Tennessee is not recruiting well just because they got 18 dudes
First, a little feelingsball
Spring games are notorious for being a little data amidst an ocean of noise, so as always take everything here with a grain of salt. And this section isn't even a concrete observation about a player, so doubly so here. But… my favorite thing that happened on Friday wasn't a play.
It was the aftermath of the two-point conversion, when the white team poured onto the field like they'd just won the Super Bowl and blue team coach Chris Partridge roared off the sideline to have a Harbaugh-level conniption fit at the ref.
A couple other coaches reacted similarly, if not as dramatically, as Partridge; the white team organized at midfield for a photo. Wyatt Shallman headbanged like there was no tomorrow. Drake Johnson collapsed in a heap.
Drake Johnson collapses on the field after his team gets stopped on a potential game-winning 2-pt. conversion. pic.twitter.com/Beyur1LaIW
— Dan Murphy (@DanMurphyESPN) April 4, 2016
I tweeted to Ace that he should title the recap "Controversial finish mars Spring Game ending,"* because that was funny. It's only funny because it's kind of true.
This is a different thing now. Last year's team was good but it was still caught between being a program that apologizes for a tent stake and a program whose DGAF levels are off the charts. Judging from the reactions of everyone involved on both sides, the all-competition-all-the-time ethos has sunk in. That more than anything else makes me anticipate the upcoming season.
This concludes your feelingsball portion of the program.
*[He did not, and I was all like ಠ_ಠ.]
[After THE JUMP: position by position breakdowns of what we learned on offense]
Before we start, folks who aren't going to be mentioned because they were on the sideline: Jehu Chesson, David Dawson, Ryan Glasgow, Mo Ways, Kingston Davis, Karan Higdon, Shelton Johnson.
Established guys we didn't see much of
I've seen a number of open practices by now and there's always a subclass of guys who aren't hurt but don't play much. Those guys are gentlemen who have established who they are and are too important to the team to expose them to extensive contact. They've made it, more or less. (These are never OL or DL.)
Most of the gentlemen who fell into this category are obvious: Jake Butt, Jabrill Peppers, Amara Darboh, Jourdan Lewis. There was one that indicates a supposedly contested position battle that might not be all that contested: De'Veon Smith saw very few live contact carries.
Tyrone Wheatley Jr Is A Tight End, And A Mutant
Some guys leap off the field the first time you see them in action, because… whoah. Devin Funchess did so at the first open practice these eyes ever laid eyes on, and that proved itself more or less correct over the course of his career. It was immediately apparent that Funchess was a rare combination of size and mobility.
Tyrone Wheatley Jr. is that plus 70 pounds. He's not Funchess. He's in fact the opposite of Funchess as far as blocky/catchy types go. But he has that same combination of size and mobility that makes you go "whoah" the first time you see him in action. I was typing out tweets about how his ability to relocate himself at his size was uncanny even before he did this:
— ap (@plurjuice) March 26, 2016
That's not a great angle; I had one. Devin Bush Jr had outstanding coverage underneath Wheatley, grabbing an arm and forcing the one-handed stab. Which Wheatley made, escaped/stiffarmed an understandably stumbling Bush, and then outran a bunch of LBs and safeties to the endzone. Even though large chunks of the crowd had left by that point it drew the largest cheer of the day, and deservedly.
That was not a one-off play. Wheatley had four or five other catches where he looked both unexpectedly mobile and a natural receiver. He also had an outstanding block in space against Chase Winovich that allowed John O'Korn to uncork a long post throw to Grant Perry for a touchdown.
There have been persistent rumors that Wheatley was destined for OL because of his size and some assertions to that effect in Rivals's Inside The Fort posts. This practice will definitively dispel those rumors. Wheatley isn't just a tight end, he is a potential gamebreaker. At 280.
[After THE JUMP: future mutants, QB battle, an extant run game, and some dude from Malaysia.]
How’s the running back group progressing through six practices?
“Progressing well. Just trying to get certain guys like De’Veon [Smith] and Ty Isaac to what I call a mastery level, meaning that it’s progressing past the things we did last year. Instead of going through the hole and getting tackled by a guy it’s really working some moves, try and improve your game.
“With the younger guys, they’re doing well. They’re right where I’d expect them to be. A little overloaded in some aspects in terms of the information coming in on them, but they all look good. They all look good.”
How do you keep De’Veon healthy for a whole year?
“How do I keep him healthy for a full year?”
