"It's a lot easier being a drug dealer than an AAU coach" - this guy. Tell me something I don't know. I mean, don't think but have never tried either.
Five-Star Back Enjoys Visit
2016 five-star NJ RB Kareem Walker visited Michigan last Wednesday; he told 247's Steve Lorenz afterward that he enjoyed the trip ($):
"It was a great day," Walker said. "They have a nice campus and I like the coaches. I met a lot of the coaches and got to talk to Jabrill (Peppers) and spent some time with him as well."
With Mike Weber committing that evening, Steve asked Walker whether having a highly touted back in the class ahead of his would affect how he viewed Michigan, and Walker said he's "not really worried about competition." In fact, he said he "wouldn't mind" playing with another top back.
Walker also visited Ohio State during the week and told Sam Webb that he felt comfortable at both schools. His recruitment should stay in a holding pattern for a while now; he doesn't plan to take any more trips until after his upcoming junior season.
Another 2016 ball-carrier, four-star Southfield (MI) RB Matt Falcon, visited U-M last week and liked the intensity of the practice he watched, per Scout's Allen Trieu ($):
"When I went to Michigan, everything was good up there," he said. "I saw the practice. They were just in shells, shoulder pads and shorts, but there is a different kind of intensity up there at Michigan. I like it."
Falcon also visited Michigan State last week; he told Trieu that both in-state schools are showing high interest in him. Neither have come through with an offer yet, but that may just be a matter of time—Ohio State has already put one forth, and a couple other big-name programs are considering him, as well.
Yet another top 2016 back, NC four-star and former UNC commit Antonio Williams, came up with an interesting way to announce his top six schools—stadium photos:
— Antonio Williams (@A_B_Williams34) August 6, 2014
The tweet itself is self-explanatory.
[Hit THE JUMP for a new blip on the 2015 recruiting radar, how not to handle a commit tweeting word of a new offer, and more.]
Fasten Your Seatbelts?
Four-star 2016 PA WR Cameron Chambers will announce his college choice tomorrow, and while he released a top five on Monday the overwhelming consensus is he'll pick between Michigan and Michigan State, the two schools he visited most recently. No one seems to have a good read on which of the two he'll pick, however, including his high school coach, per Scout's Brian Dohn ($):
"I really don't know what he wants to do," Timber Creek coach Rob Hinson. "I think he had a good time at Michigan, and had a great time at Michigan State. He was at Michigan for two days, and he said Michigan State was awesome, and he said the same thing about Michigan.
I haven't been able to find a specific time for the announcement tomorrow—I don't think Chambers has determined one—but I'll update if/when one comes out.
KLS Top Five: Michigan In, USC and ND Out
Five-star CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South trimmed his list to five schools this week. Michigan made it, which won't shock anyone, but a pair of omissions might, per Scout's Greg Biggins ($):
On the recruiting front, Lucier-South cut his list down to a final five that consisted of Florida, Oklahoma, Oregon, Michigan and UCLA.
"Those are the five schools that I felt most comfortable with and the ones that I felt matched my style the best," Lucier-South said. "It was really hard to cut Notre Dame and USC. Those two schools have been on me hard for a long time but I just felt like the five I choose were the best fits for me."
KLS had mentioned Notre Dame as a school he planned to see on an official visit, while USC is one of just two schools—along with UCLA—that he's visited unofficially. Now he's planning to take trips to each of his top five schools before a Signing Day decision.
Oregon and Oklahoma are relative newcomers to the party, though they could both very well be a major factor in Lucier-South's recruitment going forward. For now, UCLA and Michigan are generally regarded as the schools out in front.
More BBQ Reactions: Jalen Bates
Sam Webb's latest Detroit News article* is a great wrapup of last Sunday's BBQ at the Big House, and it includes some very glowing quotes from three-star LA DE Jalen Bates, who moved Michigan into his top five after his visit:
“(Michigan is in) the top five right now for sure,“ said Bates. “(The barbecue) was fun. It was one of the (most fun) times I’ve had. They treated me like family. All the coaches, they all treated me like they have been recruiting all their life. They all kind of flocked to me and they treated me like I was a celebrity. I liked the way they treated my family — all the coaches’ wives and their kids.”
