at least it's not just us?
As first reported by TomVH, St. Clairsville (OH) linebacker Michael Ferns committed to Michigan on Wednesday, becoming their first commit in the class of 2014. Ferns had recently named a top three that also included Notre Dame and Penn State, and a very positive unofficial visit for the BBQ at the Big House likely pushed him to make a pledge.
|NR MLB||NR ILB||NR ILB||
4*, 93, #5 ILB,
Only 247Sports has released rankings for the class of 2014, so our lone national data point for Ferns has him pegged inside the top 100 prospects overall and top five at his position. All save ESPN list him at 6'3", 235 pounds—ESPN has him 20 pounds lighter, likely an outdated figure—which has him easily on track to be a college-sized strongside linebacker by the time he hits campus.
While the national services aside from 247 have not released rankings, OhioPreps already has a top 25 list for the class of 2014. Ferns is second, behind only fellow linebacker Dante Booker, and Marc Givler suggests that those two have separated themselves from the rest of the class.
Other information on Ferns is scarce, as he hasn't hit the camp circuit and St. Clairsville is a small school that hasn't produced much in the way of D-I talent*. We do get one player comparison courtesy of Scout's Dave Berk ($):
Standing 6-foot-3, 235-pounds, Ferns reminds some of current Irish inside linebacker Jarrett Grace, at least in terms of his physical stature. However, Ferns shows a unique skill set for a player of his size.
While St. Clairsville High School is far from one of Ohio’s top big-school programs, Ferns athletic ability could easily transfer to a bigger program as he shows on film the ability to play several positions on both sides of the ball.
Grace was a 2011 recruit on the 3/4-star borderline; at 6'3", 240 lbs., he's very comparable in terms of size. Grace's ESPN scouting report($) praised his athleticism and play recognition, and as you'll see in his film those are also two areas of Ferns's game that stand out.
Besides the above, most of the articles on Ferns focus on his intelligence both on and off the field. He's made it clear from the beginning of his recruitment that academics are the top priority—which he backed up with a top three of Michigan, Notre Dame, and Penn State, as well as an offer from Stanford—and he plans to study pre-med. 247's Steve Wiltfong details this side of Ferns in an article rather unfortunately titled "Ferns Is Freaky On & Off Field"($):
Growing up, Ferns always saw his parents on the computer messing around with this new sensation known as the internet. The two-year old didn’t want to be left out.
“He wanted to play on the computer so bad, and he’d keep asking us what words were,” the elder Ferns said. “It just got to the point where he taught himself how to read so he didn’t keep asking us. He was in diapers. We bought him reading programs for kids ages 4-5, and it wasn’t three weeks later we were buying the programs for ages 6-8. Over the course of a month, he was on the internet. At that time it was dial up, but he wanted to do it so bad.”
“I was always a little ahead of the time,” Ferns added. “I remember being in diapers on the computer. I’d say I was a little advanced back in day.”
Ferns has grown a bit since then, and now his intellect is paying dividends on the football field [emphasis mine]:
“He’s 6-3, 230-pounds and runs like a deer,” McClean said.
“Besides just his size advantage, he can do a lot of different things. We lined him up at three different positions on offense. On defense he’s an intellectual person, he can handle things a lot of people couldn’t do. He’s like a coach on the field from his linebacker spot.”
That astute play, when combined with impressive athleticism, could make Ferns a candidate for early playing time. According to Scout's Allen Trieu, who posted a scouting report on Ferns after his commitment, the only thing stopping Ferns could be Michigan's depth chart ($):
Upshot: He's going to come in college ready in terms of size and speed. If he adjusts to the speed of the game and learns the defense, he has the tools to play early. Not sure if the depth chart will allow that because there are so many linebackers, but he has what you look for in an early impact guy.
Trieu compares Ferns to freshman Joe Bolden, a 2012 Under Armour All-American who's already pushing for playing time at WLB, and says he's a "pretty safe bet" for four stars.
Magnus broke down Ferns's sophomore film and came away impressed:
I really like what I see on Ferns's film. He plays both ways for his high school team, although keep in mind as you watch that St. Clairsville is a small school with fewer than 700 students enrolled; the competition is not excellent. Ferns plays some fullback, tight end, wide receiver, and linebacker. He shows very good instincts as a linebacker. Ferns the younger plays downhill nicely, showing quick initial reads and stepping up into holes that open. He keeps his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage and is a very solid tackler. He also does a nice job of side-stepping blockers and using his hands to shed when necessary. His change-of-direction skills are also apparent as an offensive player, where he swivels his hips pretty well to slither past defenders.
So, while scouting on Ferns is still limited, what we see suggests he's got the size, athleticism, and instincts to excel at the collegiate level.
*The only other St. Clairsville player in the Rivals database (dating back to 2002) is 2013 3-star WR Dan Monteroso, a Boston College commit.
Ferns built up an impressive offer list for a junior-to-be, choosing Michigan over Notre Dame, Penn State, Boston College, Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Purdue, Stanford, Virginia, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and a handful of MAC offers.
Ferns tallied 136 tackles as a sophomore while also chipping in 441 yards on 31(!) rushes and 301 yards on 15(!) catches. He had 88 tackles as a freshman in 2010.
FAKE 40 TIME
No 40 time is listed for Ferns on any of the four recruiting sites.
As you can see, there's little not to like in the film, though the lack of high-end competition is apparent.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
While Michigan has recruited extremely well at linebacker over the last couple classes, Ferns could have a relatively clear path to the two-deep if he lands at strongside linebacker. That spot is currently manned by Jake Ryan and Cam Gordon, and Ryan will be a senior (I know, right?) when Ferns steps on campus. Unless Royce Jenkins-Stone bulks up significantly, at that point Mike McCray will be the only player standing between Ferns and a spot in the rotation.
