to play football, not to play trumpet
Today's recruiting roundup attempts to catch on everything that's gone down in the Michigan recruiting world since last Tuesday, when certain other events precluded any coverage involving high school athletes.
Schembechler Hall Presumably Now Covered In Brains
As Michigan's basketball team made their run to the national title game, the football team hosted some big-time recruiting visitors over the past week. The biggest name on campus was five-star Paramus (NJ) Catholic CB Jabrill Peppers, the #2 overall player (behind Da'Shawn Hand) on the Rivals100 and a consensus top-ten recruit. Peppers told Rivals' Adam Friedman that the trip to Ann Arbor was his "best visit"($) and changed his expectations for any school he'll check out:
"Now I don't even know what to expect anymore," Peppers laughed. "Michigan just completely exceeded my expectations. I'm just going to have to see how Michigan and Ohio State pair up and it should be a great experience but Michigan was probably one of the best visits I've been on without a doubt. Everything felt right."
According to his interview with 247's Steve Wiltfong, Peppers plans to be back, too ($):
“All in all, it was a really, really great visit and they exceeded expectations. I definitely didn’t think it would be that mind-blowing. I’ll definitely have to take a trip back.”
Peppers was joined on his visit by Paramus Catholic teammate and four-star OL Juwann Bushell-Beatty*—after the pair checked out Ohio State following the Michigan trip, their high school coach gave the update on where both stand to Friedman ($) [emphasis mine]:
"I don't know about Jabrill," [Paramus Catholic head coach Chris Partridge] said. "He's still kind of evaluating everything, and he's got LSU and Stanford to look at. I know Juwan's top school is Michigan right now. He's pretty fired up about them. Ohio State didn't offer [Bushell-Beatty], so who knows. Jabrill is a pretty loyal guy, so I don't know if it left a sour taste in his mouth. I know Juwan loved Michigan and it's a great fit for him, too.
So Michigan is in the lead for Bushell-Beatty (whom they have offered, to be clear) and made a very strong impression on Peppers, at the very least. The only direct quote from Peppers on his Ohio State trip—the rest were handled by his coach—is from this Wiltfong article ($):
"I really think that the Coach (Kerry) Coombs is a great coach," Peppers said. "I love him and enjoy being around him. Obviously Urban Meyer is an incredible, smart, proven winner. They let me meet the athletic director and the president of the school and it's really cool to see how everyone is behind the Ohio State football team."
High praise, yes, but not the over-the-moon review that he gave Michigan. Of course, visit reactions often depend on the interviewer, the questions they ask, and what they choose to print—in this case, however, Wiltfong got two very different post-visit reactions from Peppers. Read into that what you will.
Four-star PA ATH K.J. Williams also checked out campus last week, and there's no need to read between the lines of his post-visit reaction:
Michigan is by far my top school now!! #BlewMyMind
— TheWorldsGreatest#2 (@KJWilliams2) April 8, 2013
Another young mind destroyed by Michigan's overwhelming recruiting tactics. They show no respect for these recruits, I say. /RCMB'd
Two familar names also made appearances in Ann Arbor. Detroit Country Day WR Maurice Ways was there for the second straight weekend and the coaches have him "very high on their radar," per an interview with Tim Sullivan ($). Ways doesn't have an offer but it seems like one will come sooner or later—if he gets one, Michigan should be in the driver's seat. Meanwhile, Southfield DE Lawrence Marshall (offer) told GBW's Josh Newkirk($) that "everything was good" as he checked out a spring practice, and he came away impressed with Frank Clark, who plays the same weakside DE spot that Michigan hopes Marshall will play for them.
[Hit THE JUMP for a rundown of Spring Game visitors, a new offer, the latest on Drake Harris, a couple happy trails, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers today's spring practice visitors, new 2014 offers, and updates on several top targets.
Michael Ferns, Rebel With A Cause
Michael Ferns: star high school football player, Michigan commit, GameBoy aficionado, leader of the air traveler resistance movement.
No flight attendant, I'm not turning my gameboy off. You can't stop this Pokemon master.
