THE IMPORTANT THING: What Time Do I Need To Take A Break From Watching Arrested Development on Sunday?
Jabrill Peppers announces his college decision on Sunday at 5:15 pm ET on ESPNU. Everything we've seen and heard for the last several weeks—Gerry Hamilton's contrarianism notwithstanding—points to a Michigan commitment. While Peppers is declining to take interviews until his announcement, his coach is making the media rounds and claims that his star athlete isn't quite sure of his decision yet:
Representatives from the University of Michigan visited Paramus Catholic last week and spent much of the day there, inquiring about the Garden State's top athlete. The Wolverines are thought to take a commanding lead for his services into the weekend, although the star athlete has yet to officially solidify which school he will be selecting, Sunday.
"He doesn't know, just yet," [Paramus Catholic coach Chris] Partridge told NJ.com. "He's still visiting schools this week."
Although Partridge was reluctant to release the list of schools Peppers will be taking a look at during the final days of his recruiting process, there has been speculation that he will make a stop at Rutgers some time this week.
I'm not saying Peppers' coach is just doing his best to add some suspense—and there's nothing wrong with that—but I'll just leave this quote here:
“I know and feel very confident in the decision I’m going to make,” said Peppers.
Okay, I'm saying Peppers' coach is just doing his best to add some suspense. That's my last word on Peppers until Sunday, when there will either be many more words or we'll be attempting to salvage the flaming wreckage of the MGoBoard.
Chase Winovich Update: More Of The Same
PA LB Chase Winovich still has Michigan in his top three (with Ohio State and Pitt), is still contemplating visits (definitely to Pitt, unsure of others), and, yes, is still giving really confusing quotes to reporters, per Sam Webb ($):
That consistent focus that trio of favorites combined with his aforementioned decision timeline was fodder for speculation about a commitment being forthcoming. One recent report went a step beyond speculating and indicated that a decision next week was imminent, a claim that Winovich denies.
"I think the question (from the reporter) was 'is it possible that I could commit to a school after my Pitt visit?'," he recalled. "I think I said, 'yeah, anything is possible.' He said, 'could you let me know so I could put you on a commit watch?' So I said, 'yeah, anything is possible.'" (Laughter).
For the record, Winovich is still in deliberation mode with no definite decision date in sight.
I've said previously that I've heard optimism from both the Michigan and Ohio State sides regarding their chances with Winovich; the above may give a hint as to why. I claim no insider info here, but I switched my prediction for him from U-M to OSU yesterday, because it appears the Wolverines are picking up interest in other OLB prospects—something I doubt they would do if they were confident Winovich would take the final linebacker spot.
[Late-Breaking NOTE: Ohio State just added a commitment from linebacker Dante Booker, but according to 247's Steve Wiltfong the Buckeyes would still accept a commitment from Winovich($). Bad news for Michigan, good news for me not having to rewrite this entire section.]
After a period in which they'd fallen out of contact, Michigan and Crete (IL) Monee four-star LB Nyles Morgan have reconnected, and Morgan told GBW's Josh Newkirk that he's still interested in the Wolverines ($):
“Coach (Curt) Mallory came by,’ [Morgan] said. “I also talked with (defensive coordinator) Greg Mattison on the phone last week. He said he would be by this week.”
With the Wolverine coaching staff accelerating their efforts to connect with Morgan, he said he would like to build a better relationship with Mattison.
“I just want to have a good conversation with him,” he said. “I had previously good conversations with him before. At Michigan we had real good conversation. That was pretty nice, too. I just want to get to know him a little better and have him get to know me.”
Morgan mentioned the possibility of visiting either for July's BBQ at the Big House or a game this fall; he's not in any hurry to decide, so Michigan could still become a contender for his signature.
According to 247's Clint Brewster($), linebackers coach Roy Manning spent seven hours(!!) with Florida prospect Darrion Owens and claimed he is their "top target" at linebacker. Owens received an offer a month ago and—at 6'3", 225 pounds—has the frame to play on the strong side.
Four-star LA LB Kenny Young—who claims a very strong list of offers—hasn't been mentioned as a major possibility for the Wolverines, but he has them on a list of schools he'd like to see, per Rivals' Jason Howell ($):
What schools does he plan to check out?
