"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
After being out of pocket for a week, this should be a massive update. Check out Brian's offensive and defensive recruiting overviews to get the big picture, and don't forget to check out the 2011 Michigan Recruiting Board.
Many Michigan fans were expecting MI DE Brennen Beyer and/or MI OL Anthony Zettel to commit to the Wolverines by now, but it hasn't come to fruition. It's not a huge deal that neither has, as both planned to take in other schools before making any decision. Iowa is gunning for Zettel, and Beyer will visit Notre Dame for a junior day (as will Zettel, if I recall correctly). Both have been to Ann Arbor many times, and are still planning to make early decisions.
In more-ominous news, FL RB Demetrius Hart, long thought to be as close to a lock as possible, will make a decision soon - and the Wolverines are not in the running. He plans to choose between Auburn and Florida ($, info in header). Michigan's Rivals site says the Wolverines "have work to do" with him ($, info in header).
My take on the matter? It sucks, but what do you expect when the team has two consecutive losing seasons, there's a possibility of NCAA sanctions lurking, and the kid hasn't made it up to Michigan for any of his last 3 scheduled visits? If he makes it up for the spring game (now in doubt, obviously), Michigan gives themselves a chance to vault back into the race. Otherwise, Hart will commit to a school much closer to home.
On the other hand, he has longtime friend Ricardo Miller in Ann Arbor, and if his statements on Signing Day are any indication, Ricardo won't let his Wolverines lose a recruit without a fight. Even if Hart selects the Tigers or Gators, it may not signal the end of his recruitment, but there's still plenty of time to see how this will work out - especially if Rich Rodriguez's job security is solidified. Hart plans on taking five official visits even after his pending commitment-type activity, and Michigan will be one.
Sam Webb recaps the Michigan Football Showcase, at which MI WR DeAnthony Arnett and MI WR Commit Shawn Conway were two of the standout performers.
"[Arnett, pictured at right] went out and justified his high national ranking (Scout.com's No. 8 receiver in the country). He's silky smooth and one of the best double-move guys I've seen. He has great body control, fluidity and ball-tracking skills. He still needs to get stronger, but guys who try to press him have difficulties because he's so quick off the line and tough to get hands on."
"[Conway] came a little later in the day, but this Michigan commit made up for lost time," said Trieu. "He's every bit of his listed 6-3. He needs to add some weight but he has great athleticism and ball skills. I think he needs to refine his route running still, but he was more explosive than I was previously led to believe."
Conway pointed out IN CB Kenny Mullen as one of the best defenders in attendance, and Mullen said he hopes to hear more from the Wolverines. IL OL Christian Bryant, one of the more impressive campers at the event, has since publicly stated that he'd like a Michigan offer. A number of 2012 campers impressed as well. 2012 IL OL Jordan Diamond:
That's he already has been on Michigan's campus could provide an additional boost to a Wolverine recruitment that already held a bit of an early advantage. "It's been my favorite school since the sixth grade," Diamond said of Michigan. "I love it."
The impressive 2012 performances continued with a number of in-state guys:
Detroit Cass Tech teammates Terry Richardson and Royce Jenkins-Stone were among the top performers at cornerback and linebacker, respectively. Meanwhile, Detroit King tailback Dennis Northfleet and Orchard Lake St. Mary's linebacker James Ross were similarly impressive with their speed and quickness. Ross is currently commanding massive recruiting attention, and has already received offers from Michigan and Michigan State.
Ross will likely be the prospect we talk about most prior to the conclusion of his junior season. He and Diamond were the only 2012 prospects to make the combine's Top 13 Performers list. Allen Trieu has more on top performers in a free article on Scout. MGOBOARD BONUS: A few videos from the weekend.
At another combine of note, this one held by Nike in Massillon, Ohio, MI CB Commit Delonte Hollowell acquitted himself very well:
The ESPNU 150 Watch List prospect, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds, ran the shuttle run in 4.28 seconds, threw the power ball 39.5 feet and had a vertical jump of 33.6 inches. Hollowell also had a SPARQ Rating of 102.18, one of the highest at the combine.
If he continues to impress, it's likely that he'll end up a 4-star prospect. He's openly gunning for a spot in the Army All-American Game, and Rivals picked up a quote from him:
“It feels good to be committed to Michigan,” Hollowell said. “I have never felt better than when I committed to them. That is the best school right now for me. I don’t know about everyone else, but it is the best school for me right now.”
