...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
The 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board is your place for all-time updates. One important note before we get into individual prospects. Coach Rodriguez recently said the coaching staff will narrow its focus from about 150 offered prospects to "around 70" players. This may make me a little more comfortable removing guys that are less-discussed. The Michigan Elite Camp is this weekend, so that will provide a little clarity as well.
Chris Rock Goes Blue
Michigan gained a commitment from OH DE Chris Rock over the weekend (not the comedian). Unsurprisingly, the local papers in Columbus didn't pick up on the story, but Magnus breaks down his game on Touch the Banner:
To be honest, I'm not enamored with Rock. A large part of that is due to the fact that his highlight film is full of offensive linemen completely forgetting to block him. I find it difficult to get excited about a player who accrues a bunch of sacks while barreling unimpeded into the offensive backfield...
My biggest issue with Rock is that he stands straight up on the snap. He's able to push around weaker players when playing so high, but if he tried to push around a 310 lb. Big Ten tackle like that, Rock would get tossed around like a rag doll. He doesn't use his hands well to shed blocks, and he also finds himself losing contain a little too frequently. He has decent speed for a 250-pounder, so he can make up for his poor fundamentals at times. But some of his habits are less than ideal.
For more on Rock, read the Hello: Chris Rock post.
We transition from good news right into stuff not so positive, as a few prospects are coming off the board:
- AR QB Kiehl Frazier. He officially narrowed his list to Arkansas and Auburn last week, and then Black Righty Tebow committed to Auburn.
- OH QB Braxton Miller. He will choose between OSU (the likely destination), Florida, Notre Dame, and Alabama tomorrow.
- SC OL Brandon Shell. He's named a final 5 consisting entirely of Southern schools.
- FL CB Nick Waisome. He named a top 7 without Michigan in it.
Assume The Position: Wide Receiver
I did one of these a few weeks ago (for tight end), and with the amount of information available this week, it's time to take a closer look at the wide receiver position.
Michigan currently has one wide receiver commit, in Shawn Conway out of Birmingham Seaholm High School. Conway is a big outside leaper with great hands, in the mold of Braylon Edwards (though likely not as good, he probably won't have a case of the dropsies on easy balls, either). With the numbers of offers and visits taking place, it's clear that the Wolverines want one more outside guy, and maybe a slot receiver if they can find an elite one.
Fortunately for us, Sam Webb's weekly column in the Detroit News focused on on the wideout position last week, and ran down a few of the Wolverines' top targets. I don't intend to steal Sam's thunder by blockquoting too much of his article, but since the News evilly (and idiotically - good luck finding people to pay for it) puts its articles behind a paywall after a week, I'll be a little more liberal. Please click through to make up for it.
Sammy Watkins (at right):
"Sammy Watkins is the total package as a WR prospect," said Scout.com Florida analyst Geoff Vogt. "He can flat run, has incredibly light feet which allows him to make players miss in the open field, and a body to be that prototype 6-3, 215-pounder down the road.
"I have watched him snare balls thrown as bullets down the middle of the field and he will just leisurely catch them with one hand. He has elite hands. He runs very clean routes and understands how to get separation.
"While I view him as a WR prospect, Sammy could easily be a big-time safety if he chose to go that route."
Michigan, Miami (YTM), and Florida are his top 3. DeAnthony Arnett:
The second-rated prospect in the state dominated opponents in seven-on-seven competitions throughout the winter and spring thanks to his precise route-running and impressive quickness.
"It seems like every camp DeAnthony goes to, he kills it," said Scout.com Midwest analyst Allen Trieu. "He continued to impress with his route-running, hands, and ball skills at the Michigan Football Showcase. He made the play of the tournament when he went up between two defenders and made an outstanding catch to win a game. Arnett continues to move up in our eyes and has proven to be one of the very best in country."
If Michigan has a good season, the Wolverines will probably get back into the mix for Arnett. Theyr'e currently on the outside looking in. AJ Jordan:
"One of the top players in Ohio in his class," his Scout.com profile reads. "Also ranked one of the top 4 hurdlers in the nation. A smooth route runner with a great burst, he can make plays anywhere on the field and makes defenses game-plan against him."
