T-Minus Six Days
As we reach the last week before Signing Day, Jim Harbaugh and Co. don't seem to be sleeping, and they're being sustained by meals eaten on in-home visits. (Sorry, guys, but Bryan Mone is already on the roster.) Steve Lorenz published a free rundown of everything that happened just in the last 24 hours, and it was necessary.
I'll start with the latest round of offers. Michigan went after a trio of committed running backs, and while two—Texas Tech pledge Corey Dauphine and future Arizona Wildcat Orlando Bradford—politely declined to take official visits, Wisconsin commit Titus Booker will be on campus this weekend. Booker is one of the few prospects whose 40 time contains no FAKEs; he ran a 10.68 100-meter dash to finish second in the state of Illinois last year. He's a solid all-around athlete, as well—the Badgers recruited him as a cornerback.
Michigan also convinced two committed receivers to take officials this weekend. Four-star TN WR Van Jefferson received interest from the previous staff, and while he's an Ole Miss commit now, the Wolverines aren't as unlikely of a choice as one might expect from a recruit with his profile—Jefferson is a Detroit native who didn't leave the area until his junior year, per Lorenz. The coaches also offered CA WR Deontay Burnett, a Washington State commit. Given what he told Rivals' Adam Gorney, Burnett may be harder to convince to flip than Jefferson ($):
It could be tough to pull Burnett away from Washington State especially since he likes the pass-happy offense so much and that he's been committed for months. The three-star sees a lot of opportunities in Pullman so a late push even by Michigan might not be enough.
"I love the offense there," Burnett said. "As a receiver it's pretty attractive that their offense throws the ball a lot."
Finally, M also offered three-star AL CB Keith Washington, who committed to Cal just four days ago. I haven't seen any indication regarding whether he'll visit.
[Hit THE JUMP for news on Ty Wheatley Jr. Chris Clark, Iman Marshall, Mike Weber, and more.]
Zach Gentry: Eyes Off Texas?
In recent days, Texas has turned up the heat on their pursuit of 2015 five-star QB Kyler Murray, a Texas A&M commit, even getting him to take an unofficial visit to Austin.
What does this have to do with Michigan? Well, Texas already has a 2015 QB commit: 6'7", 230-pound NM four-star Zach Gentry, who pledged to the Longhorns last May and has turned down overtures from the likes of Alabama and Tennessee since. With Texas eyeing Murray, Jim Harbaugh visited Gentry in Albuquerque on Monday, and things are moving quickly. Gentry removed "committed to Texas" from his Twitter bio, and multiple outlets, including Wolverine247, report that he'll take an official visit to Ann Arbor this weekend.
Just like that, Michigan may very well be the favorite to end up with him:
— Mike Farrell (@rivalsmike) January 22, 2015
What would the Wolverines be getting? Scout's free evaluation makes him sound like an ideal fit for a Harbaugh offense:
Gentry is an intriguing quarterback with NFL size but surprising mobility for a big man. He has a downfield arm and can make every throw but also shows the ability, when flushed out of the pocket, to run for positive yards. He looks to have a good feel in the pocket and doesn't panic when the rush comes at him. He can keep his eyes down the field and throws an accurate ball whether in or outside of the pocket-Biggins
The film backs that up; other than some mechanical issues with his delivery, there's little not to like there.
Jay Harbaugh checked out another under-the-radar QB, California prospect Anthony Gordon. Gordon, like McLane Carter, was very productive in high school on a title-winning team but hasn't generated much in the way of college interest or attention from the recruiting services.
[Hit THE JUMP for a couple impending announcements, a rundown of weekend official visitors, and much more.]