“(Michigan assistant Fred Jackson) was like one of my uncles. It was like he missed me. We hung out almost the whole time. It was like I was out here visiting family, and I haven’t even met some of these people. It was cool.”
Bates had a September 19th decision date set before the visit, and he plans to stick to that timeline. A Scout article published yesterday appeared to indicate that Michigan was suddenly out of the mix, as it quoted Bates saying he'd choose between Mississippi State, Texas Tech, and Louisiana-Lafayette. While that is apparently Bates' top three, he insisted on Twitter that isn't a concrete top group, and Michigan is still very much under consideration:
Why would I kick UM out . Grew up watching UM. They just have a few negs & pos. That I have to weigh out
— Jalen Bates (@KINNG_MEE) July 31, 2014
One of those negatives is almost certainly distance from home, and getting Bates back on campus before his decision could go a long way towards convincing him that shouldn't be a huge factor. Luckily, Bates told 247's Steve Lorenz that a return trip to Ann Arbor is likely to happen ($):
"I am gonna try to get to a game before I decide," he said. "Michigan is probably going to get an official. They were already in my top five going into this visit and they really, really helped themselves on this visit. It was a real surprise how much I liked it there and how much fun I had. I know Michigan is great academically; top 10 in the country and top 20 in the world. They definitely stand out that way. I'm looking for a school and coaching staff that can develop me. That's the biggest thing for me. Wherever I go, I am ready to work as hard as I can; I want to play for coaches that can take that hard work and help turn me into a great player."
I like Michigan's chances if Bates follows through on that official; if he doesn't, I'd be surprised if he ends up straying too far from home.
*Strongly suggest you click through and read that whole thing, as there's a lot of good stuff in there I'm not bothering to reprint here since it's free and all.
Even More BBQ Reactions: Bredeson, Holyfield
Michigan got a nice leg up in the recruitment of top-50 2016 WI OT Ben Bredeson when his older brother, Jack, committed to the baseball team while the family was in town for the BBQ. Per Lorenz, Bredeson is already planning a game visit, and he'll likely see the Wolverines a couple times on the road, as well ($):
Going forward, Bredeson does not look to make a commitment until sometime next spring or summer. A group of schools has separated themselves at this point with Michigan, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Ohio State being among those considered most at this point.
"It's a really good feeling to have such great programs wanting you to play for them," he said. "Right now, I'm looking at returning to Michigan for a visit when they play Penn State. I also might end up seeing them play at Notre Dame and at Ohio State this season as well. It will depend on how I am able to work my schedule because I have practice on Saturday mornings after my games on Friday. I'm hoping to make it work though."
The Penn State game, as expected, is shaping up to be Michigan's biggest in-season recruiting event.
2016 four-star RB Elijah Holyfield camped at Michigan this summer; he told Tim Sullivan that coming back for the BBQ—and bringing his mother and step-father—was actually his idea, which sounds pretty encouraging from Michigan's perspective ($):
"A couple recruits had told me about it, and I called Coach Hecklinski and he thought it'd be a good idea to get my parents up there, and I wanted my parents to see it also," Holyfield explained. "I really like Michigan a lot, so I wanted them to see it and see how they like it also. I thought it'd be a good time to come back up.
"Me and my parents got there the day before, so I got the chance to sit down with all the coaches one-on-one and talk to them. That really helped a lot. Any questions that my parents had, they were able to answer. It was really nice, I really enjoyed myself on the whole visit."
Holyfield said the trip "definitely helped Michigan" in his recruitment, and he indicated that his parents were also quite impressed. He might come back again for a game this fall.
Steve Lorenz reported that the top-ranked running back in the 2016 class, five-star New Jersey product Kareem Walker, will visit Michigan next week ($). While there will be tons of competition for Walker's signature, Michigan has a couple things going for them: they were one of the first programs to offer Walker a scholarship, and Walker's connected with fellow Jersey native Jabrill Peppers.
Congratulations to 2015 commit Darrin Kirkland, who accepted an invite to the Army All-American Game yesterday.
Happy trails to former commit George Campbell, who released a top ten that didn't include Michigan ($). The only two non-ACC/SEC schools to make the list are UCLA and... Maryland. Okay, then.