"Like the Florida schools - Florida, Florida State, Miami," Young said. "Those three, I'll also try to visit Arkansas, Tennessee, Michigan… Arizona State."
Michigan still has a very real chance with Winovich; that said, it's clear that they're also exploring other options in case they need one.
[Hit THE JUMP for updates on four top 2014 targets—including one discussing a possible commitment—as well as news on Michigan's 2015 QB offeree and much more.]
Before I get into the recruiting roundup, I'm planning a recruiting mailbag post for tomorrow and could use a couple more questions. If you've got one (or more!) please send me an email or tweet it to me. Now back to your regularly scheduled Jabrill Peppers update.
Jabrill Peppers Heat Status: Infinity Chilli
If you somehow haven't watched this just do it already. Yes, all of it.
As the recruitment of Jabrill Peppers evolves, Michigan's chances of landing the five-star corner appear to be getting better and better. The latest news from Peppers is that he's moving up his decision timeline and putting Penn State back in the mix—he'll make a May 18th visit to Happy Valley per 247's Steve Wiltfong ($) [emphasis mine]:
“They never left the picture,” [Paramus Catholic head coach Chris] Partridge said of Penn State. “Them and Michigan were his top visits. He decided he wanted to move up his decision timeline. He doesn’t have any negatives about Penn State. Them or Michigan. He wants to go and stay overnight at Penn State.”
Peppers is still aiming to get to Stanford before deciding.
“He is looking to commit sometime in early June,” Partridge said.
Peppers previously visited Penn State on February 20th, and while his coach is now talking up the visit there wasn't nearly the same over-the-moon reaction in the immediate aftermath as he had post-Michigan. Securing a second visit from Peppers is remarkably impressive for Bill O'Brien and PSU considering the circumstances; it seems unlikely they'd be able to overtake Michigan. This is very important considering the next bit of visit-related news:
2014 DB Jabrill Peppers hasn't cancelled his Stanford visit but it is proving difficult to plan around his track schedule, per his coach.
— The M Block (@TheMBlock) May 8, 2013
Despite finding it difficult to reschedule his trip to Stanford, Peppers is moving up his timeline. Even the staunchest of pessimists has to take that as a very good sign for Michigan's chances.
As it stands, it's hard to see a scenario in which Peppers sticks to his new timeline and doesn't choose the Wolverines. Penn State—and, if he makes the trip, Stanford—is still a threat, but there's more than one reason for Peppers to take a final visit: not only does he want to make sure he's making the right decision, he's got a high school teammate—QB Steve Shanley—who visited Happy Valley with him in February and is still hoping for a Nittany Lion offer.
PSU insiders certainly seem less optimistic than their Michigan counterparts—for good reason, with the sanctions and all. If early June is really the decision timeline, the Wolverines are going to be very tough to beat here. The current commits certainly seem to think so—either Drake Harris knows something we don't or he's just a very confident recruiter, via Sam Webb ($):
When asked if he thinks Michigan has a good chance of landing Peppers’ after their private conversations?
Harris replied, “I’ll just say we have good chance.”
Do you feel good where things stand with Peppers?
“I feel great!” Harris replied with a coy smile confidently.
Go ahead, watch that highlight tape again, and allow yourself to get a little excited.
[Hit THE JUMP for more from last weekend's camps, this weekend's visitor list, notes on new offers, and more.]
"East Lansing's Big Ten Team" Doesn't Have The Same Allure, For Some Reason
It's been a quiet week, relatively speaking, for Michigan recruiting, so today's roundup kicks off with an update on the program making a serious run for the #3 spot in the Big Ten recruiting rankings: Northwestern.
Yes, you read that right.
No, seriously, you read that right.
The Wildcats built upon their on-field success under Pat Fitzgerald with a solid recruiting class in 2013, landing consensus four-star QB Matt Alviti, underrated RB Godwin Igwebuike, and a solid group of three-stars—not just Midwest kids, either, with signees hailing from Texas (3), California (3), Florida, and New Jersey.
