"He makes it really easy on you as a coach because he has tremendous football instincts," Michigan tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh said. "Things come really naturally to him. He doesn't have to see things too many times. He has a good sense for how things should look and feel, and he's a tough, physical guy."
Today's recruiting roundup takes a look at two potential commits (yes, it never ends, and this is good), gets more insight on Patrick Kugler, and finally puts the whole Alex Kozan thing to rest. Finally.
And The Coyote Said, "War Eagle"
Alex Kozan has eaten the Merciless Peppers of Quetzaltenango, spoken with his coyote spiritual guide, and emerged from his vision quest with newfound clarity about his
soulmate college destination: Kozan will be an Auburn Tiger. There's no word on whether he mulled over his decision in a lighthouse, but I'm going to presume this as fact until proven otherwise.
Also, amen to this: “It’s been a crazy ride,” Kozan said, “but I’m real glad it’s over.”
We can officially close the book on the class of 2012. We can also discuss guys who will actually play center for Michigan, as more evaluations of new commit Patrick Kugler have come out since his commitment post. Here's Allen Trieu on Kugler's junior film, which is unfortunately stuck behind a Scout paywall ($):
The kid has great feet and gets into the second level very well. He's a technician and a smart player, which you would expect from his dad being an NFL coach. Now, you take all of those strengths and project him to center, and Michigan fans should be excited. He's bigger and more athletic than most center prospects. You essentially have a kid that could easily play tackle or guard for most schools at center. That is also a position where smarts and knowledge of the game come into play and this kid certainly has it. His upside was good to begin with, but as a center, it's excellent.
Excellent, indeed. I'd always rather have a recruit who plays tackle in high school—where high school teams usually stick their best linemen—then learns center in the offseason than a guy who's limited in where he projects. Take a good, but slightly undersized, high school tackle and their ceiling immediately raises when shifted to center if they've got the technique and versatility, which shouldn't be a problem with Kugler. Here's his high school head coach on just that ($):
“I think his ability to play low is one of his strengths,” [North Allegheny coach Art] Walker said of Kugler. "He’s a great run blocker, and we like to consider him a finisher. He’s also a strong pass blocker as well. He runs well, he pulls well, and he has great feet and hands. He’s still maturing physically, and he’s having his best offseason to date. He can play any position you ask him to, wherever the team needs him most.”
I really like the addition of Kugler to the class. Michigan is set along the offensive line unless a guy like Ethan Pocic wants to join the party.
Quickly: Jared Shanker on Jake Butt and his ties to Ohio State and Notre Dame. Tremendous interviews Chris Fox, who's hopefully given up on his dirtbiking hobby. Chantel Jennings on Khalid Hill and #Team134 ($).
Must Not Make Played-Out "That Ish [Mc]Cray" Joke
The #44 prospect in the Rivals100, Trotwood (OH) Madison linebacker Mike McCray, will announce his decision on March 8th between Michigan, Arizona, Illinois, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Tennessee. He has one more visit scheduled: to Michigan, on March 6th. That's a pretty positive sign, and the general feeling is that McCray will end up blue—Rivals.com's Mike Farrell has said as much in multiple twitter posts.
McCray is one of three blue-chip linebackers who Michigan appears to lead for, with E.J. Levenberry and Dorian O'Daniel being the other two. McCray seems like a MLB, while Levenberry and O'Daniel both project to the outside. It's possible Michigan takes all three if they want to commit; it'll come down to a numbers game, but that would be one heck of a linebacker haul. If the Wolverines are saving spots for the best players available, it'll be hard to turn down any of those guys.
Steve Wiltfong posted on the Wolverine247 board today that Michigan "may be the team to beat" for Columbus (OH) Bishop Hartley TE Jacob Matuska after a great visit last Monday ($). This one could be a Michigan/Notre Dame battle, and there's reason for optimism—other than general "Hoke poops magic" optimism—for the Wolverines; a post on BuckeyePlanet says Michigan is very much in the mix despite Matuska being a presumed ND lock ($).
Ty Isaac's Coach Goes Full Fred Jackson and More
TomVH caught up with Ty Isaac's head coach to talk about the Midwest's best running back, and BOOM GALE SAYERS'D ($, info in header):
"Anytime he touches the ball, everybody is on edge, because it could be a Gayle Sayers moment. Every time Sayers touched the ball, he could go, and Ty has that ability," [Joliet Catholic coach Dan] Sharp said. "[Isaac would fit] in any kind of pro-style offense. He's the type of back who can get tough yards, durable, and he's not fun to tackle for safeties and corners."
Sharp also said Isaac reminds him physically of Marcus Allen, NFL Hall of Fame member and Heisman Trophy winner. In relevant, non-hyperbolic news, Isaac has no timetable for a decision and will visit Ann Arbor on March 10th.
