PSU Visit Recap: KLS Enjoys His Official
Keisean Lucier-South on his official visit [Bryan Fuller/MGoBlog]
Thanks to their 2-4 start to the season, Michigan saw their visitor list dwindle significantly by the time their biggest recruiting weekend of the season came around, but a win in front of 113 thousand at night in the Big House still left an impression on those who came.
The biggest name to hit campus, of course, was five-star CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South, who schmoozed with Jabrill Peppers, watched the game with a trio of Michigan commits (Tyree Kinnel, Alex Malzone, and Darrin Kirkland), and seemed to thoroughly enjoy his official visit. Time will tell if Michigan is truly a threat to land KLS, but the initial returns are good, at least.
Most of the other 2015 recruits in attendance were the aforementioned commits, and while Kinnel and Malzone seem quite solid with their M pledges—Kinnel called Saturday "one of [his] best visits," per 247's Steve Lorenz—that's not the case with Darrin Kirkland, who spent the weekend prior in South Bend. After Saturday's unofficial visit, Kirkland told Rivals' Josh Helmholdt where he currently stands ($):
"My options are going to continue to be open, but I do love Michigan and am still committed to Michigan," he said. "It is a great place to be, a great atmosphere and a lot of great opportunities for myself as well as for my family. But, I still remain… I would say a good word is 'neutral,' for right now."
Besides Notre Dame, Kirkland has also been hearing from Texas, Oklahoma, Oregon and USC recently. Each of those schools had offered him prior to his senior season except USC.
Kirkland told TomVH today that he still plans to take all five of his official visits, and will determine with his family today where he'll take them. He's still in the class for now, of course, but if Saturday didn't solidify his commitment, it's hard to see that remaining the case.
Commits Visiting Elsewhere: An Ongoing Series That Probably Won't End Anytime Soon
In totally unsurprising news, TE commit Chris Clark announced on Twitter that he'll take an official visit to North Carolina, the school he initially committed to before eventually flipping to Michigan. If your head is spinning, I understand. Clark's another guy who seems very likely to end up elsewhere.
According to Mike Farrell, CB commit Garrett Taylor will take officials to Ohio State and Penn State in November. His commitment also seems highly unlikely to stick at this juncture.
2016 QB Messiah deWeaver, at least, isn't setting anything up, though it's hard not to take notice of the last bit of this quote he gave to 247's Steve Wiltfong($)...
“For me when I picked the school, it was more than playing football. It was academics and football second. The football part, they were going through a tough time, but they’re going to start winning. They’re young, and you have to take the losing with a grain of salt. I saw something bigger than that because they’re so young. I think the winning is ahead of them. They're not a bad team, they’re just very, very young. I wasn’t getting too worried about them losing because I know better times are ahead of them.
“I think they’re about to start winning here. I’m still watching closely to make sure Coach (Brady) Hoke is going to be there, which I think he is.”
...and get a little concerned about whether or not he'll stick if/when Michigan goes through with a change. At this point, though, hanging onto 2016 recruits is well down the list of priorities for this program.
No, This Also Doesn't Contain Good News
Ex-commit Darian Roseboro committed to NC State over the weekend. Happy trails, sir.
Finally, four-star UT OLB Osa Masina has seemed like a longshot for a while, and now his planned official visit to Ann Arbor may not even materialize, per Scout's Doug Kimmel ($):
"Michigan is another school that I've been high on. Obviously, I've heard some of the rumors about coaching changes and see there recent struggles, but I still really like that program. It's got great history and academics that are hard to beat. I am looking to set up a trip to Michigan. There is also a chance I take an official visit to Utah, but it's likely that I take an unofficial there. I am still leaning towards leaving the state, but the Utes definitely have my attention."
He's saying positive stuff about the program; at the same time, he still hasn't actually scheduled the visit, and if he takes an official to Utah that'd likely leave M out of it. UCLA is considered the favorite in his recruitment.
Weekend Visitors: KLS "Really Excited" To See M
Before the season went south in a hurry, Michigan was supposed to host a handful of uncommitted official visitors this weekend for their marquee home game. That number has dwindled to one, but it's the one everyone's been waiting for: five-star CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South, who confirmed to 247's Steve Lorenz that he and his parents are "really excited" for the trip to Ann Arbor ($):
"Everyone keeps assuming that I'm losing interest in Michigan because they've started out badly, but it's not true at all," he said. "I still really like Michigan a lot. They haven't been as good as I thought they were going to be this season, but football is only part of the equation for me. I want to see the rest of what they have to offer me. You play football for about three months of the year, so it's things like the campus and school itself that will make a major difference for me. I just need to see if I feel comfortable there and see how much I like it."