Yeah. I mean, that was obviously the challenge last year.
”He was healthy. He was relatively healthy. I mean, any football guy who lines up and takes that first—it’s like a car. Once you take that car off the lot it depreciates. It’s never going to be 100% value. So in terms of De’Veon, I think he was healthy besides the toe. But in terms of being healthy, some of the things we’re talking about now: being able to not run down the middle of guys, taking so many hits, being able to make some guys miss. That will improve his health, but I think relatively compared to last year he was relatively healthy.”
WelpThisWasGoingToBeMyMGoQuestion: What’s a realistic expectation for the two freshmen?
“Expectation? They’re true freshmen.”
So how much would that be?
“They’re freshmen! We won’t know. Right now it’s too hard to put anything on it. I’ll just put it to you this way: it’s freshmen. They’re freshmen. I mean, they’re good freshmen, but the fact of the matter is they’re freshmen. So to put an expectation on it is really unfair right now.”
For Ty [Isaac], who probably didn’t see as many carries as he wanted to last year, getting to the mastery level, has he put in more work? Has he taken to that a little bit differently this year?
“Yeah. I mean, regardless the point of the snaps, it’s still just age and being around and hearing it, so trying to take his game to that next level. So yeah, I mean, he’s working. He worked last year. He’s working this year. Sometimes a guy may just outwork you. That’s just a thing. It’s not that he did anything wrong last year. But he’s working hard. Yes, he is. Putting in the work.”
Do you feel like Drake [Johnson] is finally back to finally maybe 100%? He’s running track, too. He said that’s helping his leg and knee strength.
“Well, unfortunate part about me, I never was here when Drake was Drake Drake. So what I saw last year and just seeing a guy who’s coming off an ACL, he looked pretty darn good. So if we can improve him and get him past that, we should be looking at a much improved Drake, and he is looking good. In terms of track, he has a little more burst to him. But just in terms of football-wise, we’re trying to get Drake to that mastery level as well. It’s moving past little things like getting tackled, little better in pass-pro, things of that nature. So he’s one of those guys we’re trying to get to that mastery level.”
[After THE JUMP: some good news re: fullbacks, more on achieving RB mastery level]
All Star week part two
Dylan Crawford is a top-100-ish WR
UA is over (as is Semper Fi) and now it's on to the Army game. Multiple recruits of major interest plan to decide at the game. CA WR Dylan Crawford is definitely doing so. With Oregon full at wide receiver it's not even certain who Michigan is competing with in his recruitment. His only officials have been to Michigan and Oregon; he also lists Washington, Stanford, Miami, and UCLA. I guess UCLA could be an option since he must have taken an unofficial there at some point, but this looks like a slam dunk.
Meanwhile MI CB Lavert Hill's ever-shifting commitment plans briefly maybe probably shifted to an Army announcement:
“I’m not for sure,” Hill said at check-in Sunday. “I got to talk to my mom and see what she says about it. It’s kind of up to her.”
Hill said he's down to Michigan and Michigan State, and that he talks to Jourdan Lewis "probably every day." Then Clemson offered, Hill reset his announcement for Signing Day, and said he would visit Clemson.
Anyway… there was a brief flurry of Michigan State optimism based on the idea that Hill and MI WR Donnie Corley would be a package, but with Corley trending towards OSU that package is falling apart. If Hill did decide at the Army game it was only going one way, and that's to Ann Arbor. Clemson getting involved is a potential hitch, but I'd be surprised if they could overcome the longstanding relationships and brother angle.
Finally, FL TE Isaac Nauta is announcing at the game, and while the universe expects it to be Georgia he provides a glimmer of hope in an interview with the AJC:
“I fly home on Jan. 10 and gather up my stuff and go,” Nauta said, who added that the events of this week can factor into his decision. “I’ve got it down to two in my head and I’ll be able to make a decision sometime this week.”
It is likely that Alabama is the team that got cut since Nauta has filed enrollment paperwork with UGA and Michigan but not Alabama. Steve Lorenz also offers a sliver of hope; while cautioning that he still expect Georgia to be the pick he relates that people in the Michigan program think they've got "more than a puncher's chance."
This is very much a "so you're saying there's a chance" situation. Door isn't 100% closed yet.
