this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Not A Good Look
At this point, anyone reading this post is pretty familiar with Da'Shawn Hand, the nation's top overall prospect. Michigan and Virginia Tech are presumed to lead the other three schools in his top five—Alabama, Florida, and South Carolina—while LSU and USC are on the outside looking in. Even further on the outside is Ohio State, where Hand reportedly had a poor visit experience the first time around, and despite a decent trip there last weekend—he swung by while in town for the Columbus NFTC—the Buckeyes won't be a factor in his recruitment going forward.
If you believe Eleven Warriors [ed-S: ...''s recruiting guy Jeremy Birmingham, not Ramzy] , this is because the Ohio State coaches suddenly decided they weren't very interested in the top player in the country—for reasons, you see—and here begins the fisking:
For some reason, my contention that Ohio State would not be aggressively attempting to get back into the Hand sweepstakes set off an internet wildfire with people.
This contention is reasonable; it's become clear that Ohio State is a longshot at best to get Hand, and the coaching staff could better spend their time targeting prospects with more interest in the Buckeyes. This would be a good place to stop, but...
As I have said a few times, it's a simple matter of personality. Ohio State wants people who are going to go 1000 miles per hour, every day, on and off the field. They want people who fight for each other, for their university and for their own improvement. They want people who are challenging themselves to improve every day and do so without the need to proclaim their own greatness for people to see, read, or hear. They want competitors and they want fighters.
...then there's this load of crap, as if the above doesn't fit what every football coach in America is trying to find in a recruit. Which leads us to the really stupid thing:
As far as Da'Shawn Hand? I've never said he was not a competitor, just that things with Ohio State and Hand did not see eye-to-eye from the start of his visit in November because he was not being treated any differently than any of the other recruits on hand, 90-minutes before kick-off of the biggest game of the year. The Buckeyes could not give Hand the attention they would have liked to, and the day was a bit too hectic for him to get "comfortable" at Ohio State.
This is a remarkably shitty thing to write about a high school kid without anything approaching first-hand evidence. The "I've never said..." hedging is just that, hedging, because discussing OSU's supposed lack of interest in reconnecting with Hand after everything in the previous paragraph is either a case of really unfortunate juxtaposition or the type of insinuation that unfairly impugns the character of a 17-year-old — one who, by all other accounts, is a kid of extremely high character.
The timing—when it's become blindingly obvious that Hand doesn't want to go to Ohio State—makes this come off as some seriously sour grapes. I'm sorry, Buckeye faithful, that Hand's reaction to being asked about Ohio State in the above video was this:
But, no, I'm not actually sorry. A high-profile player isn't interested in your school and may very well end up at a rival school. These things happen. Responding to this by suggesting that a player doesn't work hard enough, or is afraid to compete against the best, or isn't motivated enough to improve ... even if the implication is merely by context, that's a bad look. Nearly as bad as the one Hand gave when asked about Ohio State.
I think Eleven Warriors does a fantastic job, and that includes their recruiting coverage, but seeing this—and the wild speculation that it inevitably led to in such a forum—was disappointing. Perhaps, next time, just say that the kid isn't interested and move on.
[Hit THE JUMP for camp highlights of Ian Bunting, the latest on the Malik McDowell transfer rumors, and more.]
*BREAKING* 6'6", 230-Pound Quarterback Has Strong Arm After All
Michigan quarterback commit Wilton Speight flew across the country to compete in the Elite 11 San Francisco regional camp last weekend. Despite a field featuring several of the top prospects in the country,—including #1 pro-style QB Keller Chryst and Oregon commit Morgan Mahalak—nobody at the camp earned an invite to the Elite 11 finals; Speight showed off a strong arm and high ceiling but struggled a bit with his mechanics, as you can see in the above video (he's the one with the Michigan shorts, natch). The Elite 11's resident coach, former NFL QB Trent Dilfer, gave his thoughts on Speight to 247's Barton Simmons:
One of the longest commutes to compete at the event came from Richmond, Va. native Wilton Speight. The Michigan commit was also one of the biggest prospects in attendance with regard to his physical stature and Dilfer noted that his size is both his strength and his weakness at this point.
