this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Today's recruiting roundup takes a look at two potential commits (yes, it never ends, and this is good), gets more insight on Patrick Kugler, and finally puts the whole Alex Kozan thing to rest. Finally.
And The Coyote Said, "War Eagle"
Alex Kozan has eaten the Merciless Peppers of Quetzaltenango, spoken with his coyote spiritual guide, and emerged from his vision quest with newfound clarity about his
soulmate college destination: Kozan will be an Auburn Tiger. There's no word on whether he mulled over his decision in a lighthouse, but I'm going to presume this as fact until proven otherwise.
Also, amen to this: “It’s been a crazy ride,” Kozan said, “but I’m real glad it’s over.”
We can officially close the book on the class of 2012. We can also discuss guys who will actually play center for Michigan, as more evaluations of new commit Patrick Kugler have come out since his commitment post. Here's Allen Trieu on Kugler's junior film, which is unfortunately stuck behind a Scout paywall ($):
The kid has great feet and gets into the second level very well. He's a technician and a smart player, which you would expect from his dad being an NFL coach. Now, you take all of those strengths and project him to center, and Michigan fans should be excited. He's bigger and more athletic than most center prospects. You essentially have a kid that could easily play tackle or guard for most schools at center. That is also a position where smarts and knowledge of the game come into play and this kid certainly has it. His upside was good to begin with, but as a center, it's excellent.
Excellent, indeed. I'd always rather have a recruit who plays tackle in high school—where high school teams usually stick their best linemen—then learns center in the offseason than a guy who's limited in where he projects. Take a good, but slightly undersized, high school tackle and their ceiling immediately raises when shifted to center if they've got the technique and versatility, which shouldn't be a problem with Kugler. Here's his high school head coach on just that ($):
“I think his ability to play low is one of his strengths,” [North Allegheny coach Art] Walker said of Kugler. "He’s a great run blocker, and we like to consider him a finisher. He’s also a strong pass blocker as well. He runs well, he pulls well, and he has great feet and hands. He’s still maturing physically, and he’s having his best offseason to date. He can play any position you ask him to, wherever the team needs him most.”
I really like the addition of Kugler to the class. Michigan is set along the offensive line unless a guy like Ethan Pocic wants to join the party.
Quickly: Jared Shanker on Jake Butt and his ties to Ohio State and Notre Dame. Tremendous interviews Chris Fox, who's hopefully given up on his dirtbiking hobby. Chantel Jennings on Khalid Hill and #Team134 ($).
Must Not Make Played-Out "That Ish [Mc]Cray" Joke
The #44 prospect in the Rivals100, Trotwood (OH) Madison linebacker Mike McCray, will announce his decision on March 8th between Michigan, Arizona, Illinois, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Tennessee. He has one more visit scheduled: to Michigan, on March 6th. That's a pretty positive sign, and the general feeling is that McCray will end up blue—Rivals.com's Mike Farrell has said as much in multiple twitter posts.
McCray is one of three blue-chip linebackers who Michigan appears to lead for, with E.J. Levenberry and Dorian O'Daniel being the other two. McCray seems like a MLB, while Levenberry and O'Daniel both project to the outside. It's possible Michigan takes all three if they want to commit; it'll come down to a numbers game, but that would be one heck of a linebacker haul. If the Wolverines are saving spots for the best players available, it'll be hard to turn down any of those guys.
Steve Wiltfong posted on the Wolverine247 board today that Michigan "may be the team to beat" for Columbus (OH) Bishop Hartley TE Jacob Matuska after a great visit last Monday ($). This one could be a Michigan/Notre Dame battle, and there's reason for optimism—other than general "Hoke poops magic" optimism—for the Wolverines; a post on BuckeyePlanet says Michigan is very much in the mix despite Matuska being a presumed ND lock ($).
Ty Isaac's Coach Goes Full Fred Jackson and More
TomVH caught up with Ty Isaac's head coach to talk about the Midwest's best running back, and BOOM GALE SAYERS'D ($, info in header):
"Anytime he touches the ball, everybody is on edge, because it could be a Gayle Sayers moment. Every time Sayers touched the ball, he could go, and Ty has that ability," [Joliet Catholic coach Dan] Sharp said. "[Isaac would fit] in any kind of pro-style offense. He's the type of back who can get tough yards, durable, and he's not fun to tackle for safeties and corners."
