"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
This edition of the recruiting roundup welcomes a new 2013 commit, takes a look at 2012 preferred walk-on Dan Gibbs, and discusses a bevy of new junior offers. As always, you're encouraged to email me or hit me up on the twitters with any recruiting tips or news you'd like to see in the next roundup.
Hello: Dan Gibbs
Michigan may not have landed Jordan Diamond or, at least for now, Alex Kozan, but they did manage to pick up a 6'7", 305-pound offensive lineman this week. Birmingham Seaholm's Dan Gibbs accepted a preferred walk-on spot over offers from Ball State, Eastern Michigan, and several Ivy League schools. Gibbs is a Michigan lifer and is ranked as a three-star by Scout (#97 OT) and 24/7 (#121 OT) and a two-star by Rivals (NR) and ESPN (#109 OG). He has the versatility to play either guard or tackle at the next level, and it's always nice to pull in a walk-on who had D1 scholarship offers. You can see his senior highlight tape above, and here is ESPN's evaluation ($):
Gibbs is a tough inline blocker who can maul defenders when run blocking; also flashes the explosion and playing strength to knock defenders off the ball when single blocking. Has great size with good athleticism for the offensive guard position at the major level of competition. It appears his frame is very capable on handling additional body mass. We like this guys toughness; comes off the ball aggressive and hard but a little too high at times; must work to lower his pad level on initial contact. Appears to bave some lower body stiffness however we are impressed with his ability to get out of his stance when asked to pull and trap, locating defenders on the move while demonstrating good balance and agility; plays on his feet well in space. Although this prospect is more of a mauler than one who consistently knocks defenders off the line of scrimmage we are impressed with his ability to get movement when single blocking; is a nasty tough finisher who is capable of putting defenders on their backs. If he is to successfully reach for leverage and consistently get a hat on active 1st and 2nd level defenders we see the need to improve initial quickness, first step and pad level. His long arms should be an asset in pass protection; is not heavy legged playing in the center/guard box, flashing the ability to bend and slide his feet. We do feel he plays too tall and must improve his overall balance and base when pass blocking. All areas of hand use will need refinement although we see flashes of strong initial punch and extension.
Gibbs is a developmental prospect, to be sure. His size and physicality should be a great asset on the practice field, however, and he's got the potential to become an in-game contributor down the road.
In more from the class of 2012, four Michigan signees—Devin Funchess, Royce Jenkins-Stone, Terry Richardson, and James Ross—suited up for Team USA in the International Bowl. Although they fell to the World Team, 35-29, the future Wolverines impressed, especially Funchess, who hauled in an 11-yard touchdown pass ($):
"I think Devin Funchess is going to be a star. When they put weight on him, he is a long 6-5 guy, but he's just a boy. They'll put 40 pounds of muscle on him. He has great hands, runs great. He had a great attitude. He's going to be a great player - not just a good player, a great player."
"He looks like a wide out. He runs great. For a tight end, he has tremendous speed," [Team USA coach Steve] Specht said. "The thing that really impressed me about Devin is how much bigger he's going to get. I said something to him when we were in Austin. I said, 'In a few years, when you get that weight on you, you're going to be special.'
Funchess appears to be in line to take a redshirt year as he works on adding that bulk. After that, he could turn into a very dangerous receiver from that TE/H-back hybrid spot. For highlights of each Michigan commit in the International Bowl, check out MGoVideo—a big thanks to Josh (aka MaizeNBlueJ) for putting those together.
Speaking of Funchess, his senior highlight tape is now available on YouTube. Also releasing senior film is DL Matt Godin; he does a very impressive job of getting skinny and shedding blocks to work his way into the backfield:
Quickly: Greg Mattison was named the Big Ten Recruiter of the Year by Scout and also earned top-25 status nationally on Rivals. 24/7 released their Big Ten superlatives—Ondre Pipkins is one of three players tabbed for immediate impact and the Wolverines have more players (10) on the All-Big Ten team than any other school (Ohio State has seven, Wisconsin two, while Minnesota, MSU, and Nebraska each have one). AnnArbor.com's Kyle Meinke discusses the importance of tight ends in recruiting with Al Borges and Darrell Funk. Stephen J. Nesbitt writes a feature in the Daily on Pipkins and Willie Henry. TTB Andrew interviews Amara Darboh.