Dilfer on Speight: “He had a nice day. He’s obviously a very physical kid, tall, strong. I think he’s got to get more organized. Everything’s just got to get more organized for him to be consistent. That’s typical for a lot of linear guys. There’s a lot of moving parts.”
Scout's crew of experts all had Speight outside the top five performers, but national analyst Greg Biggins—as well as Speight himself—still had a largely positive review of his play ($) [emphasis mine]:
The biggest quarterback in the camp was easily Richmond (Va.) Collegiate School’s Wilton Speight. The Michigan commit looks all of 6-6, 230 pounds and he had a solid camp. He was able to make all the throws showing off a strong arm and actually looked better than expected when he had to throw on the run.
Speight is a pure drop back quarterback who throws a tight ball and can get the ball down the field. He threw some of the best deep balls in the camp and makes it look easy and effortless.
“I was happy with my performance, I wasn’t overly thrilled with all my throws but overall, I thought I had a good day,” Speight said. “There’s always a couple of throws you want back but the beauty of this is there’s still 13 spots left for the final Elite 11. No one got the invite today so you just have to stay patient and let the process play itself out.”
As Speight said above, he'll still have a chance to earn his way into the finals later this spring; he won't be the only one from the SF regional with something to prove, as five-star Chryst reportedly (and by his own admission) struggled mightily.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest visit plans of five-star DT Andrew Brown, Michigan commits in the updated Rivals100 and Top247, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup discusses a pair of new 2014 offers, Leon McQuay III's finalized official visit date, and more.
2014 Recruiting Ramps Up
The 2014 recruiting cycle in still in the early stages, but the process is quickly ramping up over the course of the bye week as Michigan's coaching staff finally has (some) free time to review film and visit schools. Two new offers have already gone out this week to a pair of five-star recruits, VA DB Quin Blanding (#6 overall on the 2014 Top247) and VA DT Andrew Brown (#2).
At 6'2", 200 pounds, Blanding has the size and athleticism to play either corner or safety at the collegiate level, though he probably fits best as a safety. He's already garnered offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, FSU, Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Tennessee, UCLA, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia, among several others.
Brown—already listed at 6'4", 282 pounds—has a similarly outstanding offer list featuring Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, FSU, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Miami, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia. The arrow is probably not necessary in his sophomore highlight tape, because he's the one MURDERING SMALL CHILDREN:
Michigan should pursue Brown heavily assuming he isn't imprisoned for any of the above.
Perhaps the top in-state priority for the Wolverines is Detroit Loyola DE Malik McDowell, who received a visit from Brady Hoke on Monday. While NCAA rules prevented Hoke from speaking directly with McDowell, he still managed to make a "huge impression" on both the junior lineman and his coach, according to 247's Steve Wiltfong ($). He did this, of course, by being Brady Hoke [emphasis mine]:
“Spent about an hour or so,” Loyola head coach John Callahan said. “Real good visit. Very impressive. I’ll tell you why. I was extremely impressed with how he, we talked a little about their loss (to Notre Dame on Saturday), and he said his only concern was his quarterback was feeling bad and responsible and he felt really bad for the kid. Really genuine. No excuses or no nothing. He was just worried about his kids. That’s the kind of coach you want taking care of your kids. I was real impressed with his demeanor and he said they had to get better.”
If Hoke ever gets tired of this coaching thing, he's got a surefire fallback career as the world's greatest babysitter.
Curt Mallory, meanwhile, is making the rounds on the Atlantic coast, visiting Baltimore Gilman($)—home of 2013 commit Henry Poggi and 2014 CB offer Troy Vincent Jr.—and 2014 Washington D.C. four-star CB Jalen Tabor, who lumped the Wolverines in with Tennessee, Alabama, and Florida as the schools going after him the hardest.
This is also a time for new prospects to hit the radar, including 2014 Orchard Lake St. Mary's DB Jalen Watts-Jackson, who was outstanding at both cornerback and wide receiver in last Friday's victory over Cass Tech. TomVH scored an interview with the junior prospect, who said that he's hearing from Michigan, MSU, and Purdue, and wants to hear more from the Wolverines—his top school and childhood favorite ($).
