a terrible blight on our fine country
Today's recruiting roundup covers a huge visit weekend, new offers, and more.
Big February Visit Weekend Is An Annual Thing, Apparently
It's that time of the year again, when Michigan rounds up a large group of highly-touted recruits, shows off their program with the coaches and current commits in full-on recruiting mode, and renders me unable to leave my laptop for the weekend. Those hoping for a repeat of last year's eight-man commitapalooza should temper their expectations, but there's nothing wrong with getting excited about the talent that will be on campus ($). Here's a rundown of this weekend's visitors (all are 2014 prospects unless otherwise noted):
- OH LB Michael Ferns and VA QB Wilton Speight — Two of Michigan's three commits—and the two that have been most active in recruiting other prospects—will be on campus doing their best Shane Morris impressions. Both have been mentioned by other prospects as doing an impressive job of selling Michigan.
- OH LB Kyle Berger — Berger hails from the same Cleveland St. Ignatius program that produced Jake Ryan, and it could come down to a Michigan/OSU battle for the four-star linebacker.
- FL OL Mason Cole — If a player is going to commit this weekend, it's probably Cole, a four-star guard who's already made multiple trips up from Florida. Getting Cole would be big in its own right, and it would also give Michigan the inside track at his high school teammates, four-star WR Artavis Scott and 2015 blue-chip ATH George Campbell—both have offers, and Campbell will accompany Cole on this weekend's visit.
- MI WR Drake Harris — This will be the first visit for Harris since his commitment to Michigan State; he's since opened up his recruitment after deciding he'll focus exclusively on football at the next level, though he still remains a soft Spartan verbal. Wilton Speight told Sam Webb he's been talking with Harris on a daily basis and convinced him to spend two days on campus this weekend. While Harris doesn't seem close to making a final decision, a productive visit could move him closer to making a change in his commitment.
- NC RB Elijah Hood — The four-star back had Michigan tied for fifth in his recruitment as of last week, but he's since updated that list and now has the Wolverines in fourth, per ESPN's Kipp Adams ($). This weekend will be key if Michigan hopes to make up ground on Notre Dame, Hood's leader, especially since he plans to make a decision before his senior season.
- MI DE Lawrence Marshall — Marshall briefly committed to Ohio State a couple weeks ago before opening up his recruitment after visits to Michigan State and Michigan forced him to reconsider. I'd expect the Southfield four-star end will take a little longer before making another pledge.
- MI DE Malik McDowell — While McDowell has been a familiar face around Ann Arbor, he's yet to spend a lot of time with the coaches—that should change this weekend, obviously. McDowell has been mum about his leaderboard, but it's believed that Michigan and Notre Dame hold an edge over Ohio State and Michigan State, and this will be a chance for the Wolverines to separate themselves from the pack.
- 2015 FL ATH George Campbell — As said above, Campbell is teammates at Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake with Mason Cole and Artavis Scott, and he appears ticketed for five-star status when the 2015 rankings eventually come out. This will be his first visit to Ann Arbor.
- 2015 MI ATH Brian Cole — Cole projects to be one of the top athletes in Michigan's rising junior class and could end up at receiver or defensive back at the next level. The 6'2" product of Saginaw Heritage already holds offers from both Michigan and MSU. This will be his first visit to Ann Arbor.
- 2015 OH CB Shaun Crawford — Crawford doesn't yet hold a Michigan offer, but that didn't stop him from pegging the Wolverines as his favorites in an interview with Scout's Bill Greene ($). He already holds offers from Illinois and Tennessee and ran an electronic 4.52 40-yard dash at a Nike SPARQ combine last week, so don't be surprised if Michigan comes through with an offer sooner or later.
The only player on this list that can be reasonably expected to commit this weekend is Mason Cole, and that's by no means a guarantee. As we've seen in the past, however, strange things can happen when this many prospects get on campus at the same time.
[Hit THE JUMP for the early leading candidate for dumbest rumor of the 2014 cycle, a couple of new offers, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers Michigan commits as they progress through high school playoff season, USC's latest decommitment and its possible impact on Leon McQuay III, an emerging name along the offensive line, and more.
Jake Butt: TE/DE/OC?
Michigan commits and cross-town rivals faced off for the second time this season as Jake Butt's Pickerington North squad took on Taco Charlton and Pickerington Central in the first round of Ohio's Division I playoffs on Saturday; the result was similar to their first meeting of the year, as North once again shut out Central, this time 24-0, to advance to the next round. Butt was the star for North, even calling his own number to tally a 29-yard score:
“It’s called a hitch-and-go, and he threw me the perfect pass,” said Butt, who had five catches for 122 yards. “I’d been seeing that the play was open throughout the entire game.”
“Jake Butt called that play,” North coach Tom Phillips said. “He saw it and I said, ‘Just be patient.’”
The future Wolverine tight end also tallied a tackle for loss on defense as North held Central to a paltry 93 yards of total offense.
Elsewhere in Ohio's opening playoff round, cornerback commit Ross Douglas rushed for 262 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries, with 212 of those yards coming in the second half, as Avon pulled out a 28-11 victory over Perrysburg. Ben Gedeon carried the ball 18 times for 104 yards and two scores to lead Hudson to an upset over three-seed Canton GlenOak. Gareon Conley—yes, still a commit at this moment—had TD catches of 28 yards and one yard and also scored on a reverse as Massillon defeated Nordonia 63-34.
In Division II action, both Mike McCray (36-yard TD, video here) and Jaron Dukes (5 catches, 66 yards, 1 TD) recorded touchdown receptions as both Trotwood-Madison and Marion-Franklin moved on to the second round with blowout victories. Junior commit Michael Ferns caught touchdowns of 14 and 35 yards for St. Clairsville, which defeated Harrison Central 41-6 in the first round of the Division IV playoffs.