I'm still quite skeptical KLS ultimately ends up at Michigan, but he's saying all the right things heading into his official, at least.
The rest of the offered, uncommitted visitors are from the 2016 class, headlined by a couple blue-chip offensive lineman in Ben Bredeson and Clark Yarborough. 247 and The Wolverine have both put together full visitor lists for your perusal. One of the other top targets slated to be on campus this weekend is four-star 2016 IN WR Austin Mack, who took a big picture approach when discussing the program with The Wolverine's Brandon Brown ($):
"Michigan is one of the powerhouses in the Big Ten and has been for many years," Mack said. "Every organization has to fall a little bit eventually. I mean Alabama has fallen before, they just lost somewhat unexpectedly. You can't be perfect continuously. Other teams start to catch up. There's so much talent out there that it will happen. Michigan is always going to have talent but sometimes it just doesn't work out. I feel like Michigan is going to be just fine. Even if it is a couple of years, it's just a matter of time, they'll be back on top."
It'll be very interesting to see if Mack continues to exhibit high interest in Michigan after a potential (okay, exceedingly probable) coaching change. Four-star 2016 GA RB Elijah Holyfield, who's had Michigan in his top group for a while, is already contemplating that possibility, per Brown ($):
"I like the school itself a lot. That's one of the reasons I'd wait and see what happens. At some schools if the coaching staff was to leave, I'd probably not be into that school anymore. Michigan is one of those schools that I like for the school itself. I like it up in Ann Arbor, I like the field, I like the town and everything about Michigan. Regardless of what staff is there I'm sure Michigan would still be in my top group until I commit so we'll see."
Holyfield is also expected to be on campus this weekend, and the above quote is quite a good sign for Michigan's chances of eventually landing him.
A small group of current commits will also be in attendance, including both QB commits from the upcoming two classes (Alex Malzone and Messiah deWeaver) and, notably, Darrin Kirkland, who's visiting unofficially after checking out Notre Dame last weekend. The Irish appeared to make a big move for him, so a good visit is paramount if M wants to keep him in the fold.
Commit Updates: Taylor Plans Officials, Malzone Fielding Interest
Add CB Garrett Taylor to the list of players who's setting up officials to other schools:
"It's a little shaky (at Michigan), I know people are bouncing ideas of whether coach Hoke is going to get fired at the end of the season or not," Taylor said. "I know Michigan's program isn't where people thought it would be or where coach Hoke wants it to be. We'll see how things go.
"Hopefully they can turn it around."
Taylor says he's "pretty sure" Penn State, Virginia Tech, Ohio State and "maybe" Tennessee will get official visits from him between now and signing day.
Notably, Michigan is not on the list of planned officials, and Lorenz confirmed that if Taylor is taking an official to Ann Arbor at all, it'll be after the season ($):
"Maybe in the winter," [Taylor] said. "I still am committed at this point, but it could change depending on how the coaching situation ends up and how the rest of the season ends up."
It probably goes without saying that this isn't a good sign. I'd be surprised if Taylor ended up in the class come Signing Day.
TomVH reports that multiple schools have reached out to Alex Malzone, including Penn State, which is now looking for a 2015 QB after Brandon Wimbush flipped his commitment to Notre Dame. Malzone appeared to be as solid a commit as one could get, so if he starts looking around, all bets are off on keeping this class together; so far, though, he hasn't set up any visits elsewhere.
This was inevitable: Wisconsin is taking a look at 2016 commit Erik Swenson, and while Swenson remains firmly committed for now, he's keeping an eye on the situation in Ann Arbor, per 247's Evan Flood ($):
"I just want to see how it goes this season and see how next season goes," he said. "After this season, I'll probably take some unofficial visits. I think Michigan is going to get a new coach next year, if not this year. I want to see how the coaching staff is. I just want a backup plan in case it doesn't work out with Michigan."
This is going to be the MO until a coaching change occurs; there's far too much uncertainty surrounding the program for commits to ignore—it's impossible to blame them for this—and coaches looking to reel in big-time prospects see the opportunity to poach them while Michigan's in a state of flux.
