TMD: A Mother Knows
2016 #1 overall recruit Rashan Gary is expected to be on campus in May, accompanied by his mother, who's playing a very important role in the vetting process. Gary discussed her role in his recruitment with TomVH ($):
“My family being able to see me play is really important. My mom is my everything. Whatever she says and thinks is positive; that’s what I’m going to consider. My mom sees what I see and says all the schools I’m considering are good schools. It’s probably going to come down to me and her putting together a pros-and-cons list and figuring it out.”
Gary visited Michigan and Ohio State recently without his mother, who took a trip to Rutgers instead. (That trip reportedly didn't go very well for Rutgers.) Gary reported back to his mom, of course, and given what she told Sam Webb it sounds like Michigan is in a great position to stake themselves to a lead when she gets to campus with her son ($):
“He liked Ohio State,” said Mrs. Coney. “He didn’t say too much of the school. I think they didn’t spend a lot of time at Ohio State. I think most of their weekend was at Michigan. I know he met with Coach Johnson because he called me and I talked to Coach Johnson. I’ll tell you the difference (between the Michigan and Oho State visits). When he talked to me about Ohio State it was football, football, football. But when he talked to me about Michigan he just told me about the environment, told me about the academics, told me about the dorms, told me about the campus. I spoke with Coach Mattison it was totally a different conversation. One was about athletics, and then Michigan was all about academics and the people, (and) the environment.”
‘Okay Rashan, let me go see it for myself. (laughter).’
Michigan's M-Pact presentation should go over quite well.
Meanwhile, Michigan jumped out to the lead for another Paramus Catholic prospect, three-star WR Donald Stewart, who was offered last week, per 247's Steve Wiltfong ($):
“I talk to Coach Partridge daily,” Stewart said. “He told me that the players he coached that played there have nothing but positive things to say. I talk to Jabrill (Peppers) and Juwann (Bushell-Beatty) and they really like the school so I want to go up there and see for myself.”
The 6-foot-4, 180-pound Stewart plans to see Michigan the third week of May.
According to Wiltfong, Northwestern is currently Michigan's biggest competition for Stewart.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Return Of The Three-Star Mafia
So, about the reaction to Carter Dunaway's commitment. I realize Michigan is trying to pull its way out of a nearly decade-long stretch in which "trust the coaches" went from sage advice to, well, a reason to run away screaming in terror. I realize expectations for Jim Harbaugh are ample. I realize adding a sophomore tight end with one catch and no film may not align with some of those expectations.
All of that said, the zeal with which some commenters here questioned the choice to offer and accept the commitment of Dunaway caught me off guard.* There's obvious potential—he's got the frame to come to campus in the 6'6", 260-pound range. He's got two full years of high school left, and he won't be playing behind a pair of seniors—one a D-I recruit himself—any longer. The legacy angle shouldn't be the first reason to offer him, but it also shouldn't be discounted; as an early 2017 commit, Dunaway can now start recruiting other prospects with a perspective few other recruits have on the program. There's also the whole human decency thing, but this is the internet, which requires a detailed argument in favor of acting human before that'll be taken under consideration.
I'll go ahead and post the thoughts of one specific commenter who jumped into the discussion last night: Craig Dunaway, Carter's father and a former tight end under Bo Schembechler, who handled it all with more grace than anyone could reasonably expect.
As the least objective person on the board...
It's been quite an experience reading these comments.
I thank those who've shared kind and welcoming words (YoOoBoLloBaugh, True Blue Grit, The Mad Hatter, et al.). And I appreciate those who acknowledge he still has two more years of high school to show more tangible merits (True Blue Grit, bronxblue).
I also like the comments from HateSparty. (Or maybe I just like typing HateSparty. HateSparty.)
I understand those who doubt and question an offer to unproven talent (Danwillhor, The J Davis 1, pescadero). I realize you only have the best interests of the program in mind.
To those who attribute Carter's offer to his legacy status (HarBooYa, Big Mike), I hope you realize that's just not the case. If that's all it took, brother Jack wouldn't be dipping into his 529 plan, as WolvinLA2 also points out.
