Note: The slew of commitments pushed this back, but I'm still taking questions via email or Twitter (use the hashtag #mgomailbag) for a recruiting mailbag that—any further recruiting developments pending—should go up tomorrow.
A4 To Your Door/No Sleepers No More
Just another totally normal Harbaugh picture. [Fuller]
Michigan hosted their "Aerial Assault" quarterback camp over the weekend. It featured such football activities as fielding ground balls and dodgeball; reportedly, the quarterbacks also threw an actual football around a little bit. Because Jim Harbaugh was involved, they kept score for the top campers, and M commit Brandon Peters came out on top, per TMI's Brice Marich:
The headliner of the camp was Avon, Indiana junior quarterback and Wolverine commit in Brandon Peters. The 6-4, 209-pound gun slinger showed off his strong arm and his footwork in several drills. He was in the top overall group and performed very well even in dodgeball. He clearly soaked in tutelage from signal callers like Jay Cutler and ultimately earned the crown as the camp’s top performer.
2017 four-star NY QB Jack Coan, the only rising junior offeree in attendance, found the camp as strange and informative as one would expect, per 247's Steve Lorenz ($):
"The camp itself was one of the most unique experiences I've ever had since I started playing football," Coan said. "I didn't go into the camp expecting to play baseball or dodgeball or anything like that, but it worked and it was one of the most rewarding experiences I've had from a camp standpoint. I learned a lot from a lot of great current and former players and coaches. It was really great to work with someone like Jay Cutler and a coach like Coach Harbaugh who has seen the position from every different angle."
Coan also took a campus tour while in Ann Arbor. Michigan seems to be in pretty good shape for him.
2018 Paramus (NJ) Catholic QB Allan Walters also worked with the top group. He showed enough to earn an offer, and he was still having a hard time expressing his excitement when 247's Steve Wiltfong caught up with him:
"I'm so excited I can't express it," Walters said. "I don't know a better offer for a quarterback. Harbaugh and Michigan that's unbelievable. I'm in shock and so excited."
Walters also has early offers from Rutgers and Temple. The ever-strengthening connection between Michigan and Paramus Catholic should help here.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Happy Trails, Definitely
ack (also, PROTIP: do NOT do a GIS for "happy trails")
After Michigan nabbed a top-100 receiver, Brian Cole, away from Michigan State the week before, the Spartans returned the favor on Friday when they landed 2016 four-star Cameron Chambers. Point, MSU. Several negative points, meanwhile, to these guys.
Unfortunately, the bad news doesn't end there. The Damien Harris saga appears to be over for Michigan, as the former Wolverine commit announced on Twitter that he'd narrowed his list to five finalists: Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Ohio State, and Texas A&M. Michigan's made a big push for Cass Tech four-star RB Mike Weber in the last couple months, and their efforts to land him should only intensify with this news.
Happy Trails, Probably
Two major U-M targets will announce their commitments to Schools Other Than Michigan soon, though both will remain on the board thanks to their future visit plans.
The first is four-star FL WR Auden Tate, who'll choose between Clemson, Michigan, USF, Maryland, Florida State, Florida, and Georgia tomorrow; the decision is expected to go FSU's way, and since Tate hasn't been to Ann Arbor it won't be U-M. Despite the impending decision, however, Tate told 247's Josh Newberg that he has two official visits planned ($):
“I’m taking one to FSU and I’m taking one to Michigan. I don’t know if I’ll take the other three.”
While Tate will commit elsewhere tomorrow, Michigan isn't totally out of it, even if their ultimate chances of landing him probably aren't great.
The second is four-star MD OG Patrick Allen, who informed Wolverine247 yesterday that he'll officially visit Michigan for the Minnesota game on September 27th. Just hours ago, he told 247's Ryan Bartow that he'll make a decision "in a week or two," which bodes unwell since Allen, like Tate, hasn't yet made it to campus; he has, however, taken trips to the other two schools in his top three, Georgia and Oklahoma. Again, Michigan should get the chance to change his mind, as Allen said he'll still take his official visits.
New 2015 Offer
Michigan offered 2015 four-star CA OG Zach Robertson on Saturday, per 247's Clint Brewster. While Robertson holds a laundry list of offers from powerhouse programs, he plans to check out Ann Arbor on an official visit:
Robertson told Wolverine247 shortly after the Michigan offer went out, "It's a great school for sure. An official visit will be set up."
