national champs baby
Most of the recent recruiting content has centered on the nation's #2 overall prospect, Jabrill Peppers. Today's mailbag, in contrast, focuses on the nation's #1 overall prospect, Da'Shawn Hand.
Michigan football recruiting: not doing too bad these days. On to your questions...
My question concerns "saving spots" for higher ranked prospects. We've seen with other (less ethical) coaches, that they will take a commitment from a lower ranked prospect and then abruptly take that scholarship promise away to give to a higher ranked prospect before signing day. Since our coaching staff seems unwilling to do that (thankfully), how do we see this staff balancing between saving room for the higher ranked prospects while also not leaving themselves in a position to be completely hosed on signing day if a bunch of those prospects choose to go another way? This question occurred to me in relation to Marshall's visit this weekend, and how a commitment from him might prevent one (or both) from McDowell or Hand further down the road.
Thanks for your articles on MGoBlog!
I'll address the "saving spots" issue here, and move on to Michigan's 2014 D-line situation below (as you'll see, this is a pressing question for those following recruiting). Last year's recruiting class gave a lot of insight into how the coaches handle a potential numbers crunch at a position. For the 2013 class, the coaches stopped recruiting two position groups with highly interested four-stars after filling up early: offensive line and linebacker. In both cases, they approached the number they wanted early on in the process, informed the remaining recruits in each group that they'd have to commit soon or potentially lose their spot in the class, and filled the final spot quickly.
Ben Gedeon's commitment effectively ended the recruitments of Dorian O'Daniel and E.J. Levenberry at linebacker. Patrick Kugler's commitment did the same on the offensive line until David Dawson briefly looked around; Michigan stopped targeting Ethan Pocic (eventual LSU commit), and by the time the coaches realized they could take a sixth lineman, he was off the board. In both of those cases, however, the current commits in the class—and the recruits that took the final spots—were of comparable talent to the available uncommitted prospects.*
The situation with this year's defensive line is a bit different, and apparently of some concern to you guys...
[Hit THE JUMP for my attempt to sort out the D-line situation and answers to a couple questions about quarterback recruiting.]
J-Reall Recognize Real, That Is
Jabrill Peppers is doing pretty well for himself. The five-star recruit is one of the most sought-after prospects in the country. His highlight tape is 12 minutes of filth, in a good way. Before too long he'll likely choose whether he wants to attend Michigan or Stanford, two of the finest schools—not to mention football programs—in the country.
It's no surprise, then, that USA Today chose Peppers to pen a blog detailing his recruitment and personal life, and some kids have such an overabundance of talent that the rest of us feel bad:
Most people don't know that I'm a music artist. They only know that I play football, but I've been singing and rapping as long as I've been playing football; since the age of 4 or 5.
Being the type of guy that I am I really take rap as a challenge. I'm from the hood, but I'm very well educated and I keep my verses clean. At the same time I appeal to the guys that I grew up with. I don't degrade women or rap dirty or anything like that I'm just real about my experiences.
This is what I really do. That's why my name is J-Reall. My cousin, Tiyahnn Bryant, gave me that name in third grade and it kinda stuck.
Normally, when I read about a high school kid's burgeoning music career, I move along before clicking on anything that could cause permanent hearing damage or complete loss of faith in the next generation*. This time, though, I clicked on the link to Peppers' song (the YouTube video above), and... it's pretty solid. Great beat selection (MF DOOM), solid flow—he sounds like a sober Curren$y, which does not exist in nature—and surprisingly polished lyrics ("I had it restless/during my adolescence/not having my pops mad depressin'"); I gave it two listens and didn't regret it, which I can't say about 85% of newly-released rap.
Oh, right, the part you really care about:
I do feel like I'm gonna be coming to a decision soon though. I just want it all to be over and done with.
Peppers further clarified that point to Sam Webb, saying he hopes to move up his Stanford visit so he can make a decision in June ($). When asked what made such a strong impact on him during his visit to Michigan, Peppers summed it up in the best possible way [emphasis mine]:
It wasn’t the “red carpet treatment” that allowed the Wolverines to set the visit standard by which others are now being measured. Turns out, it was exact opposite.