And to those concerned about the dearth of offers, please understand if Carter didn't love Michigan so much, he would've looked around and collected who knows how many others. Instead, he's avoiding the strain of the recruiting process, staying close to home and going to school with his brother.The truth is there aren't a whole lot of 6'6-1/2" 233# 16-year-old kids who can run and catch out there. And that happens to be exactly the type of kid Jim and Jay Harbaugh want playing TE.Sure, Carter's lucky he's so big. He knows that. One of the first things he said after getting the offer is that it didn't seem fair he would be offered and his brother wouldn't, even after all Jack has accomplished.He's lucky to have camped at Michigan, and had so much exposure to the program while his brother was being recruited. But he also knows that means he's got to work harder now than ever before. He's got a target on his back that opponents and even Michigan fans will see every time he takes the field. It will only make him better.If you haven't met Carter or seen him play, I hope you get that chance soon. If not in the next 2 years, then in 2017 or 18, or whenever he gets to enjoy the privilege of playing for the greatest team in college football.Go Blue Forever
I'm not here to say the coaches are infallible, or that Carter Dunaway is a sure-fire All-American, or that there isn't a proper way to express dissenting opinions around here. There is, however, a time and a place, not to mention a certain amount of tact involved, and many of yesterday's comments—some of which have been cleared out by now—were disappointing in that light.
Anyway, Dunaway is in the class, and I expect this commitment will be questioned a whole lot less once he's showcased his ability on film. (People got really angry about this commitment without ever actually seeing the kid play. Which... yeah.) Brother Rice head coach David Sofran told The Wolverine's Brandon Brown that in addition to being a "coach's dream," Dunaway has plenty of potential and will be a critical part of their offense this fall ($):
"He's the type of talent that you can center your offense around. He's very athletic. He has really soft hands and catches the ball well. He can really accelerate after he catches it. I think that will separate him from a lot of tight ends. Once he catches it he can really run. Paul Jokisch (former Michigan wide receiver and Brother Rice standout) was like that. He was a huge guy (6-8, 239 pounds) that could catch and run and I think Carter will be in that conversation." ...
"I think he's probably still growing," he said. "I think once he stops growing taller he'll really start to fill out in his upper body and I think he'll keep his athleticism and be fast at about 255-260 in college down the line. He's still got some growing to do and I think he will get bigger and be even more of a problem."
Welcome to the program, Carter, and thanks for your understanding, Craig.
*Yes, I realize I should know better by now.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Michigan Football: The Clone Wars
Michigan hosted a large group of visitors last weekend, and reactions are beginning to come in, including those from a couple of the top defensive linemen in the country.
The nation's #1 overall prospect, NJ DT Rashan Gary, told Rivals' Adam Friedman that one of the highlights was seeing his former high school coach ($):
"It was exciting seeing coach Partridge again," Gary said. "I gave him a hug as soon as I saw him.
"The visit was a lot like Ohio State," he said. "As soon as I walked into the building the coaches were giving me high-fives, giving me hugs. It was good to see all that love. The campus is set up basically like my hometown is with how the houses are. Everything is together on campus and I like the way it looks. I got to see Michigan's academics. They showed me their great plan for the student athletes."
Gary was also excited to see Michigan offer his 2017 teammate, DE Corey Bolds, on the trip. He told Friedman that both Michigan and Ohio State—considered by many the two programs to beat in his recruitment—will make it into his next top group, which should be determined when he's done with a lengthy list of visits. Among other tidbits, Sam Webb posted on The Victors Board that he believes Michigan made a better impression on Gary than Ohio State ($).
Top-100 IL DE Josh King saw a significant difference in the quality of Michigan's practice under the new regime, per 247's Steve Wiltfong ($):
“Oh man it was pretty cool,” King started in. He had been to Ann Arbor in the past and was really high on the Wolverines prior to last fall.
“Michigan was different with Coach (Jim) Harbaugh stepping in. He completely turned it around. I remember last year we went there and they were struggling to this year they were flying around. They looked better. They look like a much different team.”
King added "you're not going to find a coach like [Harbaugh] anywhere else." It sounds like Michigan is working their way back into the thick of his recruitment.
Four-star PA TE Cary Angeline mentioned to Wiltfong that OH NO CARY THAT WAS OUR LITTLE SECRET ($):
“Coach Harbaugh, his past of breeding tight ends, he’s one of the best at doing that and he said he’s trying to build an army of big fast tight ends and it’s intriguing how he uses his tight end.”
PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE LARGE MACHINE BEHIND THIS CURTAIN. IT'S OUR COFFEE MAKER. WE'RE VERY PROTECTIVE OF OUR COFFEE PRACTICES, AND IN NO WAY CLONING AN ARMY OF COBY FLEENERS.
