he grew a beard
ronald jones ii
Malik McDowell will play for MSU after all. [Fuller]
Finally, the book is closed on the 2014 recruiting class:
The recruiting saga of Malik McDowell is over.
The No. 5-rated defensive tackle in the Class of 2014 delivered a signed letter of intent Wednesday to Michigan State, the school to which he committed on signing day amid a flurry of confusion.
I think everyone is happy to move on at this point, and it's nice to see that Malik ultimately got his wish—this was, after all, his decision.
Spring Game Visitors: A Legacy On Campus?
Scout's Allen Trieu caught up with Tyrone Wheatley to discuss the recruitment of his son, 2015 TE/DE Tyrone Wheatley Jr., and the elder Wheatley revealed a visit to Ann Arbor could happen this weekend ($):
"There is a good chance we might hit the Michigan spring game this weekend and this summer, we're going to go to Miami (Fla.), Florida and we will try to catch Auburn. Coming up on spring break, we're going on a West Coast trip. We're going to go out to see UCLA and USC."
Wheatley is still considering many options, and it appears his recruitment won't end for a while; Michigan is the presumed favorite, however, and could cement that status with a good visit should Wheatley make it into town for the spring game.
Tim Sullivan posted a list of other weekend visitors ($). They include:
- Four-star 2015 IL WR Miles Boykin (unoffered)
- Four-star 2015 MO TE Hale Hentges (offered)
- Three-star 2015 Northville OL David Moorman (unoffered)
- 2016 OH LB Brendan Ferns (unoffered, brother of Michael Ferns)
- 2016 Orchard Lake St. Mary's LB Daelin Hayes (offered, cousin of Justice Hayes)
- 2016 Cass Tech DB Lavert Hill (unoffered, brother of Delano Hill)
- 2017 OLSM LB Joshua Ross (offered, brother of James Ross)
It'll be interesting to see if any of the unoffered prospects picks one up this weekend. Boykin holds offers from Notre Dame, Michigan State, and in-state Illinois, among several others; at 6'5", 208 pounds, he's the type of big wideout Michigan covets. Meanwhile, Brendan Ferns recently pulled in offers from Cincinnati, Kentucky, and West Virginia; if Michigan wants to get in on him early, now would be the time.
Four-star FL OT Jake Fruhmorgen visited Michigan, Notre Dame, and Ohio State last weekend, and his father told 247's Steve Lorenz that the trip to Ann Arbor impressed his son the most ($):
"Michigan was definitely his favorite visit of the three schools he saw this weekend. I think they're in it still for sure; I haven't gotten to talk to him in-depth about it because he had to get back to school today after getting home late last night. I know he really liked the Michigan coaching staff and got along with the players really well too. Of course, the Big House was impressive too."
Before the visit, insiders expected Fruhmorgen to pick Clemson, and soon; it'll be good news if he decides to wait on making a decision.
Four-star FL RB Jacques Patrick will announce his decision on October 27th, per Scout's Jamie Newberg, and Michigan is still in the running:
“I like about ten schools,” Patrick said. “My favorites are Miami, FSU, Florida, Michigan, Tennessee, Ohio State, UCF, Notre Dame, Auburn and Alabama. I want to go visit Auburn, Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan and all the in-state schools this spring and summer.”
Florida State and Florida are the schools to beat right now; the planned spring/summer visit will be huge if Michigan wants to have a real shot here.
One option that can be taken off the board is four-star Texas RB Ronald Jones II, who narrowed his list to five schools and didn't include Michigan ($).
Either Mark Richt is spending a significant amount of time hand-drawing recruits or, well, somebody in Georgia's athletic department is, and either way it's in that gray area between impressive and creepy that recruitniks know all too well.
Yup, Still Want
Damien Harris headlined last weekend's Best of the Midwest combine, and for good reason—no matter where you look, he leads off the list of top performers. Scout's Allen Trieu broke down his overall combine MVP performance:
One of the headliners was Madison Southern (Ky.) running back Damien Harris, a four-star junior who will challenge to be the top running back in the country on Scout. We all know Harris is fast and he proved that again by clocking in the 4.3s in his 40 yard dash. But he also showed grit, toughness and great technique when it came to the pass blocking drills. He took on some of the camp's most physical linebackers and won his reps. We also had a chance to see him catch the ball a little bit, something we had already known he could do from past events. He has shown time and time again that he is a complete all around back and did nothing to diminish his standing as our top prospect in the Midwest.
247's Barton Simmons called Harris "dominant" and stated Michigan and Ohio State are on top in Harris's recruitment right now. Another program recently entered the picture, however. Harris is slated to visit this weekend for Michigan's Junior Day; his other planned trip is to the latest school to enter the picture, Alabama, per Trieu ($):
The Wolverines are one of the schools he will visit in the near future. The other school is Alabama, his most recent offer.
"I'm going up to Michigan on the 23rd of this month then I'm taking a visit to Alabama on March 1st but after that I don't really know. I haven't made any plans for spring or who I'm going to check out for spring ball. I'll probably do that soon."
With Harris planning to extend his recruitment until Signing Day, the Tide have plenty of time to work their way towards the top of his list. Based on the quotes Harris has given since his decommitment, however, including this one to Land Grant Holy Land (SBNation's OSU outlet), Michigan will still be the team to beat going forward:
"Like I said earlier, my interest in [Michigan] hasn't gone down. I don't not like them as much as I did before, there's really nowhere I like more than that. But with coach Borges being gone, it's hard going somewhere with someone who didn't recruit you."
The latter part is why Harris took a step back; if he develops the a similar comfort level with Doug Nussmeier as he had with Al Borges and sees improvement in Michigan's offense, he should end up back in the fold.