Sounds potentially ominous, though I don't think there's anything to be read into it. OH CB/Ath Doran Grant also did very well in Massillon:
The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Watch List prospect ran the 40-yard dash in 4.56 seconds, ran the shuttle run in 3.97 seconds, threw the power ball 37.5 feet and had a 41-inch vertical jump. Grant's 124.5 SPARQ was the highest of any athlete at any Nike combine this year.
He says Michigan State and Ohio State lead for his services.
A new, recruiting-focused, Michigan blog has come onto the scene lately, interviewing a number of Michigan prospects for the 2011 recruiting class. One such prospect is FL QB Kevin Sousa, who has a lot of positive things to say about the Wolverines:
He said if he were to be offered by Michigan he would "make them my number one choice" and that he "would love to be a Wolverine." He has been receiving mail from the Wolverines staff recently but hopes he or his mentor gets a visit or call from the staff sometime soon.
Don't get tooooo excited, as Sousa has said similar things to school-specific media outlets covering other universities as well, and did not mention Michigan in a video interview with ESPN. If he were to land in Ann Arbor, however, he'd be a valuable addition. He was All-Combine Honorable Mention at the Army Junior Combine, and the 1st-Team choice at quarterback for the Under Armour Combine in Orlando.
He did 20 reps on the bench press, almost unheard of for a quarterback, and his 4.8 laser time in the 40-yard dash was equally impressive considering Sousa's size -- 6-4, 220 -- and the fact that he had stretched his hamstring a bit during the run.
"Big Sousa, man .. I tell ya. He looked like a big stud out there," Waseem said.
As a relative newcomer to the sport of football (he was exclusively a soccer player until age 15), he's got lots of upside, and a bright future ahead of him. Photo courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel.
Michigan Sports Zone also has bunch on NJ Slot/RB/QB Miles Shuler, who holds a Michigan offer. They saw him at the New Jersey Badger Sports combine, where they came away impressed:
He is able to use his elite level speed to create separation from receivers. He is quick and shifty and can pivot without losing his top-end speed. Top corners at the event simply could not keep up with him. At one time he was double-teamed in the end zone and still came down with the TD. Shuler has "sticky hands" he is a consistent catcher with the ability to adjust to the ball and make a play.
That "elite speed" was also on display at a recent track meet, where he won the 55-meter dash with a 6.40-second mark. He's also run a 6.35-second time (best in the nation) this season. They also interviewed him at the event. ESPN was similarly impressed with Shuler's performance, as he owned the day's second-best SPARQ rating at 116.82. Michigan doesn't really need a slot this year but Shuler is a guy you make room for.
Other Creative Headline Involving New Kids On The Radar
Michigan has invited NV RB DaSean Martin to a spring Junior Day, though they haven't yet offered him. However, if he ends up garnering any bigtime offers, don't expect him to land anywhere other than Los Angeles:
"He told Kiffin, 'I'm your man. I will be coming here to play for you,'" said Bonanza coach Shawn Dupris, who accompanied Martin on the trip...
"I like everything there is about USC," Martin said. "It was fun going down there and meeting all of the coaches. It's a special place."
His only offer thus far is from Utah State, but he's bound to get more down the road:
He's regularly clocked at 4.45 in the 40-yard dash and has a vertical leap of 38 inches. Also, he squats a respectable 365 pounds and benches presses 265 pounds.
"DaSean is physically bigger, faster and stronger than other athletes," Dupris said. "He is a physical specimen."
Martin was named the Most Outstanding Athlete at the National Underclassman Combine as a sophomore and will get a chance to prove himself in late April at a Nike combine at USC. The invitation-only event is widely considered the premiere recruiting showcase on the West Coast.
As long as USC doesn't offer him, any big time schools to throw their hats in the ring might have a chance to grab this kid.
Michigan is showing interest in FL RB Chevelle Buie ($, info in header). The diminutive speedster, who could also play slot receiver, is thought to be leaning toward staying in-state.
Michigan is the only offer so far for FL WR Prince Holloway ($, info in header). In a year where they're only likely to take one slot, if any, an offer this early means that the coaches really like him.
Michigan has offered AZ OL Cyrus Hobbi. Hobbi is from Scottsdale, but attends a different high school (Saguaro) than did current Wolverines Craig Roh and Taylor Lewan, along with prospect AZ OL Andre Yruretagoyena (Chaparral). Hobbi seems to be one of the hottest prospects in the west, picking up recent offers from UCLA, Notre Dame, and Washington.