On the recruiting roundup, Sam said Michigan is "definitely in the driver's seat" for Jordan. He'll decide earlier than the other two guys. Those are the three hottest prospects from a Michigan perspective, but there are a few more on the radar should all of these fall through. Michigan also has its eye on a few sot receivers, including NJ ATH Miles Shuler - though Northwestern leads ($, info in header - and MD ATH Darius Jennings.
Scout has had their 2011 prospects rankings out for a while, but the other two sites are slowly-but-surely releasing theirs. Both ESPN and Rivals now have the top recruits ranked, with neither site having any Michigan commits in their top group, but a number of Michigan targets. Some of those are longshots - FL DT Timmy Jernigan, who lists Michigan in his top 6, would still surprise everyone if he left the state of Florida - but many are realistic options. Magnus has a breakdown of Rivals's list. Top 100 lists were also released by the Sporting News and Tom Lemming.
Recruiting Quick Hits
You may remember that NC QB Marquise Williams recently named Michigan among his top three schools, before trimming his list to a final five. He's now made his decision timeline public, as he plans to commit to a school in October ($, info in header). He'll visit Ann Arbor for the Michigan State game on October 9th, so the Wolverines will be fresh in his mind when he makes a decision. I'll go into a little more depth on the QB recruiting situation next week.
Yay Demetrius and all that.
According to Cincinnati recruiting guru Mike Dyer, OH TE Benson Browne plans to visit Michigan this summer. My educated guess will be that he's coming in for camp to try for an offer. He currently holds them from West Virginia, Kansas, Louisville, Minnesota, Miami (Not That Miami) and Central Michigan.
Despite recently receiving a Michigan offer, OH TE Nick Vannett does not have UM in his top group. He's going to start taking trips soon, and wants to have a decision made by July.
FL OL Tony Posada will visit Michigan this summer ($, info in header). He also spoke to ESPN last week (video), mentioning Michigan first, and in his "big ones" category. He claims to be open at this time.
Though their class is starting to fill up, the Buckeyes will hold a spot open for IN DT/OL Joel Hale ($, info in header). It's unclear if Michigan is a player in his recruitment.
MGoBoard's very own Magnus breaks down the game of MD DT Vincent Croce on Touch The Banner:
Strengths: Listed at 5.17 but seemingly plays faster. Ability to chase some players from sideline to sideline. Relentless pass rusher. Very aggressive tackler. Strong upper body. Uses hands well to deliver good initial shock and shed blockers. Good initial surge off the line. Relatively lean frame
Weaknesses: Not a natural knee bender. Stands too high. May get overpowered by strong run-blocking guards. Played significant time at linebacker, which may stunt growth as defensive lineman.
Projection: Could be a solid rotation player as early as second year in program
His weaknesses are mostly technique-based, which could be worked on with college coaching. I also think playing DT only part-time may have led to some of that, and playing LB in high school actually means he has more upside than is shown on film.
GA DT Gabe Wright might officially visit Michigan:
“I’ll probably take all of my unofficial visits to schools that I can drive to and my officials to schools far away,” he says. “I will probably take official visits to schools like Miami, Michigan and maybe USC or UCLA. Also, I might visit Oregon State. It will be late before I make my decision.”
Taking an official would be a good sign for Michigan's chances to land him.
PA LB/DE Desimon Green will officially visit Michigan State, Texas Tech and Pitt, along with a couple other schools to be named later. He gave a slightly different top schools list to Tom, and is expecting a Michigan offer later this week.
TX LB Kellen Jones has picked up a Michigan offer, and called it "a dream come true" ($, info in header). THat sounds very promising should the Wolverines press him for a commitment.
Tom talked to OH LB Sean Duggan, who has Michigan in his top 5. However, it sounds like Notre Dame is a heavy favorite as long as they don't wait too long to offer. The Spartans offered him a couple days ago.
GA CB Avery Walls plans to visit Michigan at some point ($, info in header).
Tom also has (positive) updates on VA LB Corey Marshall, FL DE Giorgio Newberry, and NC LB Kris Frost, among others. Check out his post for the full info.
Michigan Sports Zone talked with NJ CB/RB Solomon Simpkins, and he mentioned that he has early interest in Michigan.
For all-time updates on recruits, check out the Michigan Football Recruiting Board. The technology has been working up lately, so you may need to re-login to get all the latest info.
In The Trenches
Covering the offensive and defensive lines.
The [Florida State] Seminoles, along with Florida, Miami, LSU, Clemson, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Louisville, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Florida International, Boston College, Duke, Maryland, Marshall, among others, have offered.
