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 (sigh) the Tuley-Tillman fallout, updated Rivals250, Derrick Green, and a group of new 2014 offers.
The aftermath of the Logan Tuley-Tillman letter-burning continues to get ugly. These are things 17-year-olds should simply never have to deal with:
"I got threats coming at me from everywhere -- death threats," [Tuley-Tillman] said by phone Tuesday. "I got somebody telling me he wants me to burn in hell. I got somebody talking about the Holocaust.
"Why, 'cause I burned your team's envelope? Stuff like that I don’t understand. I’m only 17. It takes a lot of emotion for someone to do that, just over an affiliation to a school.
"But you know what? God bless 'em. I'm moving on."
That's as reasonable a reaction as you could ever expect from anyone, let alone a high school student who's still amazed that their personal Twitter posting could ever possibly go viral. My 17-year-old self would've reacted much differently; namely, how Kyle Bosch reacted:
Before I comment on the tweet, here's Bosch's clarification of the above, via Tremendous:
On the comment: "I'm just trying to defend my teammate and my friend. Logan is like a brother to me and when somebody threatens his life and his family's life, I am going to come to his defense. The gun comment has been taken out of context. I'm only saying that if you're going to threaten my friend and brother that you better bring a gun because if you're truly threatening his life, you'll have to take mine too. I should have realized that it may have been misinterpreted, but it's hard not to be angry when he and his mother have gone through so much".
Bosch's explanation is admirable, in that slightly misguided and naïve high school way of showing true loyalty; his friend came under siege, and he responded in kind. I largely agree with what Adam Jacobi has to say on the whole matter, with one point of contention:
That's what this all comes down to in the long run—idiots. Most college football fans aren't idiots. Most Ohio State fans aren't idiots. Idiots have a way of dominating the conversation, though—particularly online—and as such it's always important to keep one thing in mind before you express yourself online: "How would an idiot respond to this?"
By dealing in death threats, intimidation and casual classlessness, Tuley-Tillman, Bosch and however many Ohio State fans were involved all brought themselves down to the levels of idiots.
What Tuley-Tillman did was not idiotic, it was juvenile, and at the age of 17 he has every excuse to be a little juvenile; his action in and of itself did no harm. The response, of course, was idiotic. Bosch's reaction was less excusable than Tuley-Tillman's initial action, but again, we're talking about kids in high school here; his intentions were good—defending a teammate whose life had been threatened—but the consequences weren't properly considered.
Should Tuley-Tillman and Bosch be more careful about what they post online, considering their new-found status as minor celebrities? Absolutely. But missteps by high school students are very understandable. It's what is being directed at these guys from fans that is truly idiotic. This isn't so much a problem with recruits these days—remember, Devin Gardner did the exact same thing as LTT, but in the pre-Twitter era faced little-to-no backlash—but the level of access fans have to recruits and their misguided* impression that social media affords fans an open forum for hatred without consequence.
Is there a solution for this? Right now, not really: the current state of unregulation makes it difficult for much to be done beyond exposing the idiots. It might not be a bad idea for the coaching staff to step in, talk with the commits about proper social media protocol, and ensure that enough is being done from that end that these situations can be avoided as much as possible.
* Though, admittedly, that impression would be far more misguided if people were actually charged for the laws they break via social media. I'd love to see some of these internet tough guys dragged to court for the threats they make to people who would snap them in half if they ever met in real life.
Rivals250 Released, Bosch Feature, Etc.
After releasing an updated top 100 on Tuesday, Rivals has continued updating their rankings, and now we have current commit movement for the top 250:
- Shane Morris drops from #16 to #22 (still a four-star)
- Mike McCray drops from #44 to #55
- Chris Fox drops from #46 to #57
- Patrick Kugler drops from #54 to #73
- Kyle Bosch drops from #60 to #77
- Dymonte Thomas drops from #77 to #95
- Jake Butt drops from #96 to #118
- Jourdan Lewis jumps from #167 to #147
- David Dawson jumps from #199 to #171
- Wyatt Shallman drops from #160 to #182
- Logan Tuley-Tillman drops from #109 to #235
- Ben Gedeon drops from #226 to #237
Obviously, the big change here is Tuley-Tillman falling over 100 spots, though this isn't a huge surprise considering his recent camp struggles, which can be at least partially explained by a nagging shoulder injury. Otherwise, the movement is pretty minor. For what it's worth, Morris features as one of the recruits on the cusp of five stars.
Conveniently heading off any complaints—Rivals hates us now, Pawwwwwl—Rivals also released their initial team rankings. Michigan is a strong #1, posting 2,301 points, which would've been good for the #5 class in the country in 2012 at the end of the recruiting cycle. The Wolverines are nearly 300 points clear of second-ranked Texas. Other notables include Ohio State (#7), Notre Dame (#9), Penn State (#16), Nebraska (#20), Illinois (#21), Michigan State (#24), Iowa (#31), and Wisconsin (#33).
