Mike Lantry, 1972
This week's Thursday Recruitin' recaps the All-American games are takes a look at what could be a big visit weekend for the Wolverines. Usual request: please contact me via email or Twitter (or leave a comment) with any suggestions, tips, or links you think should show up in the next recruiting roundup.
Big Visit Weekend: Will Wright Make It?
The recruitment of four-star cornerback Yuri Wright took some bizarre twists and turns this week, as there remains disparate view between recruiting sites on whether or not he'll even be on campus this weekend for his previously-scheduled official visit. Sam Webb suggested on WTKA that, in essence, the staff has cooled on Wright and he's no longer among the list of visitors. Over at The Wolverine, Tim Sullivan talked with Wright and his coach and both were still under the impression that the visit was still on ($). I'm not sure what the situation is, though Wright looked very raw at corner during the Army All-America Game and the buzz is that he could project better as a free safety—the coaches want a true corner, so it's quite possible the staff have turned their attention to Armani Reeves.
Speaking of Reeves, the current Penn State commit, he will be in Ann Arbor for an official visit this weekend ($). He had played the waiting game while Penn State looked (and looked, and looked) for a new coach, and now that New England offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien is in the fold there, Reeves was able to make his schedule. Since O'Brian is coaching in the NFL playoffs this weekend, Reeves will be at Michigan, and he'll visit Penn State with his last official. Ohio State has also emerged with some new-found interest, and it's likely Reeves will take a trip to Columbus next week.
In other DB recruiting news, four-star corner Kenny Crawley decommitted from Tennessee, and Michigan could be in the picture for him:
Crawley, a shutdown corner who notched 43 tackles and five interceptions last season, will take an official visit to Kansas next week with teammate John Walker, a senior defensive back, Johnson said.
Crawley is also considering Auburn, Georgia, Maryland and Connecticut. He is also going to re-consider Michigan, Johnson said. His remaining official visits will likely be to three of those five schools.
“We’re sitting down and considering [official visits] today,” Johnson said. “I think Georgia is playing a key role in there. Colorado is real high on his list. He liked the school and liked what they got.”
Considering the lack of any word on Crawley and Michigan since last Friday, when the above article was posted, and the lack of clarity on whether or not the coaching staff is even pursuing him, consider this a longshot prospect for now. It looks pretty clear that the staff is putting most of their efforts into trying to flip Reeves to Michigan, then be done with defensive back recruiting for the class.
Meanwhile, Jordan Diamond has narrowed his list to a final five, though it's not set in stone:
"I've got five but things could change," Diamond said. "With coaching staff changes going on, I'm definitely going to wait it out."
Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan, Auburn and Arkansas are the final five listed by the Maxpreps number seven offensive tackle in the class of 2012. He has officially visited all but the Wolverines so far and is looking for each program to match the criteria he's laid out.
Diamond will visit Michigan this weekend, Arkansas next weekend, and he's tentatively scheduled to head to Wisconsin the week after that ($).
Another prospect who has just been confirmed by Scout to be visiting on an unofficial this weekend ($) is tight end Sam Grant—teammate of Kyle Kalis—who has maintained since December that he would like to wrap up his recruitment in the near future. He reportedly had a great visit at Oklahoma last weekend, and they will be a major threat, but if Michigan can make a big impression this weekend we could be on commitment watch.
Happy trails to Monty Madaris, whose finalists are Cincinnati, Michigan State, and Kentucky (and Ohio State, if they offer), and David Perkins, who was considered by the Wolverines as a running back prospect but now has a final five of Mizzou, Ohio State, Oregon, Illinois, and Cal after things never really got off the ground with his Michigan recruitment ($).
