he grew a beard
I'm baaaaack. Didn't miss a thing, right? Oh, yeah, THAT. Signing day has come and gone, and while Michigan is still in on a couple of prospects, today's roundup will focus on the endless fluff pieces on Michigan commits, the flood of new offers for 2013 recruits, and the search for the real Fred Jackson.
Hoke By First-Round KO
Bob Wojnowski is one of the best on the Michigan beat, but I couldn't help but snicker at the headline of his post-NSD column:
Backyard recruiting brawl is back on between Michigan, Michigan State
After Michigan pulled in seven of Rivals's top ten in-state prospects, leaving Sparty with academic question mark Aaron Burbridge, I imagine that brawl going a little like this:
Yes, I know Wojo didn't write the headline. In fact, I'm hoping this a wonderfully back-handed way of saying that it's back to "Big Two, Little (Rest of B1G)" status [emphasis mine]:
There's nothing more emotional than Michigan-Michigan State and Michigan-Ohio State games. But now all three programs are fighting on familiar ground, while other Big Ten heavyweights have issues.
Michigan State's familiar ground: Lurking under the table for the in-state scraps while Ohio State poaches their top commits. Things just feel so wonderfully right now, don't they? They should: Michigan finished with a class that ranked #6 on Rivals, #4 on Scout, #7 on ESPN, and #8 on 24/7, and while Ohio State did come out on top in the conference recruiting rankings, anyone who expected different when the Buckeyes hired Urban Meyer was kidding themselves. Also, they oversigned, so the moral high-ground remains ours. Never forget how important that is to maintaining our conference-best arrogance.
Sam Webb took a look at five recruits—Joe Bolden, Kyle Kalis, Ondre Pipkins, A.J. Williams, and Chris Wormley—who could have an immediate impact on the field in 2012. Most of the article is stuff you've seen before, but Scout's Dave Berk had some especially high praise for Bolden:
"I thought he was the best linebacker in the state of Ohio for two years now," said Scout.com Ohio analyst Dave Berk. "He has a high football IQ. A lot of times we say that about guys that don't have athletic ability, but Joe has the athletic ability to go with it. He has got great physical size and he can go sideline to sideline. He can be an outside backer or he can be a middle backer. He is a playmaker. … I think Ohio State and Notre Dame whiffed on that one."
Okay, I really just wanted a quote that knocked OSU and ND. I doubt you mind.
Somebody Save Fred Jackson from the Pirates, Please
This cannot be the real Fred Jackson. There is clearly an imposter masquerading as the King of Hyperbole ($):
Late addition Dennis Norfleet also comes in listed as a running back, but Jackson noted that at 5-7, 170, he's not as suited to every-down back duty in this offense.
"I'm not too sure about his overall ability as a back," Jackson said. "He's more of a utility kind of guy. He's not a guy who is going to go in and play like a Drake, or a [Thomas] Rawls, or guys like that, with that size. He's more of a utility guy that can help you in a lot of ways.
Jackson wasn't quick to jump on the notion of Norfleet as the next Vincent Smith, either, given what Smith has already proven.
"I know you know what I think about Vincent Smith," Jackson assured. "That's saying a lot. Vincent Smith, to me, is pound-for-pound, probably the toughest guy on our football team. I don't know if you can say a guy is going to be like that. I'd hope he could eventually get that way."
Until Jackson describes Norfleet as "Darren Sproles with the wings of an angel and the feet of a young Michael Jackson," I'm going to assume he's been captured by Somali pirates, whom he's currently convincing are the greatest pirates since the days of Bluebeard.
Imposter Fred Jackson did manage to sign seven of the eight players he targeted while recruiting the state of Michigan for the first time this year (all held MSU offers, by the way) en route to being named one of 24/7's top 50 recruiters for this year's class, joining Greg Mattison on the list. At least Imposter Fred Jackson can still recruit.
The Wolverine released an endless series of profiles on class of 2012 commits—all behind paywalls, of course, because knowing Ben Braden played hockey is premium info, y'all—and perhaps the most interesting is the profile of Kyle Kalis, who's got a sensitive side when he's not bashing defenders into the ground ($):
"Kyle is not a kid you can stereotype. He has a myriad of friends, all types of kids," he said. "As an artist, he's tremendous. Some of his work, if you saw it, you'd be really impressed. With the guitar, he didn't take lessons … he taught himself. I believed he played it a little for Coach [Greg] Mattison when he came for a visit.
"Kyle is a young man with intangibles. So often we just want to measure these kids on their grades and test scores, but there is so much more to our personalities and who we are than that, and Kyle epitomizes what you want out of a well-rounded individual."