[The rest of the recruiting roundup, including the lastest on McQuay/Green/Treadwell, after THE JUMP.]
Today's recruiting roundup updates the status of Laquon Treadwell and Ty Isaac, discusses a couple upcoming visits, and more.
Treadwell Not Visiting This Weekend, Moves Up Timetable
Any disappointment Michigan fans felt when IL WR Laquon Treadwell changed his plans to visit this weekend should be dispelled with the news that he's "anxious to make a decision" according to an interview with Sam Webb ($, info in header). Treadwell had previously planned on taking all five official visits and making a commitment after his football season, but now there's no concrete timeline and "a decision is going to come faster now." Given Treadwell's repeated visits to Ann Arbor (he's still planning on taking another one soon), frequent contact with current commits, and Michigan's status as his presumed leader, this is a great sign, especially since Treadwell says that the coaches are holding the last open receiver spot for him—this isn't a chance spurred by pressure to commit from Michigan's end.
Webb also caught up with IL RB Ty Isaac's mom after the family took a trip to USC last weekend, and while Ty hasn't stated this outright, his mother thinks he's down to Michigan and USC ($). Insider chatter surrounding Isaac makes it sound like this could be an extremely close battle. Commence unwarranted freakout despite #1 class.
MA DT Maurice Hurst Jr. is still planning to visit Michigan and Michigan State soon, but his previous plans to make a commitment in the near future may be out the window due to the number of schools showing interest ($, info in header). Hurst isn't the only four-star DT making plans to see Ann Arbor, as IL DT Josh Augusta plans to either take an unofficial this summer or an official in the fall ($, info in header).
Quickly: Kyle Bosch is set to enroll early ($), which is always good news. Coach Dan Ferrigno stopped in to see CA WR Sebastian LaRue last weekend ($, info in header). MI DT Kenton Gibbs committed to Illinois. Gibbs is a Cass Tech product who many presumed would eventually garner an offer, but thus far one hasn't materialized. VA DE Wyatt Teller named a top two of Virginia and Virginia Tech ($), with Michigan on the outside looking in.
Michigan Offers Five-Star Who Will Never Come But It's Fun to Dream, Right?
At first glance, seeing Michigan offer a 2014 five-star prospect and immediately shooting into his top three would be cause for celebration. Unfortunately, said five-star is AL ATH Bo Scarbrough, who happens to hail from Tuscaloosa, home of the Crimson Tide. Yes, Alabama is also in his top three ($). If Michigan can pull Scarbrough, being recruited as a receiver, from the heart of 'Bama country, I'll be pleasantly shocked.
Sam Webb's latest DetNews offering profiles two-sport MI ATH Drake Harris, who at 6'3", 175 pounds with exceptional athleticism could play wide receiver or shooting guard (or both) at the high-major level. Harris vehemently denies the rumors that Michigan State is an early leader, saying that all interested schools—including Michigan, which has extended a football offer—are on even ground at this point. Scout football analyst Allen Trieu and basketball analyst Brian Snow both agree that his ceiling is higher in football. Here's Trieu's evaluation on Harris on the gridiron:
"Drake has a very high ceiling in football," said Allen Trieu, Scout.com midwest regional football recruiting manager. "He has the height and the frame to go along great athleticism and ball skills. Plus, when I saw him in person he was faster than I expected him to be. He's certainly a high level BCS prospect. His athleticism serves him well in both sports, but if you look at it from the perspective of supply and demand, there are more 6-3 guards out there than 6-3 wide receivers who can jump out of the gym.
Harris compares his style of play to Larry Fitzgerald, and yes I would like some of that. We'll see if this becomes a battle between the two in-state programs.
Quickly: DC CB Jalen Tabor has an early top three($) of Alabama, Tennessee, and Maryland. OH WR Thaddeus Snodgrass plans to camp at Michigan this summer ($). Look, it's Brian's favorite recruit. If you haven't had enough of me yet, I appeared on the Michigan Man Podcast to talk 2013 and 2014 recruiting.