Ondre Pipkins: Video Gold
First of all, if you somehow missed Ondre Pipkins's Brady Hoke impression, just click here right now. DO IT. Now you can watch his highlights from the Army Game, where he recorded two tackles and a forced fumble—take special note of his annihilation of a poor, unsuspecting QB at the 2:05 mark and him somehow chasing down Stefon Diggs and knocking the ball loose at 2:35:
The big man has some surprising wheels, looked fantastic in the game, and he drew a lot of praise for his work all week. He won Rivals.com's Mike Farrell's award for the prospect who improved his stock the most ($), and was named by Brian Perroni as the #6 performer overall for the West squad ($), taking both practices and the game into account:
The huge 6-foot-3, 330-pound defensive tackle moves much, much better than a player his size should. Pipkins proved to be a tough matchup for a very good offensive line all week in practice. In addition to his strength he has a motor that is nonstop. He had one of the most impressive plays of the game where he chased the opposing quarterback all the way to the sideline and made a huge hit that left the crowd in awe.
On top of that, Farrell cited Pipkins as the "War Room Favorite" for the player who hit it off the best with the reporters, and he did the Hoke walk after nailing Hoke's introductory press conference speech. Quite a week, that.
Also drawing major praise from the Army game was Kyle Kalis, who earned the #5 spot among the East's top performers on Rivals ($):
The 6-5, 305-pound Kalis was moved between tackle and guard most of the week in bowl practices and showed he could be effective against college-bound defensive linemen in either role. When game time rolled around Kalis was used exclusively at right guard and was solid in that role, despite spending his entire senior season at tackle. Throughout the week, Kalis proved to be the most consistent offensive line prospect on the East squad. He does not have the upside of a D.J. Humphries, but he has the size, strength and technique to step on the field early in his career.
Kalis actually matched up several times against Pipkins in the game, and they both won their fair share of battles—they'll likely reprise that matchup many more times in future Michigan practices, as Kalis certainly looked at home at guard.
For more from the Army Game, make sure to check out highlight videos of all the Michigan commits plus Yuri Wright over at MGoVideo.
In the Under Armour Game, early enrollee Joe Bolden was one of the top standouts of the week from any position group, tallying seven tackles during the game (highlights courtesy of MaizeNBlueJ):
24/7's J.C. Shurburtt was duly impressed by Bolden in this free article, which also covers his thoughts on Terry Richardson:
The Michigan commit was impressive all week in practice, and quickly caught all the coaches attention at Under Armour. He is a guy that certainly really impressed with his football IQ. Not just that, but his ability to move laterally, and his general ability to play his assignments and to not take false steps. He reads the play and is more athletic than people give him credit for, and is one of those guys that if you go to a camp or see him at a 7-on-7, maybe he is not as high on your list, but you put him in pads and you can really see this guy having a great college career and playing a lot in the National Football League.
Shurburtt noted that Richardson is not physically ready for the college game, which does not come as a surprise, but was very impressed with his athleticism. Bolden, meanwhile, was also named the week's Best Tackler by Rivals.com's Chris Nee ($). Sam Webb has a complete rundown on Bolden, Richardson, and Josh Garnett, plus early practice impressions of the Michigan commits in the Army Game, in his column last week in the Detroit News.
Not to be forgotten is Mario Ojemudia, who participated in last Tuesday's inaugural Semper Fidelis All-American Game. Though an ankle injury kept Ojemudia out of the second half of the game, Scout's Josh Newkirk still came away with a favorable impression ($):
Ojemudia only played the first half because of an ankle injury he sustained right before half time. It was nothing serious, but he sat out the second half for safety precaution. That said, in the time that Ojemudia did play, his presence was felt. He made two tackle on the afternoon and held contain pretty well. He did get caught up with bigger bodies at times, confirming his admitted need to add bulk to his frame. Other times he showed why even at his current weight he can be a handful and why he’ll be even scarier when he is heavier.
Ojemudia matched up once against Jordan Diamond and used his quickness to beat Diamond with an inside swim move. He really needs to put on weight—as I noted last week, he was often stonewalled at the line of scrimmage—but he's a heck of a pass-rush threat even at around 215 pounds.
Quickly: Chantel Jennings profiles early enrollee Kaleb Ringer, whose dad hit it off so well with Hoke that Michigan's coach almost forgot to extend Ringer an offer when he was on his official visit ($).
