this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
This is my first time doing a [day of the week] Recruitin' post, so please let me know if you have any comments, criticism, suggestions, etc. — as always, I'll be reading the comments, and you can also reach me on Twitter or via email, where I'll also encourage you to send any recruiting articles of interest that you think I should include for the next week's edition.
Drop Everything and Read This
Most Michigan fans who follow recruiting know that Des Moines (IA) Dowling Catholic senior Amara Darboh is one of the class of 2012's best wide receiver prospects, but I personally had no idea what it took for him to get to that point. As it turns out, he is by no means your typical four-star football prospect — to reach Des Moines, Darboh had to flee Sierra Leone at age seven and landed in Iowa as an orphan in a refugee program before being adopted by the family that would eventually introduce him to football. His incredible story is detailed in the Des Moines Register, and I can't encourage you enough to read the whole thing:
Though Darboh was too young to remember details, his father, Solimon, and mother, Kadita, were slain during Sierra Leone’s civil war that started in 1991. Darboh and other family members were left without any recourse but to flee.
He first went to Gambia, then to Senegal, before eventually ending up in the United States — and finally in the Des Moines home of Dan and Mary Schaefer.
Darboh has grown into a young man, a senior at Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines. He has become such a good football player that big-time coaches throughout the country, including those from the two major programs in Iowa, have offered scholarships.
From his initial Who’s Who list, Darboh narrowed down finalists to Iowa, Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame and Wisconsin.
That's as small a chunk as I could bring myself to block-quote, and like I said, seriously read the whole thing. Wherever Darboh ends up playing out his collegiate career, I'll be rooting for him.
Awesome Fluff-like Substance
Scout released an online portion of Allen Trieu's magazine profile of defensive tackle commit Ondre Pipkins, who was apparently quite the Herculean child:
Al knew his son just had something, but it was even before he coached him at Central Middle School in Saginaw. He says the moment he knew his son may someday be a great football player came even earlier.
“When he benched pressed 80-lbs at six years old on a stationary weight machine.”
Good lord. When I was six, I needed help opening jars of apple sauce. Ondre, not so much.
Tom Strobel sought the advice of an NFL star who ultimately helped him decide upon Michigan, and of course that NFL star was Drew Brees. Wait, what?
"Drew Brees is such a great guy," Stroble [sic] said. "I was fortunate to talk to him on the phone when I needed advice about choosing a school. He called me and he just gave me great advice with his main point being to take football completely out of the equation and at the end of the day just choose a place you want to be if you were not playing football. For me, that place was Michigan."
Please tell me Danny Hope read this and had his mustache spontaneously combust as he screamed "Damn you, snake oil!" to the heavens. Thanks, Drew!
Also filed under 'things that make little sense': Ben Braden, behemoth offensive lineman, finally turned his full focus to football in his sophomore year of high school after giving up his first sporting love... hockey. Obvious quote is obvious [emphasis mine]:
"I played hockey from fifth grade until my sophomore year," Braden said. "I started out as a defenseman and moved to left wing and right wing. I played football once in fourth grade, and again in eighth grade, but I loved hockey.
"There aren’t too many 6-7, 320-pound hockey players."
If former Capitals goalie Olaf Kolzig was nicknamed "Godzilla" while standing at 6'3", 221 lbs., I can't even imagine what Braden's hockey nickname would've been (maybe just "Sir," as in, "please don't leave me broken in a thousand places, Mr. Braden, Sir."). In article bits that are actually useful, Braden does say that playing hockey did help him with his flexibility, footwork, and ankle strength, so he's got that going for him, which is nice.
Tight end A.J. Williams may hail from Cincinnati, but a local newspaper feature reveals that he has "a little bit of country" in him:
"I love to fish, said Williams, who orally committed to Michigan April 22. "I try to do it all. I try to be a well-rounded person."
Williams said his grandfather is from Georgia and that helped influence his love of the outdoors. Williams said he also likes to ride a four-wheeler while he is with his family.
1) Please don't crash that four-wheeler, A.J., and 2) He says he plans on trying to catch catfish with his bare hands (a technique called "noodling"), which is pretty badass.
MaxPreps profiles Terry Richardson as part of their "Top 50 recruits in 50 days" feature (T-Rich is #33).
When driving to a photoshoot featuring Northeast Ohio's top offensive linemen, always call shotgun. Also, Tom Strobel's feet aren't the same size, which is kinda strange and gives me a probably-irrational fear of future injury, though at least he isn't the player in the article whose feet are compared to Yao Ming's.
The Seattle Times has a piece profiling blue-chip offensive linemen Zach Banner and Josh Garnett, who are part of a pretty outstanding class of O-lineman in the state of Washington. They say they'd love to form a "Dream Team" of the top five guys in the state, but that appears pretty unlikely, especially since even two-man package deals always seem to fall through.
Actual, You Know, Recruiting News
Rivals released its updated Rivals100 and Rivals250 rankings this week, and you can track the movement of Michigan's commits in two posts at Touch the Banner. While several Michigan commits fell in the new rankings, Pipkins made a huge leap from #246 all the way up to #53:
"Pipkins was impressive when we saw him at the U.S. Army Junior Combine in January, but he had trimmed some of the bad weight by the time he showed up at the Ohio State NIKE Camp and looked to be in much better shape," said Helmholdt of the 6-foot-3, 325-pounder from Kansas City (Mo.) Park Hill who is committed to Michigan. "He is explosive off the snap and once he gets that big frame moving up field offensive linemen have trouble slowing him down. Pipkins uses his hands well and is a potent combination of quickness, power and technique."