ANYWAY, Michigan made a strong impression on top-100 NJ WR Ahmir Mitchell, per 247's Steve Lorenz ($):
"They moved way up my list," Mitchell said. "I don't really know specifically right now how much, but I loved this visit. I like it a lot there."
Mitchell, who also visited Ohio State this weekend, also had the Buckeyes in his top group along with Rutgers (leader), Notre Dame, Ole Miss and Virginia Tech.
I'm quickly becoming familar with the Rutgers Effect, in which they offer talented in-state prospects early in the cycle, stake claim to an early lead, and then watch helplessly as other programs shoot past them. The Sun rises in the East, and sets as far away from Piscataway as possible.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Now Touring: The Jim Harbaugh Experience
Remember last summer, when Penn State coach James Franklin ruffled some feathers by hosting satellite camps in Florida and Georgia? Jim Harbaugh is taking the same tack. The Wolverine's Brandon Brown reports that Michigan's coaches will run a camp at Prattville High School in Alabama, which produced 2015 signee Keith Washington, one June 5th. Four days later, they'll do the same in Dallas, per MLive's Nick Baumgardner. It wouldn't surprise at all if additional camps were set up in, say, Florida and California before all is said and done.
This is a great situation for Michigan, of course. The coaches get to see a ton of prospects in states they can't get to during the season, make connections with local coaches, and hopefully make some progress with recruits they've offered. There's really no downside to this that I can imagine.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
NJ DT Rashan Gary may be M's most important target in the 2016 class.
Although the Roquan Smith decision looms, the recruiting focus has almost entirely turned to the 2016 class, one that comes with significant expectations for Jim Harbaugh. While there wasn't nearly enough time in the 2015 cycle for Harbaugh to make a huge splash, 2016 should be the class in which the results start meeting the hype.
With Michigan handing out a rash of new offers in the last couple weeks, this seemed like a good time to take some of your questions.
Biggest Positions Of Need
What do you see as the biggest position of need, outside of possibly quarterback? Our lack of weapons at WR, especially when compared to the elite teams last year, has me leaning that way.
While Michigan will certainly take a receiver or two—with a focus on pulling in a top-flight talent like Dylan Crawford—I don't see that group as the most pressing need in this class. There's plenty of talent on the depth chart left over from last year, and you shouldn't sleep on redshirt freshmen Drake Harris and Moe Ways; both have big-time ability.
Three position groups come to mind immediately. On offense, the O-line is in need of sheer numbers after Michigan took just five total in the last two classes—one of whom, Mason Cole, didn't redshirt and therefore may as well be regarded as a 2013 recruit. The Hoke regime provided Harbaugh with a decent start here; 2016 commit Erik Swenson is a borderline top-100 prospect. Expect Michigan to add at least two more on the line, and preferably more. Given Harbaugh's offense, adding a high-level tight end or two is also a priority.
The biggest need on the team is at defensive tackle. Michigan didn't take one in 2015, and six of the nine DTs on the current roster are in their final two seasons of eligibility—the only exceptions are sophomores Maurice Hurst Jr. and Bryan Mone and redshirt freshman Brady Pallante. While Hurst and Mone have already started contributing, Pallante was an undersized prospect who was initially offered as a grayshirt before Hoke missed out on several D-line targets.
Given how long it usually takes for DTs to develop, landing two recruits there at a minimum is a must. Luckily, Michigan is off to a strong start in the recruitment of Paramus (NJ) Catholic's Rashan Gary, the #2 overall prospect on the 247 Composite.
[Hit THE JUMP for questions on the quarterback outlook, California recruiting, fullbacks(!), and reasonable expectations for the class.]
We've got a vision quest
not so fast my friend
It's not exactly a vision quest because GA LB Roquan Smith has a very good reason for hanging around after signing day: UCLA DC Jeff Ulbrich is apparently taking a position coach job with Atlanta, and that news broke almost at the same time his commit did. Way to go, Jim Mora:
Speculation behind the scenes in the media is that at least one media outlet was aware Ulbrich was going to leave UCLA as long as three weeks ago, but sat on the story until after Signing Day.
“It was common knowledge,” said one reporter. “They just agreed not to report it until after signing day.”