Sharp also said Isaac reminds him physically of Marcus Allen, NFL Hall of Fame member and Heisman Trophy winner. In relevant, non-hyperbolic news, Isaac has no timetable for a decision and will visit Ann Arbor on March 10th.
Michigan has shown up on several players's top [blank] lists recently. Dadeville (AL) DT Rod Crayton visited on Sunday of that mid-February weekend, and while he didn't catch the virulent strand of commitment fever, he now has Michigan in his top three with LSU and Mississippi State ($, info in header). Another player with U-M in his top three is Rancho Cucamonga (CA) CB Chris Hawkins, along with Stanford and Notre Dame ($, info in header); Hawkins said he grew up idolizing Charles Woodson, so he's obviously got good taste.
While Michigan hasn't yet offered, South Jordan (UT) Bingham DT Lowell Lotulelei likes the Wolverines, Oregon, Utah, and Washington ($). Concord (CA) De La Salle LB Michael Hutchings—yes, another blue-chip LB—hasn't narrowed his list yet, but says the Wolverines will "easily" make the cut when he trims his list to 8 or 10 in April ($, info in header).
And now, your semi-weekly bulleted list, this time of players who have expressed interest in taking visits to Ann Arbor:
- Don Bosco Prep DE Alquadin Muhammed, one of the top defensive prospects in the country, plans to visit Michigan, though he hasn't set a timetable ($, info in header).
- Asburn (VA) Briar Woods LB Matt Rolin will take a visit to Ann Arbor in the spring, along with planned trips to Tennessee, BC, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech ($, info in header).
- Auburn (CA) Placer DT Eddie Vanderdoes told Tremendous he will take one of his officials to Michigan, though he obviously hasn't set those in stone yet. His says his interest in the Wolverines is "very, very high."
- Moreno Valley (CA) Rancho Verde WR Damore'ea Stringfellow hopes to visit Michigan before the start of football season ($).
- Richmond (VA) Varina S Tim Harris recently named Virginia as his top school, but he says his next visit will be to Ann Arbor ($). Virginia Tech and Ohio State are also in the mix.
- Damascus (MD) WR Zach Bradshaw has a Michigan visit in the works ($, info in header).
- Upland (CA) DE Joe Mathis says he'll take one of his official visits to Ann Arbor ($, info in header).
- Los Angeles (CA) Loyola CB Cameron Walker hopes to swing by campus when visiting family in Michigan this April ($).
- Oakley (CA) Freedom WR Darrell Daniels says he'll take an official to Michigan if "[he's] really feeling them," and he may also try to head to the Wolverine camp as well ($).
Finally, there's one happy trails to report. One of the Trinity trio, CB Ryan White, committed to hometown Louisville yesterday over Illinois. Teammate DE Jason Hatcher also seems to be favoring the Cardinals early; we'll see how that affects WR James Quick.
This edition of the recruiting roundup welcomes a new 2013 commit, takes a look at 2012 preferred walk-on Dan Gibbs, and discusses a bevy of new junior offers. As always, you're encouraged to email me or hit me up on the twitters with any recruiting tips or news you'd like to see in the next roundup.