— Michael Ferns (@M_Ferns10) March 28, 2013
Also, wearer of silly hats.
Spring Practice Visitors
Michigan is hosting several recruits for today's spring practice. Here's a list of the top targets on campus today, culled from several outlets:
- TN OT Alex Bars — The four-star younger brother of U-M OL Blake Bars is one of the early favorites to fill a spot in this class, though a decision is not imminent.
- MI CB Jalen Embry — The Detroit King product does not hold an offer and probably won't get a chance to until he camps at Michigan this summer. If he earns one, however, the Wolverines are the likely favorite to land him.
- MI DE Malik McDowell — McDowell is still largely quiet about his recruitment, with the early consensus that it'll come down to Michigan and Notre Dame not really changing yet. Though I don't expect his recruitment to end any time soon, another trip to Ann Arbor can't hurt Michigan's standing.
- MI WR Maurice Ways — Detroit Country Day's Ways, much like Embry, is an intriguing in-state prospect who could earn bigger offers (including Michigan) down the road with a strong summer.
- 2015 RB Mike Weber, 2015 DE Joshua Alabi, 2015 QB Jayru Campbell — The Cass Tech rising junior contingent will once again make their way to campus. Weber and Alabi hold offers and regard Michigan among their leaders; Campbell, as a quarterback, will have to wait until the coaches get around to narrowing down their 2015 prospects at the position.
Southfield DE Lawrence Marshall was expected to be on campus today, but according to 247's Clint Brewster he was unable to make the trip.
[After THE JUMP, updates on new offers, some big-time potential visitors, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers last weekend's visitors, including #1 overall recruit Da'Shawn Hand, as well as new offers and more.
Michigan Gets Leg Up On Hand! Can They De-Feet Rest Of Country? Head-To-Toe Coverage Follows.
Sorry, everyone. Just practicing in case I ever get a job writing headlines for a tabloid. (Don't worry, I'm keeping my day job.)
Anyway, VA DE Da'Shawn Hand—the nation's top-ranked recruit—spent the weekend in Ann Arbor and posted his impressions on Twitter in the aftermath. You could say it went well:
The full weekend visit allowed Hand to take in a lot for one trip, from a spring practice to a meeting with a Sports Management professor to a one-one-one chat with Denard Robinson. What stood out the most, though, was his time spent getting to know the players and coaches, per 247's Steve Lorenz ($) [emphasis mine]:
Among the players Hand spent time with were sophomore cornerback Blake Countess, sophomore tight end AJ Williams, incoming freshmen Shane Morris and Taco Charlton and also fellow 2014 recruit Michael Ferns, who is already committed to Michigan.
"Honestly, it was like I had known these guys for years," Hand said. "We all clicked right away. The people in general are just really nice and really genuine. It's the one thing about the visit that really stood out most to me. The coaches as a whole all really stood out as people - - they are my favorite coaching staff and being around them this weekend reinforced that."
That last bit is a major, major statement, as is this: Hand told Lorenz that he's "absolutely" coming back for the Notre Dame game, and may even fit an additional summer visit into his busy schedule. Sam Webb got a few more details on why Michigan's coaches have made such a strong impression ($):
“It was the coaching staff,” Hand said, reflecting upon what stood out most. “It was my favorite coaching staff. A lot of charisma. They’re just fun guys to be around. You can tell by looking at the players. All the players are comfortable talking to the coaches. A lot players (at different schools) say, ‘man I can’t stand this coach.’ And also when practice is done they can’t wait to leave. But the (Michigan) players… it seemed like they want to stay around. They don’t mind being around their coaches.”
“Coach Mattison is the man,” Hand exclaimed. “That dude is a genius. The things he teaches his players… it’s so simple, but it amazing at the same time because it works. His defensive scheme is real creative, it’s real tricky, and he likes the bring the house. I respect that. He has a lot of different blitz packages with looping and stunting, and I love that because you’ll never get bored during the game.”
Hand also gave Webb as glowing a quote as I've seen about an academic presentation, saying that to hear Sports Management professor Mark Rosentraub talk "was really amazing," and that he "just wanted to sit there in the class." Hand has made it clear that academics will play a serious role in his recruitment; it doesn't sound like he's just paying lip service to that notion, just as it appears Michigan did a great job of showing him what the school can provide.