Two blue-chip juniors will be on campus for visits this weekend: Joliet (IL) Catholic RB Ty Isaac will be in Ann Arbor on Saturday ($, info in header), and Woodbridge (VA) C.D. Hylton LB E.J. Levenberry will also visit on Saturday ($, info in header). It's great to get two highly-touted prospects on campus this early, as both players project to be near the top of their position groups nationally in the 2013 class.
Michigan offered several prospects in the last week, highlighted by five-star receiver Robert Foster ($, info in header). Foster wasn't the only receiver to pull in an offer, as Michigan also extended one to Uriah LeMay, who I interviewed this week, and Wylie (TX) receiver Marcell Ateman ($). Louisville (KY) Trinity DE Jason Hatcher—whose teammate, junior receiver James Quick, was recently offered—also picked up an offer ($, info in header).
New blog on the scene Tremendous scored a chat with Logan Tuley-Tillman, who named a top five, in order, of Michigan, Alabama, Arkansas, Ohio State, and South Carolina. Arkansas and SC were both recent offerrees, and Tuley-Tillman plans to attend Alabama's junior day, though he has yet to receive an offer from them—the newly-crowned national champs could be a major player in his recruitment.
Quickly: My interviews with PA TE Adam Breneman and IL OL Colin Goebel; 24/7 breaks down Michigan's current offer list for both offense ($) and defense ($); Shane Morris commits to playing in the 2013 Under Armour AA Game ($, info in header); and Michigan shows interest in Canton (OH) McKinley OT Xzavier McAllister ($, info in header), adding to the fantastic list of names on the 2013 recruiting board.
DeAnthony Arnett is free and headed to East Lansing, and now we're back to your regularly scheduled Thursday Recruitin'. Usual request: please contact me via email or Twitter (or leave a comment) with any suggestions, tips, or links you think should show up in the next recruiting roundup.
Does Michigan Lead For Josh Garnett?
In recent weeks, the general consensus on Puyallup (WA) OL Josh Garnett has gone from him having Stanford as his team to beat to Michigan taking the position as his leader. One of the few who hadn't weighed in on this change was, of course, Garnett himself. ESPN posted a video interview with Garnett, who's participating in tonight's Under Armour All-American Bowl, and he was asked if the the perception that Michigan is his leader is a misconception (transcription via The Wolverine, emphasis mine):
"It definitely wouldn't be a misconception [to say they lead]. To be at a big time school like that, especially when you have guys like Eric Magnuson, [five-star tackle] Kyle Kalis ... when you have three big time linemen that could come in and compete with each other, build those friendships. They have some defensive linemen coming in, and Ohio State is bringing in some guys, so you can definitely have a good match-up in three or four years.
"All the linemen that have come out of Michigan and the legacy and going to the Big House with 115,000 people waving pom pons, saying 'Go Blue' ... it's definitely hard to turn that down."
Garnett still has an official visit to Stanford on the docket for next weekend, so by no means is Michigan in the clear—especially with the relative ambiguity of the question/answer posed—but that's one heck of a good sign. Garnett mentioned his close friendship with Magnuson multiple times over the course of the seven-minute interview, and it really sounds like that bond could be the deciding factor in his recruitment.
Meanwhile, there have been conflicting reports about the status of Ramsey (NJ) Don Bosco Prep corner Yuri Wright and his scheduled visit to Ann Arbor for the weekend of January 13th. At one point it sounded like he would announce at the Army All-American Game on Saturday ($, info in header), and while he said he would still be taking his visits, making a commitment before ever seeing Michigan's campus was not a good sign. While message board chatter over at Scout suggests Michigan may have cooled on Wright while zeroing in on Armani Reeves, Tim Sullivan reports that Wright will NOT be announcing this weekend and will visit Ann Arbor as planned ($), and Wright repeated that statement on Twitter in no uncertain terms.
As for Reeves, the current Penn State commit is still waiting to see how their lengthy coaching search ends ($, info in header):
"I'm in the wait and see process with Penn State to see who they hire and where they're going to go in terms of the coaching staff. I want to talk to the head coach, see where he wants to go with personally as well as the direction he wants to take the program.
