I did not make this headline up
Even though Devin Funchess is
more of a wide receiver these days, the tight end position is once again a prominent piece in the Michigan offense. Jake Butt had great success as a true freshman and Ian Bunting looks like a Funchess-style matchup problem who could grow into a combo star in the future. The 2015 class for Michigan is expected to be around 15 or so and the coaches would like for two of those spots to go to tight ends. At this point five tight ends have been offered and two of them do seem like possible eventual commits. There are multiple others who have been in contact with the coaches to some degree and may earn an offer moving forward.
Devonaire Clarington – Champagnat Catholic – Hialeah, FL (★★★★ .9535)
Clarington is a Funchess-type of athlete at 6’6” and just over 220 lbs. and could be the same type of weapon at the next level. While he holds a Michigan offer I don’t see much of a chance he ends up in Ann Arbor. Clarington told me that he hears the most from Miami, living just miles from campus it’s easy to understand why. He also said this his entire recruitment is extremely difficult to sort through. He says that he has no leader and all teams are even right now, but I’m pretty confident that Ann Arbor won’t be his future home.
Chris Clark – Avon Old Farms – Avon, CT (★★★★ .9386)
Chris Clark surprised a lot of people by committing to North Carolina just a few days ago, including me. I intro’d Chris back in December when he only had 10 offers, a list that didn’t include Michigan at the time and when he committed he had over 40. I had actually been in pretty regular contact with Chris as he was set to visit Ann Arbor this upcoming weekend and I didn’t get the slightest feeling that the Tarheels had a chance with him. I actually thought he’d be a Wolverine, Buckeye, or a Sun Devil based on our conversations. He told me that in the end North Carolina just felt like home to him when he visited. He also cited the way that UNC uses their tight ends as a reason he liked them and that the recent success of Eric Ebron was a good testament to that. Chris was really looking forward to his visit to Ann Arbor but the charm of Chapel Hill won him over before the visit happened.
Hale Hentges – Helias – Jefferson City, MO (★★★★ .9378)
Hentges told me that he and Chris Clark are actually close friends and talked about their recruitment weekly and even he was surprised by Clark’s commitment to Carolina. That being said, Hentges may be the new top target for Michigan and they are preparing for his visit the weekend of April 4th. Hentges actually spoke with Coach Ferrigno the day I spoke with him and he said he was getting anxious to check out Ann Arbor. Hentges rattled off an unofficial top 5 of Michigan, Ohio State, Alabama, Florida State, and LSU when I asked him what schools he was serious about. He plans to visit all of those schools and possibly a few others. Hentges will not camp at Michigan this summer be he said he would like to see a game during the fall. Competition will be stiff for him, but his upcoming visit to Ann Arbor could really help Michigan’s chances.
Tyrone Wheatley Jr. – Canisius – Buffalo, NY (★★★★ .9252)
“TJ” as he’s known, is thought of by most as a virtual Michigan lock, but everything he has ever told me doesn’t necessarily support that. He was very open with me when I asked him about his recruitment.
I have no leaders or favorites. My recruitment is still wide open and I’m talking to new schools every day. I was recently offered by Louisville and Auburn so I’m still just trying to get to know everyone and see all of my options. I’m still not even sure if I want to play tight end or defensive end at the next level.
247Sports has 25 Crystal Ball predictions for Wheatley Jr. and 100% of them say Michigan is the future spot for him. I asked him about that and asked him to clarify why “expert opinions” are so strong in favor of the Wolverines and his answer was pretty interesting.
I mean they probably think that because my dad played there and I have lived there, but you’d really have to ask them how they came up with that because I’ve honestly never spoken to any of them. I myself wonder sometimes how they come up with that stuff. I mean I have talked with some of the Michigan guys (I mentioned Lorenz, Webb, Sullivan) but not in a while, but there’s like 25+ predictions. I’ve talked with like four people.
Wheatley Jr. says he’d like to take officials but won’t know where to until much later in the process. He is not looking that far ahead yet, he’s just trying to succeed in the now.
It obviously wouldn’t surprise anyone if Wheatley Jr. eventually did choose Michigan, but I don’t believe it’s 100% guaranteed like many might think. TJ has a stacked offer list and Michigan isn’t the only place he could make an impact.
Jalen Wilkerson – Coffee – Douglas, GA (★★★ .8845)
Wilkerson is a Georgia product that doesn’t appear to be leaving the south as 247Sports says he’s high on Florida State, Auburn, and Alabama. Wilkerson hasn’t responded to me recently and his name is almost never brought up in Michigan circles. He doesn’t appear to be a realistic option.