It's also possible that Ferns ends up at middle linebacker, a position where he can better show off his instincts. While Joe Bolden and potentially Jenkins-Stone stand in the way there, Ferns could get a three-year separation from those two if he takes a redshirt year (assuming Bolden and RJS play this year, a much safer assumption for the former).
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
At this early juncture, it looks like Michigan is in line for a relatively small class in 2014, but with a year-and-a-half before signing day a great deal can change. One thing we're pretty sure of is that the Wolverines can afford, once again, to be picky at linebacker; unless there's unexpected attrition, Ferns will likely be joined by one other linebacker recruit, likely a guy who projects to the middle.
Today's recruiting roundup is relatively light after a calm week following the BBQ, but there's still much to talk about, including Derrick Green, the E.J. Levenberry non-story, and some 2014 updates.
Wait, That Randy Edsall?
SBNation's Bud Elliott takes on the trend of early commitments and even earlier offers in college football recruiting, an issue I briefly addressed in yesterday's mailbag. He focuses on the practice of schools giving out hundreds of verbal offers—with various levels of commitability, if I'm allowed to completely make up words—since the NCAA pushed back the date when players can receive written offers (for the class of 2013, written offers couldn't go out until this Wednesday).
Elliott doesn't come up with much of a solution for the spate of early verbal offers—he suggests moving up the date when written offers are allowed to go out, even though he acknowledges that in the current structure written offers bear the same level of binding agreement as verbal offers: none. Personally, I think the NCAA is going to have to institute an early signing period like they have for basketball. The process is only speeding up, and an early signing period allows for a little more stability for both coaches and players, with the added benefit of saving committed players the hassle of dealing with other coaches trying to flip their commitment all the way through signing day.
Anyway, Elliott brought up the topic to several coaches at ACC Media Day, and leave it to the conference's running joke of a coach, Maryland's Randy Edsall, to... say something really insightful?
Edsall was also the only coach to discuss the new NCAA qualifying rules that will impact the class of 2015.
"It just doesn't make sense to me [to offer players early] because you have new rules that are going to go into effect where you've got to have a 2.3 [GPA] and a 1020 [SAT] in order to be eligible. We don't know until the end of that kid's junior year if he's even going to be on track to do that."
"The NCAA talks about education and APR? And all this stuff? And then they're allowing us to go and recruit kids and then thinking about making this the wild west where you can text a kid as much as you want? I mean, what are we doing? There's no wonder kids who are 12, 13, who think they're entitled. We're creating part of the problem. I just don't get it. Where is the leadership coming from in terms of allowing open season on all these kids who aren't mature enough to be able to handle all this recruiting?"
In a few years we're going to see schools scrambling to replace the academic casualty who's been committed to them for years, and while Randy Edsall probably won't be at Maryland at that point he'll still be very, very right.
VA RB Derrick Green named his top six yesterday, with Michigan, Auburn, Oregon, Tennessee, Ole Miss, and Virginia Tech comprising the list. Of those schools, Michigan and Auburn are the two regarded as favorites, and the recent decommitent of four-star RB Greg Bryant from Oklahoma could swing that race decidedly in Michigan's favor, according to 247's J.C. Shurburtt:
That leaves us with the question- where will Bryant land? Best guess at this point is Auburn. Reports indicated the Tigers and South Carolina were his top two choices with Georgia also in the mix. Auburn makes the most sense based on everything that is known at this time.
Bryant to AU leaves us with another question. How does that impact four-star running back Derrick Green (Richmond, Va./Hermitage) and where he will land? The Tigers will take one more back. They like both Bryant and Green, but it’s highly doubtful they take both and unless a new school makes a charge, they are getting Bryant.
Shurburtt speculates that would be enough for the Wolverines to land Green. For what it's worth, Green told Mike Farrell that he has no current timeline, but would like to take some officials ($):
So now that Green is down to six, what's next?
"I am focusing on the season, we are in two-a-days now," he said. "I'd like to get this down to three schools sometime soon if I can, but I'm not sure of any timeframe right now. I'll obviously take some official visits as well but I'm not sure where and when yet."
Though Green's recruitment could very well stretch into the season, Michigan is in a very strong position to land him.
Mike Farrell: Troll King?
Remember E.J. Levenberry, the linebacker recruit who chose Florida State over Michigan all the way back in April? Since Michigan has claimed to be full at linebacker since even before Ben Gedeon committed, Wolverine fans haven't given him a second thought. That is, until Wednesday, when Mike Farrell posted a letter from Levenberry's father on The Wolverine's message board that strongly hinted at a decommitment and ended thusly ($);
Right now I have to say my son made the right decision in choosing Jimbo and FSU but that Michigan degree and Greg Mattison's relationship with my son are hard to resist.
Farrell "confirmed" with Levenberry's father that E.J. would take an official visit to Ann Arbor for the Michigan State game. Recruitment back on, start your engines, buckle up, and all that noise, right? Not so fast, my friend; Sam Webb caught wind of the news and swiftly shot down any misconceptions about Levenberry's recruitment:
Lots of chatter suddenly about EJ Levenberry. Great player/prospect, but no room at the inn at
#Michigan and no official visit to Ann Arbor
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) August 1, 2012
In other words, the circumstances at Michigan didn't change one bit, and Levenberry's dad almost certainly didn't check with the coaches before floating the official visit idea out there. 20 minutes after Webb's tweet, Farrell backpedals:
And just like that
#Michigan pulls out of the Levenberry race unless they lose a commit per levenberry's father
— Mike Farrell (@rivalsmike) August 1, 2012
"Just like that," eh? This is the problem with premium recruiting websites; if Farrell wanted to get the right story out there, he would've checked into Michigan's scholarship situation before posting that to a Michigan recruiting message board. HOWEVA, he knew that post would cause a stir and get a lot of clicks whether Michigan could take him or not. The result, of course, is that he posts, people freak out, and then Webb has to come along and insert some reality into the situation, but Rivals gets a nice spike in pageviews.
