this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Note: I'm getting error messages like whoa from 247Sports, so I can't access some of the tabs I had saved for this post. Apologies in advance if something gets left out; if you notice anything glaring that I've overlooked, let me know in the comments (and, if you can, please link to an original source of information).
Recruiting: Now Reaching Ludicrous Speed
"They've gone to plaid!"
I doubt this fact will surprise many Michigan fans, but the pace at which players are committing in the 2013 recruiting cycle appears to be unprecedented. SBNation's Jason Kirk—co-host of the incomparable Shutdown Fullback—took a look at early commitments in the past few years, and even in that short time span there's a very clear trend:
Over the past three years, the nation's top 75 recruiting teams have averaged about three commitments at this point in the year, though that doesn't include decommitments. Right now, they're averaging more than five.
And, of course, the main case in point is Michigan [emphasis mine]:
The big story is the Michigan Wolverines, whose 17 commits make for more than they've had in any combined two years of the Rivals era, and, thus, probably ever. It's noteworthy that Brady Hoke was the Big Ten coach most supportive of Urban Meyer back during Recruit-TakingGate. But almost across the board, schools are getting more and more early commitments.
The Wolverines had six commitments through April 30th for the 2012 class, and just three in 2011.
Kirk doesn't spend much time examining why this is the case, and I don't want to spoil tomorrow's recruiting roundtable podcast (yes, there's a podcast!) in which this very topic is discussed at length. One point I will make, however, is that the greatly increased attention on recruiting from both traditional and non-traditional media has placed enough stress on recruits that I believe many decide to end the process in part to get out of the increasingly-bright spotlight.
That brings me to IL RB Ty Isaac, who had an extensive profile in CSNChicago giving the latest on his recruitment [emphasis mine]:
"I took unofficial visits in March, when it worked out for my parents," he said. "Now my visits are out of the way. Nothing else is planned now. To be honest, I don't know if I will visit any more schools. Some have asked me to visit. But if I don't have any interest, I don't want to waste either side's time. If the schools I have visited, I'd be perfectly fine to go to either one of them."
However, he is sure of one thing at the moment. "I'm not a fan of the recruiting process at all. When I started, like everybody, I was excited. After you get the first couple of offers, you know you will have an opportunity to play at the next level. But now it gets overwhelming. It feels like it never stops," he said.
Isaac's apparent lack of interest in taking visits to new schools bodes well for Michigan. More trips to places like Notre Dame and USC could still be in the cards, but he's already seen those campuses and the Wolverines have remained in a strong position to land him. Also, given his justifiable disdain for the recruiting process, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him wrap things up in the near future—Isaac still maintains no public timetable.
Thomas Firmly Committed, New Offers, Etc.
While OH S Dymonte Thomas has remained steadfast in his insistence that he's firmly committed to Michigan, it's been difficult to keep a lid on discussion that he could still end up joining his cousin Bri'onte Dunn at Ohio State. In a two-part feature($) by GoBlueWolverine's Josh Newkirk, Thomas reiterates that he's "100-percent committed." In addition, we could see Thomas in Ann Arbor pretty soon, which would finally end any rumors about him flipping to the Buckeyes:
Thomas also plans on starting his Michigan career as early as possible. He is currently awaiting the results of his ACT test scores. He said he should receive the results within the next three to five weeks. If he receives passing test scores, Thomas said he will graduate early and enroll at Michigan next January.
Any doubt that Thomas ends up as a Wolverine can probably be dispelled at this point. Ohio State insiders don't like their chances and the Buckeyes continue to target other safeties for the class.
Michigan sent out a few new offers this week, and one is NOTY-worthy: 2013 NY DE Ebenezer Ogundeko is a three-star prospect to every service but Scout (who currently has him unrated), but his recruitment is picking up serious steam, as he received unexpected offers from Michigan, Notre Dame, and Marshall on the same day ($). According to Scout, Ogundeko also holds offers from Alabama, Arizona State, Boise State, Florida, Georgia Tech, and Ohio State, among several others, so he could be a guy who makes a rapid rise up the rankings; those offers aren't the type you'd expect for a guy on the three-star/unranked borderline.
