and... i like them? I think I like them.
Bye Week Visits: A Trip To Colorado (No, Not For That)
Well played, Maison Bleue.
Last weekend's bye afforded the coaches an opportunity to hit the recruiting trail, and Michigan coaches checked in on the likes of top 2015 MN DE Jashon Cornell, 2015 four-star NC OL Mason Veal, 2015 four-star RB Nasir Bonner, 2015 NJ WR Irvin Charles, and several others.
The most interesting prospect to receive a visit, however, is 2014 ATH Kalen Ballage, as Coach Funk stopped by his school last week, per Sam Webb ($). Michigan originally recruited Ballage as a running back, and it's been long thought that the Wolverines had cooled on him—that obviously isn't the case, even if Ballage is simply a backup option, and the fact that he can also play linebacker or safety is likely fueling at least some of Michigan's renewed interest. With a few spots left in the class and only a handful of prospects under consideration, his versatility could be the key should he want to end up in Ann Arbor.
[EDIT: Per Brandon, Michigan may not have talked to Ballage at all:
Just talked with 2014 ATH/RB Kalen Ballage and he tells me that the #Michigan coaches did NOT visit him.
— Brandon Brown (@CoachBrown3) October 28, 2013
Webb is pretty plugged in and I can't find any sort of retraction from him; since there are rules about contact with recruits, it's possible Funk stopped by Ballage's school but never actually was in contact with him. I'll try to clarify the situation when more information is available.
UPDATE TO THE EDIT: Per 247($), school was not in session when Michigan dropped by; the Wolverines are still recruiting Ballage but obviously didn't talk to him first-hand when they were out there.]
Another visit recipient that caught my eye: 2015 NC jumbo athlete Anthony Rush, who told 247's Steve Lorenz that Michigan is "leaning towards" extending an offer ($). Rush is listed at 6'4", 280 pounds as a junior, and the Wolverines are recruiting him as a tight end. Clearly, the coaches would like more blocking and size up front—most schools are looking at Rush as a defensive tackle.
Prepare For PANIC
(Aw, crap, it's already started.)
As you're probably well aware, Da'Shawn Hand took his official visit to Alabama over the weekend, and reports from the trip have been quite positive. Here's Hand himself:
This visit couldn't of been any better. Had a great time in T-Town
— Da'shawn Hand (@TheHand54) October 27, 2013
Despite the good visit experience for Hand, Alabama insiders around the internets seem to think the Tide still have ground to make up if they're going to catch Michigan; if that's the case, the Wolverines just have to survive Hand's official to Florida—just five days before his Nov. 14th announcement—and they should be in the clear. Still, Alabama is a serious contender, and that's always a frightening opponent to face on the recruiting trail.
To keep the good times rollin', Malik McDowell took a surprise visit to Ohio State for their evisceration of Penn State; he was his usual verbose self in the aftermath:
On my way home from Ohio State. Good game.
— BIG LEEK SOSA (@D1_LEEK) October 27, 2013
At this point, I might be more confident in Hand ending up at Michigan than McDowell, for the sole reason that we have some idea about what Hand thinks about Michigan, while getting information out of McDowell is like breaking into Fort Knox. If I had to bet, I'd wager both land at Michigan, but there's plenty of uncertainty.
[Hit THE JUMP for commit stat updates, the newest 2015 offer recipient, and more.]
Malik McDowell (#67) is still taking his recruitment at a leisurely pace.
Not All Slow Recruitments Are Bad Recruitments
The list of players once considered long-time Michigan locks only to commit elsewhere is long, distinguished, and oft-cited in just about any discussion about MI DL Malik McDowell. This is understandable: after recruitments of players like Ronald Johnson, Dee Hart, Josh Garnett, Jordan Diamond, and Laquon Treadwell went awry, any recruit that seems to have every reason to pull the trigger yet draws out the process is now met with a healthy amount of skepticism.
In McDowell's case, however, his inertia appears to be a good sign for Michigan. After previously stating that he'd take all five of his official visits to out-of-state schools, that may no longer be the case, per Tim Sullivan ($):
"I want to wait until after the season [to take the visits]," McDowell explained. "I'm still going to try to make it down to Florida over Thanksgiving weekend. I don't know right now just because things are real busy.
"[In addition to Florida, LSU, and Alabama], I don't really have a last two visits planned; I might save the last two for some in-state schools, but I might go out-of-state, I don't really know."
While Michigan State is nominally in the picture, it would be shocking if McDowell chose the Spartans over the Wolverines, so this is quite a good sign for Michigan. Official visits to a trio of top SEC schools can alter any recruitment significantly, of course, but first McDowell has to actually follow through on those visits, which have yet to be set up; even if he makes it to all three schools, it's going to take a lot to unseat the in-state favorite given how many times McDowell has been on Michigan's campus. Given the direction McDowell's recruitment is (slowly) moving, I'd be surprised if he ends up anywhere else.