"Pipkins has added some muscle since the U.S. Army Combine in January," Perroni agreed. "He has an extremely strong lower body and uses it to overpower most opposing offensive linemen. He proved that he can play the pass just as well as he stuffs the run on film."
Another defensive tackle of great interest made a similar jump, as Danny O'Brien moved up 68 spots to #154:
"O'Brien has always had an explosive first step, but what was holding him back from a higher ranking early in the process was that he did not play with the power of other elite defensive tackles," Helmholdt said.
"Over the course of the spring, however, O'Brien added 25 pounds to his frame and with the weight gain came the needed strength. He was impressive at the Ohio State NIKE Camp in May, then went out and had increasingly better performances at college camps and The Opening over the summer."
Speaking of O'Brien, Sam Webb's latest DetNews column focuses on his recruitment. O'Brien plans on taking an official visit for the Notre Dame game, and had this illuminating quote about being recruited by Michigan [emphasis mine]:
"Hoke said to me, 'Take your time. I know you're one of those guys that is really making a decision in cutting them down.' He said, 'Take your time and we will take you whenever.' That stood out to me. I was never the guy that had a dream school picked out. That was big for me because I've been down to Tennessee a few times and that's what I liked about them. They said, 'Take your time. It's your decision. You are your own man and you have to make your own decision.' When Coach Hoke finally said that (also), that was big for me with Michigan."
The Flint Powers standout says he's considering announcing his college decision on October 7, during his high school's homecoming week. He has an official visit planned for Michigan State for October 15, when they coincidentally play Michigan. You do the math there.
Lakewood (CA) wide receiver Darius Powe plans to visit Ann Arbor for the Notre Dame game ($, info in header).
Adolphus Washington and Dwayne Stanford will take official visits together to Michigan, USC, Alabama, and Arizona State, but Tim Sullivan (yes, that one) says not to expect these guys to become Wolverines, in so many words. All signs, especially with Washington, point to Ohio State at this time.
Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep cornerback Yuri Wright, who is now Rivals's #51 overall prospect, is keeping his options open ($, info in header). He recently said Rutgers and Cal stood out among his leaders, which also include Michigan, Georgia, Notre Dame, and Michigan State, but he has backed off that statement and claims he doesn't have any favorites or a timeline. Wright plans on taking all five official visits.
Defensive lineman Aziz Shittu claims to be down to a top three, and it doesn't include Michigan ($, info in header). I'm not sure if the coaches would take him at this point regardless.
Josh Garnett is still figuring out where to take his official visits ($, info in header), and the Wolverines appear to be in the mix.
Offensive lineman Jordan Diamond was one of the standouts at the Chicagoland Pre-Season Prep Bowl, according to Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports in a free article.
Happy trails to defensive tackle Jarron Jones, who somewhat surprisingly committed to Notre Dame on Monday. Many experts expected he'd end up at Penn State. He teams up with Sheldon Day to give the Irish a really good pair of DTs in the class — their defensive line is going to be scary good in a few years. Blergh.
The Detroit News names Terry Richardson the top prospect in the state. There's a disappointing lack of actual scouting reports throughout the entire countdown, but here's a quote from Cass Tech head coach Thomas Wilcher:
"He's one of the biggest recruits we've had," Wilcher said. "People asked me why Terry is so good. He's a great cover guy and he's fast."
Other players of interest in the countdown: James Ross (2), Mario Ojemudia (3), Royce Jenkins-Stone (4), Ron Thompson (5), Aaron Burbridge (6), Matt Godin (8), Devin Funchess (9), Danny O'Brien (10), Ben Braden (12), and LEVITICUS PAYNE (19).
Meanwhile, Duane Long has rated 11-50 of his top 50 prospects in Ohio [parts 1, 2, 3, and 4], and here's the Michigan commits included so far: Tom Strobel (12), Pharaoh Brown (17), Jarrod Wilson (18), Joe Bolden (26), A.J. Williams (31), and Caleb Stacey (48). That means Kyle Kalis and Chris Wormley are almost assuredly in his top ten, but it'll be interesting to see if Kaleb Ringer and Allen Gant make the cut or are (unjustifiably, in my somewhat-biased opinion) left off the list entirely. For context, the #50 prospect, Mason Monheim, is unrated on Rivals and holds offers from Illinois and a handful of MAC schools.
Dave Berk, who covers Ohio high schools for Scout, tweets that Joe Bolden is the "top pure linebacker" in the state in the 2012 class.
Scout released their initial list of five-star recruits for the class of 2013, and Shane Morris is one of them. Analyst Bill Greene on the future Wolverine quarterback:
"I've never seen him play in pads yet, but I've seen him at Pittsburgh, seen him in Florida, saw him in Cleveland, NIKE, four or five times. The thing that sticks out is arm strength, one of the strongest arms you'll ever see, especially on a kid that young. He's still developing. What I got to see in the 7 on 7s, is competitiveness. His team had been on road a lot. He hadn't been home in awhile, and it was about 100 degrees in Florida, and I think a lot of kids mailed it in that day, and that kid wasn't going to mail it in. He wanted to win, and they did. He couldn't just gun it into windows down there either, he had to show touch. There was speed all over the field, and he had to throw over linebackers, underneath safeties, and he did it. You saw how much he loved to compete. It meant a lot to me too, that, at NIKE, Elite 11, they made them do a lot of things they don't do at any other event, with throwing on the run, the targets they have to hit, and his accuracy was impressive. I didn't know he had that type of accuracy. He's as good as it gets as a quarterback prospect. I like what he does with footwork, release, and he'll only get better, bigger, and stronger."
