this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Today's recruiting roundup discusses early returns on Shane Morris at the Elite 11 finals, 7-on-7 highlights of Khalid Hill and Csont'e York, and a few happy trails in both the '13 and '14 classes. Also included is an interview with 2014 TX CB Nick Watkins.
Arm Cannon: Engaged
Embedded again, both for informative purposes and so I can make a "Tom Luginbill got his watch from a Happy Meal" joke.
The Elite 11 finals are under way in California, and naturally they feature Shane Morris throwing a football a very long distance:
So the QBs are throwing 55 yards at a target, Shane Morris dropped back to the 35 and hit the End line, 75 yards
— Scott Kennedy (@ScoutKennedy) July 19, 2012
Shane Morris, Warren (Mich.) De La Salle: Morris clearly has the biggest arm at the event and loves to show it off. But this is even more encouraging: He is improving his touch and the ball didn't sail on him nearly as frequently as it has in past showcases. His long ball wobbled a bit, but it wasn't too concerning. Morris' ceiling is very, very high.
And his Day 2 performance even moreso, as he landed atop Farrell's list of standouts ($):
1. Shane Morris, Warren (Mich.) De La Salle - Morris earned the gold jersey for the afternoon after winning the accuracy contest in the morning and he continued his fine play in 7-on-7 situations. While all of the quarterbacks have been encouraged to check down quickly, Morris keeps his eyes downfield more than others, has a cannon arm and fit the ball into some tight windows. He still clearly prefers to throw to his left so he needs to work on field vision, but he has shown the most overall tools through two days.
The lefty's tendency to focus on only half of the field appears to be the area he must work on the most, as it also cropped up in Scout's rundown of the second day's top performers ($):
4. Shane Morris - There shouldn't be much question of who has the strongest arm any more. Including the college players acting as counselors, the strongest arm at the Elite 11 Finals belongs to Morris. When push comes to shove, Morris has a laser-like focus on the left side of the field. That's a habit he'll need to outgrow.
That arm, though; counselors at the event include Georgia's Aaron Murray and Clemson's Tajh Boyd, and if Scout is to be believed Morris already has more arm strength than those two.
With the event still ongoing, I'll have more on Morris's Elite 11 performance in Tuesday's roundup. Other early standouts include Miami commit Kevin Olsen, USC commit Max Browne, and Notre Dame commit Malik Zaire.
Khalid Hill And Csont'e York 7-on-7 Highlights
GBW's Josh Newkirk recently uploaded Maximum Exposure player highlights from the IMG 7-on-7 National Championships, giving us a close look at tight end commit Khalid Hill...
...as well as wide receiver commit Csont'e York:
Hill's more extensive highlight reel suggests that he was a more frequent target of Morris at the event, and you can see why: he does a nice job working underneath the coverage as well as finding space up the seam. York gives defenders trouble with his length, but the brief clip doesn't tell us a whole lot more about him as you can't see him run most of the routes.
Speaking of MaxEx, 247's Steve Wiltfong recapped their summer performances thus far, including blurbs on Morris, York, Hill, Jourdan Lewis, Damon Webb, and Malik McDowell.
Not much news on the 2013 recruiting front this week, but we do have a few happy trails, unfortunately.
It should come as no surprise that TN RB Jordan Wilkins pledged to Auburn after previously eliminating the Wolverines from contention. VA RB Derrick Green is now the lone remaining running back target in the class.
There had been some talk of five-star FL CB Vernon Hargreaves III putting Michigan back into the mix in his recruitment, but he tweeted yesterday that he won't be able to visit Ann Arbor; he's releasing a top five momentarily, and the Wolverines won't be on it.
HI DT Scott Pagano named a top four of LSU, Alabama, Florida, and Clemson, and will name his choice on August 10th ($). He hasn't visited Michigan and I don't believe the coaches are taking another defensive tackle regardless.
OH LB Michael Ferns has already narrowed his list down to a final three of Michigan, Penn State, and Notre Dame. ESPN's Jared Shanker reveals he's also ahead of the game when it comes to academics:
Ferns will return to the Red Devils basketball team after taking his sophomore year off. His head coach at St. Clairsville, Brett McLean, said Ferns will be in the running for valedictorian in 2014, and to top it off the imposing, hard-hitting linebacker is preparing to go pre-med when he gets to college.
"As soon as I got into high school science and math stuck out for me," Ferns said. "From a social aspect, I feel like I could make (football and pre-med) work. Every college at this level is going to have a great education. I'm focusing on going to school but also the opportunities I'll have after my four years and what it takes to finish up pre-med."
[ed-S: Med School rankings by USN&WR, just sayin': Michigan-10th; Penn State-unranked, at least worse than 110th; Notre Dame-doesn't have one]
Matt Pargoff recently caught up with Ferns, who says he's looking to make a decision by the end of his junior year, and he plans on graduating early. Ferns made trips with his whole family to Notre Dame and Penn State, but on his prior visit to Ann Arbor was accompanied only by his father; he plans to rectify that situation for next weekend's BBQ at the Big House.
Those hoping Cass Tech CB Damon Webb would make an early decision to Michigan might want to temper those expectations after Webb camped at LSU and came away with an offer ($). Webb's father told Allen Trieu that a decision won't come until "probably this time next year," and they'll make a return trip to Baton Rouge before then. He's also quoted by Steve Wiltfong($) as saying that "LSU is right up there with Michigan." Webb is looking like a top-100 player who will garner attention from a who's-who list of national powers, which gives me the feeling his recruitment is far from over, even though Michigan holds home-field advantage.
