Can Donnal and Chatman bounce back from underwhelming freshman campaigns? [Fuller]
This edition of the recruiting mailbag—now featuring hoops, too—covers the impact of KJ Costello's commitment to Stanford, a guess at when Harbaugh will land his first commitment, and some discussion of next season's basketball rotation.
Assuming Costello stays out West how big an impact does that have on all these other offers out there? Didn’t seem like too long ago we were hoping for Costello and a bunch of other guys to visit together? Would be great to have a West Coast Tentpole (it’s a thing I think), especially at QB, in the class to link up the offers (and optimism) with commitments.
Tx as always for your time.
Michigan's forays into California are always going to feature a lot of misses; they'll keep at it because the hits make it well worth the effort. Landing a whole group of Golden State prospects was always a longshot at best; even before Costello went off the board, receiver Theo Howard—who described Michigan as his "dream school" after receiving an offer—pledged to Oregon, and it looks like receiver Dylan Crawford could follow in Costello's footsteps.
Jim Harbaugh has already experienced some success recruiting the state, however. Getting five-star OLB Caleb Kelly to foot the bill for an unofficial visit was impressive, and Kelly's mentioned a desire to return for an official visit, which would be a great sign for Michigan's chances. Four-star OLB Camilo Eifler will take an unofficial days after the spring game. Four-star S CJ Pollard said he'd take an official visit as soon as he received his offer. Four-star TE Devin Asiasi is a good bet to take an official, as well. Several others at least have moderate interest; if I had to guess, I'd say Michigan gets at least one California prospect in the class.
That'd be a huge step in the right direction. Seth was kind enough to dig into his database when I asked him about California recruiting under previous coaches. The disparity between Lloyd Carr and the last two coaching staffs is huge:
Carr: Tom Brady, Russell Shaw (transfer), Patrick McCall, DeWayne Patmon, Justin Fargas, Hayden Epstein, Courtney Morgan, Charles Drake, Zach Kaufman, Calvin Bell, Tyler Ecker, Spencer Brinton (transfer), Matt Gutierrez, Leon Hall, Keston Cheathem, Morgan Trent, Eugene Germany, Jason Forcier, Chris Richards, Johnny Sears, Jonas Mouton, Zion Babb, Avery Horn, Donovan Warren, Michael Williams
Rodriguez (1): Tate. Unless you count Burzynski.
Hoke (2): Mags and Wile
Carr averaged about two California recruits a year, and he landed his fair share of big-time recruits, like Brady, Fargas, Mouton, and Warren. As Seth points out, a lot of those guys were from power programs, like Matt Gutierrez at Concord De La Salle—a connection forged back when Carr was the defensive coordinator and Michigan landed a wide receiver from DLS by the name of Amani Toomer. Reestablishing a strong rapport with California's top schools will pay off, even if it's more so in future classes than 2016.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the mailbag, which includes maybe the greatest reader email I've ever received.]
Price Names Michigan Leader
It's not common for a Big Ten school to make an early move on a top prospect from deep in SEC country, but top-75 GA OT EJ Price isn't a normal SEC prospect—he's a Michigan native, and that's clearly helping the Wolverines in their pursuit. After Price had previously put Michigan in a tie atop his list with Auburn, he's now got the Wolverines out in front of the Tigers and Georgia, and told 247's Kipp Adams why that's now the case ($):
"The new coaching staff with Jim Harbaugh coming in," Price said. "I like Tim Drevno, the new offensive coordinator as well. With him being the offensive coordinator and the offensive line coach, it's going to be a benefit for me because you know he's going to focus on the offensive line. Just being that I'm from Michigan originally, there's a lot to think about. They've been hitting me up lately."
While there's a long way to go, there's also a lot to be excited about here; namely, Price is coming off recent visits to his two other top contenders, Auburn and Georgia, and has seen both of those schools several times while he's yet to make the trip to Ann Arbor. Usually Michigan has to work from behind when hosting out-of-region prospects; that doesn't look like it'll be the case here.
Costello To Announce Soon
In less positive news, Michigan's top target at quarterback, top-50 CA QB KJ Costello, will announce his decision on Thursday in a 5:45 ET ceremony at his school, per Scout's Greg Biggins ($). Michigan, Stanford, and USC are his three finalists, but it's expected his decision will come down to the two California schools, especially since Costello wasn't able to set up a return trip to Ann Arbor before making his choice.