The already committed
In addition to the not-yet-committed, Michigan also has a trio of committed fellows that we'll get a bunch more data on. Those gentlemen are TX DT Jordan Elliott, MI OL Michael Onwenu, and IN QB Brandon Peters. Onwenu is a physical marvel:
The scale didn't go high enough to weigh Onwenu. We'll call it 350+. But the MIchigan commit was really impressive in that he's not a sloppy big body and he has extremely long arms. In fact, though he's only 6-3, only one offensive lineman had longer arms than Onwenu.
Meanwhile Elliott was one of the most impressive players on the first day of practice.
— Damon Sayles (@DamonSayles) January 4, 2016
— Greg Powers (@GPowersScout) January 4, 2016
— Jason Howell (@RivalsJason) January 4, 2016
Elliott must be poised for a move up in the Rivals rankings, as they currently have him a nondescript three star. All the other services have him much higher—he may be making a case to move up even there.
Elliott also offered up this spectacular quote about Jim Harbaugh:
"He's just a mystical person. He always looks at you in the eyes when he's talking and then he'll say things when he starts to look away. It's pretty funny. I've never described anybody as mystical before either."
Elliott got in a bit of a twitter tiff with EJ Holland and continues to insist his recruiting process is 100% done; unfortunately he believes that Michigan is not going to get TX LB Dontavious Jackson.
Signing Day Decisions
Michigan has never really been a school that does much on Signing Day: they'll pick up a few guys, generally lower-rated ones, but the kind of ESPNU I-commit-with-a-hat-and-maybe-a-dog thing has never been the way Michigan recruits.
Harbaugh is set to change that in a major way, as the following players are all planning on announcing on February 3rd:
- NJ DE Rashan Gary, who you may have heard of. Michigan is a heavy favorite.
- TX LB Dontavious Jackson, who maintains no leaders or top list. You can piece together an approximate picture of M, UCLA, FSU, Bama, Florida, and Texas. Jackson took officials to the first three, plans officials to Bama and UF, and is local to Texas. FSU may lead.
- FL WR Pie Young, who has maintained Michigan as his leader for a while. Miami may be the nearest competitor but really who knows?
- As mentioned, MI CB Lavert Hill is, at this instant, deciding to decide on Signing Day.
- NJ S Jordan Fuller is packing almost his entire recruitment in the last month and could realistically go to any of his four finalists.
- FL LB Jonathan Jones is more or less down to Michigan and Notre Dame.
In addition to those primary targets there will be six or seven guys announcing who Michigan might be involved with depending on how the class works out, including TX S Chris Brown, CA TE Devin Asiasi, CA DT Boss Tagaloa, and AZ DE Connor Murphy, plus a couple guys under the radar. Batten down the hatches.
Rashan versus MechaRashan
Would you like additional hype on NJ DE Rashan Gary? Probably? Okay.
Gary walked onto the field the first day of practice as the No. 1 rated player in the nation and he walked out off the field of the Citrus Bowl distancing himself and securing that spot atop of the rankings, where he will sit when they are updated for a final time before signing day in February.
Gary also landed a couple of made-up awards from Mike Farrell, including best motor…
Gary has a non-stop motor and even if you play him right, he will push you back into the pocket no matter what. He was taking as many reps as he could in practice, he could have taken the head off the quarterback numerous times and he was nasty in the game. You can’t teach desire and drive and he has plenty of both to go along with impressive talent.
…and the most consistent player, along with the best player, period. ESPN concurs:
Gary possesses a wonderful combination of size, power and athleticism and maximizes those attributes with a high-effort style of play. … An impressive aspect of his game is his hand usage. That activity, combined with his strength and motor, can make him extremely difficult to keep blocked and that was evident in his performance throughout Saturday's game. …
In addition to his impressive physical attributes, Gary also conducted himself in a five-star manner off the field. Gary is as good a No. 1 overall prospect that there has been since we began with the recruiting nation player rankings, and long as he remains coachable and focused, all the tools are there for him to an impact player for whichever program he signs.
Along with the evals come a pile of Michigan folks re-asserting that the Wolverines are heavy favorites. You can read the Sam Webb version ("Michigan is the overwhelming favorite") or the Tim Sullivan version ("Michigan will be all-but impossible to beat"); I like 'em both.
Other UA evals
This column discussed WI OL commit Ben Bredeson's UA performances a bit on Friday; he seems like he'll maintain his current near five-star ranking. A bit more confirmation from Tim Sullivan:
While he has been a brick wall at tackle for his high school team, the likes of five-stars Rashan Gary and Marlon Davidson (both on his own team for practices) are a different animal, and he stood up well.