The most interesting part of the article to me was the following:
Athletic defensive end Giorgio Newberry (Fort Pierce, Fla./Central) doesn't mind that some believe his best position in college could be on the offensive line, while others say it is in the interior of the defensive line.
He says that many schools are telling him that he can play whichever position he prefers, and I wouldn't be surprised if Michigan one of those schools. They have a need for defensive linemen and offensive tackles, so he could hit campus and figure out where he fits in the best.
He was the defensive line MVP at the weekend's Miami Nike combine, but doesn't plan to take any more visits over the summer at this time.
NM OL Matt Hegarty plans to decide before his senior season ($, info in header). The 6-5, 265lb offensive tackle prospect planned to make it to Michigan last week, but didn't manage to get to Ann Arbor.
LA OL Trai Turner doesn't mention Michigan in this Rivals fluff. He sounds like a backup option for LSU and Aabama, but doesn't mention any other schools. He's spoken positively of the Wolverines in the past, and holds a verbal offer from the Wolverines.
AZ OL Christian Westerman will be narrowing his list of 25+ suitors sometime in the next month ($, info in header). Don't forget, he has mentioned in the past that he'd like to see Michigan's Spring Game.
A bit of fluff from The Gainesville Sun about IN DT Joel Hale, who was offered last week:
While the 6-foot-4, 290-pound Hale is listed as a defensive tackle, he said that he’s also being recruited as an offensive lineman by some schools, though he prefers defense. Florida is currently recruiting him as a defensive lineman.
“I can fit into that defensive tackle position fairly well — maybe the strong side end,” he said.
At 290 pounds, he would make a huge strongside end - though maybe that would work perfectly for Michigan's 3-man front. I've moved him from OL to DT on the recruiting board. The article confirms his Michigan offer, but he says he's thinking about heading south now that he's seeing interest from some SEC schools.
OH DT Kevin Williams will visit Nebraska for their annual spring game. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, Nebraska's scrimmage takes place on the same day as Michigan's spring game, so Williams will not be able to attend (assuming he does indeed travel to Lincoln).
Williams said he started putting the Huskers on his radar in the middle of last season. People kept telling him about this defensive lineman from Nebraska. You have to watch this guy, his high school coach told him. “So I watched him,” Williams said. “I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, Ndamukong Suh.’ And I’ve kind of been trying to pattern myself after him ever since.”
He’s also interested in schools like Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame and Stanford. No clear favorite yet. But the defensive tackle feels a strong connection with Nebraska’s coaching staff.
Michigan and Nebraska are regarded to be Williams's top two, and he's planning an early decision, so he could make a commitment shortly after his trip to Lincoln.
Quarterbacks And Quarterback-like Substances
"It raised my interest level in them and I can see myself there," Jones said after the visit. “It really was a good vibe, especially with their quarterback situation right now. I watched film and watched their whole practice, and they run the same offense we run here at Glenville, so it would be an easy transition."
Michigan hasn't signed a player from Glenville since Pierre Woods in 2001, partially due to a strained relationship between Ted Ginn Sr. and Lloyd Carr (and on the flipside, a verrrry close relationship with Jim Tressel). With the Buckeyes recruiting the quarterback position with a "Braxton Miller or bust" mentality, Jones is unlikely to grab an offer from the Scarlet and Gray, and could ultimately choose the Wolverines.
The Baltimore Sun brings some recruiting fluff on MD Ath/QB Darius Jennings:
The 24 schools that have offered Jennings are “Oregon, Stanford, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State..."
Notable only because Michigan is in the first couple schools he lists. As far as what position schools are recruiting him for:
"Some schools see me as a slot receiver, some as an all-purpose back, some as a corner, some are giving me the opportunity to try offense and defense -- whichever I prefer,” Jennings said... "All the schools I've talked to are recruiting me as a return man, and since we somewhat run the Wildcat in high school, a lot of schools are talking about me doing that as well."
Michigan is likely looking at him as a slot guy and return man. He plans to take the recruiting process slowly, taking several visits this summer in addition to all five of his officials in the fall. He doesn't currently have a list of top schools, but Iowa signed his teammate (and the son of Gilman's coach) Jim Poggi in the 2010 recruiting class.
Last Line Of Defense
Linebackers and DBs.
