rundown of Michigan's riser
Before I get into the recruiting roundup, I'm planning a recruiting mailbag post for tomorrow and could use a couple more questions. If you've got one (or more!) please send me an email or tweet it to me. Now back to your regularly scheduled Jabrill Peppers update.
Jabrill Peppers Heat Status: Infinity Chilli
If you somehow haven't watched this just do it already. Yes, all of it.
As the recruitment of Jabrill Peppers evolves, Michigan's chances of landing the five-star corner appear to be getting better and better. The latest news from Peppers is that he's moving up his decision timeline and putting Penn State back in the mix—he'll make a May 18th visit to Happy Valley per 247's Steve Wiltfong ($) [emphasis mine]:
“They never left the picture,” [Paramus Catholic head coach Chris] Partridge said of Penn State. “Them and Michigan were his top visits. He decided he wanted to move up his decision timeline. He doesn’t have any negatives about Penn State. Them or Michigan. He wants to go and stay overnight at Penn State.”
Peppers is still aiming to get to Stanford before deciding.
“He is looking to commit sometime in early June,” Partridge said.
Peppers previously visited Penn State on February 20th, and while his coach is now talking up the visit there wasn't nearly the same over-the-moon reaction in the immediate aftermath as he had post-Michigan. Securing a second visit from Peppers is remarkably impressive for Bill O'Brien and PSU considering the circumstances; it seems unlikely they'd be able to overtake Michigan. This is very important considering the next bit of visit-related news:
2014 DB Jabrill Peppers hasn't cancelled his Stanford visit but it is proving difficult to plan around his track schedule, per his coach.
— The M Block (@TheMBlock) May 8, 2013
Despite finding it difficult to reschedule his trip to Stanford, Peppers is moving up his timeline. Even the staunchest of pessimists has to take that as a very good sign for Michigan's chances.
As it stands, it's hard to see a scenario in which Peppers sticks to his new timeline and doesn't choose the Wolverines. Penn State—and, if he makes the trip, Stanford—is still a threat, but there's more than one reason for Peppers to take a final visit: not only does he want to make sure he's making the right decision, he's got a high school teammate—QB Steve Shanley—who visited Happy Valley with him in February and is still hoping for a Nittany Lion offer.
PSU insiders certainly seem less optimistic than their Michigan counterparts—for good reason, with the sanctions and all. If early June is really the decision timeline, the Wolverines are going to be very tough to beat here. The current commits certainly seem to think so—either Drake Harris knows something we don't or he's just a very confident recruiter, via Sam Webb ($):
When asked if he thinks Michigan has a good chance of landing Peppers’ after their private conversations?
Harris replied, “I’ll just say we have good chance.”
Do you feel good where things stand with Peppers?
“I feel great!” Harris replied with a coy smile confidently.
Go ahead, watch that highlight tape again, and allow yourself to get a little excited.
[Hit THE JUMP for more from last weekend's camps, this weekend's visitor list, notes on new offers, and more.]
Running back: I guess we should get one
Jonathan Hilliman has two Is in his last name.
ESPN's Jared Shanker reports Michigan was visiting NJ RB Jonathan Hilliman recently. Sort of:
Michigan was at the school of RB Jonathan Hilliman today, who at the beginning of the month put Michigan No. 2 on his top 10. He said today that he would no longer rank his top seven (his original top 5 of OSU, UM, Bama, Rutgers, Stanford plus Vandy and BC) but those are the schools he is focusing on. That is very subject to change, though.
He did not get to see the Michigan coaches today, however, as they came after school and Hilliman was already gone.
They were also checking out a couple teammates, one the a spectacularly-named 2015 CB named Minkah Fitzpatrick. Hilliman is a consensus three-star who claims mega offers: not only the midwest powers but Alabama, Georgia, Oregon, Florida, etc. Sometimes those lists are a little inflated—or a lot—but Hilliman is getting Florida coaches in and the Bama 247 site seems to think got a real offer, so…
In any case, with the Smith/Green duo of a year ago and a couple of promising 2015 kids waiting in the wings, tailback is not a huge priority for this class. They'll take one.