The Wolverines also offered a trio of 2014 prospects. AZ OT Casey Tucker is getting early interest from several of the nation's top programs and could be one of the top linemen in his class. IL CB Parrker Westphal (first name: not a typo) picked up his first two offers from Michigan and West Virginia this week. Tim Sullivan reports on The Fort($) that Michigan has also offered FL DB Javon Harrison, who could play corner or safety at 6'2", 195 pounds.
Quickly: The soft-spoken MD DT Henry Poggi on his Alabama trip ($): "It was good." TomVH reports that Michigan is getting interest from consensus four-star FL S Leon McQuay III, who plans to visit on May 18th ($). VA DE Wyatt Teller is planning a decision in the late spring or early summer, and Michigan is in his tentative top five ($). OH CB Darian Hicks has yet to receive an offer, but says Michigan would be "extremely high on [his] list" if they do ($). Hicks will camp at Michigan this summer. Jerry Montgomery almost certainly had to put up a fight in order to secure Hawaii as part of his recruiting territory. Happy trails to OH WR Rob Wheelwright, who committed to Wisconsin over the weekend.
Things are relatively quiet on the recruiting front at the moment, but here's an update on weekend visitors, players planning to attend the spring game, and more.
Weekend Visitors, Webb on Webb, Spring Game, Etc.
The list is short this week, with Washington (DC) Gonzaga CB Devin Butler the only uncommitted 2013 prospect slated to be on campus ($). Butler currently has Penn State as his leader, but the Wolverines are among a group of nine schools also in contention for his services.
Other visitors this weekend include 2013 commits Jake Butt and Jaron Dukes, and once again Cass Tech will be well represented—2014 WR Damon Webb, 2014 RB/DB Johnny Miggins, and 2015 QB Jayru Campbell will make the short trip to Ann Arbor.
Meanwhile, top receiver target Laquon Treadwell told Chantel Jennings that he'll visit for a spring practice in the first week of April ($, info in header). That will be Treadwell's fifth visit to Ann Arbor, but he still maintains that he won't make a decision until after his senior season.
The big visit weekend, however, will be when Michigan takes the field for the spring game on April 14th. One top-flight prospect who will be on campus is Erial (NJ) Timber Creek DT Greg Webb, who was the subject of Sam Webb's latest DetNews feature. Greg Webb's father earns major bonus points for saying Mike Martin and Iowa's Mike Daniels are two of his favorite D-linemen, because "they're undersized and they're badgers." The elder Webb also shed some light on the mindset of recruits who are witnessing a rather unprecedented rush to commit early:
"Michigan already (received verbal commitments from) 16 kids," Mr. Webb stated. "They're almost finished with their class. If you look at schools like Ohio State, they don't have as many scholarships (to offer). They're probably going to only take two or three D-tackles. You have to look at the numbers. If the schools you want to go to already have 16 or 17 commits, or they're only taking three more (players at your position), I don't think you can wait until signing day. A lot of the schools that he likes are a lot of the higher-profile schools. They're all going to fill up quick, so really I think we're going to have to look how things are going the next two or three months and see (if its best to make an early decision)."
With Michigan likely taking just two more defensive linemen—and also being in strong position with DT Henry Poggi—there could certainly be extra pressure on Webb to commit early if he wants a spot in the class.
Webb won't be the only elite D-lineman on campus for the spring game, either, as four-star SDE Joey Bosa will also be in attendance ($). Bosa currently has Michigan in his top six, but the competition—Florida State, Florida, Alabama, Wisconsin, and Ohio State—is stiff. Two other recruits who will be in that weekend are Cleveland Glenville S Christopher Worley (confusing, I know), who's currently holding offers from Arkansas, Bowling Green, and West Virginia ($), and 2014 Mequon (WI) Homestead DT Brandon Hines, who'll visit Ann Arbor on the 13th before checking out Iowa ($).
Quickly: Columbus (OH) Walnut Ridge WR Rob Wheelwright holds an offer, has Michigan in his top group, and is setting up a visit with coach Jerry Montgomery ($). Santa Monica (CA) WR Sebastian LaRue has "high interest" in the Wolverines and plans on taking a spring or summer visit ($). Grand Blanc (MI) DE Daniel Davis has been hearing from Michigan recently and plans to visit next week ($). TomVH on Michigan targeting several bigger cornerbacks in the 2013 class ($).