Welcome: Khalid Hill
Recruits come in pairs, right? Michigan not only landed Gibbs yesterday, but they got a jump-start on tight end recruiting for 2013 when they pulled in Detroit Crockett's Khalid Hill. You can read the full "Hello" post here. Hill—who committed on the spot after getting his offer on an unofficial visit yesterday—is another life-long Michigan fan, offering up this fantastic quote to Allen Trieu in the aftermath of his commitment ($):
"I feel great," he said. "There's a smile on my face. I'm cheesin'."
I'll give Khalid the benefit of the doubt and assume that's not a South Park reference. Hill also told 24/7 that, upon receiving a verbal offer from Brady Hoke in his office, he immediately accepted and gave the coach a "big hug." He also carries a 4.0 GPA and plans to major in Engineering; this is definitely a commitment worth celebrating. Hill's high school coach shed some light on his future role in a free Scout article:
"He's a great pass catcher. He has the blocking ability of a lineman, the athletic ability of a skill guy, and the hands of a wide receiver, so he's a match-up nightmare. What he brought to the table for us this year was, he created mismatches down seams of the field."
He'll do the same for the Wolverines, but also fill a couple of other roles as well.
"It's a tight end/H-Back kind of deal. He's a utility guy, who will be motioning from fullback, get work done in the slot. They'll move him around a lot. They sat him down and told him how they're going to use him. They said he'd do a lot of what Kevin Koger did last year."
That hybrid role makes sense for Hill, a solid athlete who's a little short for the traditional tight end role at 6'2".
Another 2013 tight end, Pickerington (OH) North's Jake Butt—an early four-star to 24/7 who holds a scholarship offer from the Wolverines—has Michigan as his top school ($):
"Michigan is definitely my leading school right now, by far… it’s not even close,” he reported. “Their coaches are showing me a lot of attention. I have been up to the campus twice and loved it there, and seemed to grow a great relationship with coach (Jerry) Montgomery who is my recruiting coordinator. I already had five (Michigan) coaches come down to school to see me, so that is big. They are telling me I am their leading tight end on the board."
Butt doesn't have a concrete decision date in mind, but he's looking to wrap things up before the start of next football season. If he does, it looks like Michigan will be tough to beat.
Meanwhile, Logan Tuley-Tillman was at Yost on Saturday and plans to return to Ann Arbor this weekend—his fifth visit, and he's hoping to bring his mother along with him—but there's a minor change atop his leaderboard. While the Wolverines were at one point alone at number one, they're now joined by Alabama after Tuley-Tillman visited Tuscaloosa for their Junior Day ($).
Quickly: Cass Tech CB Jourdan Lewis is excited by his recent Michigan offer, but has not yet settled on a timeline while he's playing through basketball season ($). Magnus has a thorough preview of 2013 in-state recruiting over at TTB. He also takes a look at the early scholarship numbers and breaks down Michigan's needs by position. Chantel Jennings does the same—plus identifies some key early targets—over at WolverineNation ($).
Just when I think I'm going to be able to sum up Michigan's list of offers in something other than bullet form, they seemingly extend scholarships to half of the free world. Here's what I pulled together since the last recruiting update:
- Tampa (FL) Wharton CB Vernon Hargreaves III now has a Michigan offer listed. He's a five-star prospect to 24/7 and their #7 overall player in the class; all the major in-state schools have also offered and his father coaches at USF, so he'll be a very difficult pull out of the Sunshine State.
- Dayton (OH) Trotwood-Madison LB Mike McCray earned offers from Michigan and Oklahoma within the past week ($). The Top247 and ESPNU 150 prospect says those two schools plus Illinois, Tennessee, and Purdue stand out early in the process, but expect Ohio State to become a major factor if (more likely when) they offer.
- Michigan offered four-star Vorhees (NJ) Eastern CB Eli Woodard, though he's favoring Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Rutgers early ($).