PA LB Ben Kline visited over the weekend ($, info in header). It wasn't his first visit, and he plans to make it back to Ann Arbor as well.
Longtime Michigan lean NC LB Kris Frost now has North Carolina near the top with the Wolverines ($, info in header). Frost is visiting Ann Arbor sometime this spring or summer, so Michigan should be able to re-widen the gap then.
PA CB Kyshoen Jarrett, who holds a Michigan offer, comes in for a round of fluff from the York Daily Record, primarily that he takes care of his older brother Daishawn, who suffers from cerebral palsy.
ESPN profiled OH CB Doran Grant (pictured at right), who has Michigan among his 30+ offers:
His decision likely will come down to MSU or Ohio State. The ESPNU 150 Watch List recruit says the two schools are even in his book...
Grant shied away from naming a top five but listed eight schools that he likes the most at this stage.
"These are not in order, but Michigan State, Ohio State, Georgia Tech, Michigan, West Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia and USC," he said.
Grant is an Under Armour All-American Game selection, but it looks like Michigan State and Ohio State are the only schools with a great chance to land him. He will make a decision in January or earlier:
"As of right now, that is when I'm going to make my decision: at the Under Armour [All-American] game or right before," he said. "That is the plan right now."
However, Grant could decide to pull the trigger earlier than that. He intends to give very close looks to Michigan State and Ohio State this spring on unofficial visits.
Grant recently spoke with Michigan's coaches, so maybe there's a chance for Michigan to make a run.
MI WR Commit Shawn Conway was "dominant" in the BadgerSports 7-on-7 in Ann Arbor last weekend ($, info in header). FL TE Jeff Heuerman, a Michigan legacy, should be receiving his Michigan offer soon. MD DT Vincent Croce was unable to make a planned visit to Ann Arbor earlier this winter, but he will make up for it by attending the Wolverines' spring game on April 17th ($, info in header). FL DE/TE Brandon Fulse is interested in visiting Michigan sometime ($, info in header). IN OL Kody Woods will visit Michigan over the summer. SC DE Gerald Dixon has a Michigan offer.
After a couple hectic weeks, this update is a more manageable. For all your recruiting needs, Don't forget about the 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board. It should be up to date, but if it's not, let me know. The technology has been acting wacky lately.
Demetrius Hart: The Saga Continues
The ongoing saga of FL RB Demetrius Hart (top right)continues, but this week's update brings an interesting quote from his teammate, FL S Hasean Clinton-Dix (bottom right):
"[I]f we feel like it's comfortable for both of us then that's what we're going to do," Clinton-Dix said of he and Hart attending the same school. "Like say we wanted to go to Florida. If he felt comfortable and I felt comfortable and that's where we want to be, then that's what we're going to do. But if I feel comfortable at Michigan and he feels comfortable at Illinois or somewhere, then we're just going to split up and keep in contact."
It's widely believed that Hart is the prospect with higher interest in Michigan (they're back in his top 3, for the record), so for Clinton-Dix to mention that the Wolverines have a chance to end up high on his list re-opens the possibility of a package deal for the pair, as long as Hart's spring game visit goes well. Of course, mentioning Michigan as a possibility is far different from saying they're one of his top schools: Clinton-Dix still maintains Alabama as his favorite.
I'm of the opinion that the spring game visit is not quite as important as how Michigan performs on the field this season. If they win, Michigan's shot is great. Otherwise, not so much. Hart is rumbling about a commit in the near future but also says he will take all five official visits, so that would be one of those soft commits.
Visits! Offers! Much, Much More!
MI DE Brennen Beyer plans to make a decision before the start of his senior season ($, info in header). Of course, Michigan fans are probably disappointed that he hasn't made a commitment yet, as he's been favoring the Wolverines and it seemed like a February decision was likely. However, I did see him at Michigan's practice yesterday, and he plans to be in Ann Arbor for the scrimmage on Saturday.
PA DE Deion Barnes plans to visit Ann Arbor for the Michigan Spring Game (April 17th, 1PM). Barnes attends Philadelphia Northeast High School, the alma mater of Michigan sophomore WR Je'Ron Stokes. Barnes is also firneds with Stokes' little brother, PA QB Malik Stokes.
FL WR Ja'Juan Story should be a bigtime prospect (as early offers from schools like Florida State and North Carolina imply), and both the Wolverines and Buckeyes have joined the fray.