An off-the-radar name to remember: Darrin Paulo, a three-star 2015 OL from Sacramento, told Scout's Brandon Huffman that Michigan is under consideration for his final official visit spot ($):
“I know where I’m going to visit, but I don't have dates,” said Paulo. “Washington State, UCLA, USC and Oregon are the main four I know I want to visit. I think I will take all five though and I’m debating the last one in my mind. I’m still considering Wisconsin, Michigan and Arizona State for the last one.”
Scout and Rivals both list Paulo as holding a Michigan offer. It seems unlikely anything will come from this, but it's at least worth noting.
The annual recruiting extravaganza known as the BBQ at The Big House is just a couple of weeks away on July 27th and already the list of visitors is quite star-studded. A blend of committed and uncommitted prospects from multiple classes will be in attendance for what has proved to be a huge recruiting tool in past classes. Below is who I’ve been able to contact in order to start putting together a list of who will be in attendance and who won’t be. Of course there are many prospects that are still unsure, they are listed as well.
CB Marcus Lewis
CB Mook Reynolds
CB Garrett Taylor
DE Kengera Daniel
K Andrew David
LB Darrin Kirkland Jr.
LB Joshua McMillon
QB Alex Malzone
RB Damien Harris
RB Mike Weber
S Tyree Kinnel
TE Chris Clark
WR Grant Perry
CB Iman Marshall
DE Darian Roseboro
LB Tyriq Thompson
OL Jon Runyan Jr.
TE Tyrone Wheatley Jr.
WR Brian Cole
LB Asmar Bilal
OL Grant Newsome
OL Patrick Allen
OL Connor Williams
RB Alec Murphy
S Kahlil Haughton
WR Lawrence Cager
CB Lavert Hill
QB Messiah deWeaver
RB Elijah Holyfield
TE Luke Farrell
TE Naseir Upshur
WR Austin Mack
LB Daelin Hayes
OL Ben Bredeson
OL Erik Swenson
CB Levonta Taylor
OL Liam Eichenberg
OL Michal Menet
RB Kentrail Moran
RB Kareem Walker
TE Jake Hausmann
WR Binjimen Victor
A visitor list for an event like this is always subject to change and I know there are several others who belong in one of the categories that I just haven’t heard back from yet. Unfortunately for the readers I am embarking on my honeymoon tomorrow so I won’t be adding or subtracting to or from this list for at least a week.
Something Unrelated To Nussmei--wait it's totally about Nussmeier
Sam Webb's latest Detroit News feature covers the potential recruiting impact of Doug Nussmeier; according to Greg Biggins—who covered the West region for Scout before becoming their national analyst, and therefore is familiar with Nussmeier's recruiting efforts at Washington—he's a more active and willing recruiter than his predecessor:
“I'm a big fan of Doug Nussmeier as a coach, recruiter and person,” Scout.com National Recruiting analyst Greg Biggins said. “He's a high-energy, loud, fun-loving coach who has a magnetic personality. He relates very well to kids because of his youthful, outgoing personality. Just from a personality standpoint he's basically the opposite of Al Borges if you're looking for a comparison. He really loves to recruit.
As a lead recruiter, Nussmeier secured commitments from two four-star All-American QBs at Washington for the 2012 class, four-star All-American Cooper Bateman for Alabama in the 2013 class, four-star All-American David Cornwell for 2014, and the consensus #2 2015 quarterback, Ricky Town, who pledged to the Tide last August (and remains "very solid" in that commitment, for those hoping he'd follow Nussmeier to Michigan). That's quite a track record, and there's more; even if you don't want to credit him too much for landing 4.5-star Tuscaloosa native Bo Scarbrough, he certainly earns points for venturing up to Ohio to reel in four-star WR Derek Kief in the 2014 class.
With Michigan still searching for a quarterback in the 2015 class—and highly unlikely to receive a commitment from their two current offered prospects, five-star Josh Rosen and three-star David Sills—there's work to be done on that front by Nussmeier. Thankfully for Michigan, he's already developed a relationship with one of their top targets, three-star CA QB Kyle Kearns:
2015 QB Kyle Kearns who has been a #Michigan target says he has a very good relationship already with Nussmeier. Calls him a good friend.