If the painting at right is any indication, Kalis also likes the Rolling Stones. No word on whether he's more of a Let It Bleed/Beggars Banquet guy or an Exile on Main St. fan. In actual football-related news, Kalis is unsure whether he'll be a guard or a tackle for the Wolverines—according to him, Hoke is giving Kalis the chance to choose between right tackle and right guard once he gets onto campus and has a few practices under his belt. If Michigan doesn't land Jordan Diamond (announcing at 8pm EST tonight), the need for depth at tackle may be too great for him to land at guard, at least for this year.
Quickly: For the last time, A.J. Williams is a tight end, though he'll fill the role of the 'Y' position—blocking TE—while Devin Funchess will play the 'U,' a TE/WR/FB hybrid ($); Erik Magnuson considers himself a good luck charm after visiting for the Notre Dame and Ohio State games ($); ESPN video of Funchess, Royce Jenkins-Stone, Terry Richardson, and James Ross, all former members of the youth football Westside Cubs who have now been reunited as Wolverines.
This is probably the last time I'll have a section called "2013 Notes," since now we're officially in the class of 2013 recruiting cycle. The initial ESPN U 100 ($) was released on signing day and it's littered with Michigan targets. Tom has a full breakdown over on ESPN Insider, but Shane Morris was indeed awarded five-star status, Dymonte Thomas got four stars, and the Wolverines are recruiting eight five-stars—TE Adam Breneman, CB Kendall Fuller, LB Michael Hutchings, S Leon McQuay, OL Ethan Pocic, OL Jake Raulerson (who just committed to Texas), OL Laremy Tunsil, and DT Greg Webb—and 18 four-stars from the list.
Michigan sent out a ton of offers this past week, so I'll summarize in bullet form:
- Cass Tech CB Jourdan Lewis, who got his "dream offer" from the Wolverines ($). I'm a big fan of Lewis after seeing him three times this past year, and it's quite possible he could be the next junior to commit.
- That is, if Lewis isn't beaten to the punch by Columbus (OH) Marion-Franklin WR Jaron Dukes, who named Michigan as his top school after receiving his offer ($).
- Columbus Bishop Hartley's Jacob Matuska is the third TE to be offered by Michigan ($), joining Adam Breneman and Jake Butt.
- Indianapolis North Central OL Darius Latham, 24/7 #67 overall prospect, was offered by Michigan and Tennessee recently ($).
- Lincoln Way-West (IL) OL Colin McGovern becomes another standout Illinois lineman to receive an offer, and Allen Trieu has a free article that's well worth a read.
- Cincinnati Moeller LB Shane Jones picked up offers from Michigan and Indiana ($), joining Cincinnati among his early offers.
- Avon (IN) DE Elijah Daniel, another top-100 prospect to 24/7, grabbed a Wolverine offer ($). He's already visited Ann Arbor twice and is considering taking a visit on the 18th.
- Two more players added M offers: Columbus (OH) Walnut Ridge WR Rob Wheelwright and Dayton (OH) Trotwood-Madison DE Michael McCray, according to 24/7 ($).
In other news, quickly: Pickerington (OH) North TE Jake Butt named Michigan, Stanford, Northwestern, Maryland, and Tennessee as his early top five ($); Logan Tuley-Tillman will visit Ann Arbor this weekend ($); Allen Trieu takes a look at some of the emerging juniors and sophomores, many of whom are being recruited by the Wolverines.
In case you missed the announcement on Tuesday, recruiting roundup posts are now a twice-a-week affair. Today, Josh Garnett's commitment to Stanford is discussed, as are updates on the status of the remaining 2012 targets and new offers to members of the class of 2013.
Garnett to Stanford (Sad Trombone)
As I'm sure you are well aware of if you're the type to be reading this post, blue-chip OL Josh Garnett chose Stanford over Michigan last night. Beyond losing out on a potential All-American guard, this isn't a huge blow to Michigan's recruiting class—the team is still in good shape with Jordan Diamond and Alex Kozan, for starters—but it's disappointing nonetheless. I asked the Twitter world last night if any Stanford bloggers would like a detailed commitment post, and the general response was, "LOL Stanford football bloggers?" which, like, good point.
How will Garnett's decision impact Michigan? Well, the Wolverines can still fill a spot along the interior of the line if Kozan goes blue when he announces on Sunday ($, info in header). Kozan has narrowed his choices to Michigan, Iowa, and Auburn—I've said this before, but Kozan might actually be the most important recruit left on the board, as he's the only lineman among M's commits and targets who projects to center, where the Wolverines have major depth issues. Kozan hasn't given any indication about holding a favorite, so we'll just have to wait and see who he chooses.