[after the jump: targets]
Damien Harris and Nussmeier, BFFForeverever!!!! [MFRHQ Facebook Group]
I plan to add to the few prospects that I didn’t hear back from yet, but I wanted to post the information that I did gather. Still waiting for responses from some of them; those will be added as they come in this evening.
CB Shaun Crawford - It was great! We toured campus, ate together, and watched the game!
K Andrew David – It was awesome! I’ve never been to a basketball game there before but it was a crazy atmosphere! I couldn’t have picked a better first game though. I got to catch up with some of the other guys which was nice too. I talked with Jake Ryan and Dymonte Thomas who are close friends of mine. I was with Shaun Crawford and Tyree Kinnel most of the time. I was next to Thiyo Lukusa for a while during the game and he was enjoying it to say the least. (laughs) I talked to a couple of the 2016 guys. They seemed really enthusiastic with everything.
S Tyree Kinnel – It was great!
ATH Brian Cole
LB Tyriq Thompson – It was nice, I had a good time. I got a chance to meet the entire staff for the first time. It was a laid back visit. I just sat back and enjoyed the game. Of course I like Michigan but I don't have a leader right now. I'll probably visit again when spring practices start. After that I want to focus on my senior season and my team before I even think about making a decision. No commitment plans or anything like that will happen until my senior season is over.
LB Darrin Kirkland Jr. – It was a great day and a great overall experience. I really hope they pull the trigger soon! The coaches and I did talk about an offer a little bit. They said that they would call me later this week. I could see myself as a Wolverine and if they offer I will strongly consider them.
LB Troy Henderson – It was amazing! From talking to the coaches, the game, meeting the other recruits, and seeing the facilities. I could definitely see myself rocking the Maize and Blue!
LB Asmar Bilal – It was good. Great tradition, winners, with nice facilities! The stadium was huge! Yeah, it was nice overall. The coaches didn’t mention an offer they just said they were going to keep in tough and that they brought me there for a reason. I could possibly see myself playing there.
RB Damien Harris
TE Austin Ervin – It was really good. I was able to see the practice field, walked onto the game field, interacted a lot with the coaches, and of course the basketball game was fun. Talking with the coaches was real casual. Coach Ferrigno wants me to come to camp this summer to see my blocking skills. He already likes how I can spread out, my athleticism, my hands, my ball skills, but he wants to see me block on the line.
TE David Edwards – It was great! It really stuck out to me that the coaches are extremely committed to making sure that you're set for life after football. Their athletic advisors set up a program and they have this huge networking. There was a lot of emphasis on education.
TE/OL Harrison Moon – Loved it! I had a great first visit! We didn’t talk about an offer but hopefully one will come through. I got to meet the coaches, see the facilities and the academic areas, eat, watch the basketball game and toured The Big House. The Big House was crazy! It was the coolest stadium I’ve ever seen. It’s a special place. If Michigan decides to offer me I’d still keep my options open because it’s early, but they are definitely a place of interest. I would really like to go back up there and just keep building the relationships. I think we will try to get back up there this spring or over the summer.
ATH Daelin Hayes – The visit was great. (Daelin said he is waiting until tomorrow for other comments.)
OL Thiyo Lukusa – It was sweet, super fun! I decided to put my commitment on hold for now. I just have to be 100% sure. The visit and the activities were 1st class as always. I’m still all Michigan right now but I just want to enjoy my recruitment.
WR Desmond Fitzpatrick (via his father, Greg) – It was a great visit! We took a tour that included the academic center, The Big House, the weight room, and we also met the entire staff. After all of that we attended the basketball game. We also spent time with the new offensive coordinator, Doug Nussmeier and spent a ton of 1-on-1 time with Coach Heck. An offer wasn’t specifically mentioned, but I feel as though Desmond is on the right track based on the growing relationship and the evaluation of his film. We never talk about potential offers. He knows that if he continues to get bigger and stronger, the offers will come. The coaches were shocked when they saw how much he’s grown since they last saw him. He measured in at 6’2” and 184 lbs. He’s working hard hitting the weights, running track, and playing 7 on 7. That’s the regimen for the next few months. We develop this work ethic now and it becomes second nature later.
*Dre’Mont Jones, Mike Weber, Ray Buford Jr., and Kentrail Moran didn’t end up making the trip.
This weekend’s basketball game has huge implications in the B1G standings and something like above would be marvelous. Taking advantage of the expectedly electred atmosphere in Crisler Arena, the coaches scheduled a junior day for the big game. A few younger prospects will also be on hand for the biggest recruiting event of the year thus far. I heard back from about 50 prospects and each one will be listed and labeled with information as I dig it up.
