Patrick Hruby is doing God's work.
According to Sam Webb, Michigan just picked up their eighth commitment of the 2014 class—and third in the last week—in Paramus (NJ) Catholic OL Juwann Bushell-Beatty. Bushell-Beatty joins Mason Cole among offensive line commits in the class; like Cole, he also has an elite high school teammate being recruited heavily by the Wolverines—in his case, five-star corner Jabrill Peppers, for whom the recruiting tides appear to be shifting in Michigan's favor.
Update of the informative variety:
|3*, #45 OT||3*, #29 OT||
4*, 83, #10 OT,
4*, 90, #17 OT,
There's a clear split in Bushell-Beatty's rankings, though Scout is more of an outlier here than they initially appear—the #28 OT on Rivals is a four-star, so JBB is just one spot away there. ESPN and 247, meanwhile, have him easily within their top n lists. The reason for the divide is almost certainly that Bushell-Beatty has played all of one season at the varsity level; until he amasses more game film and hits the camp circuit, opinions could be all over the place.
There's a similar disparity when it comes to his measurables: Rivals and Scout both list JBB at 6'5", 295 pounds, while ESPN and 247 both have him at 6'7", with the former listing him all the way up at 330 lbs. and the latter at 310.
You'll be shocked to read that a player who's got one season of varsity football under his belt is described as "raw"—here by NJVarsity.com, which listed JBB as #14 in-state junior in March ($):
14.) OL Juwan Bushell-Beatty - Paramus Catholic
Bushell-Beatty has a Division 1 frame and moves decently for someone his size. He is still a bit on the raw side, but last year was only his first playing at the high school varsity level. What he showed last year was just a glimpse as he has plenty of room to grow as an offensive tackle. He is just learning the finer points of the game but has enough athletic ability and natural tools to be considered a solid BCS-level prospect.
ESPN's evaluation suggests that Bushell-Beatty could end up at either guard or tackle in college, depending on his development in pass protection ($) [emphasis mine]:
Bushell-Beatty possesses good height and bulk as an O-Line prospect and with some time in a college weight program looks to have a frame that can still support a little more good size. In the run game he can smother defenders and gain more positional leverage, but when he gets good placement with his hands and keeps his pad level down he can push defenders off the line. He does need to work to improve placement and pad level as he can pop up, get tall, not roll his hips into blocks, stop his feet on contact and not consistently create the push he is capable of. When blocking down can wash defenders down the line of scrimmage. Can work to second level with good control and get a hat on targets in his track. In pass pro can use his length and strength well. Uses his reach well and displays very good upper-body strength and can deliver a violent punch that can knock edge rushes off course. Flashes the ability to punch and lock on, but would like to see that more from him. His kick step is effective enough, though he can turn shoulders a little quickly and be a bit of a waist bender but makes it tough for rushers to get into his frame. Flashes the ability to slide with rushers once locked on but demonstrates adequate lateral mobility. Displays good awareness and some finishing nastiness.
It's not a surprise to see pad level as an issue for a raw tackle prospect who may still be growing; that's something that should improve with experience, and same goes for most of the technical issues that ESPN points out in JBB's game. It sounds like his run blocking is currently ahead of his pass blocking, which is typical for a player at this stage and also bodes well should he kick down to guard.
Given this quote from Bushell-Beatty's head coach, it sounds like he's taken quite strongly to football after some initial trepidation, per 247's Steve Wiltfong ($):
“We were like listen buddy you’re playing football,” [Paramus Catholic head coach Chris] Partridge said. “I give him all the credit in the world. We weren’t easy on him. He pushed through it and it wasn’t easy for him. He pushed through it and he’s mean and he’s getting it and it’s good to see that as a coach. We took a chance with starting him and giving him that spot and it worked out.”
“He was very raw,” Partridge began. “He’s now getting better and better. He’s a kid that can develop and be a big-time national kid. If he makes the strides he made from last year to this year he’ll blow up.”
In case you're non sensing the theme at this point, JBB is very much a developmental prospect. With his frame and raw potential, he could grow into a special player, but he's going to need a few years to refine technique—with Michigan's recent offensive line recruiting, there are few places better suited to letting a prospect marinate for a while before they're ready to see the field.
Bushell-Beatty's list reveals that Michigan isn't the only school that sees big-time potential in him—Florida, Florida State, Miami (YTM), Michigan State, Rutgers, Tennessee, and West Virginia also extended offers before his commitment, and he also fielded interest from Ohio State, Penn State, and Pitt.