Jordan Diamond, meanwhile, will announce on February 3rd, and the big tackle has reportedly cut down his choices to three schools, one of which is Auburn ($), but he won't reveal the other two at the moment. It appears that Ohio State is out of the picture, and a Brian-approved insider posted on the MGoBoard yesterday that Diamond is really down to Michigan and Arkansas. His recruitment has taken so many twists and turns that I won't bother to throw out a guess.
One other O-lineman has entered the picture in Rutgers commit Chris Muller, a four-star tackle who holds a Wolverine offer. According to Rivals national analyst Mike Farrell, Muller was contacted by Michigan—along with several other schools—yesterday in the wake of the breaking news that Rutgers coach Greg Schiano had taken the head coaching job for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We'll see if Muller's reported interest culminates in a visit.
Armani Reeves Update; Sam Grant Non-Update
Sam Webb caught up with Armani Reeves's godfather, Brent Williams (father of best friend and Ohio State commit Camren Williams), for a two-part interview last night. In part one ($) Williams discussed the in-home visits of Brady Hoke, Curt Mallory, and Greg Mattison—they went well—and debunked the rumor that Urban Meyer showed up late for OSU's in-home visit. He also soundly denies that Reeves and Camren Williams are a package deal, which is obviously good news for Michigan. Part two ($) has the most relevant info, as Sam asked Williams about a a possible decision date for Reeves:
Brent Williams: “Well, I’m not saying that there’s a date. I would say he’s going to have some time… a lot of time… this weekend to think it through. He has a pretty good game on Friday. After that I think he’ll have Saturday and Sunday to kind of think things through. We’ll sit down over the weekend and kind of talk about the pros and cons of both situations and go from there. We’re not doing a hat; we’re not doing a press conference. Call the coach, and tell him you’re coming… then call the other coach, and tell him you’re not. It’s pretty simple. At this point the whole mystery behind pulling hats and whatever tricks you got… we’re just not really focused on that. We’re just trying to find the right school that is going to help him going forward.”
It sounds like we're unlikely to hear about a decision until Sunday at the earliest and the process could possibly stretch into next week. Every indication is that Reeves is still undecided.
As for Michigan's other prominent target, tight end Sam Grant, he was visited at home by Brady Hoke last night, but there hasn't been any word about a possible commitment. The consensus is that Michigan leads, however, and we could hear his final decision at any time—Grant has talked about wrapping up his recruitment quickly since December, but new offers threw a wrench into those plans. Now that he's got everything laid out in front of him, I don't think we'll have to wait too long for an announcement.
Chris Wormley's Interesting Choice in Pre-Game Music
Tremendous caught up with Chris Wormley this week to talk about his recruitment as well as his pre-game ritual. The latter line of questioning is where things got interesting:
Tremendous: So before you get on the field, who are you listening to in order to get you amped up?
Chris: Usually Lil' Wayne, Drake or Adele.
Tremendous: One of those is not like the other.
Chris (laughs): I like listening to Adele. She calms me down. People laugh when I say that I listen to her.
Tremendous: How does it pump you up though? It's Adele!
Chris: With Adele, I just like listening to her because she sounds good. It doesn't really pump me up or calm me down.
Tremendous: I like Lady Gaga, Chris. It's alright.
Chris: Eh, she's a little weird for me.
Tremendous: Thanks dude.
I don't mind Adele, so I can't hate. Lady Gaga, well, I'll just leave that one alone. I'll also save you the rant about how current popular hip hop is a steaming pile of hot garbage. ANYWAYS, Tremendous also interviewed Mario Ojemudia, who's already starting the trash talk about the Michigan-MSU rivalry:
Tremendous: I asked Devin [Funchess] the same thing: What's it going to be like to play against [MSU commit and high school teammate] Aaron [Burbridge] for four years?
Mario: It would have been nice to play together, but I always figured we'd end up at different schools. It's going to be fun beating him for four years though.
Well played, Mario.
Quickly: The Detroit News profiled Ben Braden in their ongoing Blue Chip series, but it's a rehashing of the "hey, this big guy played hockey in high school" story that's already been beaten into the ground months before he's even on campus.
247Sports released their Class of 2013 All-American team, and it's littered with Michigan targets. The Wolverines have offered or shown strong interest in RB Ty Isaac, WR James Quick, WR MarQuez North, TE Adam Breneman, OL Laremy Tunsil, OL Steven Elmer (ND commit), OL Ethan Pocic, OL Jake Raulerson, DE Jonathan Allen, LB Su'a Cravens, LB E.J. Levenberry, and ATH Jalin Marshall.