I'm baaaaack. Didn't miss a thing, right? Oh, yeah, THAT. Signing day has come and gone, and while Michigan is still in on a couple of prospects, today's roundup will focus on the endless fluff pieces on Michigan commits, the flood of new offers for 2013 recruits, and the search for the real Fred Jackson.
Hoke By First-Round KO
Bob Wojnowski is one of the best on the Michigan beat, but I couldn't help but snicker at the headline of his post-NSD column:
Backyard recruiting brawl is back on between Michigan, Michigan State
After Michigan pulled in seven of Rivals's top ten in-state prospects, leaving Sparty with academic question mark Aaron Burbridge, I imagine that brawl going a little like this:
Yes, I know Wojo didn't write the headline. In fact, I'm hoping this a wonderfully back-handed way of saying that it's back to "Big Two, Little (Rest of B1G)" status [emphasis mine]:
There's nothing more emotional than Michigan-Michigan State and Michigan-Ohio State games. But now all three programs are fighting on familiar ground, while other Big Ten heavyweights have issues.
Michigan State's familiar ground: Lurking under the table for the in-state scraps while Ohio State poaches their top commits. Things just feel so wonderfully right now, don't they? They should: Michigan finished with a class that ranked #6 on Rivals, #4 on Scout, #7 on ESPN, and #8 on 24/7, and while Ohio State did come out on top in the conference recruiting rankings, anyone who expected different when the Buckeyes hired Urban Meyer was kidding themselves. Also, they oversigned, so the moral high-ground remains ours. Never forget how important that is to maintaining our conference-best arrogance.
Sam Webb took a look at five recruits—Joe Bolden, Kyle Kalis, Ondre Pipkins, A.J. Williams, and Chris Wormley—who could have an immediate impact on the field in 2012. Most of the article is stuff you've seen before, but Scout's Dave Berk had some especially high praise for Bolden:
"I thought he was the best linebacker in the state of Ohio for two years now," said Scout.com Ohio analyst Dave Berk. "He has a high football IQ. A lot of times we say that about guys that don't have athletic ability, but Joe has the athletic ability to go with it. He has got great physical size and he can go sideline to sideline. He can be an outside backer or he can be a middle backer. He is a playmaker. … I think Ohio State and Notre Dame whiffed on that one."
Okay, I really just wanted a quote that knocked OSU and ND. I doubt you mind.
Somebody Save Fred Jackson from the Pirates, Please
This cannot be the real Fred Jackson. There is clearly an imposter masquerading as the King of Hyperbole ($):
Late addition Dennis Norfleet also comes in listed as a running back, but Jackson noted that at 5-7, 170, he's not as suited to every-down back duty in this offense.
"I'm not too sure about his overall ability as a back," Jackson said. "He's more of a utility kind of guy. He's not a guy who is going to go in and play like a Drake, or a [Thomas] Rawls, or guys like that, with that size. He's more of a utility guy that can help you in a lot of ways.
Jackson wasn't quick to jump on the notion of Norfleet as the next Vincent Smith, either, given what Smith has already proven.
"I know you know what I think about Vincent Smith," Jackson assured. "That's saying a lot. Vincent Smith, to me, is pound-for-pound, probably the toughest guy on our football team. I don't know if you can say a guy is going to be like that. I'd hope he could eventually get that way."
Until Jackson describes Norfleet as "Darren Sproles with the wings of an angel and the feet of a young Michael Jackson," I'm going to assume he's been captured by Somali pirates, whom he's currently convincing are the greatest pirates since the days of Bluebeard.
Imposter Fred Jackson did manage to sign seven of the eight players he targeted while recruiting the state of Michigan for the first time this year (all held MSU offers, by the way) en route to being named one of 24/7's top 50 recruiters for this year's class, joining Greg Mattison on the list. At least Imposter Fred Jackson can still recruit.
