"Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 10-month old, 2-foot-long savannah monitor named "Kill" gets the RB some strange looks when they go for walks together."
Today's recruiting roundup discusses a shift in the 2013 team rankings, Dymonte Thomas's 7-on-7 performance, the latest on Jordan Wilkins and Kendall Fuller, and more.
Consensus No More
Last week's recruiting mailbag addressed the possibility that USC could pass Michigan for the top spot in the team recruiting rankings; this week that came to pass on Rivals—and 247, which already had Alabama ahead of the Wolverines—following Jalen Ramsey's commitment to the Trojans. Because this stuff matters, man, Rivals lays out the scenario in which Michigan can reclaim the first position; if the Wolverines land a top-75 overall commit (to take a completely random example, Laquon Treadwell), they'll pass USC barring any other movement in the rankings or future commitments, and since it's July that totally won't... oh, wait. This is really stupid.
Of much greater use is Tim Sullivan's breakdown of the Wolverine commits who could rise in the rankings: Shane Morris, Jourdan Lewis, Patrick Kugler, Csont'e York, and Gareon Conley are all mentioned as potential risers for various reasons spanning from proximity to the next ratings level (Morris, Lewis, and Kugler), camp performances (Lewis, again), and sleeper status (York and Conley).
If you're basing your recruiting service preference on their ranking of Michigan, both ESPN and Scout still have the Wolverines on top, though in ESPN's case that's likely due to their lack of continual updates. Viva Scout, I guess.
The Forgotten Five-Star
Oh yeah, that guy.
Whether it's due to his early commitment or relatively quiet summer on the camp circuit, Dymonte Thomas seems to be the forgotten marquee player in Michigan's 2013 class. Last weekend, however, he appeared in the NFL High School Player Development 7-on-7 tournament, and Steve Wiltfong reports that he lived up to his blue-chip billing:
Playing safety for the Browns was Michigan commit Dymonte Thomas, who was as good as advertised. A good looking prospect on the hoof, the nation's No. 7 safety glides around the secondary, eating up turf to make deflections on throws to the other side of the field. On one particular play Thomas ran right, only to change direction when he saw the play was going the other way to get a pass breakup on a throw to the left side of the field.
Khalid Hill also participated with the Detroit Lions team and was mentioned as one of 2014 MN QB Ricardo Johnson's favorite targets. I'm getting the distinct impression, based on this summer's events, that Michigan could compete for the NCAA 7-on-7 title if that ever becomes a thing, which I guess means we have a contingency plan if concussions destroy the game of football as we know it (always looking on the bright side, I am).
2013 Options: Waning
While Michigan should have little trouble filling the last two spots in the 2013 class, the list of obvious candidates for those spots continues to shrink. TN RB Jordan Wilkins will announce his decision tomorrow morning, and according to Wilkins himself that choice will come down to Auburn (the favorite), Tennessee, and Vanderbilt. That leaves VA RB Derrick Green—who is slated to visit for the BBQ at the Big House—as Michigan's lone running back target.
Five-star MD CB Kendall Fuller has kept Michigan in his top three for a while now, but an interview with Mike Farrell indicated that they're on the outside looking in ($):
"If I am ready to announce in August then I would say it's a two-team race between Virginia Tech and Clemson," he said. "That's kind of where it is now, I wanted to visit Virginia Tech and Clemson back-to-back to compare them and see if I got a feeling one way or the other. If I decide to wait and decide at the U.S. Army All American Bowl then I will take official visits and Michigan will be one of them. Right now I don't know."
Don't hold your breath for that visit.
We can officially say "happy trails" to MD WR Paul Harris, who rather surprisingly chose Tennessee over USC($), the school long considered to be his favorite. Treadwell remains the clear leader to fill that last wide receiver spot, though Michigan did recently send out an offer($) to three-star NJ ATH Kyle LaPorte, who says he'd like to visit Ann Arbor in August. Unless things move very quickly on that front, however, it's still all about Treadwell.
For what it's worth, Cass Tech DT and Illinois commit Kenton Gibbs says he's still interested in Michigan($) and may attend the BBQ. If he's going to earn an offer, I'd expect he gets it much closer to signing day, as the staff looked at him during Michigan's camp and didn't extend one then; he'll have to step up his performance during his senior season.