Here's a fun example of why I don't often post links here when recruits say they want to visit a school but don't set a date. Two days ago, 247's Todd Worly posted an article on FL ATH Javon Harrison containing this quote($):
“I’ll try to visit [Michigan],” Harrison said. “I’ll try to go this fall during the week, and I probably could make it for a game. Probably both.”
On the same day as the article was posted, Harrison announced his commitment to Virginia Tech. It's always a good idea to take any quote like the above with a grain of salt when it's given to a reporter from a team-specific site.
Joining Harrison in the happy trails category are AZ OT Casey Tucker, who pledged to USC this week, and SC LB K.C. Crosby, who will choose on Sunday between a final five that doesn't include Michigan ($).
An Interview With Nick Watkins
TX CB Nick Watkins has already garnered offers from Michigan, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M. He's also ranked as the #36 overall prospect in the class of 2014 by 247. At 6'0", 180 pounds, he has frame to be an elite cornerback, and with those early offers it's easy to see him maintaining his blue-chip status through the recruiting process. I had the chance to briefly chat with Nick earlier this week, and here's the transcript of our interview:
ACE: First of all, which schools have been in contact with you the most so far, and how many offers are you up to?
NICK: I am up to I think 13, and all of the schools have been in contact with my coaches about me.
ACE: Do you have any favorites or a top list right now?
NICK: Nah, not really, all of them are at the top right now.
ACE: What do you know about Michigan, and what was your reaction to getting an offer from them?
NICK: I know that they're a winning program, with great tradition. My reaction was surprised because they hadn't sent me any mail or been in contact with my coaches until the last week of spring football.
ACE: Now that they've offered have you been in touch with the coaches more? If so, which coach or coaches do you talk to?
NICK: Yes, I have been. I talk to Coach Mallory and Coach Funk.
ACE: What schools have you visited so far, and do you have plans to take any visits during the rest of the summer?
NICK: I only visited Texas. And nah, not right now.
ACE: I know it's a long way away, but what factors will determine where you want to go to school?
NICK: The education [is] first. So a good business major! Also, where I can compete and get on the field early, a good school atmosphere and a good coaching staff!
ACE: If you had to scout yourself, what would you say is your biggest strength and what do you want to improve before you get to the next level?
NICK: My biggest strength would be my length. I have great hips for a tall corner, and I can make plays! I want to improve my strength right now.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses a shift in the 2013 team rankings, Dymonte Thomas's 7-on-7 performance, the latest on Jordan Wilkins and Kendall Fuller, and more.
Consensus No More
Last week's recruiting mailbag addressed the possibility that USC could pass Michigan for the top spot in the team recruiting rankings; this week that came to pass on Rivals—and 247, which already had Alabama ahead of the Wolverines—following Jalen Ramsey's commitment to the Trojans. Because this stuff matters, man, Rivals lays out the scenario in which Michigan can reclaim the first position; if the Wolverines land a top-75 overall commit (to take a completely random example, Laquon Treadwell), they'll pass USC barring any other movement in the rankings or future commitments, and since it's July that totally won't... oh, wait. This is really stupid.
Of much greater use is Tim Sullivan's breakdown of the Wolverine commits who could rise in the rankings: Shane Morris, Jourdan Lewis, Patrick Kugler, Csont'e York, and Gareon Conley are all mentioned as potential risers for various reasons spanning from proximity to the next ratings level (Morris, Lewis, and Kugler), camp performances (Lewis, again), and sleeper status (York and Conley).
If you're basing your recruiting service preference on their ranking of Michigan, both ESPN and Scout still have the Wolverines on top, though in ESPN's case that's likely due to their lack of continual updates. Viva Scout, I guess.
The Forgotten Five-Star
Oh yeah, that guy.
Whether it's due to his early commitment or relatively quiet summer on the camp circuit, Dymonte Thomas seems to be the forgotten marquee player in Michigan's 2013 class. Last weekend, however, he appeared in the NFL High School Player Development 7-on-7 tournament, and Steve Wiltfong reports that he lived up to his blue-chip billing:
Playing safety for the Browns was Michigan commit Dymonte Thomas, who was as good as advertised. A good looking prospect on the hoof, the nation's No. 7 safety glides around the secondary, eating up turf to make deflections on throws to the other side of the field. On one particular play Thomas ran right, only to change direction when he saw the play was going the other way to get a pass breakup on a throw to the left side of the field.
Khalid Hill also participated with the Detroit Lions team and was mentioned as one of 2014 MN QB Ricardo Johnson's favorite targets. I'm getting the distinct impression, based on this summer's events, that Michigan could compete for the NCAA 7-on-7 title if that ever becomes a thing, which I guess means we have a contingency plan if concussions destroy the game of football as we know it (always looking on the bright side, I am).
2013 Options: Waning
While Michigan should have little trouble filling the last two spots in the 2013 class, the list of obvious candidates for those spots continues to shrink. TN RB Jordan Wilkins will announce his decision tomorrow morning, and according to Wilkins himself that choice will come down to Auburn (the favorite), Tennessee, and Vanderbilt. That leaves VA RB Derrick Green—who is slated to visit for the BBQ at the Big House—as Michigan's lone running back target.
Five-star MD CB Kendall Fuller has kept Michigan in his top three for a while now, but an interview with Mike Farrell indicated that they're on the outside looking in ($):
"If I am ready to announce in August then I would say it's a two-team race between Virginia Tech and Clemson," he said. "That's kind of where it is now, I wanted to visit Virginia Tech and Clemson back-to-back to compare them and see if I got a feeling one way or the other. If I decide to wait and decide at the U.S. Army All American Bowl then I will take official visits and Michigan will be one of them. Right now I don't know."
Don't hold your breath for that visit.