Led by Jabrill Peppers, Paramus Catholic won last year's state title in the New Jersey Non-Public Group 4 division, which includes football powerhouses like Don Bosco Prep. Despite their recent success, Paramus Catholic hasn't produced a ton in the way of BCS recruits—before this 2014 group, only 2011 four-star DT Marquise Wright (Rutgers) and 2010 three-star OL Dan Foose (Florida State) committed to BCS schools since 2002, per the Rivals recruiting database.
Offensive lineman, no stats.
FAKE 40 TIME
No available 40 time, not that offensive linemen tend to run 40 yards in a straight line during game situations unless they happen to be donkey-riding Manti Te'o.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
It's hard to say anything definitive about a prospect who's played one year of varsity football. That said, I like what I see from Bushell-Beatty, who's got an ideal lineman frame and appears to be a natural when it comes to certain aspects of line play, most especially in how he uses his hands. He'll have to develop significantly in pass protection to become a blindside tackle option; the potential is there, but it seems more likely he'll slot in at right tackle (or left, if lefty Shane Morris is the QB) or bump down to guard.
Regardless of where he ends up, JBB will assuredly take a redshirt year and likely a couple years after that before he competes for a spot on the two-deep; Michigan has too much depth and talent on the line to expect a relative football newcomer to make a serious push for early playing time.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
The Wolverines now have a couple of commits who could play multiple positions on the line: Mason Cole is likely a guard but could also play tackle, while JBB is ideally the opposite if he develops. Michigan should take one, perhaps two, more lineman and be set for this class, especially considering they took a sixth OL last year.
The other upshot, of course, is that Michigan has another edge in the recruitment of Peppers. At worst, the Wolverines appear to be neck-and-neck with Stanford, and only one of those schools has Peppers' high school teammate in the fold. I still expect Peppers to visit Palo Alto before making a decision, but it's looking increasingly likely that he ends up in Ann Arbor. Yes, that would be very nice indeed.
Michigan's extremely-critical 2014 class has a couple of guys who already sport offers but have not committed for reasons that are unclear to me. I mean srsly, you can play for Pilot Walter White in a fun system and go to the Final Four. Commit already you guys.
IN SF Vince Edwards, a guy with a median ranking around 60, says he's down to Michigan and Purdue and is looking for love. These things may not seem related, but they are.
"Just show me, you know?" Edwards said. "Just show me that you're interested. Just show me like you've been showing me."
Edwards on his finalists:
"I like both," Edwards said. "Honestly, I like Michigan because I really think their offense fits my style. Being a 6-7 wing who can shoot, that really fits in with Coach Beilein. He likes guys who can do that, so I think I can really fit in well with him and his offense and he thinks so, too.
"With Coach Painter, what I really like about Purdue is -- they're both actually great coaches -- but Coach Painter had to take some guys and develop them this year and you could tell by the way he coaches that he's a great coach. He can develop players really well."
Purdue's supposed to be in the tentative lead for some reason. I mean, what does Beilein have to do to prove he can develop guys?
Maybe he has to have a who-dat postgrad point guard go off for 17 points in the national championship ga—oh yeah that actually happened and was not a crazy dream we all had collectively. In conclusion, Matt Painter smells faintly of gasoline and Vince Edwards has an obvious choice.
Michigan's after MS SG Devin Booker, of course, and while one suitor probably took itself off the table when Duke took a commitment from big-timer Grayson Allen at Booker's position, Kentucky has now offered. Goody.
Touted 2015 center Stephen Zimmerman plans a visit, as does($) CA PG Sedrick Barefield. That class is the one in which Michigan's Final Four run should really open up possibilities. It helps with 2014, but the guys they're after are for the most part still the same guys they were after before.
Who's next, Malcolm Streamers lol zing
I AM TALL ARE YOU TALL CHANTEL IT'S TOUGH TO TELL BECAUSE PEOPLE UP TO EIGHT FEET SHORTER THAN ME ARE STILL TALL SOMETIMES
Michigan picked up their tight end in Ian Bunting, a 3/4 star tweener at the moment who should rise this fall if he can stay on the field for a change. Bunting has the offer list of a clear top 100 guy (M, ND, OSU, OU, USC, etc.) and enormous skillet-sized hands on a 6'7" frame. There is the Hello post; 247 also posted some extra analysis($) after that went up:
Similar to Michigan’s Devin Funchess, Bunting should be a great weapon in the red-zone against smaller defenders. Bunting shows strong hands with the ability to extend and pluck the ball out of the air. … I really like Bunting’s burst in and out of his breaks for as tall and long as he is. The ceiling is very high for Bunting, especially being in a very tight end friendly system at Michigan.