Scott Kennedy piles on with more hype, saying, "I don't know where he'll be ranked overall in the Class of 2013, but he'd easily be a Top 10 guy in the Class of 2012." It's not clear whether he means overall or among quarterbacks, but regardless... word.
Scout also posted a breakdown of recruits in the Midwest who could earn the coveted five-star rating or at least crack the Scout 300, and those players include:
- Fort Wayne (IN) ATH Jaylon Smith (not offered yet)
- Midland OL Steven Elmer (offered)
- Marlington (OH) ATH Dymonte Thomas (offered)
- Trotwood-Madison (OH) S Cameron Burrows (interest, no offer)
- Hudson (OH) OLB Ben Gedeon (offered)
- Huber Heights (OH) Wayne OL Lovell Peterson (interest, no offer)
- Joliet (IL) Catholic Academy RB Ty Isaac (interest, no offer)
- Avon (IN) DE Elijah Daniel (interest, no offer)
- Detroit Catholic Central ATH Wyatt Shallman (offered)
- Brother Rice DE Jon Reschke (interest, no offer)
- Grand Blanc Community DE Luke Maclean (interest, no offer).
Got all that? There will be a quiz next week.
The Saginaw News prominently features Steven Elmer in a preview of Midland's season, and despite drawing interest from schools like Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Syracuse, and Mississippi State, it sounds like he'll be holding off on a decision for the near future:
"Steven's been recruited heavily, while Wylie, Vieau, Alek Swiercz have been going to some MAC and GLIAC schools," [Midland head coach Eric] Methner said. "I'm not worried about it being a distraction because their focus is on Midland High School right now. The recruiting stuff was for the spring and winter. They are absolutely focused on their role as Chemic football players. Our coaches are doing a good job of keeping them focused."
Lake City (FL) OL Laremy Tunsil was named one of 24/7's first five-stars in the class of 2013 ($, info in header). He's been hearing from the Michigan coaches, and I'm guessing an offer will come sooner or later. The 6'6", 275-pound junior already holds scholarship offers from Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Notre Dame, USC, Arkansas, and South Florida.
Finally, Farmington Hills Harrison sophomore running back Lorenzo Collins is profiled by 24/7's Steve Wiltfong. Collins talks about attending Michigan's camp with teammates Devin Funchess and Mario Ojemudia:
“[Fred Jackson] told me a lot of speed things and things that would help me with my footwork,” Collins said. “He was just telling me and actually motivating me. He told me he’d be looking at me. I’ve never been a big fan of Michigan, but I’m really starting to like it. It’s a fun school. I like the coaches. The coaches are real motivating.”
Unfortunately, no glowing Fred Jackson quotes comparing Collins to a young Bo Jackson with more speed were readily available.
Summer recruiting has wound down with the arrival of fall camp, especially for teams with a commit list as close to full as Michigan's. There's still information to go around, but unofficial/official visits (starting with the Western Michigan game) should see the return of action.
IA WR Amara Darboh (pictured at right) will be visiting Ann Arbor for the Western Michigan game, after a strong visit a couple weeks ago.
CA WR Jordan Payton will be in attendance for the Notre Dame game.
IL OL Jordan Diamond is in no hurry to commit, so it's possible that Michigan's class fills up before he wants to commit. There's only one spot available along the offensive line, and WA OLs Josh Garnett and Zach Banner are planning early-season visits. Garnett is trying to arrange his Michigan visit for the Notre Dame game, the same as Banner.
For all the talk of those other linemen, don't forget about PA OL Adam Bisnowaty, who is still considering Michigan. He's the other primary option for that final OL spot in the 2012 crop.
Saginaw fluff on expatriate MO DT Commit Ondre Pipkins, who grew up in the area:
In the end, it was one of those Saginaw High connections that helped cement Ondre Pipkins’ commitment to Michigan. [Roy] Manning, the former Saginaw High star who played at Michigan before a three-year NFL career, is back in Ann Arbor as a first-year graduate assistant on Hoke’s staff.
Manning is friends with Ondre's dad Al, who still lives in Saginaw.
Pipkins's commitment left MI DT Danny O'Brien wondering where he stands with the Wolverines. He planned to call Michigan's coaches on Monday, but no word on how it went.
IL CB Anthony Standifer is solid in his commitment, in case you were worried about his status.
ESPN Rise has released their All-Midwest team, and though I'm more apt to ignore a squad with three(!!!) first-team QBs, it's kind to Michigan, so linky, here we go. Commits in bold; other targets in regular.
- OH RB (OSU Commit) Bri'onte Dunn
- OH WR Dwayne Stanford
- OH OL Commit Kyle Kalis
- IL OL Jordan Diamond
- OH DE Adolphus Washington
- MI LB Commit Royce Jenkins-Stone
- MI LB Commit James Ross
- OH S Bam Bradley
- MI CB Commit Terry Richardson
- IL CB Commit Anthony Standifer
- OH WR Monty Madaris
- MI DT Danny O'Brien
- MI DE Commit Mario Ojemudia
- OH DE/DT Commit Chris Wormley
- OH LB Commit Joe Bolden
- OH S Commit Jarrod Wilson
Happy Trails, MA CB Armani Reeves, who picked Penn State. That brings Michigan's DB hotboard back down to one uncommitted prospect, NJ CB Yuri Wright.