Hand continues giving interviews, not eating reporters
Unfortunately, VA DE Da'Shawn Hand didn't respond to an ESPN guy's question about how he feels about being #4 on the ESPN 150 with "TOO LOW /consumes reporter." He did talk his top five, sounding more enthusiastic about Alabama and Florida than he did previously but reiterating he's changing his major from engineering to sports management—Michigan has a whole school for that—and talking about the Wolverines thusly:
The coaches are genuine; the players love the coaches. The town itself. It's cold, but I can get used to that. Everything… the sports management professor was amazing; he blew me away.
Hand talks up South Carolina's food. On VT:
Bud Foster's my favorite coach. When I go there I feel like I'm at home. It's like going to your grandparent's house. And then you don't have to worry about any coaches changing positions or anything or getting fired. … nobody's leaving.
One point is awarded to whoever that kinesiology professor is. Here is some super-bonus deduction: Hand mentions that he still needs to talk to the Alabama guy in that field, says the South Carolina guy is a good guy but not "amazing," and seems to have changed his major plans after his Michigan visit. (He hasn't been to Florida yet.) That bodes well for M.
Here's a guy at OSU's ESPN site telling Buckeye fans to brace themselves as "Hand is likely gone to Michigan." /selfhighfive
Google Image Search for Chase Winovich: slightly terrifying
The M Block has acquired optimism in re: PA LB Chase Winovich, a consensus three-star that is nonetheless the subject of a heated recruiting battle between Michigan and Ohio State. Pitt is the other school in his top three($), and while the Panthers actually have a good track record against Michigan for WPIAL kids* it doesn't look like Winovich is going to stay in-state. He just made a second trip to Ohio State and is returning to Ann Arbor May 10th.
As for that optimism, the M Block:
The M Block has uncovered some information regarding the final linebacker spot in the 2014 class and we feel very confident that it could belong to Chase Winovich. Several sources close to the situation have informed us that Winovich will visit Michigan on May 10th and will have a chance to commit while on that visit.Obviously these situations are never 100% guaranteed but this one seems to be headed in that direction.
And a reiteration:
I talked to 2014 LB Chase Winovich last night...I'm standing by my prediction that he'll be a Wolverine.
HOWEVA, Rivals got a different vibe($) from their just-completed Pittsburgh camp, wherein Winovich said it was "always a dream" of his to go to OSU. Commit Michael Ferns was working on him and Winovich said that M visit "could be a watershed visit"—Rivals' words, not his—with a decision soon to follow. Momentum is with OSU, declareth Rivals.
Winovich would be an interesting addition to Michigan's class. At 6'4", 205, he's got a lot of filling out to do and likely projects to the SAM spot most had assumed the 6'3", 230 pound Ferns was headed for. If Michigan adds him they'd likely bring in Ferns as an MLB.
Winovich plans to pull the trigger in July.
@JabrillPeppers Bro Follow Back We Might Be Team Mates One Day ...
I'd be surprised if Watson is uncommitted into June.
Side note: Watson is about to be a father. In Let's Get Way Ahead Of Ourselves Theater, that provides plenty of motivation since it seems like the place he lives is not one he'd like to stay. If he does develop into a guy with significant NFL interest, he's probably not going to pull a Lewan. This has been Let's Get Way Ahead Of Ourselves Theater.
*[Jonathan Baldwin comes to mind most prominently.]
Between two Ferns: the camp
So Ferns showed out for Rivals and came away with an invite($) to the "Rivals Five Star Challenge," which is one of these nouveau invite-only camps like the Opening. Mike Farrell on Ferns:
"He is the stereotypical Big Ten linebacker," Farrell said. "He is explosive to the football and takes great angles. He is hard-nosed and physically impressive. He is exactly what you expect when you think of a major prospect from this area at that position."
