Well, crap, I guess I should probably do one of these.
Goodbye: Chris Clark
— Chris Clark (@Clark8Chris) December 2, 2014
Mere moments after the announcement of Brady Hoke's dismissal, four-star 2015 TE commit Chris Clark decommitted in a move that came as little surprise. In talking to The Wolverine's Brandon Brown, he gave the impression Michigan is pretty unlikely to regain his commitment ($):
"I'm still interested in Michigan but it kind of just depends on the impression the new coach makes on me," he said. "I'll be honest, it's probably going to be pretty tough but we will see. I just really have to see who the new coach is going to be and what coaches are going to be on his staff.
North Carolina, the school Clark originally committed to, is among four other programs vying for his services, along with Texas, UCLA, and USC. Providing a small ray of hope, Clark said he'd like to take one of his official visits to Ann Arbor, and his recruitment should extend until Signing Day or close to it.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup, including updates on Kinnel, Cole, the 2016 commits, and Wheatley.]
I unwittingly glutened myself this week, so between that, basketball season getting underway, recruiting staying in a holding pattern, and the football team remaining rather uninspiring, there's no full recruiting roundup or FFFF today. Instead, I'm mashing the two together before I head into town for the Detroit game.
Michigan will receive an official visit this weekend from a highly touted prospect not committed to the Wolverines. Yes, this is probably a surprise to you. This may even be a surprise to the coaches. It's probably not going to amount to a whole lot. But, hey, it's happening, and that's nice.
The recruit in question is four-star receiver Auden Tate, currently a Florida State commit, who's following through on his long-held plan to officially visit Ann Arbor after he got a Michigan offer way back in April. Tate grew up a fan of the program and he's kept in touch with QB commit Alex Malzone throughout the recruiting process. It'd be a surprise if Tate flipped his commitment, but heck, it's a surprise he's taking this trip in the first place.
Three-star Oak Park ATH John Kelly will also be in attendance as an unofficial visitor. The other 2015 recruits set to be at the game are current commits: Malzone and Grant Newsome, both of whom have remained steadfast in their pledges throughout this tumultuous season. Malzone may be joined by his Brother Rice teammate and primary target, 2015 WR Grant Perry, though Perry may choose to visit Northwestern instead.
[Hit THE JUMP for commit updates, Iman Marshall's very interesting visit plans, a couple more recruiting nuggets, and Seth's lineup diagrams for the Maryland game.]
Bring Me All The Defensive Backs
It's the week for highly touted senior cornerbacks to discuss Michigan, apparently.
247's Ryan Bartow reports four-star DC CB Marcus Lewis still has the Wolverines in the lead, followed by Miami (YTM) and Oregon ($). Lewis will take official visits to all three of those schools in December or January, and he's still considering a handful of programs for his final two officials.
Five-star CA CB Iman Marshall confirmed his list of five official visit recipients (in no particular order): Notre Dame, Michigan, Florida State, LSU, and Oklahoma. Remember that isn't the same as a top five; Marshall is seriously considering UCLA and USC, as well, but doesn't need to use up official visits to see those nearby campuses.
The Wolverine's Brandon Brown caught up with four-star Virginia Tech commit Mook Reynolds, who's been in close contact with Roy Manning and will officially visit Ann Arbor for the Penn State game ($):
"They are a tremendous school that produces big time corners," [Reynolds] explained. "It's just a legacy of Michigan football, the program. A lot of historic things have happened within that program. I wouldn't want to pass up a chance to be a part of that."
"I plan to come up and take an official visit the night we play Penn State," Reynolds outlined. "That's the only time that I really know that I'll be in Michigan. That's the only official visit I'll take that I know of."
In addition to VT, Ole Miss is also under consideration. Reynolds told Brown that if he decides to change his commitment, "it'll be a surprise" that comes on Signing Day. I'm sure the Hokie coaches are happy to hear that.