With the 2012 class mostly complete, it's no surprise that focus shifts more heavily to rising juniors.
MI OL Cameron Dillard may receive a Michigan offer after sending coaches early-season junior film.
MI OL Steven Elmer has set up a few visits this fall, including two to Notre Dame (and one to Michigan for the Notre Dame contest). It seems like the Irish are going to be one of the strongest contenders for his services.
Tom talked with MD DT/DE Henry Poggi following a visit to Ann Arbor last week:
I've taken a few visits down south and decided to go to Ann Arbor before camp starts for us... I would say Michigan is up there, I really like the people down there and the education they have.
I would rather not prolong my commitment. I don't know the exact date, but I'd like to take a couple official visits. If I know before I can take visits then I would just commit, I don't really have to take the officials.
Poggi's offer list already includes the likes of Alabama and Ohio State, so building a favorable impression of Michigan early is a strong start with one of 2013's top prospects.
Keep an eye on IL DE Devante Lee ($, info in header). He's a teammate of IL OL Jordan Diamond (and former teammate of Wolverine freshman Chris Bryant).
Michigan is "turning up the heat" on MI DE/LB Luke MacLean.
Sam Webb's Detroit News column this week focuses on OH LB Ben Gedeon, primarily explaining why he's called "the freak":
"I was just always a little bit bigger than everybody, so my family called me that."
That's... not as interesting as I was expecting. Gedeon does a little bit of everything on both sides of the ball in high school, and Allen Trieu talks about his physical skills:
"He was excellent when we saw him in camp settings and his film verified what we had seen in shorts and T-shirts," Scout.com midwest regional manager Allen Trieu said. "He is a well built kid at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds and moves very well at that size."
Gedeon says Michigan is currently atop his list, but he plans to evaluate all of his options before making a decision. He attended the BBQ at the Big House, where he connected with Michigan commits like James Ross and Kyle Kalis. He tells Tom that Michigan was his first offer - a big deal - and he'll try to visit campus for the Notre Dame game this fall.
GA CB Shaquille Wiggins is trying to visit Michigan for an early-season game.
Decision day approaches for OH S Jarrod Wilson, who will make his choice public on Friday at 2:45PM. Michigan, Penn State, and Notre Dame are the finalists, and the general vibe seems to be that Michigan has at least as good a shot at landing him as the other two schools.
Should Wilson pick Michigan, KY S Jeremy Clark will keep his greyshirt offer from Michigan, but it's expected that Clark will receiver a full scholarship offer for the 2012 class if Wilson picks the Nittany Lions or Irish.
Holding the Lines
Michigan's recruiting on both side of the line of scrimmage has gone well already, and it could get better soon.
According to camp position coach Courtney Morgan, Erik Magnuson was the best offensive lineman in attendance and it's really no surprise since the four-star tackle from Carlsbad (Calif.) La Costa Canyon has proven multiple times that he's one of the best in the country.
Magnuson has great footwork, plays with a lot of intensity and passion, and simply doesn't let defensive ends around him. He was really good at the B2G Camp, the Stanford NIKE Camp and the Asante Trenchmen Academy this spring and summer.
In an absolutely loaded group of offensive linemen in the West this recruiting cycle, Magnuson continues to prove he's one of the best.
Of note, Courtney Morgan happens to be a former Wolverine, and a mentor of CA OL Jordan Simmons. Tom spoke with Magnuson's high school head coach:
"He's one of the most athletic offensive linemen in the country," he said. "That's his big selling point is that he's a real athlete. At that size, a full 6-foot-6 and 280 plus pounds he can run with just about everybody on the team. It's ridiculous how athletic he is."
He also mentions that Magnuson is one of the hardest workers out there, and athletic enough to practice at wide receiver(!!!!) for his high school team.
AZ OL Andrus Peat's top 10:
Arizona State, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Stanford, Texas, USC (Southern California).
Michigan may be a longshot, but staying on the list this late into the game definitely gives them a chance.
MO DT Ondre Pipkins took to Twitter last week to provide a recruiting update. Per MGoShoe's recap:
- Top 6 (in order): Michigan, Tennessee, Alabama, Oklahoma, Missouri, Florida
- Intends to take officials in the fall
- Hasn't been in contact with other Michigan recruits
- Has visited Missouri, Kansas, Ohio State
- Hopes to visit Michigan soon
- Wants to major in business administration or communication
Not a whole lot of new stuff (aside from the teams joining Michigan in his top six), but it's good to hear it directly from the prospect's mouth.
While O'Brien said all the right things about the embattled Rodriguez at the time, he believes that the program is heading in the right direction under new coach Brady Hoke.
"Their new coaching staff is unbelievable," O'Brien said... "I think they're going to make a big turnaround, especially with the recruiting classes they're pulling in."
O'Brien and Pipkins seem to be the top two prospects for Michigan's nose tackle spot in the 2012 class, though Brian would prefer two 1-techs in the 2012 crop.
More of the same, as OH DE Chris Wormley tells the Toledo Blade's Ryan Autullo that Michigan leads for his services. As far as timeline goes, he plans to decide by the end of August, but a choice could come any time.
MD DE Ryan Watson has a top four of Michigan State, Michigan, Tennessee, and Georgia Tech.
Other People's (De)Commits
NY DT Jarron Jones is back on the market, decommitting from Penn State this week. However, with Michigan's current recruiting situation at defensive tackle, the Wolverines probably aren't a serious contender for his services.
