The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
Today's recruiting roundup covers the MSU visitor list, a potential 2014 commit, Michigan's gentle giant of a commit, and more.
Denzel Ward: Michigan's next commit?
Last weekend, Michigan offered 6'9" IL OT Denzel Ward, who visited for the Illinois game and came away gushing about the visit and talking about receiving his "dream offer" from the Wolverines. Ward spent the game with Logan Tuley-Tillman, who gave him his best recruiting pitch, per Tim Sullivan ($):
"Me and a 2014 tackle, Denzel Ward, we both were there," Tuley-Tillman explained. "We hung out like the whole day, and we'll come back next weekend together. We had a lot of fun, and everybody already thinks we're brothers. We're going to start going along with it, too. We had fun, we both had a good time.
"I was just showing him what it was, and how it really is a family atmosphere up there, and how he would already have someone that would be there for him to help him with anything."
The pitch appears to be working—Ward will be back on campus this weekend after spending the week tweeting all of the positive things about Michigan. He might have something up his sleeve, too:
— Logan Tuley-Tillman™ (@LoganTillman) October 17, 2012
An early commitment is a definite possibility here.
Ward won't be alone as a big-time visitor for the State game; Tremendous has the whole list, and it is lengthy. Michigan's two biggest 2013 targets, VA RB Derrick Green and IL WR Laquon Treadwell, will both be present, as will a pair of backup options at wide receiver in MI WR DaMario Jones and OH WR Elijah Bell—neither hold offers but could pick one up as we near signing day if Treadwell doesn't commit. Don't expect Green or Treadwell to make a decision this weekend, but a good visit could go a long way towards locking up a commitment in both cases, especially when it comes to Green.
Visiting 2014 prospects with Michigan offers are MI WR/DB Damon Webb, FL OL Mason Cole, PA S Montae Nicholson, PA TE Brenon Thrift, and OH ATH Marshon Lattimore. The first 2015 offer, KY RB Damien Harris—who projects to be one of the top handful of prospects in that class—will also be on campus; he camped at Michigan over the summer.
There's also a major basketball recruit slated to visit in improbably-named 2015 five-star WI C Diamond Stone. He already holds offers from UCLA and Wisconsin, among others, and is likely to pick one up on his visit [EDIT: As multiple commenters reminded me of, Beilein doesn't offer prospects until the summer after their sophomore year, so Stone won't be picking one up on this trip]. Fellow 2015 five-star IL PG Hyron Edwards might make the trip up for the game, as well.
This is obviously Michigan's biggest recruiting weekend of the season, and we could see several offers go out to 2014 prospects; we'll see if a commitment is in the cards.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on the Dawson replacement situation and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup recaps the Rivals Five-Star Challenge, discusses a pair of 2013 visits and Drake Harris's impending decision, goes over a slew of new 2014 offers, and more.
Five-Star Challenge Recap: New '13 OL Target?
Rivals hosted their first annual Five-Star Challenge last weekend as their answer to Nike's The Opening and four Michigan commits—David Dawson, Jourdan Lewis, Mike McCray, and Chris Fox—were in attendance alongside a bevy of the nation's top prospects. Dawson continued his outstanding camp season with an impressive performance, making Josh Helmholdt's "Surprise Standouts" list($) and earning the #4 spot on Helmholdt's rundown of the top offensive linemen ($):
4. OC David Dawson, Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech: The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Michigan pledge is listed as an offensive guard and plays tackle for his team but says he could end up anywhere on the line for the Wolverines. When the coaches needed a center, Dawson stepped in without hesitation. Though pass protection on the interior is completely different than at tackle he made a seamless transition. He has a strong base and used his lower body strength to hold the big noseguards at bay. Dawson should prove to be invaluable in Ann Arbor because of his versatility and willingness to play wherever he is needed.
Cass Tech's other camp stalwart, Jourdan Lewis, did not disappoint either, excelling in the 7-on-7 portion. Mike Farrell ($):
10. DB Jourdan Lewis, Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech: Lewis started off very well with one of the best interceptions you'll see when he showed off his closing speed and undercut a pass from Tyrone Swoopes, the only interception the Southwest quarterback threw. Lewis was solid throughout the day, flashed that speed and took on bigger receivers well at times. Despite his closing ability, he sometimes allowed too much of a cushion.
That last part is an issue that has shown itself in multiple settings, including the Sound Mind/Sound Body camp and during Cass Tech's season last year. On the positive side, Lewis continues to show exceptional ball skills.
According to Tim Sullivan, Fox performed well at several different positions along the line, while McCray displayed decent coverage skills against backs and tight ends but also measured in at just 6'1" ($). That's a lot smaller than expected for McCray and could be a point of concern if he ends up at strongside LB, as expected.
A new target may have emerged at the camp, as well, and the position he plays might surprise you. Tremendous caught up with 2013 MD OL Khaliel Rodgers, who revealed that David Dawson was selling him hard on Michigan at the camp. Rodgers now plans to visit for July's BBQ at the Big House and appears to have pushed back his decision date, which was originally set for this week. He also tweeted last night that having him and Dawson on the same O-line would be "epic" and "unreal". The scouting services are split on Rodgers, with Rivals listing him as their #1 guard and a top 100 overall prospect, ESPN giving him four stars, Scout putting him as a three-star but the #2 center, and 247 giving him a meh three-star rating.