Meanwhile, Michigan is making a strong push for 2015 Cass Tech RB Mike Weber, who visited campus last weekend. He said as much to 247's Steve Wiltfong ($):
"Yeah," Weber said on Wednesday when asked if the Wolverines are trending with him. "They are on me hard."
The Wolverines looked to be the clear leader early in Weber's recruitment before Harris committed and interest between both parties seemingly waned, allowing Michigan State to become Weber's leader; he even considered committing to MSU back in November. With Michigan redoubling their efforts to land Weber, however, the battle between the two in-state powers is pretty even at this point.
One 2015 running back you can cross off your wish list is recently offered TX four-star Ronald Jones II, who gave this refreshingly honest quote to Scout's new Midwest intern, Eric Rutter ($):
“[Michigan] probably won’t [be visited] to be honest,” said Jones. “If there is a great opportunity away from home then I would take it, but I would say location would be a factor.”
[Hit THE JUMP for new offers, visit reactions from last weekend, Shaun Crawford runnin' real fast, and more.]
Damien Harris Visiting, U-M Still Leader
Next weekend's Michigan State game will double as a de facto Junior Day for the football team, and 247's Steve Lorenz confirmed a big-time visitor will be in attendance—one-time Michigan commit Damien Harris:
It will be Harris's first unofficial visit to Michigan since the Notre Dame game last fall, making it his first appearance since stepping back from his early commitment to the Wolverines. His mother has publicly stated that Michigan is still the top school for her son and that he just wants to re-evaluate his options.
Harris took an unofficial to Ohio State—his first visit anywhere in months—for the Michigan game and tweeted out some support for the home team. His coach, however, said U-M is still the team to beat:
Harris' high school coach at Madison Southern (Ky.), Jon Clark, told Rivals.com earlier this week that the Wolverines are still No. 1 on the list for the top running back in the class of 2015.
"Michigan is still his top school, but he wants to make sure," Clark told the site. "He's open to looking."
While Harris is still picking up offers—Auburn, Miami (YTM), and Wisconsin all entered the post-decommitment fray—this looks to be a classic Michigan-OSU battle with the Wolverines, at least for now, holding the edge.
[Hit THE JUMP for a rundown of new offers, weekend visitors, and more.]
Position: Running Back
Ht/Wt/40: 6'0" / 185 lbs. / 4.41
Location: McKinney North High School – McKinney, TX
Offers: Arizona State, Arkansas, Baylor, Clemson, Colorado State, Michigan, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, TCU, Texas Tech, Tulsa
Ranking: ★★★★ .9092 (247 Composite)
The Michigan coaches have ventured into Big 12 country and offered RB Ronald Jones II out of the Lone Star State. On film this may be one of my favorite recruits to be offered in the 2015 class. This kid is flat out electric with the ball in his hands and knows how to churn out yards despite not being the biggest back Michigan has targeted. The second I saw his highlight I thought Jamaal Charles 2.0, who coincidentally also hailed from Texas. The coaches will have to work very hard to pull Jones out of Texas but to me he would be worth the effort.
With the drama-free events of Signing Day for the Michigan coaches taken care of before lunch, the staff decided to extend an offer to Jones once the 2014 letters had rolled in. Jones explained how he learned of his offer and where Michigan ranks among his other offers.
My coach told me that he got the call from Coach Funk and then just told me you’ve been offered by Michigan. It felt good you know, Go Blue! They are definitely up there for me with the rich tradition and history they have. I definitely like them. They didn’t sign a running back today so that may make for a good opportunity for me.
The state of Texas is a factory for D1 football players and even though Michigan recruits Texas pretty heavily, the only Texan currently on the roster is Russell Bellomy. With Jones being born in Georgia and raised in Texas since he was a toddler, I asked him about how he perceives the Michigan program.
I’d call my interest right now medium or steady. I’m trying to learn a lot more about the program, I know about Denard Robinson and how he was on the cover of NCAA. I remember Mike Hart, Mario Manningham, Chad Henne, and that team. I know they got a lot of history. I know about Desmond Howard being on ESPN on Saturday’s. I actually know a lot about Michigan but it is far away and it might be an issue getting up there for like a junior day or a visit or something like that.
The lid wasn’t even on the 2014 class yet and already coaches, especially Michigan’s, were able to really focus on the 2015 class, so I asked Ronald about how he plans to approach the now current 2015 recruiting cycle.
I want to make a decision pretty early I guess. Right now I’m just focusing on getting stronger. I’m just trying to enjoy the process. I’ve already taken a junior day visit to Baylor, I’ve been to Oklahoma, and I plan on going to TCU for a camp too. Honestly I would really like to check out Michigan. I’m going to talk to my mom and try to set something up either during spring break or over the summer when I actually have the time, but yeah I really want to try and make it up there.
I try to stay neutral when it comes to expressing my interest in players due to the nature of what I do, but this kid is a big YES PLEASE. His film is beyond impressive and talking to him was no different. He was a well-spoken, humble-sounding, yes-sir type of young man. His knowledge of Michigan also caught my attention because that’s not something that recruits can usually spout off the top of their heads.
Michigan recruits aggressively in Texas, but Texans can be hard to nab because they have so many solid options within their home state and in surrounding areas. Jones, as you’d expect, grew up liking the Longhorns, has been to multiple games in Austin, and was receiving a lot of attention from UT before Mack Brown was replaced by Charlie Strong. Jones said he hopes to starting hearing from the new staff and thinks an offer could be possible.
If Jones puts enough effort into checking out Ann Arbor I’d give Michigan an outside shot at landing him, but as of right now I think he’s going to be nearly impossible to lure away from the likes of a sexy Baylor, a refreshed Texas, the now-big-time Texas A&M Aggies, a confident Bama-beater in Oklahoma, as well as hot programs like Clemson and Oklahoma State.