After decommitting from Stanford, CA DT Aziz Shittu publicly hoped that he gets a chance to check out Michigan before the class is full. Tom talked to him about recruiting, and Aziz may try to take in Ann Arbor the weekend of the Notre Dame game.
CA WR Jordan Payton has decommitted from USC, and Michigan is among the schools he will consider:
The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder will likely play most of his recruitment close to the vest before announcing and one of the key reasons why is the fact that he's trying to orchestrate a few other players to join him at his eventual destination.
“I'm going to tell you this, it's going to be interesting the next couple of weeks for in recruiting,” Payton said. “You're going to see a lot of changes. Just think Fab Five.” Knowing how the comment would sound, Payton was quick to clarify “like” the Fab Five and that it didn't mean they were for sure headed to Michigan.
ESPN's "The Opening" is taking place as we speak in Oregon, with a number of Michigan commits:
- Erik Magnuson
- Mario Ojemudia
- Terry Richardson
- James Ross
- Anthony Standifer
- Zach Banner
- Adam Bisnowaty
- Bri'Onte Dunn
- Durron Neal
- Danny O'Brien
- Aziz Shittu
- Jordan Simmons
in attendance (among many others). If you want to see this event with your very own eyeballs, it's airing on ESPNU tomorrow at 9 and 10PM, Friday at 8 and 9PM, Saturday at 6, 7, and 9PM, and Sunday at 6AM, noon, and 1:30PM.
- IN QB James Knapke committed to Bowling Green.
- IN QB Zach Terrell and IL QB Anthony Maddie committed to Western Michigan.
- MA QB AJ Doyle committed to NC State.
- FL QB Bennie Coney doesn't mention Michigan in a recent video interview, and in fact he told Tom he's no longer considering the Wolverines.
- IL DT Jaleel Johnson will pick between Michigan State and Iowa.
- UT DE Troy Hinds will decide soon from a list of six schools that doesn't include Michigan (it does include Utah, BYU, Stanford, Cal, Notre Dame, and Nebraska).
- Michigan is outside the final five for OH DE Ifeadi Odenigbo. Ohio State and a cast of good academic schools (Northwestern, Notre Dame, Cal, and Stanford) make his list.
- TX CB Will Hines committed to Missouri.
With Michigan's class filling up, it's not a surprise that prospects are picking other schools with greater frequency.
ESPN's Jeremy Crabtree does not think Michigan is the leader for OH QB Maty Mauk. With conventional wisdom saying that IN QB Gunner Kiel is leaning elsewhere as well, top-flight quarterback options are dwindling for the 2012 crop.
Tom talks to MI RB Juwan Lewis (and his father) about recruiting, but it doesn't sound like a Michigan offer is coming soon.
The Cincinnati Enquirer has 50 local high school football players to keep an eye on this fall, and a few players of Michigan interest appear. Commits:
- #2 Joe Bolden
- #5 AJ Williams
- #7 Caleb Stacey
Targets DE Adolphus Washington (who has Michigan in his top 5 - and Ohio State out of it), Dwayne Stanford, and many juniors also appear.
MI QB Commit Shane Morris highlights from the Madden 7-on-7 championships:
Très impressionnant, and it's a scientifically proven fact that lefties just look much better throwing the ball.
Local fluff on MI OL Steven Elmer and his relationship with former Detroit Lion Lomas Brown.
“My timeline is whenever I’m absolutely sure that’s where I’m going to go,” he said. “I would prefer not to wait until the last possible second. But I’m not rushed. I still have a lot of time. I want to make the most informed decision and involve my family. ... It’s going to be tough to make a decision to pull some of these schools out of the running,” he admitted.
With more than 18 months until Signing Day, it doesn't sound like he's expecting a decision any time soon. He's done attending summer camps for the summer.
Tom talked with IL OL Kyle Bosch, who would like to hear from Michigan.
"Michigan still leads" for OH S/RB Dymonte Thomas ($, info in header).
ESPN fluff on TX WR Jake Oliver, who has already received a Michigan offer.
"I've coached coaches' sons before and they just have a real feel for the game," Jesuit coach Brandon Hickman said. "He just has a knack for the ball and he runs great routes, precision routes. His hands are probably the best I've ever seen as a coach." Combine all that with Jake's size at 6-foot-4, 194 pounds, and college scouts had plenty of reasons to visit Jesuit during the offseason. It's clear they liked what they saw, as he already has received 10 Division-I offers from schools like Texas A&M, Michigan, Texas Tech, Arizona and Arkansas.
Once the 2012 class is wrapped up (which could happen absurdly soon), we'll have a better idea what the needs for 2013 are.
Jeremy Clark and Blake Bars Go Blue
A twin-bill of commitments started on Friday, as KY S Jeremy Clark committed to a greyshirt offer. The Hello: Jeremy Clark post may have been a shade on the pessimistic side (at the time, Rivals's database was apparently broken, so I wasn't aware he had Illinois and Cincinnati offers, which makes him significantly more attractive as an offer candidate), and that definitely changes my guess that other, more-immediate, offers might change his decision to accept a greyshirt. Still, other reports aren't exactly glowing. Magnus on Touch the Banner:
There's a very good chance that his body has matured throughout the offseason, and if he's done some work on his own in the film room, he might have improved some of his weaknesses, too. But from what I see here, he's slow to read plays, slow to react at times, takes questionable pursuit angles, doesn't have the greatest of playmaking abilities, doesn't hit hard with consistency (although there are a couple nice blows), and doesn't wrap up when he tackles.