[Hit THE JUMP for the roundup of best commit performances from last weekend's games.]
The Foolproof Way To Avoid Senioritis
Michigan has its first official signee of the 2014 class. Impossible, you say? Not if you're Michael Ferns, who can sign because he graduated from high school in three years, according to WRTF.com. Ferns is finishing his senior season of football at St. Clairsville while taking classes at Ohio University-Eastern and will enroll at Michigan next semester—the normal time for early enrollees to hit campus.
Other recruits planning to enroll early include Wilton Speight, Bryan Mone, Drake Harris, Mason Cole, and the ECA duo of Freddy Canteen and Brandon Watson.
Froholdt, Weber To Visit This Weekend
The M Block's Eric Rutter caught up with 2015 DL Hjalte Froholdt, who's playing his junior season in a semi-pro league in Denmark; he's been able to come back across the Atlantic for visits, however, and after visiting Arkansas last week he'll be in attendance at the Big House this weekend—it'll be a big one, as he's getting close to a decision:
Froholdt has already announced a final top group of Arkansas, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State and intends to choose from those schools soon- as in within the next couple months, although an official date has not been set. Froholdt visited Arkansas on Saturday to watch the Razorbacks host South Carolina for a 52-7 beating. Michigan will get the next crack at impressing Froholdt as he will be in Ann Arbor on October 19 to watch the Wolverines host the Indiana Hoosiers.
Head on over to the original post to read Froholdt's comments about his relationship with Greg Mattison, his primary recruiter. SPOILER: He likes Greg Mattison. Michigan is very much in the hunt to land Froholdt and an impressive visit experience this weekend could put them in the driver's seat.
2015 Cass Tech RB Mike Weber talked to The Wolverine's Branden Hunter about his relationship with Michigan and upcoming visit ($):
"His commitment really didn't affect me at all," Weber said of [Damien] Harris' pledge. "I grew up liking Michigan, and I'm not scared of competition, so if that college is the best fit for me, that's were I'm going.
"I talk to Michigan a lot," Weber said. "I'm supposed to go to their next home game I believe, and coach Singletary wished me luck before the game. Michigan always shows love."
Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Tennessee are also mentioned as teams showing serious interest in Weber. The issue with his recruitment may not be one of interest as much as it is space in the class; with Harris already committed, I'd be surprised if Michigan takes two running backs unless more spots open up, and by that point they may have a hard time catching up to schools that have the room to tell Weber they can take him at any time.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest 2015 offer and the weekly commit stat wrapup.]
Today's recruiting roundup is a bit short and punchy since the MGoCar departs for Penn State early this afternoon. Also, there's just not a lot to talk about right now.
Noah Furbush Is Rather Tough
Self-reminder: Find a new stock picture of Noah Furbush.
Noah Furbush has racked up some pretty impressive tackling numbers this season, and he's done so while playing through a broken wrist. How did that happen? Well... he's not entirely sure, per Scout's Kyle Bogenschutz ($):
In true tough guy fashion, Furbush doesn’t even remember how he broke the bone.
“It happened a few months ago, I think during basketball maybe,” Furbush said. “I’m not even 100-percent sure when but we got it diagnosed after the second scrimmage and I’ve been easing up on it since.”
"Negatives: use of hands, ability to feel pain."
Talk About The Hand
Jabrill Peppers discusses his thoughts on Da'Shawn Hand in his latest blog for USA Today:
OK I know you guys want to know about me trying to bring my boy D Hand (DaShawn Hand) over to Michigan with me, and I'm still feeling really good about doing that.
His announcement date is Nov. 14 and it's getting closer and closer. I feel like we've got the upper hand because he visited us during the Notre Dame game and that was the perfect game for him to be at. The atmosphere was crazy and we got the win.
I hit him up every once in a while to see how he's doing so I know he's doing his thing in his last year like me. I'm feeling like we'll probably be doing our thing on the field together next year too.
But, at the end of the day, that's my dude; wherever he goes he's got a fan in me.
Over at Rivals, Mike Farrell broke the five-stars into high-, medium-, and low-risk categories based on their skill set and how likely they are to hit their potential at the next level. The first two players in the coveted low-risk category are, you guessed it, Jabrill Peppers and Da'Shawn Hand ($):
DE Da'Shawn Hand: Hand is an elite pass rusher with great balance and agility and an amazing work ethic. While he's also a guy who could stand up or play down like Carter, he's not a high-risk guy because he can do it all and could even hold his own inside if needed.
DB Jabrill Peppers: Peppers could play cornerback or safety in college, and he will be successful at either. Heck, he could even play running back, although that would make his risk factor much higher. It's hard to see him failing on defense.
We'll take both, please.
[Hit THE JUMP for a few quick-hitting recruiting notes, including high early interest from the son of the former heavyweight champion of the world.]