Michigan has shown up on several players's top [blank] lists recently. Dadeville (AL) DT Rod Crayton visited on Sunday of that mid-February weekend, and while he didn't catch the virulent strand of commitment fever, he now has Michigan in his top three with LSU and Mississippi State ($, info in header). Another player with U-M in his top three is Rancho Cucamonga (CA) CB Chris Hawkins, along with Stanford and Notre Dame ($, info in header); Hawkins said he grew up idolizing Charles Woodson, so he's obviously got good taste.
While Michigan hasn't yet offered, South Jordan (UT) Bingham DT Lowell Lotulelei likes the Wolverines, Oregon, Utah, and Washington ($). Concord (CA) De La Salle LB Michael Hutchings—yes, another blue-chip LB—hasn't narrowed his list yet, but says the Wolverines will "easily" make the cut when he trims his list to 8 or 10 in April ($, info in header).
And now, your semi-weekly bulleted list, this time of players who have expressed interest in taking visits to Ann Arbor:
- Don Bosco Prep DE Alquadin Muhammed, one of the top defensive prospects in the country, plans to visit Michigan, though he hasn't set a timetable ($, info in header).
- Asburn (VA) Briar Woods LB Matt Rolin will take a visit to Ann Arbor in the spring, along with planned trips to Tennessee, BC, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech ($, info in header).
- Auburn (CA) Placer DT Eddie Vanderdoes told Tremendous he will take one of his officials to Michigan, though he obviously hasn't set those in stone yet. His says his interest in the Wolverines is "very, very high."
- Moreno Valley (CA) Rancho Verde WR Damore'ea Stringfellow hopes to visit Michigan before the start of football season ($).
- Richmond (VA) Varina S Tim Harris recently named Virginia as his top school, but he says his next visit will be to Ann Arbor ($). Virginia Tech and Ohio State are also in the mix.
- Damascus (MD) WR Zach Bradshaw has a Michigan visit in the works ($, info in header).
- Upland (CA) DE Joe Mathis says he'll take one of his official visits to Ann Arbor ($, info in header).
- Los Angeles (CA) Loyola CB Cameron Walker hopes to swing by campus when visiting family in Michigan this April ($).
- Oakley (CA) Freedom WR Darrell Daniels says he'll take an official to Michigan if "[he's] really feeling them," and he may also try to head to the Wolverine camp as well ($).
Finally, there's one happy trails to report. One of the Trinity trio, CB Ryan White, committed to hometown Louisville yesterday over Illinois. Teammate DE Jason Hatcher also seems to be favoring the Cardinals early; we'll see how that affects WR James Quick.
The recruiting roundup is going to be rather quick today, as I'm supposed to hop on a plane this afternoon and I still have yet to pack. I'll actually be out of pocket for much of Signing Day—due to circumstances outside my control—but Brian is aware of this and will have all your NSD needs covered. On to the roundup...
Lifting the Cloud
Michigan headed into last weekend expecting to pick up at least two, possibly three, and just maybe four new commits for the 2012 class. Instead, Armani Reeves decided to join his godbrother at Ohio State, Alex Kozan chose Iowa, and Sam Grant pulled a shocker and picked Oklahoma, surprising even Sooner insiders. It was not exactly sunshine and lollipops in Wolverine land. I'll leave it at that.
Enter Cleveland (OH) Glenville DT Willie Henry, whose commitment was announced (early, it turned out) by head coach Ted Ginn yesterday afternoon, providing a ray of sunlight through the dense cloud of doom and gloom. For more on Henry, a promising but raw prospect, check out his commitment post. Sam Webb interviewed Ginn after Henry's, er, not-yet-commitment, and that critical pipeline to Glenville appears to be open once again for the Wolverines [emphasis mine]:
The Wolverines’ cause in this race was undoubtedly helped by Brady Hoke’s long standing relationship with Ginn… one that dates back to his time as an assistant at Michigan.
“I had a relationship with Brady going back with (former Michigan defensive end) Pierre (Woods),” the Glenville coach recalled. “Then he went to Ball State and (the relationship) increased… he took about five or six of my guys. The relationship has always been there. It’s a new day and a new way (at Michigan).”
CAN I GET AN AMEN? Sorry, got caught up for a second. But yes, after Michigan's relationship soured with the Ohio powerhouse at the end of the Carr era and under Rich Rodriguez, the Wolverines have pulled in Frank Clark and Willie Henry from the Tarblooders (yes, the Tarblooders) in consecutive classes. This not only bodes well for the current squad, but future recruiting classes.
"You watch his film and you go, 'why isn't he ranked higher?'" Trieu said. "You also go, 'Wow, why didn't he have a ton more offers?'" ...
"He just didn’t play much, didn’t really make an impact as a junior, and that happens at talented schools like Glenville," Trieu added. "He was a kid who just completely stayed off the radar until late. But, once you saw him play, you could tell he can really play.
"Michigan's getting a very good player, even if he isn't ranked like it."
Scout's Dave Berk is also a fan; sounds like Henry is a potential contributor despite a recruiting process that would imply he is not one.]