While the Wolverines certainly strengthened their position, Hand is waiting until he sees each school in his top five before he begins to compare them, per Rivals's Adam Friedman ($):
"Well I'm not comparing schools right now," Hand explained. "I'm just experiencing each one. Once I go to all five schools then I can compare them. I'm just taking it slow again. I'm not making any sudden moves.
"I'm going to chill out, focus on school and train," he said. "The new guy I train with, Kevin Johnson is amazing. This guy is really high energy, does his research and we always have a good time. We work on a lot of core, balance and explosion stuff."
Time will tell where Michigan stands with Hand, but it's hard to imagine this visit could have gone much better. While it's far too early to call them any sort of favorite—Alabama looms, after all—it's apparent that the Wolverines will be in contention until the end.
[Hit THE JUMP for more weekend visit reactions and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers this weekend's visitors, the latest on Malik McDowell, and more. Thankfully, I wrote this before the Wisconsin game, and feel no remorse about immediately bumping my own post off the top of the page.
[Insert Hand Pun Here]
Purported high schooler Da'Shawn Hand
Michigan hosts a small group of 2014 visitors this weekend. Small isn't bad, however, when one of those visitors in the nation's top overall prospect, VA DE Da'Shawn Hand. Sam Webb has an extensive feature on Hand in the Detroit News in which he alleviates any concern that Jerry Montgomery's departure will hurt Michigan's chances:
"I heard about it, but I'm not sweating it," said Hand on Montgomery's departure. "Montgomery is a good dude, and that's a good move for him, but I'm not interested in Oklahoma whatsoever. That's how I feel about it. He is a good dude, but I like Coach Mattison."
"(Mattison) is young at heart. I don't even know how old he is. I think he's like 60 — don't tell him I said that — but that dude is 25 at heart. And he's a good guy. He's funny, but he knows what he's talking about. He knows his stuff. He's been a defensive coordinator for the (Baltimore) Ravens. I look up to Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, — it's so many people, it's endless. And they have so many components to that defense. For him to come to Michigan just shows how dynamic the defense is, and for me to be a part of that, they can move me everywhere and get me prepped for the NFL."
Mattison would be Hand's position coach at Michigan, a point I'm sure won't go unmentioned this weekend. Hand also discussed his friendship with fellow Virginian Derrick Green, whom he met on the camp circuit—the two have "just been clicking" since hanging out at The Opening. The Wolverines will be in a serious battle with the rest of Hand's top five—Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, and Virginia Tech—but they've certainly got a few things working in their favor.
[Hit THE JUMP for more on this weekend's visitors and, um, more.]
Hello. It is Brian doing this. Forgive me if I am redundant, for I have been out of the recruiting recap game for a bit.
Hello: Mason Cole
on that jake ryan jam |Tim Sullivan/Rivals.com
You may have noticed that FL OL Mason Cole pulled the trigger and became the fourth member of Michigan's 2014 class this week. Cole, a 6'5" kid who'll need to add weight instead of drop it, is probably destined for guard, and he's a quality get:
The 6-foot-5, 280-pounder, theTimes' top recruit for the Class of 2014, has offers from pretty much every major Division I program, including Alabama, Florida, Florida State and Ohio State.
"'I've always been partial to the Big Ten," said Cole, who visited Michigan for the third time this past weekend. "I always knew I wanted to play in that conference and play in the cold weather.
"It's just made for offensive linemen. It's smash-mouth football. Linemen are kind of stars up there. I didn't know any of these people and they already knew my name. The fan base is crazy."
Elsewhere, the Tampa Bay Times notes that he is "one part teddy bear, one part beast." I hope the teddy bear part is his tail.
Ace has been ill this week
but will pop up with a belated Hello post next week; [EDIT: Oops it's here.] for now just know that Cole is probably going to average out around 100th once sites get their rankings down. He's 107th to Rivals and 62nd to 247 right now, pre-inevitable slide. Magnus compares him to Steve Schilling.