That means the leading candidate to take a spot in the class at quarterback is still four-star IN QB Brandon Peters, who'll visit for the spring game and recently named Michigan to his top five, per BigRedReport's Bryan Munson ($):
"My top five are Michigan, Nebraska, LSU, Indiana and Wisconsin," Peters said. "These are the schools recruiting me the hardest and also the schools that I have built the best relationships with as well."
Peters also plans to visit Nebraska for their spring game the week after Michigan's; while there's a lot of optimism about M's chances, it doesn't quite look like a slam dunk, though of course a visit can change that outlook in a hurry.
Michigan's chances don't look so good for four-star NJ QB Jarrett Guarantano, who told Rivals' Mike Farrell in a video interview that his top three consists of Rutgers, Tennessee, and Ohio State ($). He's long been considered a longshot.
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Will Costello Visit? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Michigan's top target at quarterback, California four-star KJ Costello, has repeatedly stated his intention to take a trip to Ann Arbor in the near future; he's also hinted at a forthcoming decision.
Several reporters caught up with Costello at the Pylon National 7-on-7 Championship last weekend in Las Vegas, and it's unclear whether or not he'll make it to campus before a decision. The lack of clarity comes from quotes that directly contradict each other. Here's Costello talking to Scout's Greg Biggins ($):
Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita quarterback K.J. Costello could be closing in on a decision.
"I think it will happen sometime in March," Costello said. "I don't think I'm going to take any more visits, I have a good idea what I want to do. With Stanford and USC, I was always going back and forth every other day but I'm pretty set now and it's just a matter of doing it.
Same Costello, same weekend, different reporter—247's Steve Wiltfong ($):
“I’m pretty close [to a decision]. Day in and day out I’m trying to think If I feel like I’m feeling the same way. If I’m feeling the same way four, five, seven days in a row, I’ll make my decision.”
Ranked by the 247Sports Composite as the nation’s No. 4 pro-style quarterback and No. 42 prospect overall, Costello may take one more visit.
“I’ve been talking to (Jim) Harbaugh quite a bit,” he said. “He wants to get me out there as soon as possible. I think I might head out there during the week next week, if I can find a flight. Or in two weeks.”
Costello also told GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz that he's trying to set up a visit, but his next couple weekend are booked with Elite 11 camps and he's unsure if he can miss school for a trip ($).
It doesn't look great for Costello getting to Ann Arbor before a decision. While he's been on campus before, that wouldn't be good for the chances that he'll choose Michigan over either of the in-state finalists.
If Costello drops to Stanford or USC, the quarterback picture could still gain a lot of clarity soon. Five-star WA QB Jacob Eason told Wiltfong that while Michigan is making a bigger push than any other school for him to reconsider his commitment, "something would have to go wrong with Georgia" for him to make a change ($). He's leaving the door ajar, but only just.
That leaves four-star IN QB Brandon Peters, who's slated to visit for the Spring Game. Michigan pushed to the forefront of Peters' recruitment when they offered shortly after NSD, and there's been a lot of optimism that he'll commit so long as no other quarterback takes the spot before he gets to campus. At the time, Costello seemed like a more legitimate possibility; at this point, I'd say Peters is the safer bet to end up in the class.
[Hit THE JUMP for a five-star visitor, new offers, and more.]
Michigan Leading For Costello?
In a video interview with Rivals' Mike Farrell, 2016 four-star QB KJ Costello said he's still looking to take a visit to Michigan soon, though he may have to make it a mid-week visit to fit into his schedule ($). Then Farrell pushed him to say which school among his top three—Michigan, Stanford, and USC—was "in his head the most" at the moment:
Honestly, a couple days ago I got off the phone with Harbaugh. I've got a ton of respect for him. What he's trying to do with the program, it's gonna be something special. I'd love to be a part of that. But then again, Stanford's been a favorite all along and SC is the home town, so we'll see.
It's not quite naming Michigan the flat-out favorite, but given his glowing quotes about the program earlier in the interview and his desire to see campus again, it's safe to feel good about M's chances.
Along with an elite quarterback like Costello, Michigan will look to add a top-flight running back to this class. Last week, Harbaugh made sure four-star NC RB Robert Washington knew he's a top priority, per GBW's Josh Newkirk ($):
“The conversation went well,” Washington said of his talks with Harbaugh. “He said he rates guys on a one to three scale. One being a guy that is starter – a game changer. Two being a guy that can develop into a starter. And three, a guy who is just a role player. He said I am a one. He said ‘you’re a game changer. You’re a big time player.’
“He’s going to recruit the heck out of me. He’s going to come to North Carolina before I commit. So he said he’s going to talk to me more and more every day.”