The Wolverine released an endless series of profiles on class of 2012 commits—all behind paywalls, of course, because knowing Ben Braden played hockey is premium info, y'all—and perhaps the most interesting is the profile of Kyle Kalis, who's got a sensitive side when he's not bashing defenders into the ground ($):
"Kyle is not a kid you can stereotype. He has a myriad of friends, all types of kids," he said. "As an artist, he's tremendous. Some of his work, if you saw it, you'd be really impressed. With the guitar, he didn't take lessons … he taught himself. I believed he played it a little for Coach [Greg] Mattison when he came for a visit.
"Kyle is a young man with intangibles. So often we just want to measure these kids on their grades and test scores, but there is so much more to our personalities and who we are than that, and Kyle epitomizes what you want out of a well-rounded individual."
If the painting at right is any indication, Kalis also likes the Rolling Stones. No word on whether he's more of a Let It Bleed/Beggars Banquet guy or an Exile on Main St. fan. In actual football-related news, Kalis is unsure whether he'll be a guard or a tackle for the Wolverines—according to him, Hoke is giving Kalis the chance to choose between right tackle and right guard once he gets onto campus and has a few practices under his belt. If Michigan doesn't land Jordan Diamond (announcing at 8pm EST tonight), the need for depth at tackle may be too great for him to land at guard, at least for this year.
Quickly: For the last time, A.J. Williams is a tight end, though he'll fill the role of the 'Y' position—blocking TE—while Devin Funchess will play the 'U,' a TE/WR/FB hybrid ($); Erik Magnuson considers himself a good luck charm after visiting for the Notre Dame and Ohio State games ($); ESPN video of Funchess, Royce Jenkins-Stone, Terry Richardson, and James Ross, all former members of the youth football Westside Cubs who have now been reunited as Wolverines.
This is probably the last time I'll have a section called "2013 Notes," since now we're officially in the class of 2013 recruiting cycle. The initial ESPN U 100 ($) was released on signing day and it's littered with Michigan targets. Tom has a full breakdown over on ESPN Insider, but Shane Morris was indeed awarded five-star status, Dymonte Thomas got four stars, and the Wolverines are recruiting eight five-stars—TE Adam Breneman, CB Kendall Fuller, LB Michael Hutchings, S Leon McQuay, OL Ethan Pocic, OL Jake Raulerson (who just committed to Texas), OL Laremy Tunsil, and DT Greg Webb—and 18 four-stars from the list.
Michigan sent out a ton of offers this past week, so I'll summarize in bullet form:
- Cass Tech CB Jourdan Lewis, who got his "dream offer" from the Wolverines ($). I'm a big fan of Lewis after seeing him three times this past year, and it's quite possible he could be the next junior to commit.
- That is, if Lewis isn't beaten to the punch by Columbus (OH) Marion-Franklin WR Jaron Dukes, who named Michigan as his top school after receiving his offer ($).
- Columbus Bishop Hartley's Jacob Matuska is the third TE to be offered by Michigan ($), joining Adam Breneman and Jake Butt.
- Indianapolis North Central OL Darius Latham, 24/7 #67 overall prospect, was offered by Michigan and Tennessee recently ($).
- Lincoln Way-West (IL) OL Colin McGovern becomes another standout Illinois lineman to receive an offer, and Allen Trieu has a free article that's well worth a read.
- Cincinnati Moeller LB Shane Jones picked up offers from Michigan and Indiana ($), joining Cincinnati among his early offers.
- Avon (IN) DE Elijah Daniel, another top-100 prospect to 24/7, grabbed a Wolverine offer ($). He's already visited Ann Arbor twice and is considering taking a visit on the 18th.
- Two more players added M offers: Columbus (OH) Walnut Ridge WR Rob Wheelwright and Dayton (OH) Trotwood-Madison DE Michael McCray, according to 24/7 ($).
In other news, quickly: Pickerington (OH) North TE Jake Butt named Michigan, Stanford, Northwestern, Maryland, and Tennessee as his early top five ($); Logan Tuley-Tillman will visit Ann Arbor this weekend ($); Allen Trieu takes a look at some of the emerging juniors and sophomores, many of whom are being recruited by the Wolverines.