CB Shaun Crawford
K Andrew David
S Tyree Kinnel
ATH Brian Cole
CB Ray Buford Jr.
DE Dre’Mont Jones (maybe, basketball schedule may interfere)
LB Tyriq Thompson
LB Darrin Kirkland Jr.
LB Troy Henderson
LB Asmar Bilal
RB Damien Harris
RB Mike Weber
TE Austin Ervin
TE David Edwards
TE/OL Harrison Moon
ATH Daelin Hayes
OL Thiyo Lukusa (commit watch)
RB Kentrail Moran
WR Desmond Fitzpatrick
OL Jon Runyan Jr. (will visit March 8 & 9)
CB Garrett Taylor (will visit for a spring practice)
CB Minkah Fitzpatrick
DE Darian Roseboro
DE Jake Pickard (will visit during the summer)
DE Josh Alabi
DE Jashon Cornell (visiting Ole Miss this weekend, no plans to visit at this time)
LB Josh Barajas (visited for Wisconsin game, may visit again for spring practice)
LB Jerome Baker (will visit for a spring practice)
LB Jake Cooper (has frequent contact with staff, no plans to visit at this time)
LB Justin Hilliard (would like to visit for a spring practice)
OL Drew Richmond (has no plans to visit at this time)
OL Sterling Jenkins (will visit for a spring practice)
OL Gabe Megginson (high interest, would like a Michigan offer)
OL Grant Newsome (will visit for a spring practice)
QB Nick Johns (will visit during his spring break)
QB Brandon Wimbush (will visit for a spring practice)
QB Ryan Willis (focusing more on schools that have offered, waiting on more interest)
QB Alex Malzone (will visit for a spring practice)
QB Riley Neal (not much contact since hiring of Nussmeier)
QB Jon Wassink (very interested, not much contact since hiring of Nussmeier)
RB Andrew Dowell (would like to visit for a spring practice)
S Omari Stringer (would like to visit for a spring practice)
TE Chris Clark (will visit March 22)
TE Tyrone Wheatley Jr. (will visit for a spring practice)
TE Austin Dorris (will visit March 1)
TE CJ Conrad (will visit for a spring practice)
TE Cole Chewins (has no plans to visit at this time)
WR David Dowell (would like to visit for a spring practice)
Dramatization. The real song our coaches sing on road trips is ram-a-lamma-ding-dong. Insiders believe Nussmeier could be the tenor the staff has been lacking.
The Michigan coaches have been traveling all over the country checking in on commits, offerees, and targets in recent weeks. I have been reaching out to recruits for the past couple of days to see who has been visited or who still might be. I’m sure this list isn’t all-encompassing but I was able to get in touch with a lot of prospects from the 2015 class. I mean A LOT of prospects:
Athletes and Defensive Backs
ATH David Dowell & RB Andrew Dowell – Lakewood, OH/St. Edward – Teammates of Shaun Crawford, the Dowell brothers were visited by Coach Mattison in the early part of the week and he told them he’d like them to come up for a visit, but it’s not planned yet.
ATH Osa Masina – Salt Lake City, UT/Brighton – Masina wasn’t visited this time around but Coach Hoke and Coach Ferrigno did visit him back in mid-December. There aren’t a ton of reasons to stop in Utah so visits to Salt Lake City will probably be few and far between.
ATH Jerome Baker – Cleveland, OH/Benedictine – Baker holds a Michigan offer and was visited by Coach Mattison on Tuesday and says that he is feeling Michigan a lot.
|Cole could wind up the top-ranked player in the state. [Sam Webb]|
ATH Brian Cole – Saginaw, MI – Heritage – Cole was visited by Coach Hoke earlier in the week.
CB Kei Beckham – Trotwood, OH/Trotwood-Madison – Coach Smith stopped by Trotwood-Madison on Friday but Beckham missed him due to his class schedule. TMHS is a frequent stop for the coaching staff so Beckham is confident he’ll see them again.
CB Marcus Lewis – Washington, DC/Gonzaga – One of four prospects to chat with Coach Mallory from Gonzaga. Lewis really liked Coach Mallory and plans to stay in close touch with him moving forward.
CB Iman Marshall – Long Beach, CA/Poly – Marshall’s father told me that a Michigan coach stopped in to see his son on Monday of last week, he was unsure of who it was but I’d guess Ferrigno.
[After the jump: look at the tags above. There's a lot.]