College coaches have had a chance to see him in camp since then, so it's likely he's improved a lot if they were willing to offer. As a greyshirt, Clark is currently considered a 2013 commit, but could move into the class of 2012 pending the decision of OH S Jarrod Wilson.
He is an outstanding run blocker, one who can physically dominate his opponent. He shows the quick feet and flexibility to be solid in pass protection. Notice on the film his short, choppy, but controlled steps that sometimes (sometimes not) have a low base and good balance.
He’s great at finishing blocks, working relentlessly to pile the poor sap lined up across from him into the ground, at least until the whistle blows. He has some of the niftiest footwork I’ve seen in a lineman Michigan’s recruited this year, outside of maybe Kyle Kalis. His feet are always in motion and allow him to move laterally, a great asset for any lineman at the next level.
For more on Bars, check out the Hello: Blake Bars post. I also managed to miss that Michigan picked up a preferred walk-on for the 2012 class in IL WR Bo Dever ($, info in header). If I can find enough info on him in the coming days, he may get the Hello post treatment.
He dedicated himself in the weight room this offseason, adding good weight and getting up to 319-lbs. Even at that size, he was moving well enough to be considered a left tackle prospect. He's strong, technique is improving and he's more athletic than previously thought.
It's a good sign that Brady Hoke's staff has an eye for identifying talent earlier than most.
CA OL Erik Magnuson talked to the local news about why he picked Michigan:
Pharaoh Brown is listed as a defensive end but #Michigan ought to consider him as a wide receiver...he is very smooth.
There's video, so check it out for yourself. He certainly has good hands (and an ability to get up for the ball), but his athleticism - exceptional for a defensive end - may not be quite what you'd expect out of a bigtime wide receiver. There's also the small fact that he hasn't played wideout in high school yet, playing mostly QB last year.
Bob Lichtenfels gave 2013 QB Commit Shane Morris some love at the IMG 87-on-7 in Florida:
Share [sic] Morris is a winner, love the kids moxie at IMG Madden 7on7. Michigan is getting a good one...
Morris and 2012 MI RB Dennis Norfleet were named co-MVPs and their team won the Championship. MGoUser JakeinVeniceFL worked the event as an official, and was also impressed. Scout called Morris "nearly unstoppable" over the final two days of the tournament.
Michigan is CBS/Maxpreps's #2 recruiting class at this point (they were #1 last night, but a kicker pickup boosted Texas ahead), and 24/7 Sports's #2 linebacker recruiting class (not including Ojemudia, considered a defensive end) behind Alabama. The linebackers also get some love from ESPN.
OH S Jarrod Wilson has set his decision date: Next Friday at 2:30 PM. Michigan, Notre Dame, and Penn State are his final three schools, and many analysts think the Wolverines are the favorite to land him.
OH OL Kyle Kalis thinks OH DE Chris Wormley is going to commit to Michigan, and the two were on campus together last weekend. Wormley has been talking about moving toward a decision for a long time, so a visit to campus could have helped push things forward.
Tom said not to expect a commitment from Kalis last weekend, so the lack of a pledge from the big man came as no surprise. He wants to visit Alabama and Miami (YTM) before making a decision. However, his decision could move up after a visit or two.
A source tells Bucknuts's Dave Biddle that Kalis and OH RB Bri'Onte Dunn will not end up at Ohio State:
These guys aren't just decommitting, they have written off going to OSU... Word going around at both St. Eds and GlenOak are that the Buckeyes have "no chance" at landing either of them.
He goes on to say that Dunn's decommitment is a long time coming, but Kalis not ending up in Columbus after his long, (excited, commit-y) commitment is a big change. As a counterpoint, Bill Greene now thinks Bri'onte Dunn will stick with Ohio State unless (until) the Buckeyes get hammered by the NCAA.
Local fluff of epic proportions on IN QB Gunner Kiel. A lot of it is of the "hey, person who doesn't follow recruiting, the recruiting industry sucks" variety (with plenty of one sentence paragraphs), but there are some useful pieces of information included:
"(The decision) will probably be some time this month. I don't know a date. Whenever I feel it in my gut, I'm probably going to make that decision. I'll let my teammates, family and friends know. By then, I'm sure it will get out."
There are mentions of Alabama, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Indiana, but no Michigan. It seems like the Wolverines' ship has probably sailed for Kiel, though Tom Lemming is far higher on the Wolverines' chances, putting them in a top 3 with Alabama and Oklahoma.
MaxPreps picks up on the "Greg Garmon beat cancer" story (a couple months late, it would seem). The PA RB has narrowed his list to Michigan, Illinois, North Carolina, Iowa, and Pitt, according to the article. He recently picked up an Ohio State offer, so we'll see if that affects his recruitment.
OH RB/FB Alden Hill received a Michigan offer. He talked to Tom about which position the coaches want him to play:
They want me as an all purpose back, a full back and running back. Someone they don't have to change personnel if they switch plays out of the two back system. I'm definitely good with that role, it's good for competition.
That sounds to me like their first thought is FB, but he can also play tailback. Landing a combo back like Hill would give the coaching staff much more flexibility about taking another ball-carrier in the class, but it sounds like Michigan isn't in great position with Hill.
WA OL Zach Banner has set up his official Michigan visit for the Notre Dame game.
IL OL Jordan Diamond will play in a new All-Star game, the US Marine Bowl.
AZ OL Andrus Peat will probably include Notre Dame and Nebraska in his final five, meaning Michigan is fighting it out with a few other schools for one of the remaining three spots.