Pulling Robertson out of California will be difficult—UCLA has been a consistent presence among his top schools, and he also holds a USC offer—but getting him on campus would be a good start.
U-M Makes Top Five For HOLY HAIR
Michigan offered 2016 four-star MD WR Steven Smothers in May, and while he hasn't been able to visit yet, he still has Michigan is his top five, per GBW's Josh Newkirk ($):
“I would say my top-five schools are West Virginia, Alabama, Michigan, Florida and Ohio State,” said the four-star wide out.
“The Michigan offer is big,” Smothers said. “That’s a big time school. It’s a long time traditional powerhouse. That’s really big. Them and Ohio State, they are really a big deal to me, a powerhouse that’s been on top a long time. So I’m just ecstatic about the [Michigan] offer.” Smothers, who was offered by U-M back in May, says would like to possibly take a visit when Michigan plays host to Penn State on Oct. 11.
Importantly, Michigan is very much in the mix for one of the top receivers in the 2016 class. More importantly, this is Steven Smothers' hair (photo via above link):
Must-get recruit, obviously.
Four-star 2016 OH TE Luke Farrell holds a Michigan offer and was on campus for last month's BBQ, but right now his home-state school tops his list, per Scout's Derek Young ($):
"I'd say Ohio State is out front right now," he admitted. "Overall, they're number one on my list so far. I'm not sure when I will make my decision, yet. I'll take care of it once I feel like I am ready."
While Ohio State is winning that battle, it's a more even race for four-star 2016 GA RB Elijah Holyfield, who holds both schools in very high regard after visiting Columbus for OSU's Friday Night Lights camp and Ann Arbor for the BBQ, per 247's Alex Gleitman ($):
After multiple trips to both programs, it is clear that both Ohio State and Michigan are high on Holyfield’s list. He spoke about where the two schools stand, as well as how they compare to each other with 247Sports.
“I don’t have any leaders right now, but those two are definitely in my top group,” he said. “There are others in there too, but I know when I make a top 10 or top 5, whatever, that both Ohio State and Michigan are going to be in there. I’ll definitely be back to each school this fall to see a game at both.
“The schools are definitely a little different though. Michigan is more laid back and chill. Ohio State is up-tempo and intense. They’re different, but I enjoy both coaches and both styles.
Finally, there's reason to keep an eye on Brother Rice this season beyond QB commit Alex Malzone and '15 WR Grant Perry, who's getting a close look from U-M as a potential late offer candidate. Senior DE Jack Dunaway came to the BBQ with his teammates and left holding a preferred walk-on offer, per GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz ($):
Holding offers from Davidson, Saginaw Valley State, Notre Dame College, Cornell, and Harvard, Dunaway is also receiving walk-on interest from Stanford and Notre Dame.
Michigan’s defensive coordinator is telling Dunaway to simply enjoy the process and see what happens.
“[Greg Mattison] said, for your senior year just have fun, you have us, don’t worry about us,” Dunaway said. “He said just get whatever else you can so what’s best for you but just know you have a preferred walk-on for Michigan.”
Dunaway, who's also getting some MAC interest, said his parents are willing to pay his way to Michigan if he wants to walk on there over taking a scholarship at a smaller school. With a very small number of available scholarships, adding a walk-on of Dunaway's caliber at a position of need would be a great way to add depth to the 2015 class.
Michigan hosted four-star Illinois jumbo receiver Miles Boykin and his family for an unofficial visit over the weekend, and after receiving the full campus tour with a special "here's how we'll use you like Devin Funchess" film session, at least one of the Boykins was ready to sign up, per GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz ($):
“My dad and my brother are the biggest Michigan fans I know,” Boykin said. “So they loved it.”
Boykin adding, “When we got back home my brother looked at me and he said, ‘Miles, you’re a better man than I am.’ And I asked what are you talking about? And he was like, ‘I would’ve committed already bro.’
Miles told 247's Steve Wiltfong that he thought the trip "went awesome," and he "loved it" when Jeff Hecklinski showed him how he'd be utilized in the offense($), so while Boykin claimed no leaders it's tough not to feel like Michigan is in a very good position for him—especially since he already visited for the Spring Game and already plans on taking another summer unofficial to Ann Arbor before an August decision. Notre Dame is a serious contender and they're up next on his visit list, so this is far from over, but I like where Michigan stands.