2015 Quarterbacks: The Overview
Kevin Dillman (L) and Kyle Kearns (R)
The most pressing question regarding the 2015 class is which quarterback Michigan will offer next; our own Brandon Brown posted a detailed overview of the candidates on Sunday, and since we had a lot of content over the weekend I'd like to highlight it again. Here's the upshot, though you're strongly encouraged to check out the whole thing:
As the high schools seasons near and pass the midway point, evaluations are beginning to take shape and I heard Sam Webb say that he expects an offer or offers to be dealt within the next month or two to a 2015 quarterback prospect. I believe it will be to someone on this list and I’d rank these prospects as follows:
- Kevin Dillman
- Kyle Kearns
- Riley Neal
- Sheriron Jones
- Brady White
- Nick Johns
- Alex Malzone
I think Dillman should be priority #1 based on his film. He’s a gamer and has a toughness and a quality about him you like to see at the quarterback position.
We've reached something of an MGoConsensus in wanting Dillman to get the next offer.
There's a lot of local support for Brother Rice quarterback Alex Malzone, and while he doesn't appear to be in line for the next offer or two right now, he'll get a chance to prove himself in front of the coaches, per Scout's Allen Trieu ($):
"Coach Borges said I'm definitely on their radar and that I'm having a great year. He wants to see me throw live, so I think they're going to try to come to the Catholic League Championship Game on October 26th since it's their bye week."
Malzone was at Saturday's game and said he "loved the visit." If offered, he's probably a lock to commit. With Michigan's very limited 2015 class size, they'll take only one quarterback in the cycle—with Malzone in their backyard, the coaches can wait to offer him while evaluating all of their potential options and guaging their interest.
Rivals released an unordered list of the top ten "out of state steals" for the 2014 class, and the obvious choice is obvious:
DB Jabrill Peppers, Paramus (N.J.) Paramus Catholic
Peppers is the type of player that can fill that Charles Woodson/Patrick Peterson role for Michigan. It was very impressive that the Wolverines' staff was able to go out to the East Coast, away from their traditional recruiting grounds, and grab one of the top players in the country. In addition to his abilities on the field, Peppers' character and leadership attributes are something that coach Brady Hoke and company really like.
Damon Webb also makes the list; if you feel sad about that at all, look up.
Speaking of Peppers, he's at #3 in the latest 2014 Top247. Michigan's commits all stayed in essentially the same place; you can see the full rundown at Touch The Banner.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest Wolverine commit to get an All-American invite and a roundup of the top statistical performances from last weekend.]
Michigan Probably Leads For A Five-Star Dual-Threat QB. Wait, What?
Michigan's 2015 quarterback situation is the subject of much conjecture and little more, as the only prospect offered at the position—California five-star Josh Rosen—has stated that he's not interested in the Wolverines. Several names have been thrown out there as potential backup options, with player types ranging from pocket statues to Gardner-like dual threats. If Michigan wants to go the latter route—and Al Borges seems more open to the idea now that the NFL is heading in that direction—then a five-star option has emerged in CA ATH Kevin Dillman, per 247's Ryan Bartow [free article, also contains sources saying that JuJu Smith currently favors Notre Dame and Alabama over the field right now, and Michigan gets mentioned among the leaders of several 2015 prospects]:
3- Kevin Dillman, 5-star QB, La Mirada (Calif.)
Michigan and Nebraska are his Top 2. If Michigan offers, the Wolverines could likely land a commitment this winter or spring.
“I grew up watching Tom Brady. If there was one offer I could wish for it would be Michigan. I really like their coaching staff,” - 5-star QB Kevin Dillman, La Mirada
Please and thank you, right? Well, we'll see. Dillman's sophomore highlights (above) show a lot more of the athlete side—the first clip is a kick return—than the downfield passing aspect that Borges will focus on heavily when deciding whom to offer. Personally, I'd love to see Michigan go the dual-threat route, and if Dillman has enough to work with as a passer, he seems like the best available—and highly interested—option.
Nobody seems to have a clear picture of the 2015 QB pecking order after Rosen, though, and I'm assuming the coaches are hoping to evaluate several options more extensively once junior film starts rolling in. With room for just one QB in the class, this approach makes sense—the coaches can't afford to miss.
One such option is Brother Rice QB Alex Malzone, who's off to a strong start this season. He's the headlining visitor for Minnesota in a quiet weekend for uncommitted prospects and another prospect who's likely to commit if offered, though I think Dillman and a handful of other quarterbacks are higher priorities. Malzone is mentioned as one of five Midwest juniors "on the rise" this season—along with Cass Tech RB Mike Weber—by Allen Trieu.
[Hit THE JUMP to see which Michigan commit is nominated for Gatorade's national player of the year—yeah, you probably guessed it—plus evaluations of a few commits and more.]