Big Four, Little Ten?
Penn State had a heck of a day on Tuesday, beating out Ohio State—among many others—for four-star OT Sterling Jenkins, at one time the top tackle on Michigan's board, and four-star QB Brandon Wimbush. With 11 composite four-stars among their 15 total commits, James Franklin's program ranks behind only Alabama in the 2015 team recruiting rankings.
Given the circumstances, no school in the country is doing better on the recruiting trail than PSU right now, and they're doing so by dominating not only in-state recruiting, but the entire surrounding region—13 of their commits come from Pennsylvania or one of its bordering states. Michigan's had a fair amount of success in recent years recruiting in Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia; with Franklin around, that success is going to be more difficult to replicate.
Meanwhile, Michigan State's on-field success is now translating to serious consideration from big-time prospects, and not just those from the Great Lakes State. Five-star WDE Jashon Cornell named the Spartans as his leader after visiting for the spring game, and he reiterated that stance in a free article by 247's Steve Wiltfong:
Cornell named the Spartans his leader following a visit to East Lansing for the spring game on April 26.
“I still feel the same way with them,” Cornell said. “They’ve had the best defense in the country the past three years,” Cornell said. “I’m trying to get better as a defensive player, and I feel Michigan State can help me become a better player and one of the best defensive players in the country.”
The Spartans aren’t the only contender for Cornell, who plans to make his college decision on Aug. 28, which coincides with the first day of school and his season opener.
“I have several schools in mind, UCLA, USC, Stanford, Michigan, Penn State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Miami and Iowa,” Cornell reeled off.
With a relatively early decision planned, Cornell could very well end up a Spartan, and such a high-profile commitment could potentially impact the decisions of other top prospects—we've seen this effect right here at Michigan. As for the in-state battles, MSU continues to be a thorn in Michigan's side, as well; the most recent development is their offer of 2016 South Lake four-star Martell Pettaway, who told Allen Trieu the Spartans are the team to beat ($):
"They will be a very tough team to beat. They are number one now. They kept it real with me since day one and showed me a lot of love. At the moment, I am not committing. I'm going to wait it out and rack up offers then look at my decision but it will be hard for anyone to be over MSU since the were the first ones who did it and they were up there always."
These aren't fun developments, of course. Please don't shoot the messenger, especially since the other headlining recruiting news this week is...
Kinnel Gets Alabama Offer
...Nick Saban going after Michigan four-star safety commit Tyree Kinnel. The Tide offered him on Tuesday, though for now, Kinnel isn't wavering in his pledge to the Wolverines, per Scout's Dave Berk ($):
“An Alabama offer means a lot,” he said. “I think it would mean a lot to any kid in the country that plays football. That is a big offer, but as of right now, I’m still 100-percent Michigan.”
There's good and bad here. It's never fun when the specter of Alabama snake-oiling is present; on the other hand, the fact that Saban is showing that much interest is nice validation that Michigan's got themselves a very good prospect in the fold. For positivity's sake, here's to focusing on the latter part.
Rumor Drama, Part Whatever
After four-star Mike Weber visited Notre Dame, Scout published an article with a quote from the Cass Tech back intimating that Michigan was on the outside looking in when it came to his top schools ($):
"Right now I like Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State and Notre Dame," Weber said. "I'm going to wait on a decision though because anything can happen and there's a lot of time left."
This caused something of a message board and social media firestorm, as these situations do. Weber took to Twitter to say he doesn't have a top four, and he talked to Brandon and further clarified the situation:
Mike Weber tells me he has no top 4 and "it's silly" that #Michigan isn't included among his favorites. He'll release a top group soon.
— Brandon Brown (@CoachBrown3) May 6, 2014
While Michigan putting out multiple recent offers to fellow 2015 running backs—most recently, three-star Georgia RB/complete sentence Mikell Lands-Davis—suggests they're not in as strong a postion as they'd hoped with Weber and Damien Harris, the Wolverines certainly aren't out of the picture for either.
New Offer/Peak Highlight Video
Michigan's latest offer to a 2015 lineman went out to WA three-star OT Calvin Throckmorton, who told GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz he's considering a trip from the West Coast to check out Ann Arbor ($):
Just six weeks away from summer vacation, Throckmorton says he plans to utilize his down time to take visits, with a trip to Ann Arbor to see Michigan on his mind as well.
“I don’t think I could really do those really until probably July or sometime then,” Throckmorton said. “But I definitely want to try to get out there to those schools.”
More importantly, somebody set offensive lineman combine highlights to the instrumental from Dr. Dre's "Nothin' But A G Thang" (baaaaaaaby), which is delightfully incongruous.
George Campbell Update
According to an article by Scout's Chad Simmons, Michigan is still hotly pursuing former commit George Campbell ($):
A number of schools are working hard to show Campbell he is high on their list. "Florida, Auburn, UCLA, Michigan, LSU, and USC are recruiting me the hardest," said Campbell.
An article on Cambell by 247's Shea Dixon features... an entirely different, shorter list ($):
“(UCLA coach Taylor Mazzone), (Florida coach Joker Phillips), (Alabama coach Lane Kiffin) and (Florida State coach Lawrence Dawsey) have all probably been recruiting me the hardest,” Campbell said. “I haven’t been talking with a lot of coaches, though. My uncle does.
"I will start taking serious visits and checking out schools, and after summer, I want to at least cut it down to a lower amount of schools and focus on those schools. It’s just a matter of time to see what I want to do.”
Florida and, interestingly, UCLA are the two constants; the Gators are considered the odds-on favorite at the moment. With Michigan failing to earn a mention for a potential official or unofficial visit in either article, expectations for a re-commitment should be very low.
