I don't think they changed Les at all actually
You Know The Drill
TRUE FACT: TomVH used to say "buckle up" all the time. You should remind him of this frequently.
On Wednesday morning, TomVH broke the news that five-star NJ CB Jabrill Peppers will announce his college decision live on ESPNU on May 26th*, when he'll choose between finalists LSU, Notre Dame, Michigan, Penn State, Rutgers, and Stanford. Peppers
has a visit set to Penn State for tomorrow, and could make one more "surprise" visit—presumably Rutgers—before making his announcement.
[UPDATE: Scout's Brian Dohn just posted on the GBW message board that a source tells him Peppers has cancelled his Penn State visit ($).]
As for any concerns that those final visits could sway Peppers from a presumed pledge to Michigan—let's just say it doesn't sound likely, given this quote to a local paper:
“I know and feel very confident in the decision I’m going to make,” said Peppers.
Michigan commits feel very confident in that decision being for—you guessed it—Michigan:
— Drake Harris™ (@drizzygetbusy01) May 15, 2013
(If you're wondering why Speight and Harris will be in San Diego, quarterback guru George Whitfield—the guy with the broom who's worked with Devin Gardner—is hosting a camp that weekend.)
You have nine days until following proper safety protocol is strongly advised. I have eight days to decide whether pre-writing a post is worth the jinx-bait.
BONUS: In the wake of the MSU-Jay Harris mutual** parting of the ways so Harris can pursue a rap career, Peppers weighed in on his USA Today blog [emphasis mine]:
Peppers, who will choose between Michigan, Stanford, Penn State, Notre Dame, LSU and Rutgers on May 26, said that each school is well aware of his current rap career and long-term aspirations.
"They ask me about it all the time," Peppers said. "They're OK with it because my raps are clean. I just think if he (Harris) really wanted to pursue rap he could've gone about it a better way. I don't think anyone in their right mind would turn down a free education to a prestigious university to play football. It could only help your career."
Peppers said from broadening your vocabulary, to overwhelming exposure, to having an established fan base, "whether you're nice with your rap skills or not," college has "unlimited benefits" to boosting a career in the booth.
One key difference between Peppers and Harris, aside from the blunt-smoking and bailing on a free education: Peppers is nice on the mic, Harris... well, you've probably seen the video by now. I'm legitimately disappointed Leon McQuay III didn't sign on this year, both for the obvious reason—he's pretty good at football—and so he and Peppers could potentially form the elite defensive back version of JDK & Rey.
BONUS BONUS: Speaking of good defensive back recruits, IL CB Parrker Westphal could be approaching a commitment, per TomVH ($):
After his visit to Arizona State [this weekend] Westphal says he might take a trip to Tennessee, but nothing is set in stone. From there he will only focus on those schools on his list and continue to visit and evaluate what those programs have to offer. Westphal still says he is in no hurry to make a decision, but would like to get it done sooner than later.
“I want to make it before the season,” he said. “Games don’t start until August, but practice is in a few weeks so we’ll see when it happens.”
Michigan is "still the school he uses to compare other visits," and Westphal noted that his recent Florida visit went well... with the caveat that Michigan offers better academics. If he sticks to a summer decision timeline, it's hard to see him ending up elsewhere.
*Now a banner day for fans of Michigan football and Arrested Development. Peppers' announcement will hopefully ensure that I don't attempt to watch the entire fourth season in one sitting. (I probably will anyway.)
**Since Harris had signed a LOI, it's my understanding that State could not legally revoke his scholarship without consent, though the looming prospect of getting through admissions means Harris still didn't have much of a choice, in all likelihood.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on the linebacker situation, new offers, Michigan visiting the son of rap royalty, and more.]
Before I get into the recruiting roundup, I'm planning a recruiting mailbag post for tomorrow and could use a couple more questions. If you've got one (or more!) please send me an email or tweet it to me. Now back to your regularly scheduled Jabrill Peppers update.