Running through news on the current juniors, there are a couple of new offers to report: Wexford (PA) North Allegheny OL Patrick Kugler ($, info in header), a four-star to 24/7, and Phoenix (AZ) Brophy Prep WR Devon Allen ($, info in header). Michigan is offering a ton of receivers in the junior class—it's clear that getting a couple big-time playmakers at the position is a huge priority.
Quickly: Michigan also appears close to offering four-star Washington D.C. lineman Derwin Gray ($, info in header); Avon (OH) cornerback Ross Douglas will take an unofficial visit on February 3rd ($, info in header)—he believes he's close to an offer, as well; Cleveland (OH) Shaker Heights DE/DT/OT Donovan Munger is in regular contact with Greg Mattison, and he would favor Michigan and Ohio State if he was offered ($); Magnus scouts Wheaton (IL) St. Francis OL Kyle Bosch, one of Michigan's top targets along the offensive line.
As Signing Day nears, people commit to schools. That's how it works. Michigan has had a long wait after their summer flood and now sits on five guys that will either fill out the class or commit heinous crimes that can never be forgiven. In the spirit of late January/early February recruiting overkill, a rundown of the prospects and what my own Bayesian spidey sense (assembled from message board trolling, tips in the inbox, and a few conversations) is feeling at the moment.
If you don't read every word of the recruiting roundups, let this serve as a 1,000 foot view.
OH TE Sam Grant. Grant recently decommitted from Boston College after a long period of being a commit in name only and is either down to Michigan and Oklahoma or those two schools and Arkansas, depending on who you listen to. I have no insider information on him but his visit schedule is telling. In chronological order, he took trips to:
That second trip is telling, likely an attempt to confirm his decision or bring a family member up to get them on board. With Kyle Kalis undoubtedly in his ear and Oklahoma flush with tight end recruits (three already), this one seems like the least dramatic recruitment on the board.
IL OL Jordan Diamond. Diamond has seemingly had Michigan in the lead for over a year now, when he popped up on Michigan's radar during their recruitment of Simeon teammate Chris Bryant. A recruit not committing to an obvious leader over a long period of time can be a bad sign—it's often a signal there's something impassable. In Diamond's case, once Meyer arrived and started shooting offers out to anyone with four stars in the Big Ten footprint rumors started swirling about an Ohio State commit; he visited.
That moment has passed, leaving Diamond with an official top four of M, Arkansas, Auburn, and Wisconsin. Unofficially, that top four is a top two of M and Arkansas. The delay here is supposedly alarm at Michigan's offensive line recruiting class and Diamond's seeming inability to start from day one at Michigan. If Michigan makes it clear that the need at tackle is dire and that a couple of the touted players in the class are likely destined for guard (like Kalis and Garnett if he chooses justice and light), he should be blue. People close to Diamond believe that he really wants Michigan.
WA OL Josh Garnett. The biggest fish on the board is down to Stanford and Michigan. There is an interesting divide between the most informed Michigan observers (Sam, Tom), who believe it will be M, and most national analysts, who believe it will be Stanford. Garnett is going to make a lot of people wrong no matter who he chooses. Tom's confidence has been on the wane a bit of late; Sam, too, has been a little more reserved about Michigan's chances. This seems based on vibe more than new information, which isn't forthcoming. Some of the West Coast analysts predicting Stanford admit that they haven't gotten any new information out of Garnett in forever.
Kevin Erik Magnuson [ed: damn my memory for obscure old M hockey defensemen] and Garnett twitter footsie has reached levels heretofore unseen. Garnett has a bunch of people snowed either way; the choice here is between distance from home and being able to enjoy a milkshake with Magnuson at a school that has a much better track record of sustained success than Stanford.
This one is a tossup on which I don't have inside info. But…
MA CB Armani Reeves. After decommiting from Penn State, Reeves is down to Michigan or Ohio State. Michigan came in second on Reeves's first go-round and familiarity on its side—Ohio State just hired their defensive backs coach a couple hours ago. Ohio State has a commitment from best friend and fellow PSU decommit Camren Williams. Quien es mas macho?
Nobody knows. This is another recruitment that will go into the hat dance a genuine mystery; Rivals East Coast analyst Mike Farrell was "surprised" that the Urban in-home didn't lock Reeves down and now gives Michigan a ludicrously specific 52-48 edge based on nothing more than Bayesian spidey sense vibes. It's likely that not even Reeves knows where he's going at the moment.
Verdict: Flip a coin.
CO OL Alex Kozan. Kozan is down to Iowa, Michigan, and Auburn, three of the four schools he took officials to. Ohio State, the other, was presumed to be the heavy favorite. The way that changed suddenly implies that OSU pulled its offer. With the lingering OSU fandom push him away or will revenge bloodlust push him towards Michigan? Nobody knows.