On the heels of a ten-win season and their first bowl win in 63 years, Northwestern is now poised to put together their best recruiting class in... ever? The Wildcats have already hauled in another four-star signal-caller, Clayton Thorson, giving Northwestern future four-star depth at quarterback, a position where they've already managed to turn an array of middling recruits with varying levels of scrambling ability into competent (at the very least) conductors of their up-tempo spread in recent years. Now the Wildcats have jumped up to 19th(!) in the 247 Composite Team Rankings after reeling in MI OL Tommy Doles and OH ATH Dareian Watkins in the last week.
Doles, of course, was long thought to be a heavy Michigan lean—I lost count of the number of times the Grand Rapids Christian product has been on campus in the last year. Given his other offers—Army, Air Force, Iowa State, and Northwestern—and the fact that he seemed on the verge of committing for months, it appears Doles' choice has as much to do with Michigan backing off as Northwestern coming on strong; regardless, the Wolverines should be fine when it comes to O-line recruiting, and the academic-minded Doles found a great fit from an on- and off-field perspective in Evanston.
Watkins, who announced his choice this morning, is the more interesting example of a prospect choosing the Wildcats over several Big Ten (and beyond) options previously thought to be more desirable. Michigan State was his other finalist, and he also held offers from Illinois, Iowa, Louisville, Maryland, NC State, Penn State, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, among others. When Watkins' father explained his choice, Northwestern's academics were cited as a huge reason for the commitment, but the football reasons played a large role as well ($) [emphasis mine]:
"We're all very very excited about the chance to go to Northwestern. We think it's not just an amazing academic opportunity, but an amazing football opportunity. The academics overshadow the football part sometimes, but Coach Fitz has turned the program around. They were 10-3 last year, won the Gator Bowl against an SEC football team, and he was 2-0 against the SEC last year. We think it's undervalued what they are as a football program. As much he chose a life path, he's also very competitive. He wants to be part of a Big Ten Championship and compete for national championships and we think that can be done at Northwestern."
We'll, um, see about the national championships, but there's no question Fitzgerald has put the program in a position to contend for conference titles.
Unlike me, Brian is willing to wade into the shallow end* of the RCMB, and he passed along this glorious response to the usual unhinged ranting following Watkins pledging to Not Michigan State:
*There is no deep end, thankfully. It's actually an inflatable kiddie pool filled with horse manure.
[For the rest of the roundup, including updates on Jamarco Jones, Clifton Garrett, and Jae'Sean Tate, hit THE JUMP.]
Michigan's extremely-critical 2014 class has a couple of guys who already sport offers but have not committed for reasons that are unclear to me. I mean srsly, you can play for Pilot Walter White in a fun system and go to the Final Four. Commit already you guys.
IN SF Vince Edwards, a guy with a median ranking around 60, says he's down to Michigan and Purdue and is looking for love. These things may not seem related, but they are.
"Just show me, you know?" Edwards said. "Just show me that you're interested. Just show me like you've been showing me."
Edwards on his finalists:
"I like both," Edwards said. "Honestly, I like Michigan because I really think their offense fits my style. Being a 6-7 wing who can shoot, that really fits in with Coach Beilein. He likes guys who can do that, so I think I can really fit in well with him and his offense and he thinks so, too.
"With Coach Painter, what I really like about Purdue is -- they're both actually great coaches -- but Coach Painter had to take some guys and develop them this year and you could tell by the way he coaches that he's a great coach. He can develop players really well."
Purdue's supposed to be in the tentative lead for some reason. I mean, what does Beilein have to do to prove he can develop guys?
Maybe he has to have a who-dat postgrad point guard go off for 17 points in the national championship ga—oh yeah that actually happened and was not a crazy dream we all had collectively. In conclusion, Matt Painter smells faintly of gasoline and Vince Edwards has an obvious choice.
Michigan's after MS SG Devin Booker, of course, and while one suitor probably took itself off the table when Duke took a commitment from big-timer Grayson Allen at Booker's position, Kentucky has now offered. Goody.
Touted 2015 center Stephen Zimmerman plans a visit, as does($) CA PG Sedrick Barefield. That class is the one in which Michigan's Final Four run should really open up possibilities. It helps with 2014, but the guys they're after are for the most part still the same guys they were after before.
