver commit, Jehu Chesson, on WolverineNation today, and the article is well worth the cost of ESPN Insider. I'll do my best to block-quote as little as possible, and encourage you to read the whole thing, which details Chesson's charity work—along with his knack for juggling—as well as his path to the United States ($):
In 1993 Chesson was born in war-torn Liberia in the middle of its first civil war. The country had broken into factions, and by the time the war was over in 1996, nearly 200,000 Liberians had died. Chesson moved from Liberia to the Ivory Coast, and from the Ivory Coast to St. Louis when he was 5.
He doesn't have many memories from that early in his life, but he saw on TV when Liberia fought its second civil war and the unrest that has come from it.
He could be angry. He still has family in Africa. His grandmother is there.
But Chesson said the kids have taught him how to forgive. He laughs when he talks about two young kids at the camp who fight and punch one another, but 10 minutes later they're playing with each other again.
He said that even though some of those kids have very little, they have the capacity to forgive, which some adults -- who've been tarnished by money or pessimism -- can't do.
"The best and worst part of it all is that I can ponder a question about why some are born into greatness and others never get a chance," Chesson said. "I'll probably never get an answer. But I can give of myself, which is sort of like working toward an answer."
The level of maturity shown by Chesson—as well as Darboh—would put many 30-year-olds to shame, and I'm very excited to see him don the winged helmet and, more importantly, get the opportunity to earn a degree from Michigan.
The Detroit News is rolling out daily profiles of the recruits on their Blue Chip list, and so far they've covered Terry Richardson, James Ross, Royce Jenkins-Stone, Matt Godin, and Devin Funchess. Most of it is fluff—Richardson discusses his spirituality, Ross—like Ben Braden—played hockey, RJS wants to be a chef, Godin wanted to play QB as a HS freshman, and Funchess plans to become a coach—but for those doubting Ross's size and ability to play inside, he has a message for you:
"I believe my size benefits me," he said. "I'm quick to the ball. When I was at the Army (All American) Game, I was able to get to the ball quickly. I'm able to get through the holes. I make the reads, and at the snap of the ball I can step into those holes. Can I get stronger? Sure I can. And I will."
Ross said the U-M coaches have no plans to move him to another position and that he is slated to play weak-side linebacker.
"I'll be the linebacker that checks the slot receiver or the running back out of the backfield," he said.
We'll see in the fall if Ross is really 6'1", 220 pounds, as the article claims, but even if he's a little smaller I think WLB is the best position for him.
Quick 2013 Hitters; New 2014 (!) Offer
A quick roundup of the news on current junior prospects:
- Woodbridge (VA) C.D. Hylton linebacker E.J. Levenberry, who visited Michigan last weekend and holds an early offer, has the Wolverines in his top three with Florida and FSU ($, info in header).
- Top-ranked tight end Adam Breneman revealed a list of upcoming visits on his Twitter; he plans to take a trip to Ann Arbor in March, and he's also got visits set for Maryland, Ohio State, Penn State, and Notre Dame. He's also looking at Miami and North Carolina for potential unofficials.
- In case you missed it, Michigan was one of several schools to recently offer Monaca (PA) Central Valley receiver Robert Foster, an early candidate for five-star status ($, info in header).
- Four-star Pickerington (OH) North TE/DE Jake Butt had the coaches drop by last week ($, info in header), and he says Michigan will be in the mix when it comes time to narrow down his list of schools.
- Cleveland (OH) Shaker Heights ATH De'Niro Laster told Greg Mattison he plans to take an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor the weekend after signing day ($, info in header).
- Somerville (NJ) Immaculata four-star DE Tashawn Bower expects a Michigan offer soon after talking with Coach Curt Mallory ($).
- Sam Webb's weekly DetNews piece is on Lemont (IL) OL Ethan Pocic, who recently earned top offensive lineman honors at the Core6 Showcase in Westmont, IL, which also featured top junior linemen like Logan Tuley-Tillman and Colin McGovern.
- Happy trails to Trotwood-Madison cornerback Cam Burrows, as one of the top players in Ohio pledged to Ohio State last week.
Finally, Michigan gave out its second verbal offer to a class of 2014 prospect. Woodbridge (VA) defensive end Da'Shawn Hand picked up his sixth offer as the Wolverines joined Boston College, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, N.C. State and Rutgers. Hand tallied 21 sacks as a sophomore and earned district Co-Defensive MVP honors. Michigan's other sophomore offeree is also a defensive lineman, Highland (UT) DT Bryan Mone, teammate of 2012 pledge Sione Houma.