Jabrill Peppers Heat Status: Infinity Chilli
If you somehow haven't watched this just do it already. Yes, all of it.
As the recruitment of Jabrill Peppers evolves, Michigan's chances of landing the five-star corner appear to be getting better and better. The latest news from Peppers is that he's moving up his decision timeline and putting Penn State back in the mix—he'll make a May 18th visit to Happy Valley per 247's Steve Wiltfong ($) [emphasis mine]:
“They never left the picture,” [Paramus Catholic head coach Chris] Partridge said of Penn State. “Them and Michigan were his top visits. He decided he wanted to move up his decision timeline. He doesn’t have any negatives about Penn State. Them or Michigan. He wants to go and stay overnight at Penn State.”
Peppers is still aiming to get to Stanford before deciding.
“He is looking to commit sometime in early June,” Partridge said.
Peppers previously visited Penn State on February 20th, and while his coach is now talking up the visit there wasn't nearly the same over-the-moon reaction in the immediate aftermath as he had post-Michigan. Securing a second visit from Peppers is remarkably impressive for Bill O'Brien and PSU considering the circumstances; it seems unlikely they'd be able to overtake Michigan. This is very important considering the next bit of visit-related news:
2014 DB Jabrill Peppers hasn't cancelled his Stanford visit but it is proving difficult to plan around his track schedule, per his coach.
— The M Block (@TheMBlock) May 8, 2013
Despite finding it difficult to reschedule his trip to Stanford, Peppers is moving up his timeline. Even the staunchest of pessimists has to take that as a very good sign for Michigan's chances.
As it stands, it's hard to see a scenario in which Peppers sticks to his new timeline and doesn't choose the Wolverines. Penn State—and, if he makes the trip, Stanford—is still a threat, but there's more than one reason for Peppers to take a final visit: not only does he want to make sure he's making the right decision, he's got a high school teammate—QB Steve Shanley—who visited Happy Valley with him in February and is still hoping for a Nittany Lion offer.
PSU insiders certainly seem less optimistic than their Michigan counterparts—for good reason, with the sanctions and all. If early June is really the decision timeline, the Wolverines are going to be very tough to beat here. The current commits certainly seem to think so—either Drake Harris knows something we don't or he's just a very confident recruiter, via Sam Webb ($):
When asked if he thinks Michigan has a good chance of landing Peppers’ after their private conversations?
Harris replied, “I’ll just say we have good chance.”
Do you feel good where things stand with Peppers?
“I feel great!” Harris replied with a coy smile confidently.
Go ahead, watch that highlight tape again, and allow yourself to get a little excited.
[Hit THE JUMP for more from last weekend's camps, this weekend's visitor list, notes on new offers, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers weekend visitor reactions and more.
Sunday's Silver Lining
The third Michigan visit in three weeks for MI WR Drake Harris culminated in a tour of Michigan Stadium after The Basketball Game That Shall Not Be Named. Harris was accompanied in Ann Arbor for the first time by his mother and grandfather, as well, and he told WolverineNation's Chantel Jennings that his comfort level at Michigan is growing ($):
“I just enjoyed it,” Harris said. “Just hanging out with the coaches, they’re showing a lot of interest in me and showing me how much they want me to be a part of the team.”
The Watch List wide receiver said that with each visit, he, too, feels more and more comfortable around the coaches, specifically wide receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski. Harris has had the opportunity to meet Hecklinski’s wife and children, who he describes as “sweet.”
Harris is still a Michigan State commit by name, though it's worth noting that the Spartans also played a home game yesterday—for the third straight week, Harris was in Ann Arbor. His high school teammate, lineman Tommy Doles, also made the trip from Grand Rapids, and in the same article from Jennings he shed some light on the offensive line situation:
“There are, I think, two spots left for offensive linemen,” Doles said. “If one closes up, I’ll have to make some decisions and think about that. I’m aware of the situation, and I’ll be thinking about that.”