Official Visits Wrapup
This guy is a legend pic.twitter.com/nD6MewDzAT
— Chris Clark (@Clark8Chris) January 18, 2015
While Michigan's big official visit weekend hasn't yet produced a commitment, it certainly moved the needle for some of the program's top targets. Four-star CT TE Chris Clark—who appears to have rocked khakis on his visit, based on the above picture—was already familiar with Michigan's campus. He came to Ann Arbor to meet Jim Harbaugh, and told MLive that couldn't have gone much better:
"It's crazy, he's really intense, and you really like that," Clark told MLive on Sunday. "He grew on me a lot. I didn't know what to think at first, I wasn't sure what he'd be like. But once I left, he really, really grew on me.
"He's the best coach I think I've sat down with. I just think he's awesome."
An important note: Clark had an in-home with UCLA's Jim Mora last week. Clark now says his two finalists are "neck and neck" heading into this weekend's official visit to UCLA; Harbaugh will have an in-home with Clark after that visit, hopefully allowing him the last word in the process. Momentum looks to be swinging Michigan's way, though we'll see if that changes after Clark sees UCLA's campus for the first time. Clark is slated to make his decision on Signing Day in a televised ceremony on ESPNU.
Michigan also made significant progress with top-50 GA LB Roquan Smith; per TomVH, the Wolverines are poised to make the cut when Smith narrows his list to three ($):
Heading into the trip, Smith had Florida, Georgia, Michigan and UCLA as his likely top four. He has yet to take his official visit to UCLA, but says he should have news before that trip.
"[Michigan is] in my top and I'll be coming out with a final three next week," he said.
I'd assume Florida is the odd team out here—the main reason Smith looked at Michigan in the first place is because they hired DJ Durkin, who'd recruited him while at UF.
Three-star FL CB Damon Arnette, a South Carolina commit, got some important perspective from his player host, Jabrill Peppers, per Scout's Amy Campbell ($):
“Me and Jabrill had this conversation, just based off of speaking to him, he’s ready, you know what I mean? I can tell he’s going to be a great player, and I think that’s maybe something I want to be a part of. Him being back there behind me,that would be great. I can tell, since he got hurt, that put a drive in him,” Arnette said.
“Speaking with Jabrill, he was saying when he got hurt, he was going crazy because he didn’t know what else he could do, but then he realized he’s getting a great education. God forbid something happens to me, if I end up going to Michigan, I still have my education to fall back on.”
Arnette sounds like a strong candidate to commit; he had effusive praise for the coaches and even said he loved the weather—not exactly the norm for a Florida kid visiting Michigan in January.
The only uncommitted official visitor who doesn't sound like a distinct possibility to end up in the class is three-star FL DE Shelton Johnson, who said the visit was "pretty good" to Scout's Corey Bender ($). Nothing he said in there gave the impression Michigan should challenge Florida State, the presumed leader, for his commitment.
Meanwhile, five-star CA CB Iman Marshall is on campus. There will be much more on him later in the week.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Dramatization. The real song our coaches sing on road trips is ram-a-lamma-ding-dong. Insiders believe Nussmeier could be the tenor the staff has been lacking.
The Michigan coaches have been traveling all over the country checking in on commits, offerees, and targets in recent weeks. I have been reaching out to recruits for the past couple of days to see who has been visited or who still might be. I’m sure this list isn’t all-encompassing but I was able to get in touch with a lot of prospects from the 2015 class. I mean A LOT of prospects:
Athletes and Defensive Backs
ATH David Dowell & RB Andrew Dowell – Lakewood, OH/St. Edward – Teammates of Shaun Crawford, the Dowell brothers were visited by Coach Mattison in the early part of the week and he told them he’d like them to come up for a visit, but it’s not planned yet.
ATH Osa Masina – Salt Lake City, UT/Brighton – Masina wasn’t visited this time around but Coach Hoke and Coach Ferrigno did visit him back in mid-December. There aren’t a ton of reasons to stop in Utah so visits to Salt Lake City will probably be few and far between.
ATH Jerome Baker – Cleveland, OH/Benedictine – Baker holds a Michigan offer and was visited by Coach Mattison on Tuesday and says that he is feeling Michigan a lot.
|Cole could wind up the top-ranked player in the state. [Sam Webb]|
ATH Brian Cole – Saginaw, MI – Heritage – Cole was visited by Coach Hoke earlier in the week.
