I did not make this headline up
If you missed it, Brian handled the recruiting primer for which needs Michigan should fill to finish out the 2015 class. Today's recruiting roundup will attempt to figure out which prospects are most likely to fill the ten or so remaining spots.
THE MOST LIKELY CANDIDATES
CT TE Chris Clark (4*, #2 TE, #80 Ovr. on 247 Composite): Clark, a former Michigan commit, consistently stated over the last few weeks that his interest in the Wolverines would rise significantly if Harbaugh took the job. He spoke with Harbaugh—whom he called the "LeBron James of coaching"—this week and told MLive's Nick Baumgardner it went very well:
"We kind of just talked about how he hopes Michigan turns into 'Tight End U,' and all the top tight ends he produced while he was at Stanford," said Clark, who will play in the Under Armour All-American Game on Friday. "I think six of them went on to the NFL. He said he thinks I could be a great leader for the class, and he's just hoping I'll be a part of it.
"He was a really cool guy, I liked him a lot."
Clark is now down to Michigan and UCLA, and I'd guess he ends up back in the fold.
MI ATH John Kelly (3*, #57 ATH): Kelly could play either running back or defensive back at the next level, though given Michigan's needs I'd guess he'll be recruited for defense. He spoke with Harbaugh within the last couple days and told 247's Steve Lorenz he was "really pumped" about the conversation ($). Even prior to that, he indicated Michigan was moving up his list ($):
"I would love to play for Coach Harbaugh," Kelly said. "I hear he's a tough coach. I'm looking to play for a coach that will try to squeeze out all of the talent and potential in me. His hiring is a great thing for Michigan as well. As long as he contacts me and my family, the chances of me playing at Michigan will definitely increase."
Michigan State is Michigan's chief competition, with Minnesota and Iowa also factoring in. Getting Kelly could help M's efforts in pulling in another major target: former RB commit and current OSU pledge Mike Weber, who's close friends with Kelly; they'd stated in the past they'd like to play together in college, and the Buckeyes aren't pursuing Kelly.
[Hit THE JUMP for probable visitors, other candidates, and the names you can scratch off the wish list.]
Michigan hosted some big time prospects this past weekend and they seemed to do very well with every one of them. It’s not unrealistic to say that three to four of the visitors could potentially become Wolverines.
CB Garrett Taylor - St. Christopher's School - Richmond, VA
Michigan hosted highly touted defensive back Garrett Taylor this past weekend and the Wolverines are in outstanding shape with him following his visit. Taylor arrived on Friday morning and spent the entire weekend in Ann Arbor, shoving off on Sunday morning. The extended time is sitting well with him.
I loved it, it was definitely a great visit. I really felt like the coaches were really excited to have me out there and that they really want me up there. I was really impressed with the whole package. They showed off all of their facilities which are great. The Al Glick Fieldhouse and Schembechler Hall were incredible and the campus was awesome. All of the football stuff was great but so was the academic side of things. We got to go to the academic building and it was really clear that there is a great support system in place. The tutors, the mentors, just everyone to help keep you on track was really cool.
Clearly Taylor enjoyed himself and the coaches did a solid job setting him up with a fellow Virginian to ensure that he would.
I had Wilton Speight as my player host. It was really cool, I definitely got to see what the campus life was like and what the dorm life was like. His roommate was real cool, Drake Harris, another early enrollee. I got to meet some other guys like Derrick Green and Shane Morris, hung out with those guys so it was really cool to see that side of things.
Just a few minutes after Taylor and I finished speaking he released his top five via Twitter, a group made up of Michigan, Stanford, Michigan State, South Carolina, and Tennessee. He has visited all of the campuses except for South Carolina and he plans to make his decision within the next month. Right now it is a two horse race between Stanford and Michigan and with academics being a huge factor for Garrett, Michigan finds itself in unfamiliar territory as the less heralded academic institution when compared to the Cardinal.
Garrett is a stand-up young man and said when he commits, he will be a man of his word and honor his commitment, a value instilled in him by his parents. Right now it really sounds like it’s about 50/50 between Michigan and Stanford and he said he may not be able to fit in any other visits so the positive memory of Ann Arbor will be the freshest in his mind. His offer list is stacked and landing him would be big for the Wolverines.
LB Justin Hilliard - St. Xavier - Cincinnati, OH
Justin Hilliard is one of Michigan’s top targets in the 2015 class and he seems to be pretty keen on the Wolverines as well. Hilliard has now visited Ann Arbor six times on his own dime and every time he returns he has positive things to say. He was really looking forward to this visit and he was able to experience some firsts this time around.