In 2016 all Michigan skill players will be 6'8" velcro-man hybrids
Tight ends! Michigan likes them a lot. They like recruiting them, at least, and presumably they will like throwing to them all the time once they learn how to block and are not oversized wide receivers. Michigan continues scouring the country for anything that looks like a basketball player in pads. They currently lead($) for one IL TE Daniel Helm:
“I would say Michigan is leading right now,” the 6-foot-5, 220-pound tight end said. “If Notre Dame offers, they are definitely up there. I really like their offense because it’s pro-style."
Helm is either fuzzy on what pro-style means or pro-style does not necessarily mean anything anymore what with RGIII and Russell Wilson and legions of NFL commentators hilariously failing to recognize the zone read. Anyway, Sam Webb's Detnews article from last week goes into more detail on Helm (and Parrker Westphal):
"I know Michigan's a top-tier school and one of the best universities in the country. The Big House was awesome — a great venue that would be sweet to play in. Their new indoor field is sweet, academics are superb, and their academic support is very good, as well. So it was great."
Helm, a Rivals250 guy, has Michigan, Nebraska and Tennessee offers already and feels another wave is incoming. Leads when offers are still incoming are more tenuous; sounds like ND is going to be a contender.
Drake Harris counts as a velcro-man hybrid
So. MI WR Drake Harris. Michigan State quasi-commit, leaping 6'4" Braylon Edwards receiver guy, kind of nice prospect, would be the last piece of Hoke's recruiting Voltron if Michigan can nab him from a list of national contenders and also Michigan State. When Harris re-opened his recruitment Michigan didn't seem to have a place particularly high up on his list, but he's visited and things are picking up. QB commit Wilton Speight is bombing the kid:
The other player Speight is feeling especially good about is Drake Harris. While he doesn't necessarily see a decision on the horizon, he does believe the Wolverines are being look upon in a much more favorable light.
"We've pretty much talked every day for the past week," Speight reported. "He's really high on Michigan. We've convinced him — he's coming this weekend on the 23rd, a day early with me and Michael on Saturday just to meet the coaching staff for a little bit longer. And he'll be there Sunday for the (basketball) game (versus Illinois). But it's been going really well. He's really liking Michigan more and more. I think the fact that Michael and I are working on him really hard is helping a lot."
The fruit of that work on is seen on the instagram:
Harris also spent some time in the WTKA studio with Sam Webb:
I'm a little confused by the bit where they talk about the number he's wearing as if it's #1 when it is in fact #11, but here is the recruiting tool being a recruiting tool, sort of:
Said Harris, “they told me they haven’t had anyone wear the #1 jersey in a while, and they believe I will be the next person to wear it if I come there… but I will have to earn it.”
Gahhhh stupid Braylon endowment thing. Michigan hasn't had a guy wear #1 since that came into being.
Also in last weekend were NC RB Elijah Hood and OH LB Kyle Berger, both previously longshots heavily favoring rivals Notre Dame and Ohio State, respectively. Hood's visit got Michigan closer but did not vault them to the top of the list($):
“It’s just a feeling right now,” Hood said of Notre Dame. “After everything was said and done and I sat home in my room and thought about it, they’re still No. 1.”
Michigan is second with Ohio State a seemingly distant third (he told The M Block that OSU was "not the same" as Michigan). With all those visits in the rear-view mirror Michigan wants Hood's recruitment to string out so they can have time to change his mind.
It is important to acquire Hood because he's got a little bit of Fred Jackson($) in him. He told Scout that OSU's RB coach was "magnificent" and that "all of those guys are awesome up there" at Michigan. If Michigan acquires Hood we could have a recursive praise-war going on between the two wherein Jackson says Hood is the best back since they combined Gale Sayers with a unicorn and Hood says Jackson is the best running back coach since that one guy who spliced Gale Sayers and a unicorn together.
LB - Kyle Berger - St. Ignatius High School - Cleveland, OH
Berger told me, "I loved my visit. I had a great time spending time with Coach Mattison and seeing all of the facilities. Meeting all of the coaches was great." The last time Kyle and I spoke he said he wanted to compare Michigan to Ohio State; he had this to say after visiting both schools. "I loved both schools. I had great visits at both places and I could see myself playing at either school. I think it's going to come down to spring practices and seeing how the coaches coach and all that."