Doles told 247's Steve Lorenz that he may be back on campus next weekend, and said he'd "like to get things over sometime this spring," when asked about a timeline ($). Doles recently took a trip to Northwestern, but if he sticks to a spring decision it's hard to see him landing anywhere but Michigan.
[Hit THE JUMP for more visit reactions and the new 2014 Scout 300.]
Hello. It is Brian doing this. Forgive me if I am redundant, for I have been out of the recruiting recap game for a bit.
Hello: Mason Cole
on that jake ryan jam |Tim Sullivan/Rivals.com
You may have noticed that FL OL Mason Cole pulled the trigger and became the fourth member of Michigan's 2014 class this week. Cole, a 6'5" kid who'll need to add weight instead of drop it, is probably destined for guard, and he's a quality get:
The 6-foot-5, 280-pounder, theTimes' top recruit for the Class of 2014, has offers from pretty much every major Division I program, including Alabama, Florida, Florida State and Ohio State.
"'I've always been partial to the Big Ten," said Cole, who visited Michigan for the third time this past weekend. "I always knew I wanted to play in that conference and play in the cold weather.
"It's just made for offensive linemen. It's smash-mouth football. Linemen are kind of stars up there. I didn't know any of these people and they already knew my name. The fan base is crazy."
Elsewhere, the Tampa Bay Times notes that he is "one part teddy bear, one part beast." I hope the teddy bear part is his tail.
Ace has been ill this week
but will pop up with a belated Hello post next week; [EDIT: Oops it's here.] for now just know that Cole is probably going to average out around 100th once sites get their rankings down. He's 107th to Rivals and 62nd to 247 right now, pre-inevitable slide. Magnus compares him to Steve Schilling.
In 2016 all Michigan skill players will be 6'8" velcro-man hybrids
Tight ends! Michigan likes them a lot. They like recruiting them, at least, and presumably they will like throwing to them all the time once they learn how to block and are not oversized wide receivers. Michigan continues scouring the country for anything that looks like a basketball player in pads. They currently lead($) for one IL TE Daniel Helm:
“I would say Michigan is leading right now,” the 6-foot-5, 220-pound tight end said. “If Notre Dame offers, they are definitely up there. I really like their offense because it’s pro-style."
Helm is either fuzzy on what pro-style means or pro-style does not necessarily mean anything anymore what with RGIII and Russell Wilson and legions of NFL commentators hilariously failing to recognize the zone read. Anyway, Sam Webb's Detnews article from last week goes into more detail on Helm (and Parrker Westphal):
"I know Michigan's a top-tier school and one of the best universities in the country. The Big House was awesome — a great venue that would be sweet to play in. Their new indoor field is sweet, academics are superb, and their academic support is very good, as well. So it was great."
Helm, a Rivals250 guy, has Michigan, Nebraska and Tennessee offers already and feels another wave is incoming. Leads when offers are still incoming are more tenuous; sounds like ND is going to be a contender.
Drake Harris counts as a velcro-man hybrid
So. MI WR Drake Harris. Michigan State quasi-commit, leaping 6'4" Braylon Edwards receiver guy, kind of nice prospect, would be the last piece of Hoke's recruiting Voltron if Michigan can nab him from a list of national contenders and also Michigan State. When Harris re-opened his recruitment Michigan didn't seem to have a place particularly high up on his list, but he's visited and things are picking up. QB commit Wilton Speight is bombing the kid:
The other player Speight is feeling especially good about is Drake Harris. While he doesn't necessarily see a decision on the horizon, he does believe the Wolverines are being look upon in a much more favorable light.
"We've pretty much talked every day for the past week," Speight reported. "He's really high on Michigan. We've convinced him — he's coming this weekend on the 23rd, a day early with me and Michael on Saturday just to meet the coaching staff for a little bit longer. And he'll be there Sunday for the (basketball) game (versus Illinois). But it's been going really well. He's really liking Michigan more and more. I think the fact that Michael and I are working on him really hard is helping a lot."