I am hyped about Bunting, and I hear the coaches are too. He was the proverbial #1 TE on their board—and a lot of others.
Actually it's probably Mo Ways
Ways is on campus as you read this. It's hat-eatin' time if he doesn't commit today.
And then probably Kyron Watson
Kyron Watson terrifies Alex Anzalone
IL LB Kyron Watson features in a freebie by Allen Trieu in which his coach flat-out states he's a visit away from a commitment:
"His top two, I think, honestly are Michigan of course and Kansas. Michigan because it’s Michigan. Kansas, it's because of Reggie Mitchell. He's great recruiter for our type of kids, which I’ll call inner-city kids. … I believe, and I can’t speak for Kyron, but as soon as he gets a visit to Michigan, I believe he'll walk away committed to them."
Pencil that in. The days when Charlie Weis could keep kids from Ann Arbor are long over. As for what kind of player Watson is, your keyword is "violent":
It only takes a play or two of Kyron Watson's highlight tape to understand what you're dealing with. The 6'1, 220-pound junior made 142 tackles last season, but it was the three or four at the start of his tape, violent de-cleaters, which immediately caught the eyes of college coaches. …
"He's always been an aggressive kid. Towards the end of year, he began to understand it and blew up in terms of physical contact and meeting them in the hole. He's a special kid. As he grew, the impact of hips became a little more damaging. He came in at like 160-165-pounds. He's 220 now. In two years, he gained basically 60 pounds."
His best other offers are Missouri, Minnesota, Purdue, Illinois, and MSU; he does have a believer in ESPN.
And eventually Parrker Westphal
Sullivan catches up with the guy I invariably call a Todd Howard protégé in a lengthy article that confirms a lot of what we already know about him: ie, that he'll probably commit sooner or later. He's got an interesting top five($) forming:
"I told the Michigan coaches that whatever list that I cut down, whether it's a top five or top three, they'll be in it," he said. I'll make that cut probably the summer. I'm hoping earlier, but we'll see. No [other schools have a spot on that list] so far, but Northwestern and Vanderbilt, they're ranked pretty high because academically and athletically they're pretty good. They'll probably be in it.
Always good to see a guy with Vandy and Northwestern as serious options consider M, as those kind of kids are low-attrition sorts that often pick M even when ND, OSU, and Florida are options, as they are for Westphal.
Westphal wants to make a decision before his high school season, which means anyone trying to catch Michigan will have to do so without the opportunity for an official visit.
Also: Westphal talked a lot about how Michigan wants to blitz him, so he may be destined for the nickelback/safety spot that Dymonte Thomas is currently slotted in.
And then those Paramus guys
ESPN's Jared Shanker catches up with both. NJ OL Juwann Bushell-Beatty had previously declared Michigan his leader and basically confirms that:
The Wolverines are in a strong position for the top 10 tackle nationally following the two-day visit earlier this month, which he took with five-star teammate Jabrill Peppers.
“It just felt like a lot of what I was looking for,” the four-star said. “Everything felt like a family. The player felt like real guys; the coaches felt like real guys.”
He maintains a top three of M, Boston College, and Florida, and says he has offers from all plus FSU, Miami, and Tennessee. He says he'll probably pull the trigger in the next couple months.
As for NJ CB Jabrill Peppers, this is a tantalizing headline($) for a guy who just declared Michigan his leader:
Peppers should know future school soon
The money quote:
“Definitely after I visit Stanford I should have it pretty clear where I want to go,” Peppers said.
The five-star cornerback is coming off April trips to LSU, Michigan and Ohio State, and while Peppers did not tip his hand, people close to the dynamic two-way athlete say Michigan has a sizeable lead of those three. He has listed Stanford as his No. 1 for several months and will visit Palo Alto before officially dropping them from the top of his list.
HOWEVA, Peppers isn't going to commit after the Stanford visit, at least not publicly. He plans to take a couple of officials after his high school season, at which point he may as well just announce at an All-Star game. Hopefully that'll be one of those anticlimactic ones.
Touted DC CB Jalen Tabor visited yesterday as part of a team-wide swing through the Midwest. AZ OL Casey Tucker decommits from USC($), may poke around Michigan, doubt we see much come of this. PA S Montae Nicholson has many offers($), refreshingly seems to not give two hoots about deciding between them. Michigan is mentioned in a quasi-top eight.