I think that's supposed to be nice, but after this most recent NFL draft I am not entirely sure. The other guy to get an invite was PA S Monate Nicholson, who's taking his recruitment easy, man. Tim Sullivan notes that he's still in contact with Darrell Funk($) and tentatively plans a summer visit.
Speaking of that Peppers fellow
Not even the birth of TomVH's daughter (congrats!) could move NJ CB Jabrill Peppers's announcement date up to last weekend, but he did rumble about getting things over with a lot faster than anyone expected. Also via the M Block:
Jabrill Peppers head coach says "He is getting close to a decision. He will prob make his decision in early June to focus on Sr. year."
(Peppers retweeted that, FWIW.) That would be very good for Michigan. He's got a Stanford visit upcoming… in July($). Either that gets bumped up or it's all over but the awkward self-high-fiving at your computer.
TomVH also talked to Peppers on an ESPN podcast. He's noncommital for the most part, but does say he'll only take two officials… if he goes that long uncommitted.
UPDATE: Sam Webb talked to Peppers' coach($), who says that a Stanford visit will occur before any decision is made.
Show's over folks
WR commit Drake Harris:
I'm not talking to anymore coach's I'm happy with the decision I made, and nothing is going to change my mind
Send your missives, Mississippi State, and they will be ignored. Meanwhile, some guy asked Harris "do you even lift bro?" Harris said he just started a month and a half ago.
I am not paying attention to 2016 recruits($) until they are out of the womb, okay? If I was, I might mention that there's an instate WR kid at Farmington Hills Harrison named Desmond Fitzpatrick who is probably going to be one of the top five kids in the state. But I won't, because that kid is still in the developmental stage where he's got flippers.
Happy trails to NC RB Elijah Hood, who committed to Notre Dame, which makes me sad since it's basically irrelevant. Boo on you, end of ND series. Also happy trails to PA S Dravon Henry, who didn't include Michigan in his top four.
Michigan is still looking at($) MI TE Kyle Rachwal as a FB or LB after confirming to him that Ian Bunting fills their single spot at TE.
It's been a light week for recruiting, which is fine because HAVE WE MENTIONED MICHIGAN IS IN THE FINAL FOUR? Anyway, here's the latest from the recruiting scene.
Succinct, At Least
Earlier this afternoon.
me: ugh you had to post the ferns thing
that's definitely what's leading off my post right now
Brian: if it gets posted twice oh well
me: yeah, I made a different joke, at least.
Brian: just make some snarky comment about how i'm a jerk
me: that can be done.
Brian is a jerk.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, Michigan commit Michael Ferns posted this picture to his Instagram account today, with the caption "Ummm.. Thanks Coach":
It appears Mississippi State is interested in Ferns, knows he's a fan of Michigan's family atmosphere, and therefore let one of their coaches' six-year-old kids be his primary recruiting contact. The small child that penned the above clearly pictures himself as the future recruiting coordinator at NC State.
Greg Mattison finds this all rather adorable, and will now return to recruiting players the likes of which Mississippi State hasn't seen in ever.
[Hit THE JUMP for spring practice visit reactions and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers Michigan's latest offers to 2015 and 2016(!) prospects, campus visits by Braden Smith and Danny Burns, and more.
We Offered A Freshman. A 6'4", 248-Pound Freshman.
As the recruiting process continues to speed up, programs are getting in on top prospects earlier and earlier in their high school—or, if you're USC or LSU, middle school—careers. Michigan took a big step in that direction this week when Greg Mattison offered 2016 GA TE Isaac Nauta, the first freshman to earn that distinction in program history, per Tim Sullivan ($):
"We called Coach Mattison, and he just explained to me how they watched my film, the tight ends coach really liked me over there, and they wanted to offer me early," Nauta said. "He said that they actually don't offer kids this early, so it was kind of a special for them which I thought was really cool. It was pretty humbling because apparently I'm the first freshman that they've ever offered."