Scout's Josh Newkirk concurred, noting an "impressive week":
He showcased good feet and didn’t struggle with faster defensive ends throughout the week. While he might end up at offensive guard at Michigan, he proved that he is versatile enough to play on the outside. And looks the part of a player who can hit the field early on in his career.
You might pencil him in as a redshirt freshman starter in 2017, if you were so inclined.
FL LB commit Devin Bush Jr. didn't get a lot of chatter from national guys good or bad and seems likely to maintain his rankings but not move up. Sullivan:
He doesn’t look the part physically, just because he’s shorter than the other linebackers, but when drills go live, he immediately displays that size isn’t everything. He’s quicker than everybody else, and moves well. He was in the backfield a couple times during team drills, and one of his biggest assets – hitting like a ton of bricks – wasn’t on display with the practice not at full-speed.
Bush sounds like an excellent fit for a Don Brown defense. Brown likes his linebackers small, quick, and mean.
NJ RB Kareem Walker is the lone guy who is likely to take a rankings hit after the UA and Semper Fi games. Walker didn't have much opportunity to show what he can do since he was put behind a shaky offensive line trying to contest Gary, and PSU commit Miles Sanders performed better. Sam Webb:
…never saw much daylight between the tackles (none of the black team’s backs did because of the relentless d-line play led by Gary), and he was forced to bounce many of his carries to the outside. That just isn’t where his bread is buttered. Walker is a downhill, one-cut, and go back… and that’s how he’ll be used in Ann Arbor.
A dollar says he'll drop to just outside the top 100 most places. 247 already has him there.
Semper Fi evals
PA S Khaleke Hudson: DO WANT
Well, one: I watched the first half and change and came away very impressed with PA S Khaleke Hudson. Hudson displayed terrific closing speed, finished plays with a thump, and had multiple PBUs against wide receivers. Dude filled up the box score:
Khaleke Hudson had seven tackles, two tackles for loss, forced a fumble and had a game-high four pass breakups, with no other player having more than one in the game.
He is the kind of guy you get to replace a Jabrill Peppers—while he's not Peppers he ain't bad, either.
Hudson split his time at Semper Fi between safety and running back, impressing at both locations. He could fill out a bit and play linebacker. He veritably screams Harbaugh guy. Here's hoping Michigan goes after him full-steam.
Michigan's two commits in the game didn't do much. NJ DE Ron Johnson is linebacker sized and it showed; NJ WR Brad Hawkins was targeted once. Both showed very well in practice, however.
2. Ron Johnson: Right behind Jones on Friday was Johnson once again. The 6-foot-4, 228-pound is tenacious off the line, and he has the speed to get to the football that cannot be coached. The Michigan commitment has had some new things thrown at him this week, and he has adapted well, while showing a high football IQ.
5. Brad Hawkins: Most wide receivers play outside for their high school. When practice began, the coaches let them go to a spot and work. Hawkins went to the slot and has done well when the ball has come his way. He has done well catching short passes and on end-arounds, and the Michigan commitment is more fluid and sudden than many might think given his size, especially in tight spaces, where he used double moves to make defenders miss twice in a span of five plays Friday.
Johnson is a holy lock to redshirt given his size and Michigan's 2016 DL, but as a developmental guy he's promising. Similar to Mario Ojemudia.
McCaffery is the #2 pro-style QB in 2017
Michigan's top target at QB in 2017 is CO QB Dylan McCaffery (yes that McCaffery), a 6'5" gentleman in the running for the top QB in the class. With Stanford focused on a couple of the other contenders for that crown, Michigan is increasingly perceived as the favorite. That perception got two major bumps over the last week.
MI WR Donovan Peoples-Jones tells 247's Luke Stampini that Michigan and Ohio State are recruiting him hardest:
“The most, without naming any favorites, Michigan is recruiting me really hard, Ohio State is recruiting me really hard, probably those two,” Peoples-Jones told 247Sports. “I do have favorites. I’ll be releasing my top ten shortly.”
Michigan is hoping to keep the elite receiver in-state.
“They’re pretty much telling me they really want me. They had a lot of coaching staff changes, a lot of changes around the university, so pretty much going forward, I’m just looking for what they can do for me.”
Florida also gets a mention but Stampini is a UF reporter reporting for a UF site so that was likely prompted while M and OSU were brought up organically. Peoples-Jones also talked to Scout's Josh Henschke:
"They've always been pursuing me," Peoples-Jones said. "Nothing's changed like that, I was just ready to see what Harbaugh was going to do and he's doing some very special things."