The fruit of that work on is seen on the instagram:
Harris also spent some time in the WTKA studio with Sam Webb:
I'm a little confused by the bit where they talk about the number he's wearing as if it's #1 when it is in fact #11, but here is the recruiting tool being a recruiting tool, sort of:
Said Harris, “they told me they haven’t had anyone wear the #1 jersey in a while, and they believe I will be the next person to wear it if I come there… but I will have to earn it.”
Gahhhh stupid Braylon endowment thing. Michigan hasn't had a guy wear #1 since that came into being.
Also in last weekend were NC RB Elijah Hood and OH LB Kyle Berger, both previously longshots heavily favoring rivals Notre Dame and Ohio State, respectively. Hood's visit got Michigan closer but did not vault them to the top of the list($):
“It’s just a feeling right now,” Hood said of Notre Dame. “After everything was said and done and I sat home in my room and thought about it, they’re still No. 1.”
Michigan is second with Ohio State a seemingly distant third (he told The M Block that OSU was "not the same" as Michigan). With all those visits in the rear-view mirror Michigan wants Hood's recruitment to string out so they can have time to change his mind.
It is important to acquire Hood because he's got a little bit of Fred Jackson($) in him. He told Scout that OSU's RB coach was "magnificent" and that "all of those guys are awesome up there" at Michigan. If Michigan acquires Hood we could have a recursive praise-war going on between the two wherein Jackson says Hood is the best back since they combined Gale Sayers with a unicorn and Hood says Jackson is the best running back coach since that one guy who spliced Gale Sayers and a unicorn together.
LB - Kyle Berger - St. Ignatius High School - Cleveland, OH
Berger told me, "I loved my visit. I had a great time spending time with Coach Mattison and seeing all of the facilities. Meeting all of the coaches was great." The last time Kyle and I spoke he said he wanted to compare Michigan to Ohio State; he had this to say after visiting both schools. "I loved both schools. I had great visits at both places and I could see myself playing at either school. I think it's going to come down to spring practices and seeing how the coaches coach and all that."
An OZone writer got a similar take with an explicit pecking order, or lack thereof:
Kyle Berger had a great visit to Michigan. Says OSU and UM equal. Buckeyes are in a fight with TSUN for Berger.
Berger wants to decide($) in May; Ohio State is trying to get him up this weekend to defuse the situation.
Pass rushers named Lawrence always welcome
Webb's article this week focuses on MI DE Lawrence Marshall, who was momentarily an OSU commitment and is now open. Michigan was SRS about getting his attention:
"I literally spent the whole day with Brady Hoke. I was also with Coach Montgomery, Coach Mattison, Coach Jackson. It was one-on-one (attention) the whole day.
That was preceded by an MSU visit; he also returned to EL on the 16th, so they'll be a real contender in this one. Marshall does mention that Montgomery's departure is not a big deal:
"It really didn't hurt Michigan's chances. Coach Mattison would be the guy coaching me. I'd be working directly with him so (Montgomery leaving) was no loss. Coach Mattison, I was with him the whole time. He said I'd be like Terrell Suggs as a rush guy coming off the edge."
LA TE Jacory Washington, a soft LSU commit, plans to visit($) over the summer. Michigan hasn't gotten anything but sleepers out of LA in a long time and the rest of list is all southern schools.
NJ OL Juwan Bushell-Beaty is planning a visit in April($). Bushell-Beatty projects as a tackle and is the teammate of mondo prospect Jabrill Peppers. CA WR Juju Smith names a top five($) of M, USC, UCLA, Wisconsin, and Cal.
Today's recruiting roundup covers #Project135, reactions from last weekend's unofficial visitors, and much more.
2014 commit Michael Ferns unwittingly incited mass speculation last week when he teased a recruiting-related "big surprise" on Twitter that he dubbed "#Project135". Fans hoping for a new commit were disappointed, but what Ferns revealed on Friday was actually a pretty cool idea:
Kids pick the darndest fonts
Even before this, Ferns had been very active in recruiting his 2014 classmates—it's clear that Shane Morris and his tireless efforts to bring in commits for Team 134 have influenced the next wave.