According to TBO.com, Michigan has offered FL OL Tony Posada.TomVH says Michigan offered about a month ago, and shares Plant's team highlight video page, in which Posada is #75. Michigan is in Posada's top 3, and he hopes to visit Ann Arbor sometime this spring.
FL OL Zach DeBell plans to take a spring visit to Ann Arbor. He currently holds offers from Minnesota, FIU, and Central Florida.
IL OL Brian Bobek is considering a visit to Ann Arbor sometime this spring. He plans to make a decision before the summer, so Michigan's coaches had better hope he hits campus soon if they want to land him. From the same article, sleeper MI CB Alex Fine may head to Ann Arbor for the Night of Champions Junior Day this weekend.
IN OL Tony Springmann doesn't yet hold an offer, but he lists Michigan among his favorite schools, along with Wisconsin, Michigan State, Minnesota, and Purdue. The last three have offered him.
FL OL Max Lang has been invited to Ann Arbor for a junior day.
I probably should have made this connection earlier, but I just found out that OH OL Chris Boles is the son of former Wolverine Tony Boles. Chris is a hell of a lot bigger than his pops (by about three inches and 120 pounds), but still loves Michigan. Should the Wolverines extend him an offer, it seems very likely he'd end up in blue. Wisconsin has already offered.
MD DT Kevin McReynolds is expecting an offer from Michigan soon, but plans to take his time making a decision:
"... My whole thing is I can only understand a de-commitment from the standpoint of a coach leaving or getting fired. Just to de-commit because you change your feelings, I don't think that's right....
"It's something you've got to think about every day because it's somewhere where you're going to spend the next four to five years of your life," he said. "Forget the next four, it could affect the next 40 years of my life."
Michigan would join OSU and USC among his biggest offers to date, along with the likes of Maryland, Kansas State, North Carolina, NC State, Illinois, New Mexico, and UTEP. Penn State also seems like a strong contender for McReynolds should they choose to offer. One of the reasons he likes Penn State is that they're a strong academic school, which certainly bodes well for Michigan's chances, especially since he intends to major in business.
Michigan has offered VA DT Corey Marshall.
OH DT/DE Kevin Williams is likely one of Michigan's top targets in the class of 2011, and he comes in for the Sam Webb profile treatment in the Detroit News. His coach certainly thinks he's one hell of a player:
"I knew he was special. I was telling people that he could have started at the University of Toledo as a junior in high school. My buddy (former high school teammate and current Nebraska head coach) Bo Pelini said he reminded him a little bit of Glenn Dorsey, who he coached at LSU. That's what people were kind of comparing this kid to. It's unbelievable when you watch such a good athlete. We also tried him on offense. He had 15 catches, three touchdowns. He's just an athlete."
Like, woah. High praise from a couple guys who might know. He grew up a fan of several schools (most notably Notre Dame, Michigan, and Michigan State), and wants to major in engineering. Williams plans to make a decision early enough to enroll at his school of choice in January.
OH DE Brad Carrico has Michigan among his top four schools, though he doesn't hold an offer from the Wolverines (he does have tenders from Notre Dame and Purdue, who are also on his list of favorites). From the same article, OH WR Devin Smith is favoring Michigan and Michigan State.
He's still only hearing from Michigan, but FL LB Kent Turene has picked up scholarship offers from Minnesota and Texas A&M recently.
Michigan has offered PA LB Ben Kline ($, info in header).
NJ DB Ronald Baines doesn't have any offers, but is hearing from Michigan, and he visited for one of Michigan's Junior Days earlier this spring.
Michigan has offered PA CB Kyshoen Jarrett. He plans to take his time before making any sort of decision.
NC QB Christian LeMay has once again updated his top 10 list, and Michigan is still not on it. He's making an early decision, so I think that's enough evidence to remove him from the recruiting board.
Fellow TX OL Garrett Greenlea, who was holding a Michigan offer, committed to Texas at their second junior day.
MI LB Lawrence Thomas, surprising nobody, committed to Michigan State last week. He was considered a near-lock to the Spartans, and that has come to fruition.
With no true recruiting update last week, MN CB James Farrow didn't even get a proper introduction before he heads somewhere else. He had a strong performance at the Michigan Football Showcase, but returned home and decided he wants to play for the Gophers, as did his father before him.
NJ LB Anthony Sarao committed to Stanford. He wasn't a hot prospect for Michigan.