- Centerville (OH) OL Evan Lisle becomes the latest standout Midwest lineman to earn an offer ($).
- I forgot to include him last week, but CB Ryan White became the third Louisville (KY) Trinity prospect to receive a Wolverine offer, joining teammates James Quick (WR) and Jason Hatcher (DE). White told Scout that he plans on visiting Ann Arbor at some point ($).
- The Wolverines offered another wide receiver in Cretin-Derham Hall (MN) standout James Onwualu ($), who plans on visiting within the next couple of weeks.
- Philadelphia (PA) William Penn OT Mike McGlinchey received a Michigan offer last week ($). He's a four-star prospect to 24/7 early in the process.
- Cincinnati Moeller LB Shane Jones now boasts offers from Michigan and his hometown Bearcats.
- Rivals.com's Adam Gorney reports that Michigan also offered Stockton (CA) Lincoln RB Justin Davis.
There are a couple of happy trails to report as well. Toledo Central Catholic DB Jayme Thompson chose West Virginia over Michigan and Notre Dame last week; it's unclear whether or not he had a commitable offer, though I don't believe he did. He's a player to keep an eye on should the Wolverines decide to continue pursuing him. Finally, while Michigan hadn't extended an offer, they had displayed some interest in Flint Carman Ainsworth RB Gerald Holmes, who chose Michigan State on Sunday.
This week's Thursday Recruitin' talks new recruiting rankings, more on the recent developments with Stefon Diggs, more wide receiver recruiting in general, and 2013 recruits who could be narrowing their focus in the near future. Usual request: Please let me know if you have any comments, criticism, suggestions, etc.—as always, I'll be reading the comments, and you can also reach me on Twitter or via email, where I'll also encourage you to send any recruiting articles of interest that you think I should include for the next week's edition.
New Scout 300 and 24/7 Rankings Released
Scout released their new top 300 for the class of 2012, and for the most part it was extremely positive for Michigan recruits. MGoUser AAB detailed where players ended up in the new rankings, and I've copied that list here with one addition:
It's worth noting that Joe Bolden (pictured above) had one of the largest jumps on the list, going from #229 to #94, while A.J. Williams's leap into the top 300 also came with a shiny new fourth star and a new designation: offensive tackle. Kaleb Ringer dropped off the list and was reclassified as a three-star, which shouldn't come as a surprise after he missed much of his senior season with an MCL injury. With 13 commits in the Scout 300, and several top targets in play, there's not much to complain about here.
247Sports, meanwhile, released their top 64 seniors in the state of Michigan, and while MSU commit Aaron Burbridge heads the list—legitimately, in my opinion—the Wolverines dominate the rest of the top ten with James Ross (#2), Terry Richardson (#3), Royce Jenkins-Stone (#5), Matt Godin (#7), Devin Funchess (#8), Mario Ojemudia (#9), and Ben Braden (#10). The other non-Michigan commits are Cincinnati-bound RB Dennis Norfleet (#4) and Tennessee commit Danny O'Brien (#6). Drake Johnson comes in at #17, six spots ahead of Juwan Lewis, while preferred walk-on punter Kenny Allen slips in at #59.
Bolden comes in for a lot of praise this week, being named to the Under Armour All-America Game and also earning district Defensive Player of the Year honors:
"Joe has been a tremendous leader for our team," Colerain coach Tom Bolden said. "He goes 100 miles-per-hour in practice and 100 miles-per-hour in the games. Everything he brings from an emotional and physical standpoint has been great for our team."
Unlike Madaris, Bolden orally committed to Michigan in late April, a decision that his coach and uncle, Tom Bolden, thought was an easy fit.
"It came down to UC and Michigan," the coach said, "but Joe liked the direction that Coach (Brady) Hoke is taking their program. He's an athletic throwback; he plays with reckless abandon, but he has the athleticism to get sideline to sideline."
Aside from the history of the Michigan football program, Bolden was lured by the academic standards of the university, something that is important to the senior who carried a 3.9 GPA this season.