Who's next, Malcolm Streamers lol zing
I AM TALL ARE YOU TALL CHANTEL IT'S TOUGH TO TELL BECAUSE PEOPLE UP TO EIGHT FEET SHORTER THAN ME ARE STILL TALL SOMETIMES
Michigan picked up their tight end in Ian Bunting, a 3/4 star tweener at the moment who should rise this fall if he can stay on the field for a change. Bunting has the offer list of a clear top 100 guy (M, ND, OSU, OU, USC, etc.) and enormous skillet-sized hands on a 6'7" frame. There is the Hello post; 247 also posted some extra analysis($) after that went up:
Similar to Michigan’s Devin Funchess, Bunting should be a great weapon in the red-zone against smaller defenders. Bunting shows strong hands with the ability to extend and pluck the ball out of the air. … I really like Bunting’s burst in and out of his breaks for as tall and long as he is. The ceiling is very high for Bunting, especially being in a very tight end friendly system at Michigan.
I am hyped about Bunting, and I hear the coaches are too. He was the proverbial #1 TE on their board—and a lot of others.
Actually it's probably Mo Ways
Ways is on campus as you read this. It's hat-eatin' time if he doesn't commit today.
And then probably Kyron Watson
Kyron Watson terrifies Alex Anzalone
IL LB Kyron Watson features in a freebie by Allen Trieu in which his coach flat-out states he's a visit away from a commitment:
"His top two, I think, honestly are Michigan of course and Kansas. Michigan because it’s Michigan. Kansas, it's because of Reggie Mitchell. He's great recruiter for our type of kids, which I’ll call inner-city kids. … I believe, and I can’t speak for Kyron, but as soon as he gets a visit to Michigan, I believe he'll walk away committed to them."
Pencil that in. The days when Charlie Weis could keep kids from Ann Arbor are long over. As for what kind of player Watson is, your keyword is "violent":
It only takes a play or two of Kyron Watson's highlight tape to understand what you're dealing with. The 6'1, 220-pound junior made 142 tackles last season, but it was the three or four at the start of his tape, violent de-cleaters, which immediately caught the eyes of college coaches. …
"He's always been an aggressive kid. Towards the end of year, he began to understand it and blew up in terms of physical contact and meeting them in the hole. He's a special kid. As he grew, the impact of hips became a little more damaging. He came in at like 160-165-pounds. He's 220 now. In two years, he gained basically 60 pounds."
His best other offers are Missouri, Minnesota, Purdue, Illinois, and MSU; he does have a believer in ESPN.
And eventually Parrker Westphal
Sullivan catches up with the guy I invariably call a Todd Howard protégé in a lengthy article that confirms a lot of what we already know about him: ie, that he'll probably commit sooner or later. He's got an interesting top five($) forming:
"I told the Michigan coaches that whatever list that I cut down, whether it's a top five or top three, they'll be in it," he said. I'll make that cut probably the summer. I'm hoping earlier, but we'll see. No [other schools have a spot on that list] so far, but Northwestern and Vanderbilt, they're ranked pretty high because academically and athletically they're pretty good. They'll probably be in it.
Always good to see a guy with Vandy and Northwestern as serious options consider M, as those kind of kids are low-attrition sorts that often pick M even when ND, OSU, and Florida are options, as they are for Westphal.
Westphal wants to make a decision before his high school season, which means anyone trying to catch Michigan will have to do so without the opportunity for an official visit.
Also: Westphal talked a lot about how Michigan wants to blitz him, so he may be destined for the nickelback/safety spot that Dymonte Thomas is currently slotted in.
And then those Paramus guys
ESPN's Jared Shanker catches up with both. NJ OL Juwann Bushell-Beatty had previously declared Michigan his leader and basically confirms that:
The Wolverines are in a strong position for the top 10 tackle nationally following the two-day visit earlier this month, which he took with five-star teammate Jabrill Peppers.
“It just felt like a lot of what I was looking for,” the four-star said. “Everything felt like a family. The player felt like real guys; the coaches felt like real guys.”
He maintains a top three of M, Boston College, and Florida, and says he has offers from all plus FSU, Miami, and Tennessee. He says he'll probably pull the trigger in the next couple months.