The Buckeyes offered him a scholarship Tuesday and the Wolverines followed with an offer Thursday, Nature Coast assistant Robert Kazmier said. Story also received an offer from Georgia Tech last week.
"He's hot commodity," Kazmier said.
Michigan will probably take just one more outside receiver in this class with Shawn Conway already committed. MI WR DeAnthony Arnett is the elephant in the room, so to speak. It'll be interesting to see how the coaching staff manages all these offers to receivers.
mgoblog's own TomVH talked to FL QB Kevin Sousa, who's been hearing more from Michigan lately. His coach says that he's a perfect fit for a spread-option offense, and thinks that Michigan is Kevin's leader right now. If Michigan offers, there's a good chance he'd end up in Blue.
TX LB Anthony Wallace should be one of the top linebacker prospects in the nation, and he plans to make a visit to Michigan over the summer ($, info in header). He's a high school teammate of erstwhile Michigan commit Tony Drake, who ended up signing with (and qualifying at) Colorado State.
The Big Uglies
It should be very clear that Michigan's coaching staff understands that they have a pretty dire need for some offensive linemen, given the fact that I've had to devote a segment of the recruiting update to that position group in each of the past few weeks. No insult intended by the heading, by the way, I'm sure some of them are very handsome gentlemen.
Scout.com Midwest regional manager Allen Trieu added: "He's very athletic. He has great foot speed and agility for a bigger kid. Plus he's tough as nails. He's a guy that plays the game 100 percent, full bore all the time. If there's anything he needs to do, it's adding some weight. He's about 260 and you'd like to see that number go up while also keeping his speed.
"I think he's a high level college prospect on both sides of the ball, but I like him a little more on offense. I think he's a top five player in the state."
Next on the recruiting agenda for Zettel is learning as much about as many of his suitors as possible in the coming months. His decision timeline calls for him to make a choice prior his senior season. That means it could be late summer before he selects a school.
He originally planned a quicker decision because he didn't want Michigan's class to fill up (which, hint freakin' hint), but the Wolverines have told him they'll be able to save a spot in the 2011 class whenever he's ready to decide. I imagine he'll still get a commitment over with (to Michigan or another school) before his senior season. He visited for Notre Dame's Junior Day over the weekend, but did not receive an offer.
MI OL Bryan Bell has a top two of Michigan and Michigan State. He grew up a Wolverines fan, but doesn't yet hold an offer from the maize and blue. He plans to visit Ann Arbor for multiple spring practice sessions.
AZ OL Cyrus Hobbi gives a little lip service to academics:
"I want to be able to have a back-up plan if football doesn’t work out for me so education will always be key for me. I also want to go somewhere that I know I can get along well with the coaching staff and mix in well. The overall enviornment of the program will be key for me."
He also made similar comments to VolNation. Michigan is among his offers, but he hasn't stated whether Ann Arbor will be a stop on his summer tour. He has also been invited to participate in the Army All-American game, and will have to choose between that and the Under Armour game.
NM OL Matt Hegarty received a Michigan offer last week ($, info in header), and he was slated to visit Ann Arbor over the weekend, in conjunction with his junior day visit to Notre Dame. He didn't manage to make it, but may try for a return trip.
OH OL Michael Bennett has Michigan interest - and a timetable to make a decision ($, info in header). That likely means he'll be deciding sooner rather than later. He holds a Michigan offer, and wil try to visit Michigan sometime this spring.
Michigan is still one of the leaders for AZ OL Andre Yruretagoyena.
Michigan has offered an offensive lineman from Indiana ($, info in header). Detective work says it's IN OL Joel Hale.
MI Ath/TE/LB Taiwan Jones committed to Michigan State.
The Wolverines have apparently offered FL RB/Ath DeVondrick Nealy. Michigan has offered SC WR Charone Peak. Michigan has offered FL CB Nick Waisome. MD Ath Deandre Scott visited for the Night of Champions ($, info in header). Michigan apparently offered FL LB Keith Lewis last week. FL LB Kent Turene is still hearing from Michigan, but they haven't extended an offer yet. FL RB Mike Bellamy has interest in Michigan ($, info in header), and is planning a visit. Rivals is now showing an offer for FL DE Giorgio Newberry. Brief Michigan mention on a Phoenix-area website talking about the Wolverines' presence in the area over the past couple classes.