He's positive but noncommittal throughout; his recruitment will take a while. Michigan seems to be trending positively. His dad is an alum, FWIW.
247 says they'll be keeping an eye on IN QB commit Brandon Peters to see if they should issue a fifth star at the Army game. NJ S Jordan Fuller is down to M, OSU, PSU, and ND. He plans a visit to Ann Arbor on the 22nd. Anyone's guess as to where he's leaning. NJ WR commit Ahmir Mitchell will wear #2.
CA TE Devin Asiasi lists Michigan in his top five but has three officials scheduled over the next three weeks to other locations; he might get out to M mid-week. Never say never if that happens, I guess.
FL DE Joshua Uche got an offer a couple weeks ago and has set a visit for January 22nd. He's a generic three star but as a Miami decommit who is visiting Florida the week after he sees M he seems like a late riser.
Michigan offers 2017 AL LB Will Ignont. Ignont says he's wide open.
Hey, these are relevant again
— Rivals Camp Series (@RivalsCamp) December 29, 2015
Rashan Gary falling on things
The UA and Army All-Star games immediately follow the New Year's Day bowl binge, and thanks to Harbaugh's roll-with-it recruiting Michigan has a lot of commits and targets involved. MGoUser "Tate"—who does not have a Forcier avatar for some reason—helpfully collects the various attendees and announcements coming over the next week:
Under Armour All American Game - Saturday Jan 2, 2016 @ noon (ESPN2)
- Kareem Walker, RB
- Ben Bredeson, OL
- Devin Bush, LB
- Rashan Gary, DL
- Jean DeLance, OL - Announcing
- Terrance Davis, OL - Announcing
- Dontavious Jackson, LB
- Jacob Mathis, TE
Semper Fidelis All American Bowl - Sunday Jan 3 @ 9 pm (FS1)
- Brad Hawkins, WR
- Ron Johnson, DE
- Khaleke Hudson, ATH
Army All American Game - Saturday Jan 9 @ 1 pm (NBC)
- Jordan Fuller, DB
- Mecole Hardman, ATH
- Isaac Nauta, TE - Announcing
- Jordan Elliott, DL
- Michael Onwenu, OL
- Brandon Peters, QB
- Donnie Corley, WR
- Dylan Crawford, WR - Announcing
- Lavert Hill, DB
- David Long, DB
That's about a third of Michigan's current class plus the bulk of the gentlemen still on the board. IIRC, last year Michigan had just Brian Cole in the two main games (Semper Fi is notably behind the others in attention and prominence). This year it's a bit different. Prepare for all the vines and twitter videos of DL/OL drills:
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) December 29, 2015
Eh, I'd take him.
Gary seems likely to maintain his status as the top recruit in the country, so the guy I'm most interested to see evaluated on an All-Star stage is NJ RB commit Kareem Walker. Walker highlight tapes have been few and far between. He is not a slam dunk like Leonard Fournette. Michigan has had terrible luck with five-star-ish tailback recruits—Justin Fargas, Kevin Grady, Derrick Green, and Ty Isaac is the list, and it is not great, Bob. Rivals took his fifth star away…
Walker recently lost his fifth star and has gone from a decisive, one-cut brute at running back to a bit of an indecisive runner who questions his instincts and dances a bit too much. Ball security is also an issue so he will need to have a fumble free week and catch the ball effectively as well.
…and I can see why even if the more likely explanation is "we were wrong" instead of "Walker got a lot worse." This will be a week that can confirm or dis-confirm Walker's move down on some sites and relatively low ranking on others. 247 has him as a guy to watch:
RB, Kareem Walker (247Sports No. 118/247Sports Composite No. 39) – We've taken some heat in the past for having Walker ranked low, particularly from the Ohio State fan base when he was committed there. While we still like Walker, we still don't see him as a rare back but more of an effective college starter. A strong Under Armour week could change our mind.
I'd take "effective college starter" given Michigan's luck with five-star types previously.
So about those decisions
Michigan's two remaining OL targets will be announcing within minutes of each other. MD OL Terrance Davis has seen a Maryland surge on his Crystal Ball with most of the heavy hitters flipping their prediction from M to the Terps. These flips do not appear to be guesses, as Steve Wiltfong reports that Davis has already told the coaches at the various schools.