We can officially say "happy trails" to MD WR Paul Harris, who rather surprisingly chose Tennessee over USC($), the school long considered to be his favorite. Treadwell remains the clear leader to fill that last wide receiver spot, though Michigan did recently send out an offer($) to three-star NJ ATH Kyle LaPorte, who says he'd like to visit Ann Arbor in August. Unless things move very quickly on that front, however, it's still all about Treadwell.
For what it's worth, Cass Tech DT and Illinois commit Kenton Gibbs says he's still interested in Michigan($) and may attend the BBQ. If he's going to earn an offer, I'd expect he gets it much closer to signing day, as the staff looked at him during Michigan's camp and didn't extend one then; he'll have to step up his performance during his senior season.
Indecisive Joe Mathis Quote Of The Week
We haven't checked in with CA DE Joe Mathis in a while. Mathis, of course, was a one-time Washington commit who's named USC, Michigan, Nebraska, and Washington (again) as his leader at various points in time. Has he shed his fickle ways? It doesn't appear so [emphasis mine]:
When InsideTheU.com last checked in with Upland (Calif.) defensive end Joe Mathis, he was pretty sure that he wanted out of California.
Now that Mathis (6-4, 250) has had a little more time to think things over, he has softened his stance on that issue.
“It changed but then again it didn’t, I’m like fifty-fifty on that,” Mathis said. “I want to get out of state but USC, UCLA, or Cal could still be the best place for me. I’m not trying to shut myself off from those schools.”
Michigan, FWIW, is not mentioned in the article. We will now return to your regularly scheduled ignoring of pretty much everything he says until signing day.
Despite most of the coaches taking a vacation—how dare they, right?—Michigan hosted OH WR Derek Kief for a visit over the weekend. Tremendous has his reaction, as well as notes from a radio interview pertaining to the visit; Kief's expectations were low due to a childhood love for Ohio State, but he said Michigan "had everything I was looking for."
Several top 2014 prospects will make their way to campus in the coming weeks, including mammoth GA OT Orlando Brown Jr., who will visit this weekend after rescheduling from last week ($). Four-star FL OL K.C. McDermott will hit Ann Arbor on the 27th during a Midwest swing($), while MD CB Troy Vincent Jr. [LINK, $] and IL OL Jamarco Jones [LINK, $] plan to attend the BBQ.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses Maximum Exposure's performance in the IMG 7-on-7 nationals, the latest on Laquon Treadwell, upcoming 2014 visits, and more.
Morris, MaxEx Fall Short Of Recapturing 7-on-7 Title
Detroit-based Maximum Exposure took the trip to Bradenton, Florida, to defend their title in the IMG 7-on-7 National Championships over the weekend, with commits Shane Morris, Khalid Hill, and Csont'e York in tow. The event drew a star-studded field, and not just among high school recruits—Cam Newton coached a team from Georgia, appearing in a T-shirt that read "CAM GOES H.A.M."* MaxEx struggled in pool play but returned to form during the knockout stage, making it to the finals before losing for a second time to Team Tampa, which featured Michigan targets Alvin Bailey and Leon McQuay III, as well as the nation's top cornerback, Vernon Hargreaves III (in Tampa, top recruits come in IIIs, apparently).
Scout's Scott Kennedy lauded Morris's performance in the tournament—calling him "the prototypical gunslinger"—and provided video highlights of the future Michigan quarterback ($):
Elsewhere, 247's Steve Wiltfong ranked Morris as the event's third-best performer, trailing only Hargreaves and Notre Dame commit Jaylon Smith:
The nation’s No. 2 pro-style signal-caller and No. 22 prospect overall got off to a slow start, but when tournament play began, Morris quickly heated up. The velocity and touch was there for the future Michigan Wolverine, as the 6-foot-3, 201-pound Morris fit the football in several tight windows. He spread the ball around to his top targets, fellow Michigan commits Csont’e York and Khalid Hill, along with Teo Redding and Jack Wangler. Morris hit several big plays downfield, and other than a couple of tough throws against a swarming Team Tampa squad, he was close to perfect on the tournament’s second day.
SBNation's Bud Elliott had Morris atop his list of standout quarterbacks, noting his ability to throw on the run.
York and Hill missed out on any mentions from the recruiting sites, but that doesn't mean they didn't perform; as you can see in the above video, York (#17) and Hill (#20) were Morris's favorite targets. I managed to tune in to a live stream of the event for the final, and while MaxEx's offense had difficulty moving the ball against a star-studded Tampa secondary, Hill presented a serious matchup problem for defensive backs unaccustomed to handling a player with his combination of size and athleticism. Hill runs crisp routes and has soft hands, so while he doesn't wow you with his frame or speed, he finds a way to get open and has developed a great rapport with his future college quarterback.
While Jourdan Lewis wasn't able to make the trip, 2014 Cass Tech teammate Damon Webb played cornerback for MaxEx, though he understandably struggled to defend 6'4", 230-pound Miami (YTM) tight end commit Travis Johnson. On the Tampa side, both Bailey and McQuay impressed; Bailey showed off his top-flight speed and McQuay had the play of the day with a leaping interception (pictured above) on a Morris overthrow.
*Not a shock from a guy who recently self-applied the nickname "Ace Boogie," then referred to himself in the third person using said self-applied nickname during a radio interview.
Must-Read Of The Week
ESPN's Christopher Parish details the story of commit David Dawson, whose father was stuck and killed while working as an MDOT employee just days before David participated in the Columbus NFTC:
Nobody would have blamed the Cass Tech (Detroit) junior and Michigan commit for skipping the camp. But Dawson went anyway, the pain from the funeral still fresh in his mind.
"It played a big role in Columbus," Dawson said. "That was all I was thinking about. I knew I had to get that Opening invite."