"Hopefully, he has the same idea that Joe (Paterno) had. You know, academics first and just be a Penn State guy."
On the visit front, Reeves plans to take his official visit to Penn State before taking any other visits but Michigan is in the running for a official visit after that.
His visit to Penn State is tentatively scheduled for January 13th, but that would not take place if they still don't have a coach. Michigan looks to be the most likely alternative if Reeves were to decommit, though Notre Dame is in the picture.
A few more happy trails to report as we roll towards signing day: Jordan Payton will decide between Cal, UCLA, and Notre Dame at the Army game on Saturday ($, info in header); Zach Banner has narrowed his list of schools to USC, Washington, and Oklahoma ($, info in header); and Greg Garmon committed to Iowa this week—it's looking unlikely at this point that Michigan will take another running back in the class.
We're So Good That a Deion Sanders Endorsement Gets Third Billing in This Section
Tis the season for high school All-American games, and practice reports on Michigan commits in both the Army and Under Armour games have been overwhelmingly positive. Ondre Pipkins has made a lot of noise for the West team at the Army game, and he also gave one of the interviews of the year at Rivals:
Though I generally find the whole "Ohio" thing rather silly, hearing all the recruits discuss their hatred for "Ohio" is absolutely hilarious. While "Pee Wee" Pipkins was goofing around off the field, he was no joke at practice this week, and was named by Rivals.com's Mike Farrell as Monday's top performer for the West squad ($, info in header):
Pipkins is a monster physically - he already looks like B.J. Raji or Vince Wilfork. He is one of the most physically imposing defensive tackles we have seen in awhile. At the point of attack, he is impossible to get on his heels and he penetrates quickly and athletically for a big man. Pipkins is going to be a load for the East offensive line to handle; he was simply dominating a good group of West lineman in the early session of practice.
Yes, please. Pipkins claimed in the above video that he weighs around 330 pounds right now, and while that's almost certainly not all good weight—he also admitted that he doesn't track his caloric intake, plus the whole snarfing down ice cream thing—he looks like he's ready to step onto a college field tomorrow. Good thing, too, considering the depth at DT next year.
Joe Bolden has been similarly turning heads all week at the Under Armour practices, and in this free 24/7 article he's named as his team's top linebacker prospect despite entering the week with little fanfare:
One of the least-publicized players entering the week, the Michigan commit was a hit from the first day on with his instincts and underrated feet and athleticism standing out. Bolden also was a sponge to the coaching given and by all accounts is a future leader of the Wolverines‘ defense. Bolden currently is 220 pounds, but has the frame to add 15-20 more in time.
Bolden was also named the Black team's defensive MVP by Scott Kennedy of Scout ($, info in header):
With the offensive line occupied by the defensive line, the linebackers were free to roam uninhibited. No one took advantage of the room to run better than Michigan commitment Joe Bolden. Bolden was popping pads during walk-thrus, and he continued to seek and destory when the tempo was moved to full speed. Bolden doesn't do anything half-speed. He showed he was capable of dropping into coverage as well as attacking the line of scrimmage.
Bolden is one of Michigan's three early enrollees, and it sounds like he's the most likely to see the field early next year. Bolden's teammate, Terry Richardson, also came in for praise in the above article, and he got some hype from Prime Time himself, Deion Sanders, who's helping coach the defensive backs:
“Number one (Terry Richardson), the (Bryson Echols) kid is playing his butt off and (Chaz Elder) as a safety has done well,” Sanders said. “The best thing about Richardson is he’s a very coachable kid. You tell him something one time and he is going to implement it. Whatever you tell him, he will do. Echols is a fighter, he’s battled in everything he’s done. These kids are sponges in that have been well-coached.”
I don't think anyone worrying about character issues with Richardson has ever actually met the kid, as his passion for the game and enthusiasm in general are both outstanding, plus he's one of the more polite recruits I've had the pleasure of interviewing. It does not come as a surprise that he's standing out as a very coachable player.