Receiver recruit Monty Madaris earned the Offensive Player of the Year award in the same district—the Cincinnati area—while commits A.J. Williams and Caleb Stacey both earned first-team all-district honors along the offensive line. There's been increased talk that Williams will move permanently to tackle, and while he's open to the move, the 6'6", 275-pound senior thinks he can still come in and contribute at tight end ($):
“After this year I will have to find myself working out making sure my route running is still fine and my hands are still ok. A lot of people don’t know that I can still catch it and a lot of people think that I should switch to tackle and think I’m going to switch to tackle when I get to college. I think I’m athletic enough and I still have the soft hands, so if I keep working on certain drills and everything I’ll be able to get to college and show them off.”
Williams went on to joke about how tackles make more money in the NFL while making the point that he'll do whatever is needed to help the team win, so it sounds like position won't be an issue for him when he gets to campus.
Just to Be Clear, Stefon Diggs is an Option
After Sam Webb dropped his article last Thursday profiling Stefon Diggs and his renewed—and strong—interest in Michigan, he's become the recruit du jour this week for local outlets. Tim Sullivan discusses his recruitment in his latest piece at the Free Press:
“His route running, ability to get off the ball with ease and his quickness in and out of his cuts are only surpassed by his hands and flair for the dramatic,” said Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Mike Farrell. “He is the definition of a playmaker.”
Michigan was initially slow to pursue Diggs, but lately the interest from the Wolverines’ end has picked up. He recently placed Michigan in his top five schools under consideration, and is planning to visit Ann Arbor in December.
To steal a line from our fearless leader, DO WANT. Tom also has an (insider) article on Diggs, who continues to say and do all the right things, including getting his mother up to speed on the process:
"I get on the computer and do research on all the schools," [Stefon's mother] Stephanie said. "With Blake (Countess) at Michigan it does make me feel a little more comfortable. He's a super kid and comes from a great family."
Like his mother, Diggs also has some questions that he would like answered by the Michigan coaching staff. He's not yet willing to share the questions but says once they're answered, he'll be more willing to talk.
"I'm willing to say right now that Michigan sits well with me; I'm comfortable with Michigan," he said. "They would turn me into a better man, and once I get those questions answered, we'll go from there."
According to the article, Diggs will come out with a new top seven on November 29th, his birthday. It is very safe to assume that Michigan will be included. Also, if you missed this last night, two different MGoUsers gave extensive scouting reports on Diggs and teammate Wes Brown from their game last week, which you can find in this diary. Don't worry: neither disappointed.
Lakewood (CA) receiver Darius Powe tried to make it to Ann Arbor for the Notre Dame game, but couldn't. Don't take that as a sign his interest has wavered, however:
"I'm still trying to set that visit up but I haven't yet," Powe said. "After my season I should be able to sit down and get that trip planned. I really want to get out there, I love the offense and the fact they are a big-time school. Michigan, Oregon State and Utah are recruiting me the hardest right now."
The Wolverines were out in Lakewood a few weeks ago to check on Powe he said. Cal was also recently by his school.
All of a sudden, it looks like the Wolverines have a lot of options at receiver. One of those is still Amara Darboh, whose recruitment may be wrapping up before the new year ($):
“The last thing he told me was, ‘Ya’ know what? We’re going to get this thing wrapped up here pretty soon,’ ” [Dowling High School coach Tom] Wilson said. “He said he wanted to have it done by Christmas.
“I think he wants it done. He was offered between his sophomore and junior year. I think he’s done a great job of doing his homework. He’s not a kid that has fallen in love with the recruiting process, like some do. I think he’s ready to move on and have a clear direction of where he’s going to end up.”
Wilson added Darboh “keeps thinks close to the vest” and isn’t naming leaders, but much more clarity should be gained in the coming weeks.
Darboh will be in town for the Ohio State game after visiting
Ohio State Notre Dame this weekend, and I believe much of the clarity we're looking for will be provided shortly after those visits. Not visiting for the Ohio State game: cornerback Yuri Wright, whose team has advanced deep into the playoffs—he's looking to reschedule for after his season ($, info in header). Cryptic quote ahoy?
“I’m not going to say a particular school stands out, but Michigan is one of the schools that I’ve loved all my life,” Wright said. “There’s not a favorite right now.”