The Wolverines aren't even the first program to get in on Nauta, who also holds offers from Clemson, Tennessee, and Virginia Tech. This is the case because Nauta is, well, not your typical high school freshman—he's listed at 6'4", 248 pounds, and recorded six TD receptions and eight sacks for the Buford High School varsity squad, which won the Georgia Class AAA state title. Aside from some rawness in technique, there's little in his freshman film to suggest that he is, in fact, a freshman.
If Michigan is going to continue offering kids this early, I support the "offer man-child first, ask questions later" tack. Nauta says he plans to visit Ann Arbor in June, and he's taking his time with the recruiting process—which, yeah, is probably a good idea.
Michigan sent out a 2014 offer to AZ WR/DB Jalen Brown, according to Scout's Jason Jewell ($). The 6'2", 185-pound athlete now holds 29 scholarship offers, including USC, Stanford, Ohio State, and Oklahoma.
The Wolverines also sent out a 2015 offer this week to Plano (TX) West RB Soso Jamabo, per 247's Clint Brewster ($). Jamabo also holds offers from Ohio State and Oklahoma; at 6'2", 200 lbs., he's one to watch down the road, both for his talent and his name.
[Hit THE JUMP for visit reactions from a pair of 2014 linemen and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers this weekend's visitors, the latest on Malik McDowell, and more. Thankfully, I wrote this before the Wisconsin game, and feel no remorse about immediately bumping my own post off the top of the page.
[Insert Hand Pun Here]
Purported high schooler Da'Shawn Hand
Michigan hosts a small group of 2014 visitors this weekend. Small isn't bad, however, when one of those visitors in the nation's top overall prospect, VA DE Da'Shawn Hand. Sam Webb has an extensive feature on Hand in the Detroit News in which he alleviates any concern that Jerry Montgomery's departure will hurt Michigan's chances:
"I heard about it, but I'm not sweating it," said Hand on Montgomery's departure. "Montgomery is a good dude, and that's a good move for him, but I'm not interested in Oklahoma whatsoever. That's how I feel about it. He is a good dude, but I like Coach Mattison."
"(Mattison) is young at heart. I don't even know how old he is. I think he's like 60 — don't tell him I said that — but that dude is 25 at heart. And he's a good guy. He's funny, but he knows what he's talking about. He knows his stuff. He's been a defensive coordinator for the (Baltimore) Ravens. I look up to Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, — it's so many people, it's endless. And they have so many components to that defense. For him to come to Michigan just shows how dynamic the defense is, and for me to be a part of that, they can move me everywhere and get me prepped for the NFL."
Mattison would be Hand's position coach at Michigan, a point I'm sure won't go unmentioned this weekend. Hand also discussed his friendship with fellow Virginian Derrick Green, whom he met on the camp circuit—the two have "just been clicking" since hanging out at The Opening. The Wolverines will be in a serious battle with the rest of Hand's top five—Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, and Virginia Tech—but they've certainly got a few things working in their favor.
[Hit THE JUMP for more on this weekend's visitors and, um, more.]
Today's recruiting roundup discusses the latest on Laquon Treadwell, Kendall Fuller, and Derrick Green, plus much more. Also included is an interview with 2014 running back Jonathan Hilliman.
Pursuit Of Quon: Successful?
The eyes of the recruiting world are on Oregon this weekend as Nike's mega-camp The Opening officially kicked off yesterday. Michigan sends a contingent of seven commits—Shane Morris, Kyle Bosch, Jake Butt, Taco Charlton, David Dawson, Jourdan Lewis, and Mike McCray—and other top targets are in attendance. None is getting more attention right now than IL WR Laquon Treadwell, however, after he tweeted yesterday morning that a decision could come imminently:
So much going on my decision coming soon.
— Laquon Treadwell (@SuccessfulQuon) July 5, 2012
This is a stark departure from Treadwell's recent statements about taking his officials before making a decision, but a later tweet appeared to indicate that his mind is largely made up. Mike Farrell subsequently reported that a decision could come as soon as this weekend; even if Treadwell waits until he gets home, there's an overwhelming sense that this one is just about over.