No one knows anything about Kozan, really. I can't find one thing that indicates he's leaning one way or the other and haven't heard anything personally. All I've got is that it's the Auburn site on 247 that seems to be posting the most relevant items, like his announcement date. Auburn is nowhere near the 25 maximum and though they are hypothetically near 85, things happen, you know.
Verdict: Flip a three-sided coin.
Random Surprise Fellow. I think Michigan can take all five of the above if the chips fall their way. They have 23 with three early enrollees and have 27 scholarships open right now with one blindingly obvious candidate to not receive a fifth year. If Michigan strikes out on one or more of the above, do they have an Englemon in their pocket?
I have heard they do, a generic three-star defensive lineman currently committed to another BCS school. Michigan initially did not pursue him heavily but if there's a signing day flip don't be shocked. I think it'll take more than missing out on just one of the above for that to happen, but if it's a choice between leaving three scholarships open and taking a mystery guy I'm betting on mystery guy.
With the Thursday Recruitin' posts getting lengthy and signing day just over a week away, we decided—with the help of some reader requests—that it would be best to do two recruiting roundups per week. So, welcome to Tuesday Recruitin', which should serve to wrap up the happenings of the previous weekend and set the table for the upcoming week. Thursday Recruitin' will now be moved to Friday and focus on any upcoming visits while catching up with the events of the week. This new setup allows me to get more recruiting information to you each week and should cut down on the total link overload that was quickly becoming an unwanted staple of my recruiting roundups. Anyways, there is much to discuss, so let's get this party started.
Caleb Stacey Decommits; How Will M Round Out The Class?
Caleb Stacey announced on Saturday that he was changing his commitment from Michigan to Cincinnati, citing a desire to stay close to home during college:
"When it came down to it, Caleb just wanted to stay closer to home," said Oak Hills assistant coach Kyle Ralph. "He's a Cincinnati kid, and as it came down to it, he was more comfortable staying home in Cincinnati."
In fact, Stacey actually got in touch with the Cincinnati coaching staff himself, as they had respected his pledge to Michigan and backed off from recruiting him. Stacey's decommitment leaves the Wolverines with 23 commits (four along the O-line) in the class of 2012, leaving up to five spots available. While Michigan looks to have a good shot with higher-ranked offensive linemen Josh Garnett, Jordan Diamond, and Alex Kozan, Stacey's absence will be felt—he was the only current commit projected to play center, a position of great need for the Wolverines, and only Kozan looks like he could fill that void.
This week will be huge for offensive line recruiting, starting with Josh Garnett's announcement on Thursday afternoon. Garnett has officially narrowed his choices to a final two of Michigan and Stanford ($, info in header), as expected. Michigan did get the last word, as Brady Hoke made the final in-home visit to Garnett on Sunday. I expect Garnett to end up as a Wolverine, though that's admittedly based on zero inside knowledge of his recruitment.
Hoke also has the final in-home visit with Kozan, who will choose between Michigan, Iowa, and Auburn. Kozan told GoBlueWolverine that he will announce his choice "right after the Coach Hoke visit," which is scheduled for this Friday ($). He claims no leader at this time, and Hoke has the chance to make a very strong pitch—with Stacey out of the class, Kozan could be the most important recruit left on the board due to his ability to play center.
Jordan Diamond, meanwhile, will announce his decision on February 3rd—two days after signing day—between Michigan, Ohio State, Arkansas, Auburn, and Wisconsin. Michigan coaches have an in-home visit with him today, and he also maintains there's no leader in his recruitment.
Moving on to other position groups, two major targets formally decommitted this week: cornerback Armani Reeves from Penn State (same as Diamond link) and tight end Sam Grant from Boston College ($, info in header). Both could make their decisions as soon as this week. Reeves is now down to Michigan and Ohio State, and hosted Brady Hoke on Saturday before welcoming Urban Meyer—along with OSU assistants Everett Withers and Mike Vrabel—to his home last night. While some Buckeye insiders anticipated a commitment, none has come, and Greg Mattison will see Reeves tonight for his final in-home visit. This looks like a 50/50 tossup.
Grant, meanwhile, will likely choose between Michigan, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.
A few happy trails: Yuri Wright found a home at Colorado despite recently being kicked out of Don Bosco Prep for his controversial tweets; Monty Madaris will decide on Wednesday, and he appears to be down to Cincinnati and Michigan State; four-star OL and soft Wisconsin commit Kyle Dodson plans to announce his choice on Saturday between the Badgers, Ohio State, Michigan State, USC and Auburn ($).