This could be nothing, or it could be a sign—especially if we get word that the coaches are after Rodgers—that things aren't entirely settled along the line. I doubt Michigan would take a sixth lineman in the class, but with over 20 commits in June, it's almost certain that the class will experience a decommitment or two at some point before signing day. Rodgers looks like he can slide in at any spot on the interior of the line and he'd be a quality contingency plan should attrition occur.
Wilkins, Bailey Visiting This Week
Michigan will host two big-time 2013 recruits this week. TN RB Jordan Wilkins tweeted out plans to be on campus today and later confirmed the visit with TomVH ($). He also told Tom that his top four consists of Auburn, Vanderbilt, Michigan, and Tennessee, though Auburn is widely presumed to be his leader after he almost committed to the Tigers on a visit a couple of weeks ago. The Wolverines will need to make a big impression if they want to catch up.
FL WR Alvin Bailey is set to swing by Michigan and Notre Dame this week, and according to Scout's Tom Beaver his visit is set for Wednesday ($). Bailey is in the running for the last open receiver spot, and with the news this week that Laquon Treadwell wants to visit Auburn($), the race for that spot may be tighter than anticipated. Treadwell is still looking at a senior year decision, and if Bailey wants to come on board the coaches probably can't afford to wait on him.
The Wolverines made the cut on a couple of top lists, as well. MD CB Kendall Fuller revealed to Rivals($) that he now has a top three of Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Michigan. The Wolverines may have a tough time overcoming Fuller's close connections to VT and Clemson, but they've hung around a lot longer than expected with Fuller, so you never know. Meanwhile, VA DE Wyatt Teller now has a top five($) of Virginia, VT, Michigan, Clemson, and Oregon, and he told 247 he'd like to visit Michigan and Oregon before making a decision. He's looking to decide before his senior season, so things should move quickly on that front.
CA WR/CB John Ross has seen his stock blow up over the summer, and Michigan recently offered him at cornerback, according to Scout's Greg Biggins ($). With the Wolverines taking Channing Stribling at corner last week, I don't anticipate them taking another defensive back unless it's Fuller or Leon McQuay III, though that could change if Michigan misses on their wide receiver targets and the coaches decide to move Stribling to offense.
Harris Decision On Wednesday & More 2014 Updates
Sam Webb reported yesterday that 2014 Grand Rapids Christian two-sport star Drake Harris will decide between Michigan, Michigan State, and Notre Dame on Wednesday. Harris earned a Michigan offer for football while camping in Ann Arbor last week, which makes the timing of his announcement interesting, though he also was at a Tom Izzo basketball camp last weekend. Most pundits have him pegged for State, which has been recruiting him hard for both football and hoops for a long time, and we'll find out soon enough if the common wisdom is correct. Harris projects as a wide receiver on the football field, where most scouts think he has the most potential, and he'd also be a very solid shooting guard prospect on the hardwood.
More evidence of the trend towards an accelerated timeline in recruiting comes from OH LB Michael Ferns, who announced not a top three, but a final three of Michigan, Notre Dame, and Penn State. Ferns told Sam Webb that he wants to stay close to home and make a decision by the end of his junior year ($). The Wolverines appear to be in very good position here after a great visit to Ann Arbor for last week's camp.
Michigan sent out several offers recently, which I'll run down in bullet form:
- TX OLB Hoza Scott, who already holds offers from heavy hitters Alabama, Florida, LSU, Oregon, Texas, and USC, among others.
- TN OL/DL Alex Bars, younger brother of incoming freshman Blake Bars, was just offered according to TomVH ($).
- PA S Montae Nicholson earned an offer after camping at Michigan last week, according to 247's Clint Brewster ($).
- Drake Harris's high school teammate, OL Tommy Doles, picked up an offer on Friday, via Tim Sullivan ($).
- TX S Brandon Simmons pulled in offers from Michigan, LSU, and Ohio State last week, joining a list of over 20 schools ($).
- FL WR Corey Holmes added a Michigan offer after camping last week, and he told Brewster that the offer "gave [him] butterflies" before naming Michigan his top school ($). He's pondering a commitment prior to his senior year and is one to keep an eye on.
- OH LB/DE Joe Henderson also earned a post-camp offer ($). Not to be confused with this guy.
- Chantel Jennings reports that Michigan offered New Orleans RB Leonard Fournette, a massive prospect at 6'1", 232 pounds. Fournette's backstory, a heartbreaking account of surviving the streets of New Orleans in a pre- and post-Katrina world, is well worth your time.
Quickly: OH OL Nathaniel Devers is one tough kid. I'm sure you'll enjoy KY QB Drew Barker telling Eleven Warriors that he'd like to emulate the way Shane Morris has helped spearhead Michigan's recruiting efforts.