One of Michigan's other 2014 commits, Wilton Speight, got the profile treatment from MLive's Kyle Meinke; in the piece, Speight talks about flying 2,000 miles to train, and also why he felt comfortable with Michigan's coaching staff:
"Michigan's staff was the first staff to be 100 percent honest with me throughout the whole process, and that meant a huge amount to me," Speight said. "There's lots of coaches from all over the country who will come in and say, 'You're our guy, you're our guy. Just wait, you're going to get an offer.' And then they go out and find someone who's better.
"Michigan, they didn't necessarily tell me I was their guy. They said, 'We're looking at two other guys too.' The thing is, I already knew that, because the quarterback recruits, we're a tight circle. We're all pretty close, and I knew who else they were looking at. And the fact they were up front with me about that meant a lot.
"It was just a perfect fit for me. It was a no-brainer."
It seems like every time Michigan pulls in a commit, one of the top two or three reasons they give for their choice is the level of honesty and openness they experience with the coaches. That's a very good thing, of course, especially in today's recruiting echo chamber—gone are the days when a coach could tell three players at the same position that they're all the school's number one priority and get away with it, not with the pervasiveness of recruiting news and recruits staying in close contact with each other.
[Hit THE JUMP for visit reactions from Parrker Westphal and Daniel Helm, the latest top schools for several recruits, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers a spate of new offers, Wilton Speight, and several things that don't sound like "spate" at all.
Wilton Speight: Part Cyborg
Signing Day 2013 is over, as for the most part so is our discussion of it here—probably for the best, given that the dominant post-NSD story centered around what Reon Dawson may or may not have said about his childhood favorite school. Brian and I did an extensive breakdown of the class on this week's podcast (coming soon) if you haven't had your fill, and I'll update the recruiting class rankings today.
Meanwhile, Michigan got a jump on the 2014 class with the Signing Day commitment of VA QB Wilton Speight, who was profiled on his school's website—he described the injury that caused him to reclassify:
“It was an option-read,” Speight said of that fateful play late in Cougars’ opener, a 34-19 victory over Trinity Episcopal. “I got past the defensive end and linebackers. There was one man between me and the goal line. I tried to jump over him. As I was in the air, he caught my feet, which flipped me over. I tried to break the fall with my elbow, but (the impact) shot my shoulder up.
“I walked to the sideline hoping it was a stinger. (Athletic trainer) Shannon (Winston) moved it around. She felt crunches. I heard it crunch. My collarbone was broken in two places.
“Looking back, I probably didn’t have to make that play, but when you’re competitive, it’s hard to just step out of bounds.”
While Speight had complete confidence in his surgeon, Dr. “Moose” Herring, he knew that fulfilling his dreams was now dependent upon his own perseverance, strength of will, and self-discipline.
Speight's injury woes didn't end there, despite the best efforts of Dr. "Moose" Herring, who by virtue of name alone I would entrust with my life, let alone my collarbone. After dealing with a partial MCL tear in basketball season, Speight's collarbone took another hit during lacrosse season, and as a result he's now part cyborg:
“I had the ball and came around the cage,” he recalled. “When I shot, a defensive player brought his stick down on my (right) shoulder.
“He hit it hard enough that the part of the bone not covered by the plate broke off the metal.
“It was a clean break, thankfully. Dr. Herring was able to open it back up and put in a six-inch plate with eight screws that covers my whole collarbone.
“It will definitely prevent anything from breaking up there again.”
I, for one, welcome any and all cyborg athletes willing to aid Michigan's quest for
world domination a Big Ten championship.
Also of note: cyborg QBs apparently recruit a little, too.
[Hit THE JUMP for the 2014 Rivals100, a bevy of new offers, and my take on Lawrence Marshall committing to Ohio State.]