Today's recruiting roundup checks out Shane Morris's new highlight tape, goes over the laundry list of top prospects who took notice of last weekend's commitment extravaganza, and details Michigan's new offers and expected visitors.
What, No Punting Highlights?
Shane Morris unleashed his junior tape yesterday, and the first full minute features him... running. And hurdling a guy. I'm seriously, you guys:
Oh, there's also your standard fare of cannon-launched deep balls and precision touch passes, but SHANE MORRIS HURDLED A GUY AND HE'S TOTALLY DENARD 2.0. Also, he punts, though disappointingly that wasn't in the video:
Don’t underestimate Morris’ potential in the punting game. While a left-handed thrower, he kicks right-footed. According to De La Salle’s special teams coach, Morris averaged a shade under 40 yards a punt last season and had a 58 yarder in one game. Morris played soccer for seven years.
Next week we'll learn that Morris throws a 90-mph slider with either arm, turned down Red Berenson's overtures to be Shawn Hunwick's successor, and is the only person to defeat The World's Most Interesting Man in a game of jai-alai.
Morris, as you're well aware, is also pretty good at this whole recruiting thing—that Hoke guy isn't bad himself, I hear—and top prospects have taken notice of Michigan's dynamite start to the 2013 class. Joliet (IL) Catholic RB Ty Isaac is one of those prospects, though he's also trying to take his time with his decision ($, info in header):
“It’s hard not to notice (Michigan’s recruiting success), but I kind of told myself ‘don’t let that be a deciding factor,” said Isaac. “I know there are a few places that I really want to see. I know that being somewhere with a good class is a big deal, and to me it’s very important, but I didn’t really want to make a rash decision just because everyone else was doing it.”
Isaac will visit Ann Arbor on March 10th between trips to Notre Dame and USC, who appear to be the other schools in contention for the Midwest's top back, though he's yet to narrow down his list ($, info in header). One factor very much playing in Michigan's favor is their depth chart, something Isaac is keeping a close eye on, as he wants the opportunity to play early. Another top Illinois prospect, Crete (IL) Monee WR Laquon Treadwell, is also keeping a low profile, but he's willing to say that the Wolverines are among his leaders ($, info in header):
While he claims to have no top list, Treadwell will admit Michigan is one of his leaders. After this past weekend, when Michigan picked up eight commitments, there might not be much time before he will have to make a decision, something that Treadwell says won't deter him from his timeline.
"That won't change anything for me," he said. "It's not my time yet."
One player who has flat-out stated Michigan is on top is four-star linebacker E.J. Levenberry in a free ESPN article linked by Brian yesterday. The Wolverines are also in good shape with four-star linebackers Dorian O'Daniel and Mike McCray; with Michigan likely to take just one or two at the position they should be able to get a very high-quality haul there.
247 Sports updated their Top247, and for the most part the new rankings were kind to the Wolverines, though Jake Butt took a rather perpelxing tumble. Touch the Banner provided a summary of the movement:
- Shane Morris dropped from #12 to #14
- Dymonte Thomas dropped from #35 to #40
- Chris Fox dropped from #39 to #47
- Kyle Bosch jumped from #55 to #42
- Jake Butt dropped from #70 to outside the top 247
- Taco Charlton jumped from #115 to #99
- Wyatt Shallman dropped from #149 to #187
- Jourdan Lewis dropped from #218 to outside the top 247
- David Dawson jumped from outside the top 247 to #195
My only guess as to why Butt would drop so far is that 24/7 initially evaluated him as a DE, and when he committed to a school as a TE they adjusted accordingly; I still don't know why he fell all the way out, as most first-hand accounts have him as a better offensive prospect than defensive. C'est la vie. Click that TTB link to see where all of Michigan's targets landed in the new list, which provides further confirmation that the Wolverines are offering the cream of the crop this year.
New Offers, Scheduled Visits, Visit Reactions, Etc.