Scout freebie on OH DE Bryan Baird. He's talking to Michigan, but any potential offer would probably be long down the road, as a backup plan. OH OL Matt Skura plans to visit Michigan a couple times, but doesn't yet have an offer. OH OL/DE Jack Miller visited Ann Arbor for the second junior day. AZ QB Brett Hundley is hearing from Michigan. Scout article on OH S Ronald Tanner tries to use a scare-tactic header that he's bound for Ohio State. He plans to commit early, but doesn't have a leader. No offer, but IL OL Patrick Flavin still has Michigan among his favorites. Michigan has offered 2012 MD RB Deontay McManus (HT: Bleed Scarlet). MD DT Darian Cooper is hearing from Michigan. FL S Steven Montgomery is hearing from Michigan.
The 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board lives here.
Junior Day & other Tales of Visits Future
Michigan's previous Junior Day this winter was fruitful, netting the commitment of MI CB Delonte Hollowell (pictured at right). The Wolverines will have their second such event this weekend, inviting a number of juniors to campus to take in the cripplefight between the Michigan and Penn State basketball teams.
OH WR AJ Jordan (from the Trotwood-Madison pipeline) will be there.
OH DT Kevin Williams will (probably) be there, and it sounds like he might be a slight M lean.
MI OL Anthony Zettel was planning to be there, though Tom has downgraded him to a maybe.
Tom posted a diary about some of the kids who have told him they will (or won't, for some) be around:
- OH TE Ray Hamilton - His father played at WVU with Rodriguez. ThaRinger.com recently spoke with Hamilton. Michigan is mentioned only briefly.
- MI DE Brennen Beyer - Is he on commitment watch?
- MD DT Vincent Croce - Coming in from Maryland shows a lot of interest.
- OH LB Percy Johnson - Recently moved to Ohio from Madison Heights. We haven't offered yet, and most schools are waiting on his ACT scores. He told Tom "I'm a loyalist, and that's the Big House, so you know." Highlight video.
- MI RB/WR Valdez Showers.
- OH DE Robert Mincey - Told Tom that Michigan is his leader. He doesn't have an offer yet, though.
- OH LB Trey Depriest - It's now looking like he probably won't make it.
- FL RB Demetrius Hart, S HaSean Clinton-Dix, and S/LB LaQuentin Smith - They've been trying to make it in for a while. Will they finally get to Ann Arbor?
- MI WR DeAnthony Arnett - Might miss it for basketball.
- MI CB Ryan Griffin - He said he thinks he'll be there, but is checking his schedule to make sure.
- OH TE Jamare Mills - He was invited, but he told Tom he can't make it. He did tell Tom that Michigan is one of his favorites right now.
Josh Helmholdt gives a couple other maybes in the Free Press: OH CB Doran Grant and (big surprise if he makes it in) MI LB Lawrence Thomas. Sam Webb talked to Grant for a Detroit News article. Michigan's chance sounds low, due to family connections to MSU, OSU, and Notre Dame. Thomas did take a visit this week, FWIW.
Moving on to the "Other Tales of Visits Future" portion, there's a promising sign for the Wolverines' recruitment of AZ OL Christian Westerman:
On April 27, the Westermans are planning to attend Michigan's spring game. There they will likely catch up with former Scottsdale Chaparral linemen Craig Roh and Taylor Lewan.
I assume that article should say "On April 17," because that's the, you know, actual date of the spring game. Westerman is one of 36 offensive linemen on the 2011 Rivals250 to Watch, and the #2 tackle and a 5-star to Scout.
VA LB Curtis Grant plans to visit Ann Arbor ($, info in header) at some point.
According to UMGoBlog Michigan sent an offer to OH QB Cardale Jones. Of Glenville, so… yeah. Michigan might actually have a shot here if Jones is set on quarterback and Ohio State is set on Braxton Miller, but it's Glenville.
Michigan has offered TX RB Jarrell Oliver, a former teammate of Wolverines Troy Woolfolk, Darryl Stonum, and Troy Woolfolk at Dulles High School. That school is also the home of S Sheroid Evans, one of the top safeties in the class of 2011. Evans attended Texas's junior day over the weekend, where he committed. I'll leave him on the board until we hear a little bit more about Michigan's intentions with Oliver, and whether it will be possible to shake him loose from the 'Horns.
The Wolverines have offered GA ATH Quan Bray (pictured at right), though they'll have to fight with a who's-who of top programs if they want to secure his commitment. He plans to take a bunch of visits before deciding:
Wiggins doesn't want to speculate on which school might be Bray's favorite at this point in the recruiting process. It is, as he hinted at, still early. Bray, he said, will take some visits and attend some camps, but it won't be anytime soon. Basketball and track are occupying much of his free time now.