Washington added he is "very high" on Michigan; they should join North Carolina, Syracuse, and TCU in his top six when he unveils the full group within the next month. He's planning to commit on April 25th, so look for a visit to materialize sooner rather than later if Michigan is going to be a serious contender.
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Happy Trails, 2015
Roquan Smith signed his financial aid agreement—but not an LOI!—with Georgia today, ending his recruitment after that whole ordeal with UCLA and their now-departed defensive coordinator, who reportedly still tried to recruit Smith in an unofficial capacity after doing this:
Last Wednesday, Smith committed to UCLA over UGA in front of ESPN cameras. But he decided against turning in his NLI after reports surfaced later that day that Bruins defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich had accepted a job with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.
Smith said Ulbrich had told him on the eve of signing day that he had “declined” the job offer from the Falcons, per UGASports. On Thursday, Ulbrich (now with the Falcons) declined comment to the AJC about Smith’s claim.
While Smith didn't end up at Michigan, it's great to see him spurn both UCLA and the LOI process. With Mike Weber sticking out his commitment to Ohio State, we can now close the books on the 2015 class.
Race For QB Spot?
Michigan offered two 2016 quarterback prospects this week, four-stars Brandon Peters and Dwayne Haskins. While Haskins looks like he'll be a difficult pull—a day after the offer, he named a handful of schools sticking out to him that didn't include Michigan($)—Peters looks like a serious candidate to commit. He told The Wolverine's Brandon Brown that the offer vaulted Michigan to the top of his list ($):
"I'm totally pumped," Peters said. "It would be an awesome experience to play under a coach like Jim Harbaugh. It's awesome. I definitely would put Michigan at the top now, to be honest with you."
Per 247's Steve Wiltfong, Peters quickly locked in an unofficial visit for April 4th, Michigan's Spring Game.
With Michigan likely only taking one quarterback this cycle, the Peters news has left many asking where that would leave KJ Costello, the top QB target on the board for Michigan. In what may not be coincidence, Costello is looking to get on campus very soon, per Steve Lorenz:
"I am looking to visit in the next two weeks or so," Costello said. "It'd be my dad and I. I have been talking to the coaching staff all the time."
It looks like, one way or the other, Michigan should have a lot more clarity about their quarterback situation for 2016 in the near future.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
NJ DT Rashan Gary may be M's most important target in the 2016 class.
Although the Roquan Smith decision looms, the recruiting focus has almost entirely turned to the 2016 class, one that comes with significant expectations for Jim Harbaugh. While there wasn't nearly enough time in the 2015 cycle for Harbaugh to make a huge splash, 2016 should be the class in which the results start meeting the hype.
With Michigan handing out a rash of new offers in the last couple weeks, this seemed like a good time to take some of your questions.
Biggest Positions Of Need
What do you see as the biggest position of need, outside of possibly quarterback? Our lack of weapons at WR, especially when compared to the elite teams last year, has me leaning that way.
While Michigan will certainly take a receiver or two—with a focus on pulling in a top-flight talent like Dylan Crawford—I don't see that group as the most pressing need in this class. There's plenty of talent on the depth chart left over from last year, and you shouldn't sleep on redshirt freshmen Drake Harris and Moe Ways; both have big-time ability.
Three position groups come to mind immediately. On offense, the O-line is in need of sheer numbers after Michigan took just five total in the last two classes—one of whom, Mason Cole, didn't redshirt and therefore may as well be regarded as a 2013 recruit. The Hoke regime provided Harbaugh with a decent start here; 2016 commit Erik Swenson is a borderline top-100 prospect. Expect Michigan to add at least two more on the line, and preferably more. Given Harbaugh's offense, adding a high-level tight end or two is also a priority.
The biggest need on the team is at defensive tackle. Michigan didn't take one in 2015, and six of the nine DTs on the current roster are in their final two seasons of eligibility—the only exceptions are sophomores Maurice Hurst Jr. and Bryan Mone and redshirt freshman Brady Pallante. While Hurst and Mone have already started contributing, Pallante was an undersized prospect who was initially offered as a grayshirt before Hoke missed out on several D-line targets.
Given how long it usually takes for DTs to develop, landing two recruits there at a minimum is a must. Luckily, Michigan is off to a strong start in the recruitment of Paramus (NJ) Catholic's Rashan Gary, the #2 overall prospect on the 247 Composite.
[Hit THE JUMP for questions on the quarterback outlook, California recruiting, fullbacks(!), and reasonable expectations for the class.]