Tom would be proud, sir. Keep 'em on their toes.
Quickly: RB Wes Brown is another recruit seriously reconsidering his interest in Penn State ($, info in header); you can give up the Arik Armstead pipe dream, as the five-star named a top seven that didn't include Michigan ($); Saline long snapper Taybor Pepper has been offered a preferred walk-on spot ($, info in header); Tom discusses the dropoff in Michigan running back recruiting since landing five-star (sigh) Carlos Brown in 2006 ($).
2013 four-star receiver Laquon Treadwell—teammate of Anthony Standifer—"might be attending this Michigan game this weekend," according to his Twitter account. Treadwell could be a candidate for an early commitment. He's been working on getting his mother to come with him to Ann Arbor, as she wasn't able to make it with him for the Notre Dame game and he'll need her stamp of approval before pledging to a school. According to Tim, Treadwell tried to make it to the Illinois game last week and now is looking to visit Michigan not just this weekend, but for Ohio State as well ($, info in header). If he's already coming up for multiple games in a row, it's a very good sign for the Wolverines, obviously.
Meanwhile, Toledo Central Catholic DB Jayme Thompson made it in for an unofficial visit this week, and said he had a "real nice visit," according to MGoUser and Facebook friend jessiegoblue. If Facebook is to be believed, Thompson's middle name or nickname (you can never tell with Facebook) is Norf. Norf!
Thompson gets the more formal treatment at Scout ($). He's expecting an offer to come in soon [UPDATE: He got one, according to 24/7]—likely at cornerback—and may already have narrowed things down to just two schools:
With an offer from Michigan potentially coming soon, Thompson will still try to wait things out with two school’s [sic] currently on his mind.
“I’m going to try to wait things out. It’s basically between two schools right now, Michigan and West Virginia. West Virginia is the second offer I’ve got and I really like the coaches there.”
I got to watch Thompson when Central Catholic took on Chris Wormley and Toledo Whitmer earlier this year, and he's a very fast, hard-hitting high school safety who I think would fit in anywhere in the secondary at the next level.
Gilman (MD) DT Henry Poggi looks to be one of the highest-rated recruits in the junior class, and Scout has a video interview with him in which he names a top five. It's paywalled, but you can see the teams tagged in the article: Michigan, Tennessee, Stanford, Alabama, and Auburn. It might be tough to keep Poggi from landing in the SEC, but the Wolverines have a very legitimate shot here.
Finally, Tom discusses Michigan's targeting of power backs in the 2013 class ($). If Michigan can't land a big-time running back for 2012, getting a combo like Ty Isaac and Wyatt Shallman will likely be necessary, though that could happen even if the Wolverines pull in Bri'onte Dunn or Wes Brown.
The first time The Van made a trip down to Toledo to see Chris Wormley, Whitmer played an overmatched, undersized, and generally overwhelmed team of Canadians, making it somewhat difficult for your intrepid recruiting analyst to really get a decent scouting report on Wormley. So on Friday I returned to Whitmer once again to see the undefeated Panthers take on rival Central Catholic—who were 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the Three Rivers Athletic Conference—with the chance to win the TRAC title outright. Whitmer didn't disappoint their home crowd, who packed the house and saw the Panthers jump out to a 31-7 lead en route to a 38-21 victory, capping off a perfect 10-0 regular season.
Wormley's physical talents were on display, but he had his ups and downs and didn't have a spectacular game statistically, recording two solo tackles (one TFL), three assists, and a couple QB hurries. CC did their best to avoid his side of the field when running, and their quick passing game didn't allow many pass rushing opportunities. Here's the highlight reel, set to the theme song from Halloween, which Whitmer's PA guy awesomely played before critical defensive plays (you can hear the tail end of just that on the very first clip):
Chris Wormley: The knock on Wormley has been his lack of a consistent motor, but that wasn't at all an issue in this game—he was quick off the line and very aggressive in pursuit (sometimes too much so). While this was promising from an effort standpoint, it did bring up some issues, mainly in identifying plays. I had a quick, mid-game Twitter conversation at halftime with Rivals midwest recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt, who was also at the game, and we agreed that Wormley has to do a better job diagnosing plays—there were several instances in which he beat his blocker and went tearing after the running back or quarterback, only to realize that the ball was in another place entirely. Part of this may have been coaching, as it looked like he was supposed to crash down the line on zone reads, with the linebacker scraping over the top, but there were too many instances in which CC took advantage of Wormley's aggressiveness—utilizing misdirection runs, QB keepers, and screens/shovel passes—for it to be just a coaching issue.