Michigan now has one known target left on the board: Chicago Simeon OT Jordan Diamond, who announces his choice on Friday between Michigan, Arkansas, Auburn, and Wisconsin—Diamond has confirmed he dropped Ohio State from his list, but denied doing the same with Auburn ($).
Addressing the Needs
I thought, after the general panic caused by Michigan's 0-for-3 weekend, that this would be a good time to take a look back at initial expectations for the class. Enter the 2012 recruiting board (not updated in a long time, I know), where Tim outlined the needs at each position for the class. Here's a breakdown of each position group and the number of prospects Tim projected the Wolverines to get based on need:
QUARTERBACK: 1. Not filled, but can I interest you in a Shane Morris? I thought so.
RUNNING BACK: 1+. While M missed out on Bri'onte Dunn, Drake Johnson and Siome Houma are both in the fold.
WIDE RECEIVER: 2. Done, not only with high-caliber prospects, but high-caliber people in Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson.
TIGHT END: 1-2. Welcome, Devin Funchess and A.J. Williams.
OFFENSIVE LINE: 4-5. Michigan has filled the minimum requirement with high-quality prospects, and Jordan Diamond would give them one of the best offensive line classes in recent memory.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE: 2. Ondre Pipkins should be a 3+ year starter at the nose, Henry fills a need at the three-tech, and both Chris Wormley and Matt Godin could end up here, too.
DEFENSIVE END: 2. Wormley and Godin are joined by Tom Strobel and Mario Ojemudia, giving Michigan a talented and versatile set of DEs.
LINEBACKER: 2-3. Michigan has three All-Americans plus an early enrollee in Kaleb Ringer (UA All-American Joe Bolden also enrolled early).
SAFETY: 2. Jarrod Wilson, Allen Gant, and Jeremy Clark all project to safety.
CORNERBACK: 1+. All-American Terry Richardson addresses that need, though it would've been nice to get one more.
The only need that isn't already addressed in this class is quarterback, and Michigan already has one of the top quarterbacks in 2013 committed (and doing a little recruiting himself). Not only that, but the talent level puts this class easily into the top ten nationally. There's the ledge, and you shouldn't be anywhere near it.
In other news on committed prospects, Scout released their final rankings for the Midwest region and the state of Michigan. Five of the top seven in-state prospects are blue, as are seven of the top 21 Midwest recruits, and that number would go to eight if Diamond comes into the fold on Friday.
Quickly: Kyle Meinke with a great article on Darboh's tumultuous childhood over at AnnArbor.com; Chris Wormley, just chillin' and watching the AFC title game with Greg Mattison—NBD; Tom writes a free (hooray!) article on social media and its impact on the current class.
[ED: this section by ed, who is Brian.]
The Detroit News's Blue Chip list survey annually produces bold statments, total fiction, and pathos when they ask the #15 ranked kid in the state why he didn't go to State or Michigan and he doesn't say "neither of them wanted me." This year's edition is no different. Your winner for quote of the year comes from Tennessee commit Danny O'Brien:
I just don't like Ann Arbor. It's a little too liberal for me.
This will not be a problem in Knoxville.
Other quotes of note come from Mario Ojemudia ("it was definitely the [M] coaches who changed my mind" on where he should go to school), Royce Jenkins-Stone ("there was no way I would go there" if Rich Rodriguez was still coach at M), Devin Funchess (consistent complaints about MSU "favoritism"), and MSU commit Jamal Lyles, who says Michigan wanted him as a tight end.
No new offers to report for now, but Michigan has picked up interest in a couple of prospects: Riverside (CA) J.W. North TE Marcus Baugh, a four-star on 24/7 ($, info in header) and South Jordan (UT) Bingham DT Lowell Lotulelei, also a 24/7 four-star ($, info in header), who were both visited by Michgian coaches this past week.
Several big-name targets received major offers from elsewhere, however. OT Logan Tuley-Tillman visited Alabama last weekend and got an offer from Saban ($, info in header). Michigan is still presumed to be the leader, but Tuley-Tillman did say that the 'Bama visit was "awesome." Ohio State offered a pair of Michigan targets in Hudson (OH) LB Ben Gedeon ($, info in header) and Warren (OH) Howland RB DeVeon Smith ($, info in header). Tyrone (GA) Sandy Creek CB Shaq Wiggins picked up an offer from home-state school Georgia ($, info in header), and now has an updated top five (in no particular order) of the Dawgs, Tennessee, Virginia, Michigan, and Ole Miss.
Finally, happy trails to a pair of recruits: Alabama landed running back Altee Tenpenny ($, info in header), who didn't have an offer but was an early target, and Ohio State nabbed early five-star athlete Jalin Marshall.
One last note: If you missed my post on the board yesterday, I recorded a pre-NSD podcast with Jeff Junstrom of Black Shoe Diaries and Alex Gleitman of Eleven Warriors—we give an overview of each of our classes, break down a few of the top recruits, project how each class will round out, and discuss some big names that are on the radar in 2013. This should be a recurring feature; it's always good to keep a close eye on the enemy.