As for NJ CB Jabrill Peppers, this is a tantalizing headline($) for a guy who just declared Michigan his leader:
Peppers should know future school soon
The money quote:
“Definitely after I visit Stanford I should have it pretty clear where I want to go,” Peppers said.
The five-star cornerback is coming off April trips to LSU, Michigan and Ohio State, and while Peppers did not tip his hand, people close to the dynamic two-way athlete say Michigan has a sizeable lead of those three. He has listed Stanford as his No. 1 for several months and will visit Palo Alto before officially dropping them from the top of his list.
HOWEVA, Peppers isn't going to commit after the Stanford visit, at least not publicly. He plans to take a couple of officials after his high school season, at which point he may as well just announce at an All-Star game. Hopefully that'll be one of those anticlimactic ones.
Touted DC CB Jalen Tabor visited yesterday as part of a team-wide swing through the Midwest. AZ OL Casey Tucker decommits from USC($), may poke around Michigan, doubt we see much come of this. PA S Montae Nicholson has many offers($), refreshingly seems to not give two hoots about deciding between them. Michigan is mentioned in a quasi-top eight.
IL DE Terry Beckner, Watson's HS teammate, was one of the best performers($) at the St. Louis Rivals camp:
2. DE TERRY BECKNER JR., EAST ST. LOUIS, ILL. (2015)
Despite Hendrix's dominating performance on Sunday, his was not a walkaway MVP win because Beckner nearly matched his interconference foe in level of domination. Beckner is an imposing 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds and shows an advanced technical grasp of his position for a sophomore. He plays with great pad level and has exceptionally fast hands. Most impressive was his two-rep win over four-star offensive guard D.J. Foster, who has been nearly unbeatable in past camps.
"Terry will be, at some point, this is my early prediction, a top ten player next year. For his age and size, the skill set he has, he’s a very dominant player and will only get better. He gave what they consider a top 100 player, Dewayne Hendrix, a run for his money as being the best guy there at the camp on Sunday. The sky’s the limit. He will even play a little offense this year. Terry, I believe, will be the first five-star at East St. Louis in this era."
Beckner has the local offers: Illinois, Kansas, Mizzou, Purdue, Nebraska.
Touted Mason Cole teammate and FL WR George Campbell shrinks to 6'3" in this article—a lot of places list him at 6'5"—in which he talks about the broken hand keeping him out of action and says he's talking to Michigan, Auburn, and A&M. He also went to the Vandy and Florida spring games.
QB commit Wilton Speight picks up a Miami offer.
YOU'RE A TALLER. User Bombadil reports that Ian Bunting is still getting mail from Mississippi State, too.
This may be fake but probably not.
With men's swimming bringing home a title of their own plus the basketball team's run to the final, Michigan is actually threatening Stanford's Director's Cup hegemony. When the Director's Cup releases their updated standings tomorrow Michigan should be on top of the rankings with only a few sports left: golf, base/softball, track and field, women's water polo, women's lacrosse, and men's volleyball.
Michigan's pretty good at some of those… but, uh, unfortunately Stanford is better.
Top 25 Rankings for Stanford in spring sports, most rankings updated last weekend:
Softball - 16
Men's Golf - 8
Women's Golf - 12
Baseball - receiving votes
Women's T&F - 9
Women's Water Polo - 1
Men's Volleyball - 6
Women's Rowing - 9
Women's Tennis – 12
This is how you dominate the Director's Cup since a year after its inception. If you want even more details, the board has you covered.
Goodbye, 11 to 15 minutes. Draft Express's Trey Burke draft video is all kinds of fun. Even the five minutes dedicated to Burke drawbacks features a number of Kobe assists or shoulda-been Kobe assists:
What an awesome player.
YER A BALLERZ. The NCAA 14 cover:
Will I buy this crap-pile of a game from the worst company in America because it has Denard Robinson on the cover? Maybe. Have they fixed the kangaroo linebackers yet? Made any positive changes to gameplay since 2004?
