The annual recruiting extravaganza known as the BBQ at The Big House is just a couple of weeks away on July 27th and already the list of visitors is quite star-studded. A blend of committed and uncommitted prospects from multiple classes will be in attendance for what has proved to be a huge recruiting tool in past classes. Below is who I’ve been able to contact in order to start putting together a list of who will be in attendance and who won’t be. Of course there are many prospects that are still unsure, they are listed as well.
CB Marcus Lewis
CB Mook Reynolds
CB Garrett Taylor
DE Kengera Daniel
K Andrew David
LB Darrin Kirkland Jr.
LB Joshua McMillon
QB Alex Malzone
RB Damien Harris
RB Mike Weber
S Tyree Kinnel
TE Chris Clark
WR Grant Perry
CB Iman Marshall
DE Darian Roseboro
LB Tyriq Thompson
OL Jon Runyan Jr.
TE Tyrone Wheatley Jr.
WR Brian Cole
LB Asmar Bilal
OL Grant Newsome
OL Patrick Allen
OL Connor Williams
RB Alec Murphy
S Kahlil Haughton
WR Lawrence Cager
CB Lavert Hill
QB Messiah deWeaver
RB Elijah Holyfield
TE Luke Farrell
TE Naseir Upshur
WR Austin Mack
LB Daelin Hayes
OL Ben Bredeson
OL Erik Swenson
CB Levonta Taylor
OL Liam Eichenberg
OL Michal Menet
RB Kentrail Moran
RB Kareem Walker
TE Jake Hausmann
WR Binjimen Victor
A visitor list for an event like this is always subject to change and I know there are several others who belong in one of the categories that I just haven’t heard back from yet. Unfortunately for the readers I am embarking on my honeymoon tomorrow so I won’t be adding or subtracting to or from this list for at least a week.
Name: Levonta Taylor
Ht/Wt: 5’11" / 178 lbs.
Location: Ocean Lakes - Virginia Beach, VA (2016)
Offers: Virginia, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Hawaii, LSU, Marshall, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, NC State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Old Dominion, Penn State, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Rating: ★★★★ .9805 (247 Composite)
Ranking: #44 NAT / #3 CB (247 Composite)
Michigan has done well recruiting in Virginia plucking Derrick Green in 2013, Wilton Speight in 2014, and Garrett Taylor who is currently a verbal pledge from the 2015 class. With hopes of continuing that tradition, the Wolverines recently offered 2016 cornerback Levonta Taylor out of Virginia Beach.
Coach Roy Manning, who is the Virginia area recruiter as well as the cornerbacks coach, is heading up Taylor's recruitment and so far it is off to a great start.
I was at the Rivals 5-Star challenge getting registered for that and right when I first got there my coach just called me and told me that Michigan had offered. It was a great offer to get because I'm real cool with Coach Roy. He's the cornerbacks coach and it's good for me too because he's my area recruiter. That's a big plus for me that he's going to be recruiting me and would be my position coach too.
Coach Manning isn't the only thing that Taylor likes about the Wolverines. One of the things that draws Taylor to Michigan has been there for almost 90 years and another hasn't been there at all yet.
Another thing that I love about Michigan is that they have the biggest stadium. I've always loved playing in front of a crowd. Plus they are going to have one of my favorite players from high school, Jabrill Peppers.
Taylor has taken notice of MIchigan's recruiting efforts but as a top 50 player many other schools are putting in work as well.
Virginia, Michigan State, and LSU are coming at me pretty hard. There's like a lot more that are coming at me but those two or three are coming at me the most. Clemson too.
As a rising junior, Taylor has two full seasons of high school football left but he already has a loose plan in place of how his recruitment will come to an end.
My parents want me to commit before or maybe during my senior season so I'll be coming out with a list probably after this upcoming season. I'm going to come with a top 10 and then probably two or three months after that release a top 5. Michigan will always be in my top group, no matter what. Whether it's 10 or 5, they'll be there.
Taylor says that a visit to Ann Arbor is definitely in his future plans but doesn't have anything on the calendar just yet. He has played in a 7 on 7 tournament before with his Virginia Thoroughbred's team in the state of Michigan, but has never been on campus. Taylor also mentioned his late aunt that graduated from Michigan and says he knows she'd love the idea of him sporting the maize and blue someday.
5 – Trending Blue
4 – Solidly in a top 2-3
3 – Contender in a top 3-7
2 – Among large (8-15) group under consideration
1 – Let’s see if he visits before we talk
0 – Passing interest or none
Just after Taylor and I spoke he was invited to The Opening, a big deal for a 2016 prospect. He mentioned that he was waiting for that invitation so he could plan out his summer a little bit better as a multi-day trip to Oregon tends to chop up the calendar a bit. I will be in touch with Levonta to see if a trip to Ann Arbor materializes but his relationship with Roy Manning and the connections that the staff has made in Virginia already seem to have gone a long way with him.
But Is He ELITE? (Yes.)
Before rankling a certain perpetually aggrieved blogger with one of the most innocuous rivalry tweets ever, Alex Malzone earned himself a bid to the Elite 11 finals with an outstanding performance at the Columbus regional. 247's Barton Simmons put him at the top of the list when running down the best QBs in the "Pressure Chamber" drill (video above):
Alex Malzone – Malzone, the Michigan commit, had a very solid evening and had one of the better arms at the event. He also has good active feet in and outside the pocket. He could blend in at times but he definitely rose to the occasion during his pressure chamber showing. Of his five throws, four of them were dimes that he threw with a lot of command. He missed on a dig route but all in all, he had a strong output on his rival’s field. Later Monday night Malzone earned an invitation to the Elite 11 finals, securing one of the final 18 spots.
Scout's Allen Trieu was also impressed, though it sounds like Malzone still has a little work to do on his mechanics ($):
Malzone was generally on the money. His passes down the seam were excellent and showed the arm to hit the deep outs as well. As noted in the past, he has a hitch in his delivery, but the ball comes out of his hand nicely, with good pace, and he's an accurate passer.
Fellow commit Tyree Kinnel took the field last weekend at the Rivals Five-Star Challenge and ranked #5 on their list of top defensive backs at the invite-only event ($):
Multiple times on out routes, Kinnel came up and stepped in front of the pass. He showed off great instincts and a great ability to read receivers' routes and then come up to make the play. Kinnel's backpedal is smooth and then he turns and runs well with receivers. Kinnel is set with his Michigan commitment.
Interestingly, Rivals listed Kinnel as a cornerback; while Michigan recruited him as a safety, he's displayed the requisite coverage ability to have positional flexibility in the secondary. After the event, Kinnel told the Daily's Alejandro Zuniga he's fully committed to U-M despite recent overtures from Alabama and Michigan State.
[Hit THE JUMP for coverage of Ty Isaac's impact on the 2015 RB situation, Grant Newsome's upcoming decision, weekend visit reactions, a potential five-star visitor, and more.]