That said, Wormley's physical abilities make him a tantalizing prospect, and I can't shake the notion that with some coaching up on technique he could be a real force. His size and strength are obvious (just take a look at the film, most notably at the 1:54 mark, when he makes his TFL by essentially suplexing the running back), and he had enough good plays from an assignment standpoint—holding contain on the running back, for example—that I think his impact would greatly increase just by virtue of the transition to being coached by Brady Hoke, Greg Mattison, and Jerry Montgomery.
Wormley's best way to get penetration was to simply run right around his blocker, and while this was nice to see in terms of evaluating his quickness, it brings up another point of concern—how is a 6'6", 270-pound Michigan-bound DE not completely flattening the 6'2", 225-pound offensive tackle across from him with malicious regularity? Again, motor wasn't the issue, but instead pad level; Wormley can get low on occasion, but several times he stood right up off the snap and let the tackle get right into him, turning him into a non-factor. This is more disconcerting to me than the questions about his motor, especially if Wormley ends up moving inside at the next level. Anyone who's watched Will Campbell knows the importance of pad level, and also how difficult it can be for a big, tall lineman to correct that issue.
I don't want to sound down on Wormley, as I really think he could turn into a star if he fixes his pad level and improves on his technique (the play diagnosis I think comes down to coaching—Chris is a bright kid), but I'm not sure he'll be able to come in and be a big contributor right off the bat, as many have hoped. I think it's more realistic to expect Wormley to take a year or two to work his way into the rotation as he learns to get low and figures out where he best fits along the defensive line. From there, just about anything can happen—Wormley looks like a boom-or-bust type, and I honestly can't say which way I think it'll go. If I had to choose, I'd say he'll end up being quite good, simply because it's rare for a player to have his frame and physical talents out of high school while also having so much room to add pounds and get even stronger.
I also had the chance to catch up with Chris and interview him after the game, though unfortunately there's no transcript, as the audio on my recorder was rendered unlistenable thanks to the RAWK blaring over the speakers where we were talking (I'd say Special K has a side job, but this guy had much better taste in music). Wormley slightly tweaked his ankle and calf on the aforementioned suplex, but continued to play (and play pretty well) afterwards and said he'll be fine for next week when the OHSAA playoffs begin. He was extremely happy with his team's performance for both the game and the season, and he also mentioned that he keeps in contact with several other commits, mostly over Twitter during the season. This Whitmer team may be the best in the state, and it's clear that nothing less than the state title will satisfy Wormley or his team.
Jayme Thompson: I wanted to quickly note the play of Central Catholic junior safety Jayme Thompson, who visited Ann Arbor for Saturday's game ($, info in header) and has a good shot at earning a scholarship offer. The CC roster listed him at 6'1", 180 pounds, which looked about right to me, and he's got very good speed and fluid movement for a safety at his size. I didn't get a chance to focus on him too much in coverage, though he looked solid in that regard, but what I was most impressed with was his run support—he came up and laid a couple big hits in the open field, the type that elicit that instinctual "ooooooohh" from the crowd. Thompson definitely has BCS-level talent, and it'll be interesting to see if Michigan likes him enough to extend an offer to another safety considering Dymonte Thomas's early commitment and the small number of spots expected for the 2013 class.
I haven't had a chance to look at the playoff matchups this week, so right now I have no clue where I'll be going on Friday. I would make up for missing Kyle Kalis's game two weekends ago, but he's playing on Saturday night and driving to Cleveland would cause me to miss at least a large chunk of the Michigan game, which isn't an option. If you see a matchup you'd like for me to head to, chime in with a comment below.