Hello: Dan Gibbs
Michigan may not have landed Jordan Diamond or, at least for now, Alex Kozan, but they did manage to pick up a 6'7", 305-pound offensive lineman this week. Birmingham Seaholm's Dan Gibbs accepted a preferred walk-on spot over offers from Ball State, Eastern Michigan, and several Ivy League schools. Gibbs is a Michigan lifer and is ranked as a three-star by Scout (#97 OT) and 24/7 (#121 OT) and a two-star by Rivals (NR) and ESPN (#109 OG). He has the versatility to play either guard or tackle at the next level, and it's always nice to pull in a walk-on who had D1 scholarship offers. You can see his senior highlight tape above, and here is ESPN's evaluation ($):
Gibbs is a tough inline blocker who can maul defenders when run blocking; also flashes the explosion and playing strength to knock defenders off the ball when single blocking. Has great size with good athleticism for the offensive guard position at the major level of competition. It appears his frame is very capable on handling additional body mass. We like this guys toughness; comes off the ball aggressive and hard but a little too high at times; must work to lower his pad level on initial contact. Appears to bave some lower body stiffness however we are impressed with his ability to get out of his stance when asked to pull and trap, locating defenders on the move while demonstrating good balance and agility; plays on his feet well in space. Although this prospect is more of a mauler than one who consistently knocks defenders off the line of scrimmage we are impressed with his ability to get movement when single blocking; is a nasty tough finisher who is capable of putting defenders on their backs. If he is to successfully reach for leverage and consistently get a hat on active 1st and 2nd level defenders we see the need to improve initial quickness, first step and pad level. His long arms should be an asset in pass protection; is not heavy legged playing in the center/guard box, flashing the ability to bend and slide his feet. We do feel he plays too tall and must improve his overall balance and base when pass blocking. All areas of hand use will need refinement although we see flashes of strong initial punch and extension.
Gibbs is a developmental prospect, to be sure. His size and physicality should be a great asset on the practice field, however, and he's got the potential to become an in-game contributor down the road.
In more from the class of 2012, four Michigan signees—Devin Funchess, Royce Jenkins-Stone, Terry Richardson, and James Ross—suited up for Team USA in the International Bowl. Although they fell to the World Team, 35-29, the future Wolverines impressed, especially Funchess, who hauled in an 11-yard touchdown pass ($):
"I think Devin Funchess is going to be a star. When they put weight on him, he is a long 6-5 guy, but he's just a boy. They'll put 40 pounds of muscle on him. He has great hands, runs great. He had a great attitude. He's going to be a great player - not just a good player, a great player."
"He looks like a wide out. He runs great. For a tight end, he has tremendous speed," [Team USA coach Steve] Specht said. "The thing that really impressed me about Devin is how much bigger he's going to get. I said something to him when we were in Austin. I said, 'In a few years, when you get that weight on you, you're going to be special.'
Funchess appears to be in line to take a redshirt year as he works on adding that bulk. After that, he could turn into a very dangerous receiver from that TE/H-back hybrid spot. For highlights of each Michigan commit in the International Bowl, check out MGoVideo—a big thanks to Josh (aka MaizeNBlueJ) for putting those together.
Speaking of Funchess, his senior highlight tape is now available on YouTube. Also releasing senior film is DL Matt Godin; he does a very impressive job of getting skinny and shedding blocks to work his way into the backfield:
Quickly: Greg Mattison was named the Big Ten Recruiter of the Year by Scout and also earned top-25 status nationally on Rivals. 24/7 released their Big Ten superlatives—Ondre Pipkins is one of three players tabbed for immediate impact and the Wolverines have more players (10) on the All-Big Ten team than any other school (Ohio State has seven, Wisconsin two, while Minnesota, MSU, and Nebraska each have one). AnnArbor.com's Kyle Meinke discusses the importance of tight ends in recruiting with Al Borges and Darrell Funk. Stephen J. Nesbitt writes a feature in the Daily on Pipkins and Willie Henry. TTB Andrew interviews Amara Darboh.
Welcome: Khalid Hill
Recruits come in pairs, right? Michigan not only landed Gibbs yesterday, but they got a jump-start on tight end recruiting for 2013 when they pulled in Detroit Crockett's Khalid Hill. You can read the full "Hello" post here. Hill—who committed on the spot after getting his offer on an unofficial visit yesterday—is another life-long Michigan fan, offering up this fantastic quote to Allen Trieu in the aftermath of his commitment ($):
"I feel great," he said. "There's a smile on my face. I'm cheesin'."
I'll give Khalid the benefit of the doubt and assume that's not a South Park reference. Hill also told 24/7 that, upon receiving a verbal offer from Brady Hoke in his office, he immediately accepted and gave the coach a "big hug." He also carries a 4.0 GPA and plans to major in Engineering; this is definitely a commitment worth celebrating. Hill's high school coach shed some light on his future role in a free Scout article:
"He's a great pass catcher. He has the blocking ability of a lineman, the athletic ability of a skill guy, and the hands of a wide receiver, so he's a match-up nightmare. What he brought to the table for us this year was, he created mismatches down seams of the field."