An OZone writer got a similar take with an explicit pecking order, or lack thereof:
Kyle Berger had a great visit to Michigan. Says OSU and UM equal. Buckeyes are in a fight with TSUN for Berger.
Berger wants to decide($) in May; Ohio State is trying to get him up this weekend to defuse the situation.
Pass rushers named Lawrence always welcome
Webb's article this week focuses on MI DE Lawrence Marshall, who was momentarily an OSU commitment and is now open. Michigan was SRS about getting his attention:
"I literally spent the whole day with Brady Hoke. I was also with Coach Montgomery, Coach Mattison, Coach Jackson. It was one-on-one (attention) the whole day.
That was preceded by an MSU visit; he also returned to EL on the 16th, so they'll be a real contender in this one. Marshall does mention that Montgomery's departure is not a big deal:
"It really didn't hurt Michigan's chances. Coach Mattison would be the guy coaching me. I'd be working directly with him so (Montgomery leaving) was no loss. Coach Mattison, I was with him the whole time. He said I'd be like Terrell Suggs as a rush guy coming off the edge."
LA TE Jacory Washington, a soft LSU commit, plans to visit($) over the summer. Michigan hasn't gotten anything but sleepers out of LA in a long time and the rest of list is all southern schools.
NJ OL Juwan Bushell-Beaty is planning a visit in April($). Bushell-Beatty projects as a tackle and is the teammate of mondo prospect Jabrill Peppers. CA WR Juju Smith names a top five($) of M, USC, UCLA, Wisconsin, and Cal.
Today's recruiting roundup recaps reactions from the weekend's visits and discusses the impact of Jerry Montgomery's departure.
Big February Recruiting Weekend Produces No Commits... For Now
Drake Harris (photo via Detroit News)
There weren't eight commitments, not that anybody expected as much. There wasn't even one commitment. That doesn't mean that Michigan's big visit weekend was a failure; far from it, in fact.
If a player was going to pledge over the weekend, it was FL OL Mason Cole. While Cole didn't take the plunge, he told Scout's Josh Newkirk that Michigan solidified their place atop his leaderboard ($):
“Michigan’s leading,” Cole said. “but I don’t I really don’t have an organized top-five. And from here on out anything can happen.”
As far as a decision timeline, Cole didn’t let out any hints of an early commitment.
“I’m just going with the flow,” Cole said regarding a timetable.
Regarding that fluid timetable, Cole told ESPN's Chantel Jennings($, info in header) that a commitment "could come at any time," to one of his top schools—Michigan, Notre Dame, Clemson, and Florida State. If he makes a choice soon, it's almost assuredly going to be Michigan, and they've positioned themselves well for a commitment whenever Cole decides to, er, decide.
The Wolverines also strengthened their position with current Michigan State commit Drake Harris, the top in-state wide receiver. Harris told 247's Steve Wiltfong that every school he's looking at—Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Florida, Georgia, and Notre Dame—is on equal footing, and the attention shown to him by both Michigan's coaches and commits made a big impact ($):
The Michigan coaches aren’t the only ones recruiting Harris. Quarterback commit Wilton Speight is also working to get him in the fold, as is 2013 signal-caller signee Shane Morris. Speight was on campus this weekend hanging with Harris.
“He seems like a great person,” Harris said. “I’ve been texting with him but this was the first time meeting him and we had a good time. I look forward to hanging out with him more. I’ve been in contact with Shane Morris and he wants me there. Everyone was giving me a lot of attention including Coach (Brady) Hoke and Michigan made a great impact on me this weekend.”
Harris has already set his next visit to Ann Arbor for March 10th, when the basketball team takes on Indiana in what should be a game with plenty of hype and excitement. Getting back-to-back visits is a great sign, even if there will be stiff competition from upcoming visits to Florida (March 22nd) and Ohio State (planned, not set).
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the reactions from the weekend and the impact of Jerry Montgomery's departure.]