- #34 JT Compher
- #49 Michael Downing
- #84 Tyler Motte
- #111 Nolan De Jong
- #136 Alex Kile
- #142 Andrew Copp
- #157 Evan Allen
2014 recruit Dexter Dancs fell out of the rankings after being 154th in the midterm. Everyone went up save Compher, who dropped from #20. Default reminder: the CSB has separate lists for goalies and Europeans, so add 30% to each guy's ranking to get a projected draft spot. FWIW, Compher and Downing have appeared in a lot of first round mock drafts I've seen.
So. Michigan's class may lack a Trouba-level dominant star, but it is extremely deep. Everyone who's coming in next year* save recent goalie pickup Zach Nagelvoort and Bryson Cianfrone is likely to get picked in the upcoming draft. Kile in particular is a bonus after being passed over a year ago. He nearly doubled his points in the USHL this year and gives Michigan another option for a scoring-line forward.
That helps make up for the fade from Cianfrone, who was headed for the first round of the OHL draft before his Michigan commitment. He's off NHL draft radars and has a 6-15-21 line in the USHL this year. He is a 5'8" kid who's coming in as an 18 year old, so you can construct a picture in which he still develops into what he was supposed to be a couple years ago.
Anyway: strong incoming class that hopefully sticks around long enough to be impact upperclassmen. And how about Andrew Copp?
*[Spencer Hyman and Max Shuart may also arrive, but neither signed a LOI so I assume they are walking on.]
And we're done. Show us what we've won. Oh, it's a wheezing dog and a dead iguana. Jim Delany on further Big Ten expansion:
"Given everything that has gone on, yes," Delany said when asked about the ACC’s deal cementing the current five major conferences to their respective lineups.
Although Delany said the 16-team superconference format was also "an arbitrary number" that he wasn’t part of, the Big Ten was open to further expansion. ... There still is the possibility that a team from the SEC (Missouri) could leave for the Big Ten -- the SEC has no grant of rights or exit fee -- but that’s a pipe dream, at best.
So here we are. Playing Rutgers and Maryland every year, and not Iowa and Wisconsin and Nebraska. It's hard not to see Delany as a giant middle finger to fans, just walkin' around. Mighty big hand you escaped from there. Tell us more about media markets. Please, yes, just like that. Yes. Like that. About media markets.
What is a name, anyway? The powers that be paid someone millions of dollars to tell them to call the college football playoff "College Football Playoff." Nice work if you can get it. Not quite as good as Bill Hancock's job, which is to say whatever the hell he wants at any time without bothering to pretend he believes it.
That is not actually a name. If you call your dog "dog" you have not named him but described him. It is bad when your "name" for a thing is in fact a description of a superset of what you are—there are already other, separate college football playoffs. Delany:
"I'll be happy with whatever. Obviously I'm not great with names."
Yes, but that's no reason to eschew the concept entirely. You can try again, Mr. Delany, as long as you float some trial balloons to see if the entire internet mocks you before you make a decision. You can love again.
Anyway. These folks trademarked their name-type substance. Can you even do that? I want to make shirts that say "COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF" to test this out. If Xerox is too generic to be a trademark, how can "college football playoff" be unique enough? Someone who likes being in lawsuits, please find this out.
Further confirmation. In not-quite-announced news that's pretty much announced, yeah, Desmond Morgan is permanently moving to MLB so James Ross can start at WLB:
“Playing in space is something I definitely had to adjust to my first two years here because I wasn’t used to that in high school. I was more of an in the box kind of guy,” Morgan said. “Going back over to MIKE, I kind of feel a little bit more comfortable in a sense because of that.
“During the spring, it’s been an adjustment but it was something I kind of grew up playing.”
Joe Bolden and Royce Jenkins-Stone will back up the MLB and WLB spots, respectively.
BONUS: James Ross named "most improved player" this spring. Hype rocket is entering stage two.
Ann Arbor is pretty all right. Click for big.
WE AGREE OH MY PANTS. Dave Brandon and I both think a ten game conference schedule is a good idea.
"I'm in favor of looking at it for the same reasons we went from eight to nine," Brandon told MLive.com. Those reasons include more competitive schedules, as well as greater ability for players to see each of the league's 13 other teams in their careers.
The money thing is an issue, but raise your hand if you'd willingly eat the extra costs from a hypothetical exhibition game in exchange for a tenth conference game. That's everybody, right?