— Brandon Brown (@CoachBrown3) January 9, 2014
We've also got a "sam webb knows all" tag on this blog for a reason; it's possible he gave away Michigan's next offer, as this is buried in the Nussmeier story:
Pending Nussmeier’s evaluation the Wolverines could decide to intensify their pursuit of already-offered prospects like Bellflower (Calif.) Don Bosco’s Josh Rosen (five-star, No. 2 QB nationally), Elkton (Md.) Christian Academy’s David Sills (three-star, USC commit), and Albuquerque (N.M.) Eldorado’s Zach Gentry (four-star, No. 23 QB nationally) -- or move on to other talented options like Birmingham Brother Rice triggerman Alex Malzone (four-star, No. 20 QB nationally).
None of the four recruiting services—including Scout, Webb's employer—lists Gentry as holding a U-M offer; thus far, his only listed offers are from Louisville, Tennessee, San Diege State, and the two New Mexico schools. That list should grow, however, as he's the 12th-ranked quarterback in the country according to to the 247 Composite and his film is impressive—he's a 6'6" pocket passer with impressive mobility and a strong, accurate arm when he's not throwing off his back foot (a big issue in his sophomore tape). If Michigan has offered (or plans to offer) Gentry, he looks quite worthy of it.
The reaction from current commits and targets in the wake of Nussmeier's hiring was overwhelmingly positive($); here's a pretty representative quote from four-star 2015 PA OT Sterling Jenkins:
"That's a great hire for Michigan. I can't wait to get the chance to meet him."
Meanwhile, Nussmeier is already reaching out to prospects he was recruiting at Alabama. On the recruiting front, there's no question he's an upgrade over Borges. The only current commit whose status may be of concern after Borges' firing is 2015 RB Damien Harris, whose high school coach was a grad assistant under Borges:
Damien Harris' mom said it was sad and a shock to hear about Borges, but right now they are letting it sink and aren't talking about it.
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) January 8, 2014
There's been concern about Harris' commitment going back prior to the OC change; thus far, however, there's been no remotely definitive sign that the childhood Michigan fan is going to back out of his pledge. For now, it's a wait-and-see situation, and the Wolverines don't plan to wait long to talk to Harris: Nussmeier and Fred Jackson plan to stop by his school later this week, per Sam Webb.
[After THE JUMP, a Michigan commit saves a life (seriously), the latest on the 2014 running back situation, Brandon details five new underclassman offers, and more.]
With the season in the rearview and a new playcaller on the payroll the coaches have wasted no time in putting some new names on the offer board. Five new scholarship offers were extended within the past week, three from the 2015 class and two from 2016. Four of these young men will be recruited primarily by linebackers coach Roy Manning and from all accounts that is a positive thing. I was able to chat with each new offeree about the offer among other things.
Position: Wide Receiver
Ht/Wt: 6'4" / 187 lbs.
Location: Randleman High School (2015) – Randleman, NC
Offers: Clemson, Duke, East Carolina, Georgia Tech, Michigan, North Carolina, NC State, Ohio State, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest
Ranking: ★★★★ .9163 (247 Composite)
If the Michigan coaches had a machine that created wide receivers, one might walk out that looked like Juval Mollette. He’s built a lot like Drake Harris, Csonte’ York, Jaron Dukes, and Moe Ways. At 6’4” he’s your typical long-striding, high-pointing type of receiver. He has good straight line speed but won’t lose anyone in a phone booth. He definitely does know how to use his frame to get position and make catches in traffic.
Coach Manning was the coach to offer the junior over the phone and Juval feels like Michigan is a good offer to add to his list. “My interest in Michigan is pretty high, but I really have the same interest in all of the schools that have offered me at this point.” Growing up in North Carolina, a state without much college football success, Juval didn’t really have a favorite team growing up and admits to not even really watching football until his freshman year. Because of that, and as you might expect he doesn’t know much about Michigan just yet. “I honestly don’t know too much. I know they have a great tradition of winning. I’m sure I’ll start to learn more.” Juval said Coach Manning made it a point to emphasize how important he was and that they don’t offer just anybody.