Mario Ojemudia participated in Tuesday's inaugural Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, and he wasn't pleased with his performance, tweeting, "Got the dub but didn't play that well and I messed up my ankle." I took in most of the game before switching over to the Sugar Bowl festivities, and Ojemudia had a difficult time getting off blocks, mostly due to the fact that he looks to weigh around 215 pounds. I still think he's a great prospect as a pass rusher, but added size and strength is a must, and it will likely take a redshirt year before he's ready to see the field at the collegiate level.
Also coming in for praise from the Army Bowl are commits Erik Magnuson, who even got some work at center during practices, James Ross, Royce Jenkins-Stone, and Kyle Kalis ($, info in header). Early enrollee Jarrod Wilson participated in last week's Offense-Defense game, and 24/7's Sean Fitz "loved" Wilson's combination of size (he says Wilson is pushing 6'3") and speed in centerfield ($).
Quickly: Touch the Banner interviews Erik Magnuson, whose favorite play in high school is a screen play for... Erik Magnuson; new blog Tremendous talks to Amara Darboh, who simply says "I don't like them," when asked for his thoughts on Ohio State; and Tim gathers commit reactions to the Sugar Bowl victory ($, info in header)—the ever-quotable Pipkins took the Haters Gonna Hate approach: "Everybody had us losing because they were hating on us - especially those Ohio State guys - but we won a bowl, so what can you say. Everybody heard us cheering downstairs."
Yes, I'm Now Interviewing 2014 Recruits
A few quick notes on underclassmen prospects:
First of all, I caught up with Crete (IL) Monee receiver Laquon Treadwell this week, and while he stated that he has no favorites, he listed a top five of Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Tennessee.
Tyrone (GA) Sandy Creek corner Shaq Wiggins once held Michigan as his leader, but he now has the Wolverines third behind Tennessee and Virginia ($, info in header). He also gave an idea of his potential timeline:
“I want to commit, like, during the summertime — June or July, somewhere in one of those dates — and just get the whole thing over with and focus on my senior season,” Wiggins said. “Once more offers start coming in — probably, like, when I go back to school or something like that — then I’ll narrow it down.”
Also looking to expedite his recruiting process is Wheaton (IL) St. Francis OL Kyle Bosch, who's had Michigan among his favorites and says he's looking to cut his list down to five schools "by the end of this month or the beginning of next month" in an article on 247Sports ($, info in header). He gave his impressions of Michigan, who have been recruiting him hard:
“I’ve been talking to Coach Funk a lot,” Bosch said. “He’s just telling me that he’s really excited about me, and he sends handwritten letters to me four or five times a month. I just like the whole atmosphere there. I like the player-coach and player-player relationships there, and the team-first type of mentality. They all treat each other the same way, and I really like the down-to-earth atmosphere they have.”
Finally, yes, I talked to sophomore quarterback Anthony Sicilano this week, and the class of '14 standout has interest in Michigan, who are among a laundry-list of top schools that have contacted Siciliano. With Michigan likely set at QB with Shane Morris in the 2013 class, Siciliano could be a top priority in the future.
I am officially back from vacation and gearing up for the stretch run to Signing Day 2012. Usual request: please contact me via email or Twitter (or leave a comment) with any suggestions, tips, or links you think should show up in the next recruiting roundup.
Remember DeAnthony Arnett, the 2011 four-star receiver from Saginaw who ultimately decided to attend Tennessee? He's looking to transfer close to home to be with his ailing father, who—according to a statement released by Arnett himself—has had two recent heart attacks and undergone dialysis. Arnett was strongly considering both Michigan and Michigan State during the recruiting process, and ideally he'd like to join one of those two programs while helping his family deal with his father's health issues.
Simple, right? Not in the SEC. Here's some epic scumbaggery courtesy of Tennessee coach Derek Dooley (quoted from Arnett's statement):
Coach Dooley has singled two programs that I can’t get an unconditional release to and they are the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.