WA OL Josh Garnett is down to 11 schools, including Michigan. The Wolverines join Notre Dame, OKlahoma, Auburn, and Nebraska as the non-Pac-12 schools on his list.
Michigan is in the top six for MI DT Danny O'Brien ($, info in header). It'll be interesting to see how Michigan's DL recruiting plays out over the rest of the summer, with only a couple spots left.
Free Rivals article on OH S Bam Bradley, who doesn't mention Michigan. With the Wolverines' current DB and LB hauls, it's tough to see Bam ending up in this class.
A lot of recruits with Michigan interest and/or offers that hadn't been mentioned much from a Michigan perspective lately made commitments to other schools:
- IN QB James Knapke committed to Bowling Green. He was unlikely to receive a Michigan offer.
- IL QB Wes Lunt committed to Oklahoma State.
- CA WR Raymond Ford committed to UCLA.
- CA TE Ian Taubler committed to UCLA.
- CA TE Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick committed to USC.
- IN OL Jake Meador committed to Ole Miss.
- TX OL John Michael McGee picked Oklahoma.
- PA OL Chris Muller committed to Rutgers.
- OH OL Tyler Orlosky (a teammate of Kyle Kalis) committed to West Virginia.
- MD LB/WR Deontay McManus committed to West Virginia.
- OH S De'Van Bogard committed to Ohio State.
In other Happy Trails news, MN OL Jonah Pirsig is deciding soon, and Michigan doesn't seem to be in the mix. With Michigan's recruiting class filling up fast, we should see a lot of recruits cutting the Wolverines from their lists in the near future.
Tom spoke with the father of MI OL Steven Elmer Jr. about his son's recruiting:
We have to have a great school first and foremost. He has a 4.3 GPA so we have to find him a good school, could be Ivy league, could be a place like Michigan. When he decides what he wants to study he'll look into that.
That certainly helps Michigan's case against presumed childhood favorite Michigan State (but not so much over Notre Dame, which has now offered him).
PA TE Adam Breneman, who holds a Michigan offer, is Notre Dame's #1 priority at the position in the 2013 class ($, info in header).
MI RB/DE Wyatt Shallman is "surrounded by Maize & Blue" ($, info in header).
Michigan leads for OH RB/S Dymonte Thomas, the subject of Sam Webb's latest Detroit News column. His coach on how he plays:
"I see him as a safety at the next level, but he could do about anything really. (During the spring) he ran a 4.57 electronic 40-yard dash at the Nike Combine in Pittsburgh, so that tells you about his speed. He is a very physical player and a leader on this team."
He also drops some hints that his cousin Bri'Onte Dunn (mentioned above) might be interested in Michigan if the Buckeyes are hit with a bowl ban.
OH LB Ben Gedeon is high on Michigan ($, info in header).
That's the type of camp we're talking about, right?
It's summer camp season across the country, with the Sound Mind Sound Body taking place in Southfield last week (and affording IL OL Jordan Diamond an opportunity to stop in Ann Arbor ($, info in header)). The Incredible Hoke was amongst the speakers.
Michigan's camp started Sunday, and runs until this upcoming weekend. The Free Press runs down Michigan's ongoing summer camp, including tidbits that FL QB Tyler Cameron plans to attend (and hopefully earn an offer), and OH QB Austin Appleby is in the same position.
MI TE Ron Thompson may visit Michigan this week. He and the coaches may get a chance to discuss whether there's still a place for him in the recruiting class.
Tom has a big list of camp visitors of interest.
Last Train out of Columbus
First, OH DE Tom Strobel committed to Michigan a week ago, then Kyle Dodson to Wisconsin, and finally Se'Von Pittman to Michigan State this week (after rumors he had tried to commit to Michigan's coaches a week ago). All three players were heavy Buckeye leans until Jim Tressel resigned.
Did something happen at Ohio State? Because they're sure hemorrhaging commits (and presumed locks to commit) lately. The AP explores the positive effects for Michigan of Ohio State's little difficulty following the rules:
"When I filled out Strobel's evaluation card after talking to [Tom Strobel], I wrote down, '95 percent going to Ohio State,'" CBS College Sports recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said. "I thought he was a lock and I thought the Top 10 recruits in Ohio would all end up going to Ohio State. But now, with Tressel gone and so much uncertainty hanging over the program, I'm not so sure."
"There's no doubt he's going after Ohio kids," Strobel said, "and I think he's going to be able to get a few."
The article mentions that Michigan is in very good position for OH DE Adolphus Washington, teammate of WR Dwayne Stanford. Even Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald is seeing openings with high-academic kids (he can't say names, but that's secret code for "Ifeadi Odenigbo").
It's pretty much for the past few months I've become really good friends with Tom Strobel and he said I would love it up there, he fell in love with it. Tom was up there last weekend and he was talking about me with the coaches, they were joking around saying we could be roommates. I think Chris [Wormley] will be up there too [TomVH: I confirmed with Wormley that he is visiting this weekend]. I'm closer with Tom, but I am friends with Chris.
This would be a huge recruiting win if Michigan's coaches could lock him down, and it would allow them to be very selective about other linemen for the class. With Chris Wormley visiting as well, and inching toward a decision, the turmoil in Columbus might help swing him Blue sooner rather than later (fingers crossed).
The OZone's Tony Gerdeman says that he expects another 5-star Buckeye to decommit this week. OH RB Bri'Onte Dunn is the only player who fits that bill, and has expressed Michigan interest despite his OSU commitment. Duane Long is having a panic attack about the coaching situation's effect on recruiting.