While this is messing with the system, I'll also include Gerry Hamilton's tweet regarding four-star 2015 OT William Sweet:
— Gerry Hamilton (@HamiltonESPN) September 11, 2014
[Hit THE JUMP for a look at new preferred walk-on commit Jack Dunaway, news on a potential early enrollee, NIGEL WARRIOR, hoops recruiting updates, and more.]
Iman Marshall To Take Official To U-M
Five-star CA CB Iman Marshall, who'd previously mentioned interest in both an official and unofficial visit to Michigan, placed the Wolverines among the group of schools he'll check out on official visits this fall:
— Biggie (@iman_marshall8) August 21, 2014
I'm sure Oklahoma and Texas fans will handle this responsibly and non-creepily. Yup. Definitely.
It's worth noting that doesn't constitute a top six for Marshall. He's quite familiar with the California in-state powers, and won't need to use officials on those schools—they're very much in play.
— Adam Gorney (@adamgorney) August 21, 2014
Michigan does have something going for them: Marshall and Freddy Canteen are "good friends" according to Steve Lorenz; they worked out together before Canteen enrolled at U-M. That said, while getting an official visit is a big step, it'd be a pretty major upset if Michigan ended up landing Marshall.
More Top Lists/Officials: Wheatley, Robertson, Bates
While four-star NY TE Tyrone "TJ" Wheatley Jr. doesn't have a timetable for his decision, he's whittled down his list to five finalists, per The Buffalo News:
TJ Wheatley begins his senior season of high school football with five finalists among the many Division I powerhouses who recruited him: Alabama, Michigan, USC, UCLA and Miami.
Wheatley, a 6-foot-6, 260-pound defensive end/tight end who put on 15 pounds of muscle since this time last year, said Monday that he has no timetable for making his final decision on where he'll attend college.
"No, I'm not sure, I'm just going with the wind," Wheatley said, before commenting on any possible official recruiting visits he will take to schools. "I don't know when I'll take my officials; I don't even know if I'm going to go on officials to all five of those schools."
Wheatley has been so quiet on the recruiting trail that any guess as to where he'll end up is purely conjecture based on the fact that his dad is, you know, Tyrone Wheatley. Which that certainly means something, how much it'll affect Wheatley's decision is unknown, and there's another factor at play: Michigan's small class size means the longer he waits, the greater the potential that U-M runs out of room in the class. We'll know a lot more when he determines where he'll take his officials.
Michigan recently offered four-star CA OT Zach Robertson—who plays at the same school as top QB Josh Rosen—and will receive an official visit from him for the Penn State game, though it's likely he'll be a UCLA commit by then, per Rivals' Adam Gorney ($):
"UCLA is still my top," Robertson said. "I'm still open. I'm definitely going to be committing soon even in the next couple weeks. Even after I commit I want to take my officials."
Robertson called Michigan a "huge offer," so it looks like he'll give them a fair shot even if he's committed elsewhere when he visits. For what it's worth, Rosen reportedly enjoyed his U-M visit quite a bit, even though it wasn't enough to sway him from pledging to UCLA; this could end up working out in similar fashion.
Three-star LA DE Jalen Bates has a top five and two official visits scheduled, per Scout's Chad Simmons:
"My top five are Texas Tech, Arizona State, Mississippi State, Louisiana Lafayette, and Michigan in no order," said Bates.
"I am going to Texas Tech for an official visit on September 13 and I am going to take my official visit to Arizona State on August 30."
Bates said he is unsure if he'll take all five officials; you can safely count Michigan out if they don't receive one. As evidenced by the presence of Louisiana Lafayette on this list, pulling recruits to the Midwest out of Louisiana is hard.
[Hit THE JUMP for updates on an early enrollee, Michigan commits in the new Rivals250, Brian Cole's future role, and more.]
The annual recruiting extravaganza known as the BBQ at The Big House is just a couple of weeks away on July 27th and already the list of visitors is quite star-studded. A blend of committed and uncommitted prospects from multiple classes will be in attendance for what has proved to be a huge recruiting tool in past classes. Below is who I’ve been able to contact in order to start putting together a list of who will be in attendance and who won’t be. Of course there are many prospects that are still unsure, they are listed as well.