IL DE Terry Beckner, Watson's HS teammate, was one of the best performers($) at the St. Louis Rivals camp:
2. DE TERRY BECKNER JR., EAST ST. LOUIS, ILL. (2015)
Despite Hendrix's dominating performance on Sunday, his was not a walkaway MVP win because Beckner nearly matched his interconference foe in level of domination. Beckner is an imposing 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds and shows an advanced technical grasp of his position for a sophomore. He plays with great pad level and has exceptionally fast hands. Most impressive was his two-rep win over four-star offensive guard D.J. Foster, who has been nearly unbeatable in past camps.
"Terry will be, at some point, this is my early prediction, a top ten player next year. For his age and size, the skill set he has, he’s a very dominant player and will only get better. He gave what they consider a top 100 player, Dewayne Hendrix, a run for his money as being the best guy there at the camp on Sunday. The sky’s the limit. He will even play a little offense this year. Terry, I believe, will be the first five-star at East St. Louis in this era."
Beckner has the local offers: Illinois, Kansas, Mizzou, Purdue, Nebraska.
Touted Mason Cole teammate and FL WR George Campbell shrinks to 6'3" in this article—a lot of places list him at 6'5"—in which he talks about the broken hand keeping him out of action and says he's talking to Michigan, Auburn, and A&M. He also went to the Vandy and Florida spring games.
QB commit Wilton Speight picks up a Miami offer.
Today's recruiting roundup attempts to catch on everything that's gone down in the Michigan recruiting world since last Tuesday, when certain other events precluded any coverage involving high school athletes.
Schembechler Hall Presumably Now Covered In Brains
As Michigan's basketball team made their run to the national title game, the football team hosted some big-time recruiting visitors over the past week. The biggest name on campus was five-star Paramus (NJ) Catholic CB Jabrill Peppers, the #2 overall player (behind Da'Shawn Hand) on the Rivals100 and a consensus top-ten recruit. Peppers told Rivals' Adam Friedman that the trip to Ann Arbor was his "best visit"($) and changed his expectations for any school he'll check out:
"Now I don't even know what to expect anymore," Peppers laughed. "Michigan just completely exceeded my expectations. I'm just going to have to see how Michigan and Ohio State pair up and it should be a great experience but Michigan was probably one of the best visits I've been on without a doubt. Everything felt right."
According to his interview with 247's Steve Wiltfong, Peppers plans to be back, too ($):
“All in all, it was a really, really great visit and they exceeded expectations. I definitely didn’t think it would be that mind-blowing. I’ll definitely have to take a trip back.”
Peppers was joined on his visit by Paramus Catholic teammate and four-star OL Juwann Bushell-Beatty*—after the pair checked out Ohio State following the Michigan trip, their high school coach gave the update on where both stand to Friedman ($) [emphasis mine]:
"I don't know about Jabrill," [Paramus Catholic head coach Chris Partridge] said. "He's still kind of evaluating everything, and he's got LSU and Stanford to look at. I know Juwan's top school is Michigan right now. He's pretty fired up about them. Ohio State didn't offer [Bushell-Beatty], so who knows. Jabrill is a pretty loyal guy, so I don't know if it left a sour taste in his mouth. I know Juwan loved Michigan and it's a great fit for him, too.
So Michigan is in the lead for Bushell-Beatty (whom they have offered, to be clear) and made a very strong impression on Peppers, at the very least. The only direct quote from Peppers on his Ohio State trip—the rest were handled by his coach—is from this Wiltfong article ($):
"I really think that the Coach (Kerry) Coombs is a great coach," Peppers said. "I love him and enjoy being around him. Obviously Urban Meyer is an incredible, smart, proven winner. They let me meet the athletic director and the president of the school and it's really cool to see how everyone is behind the Ohio State football team."
High praise, yes, but not the over-the-moon review that he gave Michigan. Of course, visit reactions often depend on the interviewer, the questions they ask, and what they choose to print—in this case, however, Wiltfong got two very different post-visit reactions from Peppers. Read into that what you will.
Four-star PA ATH K.J. Williams also checked out campus last week, and there's no need to read between the lines of his post-visit reaction:
Michigan is by far my top school now!! #BlewMyMind
— TheWorldsGreatest#2 (@KJWilliams2) April 8, 2013
Another young mind destroyed by Michigan's overwhelming recruiting tactics. They show no respect for these recruits, I say. /RCMB'd
Two familar names also made appearances in Ann Arbor. Detroit Country Day WR Maurice Ways was there for the second straight weekend and the coaches have him "very high on their radar," per an interview with Tim Sullivan ($). Ways doesn't have an offer but it seems like one will come sooner or later—if he gets one, Michigan should be in the driver's seat. Meanwhile, Southfield DE Lawrence Marshall (offer) told GBW's Josh Newkirk($) that "everything was good" as he checked out a spring practice, and he came away impressed with Frank Clark, who plays the same weakside DE spot that Michigan hopes Marshall will play for them.