25 memories of "college sports' dumbest goldrush." Blake McLimans taking his talents to Oxford. RIP, Toomer's oaks. Senior highlights from Mark Donnal. Stretch four, yo. Athletic directors are sad. David Thorpe really likes Trey Burke($).
Yes, I have a prepared Hello post for somebody. No, it is not IL TE Ian Bunting. Michigan was thought to be trailing in his recruitment, but a visit this weekend flipped the kid unexpectedly and now he's all committed and such($). Here is a picture.
The 6'7" Bunting is a four star to 247 and ESPN (where he's 113th), a three star to Scout and Rivals. He plays exclusively wide receiver in high school but everyone is recruiting him as a Funchess-style flex TE. A more informative update is coming.
|3*, #17 TE||3*, #14 TE||4*, #5 TE, #114 overall||4*, #11 TE|
A wide split in opinion probably due to the fact that Bunting is a 6'6", 215 pound kid that requires some projection if he's going to be an effective college player. That uncertainty leads to three-star rankings, especially when Bunting missed a big chunk of his sophomore and junior years with injuries. I couldn't find details on his sophomore year; his junior issue was a sprained ankle. He only played four games.
That didn't matter to college coaches, who were hurdling over each other to offer the guy. Not only did Bunting have the big three in the Midwest he also got a USC offer(!), especially impressive given their restricted class size. Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, and many others jumped on board as well. ND's Scout site thought Bunting was their top target($) at TE. Mwa ha ha.
It was a little tough to find scouting out there; almost all of it came from 247 or Bunting's own mouth as he responded to the "scout yourself" question over and over again. Injuries, I guess.
What is out there emphasizes size and hands and routes. Rivals' take from a January camp:
4. IAN BUNTING, TE, HINSDALE (ILL.) CENTRAL
We have seen Bunting run at wide receiver in the past, but the 6-foot-7, 215-pound prospect has started to accept that he is headed to the tight end position in college and he performed well there on Monday. Bunting's speed creates mismatches with linebackers, and he complements that by being an outstanding route runner who possesses soft hands. His strength at the point of attack was better than expected, and he did a great job of getting off the line of scrimmage in one-on-one drills.
247 caught him a few times, mostly at Core 6 events: Wiltfong caught him at a Cincinnati event:
4. Ian Bunting: It’s a talented a year at tight end in the state of Illinois and the 6-foot-6, 210-pound Hinsdale Central standout may end up being the best one. He was dominant during 7-on-7 play, running away from the smaller defensive backs. Bunting has really good ball skills and catches everything thrown his way.
That #4 is no shame when Jamarco Jones, Clifton Garrett, and Malik McDowell are at the same event. An earlier camp:
10. Ian Bunting, TE, Hinsdale (Il.) Central
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Bunting continued to show that he is a sure handed flex tight end prospect. He ran precise routes in the short passing game, and caught the ball with soft hands and arms extended against attached coverage on numerous occasions. Bunting … was the top performer of the tight end prospects.
Hinsdale (Ill.) Central receiver/tight end Ian Bunting stands in at 6-foot-7, 190 pounds with a frame to really fill out. Despite his size, he does a great job of sinking his hips and getting in and out of his breaks. In agility drills, he was better than a lot of the smaller receivers. .
While the Core 6 White team struggle to find a rhythm on offense, Hinsdale (Ill.) Central four-star tight end Ian Bunting was one of the more impressive players there, as he can beat you in many ways in the passing game. Short passes and over the top, Bunting has fantastic hands and ball skills while running very well.
Bunting is a big high school receiver who will make a move to tight end in college and could be a highly-productive receiving target in that role. His strength at this stage is very much as a receiver and he displays very good hands with the ability to consistently extend and snatch the ball away from his body. Possesses good body control and can adjust and grab tough, off-target passes, and demonstrates the ability to pluck effortlessly on the run. He will attack the ball in the air, high-point it and shows he is willing to take a hit to make the catch. Can track the ball vertically well and make the over-the-shoulder grab.
Hands, hands, hands. Coaches' eyes must bug out at this fact:
How would you describe yourself as a player?