It was a great visit! I got to see how the coaches run practices. I was able to spend a lot of time with the coaches and the players. I spent most of my time with Coach Mattison and I was with a bunch of players that night but mostly Blake Countess.
Countess has the reputation of being a great host and Hilliard definitely seemed to enjoy himself. Hilliard has already included Michigan in his top 15 and I expect him to put them in his top ten as well when he releases that soon.
OL David Moorman - Northville High School - Pinckney, MI
As an in-state prospect with primarily MAC offers (Illinois as well) David Moorman is hoping that his recruitment will continue to gain momentum especially with Big Ten schools.
I grew up a fan of the Big Ten in general. I loved watching Michigan when Mike Hart and Coach Carr were there and as soon as Coach Hoke got the job I started appreciating Michigan football again. I’m still open to all schools and I’m just considering every option that’s out there for me.
Moorman was very excited to tell me about his experiences in Ann Arbor.
I pretty much just watched practice and got a tour of Schembechler Hall which was by far one of the nicest facilities I’ve seen. Practice was high tempo and intense and I really liked the way the coaches ran practice. All the coaches were great! I have a pretty good relationship with Coach Funk so it was good to see him again. Obviously it was really cool to talk to Coach Hoke and Coach Nussmeier too.
Moorman doesn’t hold that Michigan offer yet, but it has been discussed.
The coaches told me to be patient with them and if they can get some things worked out numbers wise an offer could come. If they did offer Michigan would for sure be at the top of my list and I would definitely highly consider them. Right now I’m training as hard as I can so in June I can go out on the camp circuit and prove that I’m one of the best offensive lineman in the country and then I’ll see what happens.
Before June gets here though, Moorman has intentions to re-visit Ann Arbor as well as some other campuses.
I’m for sure heading back to Michigan again soon and I’m going to visit Michigan State in the next couple of weeks and then probably Ohio State, Illinois, Toledo, Wake Forest, and Wisconsin.
QB Josh Rosen - St. John Bosco - Bellflower, CA
Rosen’s visit was kept under wraps for unknown reasons, but people don’t seem to care about that now. The visit happened and he enjoyed it. He’s a big time talent and getting him on campus about a week before he is set to commit was huge. Rosen is Michigan’s #1 target at quarterback but the Wolverines are playing from way behind trying to catch in-state and suspected favorite, UCLA. The coaches closed the gap but it is still going to be an uphill climb to land him.
Rosen is planning on announcing March 20th and even the Michigan coaches are wondering if his most recent visit was enough for him to rethink what everyone assumes is an eventual verbal pledge to the Bruins.
QB David Sills - Eastern Christian Academy - Elkton, MD
Freddy Canteen and Brandon Watson talked David Sills into taking a visit to Ann Arbor and he told me that it was a really good time. He left Ann Arbor still committed to USC but he said that a flip commitment isn’t completely ruled out. He told me that he is planning on visiting Oregon and Penn State before he starts to think about what’s next in his recruitment.
Sills spent a lot of time with all of the coaches, most notably Coach Nussmeier and believes that if he had wanted to commit while on the visit he could have. The coaches are still in close communication with a lot of quarterbacks so the picture isn’t clear just yet. Sills did say that he’d like to make his final decision before his senior season starts so expect Michigan to stay in the loop.
TE CJ Conrad - Keystone High School - Lagrange, OH
CJ Conrad is a very real possibility for an offer in the future as potential top target Chris Clark committed to North Carolina over the weekend. Conrad talked with me about his visit and his future expectations.
Michigan was good. I talked to Coach Hoke and Coach Ferrigno. They said that they loved my film and they want me to come to a camp in order to evaluate me better and get a possible offer. I will definitely be at that camp on June 8th.
Conrad has around 15 offers but Michigan is one that he particularly covets.
If Michigan offered me they would be right up there. Right now Kentucky is my leader because I fit their offense really well and I really like Coach Marrow. I like Michigan a lot but I’m not sure if they can pass Kentucky or not.
Upon hearing the news of Clark’s commitment I asked CJ if he had heard anything about it and he replied, “Yeah I just found out, that’s big news for me.” He saw the news on Twitter but immediately thought that he might benefit from Clark’s pledge in regard to his chances of earning a Michigan offer.