CB Marcus Lewis
CB Mook Reynolds
CB Garrett Taylor
DE Kengera Daniel
K Andrew David
LB Darrin Kirkland Jr.
LB Joshua McMillon
QB Alex Malzone
RB Damien Harris
RB Mike Weber
S Tyree Kinnel
TE Chris Clark
WR Grant Perry
CB Iman Marshall
DE Darian Roseboro
LB Tyriq Thompson
OL Jon Runyan Jr.
TE Tyrone Wheatley Jr.
WR Brian Cole
LB Asmar Bilal
OL Grant Newsome
OL Patrick Allen
OL Connor Williams
RB Alec Murphy
S Kahlil Haughton
WR Lawrence Cager
CB Lavert Hill
QB Messiah deWeaver
RB Elijah Holyfield
TE Luke Farrell
TE Naseir Upshur
WR Austin Mack
LB Daelin Hayes
OL Ben Bredeson
OL Erik Swenson
CB Levonta Taylor
OL Liam Eichenberg
OL Michal Menet
RB Kentrail Moran
RB Kareem Walker
TE Jake Hausmann
WR Binjimen Victor
A visitor list for an event like this is always subject to change and I know there are several others who belong in one of the categories that I just haven’t heard back from yet. Unfortunately for the readers I am embarking on my honeymoon tomorrow so I won’t be adding or subtracting to or from this list for at least a week.
Elite 11/The Opening Updates: Michigan Commits
Alex Malzone didn't make the cut from the 18 quarterbacks invited to the Elite 11 finals down to the top 11, as he couldn't put together enough consistency to move on, according to the camp's resident QB coach, Trent Dilfer (via the Freep):
“When you put him in an environment like this where it’s really fast and great athletes around you and every little microsecond of timing matters, there’s been some inconsistencies. His good is extremely good. His bad has been bad at times, and he’ll be the first to tell you that.”
Dilfer noted that Malzone's baseball background affects his mechanics as a quarterback—the football throwing motion requires a more compact delivery—which makes it tough to maintain consistency. That's apparent on the film from the first day of camp; on a few throws, Malzone keeps his motion pretty tight, but on others—especially the throws when he has to avoid rushers, a situation where a QB is likely to revert to their most natural-feeling delivery—he lets his throwing arm dip down too far, elongating the motion.
Playing in a loaded field while tweaking his mechanics on the fly, with a very limited number of reps to work with, Malzone making the final cut was a tall order. When I say limited reps, I mean limited reps, as Malzone relayed to Scout's Sam Webb and Kyle Bogenschutz ($):
“Yesterday, all we had on the field was a red zone session, seven on seven, each quarterback had six throws, missed a couple of guys. I felt like I could have done better myself. I made up for it in the end. I threw one touchdown at the end and today I came out and did what I could do.”
Ultimately not selected in the top group of the Elite 11 following the rigorous workouts, Malzone just sees it as extra motivation, noting he most definitely gave it his all.
Malzone's moved on to The Opening, which is in its final day today, and as expected recruiting for Michigan is as much a focus as playing at the camp, per 247's Steve Lorenz ($):
"I've talked to [George] Campbell, [Mike] Weber, Keisean [Lucier-South], [Auden] Tate, Ray-Ray [McCloud], Damien [Harris], [Mook] Reynolds and Iman [Marshall]," [Malzone] said.
When asked which player seemed the most receptive to Michigan? "Mike Weber."
More on that last bit later in this post.
Michigan's other representative at The Opening, Darrin Kirkland, stood out as one of the best defensive performers on Tuesday, garnering top ten honors from Scout's Allen Trieu...
Darrin Kirkland - Linebacker, Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence Central
Kirkland, a Michigan commit, has worked hard on his ability to run and move in space and that was on display today as he was one of the top linebackers in coverage. He could run with backs and did a nice job playing the ball in the air, coming away with a couple of interceptions.
...and earning a mention as one of the top four linebackers in attendance from 247's Barton Simmons:
Michigan commit Darrin Kirkland Jr. doesn’t strike you as an overwhelming kid athletically but he is always in the right place, he doesn’t get shaken in space, he can get in the hip pocket of a tight end or running back and he can make a play downfield on the football.