"I'm definitely a mismatch [threat]. I can take on a cornerback and I'd be a foot taller than him, but also, a lot of kids that are my size aren't quick but I've got really good feet actually for my size and great hands too. I've been playing a bunch of different sports all my life, so it's really helped me become a better athlete all around and keep my agility at a high level even though I'm a lot bigger and taller than a lot of the other receivers that'll be out there. I also have great leaping ability and big hands and feet. I wear XXXL gloves -- although I might have to go XXXXL next year cause they're getting kind of small (laughter) -- and have size 17 feet."
He told an OU site that he plays corner on defense. Yup.
So… this is good. A 6'7" guy with skillet-sized hands, body control, and not-quite WR athleticism who is already a good route-runner is going to be awesome once he's a linebacker-flattening weight. Can I make a sleeper of the year prediction on a guy who's 10 months away from signing and is four stars on two sites? No? Well, fine. Guy seems badly underrated, is what I'm saying.
Bunting's offers side with the more impressive rankings. Aside from Michigan he also had offers from Notre Dame (that very early), Ohio State, USC, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Missouri, Oregon, and others.
Hinsdale Central hasn't sent Michigan any prospects in the Rivals era. They did send Jack Allen to Michigan State a couple years ago; Allen's brother Brian just committed to the Spartans. Awkward.
Bunting only had four games last year, in which he caught 16 passes for 412 yards($). Over 100 yards per game and 26 per catch? Okay, we'll take that.
FAKE 40 TIME
Bunting lists his 40 at 4.63 on Hudl, which I award two FAKES out of five for a 6'6" kid.
His abbreviated junior year:
There's also an interview with Chantel Jennings:
Bunting also has a Hudl profile with separate blocking and receiving highlights.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Bunting should have an opportunity to redshirt with Devin Funchess, AJ Williams, and Jake Butt all on the roster for at least two more years once he arrives. He'll use that year to pack on weight, probably cool his heels for another year as Funchess and Williams play their senior campaigns, and then emerge into Funchess 2.0—maybe 3.0. Michigan is going to have no shortage of huge targets at TE in the near future.
A further prediction: if Bunting hits the camp circuit and stays healthy as a senior he'll jump everywhere save ESPN, who already projects him as a near top-100 player. He's got the profile of a guy who blows up what with the injuries and college coach trident fight over him.
The injury thing is probably just bad luck. Anyone can acquire the dread high ankle sprain, and that sort of thing doesn't develop into a chronic thing often, if at all. I get why a couple of the sites are cautious with his ranking as a result, but it's more that they don't have as much data on him than fear he won't be able to stay in one piece.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
With two tight ends in each of the last two classes and a smaller group this year, Michigan is probably done at TE for 2014. Maybe they would still take a Helm or a Mark Andrews, but only late, at which point those guys are likely off the board.
A side note not just in this class but on Michigan's recruiting in general: this is another guy who Michigan has come from behind on very quickly. 247's prediction crystal ball was 100% ND until today, when Steve Wiltfong got wind of the change and got a flip in just before the news dropped. For a certain sort of kid, the Michigan visit just about ends their recruitment. Bunting's take($) from Allen Trieu's article:
"When I went there and visited and got to spend a lot of time with the coaches, players on the team and got to spend the night with them. It felt like home. It felt like the right place for me. My parents came with me and they both loved it and the coaches were so nice and welcoming and it really had a good sense of family there which is one of my favorite parts about game of football is brotherhood and the bond with the teammates and could definitely sense that it was there. Not just with the kids, but coaches too. I got to meet all the coaches' families and it was just the right place for me."
That's how you snatch a kid who compares himself to Tyler Eifert($) out from ND's nose.
Snatching a kid like Bunting from Notre Dame and Ohio State was a nonexistent occurrence under Rodriguez and frankly pretty rare under Carr, too—remember Charlie Weis's inexplicable winning streak over Michigan? That's done. Ohio State's winning their share of battles, but four of Michigan's six commits so far this year are head to head wins over both ND and OSU—everyone save Mone and Speight. (With Michigan hot on the trail of McDowell, Hand, and Lawrence Marshall I'm assuming Brady Pallante's grayshirt doesn't get upgraded.)