Surprise Visitor Surprised By Visit
Most of the recruiting buzz last week centered on a surprise visitor who didn't want his name to be revealed. That visitor turned out to be five-star CA QB Josh Rosen, the first quarterback offered by Michigan in the 2015 class. Rosen had already set a March 20th decision date before his trip to Ann Arbor, and UCLA was—and still is—his expected choice. He told Scout's Greg Biggins, however, that Michigan made the choice more difficult ($):
“I was honest and told [Doug Nussmeier] that I didn’t see myself picking Michigan. He told me I should still come up, no strings attached but said to just come up and check out the school for the experience and I have to, it was a lot better than I thought. I was actually hoping to get up there and not like it to reaffirm my decision but I really loved it there, Michigan is an incredible place.”
Just getting Rosen on campus is impressive; the program leaving that level of an impression even more so. Unfortunately, it appears this will be a moral victory, as Rosen still plans to keep his current timeline, and he told Rivals's Adam Gorney that his ultimate decision is unlikely to change ($):
"Coach Nuss is a very convincing guy," Rosen said. "He talked about the pro-style versus the spread offense and how my skill set would fit in one versus the other. He took me to The Big House and there were a lot of academic meetings and there is a great support staff at that school.
"I'm going to step back and think a little bit. I'm pretty positive, I'm pretty sure I'm going to stick with who I originally thought of, but it makes the decision harder.
While it's unlikely Michigan ends up getting Rosen, that doesn't mean the weekend was all for naught. Word spreads quickly among top recruits, and Michigan is targeting several California prospects. While Rosen will likely be recruiting for UCLA, the Bruins can't land everyone in the state, and a good word for Michigan could help get other recruits on campus—and that's often all this coaching staff needs to make a huge move in a prospect's recruitment.
[Hit THE JUMP for a potential commit watch from a big-time recruit, visit reactions, other 2015 QB updates, and more.]
When Doug Nussmeier was hired it became clear that multiple changes were on the horizon. One thing not changing: the offensinve coordinator will double as quarterbacks coach. Like his predecessor, Coach Nuss will work directly with the position group of which he used to be a member.
This also meant that the recruiting board would be reevaluated and adjusted to Coach Nussmeier’s liking. Some names have risen, some have fallen, some have been added, and some have been removed. As spring visits are starting to take place Michigan has offered four quarterbacks and there are five others who could be soon.
Blake Barnett – Santiago High School – Corona, CA
Barnett committed to Notre Dame way back in November and the Wolverines offered him on January 20, about two weeks after Coach Nussmeier was hired. Barnett doesn’t appear to be wavering on his commitment to the Irish. He’s not a possibility for Michigan.
Josh Rosen – St. John Bosco – Bellflower, CA
Rosen once told me that Michigan was “too f***ing cold.” and really had zero interest in the Wolverines. That sentiment seems to have changed and I believe Michigan is actually third on his list behind the home-state Bruins of UCLA and Cal. He’s partial to Stanford as well but doesn’t hold an offer from the Cardinal. He is making his decision on March 20th and Michigan may not be out of it just yet....
David Sills – Eastern Christian Academy – Elkton, MD
Sills rose to fame as the 8th grade phenom who committed to USC a few years ago. Today he’s still committed to USC but he will visit Michigan in a few days after being talked into it by current Wolverines and former teammates, Brandon Watson and Freddy Canteen. I asked Sills if a flip to Michigan was something he’d thought about and if they were option #2 behind USC at the moment and he responded in a politically correct fashion. “I’m keeping my options fairly open. Michigan is in the running.” His upcoming visit could be instrumental in securing a flip/commitment from him if that’s what the coaches prefer.
Jarret Stidham – Stephenville High School – Stephenville, TX
Stidham is the most athletic quarterbacks of the offered group and is a true dual-threat kind of talent. He was actually offered the same day that Blake Barnett was and when I originally spoke with him he seemed to like the idea of playing for a coach like Nussmeier. After that day though, his interest in Michigan seemed mild at best and Friday he committed to Texas Tech.
Nick Johns – Gonzaga Preparatory – Washington, DC
Nick Johns is a name that has been hanging around since Borges was still running the offense and Coach Nussmeier decided to keep him on the board. Johns speaks with Nussmeier two to three times a week and maintains high interest in the Wolverines. Coach Nussmeier plans to check Johns out in person some time in the next two weeks to watch him throw. Typically it is protocol for Nussmeier to see a quarterback throw in person before an offer is extended.