2016 Traverse City West OL Thiyo Lukusa recently visited campus and told GBW's Josh Newkirk that Michigan is "still up there on my list"; also, damn you, polar vortex ($):
Due to 13 snow days this winter, Lukusa says his school year has been extended to make up for lost school time..Which mean his school schedule goes right into Michigan’s football camp season. So as of right now, he says his possible camp visit is pending.
“If I can make it down there one of these days and chill, maybe I can throw the cleats on and the helmet on and work,” he said. “I’ll have the helmet and cleats in the back of my car at all times this summer.”
Michigan checks in at #14 in the ordered top 15 released by 2015 five-star dual-threat QB Torrance Gibson, who currently has Tennessee, Auburn, LSU, and Ohio State on top, in that order. While that doesn't look so good, Gibson told 247's Ryan Bartow($) that Michigan's low placement was due to the fact they haven't offered—and he fully expects one to come once Doug Nussmeier sees him throw—and he later told Steve Lorenz an offer would jump the Wolverines up his list considerably ($):
Gibson tells me a Michigan offer would put them in his top 7 and that he would visit Ann Arbor at some point before ending his recruiting process.
Steve believes, and I agree, that even with an offer Michigan would be a longshot, but getting Gibson on campus would be a nice start towards changing that. The Buckeyes, unfortunately, may be the team to beat once they get him on campus—Gibson said the reason they landed at #4 is because he hasn't had a chance to visit them yet.
Name: Mikell Lands-Davis
Position: Running Back
Ht/Wt: 5’11" / 206 lbs. / 4.53
Location: Alexander – Douglasville, GA (2015)
Offers: Clemson, Michigan, Wisconsin, Cincinnati, Georgia State, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Miami, Middle Tennessee State, NC State, North Carolina, South Alabama, Syracuse, UAB, Wake Forest
Rating: ★★★ .8667 (247 Composite)
Ranking: #525 NAT / #42 RB (247 Composite)
Michigan will be a big time player in the recruitments of both Damien Harris and Mike Weber, but if either of them decide that the Wolverines aren’t for them the coaches will need other options at running back and just a few days ago they offered Mikell Lands-Davis for that reason. The coaches have been after Lands-Davis since mid-April, when they stopped by his high school. Since that visit Lands-Davis was very excited to hear from Michigan and was really hoping for an offer. When it came he couldn’t hold back his excitement.
It was such a blessing when they stopped by to see me. I was just hoping for a Michigan offer. I love the fact that I have them as an option. I’m really excited about it! It was a huge offer for me that I really didn’t expect to get. I’m really blessed.
Coach Hecklinski headed up the recruiting efforts involving Lands-Davis and his pitch to the young running back is one that surely impresses all recruits.
Coach Heck told me to call him and he asked me if I’m seriously interested in Michigan. I said of course! The he asked me if I can tote the rock in front of 115,000 people every Saturday on the biggest stage in football, and again I said of course! Then he offered me and now he said he’ll just be in contact with me and that he’s going to recruit me to Michigan.
Lands-Davis runs with a style that the Michigan coaches like and with a 205 lb. frame, good balance, and a nice burst he appears to be a nice fit into the scheme moving forward. He explained his game in his own words.
I’m 5’11” and 206 lbs. and I run a 4.53. When watching me play you’ll see a physical guy who can hit the homerun play as well. I’m really patient in the hole and I’m either running someone over or slithering to break an arm tackle to get north and south as fast as I can. I’m all about running north and south, it’s the easiest way to score. I get a lot of comparisons to Tre Mason.
I agree with everything Lands-Davis said about himself. His knack for running to positive yardage in a straight line without any wasted energy is noticeable on film.
Even though Lands-Davis is a Georgia kid he said he’s not afraid to move away from home for school.
My recruitment is all just coming real fast to me. Colleges are coming out of nowhere. I got an Indiana offer recently which was really out of nowhere. After spring ball I’m going to look at all the colleges and pick a top 5 or 6 and visit them this summer. I need to see which school is the best fit for me and which school is going to help me be most successful in football and career wise. Michigan will definitely be in my top group. It’s hard not to like them.
I asked Mikell to expand on what makes Michigan so likeable.
I know historically it’s a top 5 program for football with rich tradition. I know they don’t send out offers to just anyone like some other schools do. They are limited and really go after great players which is why I feel so blessed. I know it’s cold (laughs) but it’s big time football.
Lands-Davis isn’t the first recruit to mention how cold Michigan can be but he sees a silver lining in the frigid reputation of the great lakes state.
It would just be something I’d have to get used to. Georgia is nothing but humid so every place has it’s downside. Hardest part of the year here is training camp.
Lands-Davis was actually born in California and moved to Georgia as a youngster. Those west coast roots turned him into a USC fan early on, mostly because of his affinity for Reggie Bush. He admitted with a laugh that an offer from the Trojans would be cool, but he doesn’t really rank them any higher because of that. He says a visit to USC’s campus would be necessary just like for anywhere else.
A visit to Michigan this summer is in the cards for Lands-Davis and then a top group of 5 or 6 will be formed that he says will include Michigan. He has plans for the rest of the spring and summer as well.
I plan on having my top list after spring ball which ends May 16th for me. I plan on making my decision before the season starts and I’m going to visit all this summer and see how everything goes. I haven’t thought about my list much yet, I’m just enjoying the process right now. Michigan will be in there though.
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
Mikell was pretty clear about how much he likes Michigan and with a look at the rest of his offer list, the Wolverines are probably in decent shape with him on name alone. A strong visit to Ann Arbor this summer will go a long way in forming a hierarchy in his top group. Damien Harris and Mike Weber are far from certainties to end up at Michigan and a backup plan is definitely necessary. That being said, it will be interesting to see how aggressively Coach Heck and company recruit Lands-Davis to see how much of a “backup” he actually is.