In any case, Smith backed off his commit and is in the wind post-signing day:
Roquan Smith’s coach told the AJC on Wednesday evening that Smith has re-opened his recruitment, and will take a couple of days to figure things out. “He’s going to open things up with his recruiting,” Macon County’s Larry Harold said. “It’s pretty much UGA, Michigan, and Texas A&M – and UCLA is still in it. Coach Ulbrich told him that he hasn’t signed anything yet (with the Falcons), and that he hasn’t made a decision. So I think they are still in it as well. We’re going to sit back for a couple of days and see how this thing plays out.”
Smith's affection for Georgia seems to have been overstated—he did commit to UCLA after all—and 24/7 reports that Michigan feels they are in the thick of it. Keep an eye out. It's probably Georgia now, but stranger things have happened.
Like a running back flipping on the eve of Signing Day
The diaries were graced by a post from one of Karon Higdon's coaches:
I did not get a hint or a hunch on Tuesday or Wednesday morning. There were no clues. Karan went radio silent. Karan is a very mature young man and this was not uncommon for him to focus when it was called for. On Wednesday the crowds gathered and after nearly 200 people piled in to watch the announcement, Karan made his way wearing all black through the court yard. He had two hats in his hands. One Iowa. One Michigan. He looked me in my eyes as I shook his hand and embraced him. In his eyes I saw determination. I still didn't quite know but Iowa would've been my guess. He looked very focused and walked in and took his seat. We went through our announcements until he was the last one left. There was obvious anticipation and his mother was a nervous wreck. She really didnt know and neither did I.
Much longer, and recommended.
On to 2016
Aside from that potential top 50 linebacker and a grad transfer or two, the 2015 class is in the books. Eyes now turn to the 2016 class, which will be a critical one for Harbaugh to establish himself a silverback on the national level. Michigan has 14 seniors and one open slot, so our baseline is 15. Add a reasonable amount of attrition and graduate transfers and Michigan's looking at a class of about 20-24.
What that might look like by position:
QUARTERBACK: 1. Harbaugh takes a lot of quarterbacks and will obviously take at least one. With two in the most recent class, the O'Korn transfer, and no one scheduled to exit for two years, this is likely to be a rare one-QB Harbaugh class. That's even more likely if the #1 guy is CA QB KJ Costello, a national top 50 type who was highly interested in Michigan—like commit-last-summer-until-Hoke-dissuaded-him interested. If he hops on board Michigan might find it hard to grab another guy of sufficient quality to entice. Costello is giving serious consideration to Stanford and USC but even in articles from those sites he has some positive things to say about Michigan:
"Now they have Harbaugh and some big-time coaches surrounding him. I'm definitely interested. He's trying to start something new and build an unbelievable 2016 class and really get things rolling here. He was all fired up and I really dug him. He was cool."
If QB recruiting gets past Costello, OH decommit Messiah DeWeaver is a guy Michigan will keep after. There also seems to be initial mutual interest in national #1 (and Georgia commit) Jacob Eason and fellow five star Shea Patterson.
RUNNING BACK: 1 or 2. Higdon's commitment gives Michigan flexibility here. One is highly likely, as Michigan is going to lose three guys all at once in two years. Two is a possibility.
If the current staff is as interested in IL RB Kentrail Moran as the previous one was, Michigan might not have to wait long to get their first guy in the boat here. Moran flat-out told recruiting sites that he'd probably commit if Michigan hired Harbaugh, and lo, it came to pass. Moran just told an Illinois site that he was "wide open" with no leaders, though, so it seems like Michigan has not reached out to him yet. With 2015 in the books we should know within a couple weeks how serious the current staff's interest is in him.
If Moran falls through or they do take a second there are a couple of instate options: Southfield RB Matt Falcon had a nasty knee injury last year but is still a four-star type, as is Detroit King's Martell Petteway. (Falcon's reported interest in OSU is likely moot after OSU took two 2016 RBs.) GA RB Elijah Holyfield (yes, that Holyfield) almost committed($) to Brady Hoke and was reportedly hyped on the Harbaugh hire.
FULLBACK: 1. You know it's happening. No names yet.
WIDE RECEIVER: 2 or 3. Michigan has as lot of solid options but no blue-chips except Drake Harris and his no good very bad hamstrings. They'd like to change that, and there are a couple of big time options available. CA WR Dylan Crawford is close friends with Costello and visited at the same time he did last year. Fellow CA WR Theo Howard is planning a visit this month($) and gave M the ol' "dream offer" treatment. He seemed to mean it:
"They are my dream school. I know some say dream school and then name four or five schools, but I can say that Michigan is the school I've dreamed of playing for."