Not only did Dawson land the invite to The Opening, he also earned offensive lineman MVP honors, and he'll be one of the headliners for the Elite Lineman Challenge at the event in Beaverton, Ore., from July 5-8.
You're strongly encouraged to click through for the whole article, which also discusses Dawson's competitive nature and his move from Houston back to Detroit.
All Of The Treadwell Coverage
IL WR Laquon Treadwell remains Michigan's top target at wide receiver, even as he continues to consider several other schools (how dare he!) and maintains that he'll take official visits (the nerve!). Before getting into the current landscape of his recruitment, let's remind ourselves why he's the top receiver on the board with Treadwell's newly-released junior highlights:
Yes, please. Treadwell traveled all the way to California for the B2G Elite Camp over the weekend, and ESPN's Erik McKinney saved his highest praise for the Illinois product ($):
In a high-scoring affair that was eventually secured for the offense with a leaping touchdown grab from wide receiver Laquon Treadwell (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee), both sides had players step up and contribute.
But it began and ended with Treadwell, who hauled in three touchdown passes and was awarded the offensive MVP of camp. The nation's No. 38 player and No. 4 wide receiver had two long catch-and-run touchdowns, then made his mark on the final drive with a tough catch in traffic along the sideline to set up the final score.
Rivals's Adam Gorney caught up with Treadwell at the event and got him to name a leader ($). You get zero guesses because the MGoBoard isn't on fire. (Okay, it's Michigan. There.) He also told 247's Barton Simmons that he intends to take official visits($) to USC, Auburn, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma. With a list of that caliber, Treadwell's recruitment is far from over, but the Wolverines remain in the driver's seat. With no obvious candidate for an upcoming commitment, he should have time to mull over his options before making a decision.
TN RB Jordan Wilkins narrowed his list to a final five of Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Michigan, Ole Miss, and Auburn, according to Scout's Yancy Porter ($). It doesn't appear that Michigan has much of a shot, however, as even after Wilkins's visit to Ann Arbor he lists Auburn and Vandy as his leaders.
Multiple outlets have reported that Michigan offered TX DE Gaius Vaenuku, but I've confirmed with a source in the know that he does NOT currently hold an offer.
Happy trails go out this week to CA ATH Elijah Qualls and CA WR Demorea Stringfellow,—both part of Washington's impressive eight commits in one day—SC DT Michael Hill (Ohio State), CA LB Michael Hutchings (USC), and MD WR/LB Zach Bradshaw (Penn State). Also committing this week was OH OL/DL Matt Miller, younger brother of Michigan center Jack Miller, who will head to Wisconsin; a Michigan offer wasn't in the cards. Meanwhile, PA LB Alex Anzalone will decide this week($) between Florida, Notre Dame, and Penn State.
Quick 2014 Updates
Scout's Allen Trieu released free articles on the top camp risers in the Midwest in both the 2013 and 2014 classes. Unsurprisingly, Damon Webb features prominently among the rising juniors:
Always considered more of a wide receiver, Webb has proven to be a big time cornerback over the summer and that has lead to several big time offers. With his size, ball skills and recent performances, locking down a few touted receivers, Webb earned offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin and West Virginia. He's still a BCS level receiver, but he's one of the very best corners in the 2014 class.
Also listed are several targets, including MI OL Tommy Doles (offer), OH WR Thaddeus Snodgrass, IL DL Enoch Smith Jr., and WI DE Conor Sheehy. 2013 commit Channing Stribling is listed with the top senior sleepers.
Michigan will get a summer visit from four-star NC OT Bentley Spain, possibly for this month's BBQ at the Big House ($).
Tremendous caught up with FL ATH Artavis Scott—a member of Team Tampa—who said he'll be in Ann Arbor for the BBQ with four-star lineman teammate Mason Cole.
Four-star KY QB Drew Barker also plans to be in attendance at the BBQ, according to 247 ($).
Today's recruiting roundup discusses visits from Alvin Bailey and Jordan Wilkins, the top lists of #1 overall prospect Da'Shawn Hand and other 2014 standouts, and more. Also included is an interview with Michigan's first 2014 offered prospect, UT DT Bryan Mone.
Future Touchdown Dance: The Funky Charleston
Pictured on the right is FL WR Alvin Bailey (photo via his Twitter) from his visit to Michigan on Wednesday. If Bailey and his Seffner Armwood teammate Leon McQuay III both end up as Wolverines, let me present the motion to nickname the duo "Kid 'n Play," both due to Bailey's spectacular high-top fade and the fact that it could spur Special K to play some decent music for once.
Anyway, Bailey was on campus this week, and the four-star receiver came away impressed, according to an interview with TomVH ($, info in header):
"It helped them a lot. I was already up on Michigan, but this definitely helped," he said. "I knew some things about them, but being able to see it in person it meant a lot."
Bailey is in the midst of a slew of trips that has also seen him visit Georgia, South Carolina, Notre Dame and Clemson, with Florida State, Georgia, and Auburn also on the docket for July. The Wolverines and Irish could be at a serious disadvantage, however, as Bailey said this to GBW's Kyle Bogenshutz ($):
One issue that plays against Midwest schools such as Notre Dame (which he visited on this trip as well, right before U-M) and Michigan, however, is the issue of distance from home—something Bailey admits is a factor for him.
“It’s big,” said Bailey. “I’m not going to lie, it’s real big. That’s something that I would probably have to sacrifice, so it’s big.”
Sounds like distance is a big factor, which would not bode well for Michigan's chances. Bailey also mentioned that the Wolverines will only take two more players—not a surprise, considering the current number crunch—and his decision could come either before or after his senior season.