He told me I can attend any Mid American Conference school I want and if I wanted to attend either The University of Michigan or Michigan State University I would have to pay for school instead of be on scholarship. I don’t know what’s next. My family can’t afford to pay for school, but my father’s poor health isn’t a good enough excuse for me to attend a BCS school close to home.
Therefore as a student athlete I feel coach Dooley is trying to hinder my success by not allowing me to compete at a BCS level and neglecting the fact my father is severely ill.
Tennessee's rationale is that they have "a policy of not releasing players to schools Tennessee plays or recruits against," according to a school spokesman. That same spokesman said that UT is not denying Arnett the opportunity to play FBS-level football, which is technically true, but have you ever watched the MAC? To say this goes against all moral and rational reasoning and instead sits firmly in the realm of petty absurdity is putting it lightly. MaizePages even adds hypocrisy to the list of Tennessee missteps in handling this situation:
What's worse is that Dooley's decision, with the assumed support of the athletic department and University president given their silence on the issue, also represents the height of hypocricy. The Vols benefited from a similar situation just a few years ago. In 2007, hoops star Tyler Smith was granted a full release by Iowa so he could be closer to his family since his father was battling cancer. Smith, who grew up a Vols fan, also requested and received a waiver from the NCAA not to sit out a season due to "extenuating family circumstances." Iowa did what was right for the student-athlete; Bruce Pearl and Tennessee happily took him in.
Yes, Michigan could really use a receiver of Arnett's abilities—he recorded 24 catches as a true freshman this season—but this is about what's right, not what could benefit the Wolverines on the field. Arnett could go to U-M or MSU next year regardless of Tennessee granting a waiver if his family paid his way through his first year at school, but he made it clear in his statement that isn't an option. Instead, he can either hope an appeal to Tennessee allows him to transfer to a Big Ten school without losing his scholarship for a season, or he'll likely be forced to transfer to a MAC school in order to be close to his family. The situation is especially unfortunate considering that not only are Michigan and MSU the two schools with the best football programs for Arnett, but they're the two FBS schools in the state with the best academics as well.
Just No Stomping, Mr. Garnett
Sam Webb's latest DetNews feature is on Josh Garnett, who talks about an on-field mean streak that he had to tone down after spending his junior year "just looking for a fight" on every play. Though he's chilled out a little between the lines, Garnett still says he's "like [Ndamukong] Suh, but on offense," which sounds pretty awesome to me. Here's the blue-chip OL prospect on how he could fit in along the offensive line:
"I think I'll play wherever I need to go first — tackle, guard, or center," Garnett said when asked to describe his game. "Athletically the coaches are telling me I (am capable of) definitely playing those spots. I do think guard is where I'm going to be able to excel the most. I've got big lower legs, I've got great technique, and good hands. I'm good at hand fighting so I think at guard I can use my abilities to come down on linebackers pretty tough and pull around those corners on a lot of those power plays."
Garnett will decide between Michigan, Notre Dame, and Stanford at the end of January—he decided against taking a visit to Miami this month—and he's leaving the logistics of his announcement up to his twin sister. That choice will come sometime after his official visit to Stanford, which is slated for the weekend of the 14th.
As for others along the O-line, Alex Kozan is considering taking a fifth official visit ($, info in header) to either Oklahoma or Oregon—his previous officials have been to Iowa, Ohio State, Michigan, and Auburn. Meanwhile, Jordan Diamond is "not close" to a decision ($, info in header), and he has yet to narrow his list of schools from a final eight.
One piece of big news to come in over the break is that four-star cornerback and current Penn State commit Armani Reeves will take an official visit to Michigan ($, info in header), though the visit hasn't yet been finalized:
"He'll visit Penn State January 13, so we have a few weekends after that we could probably get, though the basketball schedule is kind of crazy. We definitely want to get him out there. What we've done is keep in contact with the schools that have shown most the interest in him, Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State. Michigan is a definite visit, Ohio State or Notre Dame, it will be one or the other."
It sounds like the Wolverines are in the best position to land Reeves should he decide to back out of his Penn State commitment. With the PSU coaching search looking like it could extend close to signing day, that seems like a very good possibility.