Interesting side-note: CBSSports's Brian Fischer points out that this year's class has far more consensus about the top players among the various recruiting services than any other in recent memory. As sites like YouTube, Hudl, ScoutingOhio, and others continue to make creating and sharing film a simple proposition, I think rankings will trend in this direction; the more common information, the greater the consensus.
Bleacher Report released a video feature on Kyle Bosch in which he breaks down why he committed to Michigan, his favorite play to run, and his dream prom date:
Brendan Gibbons applauds the selection of two brunettes, but how does this affect the status of Kate Upton, matron saint of Michigan commits?
Derrick Green: Two More Visits?
VA RB Derrick Green, the newly-anointed Rivals #1 running back, remains in close contact with Michigan. According to his interview with Tremendous, Green plans to make not just one, but two trips to Ann Arbor before wrapping up his recruitment:
"I'll definitely be taking an official to Michigan. No question. I'll be up there this summer as well to talk with Coach Hoke since I haven't gotten to talk with him personally yet and then I want to make it out for a game as well".
Sam Webb reportedly had good things to say about Michigan's chances with Green on his radio show yesterday, and this is another very positive sign.
Things could move quickly at defensive tackle for the Wolverines, starting with MA DT Maurice Hurst Jr.'s visit this weekend, one that could quite possibly produce a commitment (remember to practice proper vehicle safety, recruitniks). MD DT Henry Poggi has long been thought to have a summer commitment timetable, and the same appears to be the case for recently-offered TX DT Hardreck Walker, who told GBW's Kyle Bogenshutz that he'll announce before his senior season ($, info in header). Walker is trying to set up a summer visit, though nothing is set in stone, and he has Michigan in his top six schools; we'll see if there's a spot left to take when he's ready to decide, though we'll have to see if he visits before getting hopes up for a commitment.
Quickly: MI K/P J.J. McGrath will camp in the hopes of earning a scholarship offer ($), though it's highly unlikely that Michigan will use a spot on a specialist in this class. TTB scouts AZ WR Devon Allen. Happy trails to IL OL Ethan Pocic, who committed to LSU.
Sam Webb's latest at the Detroit News covers TX CB Nick Watkins, the son of former Detroit Lions defensive back Bobby Watkins. At 6'1", 180 pounds, Watkins has great size for a cornerback, and his coach has high praise for his skill and athleticism:
"The thing about it is you have a corner that is 6-foot-plus that has speed, has great hips, and great ball skills," Bishop Dunne coach Michael Johnson told Scout.com. "I mean, the kid's got arms down to his ankles almost. He's smooth. He's the type of player that makes it look effortless. Him being great off the field in the classroom just makes him that much more marketable. He's the total package."
Watkins tells Webb that he's currently favoring Alabama, Michigan, Arkansas, and Ohio State, with Texas also in the mix, but he's still "keeping it wide open" and won't be making an early commitment.
Michigan sent out a few new sophomore offers recently:
- Four-star TN RB Jalen Hurd added Michigan($) to an offer list that already includes Alabama, Tennessee, Ohio State, and Nebraska. He tells 247's Clint Brewster that he's "definitely going to see Michigan," though nothing is set up yet, and that 'Bama, UT, and OSU are the three schools standing out to him right now.
- IL WR Nic Weishar has picked up offers from a good chunk of the Big Ten recently, and Michigan joined the fray on Wednesday ($). Weishar also holds offers from Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Northwestern, and others.
- SC DT Dexter Wideman has a fitting name considering his 6'4", 275-pound stature. He also now has a Wolverine offer($) to go along with ones from Clemson and South Carolina.
Quickly: Cleveland St. Ignatius OT Jimmy Byrne will visit campus on Sunday. Four-star GA S Nick Glass has set up a visit for June 25th ($). FL WR Austin Roberts will visit in July ($). AL ATH Bo Scarbrough has Michigan in his top four($) along with Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.
Today's recruiting roundup recaps last weekend's visits, attempts to figure out the plans of Su'a Cravens, talks new 2014 offers, and more.
Hey Kid, Come Be Charles Woodson
FL CB/S Leon McQuay III was a relatively surprising visitor last weekend, as Michigan hasn't been mentioned much as a player in his recruitment. That may have changed over the course of his trip to Ann Arbor, however, as the four-star defensive back told GBW's Sam Webb that the Wolverines "definitely jumped up," likely into his top five schools ($). Vanderbilt, USC, Florida, Notre Dame, and Stanford are all in the mix as well. McQuay's visit also revealed the potential recruiting impact of Michigan's "Legends" jerseys:
[Leon McQuay Jr., the recruit's father:] "The one thing that hits me is him possibly wearing Charles Woodson’s jersey. I didn’t know that coming in and the way that they do that with the jersey’s and with the players, that’s major, man, when you can decide what kid is going to have the chance to try to fill those shoes.”