For a prospect whose ability to stuff the run is supposed to be his biggest strength, Kirkland sure gets a lot of camp praise for his coverage. That came up a fair amount during last year's camp season, as well.
2015 Updates: Running Backs
Things are happening on the running back front, as both Damien Harris and the aforementioned Mike Weber will visit for this month's BBQ at the Big House. Harris, who's at The Opening, told 247's Luke Stampini that he's still searching for that feeling he had when he initially committed to Michigan ($):
“I still talk to Coach (Doug) Nussmeier and Coach (Brady) Hoke now and then. People think I lost all connections with Michigan because I decommitted. That wasn’t the case. I just wanted to step back and reevaluate my options.”
He’ll be looking for that spark he once had with Michigan the next time he’s in Ann Arbor.
“Just that feeling I got when I was there initially, the first couple times when I was committed,” Harris said. “That family feel I got with Coach Hoke and the staff. Just kind of reconnect with them.”
Alabama, Kentucky, and Ohio State are the other schools that seem to have separated themselves from the pack. After landing commitments from Jashon Cornell and Justin Hilliard last week, the Buckeyes may very well have the edge, per Webb ($):
“I’d be lying if I said (the Hilliard and Cornell commitments) didn’t impact me a lot,” Harris stated. “Those are just two of my good friends that I’ve become friends with in this whole recruiting process. We all talked about playing together like you said, and now that they’ve committed it gives me more to think about… if I do still want to play with them, or if they (just) went to the school that I like. I just have to take all these things into my thought process and making my decision.”
Harris plans to cut his list to five just before his senior season, then take official visits to each of those schools. Michigan should make the cut, but I get the feeling Ohio State will be tough to overcome. Don't everybody sigh at once, now.
The good news is Michigan still seems to be trending up with Weber, and he's not the only other option should Harris end up elsewhere. Four-star FL RB Dexter Williams, who's "80-percent committed to [Miami]," told Scout's Gerard Martinez that Michigan is one of three other schools he plans to visit ($):
“I know I’m taking an official visit to USC and Michigan as well. I might also officially visit Notre Dame too if I can’t get out there this summer on my own.”
Another, potentially more realistic, option is three-star MO RB Alec Murphy, who recently named a top four of Iowa, Purdue, Mississippi State, and Michigan. Among that group, only the Wolverines haven't offered him, which leads me to believe they'd have a great shot to land him if they eventually extend one. The quote he gave to Scout's Derek Young about Michigan and his decision timeline makes it seem like he may even be waiting on U-M before making his choice ($):
Michigan: "They haven't offered me, yet. An offer could come at some point. They've had a lot of interest in me. I'm hoping they possibly offer because they are a great program."
A summer decision is not out of the question for Murphy.
"I'm thinking about making my decision over the summer," he pointed out. "I'm not real sure yet. If I find the right place before the season then I will make my commitment."
With Ty Isaac in the fold and likely redshirting, my guess is Michigan will wait on the higher-ranked backs before moving on to Murphy—they only need one back in the class, and Murphy seems like a prospect they could offer late in the process and earn a commitment even if he's pledged elsewhere.
2015 Updates: Everything Else
While also mentioning that he's trying to set up a visit for the BBQ, as well as confirming U-M will receive one of his official visits, four-star TN LB Josh McMillon told 247's Clint Brewster two schools are currently standing out to him ($):
Ranked as the 11th best player in Tennessee and the 17th best outside linebacker, McMillon mentioned some programs that have an edge at this point in the process.
“Michigan, Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss, and Vanderbilt. Michigan and Alabama are pretty much on top I would say.”
Florida State, Ohio State, and USC are also in the mix, as McMillon said he plans to take official visits to those schools—he can visit the SEC schools among his top group without having to use officials. While that's stiff competition, Sam Webb posted a very positive outlook on Michigan's standing with McMillon on the GBW board ($). Michigan looks to be in very good shape here.