Even worse is that Farrell acknowledges he was probably played by Levenberry's father, who's likely trying to give FSU's coaching staff a wake-up call by talking up Michigan and Oklahoma:
— Mike Farrell (@rivalsmike) August 1, 2012
Sam Webb's latest at the DetNews is a profile on IL CB Parrker Westphal, who's now visited Michigan twice after attending the BBQ. In case you haven't followed along, Westphal's position coach in high school is none other than former Michigan CB Todd Howard. Guess where he expects Westphal to end up?
"For me, I always said that I wanted to coach and get somebody to go to Michigan," Howard admitted to Scout.com. "I want our kids to go where they can go, the best choice for them, and where they'll be able to max-out their potential. Of course, I'm biased toward Michigan. I pulled Parrker aside before he even enrolled in high school and I said, 'You're going to go to Michigan.' I looked at his dad and said that and they said, 'You think so?' I guess one Wolverine can always pick out another."
Westphal himself also discussed his recent visit and may have unwittingly given us some insight into why Michigan doesn't yet have a 2014 commit:
When the time came to talk recruiting, the conversation was brief and to the point.
"Coach (Jeff Hecklinski) was telling me he doesn't want me to commit now because it's too early," Parrker said. "He just wants me to take my time."
Westphal doesn't claim any leaders at this time, though Michigan stands out among the schools he's visited. He looks like a candidate for an early commitment and the Wolverines would likely be the choice if that's what he does.
Webb also talked to OH LB Michael Ferns after the BBQ, and Ferns offered some insight into his potential timeline ($):
I still plan on waiting until mid-junior year, or the end of my junior year to commit because I feel like that would be a great time. By then, I’ll have a good understanding of what I want, and I’ll have seen enough to make a decision.
When pressed for a leader, Ferns admitted that Michigan is his favorite, with the caveat that they'd had the advantage of a return trip that his other top schools—Notre Dame and Penn State—have not had yet.
Tremendous caught up with MD CB Troy Vincent Jr.—son of the former NFL cornerback—after his BBQ visit, and for some reason this is one of my favorite quotes from a recruit [emphasis mine]:
Help Michigan?: "I wouldn't say it helped Michigan. I look at it more as them successfully reinforcing what I already believed about them. The visit confirmed a lot of thoughts for me with them and allowed my parents to draw their own conclusions as well".
Full steam ahead for the Brady Hoke Hype Train.
Quickly: Another 2014 quarterback to watch is VA QB Caleb Henderson, who "wants to pursue Michigan" after visiting for the BBQ ($). Matt Pargoff assembles lists of ten 2014 receivers and ten 2014 running backs to watch. Recruiting message boards are really special places, you guys.
OH LB Michael Ferns is one of a handful of early 2014 targets from the Midwest (photo via DetNews)
It's time for another edition of the Recruitin' Mailbag. Today, much of the focus is on the 2014 class, though of course there's a Laquon Treadwell question for those of you not ready to look that far ahead yet. You can ask a question for the next mailbag via email or with the hashtag #mgomailbag on Twitter.
Huge fan, you do an outstanding job. My recruiting question for you is, with so many scholarships given out to the 2014 class I've noticed that there has been a "lack of interest" so far with student athletes from the Midwest. My meaning of "lack of interest" doesn't mean they don't have kids from that area on their recruiting board. I'm wondering if the reason for that is because there is a lack of talent for the 2014 class in the Midwest compared to this 2013 class. Thank you for reading and answering my email. Take Care!
Going by Touch The Banner's 2014 offer board (and adding in OH RB L.J. Scott, who picked up an offer last week), Michigan has sent out 52 offers in the class, but only 13 have gone to prospects within the Big Ten footprint. A quick glance at 247's early 2014 rankings, however, should tell you what this staff is thinking: the Wolverines have offered six of the top ten players in the country and ten of the top 20.
This early in the cycle, the emphasis has been on gauging the interest of the blue-chip national prospects; with that level of prospect, it's often the case of getting in early or not getting in at all. They're also the players who need the least amount of evaluation to determine if they're worthy of an offer. It's not like the Midwest isn't represented, either, and offers have gone out to in-state standouts Malik McDowell, Damon Webb, and Tommy Doles; I don't believe this is an issue of lack of local talent, even though we may not see Illinois produce the same level of prospects that they have in 2013.
I'd expect you'll see many more offers go out to Midwest prospects when the fall rolls around and the coaches have some junior-year film to evaluate. With a year-and-a-half until 2014 signing day, there's still a lot of time before we can begin to question the talent level in the area.
Is there any indication that Hoke & staff prefer to have the class wrapped up early? What I mean is, do they put pressure on the kids (saying "hey, we're not going to hold a scholarship and we're recruiting others for your position") and that's part of the reason some guys (i.e. LTT, Treadwell's possible earlier decision) commit early?
The Wolverine asked Brady Hoke about the trend of early commitments in recruiting at Big Ten media days, and while Hoke said he's unsure if he liked sending out offers so early, he may not have much of a choice:
If they didn't take kids early, he added, they'd be in danger of falling behind.
"If we didn't, somebody else would," he said. "We're going to be aggressive in what we do. You can't sit back, or somebody's going to pass you, but I don't know what they're going to do [to slow it], or who's going to handle it["]
As for pressuring players to commit, several recruits have noted that the coaching staff has done no such thing; they want recruits to commit only if they're ready to do so. That said, the coaches are very open with recruits about the current scholarship situation and whether other recruits are poised to commit—see: the staff informing Leon McQuay III before Ross Douglas committed—with the implication that time may be running out to secure a spot in the class. They're not going to give a player an ultimatum; at the same time, they're not going to put the class on hold to wait on one prospect.