Wiltfong also reports that as Davis continued to hold out, Michigan began to view him as a luxury. If anyone on that staff has followed Michigan recruiting prior to the last couple years they probably got that Laquon Treadwell vibe—you lead too long for a guy without a commit and you're just a placeholder until he figures out where he actually wants to go.
There will be some blah blah about Durkin but like whatever man. Sometimes recruits want to stay home.
Delance and Keanu Reeves saved the future with music
Speaking of recruits who may or may not want to stay home, TX OL Jean Delance has been the staff's main priority for a fifth OL for months now because they view him as a tackle, and they want a tackle. Intel on Delance is all over the board. First, he brings good tidings:
Michigan: "Coach (Jim) Harbaugh. They treat me like family. They already have that No. 1 class. They have that set up. It's what they are going to need. There are still three or four four-star guys on the board that they are going to get that I know of. So I mean I just trust it's going to be a No. 1 class and they are going to be back on top next year (and be a) playoff team."
That article contains quotes from Delance on LSU and Texas that seem less enthralled, which continues a theme that caused us to ballz Delance to Michigan last week.
But that's an educated guess on a guy who could end up at any of his three finalists without it being a shock. The 247 Texas guy still maintains that mom wants him at home, and another quote from that article in which Delance says he's going to "duke it out" with his family seems to confirm that… while also confirming that Delance isn't eager to sign up for RichRod Year 3: Texas Edition. Wiltfong and the LSU 247 just batted a bunch of contradictory and alarming information around that I was going to summarize but since Lorenz just ballz'd Delance to Michigan let's ignore all that and concentrate on the good vibes.
To sum up: we think Michigan is the pick there but a late swerve is definitely possible.
The news is much more certain with CA WR Dylan Crawford. Reports from Oregon folks that the Ducks had run out of room for him have continued, with all the relevant parties flipping their ballz back to Michigan. There's been zero noise about schools other than Oregon and Michigan for months now, and it looks like Crawford's hat dance will be purely for show.
Finally, GA TE Isaac Nauta is the longest shot, with zero optimism coming from anywhere and Georgia people feelin' real nice.
I learned to spell this so let's make it count
TX DE Levi Onwuzurike cancelled plans to visit Arizona State and is down to Michigan, Baylor, and Washington. He remains mysterious:
He has seen all three other schools; Michigan, Washington, and Baylor, and had also indicated he might be making an announcement on January 20th, but this could come literally any day.
"All three schools have good academics", Onwuzurike said, "Distance is[n't] any factor -- and my parents have said it's up to me."
Onwuzurike has given nobody any indication as to where he's leaning at any point in the process. Lorenz says that Baylor is trailing, so Michigan appears to be top two.
Also in DEs
Alabama offered AZ DE Connor Murphy on Christmas Eve, because of course Alabama offers people on Christmas Eve. His January visit list is big time:
Murphy has already visited Oregon and has three official visits set up in January. He says, "I am going to USC on January 15th, then to Michigan the next weekend and then Alabama the weekend after that."
Murphy has a Harbaugh connection since his brother went to Stanford, and does not appear to be leaning anywhere in particular. Michigan probably does not have room for him of Onwuzurike drops; Murphy's schedule will allow Michigan to know if he's a major priority without an offputting "hey… maybe you want to wait."
Another commit who's not hearing much from the staff
MD CB commit Sir Patrick Scott told Rivals that he hasn't been in constant, or even intermittent, contact with Michigan's staff:
“Unfortunately I haven’t heard from the staff about the new coach,” Scott said. “I know nothing about him so I guess I’ll have to do my own research on his résumé to see how good everyone says he is.”
Uh. Scott says he isn't visiting anywhere and isn't planning on a decommit. Nonetheless the lack of an official visit and the lack of contact mean we should keep an eye on Scott's status as Signing Day approaches. There are a number of academic hoops you have to jump through to get approved for an official. A prospect who doesn't take any officials may not check all those boxes. Scott has not taken any officials.
Meanwhile, NJ DE Ron Johnson on Don Brown:
Johnson got the chance to briefly chat with him for the first time recently and is eager to begin playing under him.
”Yes, I did,” said Johnson. “He messaged me on Twitter right before the holiday introducing himself and talking to me about the future. He just said he couldn’t wait till I get there, so we can get to work. I believer he is a great hire.”
It would not surprise if Scott ended up decommitting.