Seasons ended for a pair of Ohio commits, unfortunately, as a banged-up Dymonte Thomas was limited to 79 rushing yards in a 38-0 loss to Poland, while DeVeon Smith's 147 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries weren't enough to overcome Chardon in a 42-16 first-round defeat.
Cass Tech's Jourdan Lewis hauled in a 43-yard touchdown catch in a 42-23 district final win over Dearborn more noteworthy for the work of two running backs—junior Gary Hosey had 143 yards and two scores on 15 carries, while sophomore Mike Weber toted the rock 20 times for 178 yards and a TD. In another Division I district final, Wyatt Shallman had nine tackles, three TFLs, three sacks, and several QB hurries from his defensive end spot in a 45-17 win over Walled Lake Northern, according to his father.
Tim Sullivan caught Malik McDowell in action as Detroit Loyola defeated University Liggett, 50-7, last weekend, and he has free video and a scouting report available over at The Wolverine. McDowell tallied four sacks, all in the first half.
[For the rest of the roundup, including the latest on Leon McQuay III, hit THE JUMP.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers the latest on Gareon Conley, highlight videos of Derrick Green and Channing Stribling, a couple 2014 visits, and more.
Gone-ley? /Slaps Knee
It's been a week since Gareon Conley stated after a game that he intended to take visits, and as of this moment, at least, he's still a Michigan commit. 247's Bill Kurelic reports that may not last long at all, however, as Conley's step-mother says he'll "definitely [take] his visits," with plans to check out Ohio State and Oregon ($):
Angel [Conley] said her son is planning to make official visits to Ohio State and Oregon.
“Ohio State will be an official visit in the next month or so,” she said. “Ohio State and Oregon will be official visits.”
Nothing has been set up yet, at least, and Sam Webb noted on Scout's board($) that Conley has spoken with the coaches and knows his spot in the class is at stake—Webb also said Conley is still pondering visits, of course. In my opinion, it's tough at this point to see a scenario in which he doesn't take a look around.
If there's good news for Michigan, it's that they have one of Conley's closest confidants in their corner: his father, per Scout's Kyle Bogenschutz ($):
“Everything just seemed real good up there. I love Michigan and I’m pushing him to go to Michigan. But at the end of the day it’s still his decision. I’m rooting for Michigan.”
“As far as Oregon and Ohio State, those are all good schools too. I can’t put any of them down, but I root for Michigan. At the end of the day, like I said, this is all up to him. If he wants to go see them, I’m behind him, whatever school he goes to.”
Clearly, Mr. Conley is going to let Gareon make his own choice, but it can't hurt to have him pulling for the Wolverines. The longer this process is drawn out, the better it probably is for Michigan—few expected him to make it this far in the first place after last Friday's news.
[Hit THE JUMP for highlights of Channing Stribling and Derrick Green, news on a few 2014 recruits, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup discusses a pair of new 2014 offers, Leon McQuay III's finalized official visit date, and more.
2014 Recruiting Ramps Up
The 2014 recruiting cycle in still in the early stages, but the process is quickly ramping up over the course of the bye week as Michigan's coaching staff finally has (some) free time to review film and visit schools. Two new offers have already gone out this week to a pair of five-star recruits, VA DB Quin Blanding (#6 overall on the 2014 Top247) and VA DT Andrew Brown (#2).
At 6'2", 200 pounds, Blanding has the size and athleticism to play either corner or safety at the collegiate level, though he probably fits best as a safety. He's already garnered offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, FSU, Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Tennessee, UCLA, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia, among several others.
Brown—already listed at 6'4", 282 pounds—has a similarly outstanding offer list featuring Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, FSU, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Miami, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia. The arrow is probably not necessary in his sophomore highlight tape, because he's the one MURDERING SMALL CHILDREN:
Michigan should pursue Brown heavily assuming he isn't imprisoned for any of the above.
Perhaps the top in-state priority for the Wolverines is Detroit Loyola DE Malik McDowell, who received a visit from Brady Hoke on Monday. While NCAA rules prevented Hoke from speaking directly with McDowell, he still managed to make a "huge impression" on both the junior lineman and his coach, according to 247's Steve Wiltfong ($). He did this, of course, by being Brady Hoke [emphasis mine]:
“Spent about an hour or so,” Loyola head coach John Callahan said. “Real good visit. Very impressive. I’ll tell you why. I was extremely impressed with how he, we talked a little about their loss (to Notre Dame on Saturday), and he said his only concern was his quarterback was feeling bad and responsible and he felt really bad for the kid. Really genuine. No excuses or no nothing. He was just worried about his kids. That’s the kind of coach you want taking care of your kids. I was real impressed with his demeanor and he said they had to get better.”
If Hoke ever gets tired of this coaching thing, he's got a surefire fallback career as the world's greatest babysitter.
Curt Mallory, meanwhile, is making the rounds on the Atlantic coast, visiting Baltimore Gilman($)—home of 2013 commit Henry Poggi and 2014 CB offer Troy Vincent Jr.—and 2014 Washington D.C. four-star CB Jalen Tabor, who lumped the Wolverines in with Tennessee, Alabama, and Florida as the schools going after him the hardest.
This is also a time for new prospects to hit the radar, including 2014 Orchard Lake St. Mary's DB Jalen Watts-Jackson, who was outstanding at both cornerback and wide receiver in last Friday's victory over Cass Tech. TomVH scored an interview with the junior prospect, who said that he's hearing from Michigan, MSU, and Purdue, and wants to hear more from the Wolverines—his top school and childhood favorite ($).
[The rest of the recruiting roundup, including the lastest on McQuay/Green/Treadwell, after THE JUMP.]