How much of an impact is the "no other visits" rule having on early commits for '14? — @Bry_Mac
Well, hey there, Blue in South Bend. I think the rule is absolutely having an impact at this stage, and that's a good thing; it's quite possible that without the rule in place a guy like Damon Webb would have committed by now, even though he's still getting offers from schools like LSU that would understandably make him think twice about that commitment. At this stage, the 2014 prospects haven't had much of a chance to see schools outside of their immediate area, and asking them to make an ill-informed decision is begging for some decommitment drama down the road.
Once some of the local prospects take a few visits to check out other schools, I think you'll start seeing the commitments trickle in; I'd be surprised if Michigan entered the 2012 season without at least one junior committed. They're in great position with a few prospects—especially OH LB Michael Ferns—and should get off to a strong start when the time comes. That time just might not be now.
How much does HS coaching (or lack thereof) shade our views of recruits? Can a great coach oversell a meh talent? — @hooverstreet
At a certain level, possibly, though that would be limited to positions like quarterback where the system really has a big impact, and usually you're able to tell regardless of stats whether a QB has the frame and arm strength to make it at the collegiate level.
I actually think that playing for a poorly-coached team can have a strange way of benefiting certain players; if a physically impressive prospect plays in a system not tailored to their game, the hype can build around untapped potential. To take an example—and I'm by no means saying he'll be a bust—Taco Charlton is now a four-star on the basis of his athletic ability, frame, and camp performances, but so far in high school he's been a situational pass-rusher. If he was out there every down and we got to see how he stood up against the run, it's quite possible that he wouldn't be as highly regarded.
For the most part, with all the camps and 24/7 recruiting coverage, I think it's difficult at this point for a recruit to get too overrated due to the high school system they play in; eventually, they either have to match up with other top prospects or they'll get dinged for shying away from top competition. That's a big reason why camps have taken on such a life of their own; in this day and age, it's all about seeing how top prospects handle playing against other top prospects.
why the sudden interest in Florida, lsu, auburn from QuonT. Is he cooling on mich? — @natebburn
It's important to note that this "sudden interest" in Laquon Treadwell from SEC schools is still coming six months before signing day; even last year this wouldn't be considered getting into the race late. As for Treadwell's interest in Michigan, I'll believe he's "cooling" on the Wolverines when he says so himself, and he's said nothing to indicate that they're anything but his clear-cut top school.
Just because the trend has gone towards early commitments doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with taking your time, checking out as many schools as possible, and waiting until you're 100% ready before making a commitment. Give Treadwell a chance to do his due diligence; I'd expect that whenever he's ready, you'll be happy with his decision.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses the BBQ, the latest on Laquon Treadwell and Leon McQuay III, Shane Morris at the Gridiron Kings, 247's composite rankings, and more.
Skew It On The Bar-B
The commits plus Derrick Green (back row, fourth from the left) via Sam Webb
The BBQ at the Big House has come and gone without a commit, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a very successful recruiting weekend for the Wolverines. The big story was VA RB Derrick Green, as Michigan's commits put on the full-court press for a commitment—one several commits expect to happen sooner or later—and while Green decided against ending his recruitment, he told Matt Pargoff that the visit "definitely helped Michigan." Green did say that, despite what others have said, he wasn't close to committing on the visit, though he did tell Tremendous that Michigan will definitely be in his top five when he names his list this week. With the news that both Clemson and Ohio State are no longer recruiting Green, the Wolverines appear to be in the driver's seat. Green is no longer certain that he'll take all of his officials before committing, which could indicate a decision in the near future.
Though AZ WR Devon Allen couldn't stay for the BBQ, instead visiting on Saturday, he told 247's Todd Worly the trip "really opened my eyes" and increased his interest in Michigan ($). I think Allen is still a longshot to end up in the class, but he's a viable alternative should the unexpected happen with Laquon Treadwell.
While Green got most of the attention, he may not have been the recruit closest to pulling the trigger this weekend; 2014 OH LB Michael Ferns told 247's Steve Wiltfong that committing "crossed my mind" during the BBQ ($). At this point, Ferns is the clear favorite to kick off Michigan's 2014 class.
Another 2014 prospect who could make an early commitment is IL CB Parrker Westphal, who told Wiltfong that Michigan is "still the standard" in his recruitment following the BBQ ($).
2014 WI DE Conor Sheehy picked up an offer at the BBQ, according to 247's Clint Brewster ($). The 6'4", 260-pound rising junior also holds an offer from Wisconsin and says he has no timeline for a commitment.
After visiting with a group of Cass Tech teammates, CB Damon Webb gave Sam Webb($) a top four of Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, and LSU. Webb holds offers from all four as well as Toledo, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Thus far the 2014 quarterback discussion has mostly centered around in-state prospect Chance Stewart and Ohio product DeShone Kizer, but there's a non-Midwest name on the radar: OK QB Coleman Key, who's now driven(!) to Ann Arbor twice and was told by the coaches he's the #1 target at the position, according to Tremendous. He's now got Michigan in his top three with Oklahoma and Texas and is waiting to get an offer from one of those schools.
2014 Grand Rapids Christian OL Tommy Doles says Michigan is the school he's "looking into the most," according to Tim Sullivan ($).
Michigan has also made an impression on Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake teammates OL Mason Cole and ATH Artavis Scott, who were both at the BBQ. Cole told Sam Webb that Michigan is "definitely" one of his top schools($), while Scott said "hell yes" when asked by Tremendous if the visit helped Michigan.
Treadwell Visits: Probably Happening
IL WR Laquon Treadwell's recruitment continues to show that having four dedicated recruiting services often means you get four slightly different—or even wildly disparate—quotes in the span of a couple days. Here he's quoted by Sam Webb in the Detroit News last Thursday [emphasis mine]:
For his part, Treadwell says he will visit Oklahoma State soon. Whether he will take trips after that remains to be seen.
"August," replied Treadwell when asked when he would make his way down to the Sooner State. (After that) I'll probably take officials, but I'm not sure."