Based on his lack of interest in watching football and not really being a fan of anyone I’d say his recruitment is wide open. He has a solid offer list already with Michigan and Ohio State being the only non-ACC/SEC teams to show that level of interest. He’s never been to Michigan in any capacity and until he visits I think there’s a low probability of him becoming a Wolverine.
Ht/Wt: 6'0" / 185 lbs.
Location: St. Peters Prep (2015) – Jersey City, NJ
Offers: Alabama, Boston College, UConn, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, LSU, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Mississippi State, Nebraska, North Carolina, NC State, Ohio State, Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers, South Carolina, Stanford, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Wisconsin
Ranking: ★★★★★ .9859 (247 Composite)
Jabrill Peppers 2.0? Like Peppers, Minkah Fitzpatrick hails from New Jersey, plays a myriad of positions, looks far better than almost everyone else on the field, and is just a special athlete. I first made contact with him during my M Block days and honestly wonder why it took so long for the coaches to offer this kid.
From Fitzpatrick himself he says he already draws comparisons to Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks and prides himself on his Sherman-like physicality. Completely different from Sherman, Minkah thinks he needs to be more vocal on the field with communication and leadership.
Coach Manning once again was on the job and spoke to Minkah and his coach deciding to extend an offer to play at Michigan. I have heard great things from many recruits about Coach Manning and Minkah was no different. “Yeah I talked to him a lot. he seems like he would be a great leader and a great coach.”
Coach Manning won’t be the only person trying to bring Fitzpatrick to Ann Arbor as the aforementioned Jabrill Peppers reached out to Minkah immediately following his tweet about the Michigan offer.
— Breez (@JabrillPeppers) January 9, 2014
Jabrill and Minkah do have a bit of a relationship, he explained to me with a laugh. “We communicate a little bit but not too often. He’s tried recruiting me before though. I might ask him a few questions about Michigan but that’s about it. Or we’ll see how much he tries to recruit me.” And all Michigan fans rejoice.
With a look at his offer list Fitzpatrick has Michigan among many others to choose from and I asked him how the Maize and Blue stack up against the rest. “It’s a great program and I always liked the way they play. I’m really excited about the offer! I always try and do my research with every school and now that I have an offer I can start learning a lot more.” Part of that learning process will involve a first visit to Ann Arbor that Fitzpatrick hopes to take in the spring.
Fitzpatrick is going to have scads of options to weigh before he makes his decision but he really doesn’t want it to drag out if he can help it. “I would like to get it done before my senior season but if I don’t find the school that fits me best before then, I would probably have to wait until signing day.”
Fitzpatrick seemed genuinely interested in Michigan. He did admit to me that he also likes the Buckeyes quite a bit. I couldn’t help but notice him tweeting about them during their bowl loss. That being said I think Michigan has a real shot with him. He’s going to be able to go wherever he wants but the coaches have done well in New Jersey as of late and with Peppers in his ear that can’t hurt. Coach Manning appears to have made a great early impression and if he makes that visit in the spring I expect Michigan to be in it until the end.
Position: Weakside Defensive End
Ht/Wt: 6'6" / 235 lbs.
Location: West Forsyth High School (2015) – Clemmons, NC
Offers: Clemson, Duke, East Carolina, Florida State, North Carolina, NC State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, West Virginia
Ranking: ★★★★ .9553 (247 Composite)
Born and raised in North Carolina, defensive end Jalen Dalton was a name I was not very familiar with. After seeing his name attached to an offer I watched his film and liked what I saw. He has a fantastic frame for growing into a beast of an edge rusher and uses it to perfection against much lesser competition in high school. Dalton describes himself as a physical, pure pass-rusher with a knack for deflections.
In his area of Winston-Salem he’s often compared to local star Kareem Martin, a first team All-ACC’er that just finished his senior season at North Carolina with 20 TFL and 11 sacks. After looking at Martin a little bit I can definitely see it. Dalton does a lot of things very well for a young pass rusher.
Coach Manning has made another solid impression on a recruit and Dalton couldn’t say enough about him. “My coach called me on my way to school and told me that Michigan had offered. Later that day I had PE so we called Coach Roy and we talked for a little while. He is a good man, really down to Earth. He seems really cool and laid back. That’s what I like in a coach. I really don’t know a lot about Michigan but I know I like Coach Roy.”