While Bailey got the full tour, TN RB Jordan Wilkins stopped by on Tuesday for a quick three-hour visit, and there's very little in the way of visit reaction from him thus far. 247's Clint Brewster did post on their message board that Wilkins's father, who wasn't on the trip, said the visit went "very well" for Jordan ($). There's discussion of a potential visit later in the summer, which would greatly improve Michigan's chances of getting Wilkins, but for now it's safe to assume that Auburn is still the prohibitive favorite.
In 2013 commit news, Jourdan Lewis was invited to the Army All-American Bowl, joining fellow commits Chris Fox and Mike McCray should he choose to participate (roster here). Michigan also has six commits—Shane Morris, Gareon Conley, David Dawson, Logan Tuley-Tillman, McCray (he'll have to choose just one, obviously), and Patrick Kugler—currently slated to participate in the Under Armour All-American Game.
First Journey Joke Earns a Banhammer
Sam Webb's latest DetNews profile is on 2014 OH LB Michael Ferns, who recently narrowed his list to a final three of Michigan, Notre Dame, and Penn State. While making such a cut this early is unusual, Ferns's father reveals that there's a very good reason his son has eliminated many of the schools pursuing him, including the home-state squad:
"It's not that he doesn't like the coaches, facilities, etc. (at Ohio State)," Mr. Ferns explained. "It's just that he grew up in a town of 3,500, so it's difficult to feel comfortable in a (large) city. It has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that he feels more comfortable in college town settings. Ideally, if Ohio State would work for him, it would be great for me from a geography and local hype standpoint. But if you don't feel comfortable living in a city, you simply don't. It's no different than the kid in the south having no interest in moving north. It's what they know."
He's just a small-town boy, you see, born and raised in [bans self]. The elder Ferns—no word on if Webb stood between the two during the interview, unfortunately—also had very high praise for their recent trip to Michigan and Jerry Montgomery as a recruiter—"He's as strong a recruiter as we've dealt with." As for future visits, Ferns plans to check out a game at all three of his final schools during the fall.
Also getting the profile treatment this week was IL CB Parrker Westphal, whose father spoke at length with TomVH. According to Mr. Westphal, Michigan has set the standard by which his son will measure his other suitors ($):
"I think what better school to base a standard from. Michigan is a big school with a big program, really good academics and facilities," he said. "If he would have gone to Nebraska first, though, that's a big school with modern facilities. That might have been the standard."
It doesn't mean that U-M is Parrker's favorite, but it is up there.
Westphal's father mentioned that Parrker would like to finish up his recruitment "sooner rather than later," but there's no rush as they make sure to examine each school carefully.
OH DB Darius West was one of the standouts at Michigan's camp, and although he didn't pick up an offer, he's got serious interest and reciprocated by putting the Wolverines in his top two with childhood favorite Ohio State, according to Matt Pargoff. You'll also enjoy this quote that he gave to Sam Webb ($):
Sam Webb: Talk to me about Michigan State. How did that camp go for you?
Darius West: “I mean, if I had to rank Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan camp, Michigan State would be third.“
West told Pargoff he'd like to decide by the end of his junior year, so he's one to keep a close eye on if Michigan comes through with an offer. He told Webb he's being recruited at both corner and safety at the moment.
247's J.C. Shurburtt caught up with the nation's #1 overall prospect for 2014, VA DT Da'Shawn Hand, and got an early top seven from him: Virginia Tech, Ohio State, UNC, Clemson, USC, Alabama and Michigan. VT seems to have the early edge—he's visited campus twice and mentions Bud Foster as his favorite recruiter—but he's yet to visit most of the schools on his list, including Michigan.
Happy trails to MI WR Drake Harris, who committed to Michigan State on Wednesday over Michigan and Notre Dame.
Quickly: Clint Brewster reports that Michigan offered CA TE Tyler Luatua, who's pegged as the top tight end in the class in 247's early rankings. Correction from Tuesday's post: TX LB Hoza Scott doesn't yet have an offer, according to Tim Sullivan, but he probably has to visit campus first, which may not happen soon due to the distance factor ($). MI CB Damon Webb continues to see his stock rise, recently picking up offers from Ohio State, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Catching Up With Bryan Mone
I had the chance to chat with UT DT Bryan Mone, a high school teammate of incoming freshman Sione Houma who picked up Michigan's first 2014 offer way back in December. This is the first time Mone has given an interview, and he updated me on the status of his recruitment, his current size and preferred position, and a potential visit next week:
ACE: First of all, how's everything going with your recruitment? Which schools are in contact with you right now?
BRYAN: So far, so good. It's just really a blessing sir. But the schools that I'm in contact with are Utah, BYU, and Utah State.
ACE: Which schools have offered you so far?
BRYAN: All of the three [as well as Michigan].
ACE: I know Michigan gave you their first 2014 offer. Have you been in contact with Michigan at all since then?
BRYAN: Yeah, well kind of. I keep in contact with the D-line coach. I might just go out to Michigan with my dad next week.
ACE: Do you talk to Sione Houma at all now that he's enrolled? What has he told you about Michigan?
BRYAN: Yes I do, I was just talking to him. He told me that it's really good out there and that some of the football players don't know what a Tongan is [laughs] and he was just saying it's a great program and all.
ACE: You mentioned possibly visiting Michigan. Are there any other schools you'd like to check out over the summer?
BRYAN: No sir, just Michigan.
ACE: I know it's early, but do you have any favorites at this point?
BRYAN: All my favorite schools are the ones that offered me and Colorado all because my other cousin told me about Colorado.
ACE: What's your height and weight right now, and what would you like to play at next season?
BRYAN: 6'4" height, 300 weight [Ed-Ace: Up from a listed 6'3", 255 last year]. I'm going to play D-tackle and offensive guard.