Indecisive Joe Mathis Quote Of The Week
We haven't checked in with CA DE Joe Mathis in a while. Mathis, of course, was a one-time Washington commit who's named USC, Michigan, Nebraska, and Washington (again) as his leader at various points in time. Has he shed his fickle ways? It doesn't appear so [emphasis mine]:
When InsideTheU.com last checked in with Upland (Calif.) defensive end Joe Mathis, he was pretty sure that he wanted out of California.
Now that Mathis (6-4, 250) has had a little more time to think things over, he has softened his stance on that issue.
“It changed but then again it didn’t, I’m like fifty-fifty on that,” Mathis said. “I want to get out of state but USC, UCLA, or Cal could still be the best place for me. I’m not trying to shut myself off from those schools.”
Michigan, FWIW, is not mentioned in the article. We will now return to your regularly scheduled ignoring of pretty much everything he says until signing day.
Despite most of the coaches taking a vacation—how dare they, right?—Michigan hosted OH WR Derek Kief for a visit over the weekend. Tremendous has his reaction, as well as notes from a radio interview pertaining to the visit; Kief's expectations were low due to a childhood love for Ohio State, but he said Michigan "had everything I was looking for."
Several top 2014 prospects will make their way to campus in the coming weeks, including mammoth GA OT Orlando Brown Jr., who will visit this weekend after rescheduling from last week ($). Four-star FL OL K.C. McDermott will hit Ann Arbor on the 27th during a Midwest swing($), while MD CB Troy Vincent Jr. [LINK, $] and IL OL Jamarco Jones [LINK, $] plan to attend the BBQ.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses The Opening, the David Dawson thing that's no longer a thing, the latest on Laquon Treadwell, and more.
Ask And Ye Shall Receive Some Answers, Hopefully
Before I get into the events of the weekend, we're introducing a new feature: the recruiting mailbag (witty title pending witty thought). If you've got any recruiting-related questions—whether about Michigan, the Big Ten, or a more general query—send them to me via email or on Twitter and I'll do my best to provide an informed answer.
Author Gloating Section
So, remember this? You should, since I posted it on Friday:
Speaking of nothing to see here, David Dawson caused a stir yesterday when he tweeted that his Michigan teammates had "left [him]" while at The Opening, then saying he was chilling with a group of Florida commits. Dawson has recently discussed camping at Florida, so we now have a new panic about a possible decommitment. I'll only say this on the matter: STOP hanging onto every word a recruit says on Twitter. In fact, I'll reiterate that you should probably stop following recruits entirely, especially if you're the type to worry about stuff like Dawson's tweet. It's just not worth it. It's the job of people like myself, TomVH, Tim Sullivan, and Steve Lorenz to follow these recruits and pass along any information that's actually pertinent. If anything newsworthy arises out of the Dawson situation—and hanging out with Florida commits is beyond not newsworthy—we'll keep you posted.
Let's move on, shall we?
Cloudy With A Chance Of Ground Beef
As far as I'm concerned, the most important thing to come out of The Opening was this headline from Scout for a three-picture slideshow of Taco Charlton jumping over a tackling dummy:
The Opening: Taco Skies
Mmmmmmmmmm, Taco skies:
Setting aside food-related fantasies, Charlton appears to be a freak athlete for a defensive end, a feeling backed up by his impressive 100.29 SPARQ score, best among Michigan commits and 50th overall among The Opening participants.
Since there was an unprecedented amount of coverage for a high school camp, I'm breaking up the remaining news from The Opening by player. Here's the lowdown on the performance of Michigan's seven commits in attendance plus another prospect who could join that number soon:
QB SHANE MORRIS
Morris had a typically outstanding weekend, and even with a couple rough patches he stood out as one of two top-tier quarterbacks at the event along with USC commit Max Browne. CBSSports's Bryan Fischer on Morris's overall performance:
It is pretty easy to pencil in Morris as the second-best quarterback at The Opening because there was a significant drop off after him to the other four QB's. We've seen him in action a few times this year and we can't help but notice that his arm is much stronger than it was this time last year. He was the top guy during pool play but was hot and cold during the tournament go around, tossing a few interceptions and sailing the ball high at times. He did a good job of getting the ball out quickly but when he had to move on to other reads, that's when he started to struggle. There were some grumbles that Morris was the reason his team didn't win the championship but, frankly, they wouldn't have even been in a position to play for it if it were not for the five-star's precision passing most of the weekend.