Receiver Commits: Anything But Divas
You have likely read the story of receiver commit Amara Darboh, who lost his parents to the civil war in Sierra Leone when he was just two years old before finding his way to Des Moines, where he found a family and eventually became a four-star football recruit. Chantel Jennings profiled Michigan's other receiver commit, Jehu Chesson, on WolverineNation today, and the article is well worth the cost of ESPN Insider. I'll do my best to block-quote as little as possible, and encourage you to read the whole thing, which details Chesson's charity work—along with his knack for juggling—as well as his path to the United States ($):
In 1993 Chesson was born in war-torn Liberia in the middle of its first civil war. The country had broken into factions, and by the time the war was over in 1996, nearly 200,000 Liberians had died. Chesson moved from Liberia to the Ivory Coast, and from the Ivory Coast to St. Louis when he was 5.
He doesn't have many memories from that early in his life, but he saw on TV when Liberia fought its second civil war and the unrest that has come from it.
He could be angry. He still has family in Africa. His grandmother is there.
But Chesson said the kids have taught him how to forgive. He laughs when he talks about two young kids at the camp who fight and punch one another, but 10 minutes later they're playing with each other again.
He said that even though some of those kids have very little, they have the capacity to forgive, which some adults -- who've been tarnished by money or pessimism -- can't do.
"The best and worst part of it all is that I can ponder a question about why some are born into greatness and others never get a chance," Chesson said. "I'll probably never get an answer. But I can give of myself, which is sort of like working toward an answer."
The level of maturity shown by Chesson—as well as Darboh—would put many 30-year-olds to shame, and I'm very excited to see him don the winged helmet and, more importantly, get the opportunity to earn a degree from Michigan.
The Detroit News is rolling out daily profiles of the recruits on their Blue Chip list, and so far they've covered Terry Richardson, James Ross, Royce Jenkins-Stone, Matt Godin, and Devin Funchess. Most of it is fluff—Richardson discusses his spirituality, Ross—like Ben Braden—played hockey, RJS wants to be a chef, Godin wanted to play QB as a HS freshman, and Funchess plans to become a coach—but for those doubting Ross's size and ability to play inside, he has a message for you:
"I believe my size benefits me," he said. "I'm quick to the ball. When I was at the Army (All American) Game, I was able to get to the ball quickly. I'm able to get through the holes. I make the reads, and at the snap of the ball I can step into those holes. Can I get stronger? Sure I can. And I will."
Ross said the U-M coaches have no plans to move him to another position and that he is slated to play weak-side linebacker.
"I'll be the linebacker that checks the slot receiver or the running back out of the backfield," he said.
We'll see in the fall if Ross is really 6'1", 220 pounds, as the article claims, but even if he's a little smaller I think WLB is the best position for him.
Quick 2013 Hitters; New 2014 (!) Offer
A quick roundup of the news on current junior prospects:
- Woodbridge (VA) C.D. Hylton linebacker E.J. Levenberry, who visited Michigan last weekend and holds an early offer, has the Wolverines in his top three with Florida and FSU ($, info in header).
- Top-ranked tight end Adam Breneman revealed a list of upcoming visits on his Twitter; he plans to take a trip to Ann Arbor in March, and he's also got visits set for Maryland, Ohio State, Penn State, and Notre Dame. He's also looking at Miami and North Carolina for potential unofficials.
- In case you missed it, Michigan was one of several schools to recently offer Monaca (PA) Central Valley receiver Robert Foster, an early candidate for five-star status ($, info in header).
- Four-star Pickerington (OH) North TE/DE Jake Butt had the coaches drop by last week ($, info in header), and he says Michigan will be in the mix when it comes time to narrow down his list of schools.
- Cleveland (OH) Shaker Heights ATH De'Niro Laster told Greg Mattison he plans to take an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor the weekend after signing day ($, info in header).
- Somerville (NJ) Immaculata four-star DE Tashawn Bower expects a Michigan offer soon after talking with Coach Curt Mallory ($).
- Sam Webb's weekly DetNews piece is on Lemont (IL) OL Ethan Pocic, who recently earned top offensive lineman honors at the Core6 Showcase in Westmont, IL, which also featured top junior linemen like Logan Tuley-Tillman and Colin McGovern.
- Happy trails to Trotwood-Madison cornerback Cam Burrows, as one of the top players in Ohio pledged to Ohio State last week.
Finally, Michigan gave out its second verbal offer to a class of 2014 prospect. Woodbridge (VA) defensive end Da'Shawn Hand picked up his sixth offer as the Wolverines joined Boston College, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, N.C. State and Rutgers. Hand tallied 21 sacks as a sophomore and earned district Co-Defensive MVP honors. Michigan's other sophomore offeree is also a defensive lineman, Highland (UT) DT Bryan Mone, teammate of 2012 pledge Sione Houma.