OH S Jarrod Wilson sat down with his coaches last week, and again on Monday. They're trying to decide whether Jarrod is ready to make his school choice between Michigan, Penn state, and Notre Dame. The next meeting takes place on Friday.
The process might end a little sooner than I expected. I can't wait to get up to Michigan to visit.
That certainly sounds promising.
MI CB LEVITICUS PAYNE(!!!) is still showing interest in Michigan. [Ed: With Standifer and Richardson in the class, the Payne train has likely... uh... sailed. Alas.]
Michigan is seeking at least a couple more offensive linemen in this class, an TN OL Blake Bars could be one of them. Tom talked to him about the process:
My top schools are probably Penn State, Florida, Vanderbilt, LSU, and Michigan. There are some other schools I would maybe want to consider, but that's my top group right now. We're focusing on visiting the top schools right now, and we really wanted to visit Michigan.
That was over the weekend, so no word on how it went, though if he's now closing in on a decision ($, info in header), hopefully well.
AZ OL Andrus Peat is one of the nation's top prospects, and he talked to Tom about his recent Ann Arbor visit:
I was really impressed with everything. I could definitely see myself playing there. I don't know when I'll make my decision, just whenever I feel right. I will probably take official visits and then decide after my senior season.
He plans to cut his list down to 5-8 schools now that he's visited some of his top options.
Michigan recently offered big GA WR Jason Croom, and Tom talked to his mother about the recruiting process:
From a parent stand point this is home, from an academic stand point it's great, and distance wouldn't matter because he would be surrounded by family. It's convenient. One of the [Michigan] coaches actually grew up in the same neighborhood as me and we didn't know it.
With family in metro Detroit, Croom is planning to visit Ann Arbor later this summer. HOWEVA, Croom claims that he'll only play in the SEC, so don't get your hopes up.
Friday Night Lights
In promoting the Big Day Prep Showdown (more about this event as Friday Night Lights approaches), MI CB Commit Terry Richardson talks about why he picked Michigan, and how he's preparing for his senior year.
They'll be opponents for this game, but teammates at the next level, and MI TE Commit Devin Funchess reps his future colors in the same video series:
He says he'll play both at the end of the line and split out in college, confirming the H-back hypotheses that people have raised on his position at Michigan. He played well at Eastern's 7-on-7:
He's long, lean, and runs good routes. We knew he could go up and get it, but what he did here that we hadn't seen as much, was display run after the catch ability. He caught a short out, turned upfield and out ran an entire defense on one touchdown. He'll have weight to add to become an effective tight end, but he's a matchup problem waiting to happen.
Definite tweener at this point. His teammate, MI WR Aaron Burbridge, doesn't give a whole lot of insight on the recruiting process, but does list Michigan first among his offers, for what it's worth. Burbridge impressed at EMU's 7-on-7:
In the championship game, we saw him catch five touchdowns in almost as many possessions, showing great explosiveness and outstanding ball skills. One of the scoring grabs was a wheel route he ran from the backfield and he was doubled on the play, but went up over two defenders to make the grab. He also had a great day at corner, intercepting several passes and breaking up many others. He is without a doubt, an elite talent.
Get those grades in order, my guy.
Also in the realm of the committed, but going one class into the past, the Ohio-Pennsylvania Big 33 Showdown happened over the weekend, and the Michigan East-West All-Star game takes place this weekend at Central Michigan. They'll get recapped in the final Friday Night Lights feature for 2011. Then I'll start looking forward to the 2012 class's senior year soon.
NY QB Chad Kelly, who had yet to receive a Michigan offer, committed to Clemson.
NC OL DJ Humphries is down to 5 non-Michigan schools.
TX OL Trey Keenan committed to Texas Tech.
OH DE Se'Von Pittman committed to Michigan State. There was a rumor that he had tried to commit to Michigan a couple weeks back, but told by the coaches to work on his academics before they'd accept a commitment.
NJ S Brandon Napoleon, who had shown some interest in Michigan, but didn't have an offer, committed to West Virginia.
Michigan's summer camp is a good opportunity for the coaches to get to know some underclassmen, and decide which to offer. One of those guys who recently received an offer was MI OL Steven Elmer, the subject of last week's Sam Webb recruiting column:
"While it is early, I see Elmer and Shane Morris battling it out for the top spot in the state for the class of 2013. Right now, because I've seen more of Morris and he has performed well at national settings, he has the edge. However, Elmer's athletic gifts definitely give him a shot to unseat the Warren DeLaSalle quarterback."
Trieu talked about the skills that make Elmer such a special prospect:
"Steve Elmer stands out on tape," said Scout.com Midwest regional manager Allen Trieu. "He has fantastic size at 6-6 and 297 pounds, and has the type of athleticism, knee bend, and general coordination colleges look for in a prospect. He gets off the ball well, plays with good pad level, and appears to be a strong kid already. I'd like to see him finish blocks stronger and maybe play a little meaner, but as far as physical tools go, he has the goods."
Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Notre Dame seem to be the top competition early in the process. Elmer is open to making an early decision if he finds the right place for him, and Tom talked to his dad about their thoughts on Ann Arbor.
A good performance at Michigan's camp netted an offer for OH LB Ben Gedeon (#, info in header).
MI RB Wyatt Shallman recently stopped in Ann Arbor for a quick camp visit (though he did not work out).
CO OL Chris Fox impressed at Michigan camp, and may receive an offer soon.