247 listed Morris behind Browne among their top performers and praised his arm strength, while SBNation mentioned his "quick and decisive" reads in the 7-on-7 portion. He also did a pretty spot-on imitation of Mark Dantonio for ESPN—though as Sean Yuille points out, nothing compares to Ondre Pipkins's Brady Hoke—and was the subject of an ESPN feature article on the stories behind his many bracelets.
TE JAKE BUTT
8. TE Jake Butt, Pickerington (Ohio) North: Butt has been overshadowed a bit by [Alabama TE commit O.J.] Howard, but who wouldn't be? He was a very reliable target for his team and the guy Tyrone Swoopes relied on in the short and intermediate passing game. He sits down well in spots, presents a good target and has reliable hands. He doesn't do anything great but he does everything well.
He isn't noted as a player who will beat you based on pure athleticism, but his well-rounded game should make him an early contributor given Michigan's weak depth at tight end.
OL DAVID DAWSON
Most of the news on Dawson from the weekend focused on the canceled Florida trip, but he did manage to earn mention from Farrell for his performance on Saturday ($):
12. OL David Dawson, Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech: Dawson has become more patient in two short weeks. A couple weeks ago at the Rivals100 Five Star Challenge he would punch out of his stance and if he connected he would win and if he didn't he was easy to pass. On Saturday he showed the ability to get out, move his feet, keep his arms extended and not rely on a big punch off the snap. This allowed him to effectively ride defenders outside the target area and let him use his long arms much more effectively.
Dawson weighed in at 6'3.5", 282 pounds, further cementing the opinion that he's destined for guard. His advanced technique should offset any concerns about lack of size, especially considering he's got over a year before he suits up for Michigan.
OL KYLE BOSCH
Unfortunately, Bosch was ill during the event and flew home early, so there's nothing on him from the drills. Bosch did measure in at 6'5", 311 pounds; he's got the size to play guard or tackle at the next level.
DE TACO CHARLTON
Although OHSAA rules prevented Charlton from competing in pads, he still managed to stand out due to his 6'6", 249-pound frame and athletic potential. Scout's Chad Simmons listed him as the #4 defensive end after Saturday's session ($):
Charlton is without question one of the best athletes in this group. He looks the part, he was very fluid during the drills, and although he couldn't compete in pads (State of Ohio rule), he showed enough to make Scout think he could end up being one of Michigan's top recruits in 2013. He is still raw and he needs to get stronger, but he is athletic, he is very quick, he has good length, and a lot of potential.
247 also listed Charlton as a day one standout. Charlton is a raw prospect, and one whose game lends itself to standout camp performances that may not be entirely indicative of his true football ability. His potential is tantalizing, however, and he's already close to the size desired in a weakside DE. If Charlton progresses significantly against the run this fall, he's poised to make a big rise in the rankings.
LB MIKE MCCRAY
McCray managed to make it through The Opening without being mentioned in any of the scouting articles I can find. His strengths—read-and-react against the run and utilizing his size—don't translate very well to a camp setting, especially in 7-on-7 play, so it's not particularly surprising that he didn't stand out.
CB JOURDAN LEWIS
Like Butt, Lewis made the All-Tournament squad in 7-on-7 play. Lewis measured in at just 5'10", 159 pounds, but that didn't stop him from standing his ground against the country's top receivers:
"He made a lot of flash plays, a couple of interceptions -- including one he returned for a touchdown," [Scout's Allen] Trieu said. "He’s probably got the toughest job, too, as a corner. You’re going up against some of these top-end receivers in seven-on-sevens, and that’s not an easy task they gave him."
"When you got him going against 6-5, 6-4 receivers who are nationally recruited guys, the worry is whether he’s going to get out-jumped, out-physicaled, kind of out-manned by some of these bigger receivers. And that has not happened. He came out here and really held his own against some mammoth receivers."
Lewis also made SBNation's list of defensive standouts. While size is certainly a concern, his coverage skills are at a level that should allow him to compete for early playing time.