The Wolverines also continue to look good for a few of their top targets, as well. Sam Webb's latest Detroit News article details a slight shift in recruiting strategy by the coaches—focusing on recruiting their position of specialty, as opposed to a set region, earlier than in years past—and how that's affected Michigan's chances with CT TE Chris Clark and NJ OT Grant Newsome.
Both have developed a close relationship with their potential future position coaches—Dan Ferrigno for Clark, Darrell Funk for Newsome—and will be on campus for critical unofficials this month, each accompanied by their mothers this time around. Michigan is Clark's stated leader, while Newsome is down to U-M and Penn State. Read Webb's whole article, which includes details on Alex Malzone's recruiting efforts, and you'll come away feeling good about Michigan's chances to land both.
Newsome won't be the only four-star tackle on campus this summer. According to Webb and Josh Newkirk, TN OT Drew Richmond has been impressed enough with Funk's continued recruiting efforts—even after Richmond left U-M out of his top 11 in March—that he's going to visit in July ($):
“I feel like he knows what he’s talking about and he cares about what he’s doing,” Richmond said about Funk.
The four-star offensive tackle continued: “They have just been consistently recruiting me. I really love the fan base.”
Meanwhile, recently offered TX WR A.D. Miller is on campus today while on a Midwest swing from Illinois to Ohio State, and he told Tim Sullivan he'll narrow down his focus to "about eight schools" after these trips ($). In other positive 2015 news, four-star TN LB Josh McMillon put Michigan in his unordered top ten.
Trending Not So Well...
Ohio State's campus hosted a Nike camp over the weekend, and the recruiting updates from Columbus weren't so good on the Michigan front. Damien Harris, in particular, came away singing the praises of OSU and Urban Meyer, per Doug Lesmerises:
"It's still kind of cool the way things go with Coach Meyer," Harris told cleveland.com Sunday, while attending a Nike Football Training Camp at Ohio State. "As a kid growing up, I'd see him on TV and I was like, 'Man, he's the man.' And now I get to be real cool with him. We walk into a basketball game together, we just get to enjoy life together right now - maybe for the next four years. It' definitely been a blessing. I get to be looked at as important enough to spend time with one of the greats of all time. It's definitely an honor. I don't take it for granted. I'm real thankful for it."
Harris told Steve Wiltfong that Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio State were the programs recruiting him the hardest; in the same article, he discussed how much he "loves" various aspects of OSU, UK, Florida, and Alabama, but when asked about Michigan he mentioned trying to "continue to develop a better relationship" with Doug Nussmeier ($). Harris, if you'll recall, was close with Al Borges before U-M changed OCs; I've finally given in and flipped my Crystal Ball pick for Harris to Ohio State.
The above makes this bit of news from TomVH a little tougher to stomach:
RB Mike Weber told me he does have a top 3 within his top 5. Ohio State, MSU, Wisconsin but Michigan and Tennessee still in it.
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) June 1, 2014
So that's not good. Michigan may be left looking for other options, and they at least have a couple. Tim Sullivan reports that Michigan offered three-star MO RB Alec Murphy (highlights above) a few weeks ago, and Murphy says he's looking at visiting U-M when he attends the Sound Mind Sound Body camp this month ($). The Wolverines could make a quick move here—at the moment, Iowa is his next-best offer.
There's also three-star GA RB Mikell Lands-Davis, who was offered a month ago. Steve Lorenz wrote a couple weeks ago, after U-M dropped by for an in-school visit, that the Wolverines could very well be the #2 team for him behind Clemson ($). If they can get him on campus—and they're working on setting that up—we'll see what happens.
Michigan was one of the first schools to seriously pursue four-star MN DE Jashon Cornell, and at the very least its paying off with continued mentions among his very top schools. The trouble is that the Wolverines have never seemed to quite reach the peak of his list; Notre Dame has the Cretin-Derham pipeline, Michigan State was his stated leader at one point, and now Ohio State has made a move to the forefront, per Wiltfong ($):
Sources close to Cornell told 247Sports Ohio State is now the team to beat. Cornell himself said the Buckeyes are in his top three now. They were on the outside looking in until this visit.