By a stroke of luck, Sam Webb had the same flight to Oregon as Treadwell, and he posted a two-part video interview from the gate at Chicago O'Hare. Part one is free; Treadwell attributes his change of heart to simply waking up with that feeling in his gut and says that his mom has given him the go-ahead to commit if he so desires. In part two($), he reiterates that Michigan leads for his services; Oklahoma State is the other school mentioned as a favorite despite Treadwell not visiting Stillwater yet. He also discusses his friendship with Shane Morris, saying that Morris is practically his "best friend."
Treadwell does say that he still wants to see a couple of his favorites—likely Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, as he had a previous trip set up there that was cancelled due to a tornado—so one gets the sense that he's still trying to sort things out. While his decision timing is uncertain, there's little doubt as to the favorite for his services: Treadwell says Michigan "feels like home," while he's yet to even set foot on the campus of the one school (Ok. St.) that appears to have even a remote chance to unseat the Wolverines. Now Treadwell will spend the weekend with seven Michigan commits—including recruiter extraordinaire Morris—in his ear. You know what to do...
Fuller, Green Plan Visits
If Treadwell does commit, Michigan will be left with one scholarship slot (barring unexpected attrition) and several worthy candidates to fill it. Several of those candidates, including MD CB Kendall Fuller and VA RB Derrick Green, are currently at The Opening, where they'll surely get a visit and recruiting pitch from the Wolverine crew.
Mike Farrell tweeted yesterday that Clemson and Virginia Tech are "neck and neck" at the top for Fuller, with Michigan in his top three but trailing. Fuller has visits to both of his leaders set for later this month. While this doesn't bode well for Michigan's chances, Tim Sullivan reports that Fuller plans to take an official visit to Ann Arbor ($, info in header). The Wolverines are playing catch-up here, so an opportunity to get Fuller on campus is one they must capitalize on.
Green, meanwhile, texted me a top 13 this week of Tennessee, Michigan, Oregon, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Virginia Tech, Auburn, Clemson, Alabama, Miami, Pitt, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma. He also talked to ESPN's Damon Sayles about visiting Ann Arbor for the BBQ at the Big House on July 29th($), saying he's looking forward to chatting with Brady Hoke in person since Hoke wasn't on campus for his first visit. Green has played things pretty close to the vest thus far but Michigan likely has ground to cover here, as well.
CA DT Eddie Vanderdoes trimmed his list to a final ten that does not include Michigan($), likely because the Wolverines are no longer in need of a defensive tackle.
247 updated their 2013 rankings. Tremendous has the full breakdown of risers and fallers; most moves were minor save for David Dawson (up to #157 from #196) and Patrick Kugler (up to #154 from #206).
Chris Fox "Fully Committed"
Despite recent rumors of a potential decommitment, Chris Fox told 247's Todd Worly($) that he's "fully committed to Michigan," and "nothing is going to change." Until further notice, there's nothing to see here.
Speaking of nothing to see here, David Dawson caused a stir yesterday when he tweeted that his Michigan teammates had "left [him]" while at The Opening, then saying he was chilling with a group of Florida commits. Dawson has recently discussed camping at Florida, so we now have a new panic about a possible decommitment. I'll only say this on the matter: STOP hanging onto every word a recruit says on Twitter. In fact, I'll reiterate that you should probably stop following recruits entirely, especially if you're the type to worry about stuff like Dawson's tweet. It's just not worth it. It's the job of people like myself, TomVH, Tim Sullivan, and Steve Lorenz to follow these recruits and pass along any information that's actually pertinent. If anything newsworthy arises out of the Dawson situation—and hanging out with Florida commits is beyond not newsworthy—we'll keep you posted.