The next day, Treadwell gave this statement to ESPN's Kipp Adams:
"I am going to take some officials to LSU, Auburn, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State," Treadwell said. "I should be ready to make my decision after I see a couple of schools."
247's Keith Neibuhr got this quote on Sunday:
Along with the Wolverines, Illinois, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State make up Treadwell's top five, he said.
"I haven't decided when I'll make my decision," Treadwell said. "I'll probably just have it randomly -- when I'm ready and comfortable. I really want to see those schools over again before I make a decision. I've been to Illinois, Michigan and Michigan State. I want to get to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State."
According to the 6-feet-3, 195-pound Treadwell, Auburn, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State probably will get official visits from him. Florida is another school he might check out, and soon.
"I'm dying to get up there with (Florida commits) Vernon [Hargreaves] and Tre [Bell]," Treadwell said. "The coaches are wanting to get me up there, so they can offer me a scholarship and I can see everything."
When might that visit happen?
"Whenever I can when I'm down here," he said. "Maybe this weekend."
So, as he's maintained throughout his recruitment, Treadwell is going to take some visits. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State appear to be lined up for August, while LSU and Florida are two schools that only recently showed major interest—he's mentioned each as a potential visit destination, but he's done this before when new schools pop up on the radar without anything coming to fruition. I still think this one's just a matter of time.
Webb's article above also discusses the situation with FL DB Leon McQuay III, who moved Michigan out of his top three after the commitment of Ross Douglas:
"He didn't drop (Michigan)," clarified McQuay's father, Leon McQuay Jr. "They wanted to move on the Penn State commit and they informed us on Tuesday. It came down all of a sudden. But Leon is not ready to commit. It's a business and I understand that. I had a conversation with his head coach, and between the two of us and the conversations he had with the coaching staff at Michigan, he kind of thought that it was best that if there is no (definite) scholarship available, why would they be in his top three?"
Florida State has taken Michigan's spot alongside USC and Vanderbilt, though there's still mutual interest. Yesterday news popped up that McQuay would make his announcement today, but that isn't happening. That's probably for the best, as given the above the Wolverines would probably be on the outside looking in if McQuay made a decision now.
A few happy trails to report this week: FL CB Vernon Hargreaves III committed to Florida, MD CB Kendall Fuller pledged to join his brothers at Virginia Tech, and KY DE Jason Hatcher adds to the ridiculous recruiting haul at USC.
BREAKING: RECRUITING SERVICE ACKNOWLEDGES EXISTENCE OF OTHER RECRUITING SERVICES
Well, it's about damn time this happened, even if 247 won't mention their competitors by name:
In an effort to communicate a more accurate evaluation of prospects and recruiting classes for fans, 247Sports is pleased to launch the 247Composite rating/ranking system for college football and basketball recruiting.
The 247Composite Rating is a proprietary algorithm that compiles prospect "rankings" and "ratings" listed in the public domain by the major media recruiting services. It converts average industry ranks and ratings into a linear composite index capping at 1.0000, which indicates a consensus No. 1 prospect across all services.
247 is now basing their team rankings on the composite formula, which weighs Rivals's, Scout's, and ESPN's rankings equally with their own. MGoUser Turd Ferguson has helpfully compiled the composite overall rankings of Michigan's commits and targets of interest:
Here's where the Michigan recruits landed in 247's calculation of the four-site average:
16. Shane Morris
55. Dymonte Thomas
62. Kyle Bosch
74. Patrick Kugler
82. Chris Fox
114. Henry Poggi
116. Mike McCray
122. David Dawson
133. Logan Tuley-Tillman
137. Taco Charlton
146. Jourdan Lewis
153. Jake Butt
191. Ben Gedeon
203. DeVeon Smith
215. Gareon Conley
242. Wyatt Shallman
301. Maurice Hurst, Jr.
311. Jaron Dukes
355. Ross Douglas
541. Csont'e York
641. Khalid Hill
Also of note:
40. Leon McQuay
41. Laquon Treadwell
60. Derrick Green
I don't see Channing Stribling or Scott Sypniewski in the top 1250.
Unfortunately, this is a really good idea that appears to be marred by some seriously flawed methodology, as noted in the comments of the above board post:
Ross Douglas is ranked the Composite #355 overall prospect (#28 CB) while Darian Hicks is ranked the Composite #256 overall prospect (#24 CB). Rivals, Scout, ESPN, & 247Sports all have Ross Douglas ranked above Hicks in their indvidual rankings so it is unclear how Douglas is lower in the Composite.
The rankings are using the top n lists from each site and averaging a player's overall ranking in those lists, but if a player isn't ranked on the top list by a particular service, it's omitted entirely from the average. Thus, you get this:
They only used inputted the data from each services top prospects lists(Rivals 250, ESPN 300, Scout 300) into their system. Because Hicks is not ranked in any those lists, he maintains only his 247Sports ranking (which turns out to be his highest). Douglas is ranked by a lot of those lists and that actually ends up bringing his ranking down because it is below his 247Sports ranking.
Hopefully there will be a formula tweak in the near future; otherwise, this is great for comparing recruits who made it onto all four lists, and totally worthless otherwise.
Morris, Treadwell, Bailey At Gridiron Kings
Michigan's top non-coach recruiter wasn't present at the BBQ, as Shane Morris instead was in Florida competing in the Gridiron Kings 7-on-7 tournament, where he piloted his Midwest squad to the finals before falling to a stacked Southeast team. Morris impressed on day one, according to Josh Helmholdt ($)...
In general, the quarterbacks did not have a banner day on Saturday. Morris was the best when he was on and made some spectacular throws downfield. He also had times when he had trouble going through his progressions and getting the football where it needed to be on time. Overall, though, Morris was solid and helped his team put a lot of points on the board despite its 1-2 record in pool play. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound passer let the fastball rip on a number of occasions, but also varied his speed and was spotting his passes well most of the day.