ACE: What would you say are your biggest strengths on the field, and what are you trying to improve for next year and the next level?
BRYAN: My biggest strengths are mainly [being able to play] on the line on both sides of the ball. I am trying to improve on my speed and strength for next year and the next level.
ACE: When looking at schools, what do you think will be the biggest factors in your decision? Do you know when you'd like to make a choice?
BRYAN: First of all my education and how I would fit in the program and the community and the brotherhood of the football team. I don't know [when I'd like to make a decision] ... like you said sir I'm still young.
Today's recruiting roundup recaps the Rivals Five-Star Challenge, discusses a pair of 2013 visits and Drake Harris's impending decision, goes over a slew of new 2014 offers, and more.
Five-Star Challenge Recap: New '13 OL Target?
Rivals hosted their first annual Five-Star Challenge last weekend as their answer to Nike's The Opening and four Michigan commits—David Dawson, Jourdan Lewis, Mike McCray, and Chris Fox—were in attendance alongside a bevy of the nation's top prospects. Dawson continued his outstanding camp season with an impressive performance, making Josh Helmholdt's "Surprise Standouts" list($) and earning the #4 spot on Helmholdt's rundown of the top offensive linemen ($):
4. OC David Dawson, Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech: The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Michigan pledge is listed as an offensive guard and plays tackle for his team but says he could end up anywhere on the line for the Wolverines. When the coaches needed a center, Dawson stepped in without hesitation. Though pass protection on the interior is completely different than at tackle he made a seamless transition. He has a strong base and used his lower body strength to hold the big noseguards at bay. Dawson should prove to be invaluable in Ann Arbor because of his versatility and willingness to play wherever he is needed.
Cass Tech's other camp stalwart, Jourdan Lewis, did not disappoint either, excelling in the 7-on-7 portion. Mike Farrell ($):
10. DB Jourdan Lewis, Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech: Lewis started off very well with one of the best interceptions you'll see when he showed off his closing speed and undercut a pass from Tyrone Swoopes, the only interception the Southwest quarterback threw. Lewis was solid throughout the day, flashed that speed and took on bigger receivers well at times. Despite his closing ability, he sometimes allowed too much of a cushion.
That last part is an issue that has shown itself in multiple settings, including the Sound Mind/Sound Body camp and during Cass Tech's season last year. On the positive side, Lewis continues to show exceptional ball skills.
According to Tim Sullivan, Fox performed well at several different positions along the line, while McCray displayed decent coverage skills against backs and tight ends but also measured in at just 6'1" ($). That's a lot smaller than expected for McCray and could be a point of concern if he ends up at strongside LB, as expected.
A new target may have emerged at the camp, as well, and the position he plays might surprise you. Tremendous caught up with 2013 MD OL Khaliel Rodgers, who revealed that David Dawson was selling him hard on Michigan at the camp. Rodgers now plans to visit for July's BBQ at the Big House and appears to have pushed back his decision date, which was originally set for this week. He also tweeted last night that having him and Dawson on the same O-line would be "epic" and "unreal". The scouting services are split on Rodgers, with Rivals listing him as their #1 guard and a top 100 overall prospect, ESPN giving him four stars, Scout putting him as a three-star but the #2 center, and 247 giving him a meh three-star rating.
This could be nothing, or it could be a sign—especially if we get word that the coaches are after Rodgers—that things aren't entirely settled along the line. I doubt Michigan would take a sixth lineman in the class, but with over 20 commits in June, it's almost certain that the class will experience a decommitment or two at some point before signing day. Rodgers looks like he can slide in at any spot on the interior of the line and he'd be a quality contingency plan should attrition occur.
Wilkins, Bailey Visiting This Week
Michigan will host two big-time 2013 recruits this week. TN RB Jordan Wilkins tweeted out plans to be on campus today and later confirmed the visit with TomVH ($). He also told Tom that his top four consists of Auburn, Vanderbilt, Michigan, and Tennessee, though Auburn is widely presumed to be his leader after he almost committed to the Tigers on a visit a couple of weeks ago. The Wolverines will need to make a big impression if they want to catch up.
FL WR Alvin Bailey is set to swing by Michigan and Notre Dame this week, and according to Scout's Tom Beaver his visit is set for Wednesday ($). Bailey is in the running for the last open receiver spot, and with the news this week that Laquon Treadwell wants to visit Auburn($), the race for that spot may be tighter than anticipated. Treadwell is still looking at a senior year decision, and if Bailey wants to come on board the coaches probably can't afford to wait on him.
The Wolverines made the cut on a couple of top lists, as well. MD CB Kendall Fuller revealed to Rivals($) that he now has a top three of Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Michigan. The Wolverines may have a tough time overcoming Fuller's close connections to VT and Clemson, but they've hung around a lot longer than expected with Fuller, so you never know. Meanwhile, VA DE Wyatt Teller now has a top five($) of Virginia, VT, Michigan, Clemson, and Oregon, and he told 247 he'd like to visit Michigan and Oregon before making a decision. He's looking to decide before his senior season, so things should move quickly on that front.
CA WR/CB John Ross has seen his stock blow up over the summer, and Michigan recently offered him at cornerback, according to Scout's Greg Biggins ($). With the Wolverines taking Channing Stribling at corner last week, I don't anticipate them taking another defensive back unless it's Fuller or Leon McQuay III, though that could change if Michigan misses on their wide receiver targets and the coaches decide to move Stribling to offense.