WR LAQUON TREADWELL
247 placed Treadwell among the weekend's top offensive players:
Treadwell, who is considered a heavy lean to Michigan over Oklahoma State, USC and Michigan State, proved to be the quickest off the line of scrimmage of all the taller receivers on hand, as well as showing the ability to high-point the ball with ideal timing and body control.
He also made SBNation's list:
Laquon Treadwell, Monee (IL) -- A major collision over the middle sidelined Treadwell for part of a game early on Sunday, which only served to illustrated how valuable he was to his team. With a frame like a smaller [Texas commit Ricky] Seals-Jones, Treadwell has remarkable quickness for his size, which allowed him to get in and out his breaks.
More on Treadwell's weekend coming in the next section.
In non-Opening news, Logan Tuley-Tillman and Team USA earned a silver medal in the U-19 World Championships, falling to Canada in the final*. Tuley-Tillman, who turned down an invitation to The Opening to represent his country, made first-team all-tournament alongside Notre Dame commit Hunter Bivin.
NC CB commit Channing Stribling unleashed his junior highlight tape on Twitter. I haven't had a chance to really break it down, so I'll save comment for a later date.
*Before you chalk this up as an upset that shakes the very core of America, note that the U.S. fields a team of 16- and 17-year-olds while the other countries put 19-year-olds on the field.
Obligatory Treadwell Section
The big news before The Opening was Laquon Treadwell changing his tune on a commitment timetable, saying he could drop at any time. Treadwell didn't commit, but the weekend was by no means a loss for Michigan; he was photographed throwing up the 'M' for Shane Morris and wouldn't deny the consensus opinion that he'll inevitably pledge to the Wolverines. The only question is about timing: Treadwell told ESPN that he doesn't have a timetable($) and will decide on a "random day," and he told Scout's Allen Trieu($) that taking official visits "will probably happen."
Treadwell obviously feels very strongly about Michigan, but at the same time he still feels a (justifiable) pull to do his due diligence and check out some other schools. It would be a shock at this point if he didn't end up in the class, and Treadwell deserves credit for putting aside his emotions, ignoring outside pressure, and making sure he's 100% sure of his decision before he makes a choice. If Treadwell follows through on his plan to take visits, expect him to go see Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Notre Dame.
Treadwell wasn't the only big-time Michigan target in attendance. VA RB Derrick Green told CBSSports that he's keeping his 13 finalists on a level playing field for now. He also mentions excitement at the prospect of speaking with Brady Hoke in person for the first time when he heads to Michigan for the July 29th BBQ at the Big House.
AZ WR Devon Allen will make it to Ann Arbor after all, telling Tremendous that he's ticketed to visit on July 28th. It would be great if Allen could move that trip back a day so he can interact with the recruits at the BBQ, but we'll see if he can work that into a busy Midwest visit schedule.
MD WR Paul Harris, who previously had Michigan is his top four, has now narrowed his field to USC and Tennessee. Happy trails also go out to PA LB Alex Anzalone, who committed to Notre Dame at The Opening.
Michigan offered NJ ATH Kiy Hester, who said he'll visit Ann Arbor within the next couple weeks, according to Mike Farrell ($). Hester also holds offers from Miami (YTM), Michigan State, Pitt, Syracuse, Maryland, Rutgers, Boston College, and Connecticut.
NY OL/DL Jay Hayes will visit Michigan on July 31st, according to 247's Clint Brewster ($).
FL OL K.C. McDermott hopes to visit sometime shortly after the BBQ, which he can't attend, via 247's Todd Worly ($).
Cass Tech corner Damon Webb will be in attendance at the BBQ, via Scout's Josh Newkirk ($).
Today's recruiting roundup welcomes Maurice Hurst Jr. and Henry Poggi, updates the recruitments of Leon McQuay III and his teammate Alvin Bailey, recaps the Champaign NFTC, and more.
Michigan's 2013 Class, Now With 100% More Beef
Michigan added two four-star defensive tackles in three days, gaining commitments from Westwood (MA) Xavarian Brothers's Maurice Hurst Jr. on Saturday and Baltimore (MD) Gilman's Henry Poggi yesterday morning. You can check out their commitment posts here (Hurst) and here (Poggi). Much more has come out on each player since their respective commitments, so consider this a Hello addendum.