...but failed to make the top performers lists after day two, when he threw a couple of picks to Leon McQuay III in the finals. He did, however, display a strong rapport with Laquon Treadwell, again via Helmholdt ($):
Warren (Mich.) De La Salle quarterback Shane Morris is committed to Michigan and Crete-Monee (Ill.) wide receiver Laquon Treadwell has the Wolverines as his favorite. It remains to be seen if the two will hook up in college, but they connected more than any other wide receiver-quarterback duo over the course of the two days.
When it came time to name a top performer for Sunday, Rivals's Chris Nee went with another Michigan target, FL WR Alvin Bailey:
Bailey didn't win offensive MVP honors, which went instead to his quarterback, Brice Ramsey. But Bailey nonetheless had an outstanding day in the Gridiron Kings Championship. He showed the ability to stretch the field and get a step on vertical routes against defensive backs while also displaying great work in the middle of the field and underneath. He had numerous big receptions and regularly found the end zone.
Treadwell also earned mention as the #6 overall Sunday performer.
Quick 2014 Updates
Michigan has handed out scholarship offers to the top national prospects at running back in the 2014 class, but hadn't given one to a Midwest back until this week, when they offered Marion (OH) Harding RB L.J. Scott, according to Tremendous. Scott is a big back at 6'0", 215 pounds, and also holds an early offer from Kent State.
Two blue-chip 2014 prospects say they'll be in Ann Arbor for a game this fall. Behemoth GA OT Orlando Brown Jr. had to cancel a visit set for earlier this month, but says he's "definitely going to go up" to Ann Arbor ($). TX CB Edward Paris, the #10 overall prospect in the early Top247, wants to check out the Alabama game($), though since that's a neutral-site game he would not be an official visitor.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses early returns on Shane Morris at the Elite 11 finals, 7-on-7 highlights of Khalid Hill and Csont'e York, and a few happy trails in both the '13 and '14 classes. Also included is an interview with 2014 TX CB Nick Watkins.
Arm Cannon: Engaged
Embedded again, both for informative purposes and so I can make a "Tom Luginbill got his watch from a Happy Meal" joke.
The Elite 11 finals are under way in California, and naturally they feature Shane Morris throwing a football a very long distance:
So the QBs are throwing 55 yards at a target, Shane Morris dropped back to the 35 and hit the End line, 75 yards
— Scott Kennedy (@ScoutKennedy) July 19, 2012
Shane Morris, Warren (Mich.) De La Salle: Morris clearly has the biggest arm at the event and loves to show it off. But this is even more encouraging: He is improving his touch and the ball didn't sail on him nearly as frequently as it has in past showcases. His long ball wobbled a bit, but it wasn't too concerning. Morris' ceiling is very, very high.
And his Day 2 performance even moreso, as he landed atop Farrell's list of standouts ($):
1. Shane Morris, Warren (Mich.) De La Salle - Morris earned the gold jersey for the afternoon after winning the accuracy contest in the morning and he continued his fine play in 7-on-7 situations. While all of the quarterbacks have been encouraged to check down quickly, Morris keeps his eyes downfield more than others, has a cannon arm and fit the ball into some tight windows. He still clearly prefers to throw to his left so he needs to work on field vision, but he has shown the most overall tools through two days.
The lefty's tendency to focus on only half of the field appears to be the area he must work on the most, as it also cropped up in Scout's rundown of the second day's top performers ($):
4. Shane Morris - There shouldn't be much question of who has the strongest arm any more. Including the college players acting as counselors, the strongest arm at the Elite 11 Finals belongs to Morris. When push comes to shove, Morris has a laser-like focus on the left side of the field. That's a habit he'll need to outgrow.
That arm, though; counselors at the event include Georgia's Aaron Murray and Clemson's Tajh Boyd, and if Scout is to be believed Morris already has more arm strength than those two.
With the event still ongoing, I'll have more on Morris's Elite 11 performance in Tuesday's roundup. Other early standouts include Miami commit Kevin Olsen, USC commit Max Browne, and Notre Dame commit Malik Zaire.
Khalid Hill And Csont'e York 7-on-7 Highlights
GBW's Josh Newkirk recently uploaded Maximum Exposure player highlights from the IMG 7-on-7 National Championships, giving us a close look at tight end commit Khalid Hill...
...as well as wide receiver commit Csont'e York:
Hill's more extensive highlight reel suggests that he was a more frequent target of Morris at the event, and you can see why: he does a nice job working underneath the coverage as well as finding space up the seam. York gives defenders trouble with his length, but the brief clip doesn't tell us a whole lot more about him as you can't see him run most of the routes.
Speaking of MaxEx, 247's Steve Wiltfong recapped their summer performances thus far, including blurbs on Morris, York, Hill, Jourdan Lewis, Damon Webb, and Malik McDowell.
Not much news on the 2013 recruiting front this week, but we do have a few happy trails, unfortunately.
It should come as no surprise that TN RB Jordan Wilkins pledged to Auburn after previously eliminating the Wolverines from contention. VA RB Derrick Green is now the lone remaining running back target in the class.
There had been some talk of five-star FL CB Vernon Hargreaves III putting Michigan back into the mix in his recruitment, but he tweeted yesterday that he won't be able to visit Ann Arbor; he's releasing a top five momentarily, and the Wolverines won't be on it.
HI DT Scott Pagano named a top four of LSU, Alabama, Florida, and Clemson, and will name his choice on August 10th ($). He hasn't visited Michigan and I don't believe the coaches are taking another defensive tackle regardless.
OH LB Michael Ferns has already narrowed his list down to a final three of Michigan, Penn State, and Notre Dame. ESPN's Jared Shanker reveals he's also ahead of the game when it comes to academics:
Ferns will return to the Red Devils basketball team after taking his sophomore year off. His head coach at St. Clairsville, Brett McLean, said Ferns will be in the running for valedictorian in 2014, and to top it off the imposing, hard-hitting linebacker is preparing to go pre-med when he gets to college.