This week's Thursday Recruitin' looks at receiver recruiting in the wake of Darryl Stonum's dismissal, looks at the final updated rankings from three recruiting services, rounds up last weekend's visits, and much more. Usual request: please contact me via email or Twitter (or leave a comment) with any suggestions, tips, or links you think should show up in the next recruiting roundup.
More Receivers? Not So Much, At Least For Now.
After Darryl Stonum was kicked off the team this week amidst rumors of multiple in-home (Cal commit Jordan Payton [$]) or official (uncommitted Monty Madaris) visits from four-star receivers, it appeared that Michigan would try to immediately fill the void left by Stonum with a third wideout in the 2012 class. Now the picture is far murkier. Tremendous posted late last night that Michigan coaches would no longer visit Payton today, and he would instead take a visit to Washington, where his primary recruiter at Cal, Tosh Lupui, now coaches after a surprising decision to change jobs. Tremendous seems to believe Michigan still has a shot with Payton, but it doesn't look good—Payton had an interview with Scout on Tuesday in which he stated interest in UW and UCLA, but never once mentioned Michigan ($).
Meanwhile, Monty Madaris was initially slated to take a visit to Ann Arbor this weekend, but instead he's decided to travel to Michigan State, now one of his two finalists along with Cincinnati. Madaris, depending on where you look, will either decide this weekend or next, and either way the chances appear slim that the Wolverines will be a major factor. Four-star former Arizona State commit Kenny Lawler, who had previously mentioned interest in Michigan, also looks to be off the board as he narrowed his focus to Oregon State and Washington State this week ($, info in header).
So, will Michigan take a third receiver in the class? I think it would be a good idea, especially if they can find a bona-fide deep threat—a specialty the team sorely lacks without Stonum—but right now there are no obvious candidates on the board unless you're one of the few, stubborn holdouts hoping for Stefon Diggs or Dorial Green-Beckham (not happening, people).
There are other positions Michigan is looking to fill, however, and prospects look brighter along the O-line and even at tight end. Josh Garnett visited Stanford last weekend, and the blue-chip lineman says things are still even at the top between Michigan and the Cardinal ($, info in header). Potential money quote:
"It's pretty much even, really, he said. "It didn't move Stanford ahead at all, actually. A lot of people think it didn't at all. It's going to be tough to pick just one, but with those schools, there's no wrong choice."
That's not a particularly glowing quote after a final official visit to one of your finalists. If you're of the belief that Michigan held a slight edge in Garnett's recruitment heading into last weekend—and that opinion is becoming more popular among experts as time passes—then that quote would indicate that the Wolverines still hold a slight lead. At worst, it appears to be a coin-flip proposition, and he plans to announce his decision on January 26th, so we'll find out relatively soon. If Michigan can't bring in Garnett, they still have a very good shot at four-star OL Alex Kozan, who has the Wolverines in his final three along with Iowa and Auburn ($, info in header). Michigan had an in-home visit with Kozan on Monday, and he's looking to wrap up his recruitment soon.
The Wolverines hosted a few visitors themselves last week, including tight end Sam Grant, who now has Michigan in his final four with Arkansas, Boston College, and Oklahoma ($, info in header). Grant initially wanted to get his recruitment over with as soon as possible, but he's now saying he'll take his time to weigh his options, and all four of his finalists have visited or will visit with him at his home this week.
Four-star corner and tenuous Penn State commit Armani Reeves enjoyed his official visit to Michigan ($, info in header), and the coaches will be in-home with him on Saturday. He still has a visit to Ohio State set up, as well as a tentative visit scheduled to Penn State after he gets to know the new coaching staff, but the Wolverines appear to be in very good position to land his commitment should he choose to decommit from the Nittany Lions.
Also visiting was Jordan Diamond, and the behemoth offensive lineman not only enjoyed his visit ($, info in header), but allayed concerns that the large number of incoming recruits along the O-line would be a negative factor for Michigan:
“They said I’m still a tackle, but wherever they want me at (along the offensive line) I’ll do,” he stated. "I can play both tackles. Yeah, they’ve recruited a lot of linemen, but I’m a competitior [sic] and I’m willing to try to beat anybody out because that’s how it’s going to be wherever I go.”
There are a couple of Happy Trails to report to go along with Payton and Madaris. Four-star corner Kenny Crawley, a former Tennessee commit who briefly popped back up on the radar, will decide on the 25th and currently has Colorado, Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Maryland, and Michigan State atop his list ($). Four-star linebacker David Perkins, who Michigan considered as a running back recruit, committed to Ohio State this week ($, info in header).