Kyle Kearns – Foothill High School – Pleasanton, CA
Kearns is another name that remains from the Borges board and he also continues regular contact with Nussmeier and feels like he is firmly in the mix when it comes to picking up an offer. Kearns told me that Nussmeier is giving the offered guys some time to make up their minds before the next wave of offers go out.
Alex Malzone – Brother Rice High School – Bloomfield Hills, MI
The only local product from the entire list, Alex Malzone has put in the effort to make sure the coaches know he’s around. He has visited multiple times, most recently last week, and stays in close contact with the staff. He says since the hiring of Nussmeier the coaches are showing a lot of interest and plan on watching him throw in person after the dead period.
Travis Waller – Servite High School – Anaheim, CA
A relatively new name on this board, Waller is the best athlete of the group. He’s listed as a dual-threat quarterback but also possesses good size at 6’3” and 190 lbs. and a very clean, natural throwing motion. He lit up when I asked him to give me an overview of what’s going on with Michigan.
I’ve been talking to them once a week. I’m building a pretty good relationship with Coach Nuss! He’s a great guy and I can relate to him a lot. Hopefully I get a chance to visit. They are coming down during our spring ball so I’m looking forward to that. What stands out to me was that he plans on doing some spread and pro-style offenses. It shocked me because most schools I have talked to are all spread. I like being under center a lot actually, which most schools don’t know about me. At Michigan I think I could really get prepared for playing QB at the next level.
Waller currently holds four offers from western universities (Arizona, BYU, Colorado, Washington) but says that Michigan is very high on his list. Waller also mentioned that Coach Nuss has to see him throw in person before an offer will be extended.
Coach Nuss said that they won’t offer a quarterback until they’ve seen them throw in person. He actually said he would offer me right now but he needs to see me in person first, which I respect 100%. I’m really looking forward to him coming out to see me throw!
Brandon Wimbush – St. Peters Prep – Jersey City, NJ
Wimbush is another name that has been off and on throughout the Borges regime and into the Nussmeier era. He was once thought to be a Buckeye lock, but the hiring of James Franklin at Penn State has put the Nittany Lions squarely in the mix. His relationship with Coach Nuss has also blossomed and Michigan may be right up there with their Big Ten brethren.
Not much is really new with Michigan, I’ve just been staying in touch with Coach Nuss, we talk about two or three times a week over Twitter. I hope that offer comes man, hopefully sometime in the spring it will. I have to meet Coach Nuss in person first. I’m sure that will go a long way towards an offer. I’m going to try my best to visit sometime this spring. Coach Manning also will be up to watch me throw soon too.
I asked Brandon about the Buckeyes and any other school that is standing out to him and he played it close to the vest saying he has no leader, just all top schools right now. Ohio State did offer him early, but now that a lot of other schools are showing heavy interest he has definitely slowed down and evened out a bit.
Of the quarterbacks that already hold offers Sills and Rosen are both possibilities for a commitment at this point and one of them is technically committed elsewhere. Sills' verbal pledge to USC is viewed as soft at best and Ricky Town is now also a member of the Trojan recruiting class making Sills’s decommitment seem inevitable. His upcoming visit to Ann Arbor looms large as an integral cog in his recruitment.
Each of the unoffered targets all seem to be offer-worthy according to the coaches based on the effort being put forth to stay in contact with them, visit them, and set up throwing sessions for each of them. With each prospect being in regular contact and all showing similar interest it really is difficult to say who the lead dog is right now for a potential offer. The way things have heated up so quickly with Waller and Wimbush leads me to believe that Nussmeier favors them, but he’s made it a point to remain in close contact and keep the other three on the board as well. The Sills visit is the first domino in the series of events involving quarterback recruiting for the 2015 class.
2015 Quarterback Musical Chairs
Should be awarded fifth star just for using early Black Keys.
When Michigan named Doug Nussmeier offensive coordinator, five-star QB Ricky Town was committed to Alabama, Michigan offeree David Sills was USC's lone (and long-time) 2015 QB commit, and CA five-star QB Josh Rosen had shown little interest in his Wolverine offer.
That's all changing quickly. Town decommitted from Alabama on Saturday, launching speculation that he may want to follow his former would-be offensive coordinator and position coach to Ann Arbor. That speculation lasted a matter of hours before Town committed to his home-state childhood favorite... USC. Even before Town's commitment, Sills started fielding interest from other schools, and a decommitment—possibly of the mutual "this is best for everyone" variety—could very well be in the cards; this quote via ESPN's Blair Angulo is telling ($):
[USC coach Steve] Sarkisian, according to Sills' father, David, was slated to check in at the school sometime this month. That plan might still be in play, though some close to Sills' recruitment got word about Town's decommitment and aren't optimistic.