Harris Decision On Wednesday & More 2014 Updates
Sam Webb reported yesterday that 2014 Grand Rapids Christian two-sport star Drake Harris will decide between Michigan, Michigan State, and Notre Dame on Wednesday. Harris earned a Michigan offer for football while camping in Ann Arbor last week, which makes the timing of his announcement interesting, though he also was at a Tom Izzo basketball camp last weekend. Most pundits have him pegged for State, which has been recruiting him hard for both football and hoops for a long time, and we'll find out soon enough if the common wisdom is correct. Harris projects as a wide receiver on the football field, where most scouts think he has the most potential, and he'd also be a very solid shooting guard prospect on the hardwood.
More evidence of the trend towards an accelerated timeline in recruiting comes from OH LB Michael Ferns, who announced not a top three, but a final three of Michigan, Notre Dame, and Penn State. Ferns told Sam Webb that he wants to stay close to home and make a decision by the end of his junior year ($). The Wolverines appear to be in very good position here after a great visit to Ann Arbor for last week's camp.
Michigan sent out several offers recently, which I'll run down in bullet form:
- TX OLB Hoza Scott, who already holds offers from heavy hitters Alabama, Florida, LSU, Oregon, Texas, and USC, among others.
- TN OL/DL Alex Bars, younger brother of incoming freshman Blake Bars, was just offered according to TomVH ($).
- PA S Montae Nicholson earned an offer after camping at Michigan last week, according to 247's Clint Brewster ($).
- Drake Harris's high school teammate, OL Tommy Doles, picked up an offer on Friday, via Tim Sullivan ($).
- TX S Brandon Simmons pulled in offers from Michigan, LSU, and Ohio State last week, joining a list of over 20 schools ($).
- FL WR Corey Holmes added a Michigan offer after camping last week, and he told Brewster that the offer "gave [him] butterflies" before naming Michigan his top school ($). He's pondering a commitment prior to his senior year and is one to keep an eye on.
- OH LB/DE Joe Henderson also earned a post-camp offer ($). Not to be confused with this guy.
- Chantel Jennings reports that Michigan offered New Orleans RB Leonard Fournette, a massive prospect at 6'1", 232 pounds. Fournette's backstory, a heartbreaking account of surviving the streets of New Orleans in a pre- and post-Katrina world, is well worth your time.
Quickly: OH OL Nathaniel Devers is one tough kid. I'm sure you'll enjoy KY QB Drew Barker telling Eleven Warriors that he'd like to emulate the way Shane Morris has helped spearhead Michigan's recruiting efforts.
Michigan's camp is going on right now. It's happening as you read this. There are photos. You have to believe me.
2015 ONT/TN QB Michael O'Connor w Gardner, Borges via Maize and Blue News
Things are… well, probably not happening very much since Michigan's already got 21 commitments. Touch the Banner put together a list of the various attendees if you want to know who's scheduled to be there. A couple of the more interesting 2013 names:
Darren Carrington - WR - San Diego (CA) Horizon: Carrington is a 6'2", 187 lb. quarterback and wide receiver. He's the son of former San Diego Chargers safety Darren Carrington, who played in their Super Bowl loss to the San Francisco 49ers. He received an offer from Michigan last week, so his main reason for camping would seem to be for seeing the campus and meeting the coaching staff. (Highlights here.)
Caleb Day - ATH - Hilliard (OH) Darby: [Day] is a 6'0", 188 lb. athlete who could play lots of positions in college, including running back, wide receiver, cornerback, or safety. Michigan hasn't offered yet, but he really seems to be hoping for one from the Wolverines. He does, however, have offers from Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio State, and several others. Day looks a little too stiff to play cornerback at a big-time program, but I could see him fitting in at any of those other positions. Michigan has bigger fish to fry at running back (Jordan Wilkins, Derrick Green) and wide receiver (LaQuon Treadwell), and they're pretty set at safety. However, Day could be a backup option at any of those positions and reminds me of a slightly less skilled Dymonte Thomas.
TN RB Jordan Wilkins is mentioned above and is tentatively scheduled to be in this weekend, something we know thanks to David Dawson badgering Wilkins on the twitter. He looks like Michigan's best shot at a blue chip-ish tailback with Ty Isaac out of the picture and Derrick Green looking like a serious longshot. That's not a good shot since the kid nearly committed to Auburn last week, mind you.
As of today the top sleeper name appears to be NC CB/S Channing Stribling, who is a gerund fan and wisp of a man from Butler High School, the alma mater of rather good Michigan safety Jamar Adams. Webb on him($):
How this kid is such a relatively obscure prospect while playing for such a powerhouse program is a mystery. Standing 6-2 and maybe 165-pounds, this Tar Heel State product is extremely fluid (despite his length), and possesses quickness that belies his size. Though not a blazer, he has good football speed. Furthermore, he has really good leaping ability and ball skills. Some schools might be scared away by his slender frame and lack of elite top end speed. Others, meanwhile, might see pure potential… a youngster that could become more explosive once he adds more muscle to his slender frame.
Might be one to watch as it seems Michigan is looking for one more guy in the secondary.
In less positive news, Cass Tech DT (and Illinois commit) Kenton Gibbs hasn't made it in and probably won't thanks to an injury. That makes it unlikely he ends up getting the offer he wants. Maize and Blue News notes that John Runyan Jr, a 2015 kid, was in attendance.
Camp continues all week.
Hey, look, it's OH LB commits Ben Gedeon and Mike McCray.
For whatever reason, this photo reminded me of Gerry Dinardo showing up to Michigan practice in 2008 or 2009 or whatever and saying something vaguely like "usually when you go to Michigan you know it, but if you took away the helmets you would think I had recruited this team." I don't think that's going to be the case in 2014.