Dalton really wants to take a trip to Michigan and hopes to do that as soon as plans can be made. He said he’s big on the “vibes” that he feels when he visits a school. “Schools in my top list just have to give me that good vibe. I’m not sure how my recruitment will really play out but I’m going to start working on a bit of a timeline and ideas for visits soon and might know some by Tuesday.”
Dalton kept things pretty short and sweet but it was clear that Roy Manning did a very good job with him. He seemed to be quite proud about being born and raised in North Carolina which makes me feel like he might be tough to pull away from ACC country, especially when you look at his offer list containing both in-state schools, Clemson, and Florida State. We’ll see just how much magic Coach Manning has as Dalton’s recruitment progresses.
I almost always approve of Michigan following suit when Michigan State and Wisconsin offer offensive linemen and that’s exactly the case with in-state product Thiyo Lukusa. At 6’6” and 310 lbs. he figures to be a future tackle prospect and has performed well in that arena at several camps to date.
Lukusa has been open about how much he wanted an offer from the Wolverines, telling me that it was indeed a big time offer for him. He was informed of his offer by a phone call from Coach Hoke and almost all of the rest of the staff.
He wouldn’t call Michigan his leader but he did say, “they’re at the top though.” To me that sounds like the same thing, but I digress. I mentioned to him that 100% of the Crystal Ball picks at 247 think he’s a future Wolverine and he responded with, “MSU had a great season though, so I can’t say anything.” Seconds later he admitted to growing up a huge Michigan fan, “for sure!”. He said growing up a big Michigan fan will factor in to his decision….but not as much as roses. “Roses smell so good.”
I am 99.9% sure this will be a Wolverine/Sparty battle all the way. He’s got just the four offers right now but the way he spoke about both in-state schools it just seemed obvious at this early stage of his recruitment. Michigan State’s on-field success has clearly impacted the big lineman prospect but if Michigan can right the ship over the next two seasons, I believe Lukusa will be joining fellow tackle prospect Erik Swenson in the trenches in Ann Arbor.
Another New Jersey product, Kareem Walker is the first running back to receive an offer in the 2016 class. This kid came off to me as incredibly humble and genuinely grateful for an offer from Michigan. From Jersey, he also has a connection with Jabrill Peppers and already relates to him. “I’m from Irvington, New Jersey, it’s not a good neighborhood at all, kind of like Jabrill. As it comes closer to me getting ready to commit it will be helpful to know Jabrill because he will already be there and he will be able to tell me certain things.”
Ok, don’t freak out but on the field Walker actually reminds me of Denard with how he runs the ball. It’s not just because he has dreads, although that helps, but he does a lot of the same insane cuts, displays similarly quick feet, and like Denard, when there’s an opening he’s to it and through it before the defense knows what happened. This is how he describes himself. “I’m a person who you can’t take your eye off or you will miss out. I won’t quit no matter what the score is. It can be 100-0 and I still won’t give up on a play. I will continue to play with intensity and try to make big plays.” His high school coach compares him to Eric Dickerson, but I’m going to stick with Denard.
Like a lot of kids, from Michigan or not, their Wolverine knowledge begins and ends with Charles Woodson and The Big House. “I know a little about Michigan, mainly Charles Woodson. He kind of changed the face of college football by playing both ways and just going crazy in The Big House. I know that stadium is live and I hear the atmosphere is like no other.”
It’s obviously very early in the process for Kareem and he plans to take as much time as he needs to make the right decision. “I don’t really have a set time frame. I plan on taking my official visits and then talking it over with my parents and family before deciding. It really could be at any point after that.”
I had already had limited contact with each of these young men in the past except for Jalen Dalton, but after some in depth conversation with them I wouldn’t mind if they all committed today. On film they look great, they all seem to be grounded guys, and some of their best qualities seem to be off the field.
I’ve also learned more about how good of a recruiter Roy Manning seems to be. First impressions aren’t everything but he appears to be a pro at them. Maintaining a solid relationship and closing with some of these guys will bring his skillset full circle and solidify him as a quality recruiter in my mind.