He'll do the same for the Wolverines, but also fill a couple of other roles as well.
"It's a tight end/H-Back kind of deal. He's a utility guy, who will be motioning from fullback, get work done in the slot. They'll move him around a lot. They sat him down and told him how they're going to use him. They said he'd do a lot of what Kevin Koger did last year."
That hybrid role makes sense for Hill, a solid athlete who's a little short for the traditional tight end role at 6'2".
Another 2013 tight end, Pickerington (OH) North's Jake Butt—an early four-star to 24/7 who holds a scholarship offer from the Wolverines—has Michigan as his top school ($):
"Michigan is definitely my leading school right now, by far… it’s not even close,” he reported. “Their coaches are showing me a lot of attention. I have been up to the campus twice and loved it there, and seemed to grow a great relationship with coach (Jerry) Montgomery who is my recruiting coordinator. I already had five (Michigan) coaches come down to school to see me, so that is big. They are telling me I am their leading tight end on the board."
Butt doesn't have a concrete decision date in mind, but he's looking to wrap things up before the start of next football season. If he does, it looks like Michigan will be tough to beat.
Meanwhile, Logan Tuley-Tillman was at Yost on Saturday and plans to return to Ann Arbor this weekend—his fifth visit, and he's hoping to bring his mother along with him—but there's a minor change atop his leaderboard. While the Wolverines were at one point alone at number one, they're now joined by Alabama after Tuley-Tillman visited Tuscaloosa for their Junior Day ($).
Quickly: Cass Tech CB Jourdan Lewis is excited by his recent Michigan offer, but has not yet settled on a timeline while he's playing through basketball season ($). Magnus has a thorough preview of 2013 in-state recruiting over at TTB. He also takes a look at the early scholarship numbers and breaks down Michigan's needs by position. Chantel Jennings does the same—plus identifies some key early targets—over at WolverineNation ($).
Just when I think I'm going to be able to sum up Michigan's list of offers in something other than bullet form, they seemingly extend scholarships to half of the free world. Here's what I pulled together since the last recruiting update:
- Tampa (FL) Wharton CB Vernon Hargreaves III now has a Michigan offer listed. He's a five-star prospect to 24/7 and their #7 overall player in the class; all the major in-state schools have also offered and his father coaches at USF, so he'll be a very difficult pull out of the Sunshine State.
- Dayton (OH) Trotwood-Madison LB Mike McCray earned offers from Michigan and Oklahoma within the past week ($). The Top247 and ESPNU 150 prospect says those two schools plus Illinois, Tennessee, and Purdue stand out early in the process, but expect Ohio State to become a major factor if (more likely when) they offer.
- Michigan offered four-star Vorhees (NJ) Eastern CB Eli Woodard, though he's favoring Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Rutgers early ($).
- Centerville (OH) OL Evan Lisle becomes the latest standout Midwest lineman to earn an offer ($).
- I forgot to include him last week, but CB Ryan White became the third Louisville (KY) Trinity prospect to receive a Wolverine offer, joining teammates James Quick (WR) and Jason Hatcher (DE). White told Scout that he plans on visiting Ann Arbor at some point ($).
- The Wolverines offered another wide receiver in Cretin-Derham Hall (MN) standout James Onwualu ($), who plans on visiting within the next couple of weeks.
- Philadelphia (PA) William Penn OT Mike McGlinchey received a Michigan offer last week ($). He's a four-star prospect to 24/7 early in the process.
- Cincinnati Moeller LB Shane Jones now boasts offers from Michigan and his hometown Bearcats.
- Rivals.com's Adam Gorney reports that Michigan also offered Stockton (CA) Lincoln RB Justin Davis.
There are a couple of happy trails to report as well. Toledo Central Catholic DB Jayme Thompson chose West Virginia over Michigan and Notre Dame last week; it's unclear whether or not he had a commitable offer, though I don't believe he did. He's a player to keep an eye on should the Wolverines decide to continue pursuing him. Finally, while Michigan hadn't extended an offer, they had displayed some interest in Flint Carman Ainsworth RB Gerald Holmes, who chose Michigan State on Sunday.