2014 Caremeter Update
The caremeter might kick into overdrive—or at least drive—this week what with camp. These days camp is for rising juniors, and Michigan's got a bucketload of them coming in. The vast majority of the kids listed on the TTB post are 2014 players. The spot to watch is probably linebacker, what with all three Cass guys, IL LB Clifton Garrett and IN LB Gelen Robinson fighting for what looks like a limited number of spots. Michigan will graduate only Cam Gordon and Mike Jones next year, and that's only if both of those guys get fifth years.
The headliner Sunday($) was actually 2015 kid Michael O'Connor, that 6'5" Canadian QB who's transferring to a toity private school in Tennessee to up his level of competition. He's still waiting on an offer from Michigan but already has an MSU offer and made the usual positive but non-committal noises($) after his camp experience yesterday.
Meanwhile in non-camp activities, 2014 OH LB Michael Ferns took a visit over the weekend and seemed BLOWN AWAY(!, also $) by the experience. TomVH caught up with him to get a telling quote:
"I heard Ann Arbor is a great place, and getting up there, being in town, everything was great," he said. "I don't want to say too much, but (the visit) was a 10. I was shocked by the whole deal. It was really good."
And here's the de rigueur locker-room-and-gloves shot:
Sam Webb relates that Ferns went home($) afterwards instead of visiting Michigan State as planned, because obviously. He's planning to get out to Notre Dame, then shut it down for a while; with Penn State and Ohio State previously thought to be front-runners this is going to be a knock-down, drag-out Midwest power fight.
Michigan's also offered 2014 IL OL Jamarco Jones.
Even More Things About SMSB
Josh Helmholdt has a list of under-the-radar prospects he caught at the camp with a mention of MI WR Jack Wangler (yes, that Wangler):
WR Jack Wangler, Royal Oak (Mich.) Shrine Catholic: Wangler has put a lot of work in this off-season with his Maximum Exposure teams, going head-to-head against some of the top defensive backs in the country. Wangler is always going to be a possession receiver; but his speed is coming along, and he has been timed as low as the 4.5 range for the 40-yard dash. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Wangler is a physical receiver and a technician when it comes to route-running.
CB Jourdan Lewis, Detroit Cass Tech: Some of the best one-on-one matchups during the event involved Lewis - on both sides of the football. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Lewis is going to Michigan to play cornerback, but he is also a BCS-caliber wide receiver prospect. Lewis is so quick with his cuts that he creates instant separation from defensive backs, and he also has great hands. Both attributes also serve him well at the cornerback position.
QB Shane Morris, Warren (Mich.) De La Salle: Morris led a solid group of quarterback prospects at the event but clearly stood out as the top player at his position. The Rivals100 prospect is really in control of his game right now, and his passes are coming out of his hand beautifully with velocity and accuracy. He was told by Michigan quarterbacks coach Al Borges, who was working the event, to throttle it back some on day one, but overall Morris varied his speeds well during the event.
The Five Star Challenge, Rivals's tastefully-named rival to the Opening, will also feature a number of Michigan commits and targets. So many that Michigan is named one of five teams to watch for this thing along with Auburn, Alabama, USC, and Texas. As the header says: nice company.
Details of Michigan commits and targets:
Michigan currently has the top recruiting class in the Rivals.com team rankings so it is no surprise that it has several commits in action at the Five-Star Challenge. Three future Wolverines -- linebacker Mike McCray, athlete Jourdan Lewis and offensive lineman David Dawson -- will be on the North squad, while offensive tackle Chris Fox will suit up for the West. Lewis is one of the fastest-rising prospects in the Midwest and will prove his versatility by playing cornerback. Dawson has also seen his stock take off this spring, picking up a ton of offers even after committing. McCray is ranked as the No. 55 overall player in the country and will attempt to prove he belongs in the discussion with Reuben Foster, Jaylon Smith and Matthew Thomas as five-star linebackers. Wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, defensive end Malik McDowell and defensive end Da'Shawn Hand are also big Michigan targets.
If McDowell Is going to establish himself a five-star sort he'll have to keep pace with the Hands of the world, and this is probably the only opportunity he'll have this year. Also of interest will be how McCray and Fox do. Fox hasn't hit the camps much and Rivals is considerably higher on McCray than others. Rivals even has a video featuring a Fox matchup with yes-that's-really-his-name Auburn DL commit Dee Liner:
I know. I can't believe that's his name either.
FL WR Alvin Bailey, a four-star slot type who would be a change of pace from Michigan's coming horde of long-limbed 6'3" guys, popped up on Michigan's radar around the time his teammate Leon McQuay III named his odd top three featuring Michigan, USC, and Vanderbilt. Bailey hasn't gone on any visits yet but he wants to get things over with within a month, so he's visiting a bunch of places. His goal($):
"I am planning to go to Michigan, West Virginia, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, South Carolina, and that is about it," Bailey said. "I will probably start taking those trips in the next couple weeks."
After taking those trips, the Rivals250 prospect is hoping he will be ready to select his future home.
"I want to make a decision after I visit those schools," Bailey said. "I want to decide around the end of July probably."
That constitutes a tentative top six for Bailey. If McQuay was already in the boat there'd be reason for optimism here; without it that's a heavily Southern list. It's going to be hard to get him above the Mason-Dixon line.
Tremendous says a reliable source relates that CA WR Sebastian Larue is close to a decision and has a top three of Michigan, Oklahoma, and USC. He hasn't visited, so that's unlikely to go Michigan's way if it does come.
Etc.: 2015 Cass Tech QB Jayru Campbell has insanely early offers($) from Notre Dame and Alabama now. 2014 MI QB Chance Stewart gets a Wisconsin offer($). Iowa offers Cass Tech LB Deon Drake($). McDowell isn't going to camp at OSU($). Michigan makes Eddie Vanderdoes's top 15. Woo? Nebraska offers and lands a longsnapper. It's longsnapper madness.