First, let's clarify positions. Hurst told GBW($) that he'll play both nose tackle and three-tech, but his main focus is the former, which makes sense with the addition of Poggi. Sam Webb revealed the staff's plans for Poggi:
Said Poggi, “I’ll start off as a 5-technique and then work into that three technique position. 5-techniques are around 280, then hopefully I’ll put some more weight on sophomore, junior, and senior year and be a 3-technique. Whatever plays out.”
The Daily's Zach Helfand
“Maybe I’m wrong, but I just don’t think long term that’s realistic if he wants to play beyond college and be very good,” Shurburtt said. “If he were a 3-4 defensive end we were talking about, I think he’d be in business. But I think 4-3, that’s a stretch.”
Playing at tackle, though, Shurburtt sees an elite prospect.
“There’s defensive tackles across the country that either have a lot of heart or a lot of talent. Henry’s got both,” Shurburtt said. “[He is] the complete package of what you look for in a defensive tackle.
“He’s definitely an inside guy. That’s what gives him plus athleticism.”
I'd agree that Poggi's best chance at being elite is at tackle, where his athleticism stands out more, but as we learned with Ryan Van Bergen (and now with Jibreel Black), the differences between playing the five-tech DE and three-tech DT in Michigan's 4-3 under aren't vast. ESPN's Craig Haubert agrees that Poggi's best spot is on the interior and offers this scouting report ($):
He flashes a good get-off, but needs to be more consistent. He is tough taking on blockers and defending the run as he can play low and be active with his hands as well recognize and react well to blocking schemes. As a pass rusher he comes up field hard and though he needs to continue to further develop as a pass rusher he can make blockers work to try and stop him. He also plays with a motor and is a good physical tackler.
Scout's Brian Dohn takes a look at Hurst, noting he needs to do a better job of getting off blocks with his hands before coming to this conclusion ($):
Hurst’s greatest asset is athleticism. He plays fast, especially within the first few snaps of the ball, but he will have to show he can survive against the offensive linemen of the Big Ten. It will take him a year or two to get into the rotation at Michigan, but his athletic upside of the fact his father played in the NFL gives Hurst a tremendous starting base.
The message of caution is don’t expect too much too soon from Hurst despite his ranking as a four-star. The big payoff should be on the back end.
As long as the Wolverines are afforded the luxury of showing patience with Hurst and Poggi—and given the 2012 D-line haul, that should be the case—there's a good chance for both to develop into big contributors. Regardless of their on-field accomplishments, both appear to have their heads in the right place off the field. From Helfand's piece on Poggi:
“People say I’m making a four-year commitment, but I’m really making a 40-year commitment,” Poggi said. “The kind of degree I wanted to get was a degree that carries a lot of weight.”
And here's Hurst's head coach talking to Matt Pargoff:
“Mo’s a great kid,” said Stevenson . “He maximizes his abilities in the classroom and he also steps outside the box and contributes with some community service work. He’s been in some of our outreach programs. He’s spent time at homes for abused women. He spent some time going up to places where they feed the poor. He’s spent some time at a place where we go to provide company to the elderly. He’s a great kid who thinks outside of himself … His willingness to become part of those activities speaks volumes about him as a person.”
McQuay's Top III
FL CB Leon McQuay III has rapidly gone from longshot pipe dream to viable option since his May visit to Ann Arbor, and that won't change any time soon after he announced a top three of Vanderbilt, Michigan, and USC, according to 247's Barton Simmons. McQuay plans to make his choice on November 21st, so there's still a lot of time for changes, but this is huge news for Michigan.
What's the common thread between McQuay's top three schools? It's not so much the football—I mean, Vanderbilt—as it is what these schools can offer in the classroom, per TomVH ($, info in header):
Michigan, USC and Vanderbilt made the cut, and it's due largely to their music departments.
"Leon and his coach came up with the list. He's chasing the music thing and those three schools have the best music programs," said his father, Leon Jr. "If that's something that he's chasing then I can only be happy for him."
The younger McQuay is looking to pursue a major related to audio engineering/production, so Michigan's state-of-the-art studio could provide a huge leg up, though the music departments at Vandy and USC are also top notch. The program with the advantage here, surprisingly, may actually be the Commodores; McQuay initially expressed some trepidation about going to school up north, and USC has a very good chance of being full at defensive back by the time he announces.