[Hit THE JUMP for a rundown of Spring Game visitors, a new offer, the latest on Drake Harris, a couple happy trails, and more.]
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($) of M, USC, UCLA, Wisconsin, and Cal.
Today's recruiting roundup covers a huge visit weekend, new offers, and more.
Big February Visit Weekend Is An Annual Thing, Apparently
It's that time of the year again, when Michigan rounds up a large group of highly-touted recruits, shows off their program with the coaches and current commits in full-on recruiting mode, and renders me unable to leave my laptop for the weekend. Those hoping for a repeat of last year's eight-man commitapalooza should temper their expectations, but there's nothing wrong with getting excited about the talent that will be on campus ($). Here's a rundown of this weekend's visitors (all are 2014 prospects unless otherwise noted):
- OH LB Michael Ferns and VA QB Wilton Speight — Two of Michigan's three commits—and the two that have been most active in recruiting other prospects—will be on campus doing their best Shane Morris impressions. Both have been mentioned by other prospects as doing an impressive job of selling Michigan.
- OH LB Kyle Berger — Berger hails from the same Cleveland St. Ignatius program that produced Jake Ryan, and it could come down to a Michigan/OSU battle for the four-star linebacker.
- FL OL Mason Cole — If a player is going to commit this weekend, it's probably Cole, a four-star guard who's already made multiple trips up from Florida. Getting Cole would be big in its own right, and it would also give Michigan the inside track at his high school teammates, four-star WR Artavis Scott and 2015 blue-chip ATH George Campbell—both have offers, and Campbell will accompany Cole on this weekend's visit.
- MI WR Drake Harris — This will be the first visit for Harris since his commitment to Michigan State; he's since opened up his recruitment after deciding he'll focus exclusively on football at the next level, though he still remains a soft Spartan verbal. Wilton Speight told Sam Webb he's been talking with Harris on a daily basis and convinced him to spend two days on campus this weekend. While Harris doesn't seem close to making a final decision, a productive visit could move him closer to making a change in his commitment.
- NC RB Elijah Hood — The four-star back had Michigan tied for fifth in his recruitment as of last week, but he's since updated that list and now has the Wolverines in fourth, per ESPN's Kipp Adams ($). This weekend will be key if Michigan hopes to make up ground on Notre Dame, Hood's leader, especially since he plans to make a decision before his senior season.
- MI DE Lawrence Marshall — Marshall briefly committed to Ohio State a couple weeks ago before opening up his recruitment after visits to Michigan State and Michigan forced him to reconsider. I'd expect the Southfield four-star end will take a little longer before making another pledge.
- MI DE Malik McDowell — While McDowell has been a familiar face around Ann Arbor, he's yet to spend a lot of time with the coaches—that should change this weekend, obviously. McDowell has been mum about his leaderboard, but it's believed that Michigan and Notre Dame hold an edge over Ohio State and Michigan State, and this will be a chance for the Wolverines to separate themselves from the pack.
- 2015 FL ATH George Campbell — As said above, Campbell is teammates at Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake with Mason Cole and Artavis Scott, and he appears ticketed for five-star status when the 2015 rankings eventually come out. This will be his first visit to Ann Arbor.
- 2015 MI ATH Brian Cole — Cole projects to be one of the top athletes in Michigan's rising junior class and could end up at receiver or defensive back at the next level. The 6'2" product of Saginaw Heritage already holds offers from both Michigan and MSU. This will be his first visit to Ann Arbor.
- 2015 OH CB Shaun Crawford — Crawford doesn't yet hold a Michigan offer, but that didn't stop him from pegging the Wolverines as his favorites in an interview with Scout's Bill Greene ($). He already holds offers from Illinois and Tennessee and ran an electronic 4.52 40-yard dash at a Nike SPARQ combine last week, so don't be surprised if Michigan comes through with an offer sooner or later.
The only player on this list that can be reasonably expected to commit this weekend is Mason Cole, and that's by no means a guarantee. As we've seen in the past, however, strange things can happen when this many prospects get on campus at the same time.
[Hit THE JUMP for the early leading candidate for dumbest rumor of the 2014 cycle, a couple of new offers, and more.]