Things Fall Apart
Is Darrin Kirkland the next to go?
Since last week's roundup, Darian Roseboro officially decommitted from Michigan, bringing the 2015 class down to just ten players. In distressing, but by no means surprising, news, that class is likely to get smaller before it gets any bigger, as several other commits are now looking around.
Four-star LB Darrin Kirkland Jr. took an official visit to Notre Dame over the weekend, and he told TomVH that Michigan's coaching staff is now taking a different approach to commits taking visits ($):
In the past, the Michigan coaches have held a no-visit policy, but Kirkland had a different conversation when he told the staff of his intentions.
"They said take the time that you need to make the best decision," he said.
If the coaches hope to keep any semblance of a class together, I don't think they have a choice here. So, Kirkland visited Notre Dame with Hoke's approval, and in a rather painful twist took in the game with former M commit Shaun Crawford; Kirkland told Rivals' Josh Helmholdt he came away impressed with ND ($):
Saturday's visit to Notre Dame has given Kirkland plenty to think about as he enters the final four months of his recruitment.
"I'm just taking it one day at a time," Kirkland said. "I'm staying close with my family and hopefully we can make the best decision for me. At the end of the day I'll sign my letter of intent where I feel most comfortable at."
Kirkland remains committed to Michigan and is not sure what schools he could visit in the future, but he is keeping his options open.
I'd be surprised if M held on to Kirkland through a coaching change.
Of course, Kirkland isn't the only one looking around. 247's Steve Lorenz posted an overview of where the commits stand at the moment, and only four appear to be locks to stay committed ($):
- Quarterback Alex Malzone, who's still been recruiting other prospects like Marcus Lewis and Auden Tate, per Sam Webb ($). Malzone is also working hard to try to keep the class together.
- Offensive tackle Grant Newsome, who doubled down on his "I didn't not commit to the University of Brady Hoke" statement from last week by telling GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz he's "fully committed" to Michigan.
- Offensive guard Jon Runyan Jr.—as a legacy commit, it'd be quite surprising if he even looked around.
- Kicker Andrew David, who received a scholarship as a kicker at an early juncture, so he's also quite solid in all likelihood.
Everyone else—including RB Mike Weber, per The Wolverine's Brandon Brown($)—is at least considering other options, and among that group of six only Tyree Kinnel seems like he's still leaning heavily towards remaining in the class. As TE commit Chris Clark told MLive last week, coaches from around the country know an opportunity when they see one:
"I think they see an opening," Clark said. "They smell the blood in the water."
Clark recently added a USC offer and is fielding heavy interest from Alabama and UNC, among many others. He also seems like a longshot to stay in the class for much longer.
Meanwhile, in the 2016 class, four-star QB Messiah deWeaver maintains he's still "100 percent to Michigan," per Helmholdt ($). I haven't seen word on M's other 2016 commit, four-star OT Erik Swenson, but his commitment seemed rock-solid; hopefully that doesn't change.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on this weekend's visitors, Keisean Lucier-South, Auden Tate, Thiyo Lukusa, and more.]
KLS Update: Another Contender Emerges
Michigan and UCLA have long been the top contenders for five-star CA WDE/OLB Keisean Lucier-South. After Lucier-South's first official visit, however, there appears to be more competition, per Rivals' Adam Gorney ($):
"From that visit, I was really surprised with Oklahoma and I really like them," Lucier-South said. "I just love how they work the team. I love the program. The players said the coaches are all for the players and they care about the players first and it's just like a big family.
"The whole town cares about the football team. I really like that. Oklahoma is doing great right now. I'm not going to say who my leader is but they're improving and they're doing a great job."
KLS's primary recruiter at Oklahoma is Jerry Montgomery, whom you may remember as the former Michigan D-line coach. While that would add a cruel twist if KLS ends up in Norman, U-M still gets their opportunity to impress on their own official visit when the five-star comes to Ann Arbor for the Penn State game.
[Hit THE JUMP for updates on Thiyo Lukusa's upcoming decision, new 2016 OL offers, a potential late in-state offer, and Wake Forest taking the photoshop recruiting game to creepy new lows.]