When asked about the idea of wearing Charles Woodson’s #2 jersey, McQuay III was at a loss for words, but managed to eek out a few.
“Definitely the love that the coaching staff showed and the campus is amazing and the Big House is amazing, it’s crazy,” said McQuay III.
While McQuay plays safety in high school, Michigan is recruiting him as a cornerback, which is his preferred college position ($). He will graduate from high school in December and enroll early at his school of choice, though there's no concrete timetable for a decision.
Another big-time defensive back considering the Wolverines is CA S Su'a Cravens, who's been the subject of some confusion this week. HuskerOnline reported earlier this week that Cravens was down to three schools($)—Michigan, Nebraska, and USC—and would visit Michigan and Nebraska later this month, but Cravens took to Twitter to refute that report. Cravens's father told Scout's Brandon Huffman yesterday that UCLA, USC, Ohio State, and Michigan are Su'a's actual leaders($), and Rivals's Adam Gorney tweeted today that Cravens will visit Michigan and Ohio State this week, and he may visit Nebraska after if he's so inclined. He'll also visit USC and UCLA once more before deciding on June 6th. The sense is still that Cravens will end up with the Trojans, but we'll see where things stand after his Midwest trip.
While pulling in McQuay or Cravens would be a coup, the Wolverines appear to have a much better shot at MA DT Maurice Hurst Jr., who has now named a top two of Michigan and Virginia ($, info in header). Hurst has set his visit to Ann Arbor for June 2nd, and he plans to decide after his trip—the signs are very positive here. Still, the Wolverines aren't taking any chances at DT, offering TX prospect Hardreck Walker over the weekend, according to Tremendous. Walker stands at 6'2", 280 lbs., and is a four-star on Scout and a three-star to Rivals and 247.
The other big position of need in this class is still wide receiver, and Michigan isn't banking on a commitment from Laquon Treadwell, or, at least, not putting all of their eggs in that basket. MD WR Paul Harris will visit Ann Arbor this summer, and has Michigan in his top four($) along with USC, Tennessee, and Penn State. Tim Sullivan reports that IN WR Mike Rogers will camp at Michigan this summer in the hopes of earning an offer ($). AZ WR Devon Allen has long maintained that he'll see Michigan as part of a Midwest trip, and while Allen states that the Wolverines are still among his favorites, due to his extremely busy track schedule those plans are up in the air ($).
Quickly: VA DE Wyatt Teller now includes Michigan in his top three with Virginia and Virginia Tech, according to Tremendous. TN RB Jordan Wilkins is looking to narrow his list and tweets that the Wolverines are "up there" with Auburn, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, and Ole Miss. IN DE Elijah Daniel names a top 15 that does not include Michigan ($). Happy trails to VA DE Jonathan Allen, who committed to Alabama yesterday.
While McQuay was the only 2013 visitor last weekend, Michigan also hosted a few sophomore prospects, including four-star in-state QB Chance Stewart. Stewart and OH QB Deshone Kizer appear to be the top two targets at quarterback for the 2014 class, and the coaches want to get a better look at each player before deciding who to offer. Stewart sat down with Al Borges on his visit, according to Tremendous, and Borges reiterated that Michigan would like to see Stewart in a camp setting before extending an offer.
Tremendous also caught up with OH OL Nathaniel Devers, who visited on Saturday and said "Michigan might be my school," though he'll have to earn an offer first—the coaches are still waiting on film. Devers comes from the powerhouse Massilon Washington program, which is the home of 2013 commit Gareon Conley (as well as the former school of ex-Wolverine Justin Turner). OH LB Dante Booker was also on campus over the weekend, and his father told GBW($) that Booker "enjoyed the visit," though he also offered the not-so-lofty praise "he is not ruling them out at this time."
Michigan offered three early Top247 prospects recently. TN WR Josh Malone also holds offers from Tennessee, Nebraska, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, and others, and has interest from Alabama—he got his offer from Mark Smith last week ($). CB Nick Watkins plans to check out Ann Arbor this summer while visiting family in Detroit($)—he added Michigan to an impressive early offer list that includes Arkansas, Alabama, and Texas A&M. MO OL Roderick Johnson recently picked up his first offers($) from Michigan, Iowa, and Missouri—at 6'7", 310 lbs., he's got prototypical tackle size as a sophomore in high school.