"The staff was supposed to come by two or three weeks ago, but apparently they will swing by this coming week," Eastern Christian Academy coach Dwayne Thomas said.
"David is still considering other schools," Thomas said.
Michigan could very well be one of those schools under consideration, though that situation is complicated, too. Sills was offered under Al Borges, not Nussmeier, and Michigan continues to throw out offers to '15 quarterbacks—most recently, Notre Dame commit Blake Barnett and 247 Composite top-50 TX dual-threat QB Jarrett Stidham. It's unclear how serious Sills is about Michigan; it's also unclear how interested Michigan (read: Nussmeier) is in Sills.
In case matters weren't complicated enough, Rosen's interest in Michigan has grown to the point that he's hankering to visit Ann Arbor, per Rivals' Adam Gorney ($):
"I've seen plenty of Cal and Stanford," Rosen said. "The school I'd actually travel to see is Michigan. I've seen Cal like four times now because I've seen Bryce (Treggs) up there and went to Elite 11 stuff. I pretty much know what's going on there.
"I want to check out Michigan, maybe Texas, I don't know. Michigan is one I definitely want to go to."
UCLA has a decided edge for Rosen—he even considered an early commitment to the Bruins—but if he gets on campus, who knows what can happen from there.
Since it's tough to keep track, Michigan has offered four 2015 quarterbacks: Rosen, Sills, Barnett, and Stidham. Barnett is a firm Notre Dame pledge, Rosen seems likely to stay in California, the Sills situation is covered above, and Stidham has a great offer list that includes the in-state triumverate of Texas/TAMU/Baylor. The search for the right '15 QB could go on for quite a while at this rate, and I wouldn't be surprised if more offers go out in the near future.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on new 2015 offers, the chances of bringing Harris and Campbell back into the fold, and more.]
Just When You Thought It Was Safe...
Jabrill Peppers reaffirmed his commitment this week. So did Shaun Crawford. Michigan had successfully weathered the storm caused by their on-field woes. And then...
GEORGE CAMPBELL OUTTA NOWHERE.
According to multiple outlets, Campbell actually decided to decommit last week, but waited until this week to inform the coaches of his decision. Steve Lorenz relays the news that Florida, Florida State, and Clemson (ugh) are involved in Campbell's recruitment, and while Michigan isn't out of the picture, they're losing perhaps their biggest edge ($):
Yesterday, I tweeted out that Michigan was still in it for Campbell after his decommitment. I still believe this, but after doing some digging while on the road today, I'm not sure how high the Wolverines are on his list at this point. If you forced me to choose, I believe he ends up somewhere else. Where that is, I don't know. Mason Cole leaving for Michigan within the next two weeks is about the worst thing that could happen in this regard because their friendship was a big part of getting Campbell committed in the first place. Without Cole in his ear and Michigan being a ways away, the excitement about the Wolverines could fade over time.
The Wolverines will continue to pursue Campbell and in-state athlete Brian Cole as their top priorities for receiver in the 2015 class; after being in great shape for both just a few months ago, however, there's a distinct possibility that both end up elsewhere—there's a very good chance Campbell stays in the South, while Cole may be a Michigan State lean and also has interest in Ohio State. Michigan's very strong group of 2014 receivers mitigates some of the hurt from this, but there's no sugarcoating the loss of one of the nation's top prospects, especially when it seems directly tied to uncertainty (real or perceived) regarding the program.
It might not end with Campbell, either. Shortly after that decommitent went public, fellow 2015 blue chip commit Damien Harris tweeted "Here comes the tough decision.." which, well, obviously raised some red flags given the timing. That could very well be nothing, however, as Harris—unlike Campbell, a childhood fan of Florida—grew up rooting for Michigan; he also subsequently retweeted fellow recruit Justin Hilliard questioning why anyone would commit to a school without "110%" certainty, as well as today's news about Michigan scheduling the game against Florida in Dallas in 2017, when he'd be a junior. Since Harris' first tweet has garnered a lot of attention, I figured I'd add some context—for now, at least, it seems early to panic.
This entire sports year post-Final Four can still die in a fire, though.
[Hit THE JUMP for updated Scout rankings, the latest on Vic Enwere and Josh Rosen, and more.]