There is chatter that Costello, Crawford, Howard, and CA DB David Long would all make a trip to Ann Arbor together($) in the near future. If that does come off that would be major commit watch time.
Michigan also fired off an offer($) to three-star CA slot Demetric Felton. That's his second offer (Utah was first); he's also interested in Duke, so academics are a priority.
There are also options closer to home. Michigan's starting from behind with Detroit King WR Donnie Corley, but you know Harbaugh will be coming at him hard now. Chandler Park WR Jalen Martin is a (currently) three-star option; IN WR Austin Mack is being pursued by all the regional powers and Harbaugh will stick Michigan's name in as well. MSU commit and NJ WR Cameron Chambers will probably get a poke as well in case he's more interested in Harbaugh; he camped last year.
TIGHT END: 1 or 2. HARBAUGH LIKE TIGHT END SMASH. &c.
The prime target here is OH TE Luke Farrell, who figures to be a Michigan-OSU battle if OSU is going to continue recruiting Farrell after getting a commit from Jake Hausmann. CA TE Devin Asiasi would fill Michigan's sudden need for a guy named Devin who loves bucket hats and declared he would officially visit($) as soon as he got an offer. M also offered Philly TE Naseir Upshur, but he's tough to get a read on at the moment.
OFFENSIVE LINE: 3 or 4. Michigan already has IL OL Erik Swenson in the boat. He's strictly a tackle. Traverse City OL Thiyo Lukasa was on the verge of committing to Michigan early, then dropped M entirely during The Troubles and now sounds interested again. If Harbaugh goes after him hard I would bet he gets him.
Fellow in-state OL Michael Jordan is impossible to Google but has seven picks for M in on the 247 Crystal Ball, all of which date back to the Hoke era. Like Corley, they're currently behind but that could change in a hurry here.
Regionally, WI OL Ben Bredeson is a major national prospect who expressed a lot of interest in Michigan early. Can Harbaugh overcome the natural gravity of the Badgers? Virginia's Clark Yarborough visited Michigan twice last summer and spurred a rash of M predictions before things went south
DEFENSIVE END: 2. Still more depth required here. One of Harbaugh's first offers was to AZ DE Connor Murphy, the brother of former Stanford DE and current NFLer Trent. He was very excited about the opportunity.
In-state DE Khalid Kareem momentarily committed to MSU but put himself bac on the marker two days later; Michigan is after IL DE Josh King, though the current trend is OSU on him. Staggeringly huge Cinci DE Prince Sammons (6'8", 280) was interested last summer.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE: 2 or 3. A major need after zero in the 2015 class, tackle will be addressed in depth. The #1 target is also the #1 player in the country: NJ DT Rashan Gary of Paramus Catholic. Michigan has a couple of Paramus kids on the roster and hired his old high school coach in a recruiting capacity. Meanwhile his new high school coach played for Harbaugh in the NFL. That doesn't guarantee a commit but it should mean Michigan has an inside track.
There aren't a whole lot of other names out there other than Cass Tech OG/DT Michael Onwenu. As with many local guys, Michigan is behind right now with the transition and rush to finish the 2015 class but has the potential to move up quickly.
LINEBACKER: 3. Michigan has MD LB Dele Harding committed. Other than that, names have yet to pop up. Other than the best name: IL LB TUF BORLAND. Wisconsin will be tough (tuf?) competition, though they just changed coaches as well.
DEFENSIVE BACK: 3. This is also a spot where realistic names are currently thin. Michigan will go after PSU commit LaVert Hill, the brother of Delano, until such time as they're told not to.
Michigan is in the top eight for NJ ATH Ahmir Mitchell despite little contact thus far from Harbaugh. VA CB Patrice Rene first made a name for himself as a Canadian kid who showed to Michigan's camp; he is a high academic kid who should be interested in what Michigan has to offer when the staff gets around to evaluating him.
SPECIALISTS: 1? K Andrew David arrives and it looks like Michigan is trying to bring in an Aussie to compete with Kenny Allen at punter. Even if they do, the Aussie will be gone and Allen a senior by the time this class hits campus. Michigan could be on the hunt for a punter, especially if they're going heavy into a rugby style Allen may be unfamiliar with.
That's 19-23 guys in what should be a top ten class.