Happy trails to a pair of tight ends as Taylor McNamara committed to Oklahoma and former M commit Pharaoh Brown pledged to Oregon this week. Boston College commit Sam Grant appears to be the last viable option at tight end, and Michigan could actually be helped by McNamara's choice to go to Oklahoma, as that was one of the schools from whom Grant had recently received major interest recently.
The EEs Have Landed
As expected, three recruits from Michigan's class of 2012 have enrolled early, and it sounds like they're on campus and ready to start classes:
It appears at least three 2012 Michigan football recruits have enrolled early at the university.
There are listings for a Jarrod Arthur Lee Wilson, Joseph Daniel Bolden and Kaleb Stefon Ringer in Michigan's online directory of current students.
Those first and last names match three verbal commitments to Michigan, although a school spokesman said Thursday the program likely will not verify they are with the team until the start of winter classes.
This ensures that Michigan will be able to backdate those three players to the 2011 class and take 28 recruits in 2012.
From a recent local newspaper article, we find out senior (and sophomore) year stats for Michigan's most recent commit, receiver Jehu Chesson:
Chesson has been one of the area's top wide receivers the past two seasons. After grabbing 23 catches for 402 yards and four scores as a sophomore, Chesson had 53 receptions for 605 yards and scored 11 total touchdowns as a junior and had 53 catches for 757 yards and eight total touchdowns this fall.
Those catch totals are consistent, to say the least, and while he had fewer touchdowns as a senior, the increased yards per catch (from 11.4 to 14.3) indicates Chesson is improving after the catch.
Quickly: James Ross is named as Rivals.com's first-team All-American middle linebacker for 2011, while several commits make 247's Best of the Midwest list.
Tuley-Tillman Goes From Unknown to Blue-Chip
247Sports updated their class of 2013 rankings (I know, that was fast), and the top-ranked new arrival to their Top247 is none other than Peoria (IL) Manual OT Logan Tuley-Tillman, who went from unranked to the #38 overall player in the class (the article lists him at #37, but he's one spot lower when you click over to the rankings). For a full list of where Michigan offerees now stand, check out Touch the Banner.
Quickly, because this post is getting lengthy: Cass Tech corner Jourdan Lewis has Michigan at the top of his list, though he's yet to receive an offer ($, info in header); top-ranked TE Adam Breneman is looking to visit Michigan for a junior day or spring practice ($, info in header); the Wolverines offered a pair of Louisville (KY) Trinity prospects in WR James Quick and DE Jason Hatcher ($, info in header); four-star LB/S Su'a Cravens is already planning to take an official visit to Michigan during his senior season ($, info in header); TomVH profiles Good Counsel DB Kendall Fuller ($); and Sam Webb interviews Highland (UT) head coach Brody Benson, coach of 2012 commit Sione Houma and 2014 DT Bryan Mone, who received Michigan's first offer to a member of the current sophomore class ($).
With apologies to Black Heart Gold Pants. And all of you.
This space has remarked on how deeply uncomfortable linebackers coach Mark Smith appears in all photos before. In this he is the opposite of Tim Hardaway's photogenic appeal.
This here is a Mark Smith keeper from Michigan's latest trip to Colerain:
Unfrozen Caveman Position Coach is confused and frightened by this camera business
Colerain is LB commit Joe Bolden's school, FWIW. I like to think his recruitment went like this:
Ladies and gentlemen of the Bolden family, I'm just a caveman. I don't know much about this modern world of yours, but I do know how to hunt and eat wild game. As your position coach I will teach you to hunt and eat the king of game: man. Did you know man is the sweetest of all mea—
Well… what Mark's trying to say is that Michigan's unmatched tradition and the superior technique coaching you will receive make Ann Arbor the best place for you. He is not talking about killing and eating your opposition, except—and I want to make this explicitly clear—in a metaphorical sense.
I am 100% sincere about eating the still-beating hearts of opposing running backs.
[two hours later, just outside of Dayton.]