Jones on Signing Day
FL LB Jonathan Jones tells the ND Rivals site that he will announce on Signing Day. He may commit privately before then. That silent commit will be meaningful since he's waiting for Signing Day to do a thing at his school but might want to reserve a spot before ND or M fills up.
Vibes with NJ DE Rashan Gary remain steady. Rivals is a little salty at "other media outlets" for playing up schools like Ole Miss and Ohio State:
Despite his camp not coming out and saying it and team reporters at other media outlets writing stories slanted toward their audiences, Michigan is far and away the leader for Gary. At points earlier in his recruitment Clemson, Georgia, Auburn, LSU and Ole Miss challenged Michigan for the top spot on Gary's list but his relationships with the recruiting class, staff and players in Ann Arbor will be too much for any team to overcome.
If Ole Miss is running #2 Michigan is in a very good spot—Gary's mom had a run-in with a rentacop on that visit, which ended early. Meanwhile, there was a brief surge in Ohio State noise after OSU hired Greg Schiano as their DC. That didn't seem to last:
No. 1 Rashan Gary said Michigan, Ole Miss, Auburn, Clemson, LSU, USC, Georgia the top schools still in consideration. Florida FSU outside
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) December 29, 2015
He has one visit left and is considering Clemson, LSU, Georgia, Florida, or FSU for it.
Scout ranks MD OL Devery Hamilton the #9 OT in the country. Delance is fifth. Happy trails to CA S Lamar Jackson, who named a top four without Michigan. M led for a minute after his official visit but apparently they dropped him shortly after. TX LB Dontavious Jackson tells Mike Farrell that his top three is ITT Tech, Everest, and University of Phoenix. Crushing blow to Davenport's recruiting there.
On Bush and Walker
Both my lil Bros committed back2back!! Mood: pic.twitter.com/jyAYuH8DeA
— PeppyPep (@JabrillPeppers) December 17, 2015
So those went well. Michigan withstood a push from Florida State on both players and with Walker's commitment they flipped the #1 tailback recruit in the country from Ohio State. The latter has a negligible impact on Ohio State's fortunes going forward—when Walker started wavering they flipped a touted Wisconsin commit in a week—but is an eye-catcher.
Steve Lorenz of 247 has a good take on the difference here:
The Michigan program recruited very well under Brady Hoke, with two top five-ish classes. However, these are the types of recruitments that would slip away from them late when we're talking about nationally-recruited prospects out of power areas (California, Texas, Florida, etc.). Jim Harbaugh and Michigan have now beaten both Florida State and Notre Dame twice for out-of-region prospects since he took the job, and may be in a strong position for a third on Thursday with Kareem Walker.
Check. Michigan's class is now #1 or #2 in the country, depending on who you talk to. It won't finish like that since southern schools will add a ton of five star types late, but "Harbaugh hates recruiting" was about as accurate as everything else NFL reporter types said about him a year ago.
Those commits also catch the eye of certain compatriots.
1. RB in the country to Ann Arbor Ⓜ️
— Jean Delance ® (@JeanDelance74) December 17, 2015
Toot toot, all aboard the Harbaugh Express.
BONUS: More dreadlocks. Always more dreadlocks.
New tight end offer
It's only mostly sunshine and recruits, though.
Yeah, you should probably read into this one: Michigan has offered three star MO TE Chase Allen. This is probably a bad sign about FL TEs Isaac Nauta and Jacob Mathis. Richt got fired, the whole nine yards, and Michigan probably has a read on how that recruitment is going to go. Really would have helped if WA QB Jacob Eason had flipped to another school, but that didn't happen and opinion from Georgia mod types is now very sunny there. Mathis seems ticketed to Florida. So Allen feels like a next-man-up kind of offer.
But not entirely. Michigan already has a commit from MA TE Sean McKeon and a lot of depth on the roster. They have a lot of guys chasing a few spots, so offering a guy like Allen is an indicator they value him pretty highly. Meanwhile Allen's Michigan offer was quickly followed by one from Florida State, so this might be a situation similar to that of TN WR Nate Johnson where a kid rises late after his senior film gets out. Allen picked up Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, and Minnesota offers over the last couple weeks. Allen played a ton of high school basketball, including offseason AAU stuff, as a 6'7" power forward. That explains his late rise and lack of profile. If he ends up anything like Maxxxxx Williams I'd be okay with that.
Allen is in the Bunting mold wherein he is mostly a hilariously oversized high school wide receiver, but he did do some inline blocking a year ago. At 225 he's a guy Michigan would put on the shelf for a couple years and bring out of the oven.They've got the depth and time to do that.