Don't Answer the Phone, Mom. It's Urban Meyer.
Rivals released their updated Rivals100 and Rivals250 lists this week, and Ondre Pipkins shot up from #59 to #14 overall, picking up his coveted fifth star in the process on the heels of an outstanding week at the Army All-America Game. Touch the Banner has full breakdowns of the movement of Michigan commits—the most notable are a 29-spot drop to #78 for Erik Magnuson and a 41-spot rise to #111 by Joe Bolden, as all the other moves are relatively minor.
ESPN also just released their updated ESPNU 150, and there's an obvious emphasis on players who participated in the Under Armour All-America Game, which of course is televised on (wait for it...) ESPN. Terry Richardson is Michigan's highest-ranked recruit, coming in at #68. Royce Jenkins-Stone is #113, Kyle Kalis is #132, and Joe Bolden is #142. Pipkins's absence is highly perplexing.
"Defensively, the only player in my 50 years of coaching I'd compare him to is Lamarr Woodley (Saginaw High)," [Harrison head coach John] Herrington said. "We played Saginaw in the playoffs (in 2001, Harrison defeated Saginaw 31-14 in Division 3 semifinals) and Woodley was pretty good. Mario can't be blocked. He burst onto the scene his junior year. We played him just on offense his sophomore year. Don't ask me why. I remember against Novi, that first game his junior year, we said, 'Oh my!' He's got great speed, sure, but he's so quick off the ball. He can play pretty well in space, but it'll take awhile (to adjust)."
The adjustment Herrington is referring to is Ojemudia's transition from defensive end to outside linebacker, which appears inevitable due to his 215-pound frame. Other players of note in the Blue Chip list: Richardson (#2), James Ross (#3), RJS (#4), Aaron Burbridge (MSU commit, #5), Matt Godin (#6), Devin Funchess (#7), Ben Braden (#10), and Drake Johnson (#13).
Kyle Kalis was named to the Parade All-American team this week, and he also had quite the interview with Tremendous. Apparently, he was not to keen on speaking with Urban Meyer, and these comments set off a bit of a firestorm from trolling Buckeye fans:
Tremendous: Speaking of phone calls, did you decide to answer it when Urb hit you up a few weeks ago?
Kyle: Well, it happened like this: I heard the phone ring one night and I saw it was a 614 number and knew who it was right away because it was right after a speech he gave. Before I had a chance to stop my mom, she had picked it up, so I had to talk to him.
Tremendous: What did you guys talk about?
Kyle: It was really awkward.
Tremendous (laughing at AWKWARD URB): What do you mean?
Kyle: I was half listening, pretty much saying "uh-huh" the entire conversation. I was being respectful but in the back of my mind I just wanted it to end.
Quickly: Touch the Banner interviews Matt Godin; Drake Johnson and Godin will appear in the MHSAA's East vs. West All-Star Game on June 30th; and Chantel Jennings profiles Amara Darboh over at Wolverine Nation ($).
Quick 2013 Updates
Holy moley this is getting long, so 2013 updates will come fast and furious.
Shane Morris interviewed with ESPNHS about participating in last year's Elite11 regional camp as they look ahead to the quarterbacks who will comprise this year's Elite11. The video feature can be found at MGoVideo.
Blue-chip RB Ty Isaac discusses his unofficial visit to Michigan last weekend with both Sam Webb ($) and TomVH ($). He told Webb that Michigan will definitely be in his final list when he decides to narrow things down, no matter the length of said list—that's obviously great news for Michigan, who could really use a dynamic running back recruit.
The other big-time junior to visit last weekend was Woodbridge (VA) Hylton LB E.J. Levenberry, who now has Michigan in a list of schools he's seriously considering along with Ohio State, FSU, Oklahoma, Florida, Notre Dame, Tennessee, and Auburn ($).
Quickly: Michigan offered Fort Wayne (IN) Bishop Luers LB Jaylon Smith ($, info in header); Jerry Montgomery paid a visit to four-star Richmond (VA) safety Tim Harris, who expects on offer soon ($, info in header); Tremendous talked with four-star LB Peter Kalambayi, who has Michigan in his top four; Baltimore DT Henry Poggi is looking at a potential visit for a Michigan basketball game ($); top-ranked Ohio DB Cameron Burrows will announce his choice today, and all signs point to Ohio State ($, info in header); and five-star QB/ATH Jalin Marshall will announce on the 31st, choosing between Notre Dame, Ohio State, Cincinnati, Tennessee, and Alabama ($, info in header).
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.