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 ($). If Michigan can't land a big-time running back for 2012, getting a combo like Ty Isaac and Wyatt Shallman will likely be necessary, though that could happen even if the Wolverines pull in Bri'onte Dunn or Wes Brown.
In this week's Thursday Recruitin', a high school coach manages to out-hyperbole Fred Jackson, Ondre Pipkins gets invited to the Army AA Bowl, a Scout, er, scout channels his inner Rod Allen, and two more 2012 commits plan to enroll early. Please let me know if you have any comments, criticism, suggestions, etc.—as always, I'll be reading the comments, and you can also reach me on Twitter or via email, where I'll also encourage you to send any recruiting articles of interest that you think I should include for the next week's edition.
With the coaching staff saying for a while now that the 2012 recruiting class would hit at least 26 members—and possibly, if not probably, go as high as 28—despite there currently being just 24 available spots, Michigan was going to need to find some players to enroll early. Safety Jarrod Wilson has been in that boat for a while, and now comes the news that two linebackers will arrive in Ann Arbor for the spring term as well ($, info in header)—Joe Bolden and Kaleb Ringer.
The Wolverines are allowed to backdate up to three early enrollees, essentially having them count as part of the 2011 class, which allows them to push up to the Big Ten limit of 28 recruits in a class. Bri'onte Dunn, if Michigan were to land him, is also a candidate to enroll early, but that now is more of a developmental bonus and less of a numbers necessity if the Wolverines can pluck him from Ohio State's grasp.
In other news on current commits, Tim Sullivan's latest contribution to the Freep profiles tight end commit A.J. Williams, who has played almost exclusively on the offensive line his last two seasons in high school but will still be a tight end for the Wolverines, one of the reasons that drew him to Ann Arbor:
Though he loves pancaking opposing defenders, he didn’t want to be exclusively a blocker in college. The opportunity to play tight end is another reason he chose Michigan.
“That’s also what made Michigan a great decision,” said Williams. “They actually wanted me for the tight end position, which I want to play.”
His 6-foot-6, 265-pound frame should help Williams be ready to contribute from the first day he steps on campus in August. Playing as a blocking tight end, he should be more ready to play than the average freshman. After not catching any passes for two years, however, he will have to make an adjustment when he gets to the next level, and get reacquainted with the nuances of going downfield to catch passes.
With the lack of depth and size at the tight end position for next year, Williams will have the opportunity to play right away. Though he may not be ready to be an oft-targeted receiver in the passing game, his blocking should be an asset right off the bat, especially when Michigan runs the ball.
Steve Junga of the Toledo Blade has a lengthy piece up on safety commit Allen Gant, whose work ethic has made him a three-sport star at Sylvania Southview and impressed his father Tony, a former Wolverine himself:
In the spring he will earn his fourth letter in track and field, where he is a rare blend -- a discus thrower and shot putter who also runs sprint relays.
"The drive really comes from Allen," Tony Gant said. "I had a certain type of drive, but what he does -- lifting weights and eating healthy and drinking a gallon of water a day -- I never did that.
"I was a 6-foot, 185-pound kid who never lifted a weight in my life until I got to Michigan. He's in the weight room six days a week on his own. He motivates himself."
"Allen's always had a good work ethic, even as a youngster," [his grandfather and former professional baseball player] Chet Trail said. "You never had to do too much to get him to practice. I wish I could take some credit for [his motivation], but Allen is a self-starter."
Gant already weighs in the 200-pound range and looks like he's ready to step on a college field immediately, though he'll likely get some time to develop as a depth player and on special teams before being called upon to contribute on the defense.
Quickly: Ondre Pipkins was one of four prospects recently named to the Army All-American Bowl, joining fellow commits Royce Jenkins-Stone, Kyle Kalis, Erik Magnuson, and James Ross. Kenny Allen's commitment writeup at The Flint Journal. Your TomVH insider content of the week includes Drew Henson breaking down the offensive commits, Marcus Ray doing the same for the defense, and profiles of his top two committed prospects, RJS and Kyle Kalis.
For more, hit the jump.