Bad news, though?
@Dr_ChaseAllen all these offers don't change the fact that you're a ginger
— Dyl (@dylanxmills) December 17, 2015
Allen apparently has a 4.0 and a 33(!) on his ACT, so Michigan is a place that would appeal for reasons other than football. Also he wants to be an engineer. My man.
Allen plans an official to Ann Arbor in January. The Gophers were widely regarded as Allen's leader before the Michigan offer; in the aftermath three different Gopher analyst ballz'd him to Michigan. This appears to be based on nothing other than "Minnesota-Michigan recruiting battles generally go one way," but… yeah.
Rashan Gary things
This article got sold as an Ohio State comin'(!) kind of thing on the message boards, giving any Michigan fan's adrenaline up. On review it's really not a thing. Ohio State is recruiting Gary. They hired Greg Schiano, who knows NJ DE Rashan Gary from way back. Get a little further and it's clear that Ms. Coney was just describing the various things happening in Gary's recruitment, including Michigan activity…
"Michigan had coach Partridge and coach Mattison come by yesterday," Gary said ."Michigan was on point because Chris Partridge knows us from the transfer from Scotch Plains to Paramus Catholic. He was going to be a great football player, but I wanted to make sure he was going to continue to be a great student."
…and that it's probably going to take a bit more than that to shake up Gary's recruitment. I'm sure everyone is having a fight or flight response anyway.
Still open to wide receivers, apparently
There's been no indication that Michigan is about to stop recruiting receivers despite the Nate Johnson commitment and dwindling numbers. Michigan still has FL WR Pie Young on the hook, which would take them to four in this class despite losing nobody. (To graduation, anyway.) Theory: one of their commits might be ticketed for safety. Both NJ WRs Brad Hawkins and Ahmir Mitchell have the right size.
In any case, the Rutgers 247 site offhandedly reported something of interest to Michigan: NJ WR Donald Stewart has official to Michigan set for January 22nd. A lot of people projected Stewart, who attends Paramus Catholic, into Michigan's class over the summer but that never came to fruition. Things have been cool there for a long time, but they're apparently not dead… as long as he actually gets to that visit uncommitted. Stanford, the presumed leader after Michigan ceased being that, gets a visit the week prior.
On… wuz… urike?
I think I just figured out how to spell that without looking it up. TX DE Levi Onwuzurike has been a "true ninja" of the recruiting process according to Steve Lorenz, but now that it's coming down to decision time there is at least the faint outline of a leading group. According to Steve:
He's set to announce a top four in the near future, and while Baylor, Washington and Michigan are safe bets to make that group, there isn't a great feel for who the fourth school would be. It may be local TCU. Either way, that fourth school is currently on the outside looking in (in our opinion) regardless of who it is. One source closer to the Michigan side of things was blunt when asked if there was any feel for what he was going to do: "None".
Michigan appears to really want Onwuzurike, who is flying under the radar somewhat because he loathes attention.
Don't you dare be sour
In the aftermath of Devin Bush Jr's commitment to Michigan comes a parable about grapes. Shot:
Yup. A bit surprising how optimistic they are about him. https://t.co/Ydb8SG5QcK
— Jason Staples (@DocStaples) December 15, 2015
TBH, I think Bush made the right decision here. He’ll be in line for early PT at Michigan. Don’t think he’d have ever started at #FSU
— Jason Staples (@DocStaples) December 16, 2015
That second tweet has a bunch of replies from FSU fans asking who on earth is going to play over him since FSU's LB depth chart looks pretty similar to Michigan's after this year: one contributor back and then a herd of question marks.
This one probably won't go our way
Michigan kinda maybe led for TX DT Chris Daniels for a minute, but after an Oklahoma visit that was immediately followed by a commitment date things have been trending the Sooners' way. Daniels will decide Friday at 7. Sort of, anyway: Daniels plans visits in January.
Michigan's in his top three along with Alabama and OU; the Sooners are the favorite. Maybe there's a chance though:
Michigan: "Well, Michigan was always a school I wanted to go to since I was little. I'm not going to say they were my dream school, but they were the school I was really looking up to when I was younger. I felt like their defensive line coach has a lot of history in the NFL and college and he can develop me also."
Michigan has a January visit set up with AZ DE Connor Murphy in the event Michigan does not lock Daniels down.
In basketball, UMHoops talks with Zach Fleer about Ibi Watson's development.