"As soon as I got into high school science and math stuck out for me," Ferns said. "From a social aspect, I feel like I could make (football and pre-med) work. Every college at this level is going to have a great education. I'm focusing on going to school but also the opportunities I'll have after my four years and what it takes to finish up pre-med."
[ed-S: Med School rankings by USN&WR, just sayin': Michigan-10th; Penn State-unranked, at least worse than 110th; Notre Dame-doesn't have one]
Matt Pargoff recently caught up with Ferns, who says he's looking to make a decision by the end of his junior year, and he plans on graduating early. Ferns made trips with his whole family to Notre Dame and Penn State, but on his prior visit to Ann Arbor was accompanied only by his father; he plans to rectify that situation for next weekend's BBQ at the Big House.
Those hoping Cass Tech CB Damon Webb would make an early decision to Michigan might want to temper those expectations after Webb camped at LSU and came away with an offer ($). Webb's father told Allen Trieu that a decision won't come until "probably this time next year," and they'll make a return trip to Baton Rouge before then. He's also quoted by Steve Wiltfong($) as saying that "LSU is right up there with Michigan." Webb is looking like a top-100 player who will garner attention from a who's-who list of national powers, which gives me the feeling his recruitment is far from over, even though Michigan holds home-field advantage.
Here's a fun example of why I don't often post links here when recruits say they want to visit a school but don't set a date. Two days ago, 247's Todd Worly posted an article on FL ATH Javon Harrison containing this quote($):
“I’ll try to visit [Michigan],” Harrison said. “I’ll try to go this fall during the week, and I probably could make it for a game. Probably both.”
On the same day as the article was posted, Harrison announced his commitment to Virginia Tech. It's always a good idea to take any quote like the above with a grain of salt when it's given to a reporter from a team-specific site.
Joining Harrison in the happy trails category are AZ OT Casey Tucker, who pledged to USC this week, and SC LB K.C. Crosby, who will choose on Sunday between a final five that doesn't include Michigan ($).
An Interview With Nick Watkins
TX CB Nick Watkins has already garnered offers from Michigan, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M. He's also ranked as the #36 overall prospect in the class of 2014 by 247. At 6'0", 180 pounds, he has frame to be an elite cornerback, and with those early offers it's easy to see him maintaining his blue-chip status through the recruiting process. I had the chance to briefly chat with Nick earlier this week, and here's the transcript of our interview:
ACE: First of all, which schools have been in contact with you the most so far, and how many offers are you up to?
NICK: I am up to I think 13, and all of the schools have been in contact with my coaches about me.
ACE: Do you have any favorites or a top list right now?
NICK: Nah, not really, all of them are at the top right now.
ACE: What do you know about Michigan, and what was your reaction to getting an offer from them?
NICK: I know that they're a winning program, with great tradition. My reaction was surprised because they hadn't sent me any mail or been in contact with my coaches until the last week of spring football.
ACE: Now that they've offered have you been in touch with the coaches more? If so, which coach or coaches do you talk to?
NICK: Yes, I have been. I talk to Coach Mallory and Coach Funk.
ACE: What schools have you visited so far, and do you have plans to take any visits during the rest of the summer?
NICK: I only visited Texas. And nah, not right now.
ACE: I know it's a long way away, but what factors will determine where you want to go to school?
NICK: The education [is] first. So a good business major! Also, where I can compete and get on the field early, a good school atmosphere and a good coaching staff!
ACE: If you had to scout yourself, what would you say is your biggest strength and what do you want to improve before you get to the next level?
NICK: My biggest strength would be my length. I have great hips for a tall corner, and I can make plays! I want to improve my strength right now.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses visits from Alvin Bailey and Jordan Wilkins, the top lists of #1 overall prospect Da'Shawn Hand and other 2014 standouts, and more. Also included is an interview with Michigan's first 2014 offered prospect, UT DT Bryan Mone.
Future Touchdown Dance: The Funky Charleston
Pictured on the right is FL WR Alvin Bailey (photo via his Twitter) from his visit to Michigan on Wednesday. If Bailey and his Seffner Armwood teammate Leon McQuay III both end up as Wolverines, let me present the motion to nickname the duo "Kid 'n Play," both due to Bailey's spectacular high-top fade and the fact that it could spur Special K to play some decent music for once.
Anyway, Bailey was on campus this week, and the four-star receiver came away impressed, according to an interview with TomVH ($, info in header):
"It helped them a lot. I was already up on Michigan, but this definitely helped," he said. "I knew some things about them, but being able to see it in person it meant a lot."
Bailey is in the midst of a slew of trips that has also seen him visit Georgia, South Carolina, Notre Dame and Clemson, with Florida State, Georgia, and Auburn also on the docket for July. The Wolverines and Irish could be at a serious disadvantage, however, as Bailey said this to GBW's Kyle Bogenshutz ($):
One issue that plays against Midwest schools such as Notre Dame (which he visited on this trip as well, right before U-M) and Michigan, however, is the issue of distance from home—something Bailey admits is a factor for him.
“It’s big,” said Bailey. “I’m not going to lie, it’s real big. That’s something that I would probably have to sacrifice, so it’s big.”
Sounds like distance is a big factor, which would not bode well for Michigan's chances. Bailey also mentioned that the Wolverines will only take two more players—not a surprise, considering the current number crunch—and his decision could come either before or after his senior season.
While Bailey got the full tour, TN RB Jordan Wilkins stopped by on Tuesday for a quick three-hour visit, and there's very little in the way of visit reaction from him thus far. 247's Clint Brewster did post on their message board that Wilkins's father, who wasn't on the trip, said the visit went "very well" for Jordan ($). There's discussion of a potential visit later in the summer, which would greatly improve Michigan's chances of getting Wilkins, but for now it's safe to assume that Auburn is still the prohibitive favorite.