CB Kei Beckham – Trotwood, OH/Trotwood-Madison – Coach Smith stopped by Trotwood-Madison on Friday but Beckham missed him due to his class schedule. TMHS is a frequent stop for the coaching staff so Beckham is confident he’ll see them again.
CB Marcus Lewis – Washington, DC/Gonzaga – One of four prospects to chat with Coach Mallory from Gonzaga. Lewis really liked Coach Mallory and plans to stay in close touch with him moving forward.
CB Iman Marshall – Long Beach, CA/Poly – Marshall’s father told me that a Michigan coach stopped in to see his son on Monday of last week, he was unsure of who it was but I’d guess Ferrigno.
[After the jump: look at the tags above. There's a lot.]
Position: Linebacker/Tight End
Ht/Wt: 6'3" / 232 lbs.
Location: Jackson High School – Jackson, OH
Offers: Kent State, Ohio
Ranking: ★★★ .8599 (247 Composite)
Linebacker/Tight end prospect Reagan Williams was one of many recruits to attend The Game at The Big House a couple of weekends ago and I was able to chat with him about that a little bit. Williams is being recruited by most schools as a linebacker but the Michigan coaches appear to have a fondness for him at the tight end spot. Williams was a very nice kid to talk to and had some great things to say about his visit to Ann Arbor.
He was not shy at all about how much he enjoyed his visit to The Big House by saying, “It was awesome! One of my best visits yet.” He actually claimed it was a tie between Michigan and Michigan State. Not bad considering his other visits include trips to Ohio State, Penn State, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Cincinnati, and Louisville, among a few others.
The coaches in particular stuck out to Reagan while he was on his visit.
The coaching staff was very, very personable. I talked to every single position coach and they really made it feel like they have a family atmosphere with their players. The Big House was insane as well.
Reagan is an extremely intelligent kid, boasting a 4.0 GPA and a very respectable ACT score of 26, and that was easy to sense when I asked him if he had any type of affinity for his home-state Buckeyes. (Normally I wouldn’t post a test score like that but he’s proud of it and wants it to be public. It’s part of his profile on his HUDL link.)
I’m a big Buckeye fan. I have been since I was a little kid, but recruiting changes your outlook on a lot of things as far as seeing what every school has to offer. If Ohio State offered it would definitely be something that would be seriously considered. It hasn’t happened yet though so I can’t totally describe the emotions that would be involved.
I was surprised by how much he admitted to liking the Buckeyes, while at the same time ranking his Michigan visit above their rivals from Ohio.
Every visit has it’s pros and cons, but it seemed that the Michigan visit was VERY well organized.
As mentioned above the coaches have talked to Reagan about playing a fullback/h-back type of position because they really like how physical he is on both sides of the ball. Reagan says he doesn’t really have a preference he just wants to play wherever it helps his team the most.
When I asked him about his plans for his senior season, Williams said all of the right things about wanting to excel in the classroom, work toward a state championship, and develop a strong relationship with a coaching staff from a school that fits well for him. When it comes to fit, he said he must play for a coach and a team that has a strong tradition of defense and an emphasis on physicality. He doesn’t understand how the game can be played any other way. Pretty much the exact sentiment you’d expect from a fullback/linebacker.
With Michigan’s 2015 class being so limited on scholarships the staff has already informed Reagan that he is being evaluated but they have to be meticulous with who they offer. The coaches did say that they’d like to check Williams out in person sometime during the spring.
At the end of our conversation it came up that Williams is a die-hard Patriots and Tom Brady fan and that he was awestruck by Brady’s speech to Team 134 earlier this season. It’s pretty clear that the Michigan coaches have done well with Williams thus far, but if they and the Buckeyes get more involved in his recruitment, it sounds entirely realistic that the Wolverines could be on the outside looking in.