Sam Webb's latest DetNews article focuses on one of the many high-profile offensive linemen to come out of Illinois in 2013, New Lenox Lincoln-Way West's Colin McGovern, who could vie for that last offensive line spot in the class:
"I spoke with Coach Funk over the weekend and (Wednesday), and he let me know there is one spot left (for an offensive lineman)," McGovern reported. "I'm just glad that I'm going to be visiting really soon there so I can sort of get a look at things and maybe compare it to schools that I've visited in the past. But I'm not looking to commit right now. I'm going to let it play out and whatever happens, happens. If they stay available that'd be nice because that's an extra choice for me. I know Michigan is a great school and a powerhouse football team, but I'm not going to rush into a decision that I might regret."
McGovern will visit on March 10th, and he's also got visits scheduled for Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Northwestern, and possibly Washington over the next couple months. He's not in a rush to make his decision, but he also doesn't have a set timetable; when he feels like he's ready to make a choice, he'll go ahead and do just that. He doesn't claim any favorites right now, though he says Michigan would be near the top of his list if he had one (he doesn't).
The top-ranked lineman in Illinois, Ethan Pocic, was the only Saturday visitor to not commit last week, but that doesn't mean he wasn't impressed with Michigan. Pocic released a top ten and the Wolverines are included ($, info in header). As of right now, he hasn't set up any other visits. Michigan also impressed a pair of Monday visitors in TE Jacob Matuska, who talked to Tremendous—it looks like the Wolverines will take a third TE in the class—and DT Donovan Munger, who still doesn't have a Wolverine offer ($).
Your semi-weekly list of new offers:
- Four-star Reading (MA) Wyomissing Area OLB Alex Anzalone, who told 247 he's planning March visits to both Michigan and Notre Dame ($, info in header).
- Bastrop (TX) three-star CB Antwuan Davis received his offer from Coach Funk last week ($, info in header). He hasn't set up visits but mentioned Michigan among the schools he'd like to check out.
- Upland (CA) DE/OLB Joe Mathis grabbed an offer last week and is looking at taking one of his official visits to Ann Arbor ($, info in header).
- 2014 Bishop (MD) McNamara OT/DT Damian Prince received offers from Michigan, Florida State, Iowa, and North Carolina last week, bringing his total to 11 already ($, info in header).
- 2014 Grand Rapids Christian ATH Drake Harris is primarily a basketball recruit—he's been in heavy contact with John Beilein—but he also says he's received an offer to play football for the Wolverines ($, info in header). He's the rare player who could be a legit scholarship player at two sports.
- 2014 Washington (DC) Friendship Academy CB Jalen Tabor was offered on Sunday ($, info in header). He already holds offers from schools like Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, and Virginia Tech, and he's looking to visit Ann Arbor this summer.
As you can see, the coaching staff has been able to turn some of their focus to the sophomore class—identifying 2014's top targets—with half of the junior class already wrapped up.
There's a short list of weekend visitors after last weekend's junior day atmosphere (though it wasn't an official junior day): four-star OL Patrick Kugler, who holds an offer; Barrington (IL) OL Jack Keeler ($, not offered); Logan Tuley-Tillman (yes, again); and 2014 QB Chandler Kincade, who's an early Pitt commit.
Several other players are planning future trips to Ann Arbor. Pittsburgh (PA) TE Scott Orndoff, Wisconsin's lone commit in the class of 2013, told Tremendous that he'll take a visit to Michigan after being offered recently—further evidence that the Wolverines want a third TE in the class. PA OT Mike McGlinchey is looking to take a spring trip to check out the Wolverines ($, info in header). Erial (NJ) Timber Creek teammates DT Greg Webb and DE Dajuan Drennon might be a package deal, according to Webb, and plan on visiting Ann Arbor in the future ($, info in header).
A quick note: Despite a recent MaxPreps article saying Michigan had renewed interest in Midland OT Steven Elmer, Sam Webb has confirmed with Elmer's father that he's not interested and is solidly committed to Notre Dame. End of discussion.
Quickly: SBNation editors pick their favorite tales from the recruiting trail, and it's a hilarious read (I must agree with Andrew Sharp—Willie Williams is tough to top). MnB's Zach Travis answers questions about recruiting and the renewed fervor of the Michigan-Ohio State battles for SBNation's main recruiting page. Chantel Jennings goes over the remaining needs in the class ($). TomVH focuses in on the top remaining targets along the offensive line ($).