In 2013 commit news, Jourdan Lewis was invited to the Army All-American Bowl, joining fellow commits Chris Fox and Mike McCray should he choose to participate (roster here). Michigan also has six commits—Shane Morris, Gareon Conley, David Dawson, Logan Tuley-Tillman, McCray (he'll have to choose just one, obviously), and Patrick Kugler—currently slated to participate in the Under Armour All-American Game.
First Journey Joke Earns a Banhammer
Sam Webb's latest DetNews profile is on 2014 OH LB Michael Ferns, who recently narrowed his list to a final three of Michigan, Notre Dame, and Penn State. While making such a cut this early is unusual, Ferns's father reveals that there's a very good reason his son has eliminated many of the schools pursuing him, including the home-state squad:
"It's not that he doesn't like the coaches, facilities, etc. (at Ohio State)," Mr. Ferns explained. "It's just that he grew up in a town of 3,500, so it's difficult to feel comfortable in a (large) city. It has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that he feels more comfortable in college town settings. Ideally, if Ohio State would work for him, it would be great for me from a geography and local hype standpoint. But if you don't feel comfortable living in a city, you simply don't. It's no different than the kid in the south having no interest in moving north. It's what they know."
He's just a small-town boy, you see, born and raised in [bans self]. The elder Ferns—no word on if Webb stood between the two during the interview, unfortunately—also had very high praise for their recent trip to Michigan and Jerry Montgomery as a recruiter—"He's as strong a recruiter as we've dealt with." As for future visits, Ferns plans to check out a game at all three of his final schools during the fall.
Also getting the profile treatment this week was IL CB Parrker Westphal, whose father spoke at length with TomVH. According to Mr. Westphal, Michigan has set the standard by which his son will measure his other suitors ($):
"I think what better school to base a standard from. Michigan is a big school with a big program, really good academics and facilities," he said. "If he would have gone to Nebraska first, though, that's a big school with modern facilities. That might have been the standard."
It doesn't mean that U-M is Parrker's favorite, but it is up there.
Westphal's father mentioned that Parrker would like to finish up his recruitment "sooner rather than later," but there's no rush as they make sure to examine each school carefully.
OH DB Darius West was one of the standouts at Michigan's camp, and although he didn't pick up an offer, he's got serious interest and reciprocated by putting the Wolverines in his top two with childhood favorite Ohio State, according to Matt Pargoff. You'll also enjoy this quote that he gave to Sam Webb ($):
Sam Webb: Talk to me about Michigan State. How did that camp go for you?
Darius West: “I mean, if I had to rank Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan camp, Michigan State would be third.“
West told Pargoff he'd like to decide by the end of his junior year, so he's one to keep a close eye on if Michigan comes through with an offer. He told Webb he's being recruited at both corner and safety at the moment.
247's J.C. Shurburtt caught up with the nation's #1 overall prospect for 2014, VA DT Da'Shawn Hand, and got an early top seven from him: Virginia Tech, Ohio State, UNC, Clemson, USC, Alabama and Michigan. VT seems to have the early edge—he's visited campus twice and mentions Bud Foster as his favorite recruiter—but he's yet to visit most of the schools on his list, including Michigan.
Happy trails to MI WR Drake Harris, who committed to Michigan State on Wednesday over Michigan and Notre Dame.
Quickly: Clint Brewster reports that Michigan offered CA TE Tyler Luatua, who's pegged as the top tight end in the class in 247's early rankings. Correction from Tuesday's post: TX LB Hoza Scott doesn't yet have an offer, according to Tim Sullivan, but he probably has to visit campus first, which may not happen soon due to the distance factor ($). MI CB Damon Webb continues to see his stock rise, recently picking up offers from Ohio State, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Catching Up With Bryan Mone
I had the chance to chat with UT DT Bryan Mone, a high school teammate of incoming freshman Sione Houma who picked up Michigan's first 2014 offer way back in December. This is the first time Mone has given an interview, and he updated me on the status of his recruitment, his current size and preferred position, and a potential visit next week:
ACE: First of all, how's everything going with your recruitment? Which schools are in contact with you right now?
BRYAN: So far, so good. It's just really a blessing sir. But the schools that I'm in contact with are Utah, BYU, and Utah State.
ACE: Which schools have offered you so far?
BRYAN: All of the three [as well as Michigan].
ACE: I know Michigan gave you their first 2014 offer. Have you been in contact with Michigan at all since then?
BRYAN: Yeah, well kind of. I keep in contact with the D-line coach. I might just go out to Michigan with my dad next week.
ACE: Do you talk to Sione Houma at all now that he's enrolled? What has he told you about Michigan?
BRYAN: Yes I do, I was just talking to him. He told me that it's really good out there and that some of the football players don't know what a Tongan is [laughs] and he was just saying it's a great program and all.
ACE: You mentioned possibly visiting Michigan. Are there any other schools you'd like to check out over the summer?
BRYAN: No sir, just Michigan.
ACE: I know it's early, but do you have any favorites at this point?
BRYAN: All my favorite schools are the ones that offered me and Colorado all because my other cousin told me about Colorado.
ACE: What's your height and weight right now, and what would you like to play at next season?
BRYAN: 6'4" height, 300 weight [Ed-Ace: Up from a listed 6'3", 255 last year]. I'm going to play D-tackle and offensive guard.
ACE: What would you say are your biggest strengths on the field, and what are you trying to improve for next year and the next level?
BRYAN: My biggest strengths are mainly [being able to play] on the line on both sides of the ball. I am trying to improve on my speed and strength for next year and the next level.
ACE: When looking at schools, what do you think will be the biggest factors in your decision? Do you know when you'd like to make a choice?
BRYAN: First of all my education and how I would fit in the program and the community and the brotherhood of the football team. I don't know [when I'd like to make a decision] ... like you said sir I'm still young.