“Real recognize real,” Peppers said matter-of-factly. “That’s the shortest and sweetest way you can say it. Real recognize real. They didn’t put on a show and they just kept it 100. Basically who they are -- they remind me of my coaches right now. That’s how comfortable we felt there. It was like wow, it was like we were still at (Paramus Catholic). That was the main thing, just the comfort level and just how down-to-earth those guys are. How they are with their players. They coach you hard and just everything. It was a great visit.”
Peppers also has plenty of good things to say about Michigan in a free interview over at The M Block. His recent interviews, as we've gleefully pointed out at every opportunity, point strongly towards Michigan being in command of his recruitment; I've heard very promising things that haven't been printed (and won't), as well. How do you feel about all this, Stanford coach David Shaw?
Their education is almost as good as Stanford's? When is almost enough for a true competitor? 3 BCS in a row, #1 education in D1 #gostanford
— David Shaw (@CoachDavidShaw) April 30, 2013
He took it personal, I guess.
*I say this as a former member of a high school ska band. I've self-inflicted enough damage.
[For the latest on K.J. Williams, Alex Bars, Kalen Ballage, Kyron Watson, and much more, hit THE JUMP.]
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 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.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers this weekend's visitors, the latest word from Da'Shawn Hand, Wheatley on Wheatley, and more.
Guess Who's Back?
The visitor list for this weekend isn't quite as star-studded as it was two weeks ago, but it still features a top tight end target and some marquee in-state prospects.
One such Michigander is WR Drake Harris, who'll be making his third visit to Ann Arbor in three weeks. Harris told Scout's Sam Webb this week that Devin Gardner receiving his medical redshirt "did help out" Michigan's chances, though he maintains that he's committed to Michigan State... for now ($) [emphasis mine]:
The Wolverines have clearly made up substantial ground in a very short period of time, and they’ll have an opportunity to further improve their position when Harris returns to Ann Arbor Sunday for his third visit in as many weeks. That said, Harris made it clear that anyone suggesting that Michigan has unseated Michigan State as the team to beat is off base. Many have questioned whether he still considers himself a Spartan commit, and hasn’t hesitated in offering them an answer.
“Yeah, right now I am,” he said regarding his commit status. “It’s a solid verbal. I said that I don’t have a list right now, but if I did have a list (Michigan) would be somewhere around the top.”
In my opinion, Harris will maintain that Michigan State leads as long as he's still considered a commit—frankly, I'm not sure he has much of a choice in that regard. The Spartans could very well be leading at this juncture, too. The trend of his recruitment, however, points towards an eventual decommitment, with Michigan in a very strong position to take over that top spot sooner or later.
Here's the full visitor list for this weekend, culled from multiple sources, including WolverineNation ($) (2014 prospects unless otherwise noted):
- MI OL Tommy Doles — Doles is likely the only prospect who could be thinking about a commitment this weekend, though that's been the case for a while now and he's yet to pull the trigger.
- MI CB Jalen Embry — Embry is a cornerback prospect out of Detroit King who currently holds a handful of MAC offers. He's making the trip with high school teammate...
- MI LB Carl Fuller — Fuller is one of the better linebacker prospects in the state, though his chances of getting an offer are hurt by what should be a very small Michigan class at the position.
- 2015 OH S Tyree Kinnel — Kinnel, a rising junior from Dayton (OH) Wayne, doesn't hold any offers but has early interest from both the Wolverines and Buckeyes.
- MI DE Malik McDowell — The top player in the state will be in Ann Arbor for the second time in three weeks, but he's still a long way off from a decision.
- IL TE Nic Weishar — The four-star tight end also took an unofficial to Ann Arbor last August, but Michigan may have some ground to cover to catch Notre Dame.
2015 Cass Tech QB Jayru Campbell is also a potential visitor, though he's yet to confirm.
[Hit THE JUMP for Da'Shawn Hand's thoughts on his upcoming visit and more.]
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.]