If Michigan can get him onto campus for a visit or, better yet, for summer camp, they'll have a chance to land Quan.
Michigan has offered a trio of outside wide receivers lately: PA WR Dondi Kirby is holding a Michigan offer. He has also been offered by Maryland, and I've added him to the board. OH WR Devin Smith, from Massillon Washington High School (Shawn Crable, Justin Turner) has received a Michigan offer. CA WR George Farmer, one of the nation's top wideout prospects, has been offered by Michigan.
Michigan has tendered an offer to SC OL Brandon Shell, joining an impressive group that includes USC (Yes That USC), Florida, and Alabama. Shell's the nephew of Art Shell, and it sounds like he will be a bigtime prospect.
Michigan offered ($, info in header) TX OL Kourtlandt Akins. He also plays on defense, but it's not yet known which position the Wolverines want him to play. Akins is a lifelong Michigan fan and is a guy to keep an eye on moreso than your average Texas offeree.
FL S Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix is holding a Michigan offer, along with scholarships from the likes of Florida and Alabama. The Tide is the presumed favorite, but if Michigan manages to land a commitment from Hart, Clinton-Dix is likely to take a closer look. As noted above, Clinton-Dix may be in attendance this weekend. The Orlando Sentinel profiled him.
Recruiting Grab Bag
The Wolverines have been showing interest in FL QB Kevin Sousa. He's a good student, and is thinking about becoming an engineering major at the school of his choice. Local fluff on Sousa, who I've added to the recruiting board.
Michigan dropped in on FL LB Kent Turene just before Signing Day, and it sounds like the interest is strong on both sides, as he told mgoblog's own TomVH:
[Former teammate Demar Dorsey] was telling me that if they offer I should go up there, and play with him. We’ll see. He was telling me about the stadium, the facilities, and the coaches. He really likes the coaches. I’ve thought about it, I think I’d like to go to Michigan. I would like to play with Demar. I had a great time playing with him, and he’s a great teammate. So, yeah that helps.
The Wolverines haven't offered yet, but it sounds like there's a good chance he could end up in blue if they push for a commitment from him.
MD OL Donovan Smith has been hearing from Michigan, though the Wolverines have yet to offer. He plans to take his time making a final college decision.
Local fluff on MI RB Justice Hayes. He'll be one of the top prospects in the state. Keep in mind, however, that he grew up a Spartans fan, and he's being mentored through the recruiting process by Alabama RB Mark Ingram.
Rankings, Rankings, Rankings
As I mentioned in Sunday's Big Ten Recruiting Class Rankings, Rivals, Scout, and ESPN all have watch lists or top recruit lists of some sort available. There are too many Michigan prospects to run down all of their rankings, but take a loo if you're interested. Current Michigan commits are CBs Delonte Hollwell (Top 250 Rivals, 3* Scout, 150 Watchlist ESPN) and Greg Brown (Not ranked Rivals or Scout, 150 Watchlist ESPN).
Duane Long broke down the game of a couple linebackers of interest for Michigan fans:
Trey DePriest: I remember thinking that this is not a kid who is going to make up for losing [2010 LB Jordan] Hicks. I still rate Hicks the better player but the film I have seen from DePriest's junior year shows me a player that at least belongs in the conversation. I see a player who is just as good at blitzing as Hicks, and that is saying something. Some linebackers just have the timing down. I see a player who reads the game so well and he has become a really strong tackler. I give Hicks the edge now. At the rate DePriest is improving that might change.
What a beast Lawrence Thomas is. He is huge but very lean at 6-4 and 230. He has a reported 4.6 forty... His game speed is most important and there is no question about that. His read and react, are top drawer. He has the ability that I call "ghost", which is the uncanny ability that some linebackers have to keep themselves clean of blockers. So often blockers are not getting a hand on him. He has only a couple of negatives. He has too many arm tackles and too much drag down tackling... The other negative is the size. He is a really big kid and might grow into a DE.
He ranks them even with each other, and GA LB James Vaughters, who does not have Michigan interest to the best of my knowledge.
The Orlando Sentinel has its early top 100 list for the state of Florida. A number of possible Michigan targets are included.
At the Army Combine, MI CB Commit Delonte Hollowell and MI RB Justice Hayes were named to the All-combine team.