Sam Webb's latest piece at the Detroit News covers FL WR Corey Holmes, one of Michigan's early offerees. Holmes talks about getting "butterflies" and being speechless upon receiving the offer, while his father has high praise for Michigan and Brady Hoke:
"I was thoroughly impressed with everything Michigan had to offer, from A to Z," Mr. Holmes said. "From the academics, to the facilities, the coaching staff, and definitely Coach Hoke. I've always respected him, and thought, 'Hey, what a great coach.' But to meet him in person — I walked away with a big smile on my face because he's a motivator, a straight shooter, and that's all you can ask for. You want your kid to be in the hands of someone that's going to take care of them. The family atmosphere that they preach is legit. I got a chance to see some of the players, and some of the coaching staff — they were unbelievable. It was better than I expected."
The younger Holmes grew up as a Michigan fan, and while he says he's still open, the Wolverines are "a favorite." Holmes also provided a diary of his Michigan camp experience to Tremendous, and you have to like Michigan's chances after reading a quote like this:
I sat in Coach's office and didn't really know what to do or say. It was such an indescribable feeling. He sat down and talked to my father and I about himself, his love for Michigan and complimented me on my performance at the camp. It was then that he offered me a scholarship to play for Michigan. I really had no idea how to react. I had accomplished what I set out to do. After getting offered, I was given a full tour of campus, the amazing facilities and best of all, the Big House. It was a breathtaking experience, one that I’ll never forget. To think that a kid from South Florida made it all the way to Ann Arbor and received an offer to play football for the University of Michigan is just too much to think about. Truly a mission complete.
Both articles are well worth your time. Holmes appears to be an early favorite to end up as a member of Michigan's class of 2014.
Massilon (OH) Washington OL Nathaniel Devers has visited several schools over the summer and he tells Matt Pargoff that Michigan and Northwestern have emerged as his top two. He's yet to earn a Wolverine offer, but if he does he's another player to keep an eye on.
An Interview With Jonathan Hilliman
One of Michigan's first offers for the 2014 class went out to NJ RB Jonathan Hilliman, who also holds offers from Miami (YTM), Nebraska, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State, and Wisconsin, among others. Hilliman stands at 6'0", 201 pounds, and according to 247 he rushed for 426 yards and four touchdowns on just 58 carries as a sophomore in 2011. I caught up with Jonathan earlier this week to talk about his recruitment, visits, timeline, and more:
ACE: First of all, which schools are talking to you the most right now in your recruitment, and how many offers do you have right now?
JONATHAN: I'd say the schools that have been reaching out the most have been Michigan, Miami, PSU, Rutgers, and Ohio State. I have 11 offers so far.
ACE: Out of the schools you've been in contact with, do you have any early favorites or a top group?
JONATHAN: I can't really say that yet. I'd have to take some visits and meet coaches before I could narrow it down.
ACE: Discussing Michigan specifically, who have you been in contact with from the school? What are the coaches telling you about your potential role in the offense?
JONATHAN: I talk to a lot of the coaches, but we haven't discussed those aspects as of yet—probably [will] during my potential visit.
ACE: Do you have any visits set up yet? Which schools would you like to check out?
JONATHAN: I'm taking four visits this summer and I pretty want to see every school at this point.
ACE: When you visit schools, what factors are you looking for that will help you make your decision?
JONATHAN: The support staff for student athletes, the coaching staff, the campus itself, and the recruits at the school.
ACE: I know it's very early in the process, but do you have any idea of when you'd like to narrow down your options or make a final decision?
JONATHAN: The end of my senior season.
ACE: If you had to scout yourself, what would you say are your biggest strengths as a player, and what are you working on to improve for your junior year and beyond?
JONATHAN: I'd say the speed and power I have for my size. I have good vision and I can elude tacklers. One improvement I would have to make is my explosiveness and flexibility.
ACE: Coming from St. Peter's Prep, I'm sure you've had the chance to talk with other D-I level recruits [they had three FBS signees last year]. What advice have you received for how to handle your recruitment?
JONATHAN: Stay humble, be personable, take all your visits, speak clearly, and give off a good impression to potential coaches.