McQuay's high school teammate, FL WR Alvin Bailey, recently narrowed his list to a top 15, but there's a sense that the Wolverines could be in a strong position for him as well given the good vibes coming from McQuay. Tremendous caught up with Bailey, who said he'll be up to Ann Arbor within the next couple of weeks, and he wouldn't rule out the possibility of a commitment if all went well on the trip. We'll see about that, but at the very least it's a big step to get him on campus.
Wilkins to Auburn?
Another top skill position target is TN RB Jordan Wilkins, who has stated his intention to visit Ann Arbor this upcoming Saturday. That may be up in the air, however, after Wilkins nearly committed to Auburn during a visit yesterday($, info in header)—it appears the only thing that kept Wilkins from making the pledge was the absence of his mother from the trip. Now his recruitment could wrap up imminently:
He plans to bring his mother to Auburn's campus in the next week or two. A decision could come soon after.
"I might take one more visit to Michigan on Saturday, but I might shut it down after that and make my decision," he said. "I want to get my mom to Auburn pretty soon, maybe next week...as soon as possible.
"Auburn is definitely at the top right now."
Even if he makes it to Ann Arbor, it doesn't look good for the Wolverines. VA RB Derrick Green is the other big priority at running back, and if they miss on him Michigan may very well be content with DeVeon Smith and Wyatt Shallman, especially if they can reel in a couple of receivers (say, Laquon Treadwell and a slot-type like Bailey).
Speaking of IL WR Laquon Treadwell, Michigan's top receiver target took home position MVP honors at last weekend's NFTC in Champaign, also earning top performer honors from 247's Barton Simmons:
1. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Crete-Monee – No wide receiver present on Sunday caught the ball with the kind of effortless ease as Treadwell. He inhales the football, making the routine catch look the way it should and adding plenty of spectacular catches to his resume as well.
Treadwell – who possess very good top-end speed and smooth route-running ability – showed the ability to lay-out for footballs on vertical routes and high-point footballs in jump-ball scenarios. In a year in which there aren’t a lot of no-doubt type receiver prospects, it’s hard to imagine many receivers better than him.
Treadwell competed against a potential future teammate in Michigan commit Jourdan Lewis, who came in at #5 on Josh Helmholdt's list of top skill performers ($):
Lewis is an interesting dichotomy. Off the field, he is so unassuming, almost aw-shucksto the point that people may not even recognize him. On the field, he plays with a tremendous amount of confidence. His performance Sunday was very reminiscent of past performances from earlier this spring in that Lewis was always making plays on the football. He did drop a couple interceptions - rare for a prospect who is also an outstanding wide receiver - but made a couple as well. Sometimes Lewis gets too confident about his recovery speed and will take chances early in a receiver's route, but few receivers have shown the ability to burn him.
That level of instinctual play and athleticism from Lewis is something that really stood out watching him at Cass Tech last year, so it's no surprise to see him turning heads in a camp setting where he can really display those coverage skills.
Quickly: CA DE Joe Mathis maintains his three leaders($): Nebraska, Michigan, and Washington. CA WR Demorea Stringfellow is certain of two official visits($): Washington and Ohio State. Happy trails to five-star IN LB Jaylon Smith, who committed to Notre Dame, and NC WR Uriah LeMay, who pledged to Georgia.
Michigan offered FL OL K.C. McDermott this week, according to Scout's Mike Bakas ($). McDermott is a big tackle prospect at 6'6", 275 pounds, and he already holds offers from Florida, Miami (YTM), Ohio State, Wisconsin, and others. His father says he's looking to visit Ann Arbor and several other Midwest schools in July.
McDermott won't be the only summer visitor among rising junior tackles, as TX OL Demetrius Knox will visit both Michigan and Ohio State in June. Also visiting in June will be GA S Nick Glass, an early Georgia commit.
The Wolverines hosted a couple of visitors over the past few days. OH OL Jimmy Byrne didn't come away with an offer, but told Tremendous that the visit was a "10" on a 1-10 scale. IA OL Ross Pierschbacher also left without an offer, but told 247 that Michigan would "definitely be in consideration" if they came through with one ($).
Finally, Scout's Allen Trieu has a free primer on the Midwest players to watch in the class of 2015—yes, kids finishing up their freshman year of high school—if you're so inclined.