Another standout linebacker at The Opening, four-star UT OLB Osa Masina, plans to cut his list to five before the season starts, per TomVH ($). In that same board post, Webb suggested Michigan could be on the outside looking in due to distance playing a bigger factor that Masina originally expected. Tyriq Thompson and Asmar Bilal are more realistic candidates to end up in the class, as Brandon suggested earlier today.
The pipe dream of landing five-star CA CB Iman Marshall seems to be exactly that; while Marshall previously mentioned a possible July visit in addition to a potential official visit, he told Webb and Bogenschutz at The Opening that nothing has been set yet ($):
One other visit Marshall has been toying with taking is to Ann Arbor to check out Brady Hoke and the Michigan Wolverines.
“It’s still in the planning stages,” Marshall said. “Like I said it’s really been a hectic couple of months and stuff like that so I want to sit down with my parents and discuss what our visit plans are going to be, our travel plans are going to be, so it correlates all together.”
Working in Michigan's favor, however, is the presence of Freddy Canteen, who's been recruiting Marshall since they worked out at the same gym recently. If Marshall is going to get to campus, though, it seems like an official visit is the best bet, and regardless of the visit situation he'll be an extremely tough pull from the West Coast.
Another potential Shaun Crawford replacement, DC CB Marcus Lewis, a current Florida commit, told GatorBait.net that—along with Miami and Oregon—Michigan is one of three schools that'll receive an official visit from him ($):
On Michigan: "They've been recruiting me really hard even though I'm committed. Coach (Kurt) Mallory, coach (Roy) Manning and the whole staff down there. I've heard it's a nice campus, and they're rebuilding. They got a good 2014 class in, so we're going to see what they can do in the Big Ten.
"Right now they look good. Coach (Brady) Hoke, we had a good conversation. I mean he basically said he needs corners. They've got corners on the way out and they need that next Reed to come in. They've got Garrett Taylor and another kid committed, so they need one more DB.
Lewis doesn't seem very strong in his Florida pledge; in the same article, he mentioned concern over the number of cornerbacks they've taken recently (four in the 2014 class, two in 2015). If that's a major factor, uh, nobody show him the depth chart, okay?
Four-star NC SDE Darian Roseboro named Michigan to his top six along with Alabama, Clemson, North Carolina, NC State, and Tennessee, per Scout's Michael Clark ($). He's set to announce on August 29th, and Michigan looks to have serious momentum in their favor right now; if he picked today, they'd likely be the choice.
Four-star FL WR Auden Tate is another top prospect who's trying to set up a visit to the BBQ, and he's slated to take an official to Ann Arbor during the season, per 247's Luke Stampini ($). Tate described U-M as a "dream school" and his "favorite school" growing up, though Florida State, Florida, and Georgia are also serious contenders. With Miles Boykin off the board to Notre Dame, expect the coaches to make a serious push for Tate.
ESPN released their initial Junior 300 for the 2016 class. Messiah deWeaver came in at #115 overall (#11 pro-style QB), while Erik Swenson landed at #256 (#20 OT). ESPN's scouting report on Swenson is quite light on details, so it's quite possible he moves up after further looking into his game (assuming ESPN does so).
The #50 overall player on that list (and #41 in the 247 Composite), LA OT Willie Allen, told Tim Sullivan that Michigan will get a visit from him, though the timing could be a ways off ($):
"I know they're close to an Ivy League school academically, but I really don't know too much about them," [Allen] said of the Wolverines. "I plan on taking a visit up there, but financial-wise, it's when my family can really afford it. I'll have to talk to Coach Fred and see what we can do. It'll probably be next summer. If I can get the money this year, I'll definitely take a visit to Michigan. I plan on waiting it out until senior year, and then making my commitment to a school. But I'm open right now. Every offer that I have as of now is equal. I just want to wait it out."
If Allen makes his way to Ann Arbor, Michigan will be in on one of the most coveted prospects in the 2016 class; as always, however, a top-flight prospect from Louisiana should be presumed to go to LSU or Alabama until all signs say otherwise.