Mike Weber: Class Rankings Impact
After securing a commitment from four-star Cass Tech RB Mike Weber on Wednesday night, Michigan is at or near the top of the board on the recruiting services when it comes to the pure quality of their commits (taking quantity, admittedly also an important factor, out of the equation). The Wolverines are tied with Alabama at #1 in average star rating on Scout (3.90) and they're third on both Rivals (behind Bama and USC) and the 247 Composite (ditto). This is especially impressive given a kicker represents a full 10% of Michigan's class, and while Andrew David is a highly regarded kicker, specialists are lucky to get even two stars on the recruiting sites—that's what David merits on the 247 Composite.
With ten commits in a class that should get up to just 14-16 players, Michigan won't land atop any of the team rankings—for good reason, as quantity does matter—but that doesn't mean they're not doing well there, either. Weber's commitment shot them up six spots to #19 in the composite rankings, the highest placement of any program with ten or fewer commits. Florida is next in the ten-or-fewer club at #29, and then you have to scroll down a good deal to fine Ole Miss and Oklahoma at #42 and #43, respectively. Make no mistake: Brady Hoke is once again putting together a really good class, and it may be his most impressive to date when factoring in the preceding season.
Another One Coming?
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) August 7, 2014
Above is four-star NC SDE Darian Roseboro, whom you can watch obliterating his teammates in practice if you click through to Gerry Hamilton's Twitter—including him lining up at running back(!) in the Oklahoma drill. Roseboro has long been thought to be a Michigan lean, though he's mentioned in the past that location would play a factor in his recruitment, as family is very important to him. When Roseboro talked to Scout's North Carolina outlet on Wednesday, he gave a very positive indication that this won't affect Michigan's standing one iota ($):
According to Roseboro, location won’t factor into his decision.
“My parents, they’re going to come wherever I go,” Roseboro said. “We’ve already talked about that. They said, ‘Don’t go somewhere just because you don’t think we’re not going to make it. We’re going to be at every game.’ They’re in a position where they can do that.”
The UNC guy then asked a bunch of questions about whether Roseboro could be a package deal with fellow North Carolinian D-linemen Shy Tuttle and Jalen Dalton, both of whom are also announcing in the near future—they all hold UNC offers. Roseboro basically dodged those questions. This may be why...
Sam Webb has a "gut feeling" about ANOTHER recruit.
Yes, he's referring to Roseboro—you can hear it for yourself on the WTKA recruiting roundup from yesterday (segment 3, 5:40 mark). Roseboro will announce his decision on August 29th at 2:30 pm. If he commits, expect that Hello post to go up quickly.
KLS: Michigan Is "My Favorite School"
Five-star CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South broke down his top five schools to Rivals' Adam Gorney; I'll let you compare the Michigan and UCLA quotes yourself ($):
"I love the program," Lucier-South said. "It's my favorite school. The tradition there is insane. I've been watching them since I was a little kid. I can feel the vibe over there and that's why I chose them as my first official visit, too. I want to check it out. I really love Michigan right now."
The two Pac-12 schools are definitely major players. Lucier-South absolutely loves the UCLA staff and Oregon has impressed him with the comparison they're making about him.
"I really like (UCLA) because of the coaching staff and the tradition there," Lucier-South said. "It's a winning program there now. I see them building a winning program there. They were my first big offer, too, and I really respect that and that's why I really like UCLA right now.
That looks pretty promising, even if you interpret it as Lucier-South saying Michigan was his favorite school to root for growing up, and not necessarily the favorite in his recruitment. Oregon is a team to watch here—they're looking at him as a 3-4 outside linebacker, and he seems quite open to that possibility.
After visiting Michigan with teammate Mike Weber on Wednesday, four-star 2016 Cass Tech CB Lavert Hill told Steve Wiltfong "it feels so good" to be in Ann Arbor when he visits, and he's "looking forward to going to their games" in the fall ($). It'd be very surprising if the younger brother of current U-M safety Delano Hill doesn't end up at Michigan sooner or later.
Four-star 2016 IL LB TUF BORLAND told Scout's Eric Rutter that he's close to an offer:
“Actually at the end coach Mattison came up to me and said you’re really close to an offer,” said Borland. “That was exciting to hear. They said they’re really excited for having me up and they’re looking forward to the future and seeing us grow and get better and improve.”
TUF's lone offer right now is from Illinois, and he says he's "sure there will be another" visit to Ann Arbor in his future; I like Michigan's chances if/when that offer comes through.
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.