“Something about Coach (Larry) Johnson and Coach (Urban) Meyer,” Cornell said. “They bumped up high.”
Who else is in the top three?
“Maybe Michigan and Penn State,” Cornell said.
The bad news, of course, is that the Buckeyes appear to be on top. The good news is Michigan is still very much in the hunt, and they'll get another chance—along with Michigan State—to jump atop his list after an unofficial when he's in the state for SMSB.
Darrin Kirkland: NFTC LB MVP
One definitively good piece of news to come from the Columbus NFTC—commit Darrin Kirkland Jr. is doing quite well at the whole football thing, per Allen Trieu:
Linebacker MVP: Darrin Kirkland – Lawrence Central (Ind.)
The Michigan commit was impressive with his lateral agility. He did well in pass coverage, not something that was necessarily considered his forte coming in. He was invited to The Opening.
There's something about Kirkland and excelling in Columbus—his excellent coverage in passing drills "surprised" scouts at both the Nike and Rivals camps held there last summer. At some point, maybe it won't surprise anymore.
Recent Offers, Visitors
After receiving a Michigan offer last Wednesday, four-star FL DE Janarius Robinson told 247's Chris Nee he plans to visit Ann Arbor on June 20th ($). While Florida State will be tough to beat, a campus visit with these coaches can't be overlooked.
Another relatively recent offer that went unreported—or at least I didn't notice—until Tim Sullivan dug it up is four-star MD OL Pat Allen, who plans to visit this summer and expect U-M to fall within an impressive top five ($):
"Michigan is going to be in my top five, Georgia's going to be in my top five," he started. "I'm going to have those two, Ohio State is definitely in my top three, Florida State most likely top five.
"With Georgia, it's really the area. I've been there a couple times. It's a really good school, and I think Georgia's a solid program. I don't know much about Michigan yet. They do have a good program, and honestly anybody would be a fool not to go to Michigan. At Ohio State, I'm comfortable when I've been there. The region's really good, the coaching staff is great, the people there are comfortable to be around, I like the city of Columbus, it's really cool.
While OSU is in very good position, that could change once Allen sees U-M for the first time.
In the 2016 class, offers continue to go out to top national quarterback prospects. California five-star, #1 dual-threat QB Malik Henry pulled in an offer last week. Henry's already got serious national interest, and as always, it's best to take a wait-and-see approach with any top California prospect.
Michigan also offered the nation's top pro-style quarterback in WA five-star Jacob Eason, per 247's Clint Brewster. His offer list is even more impressive than Henry's, so he'll also be a tough pull from the West Coast.
The third QB to pull in a recent offer is four-star CA pro-style prospect KJ Costello, who told Scout's Greg Biggins he's visiting Ann Arbor on June 15th to kick off a trip that'll have him see several of the nation's top programs ($). Same deal here—we'll see how he feels after the visit.
GBW reports offers out to a pair of 2016 receivers. Four-star MD slot (5'9", 152) Steven Smothers was very excited to hear the news ($):
“[Mattison] called my coach,” Smothers said on his Michigan offer. “I had the offer for a week or two [before he told me]. But my coach just told me today. I’m really at a loss for words. A big school like that offering is shocking.
“I was pumped, I mean, what more can I say? It’s Michigan!”
U-M is now in his top six along with Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Tennessee, and West Virginia. While FL WR Binjimen Victor is unranked on the recruiting services thus far, he's also received some impressive offers, and he immediately brought up Denard Robinson upon hearing that U-M offered; unfortunately, the Wolverines still have work to do to crack his top group ($):
Victor, who stands at 6-foot-4, 170-pounds, says he is planning on making his final decision sometime during his senior season. While he wouldn’t name a leader, he did say there were a few schools sticking out early on in his recruitment.
“I’m not trying to (commit) or anything but the schools I really like right now are Miami, Ohio State, and Clemson,” said Victor.
Finally, 2016 OH LB Brendan Ferns—younger brother of U-M LB Michael Ferns—visited campus last weekend, and while he doesn't yet have an offer he told GBW having his brother on campus "will help" should one come along ($). After he pulled in a recent offer from Michigan State, it wouldn't surprise if U-M followed suit before too long.
Name: Steven Smothers
Position: Wide Receiver
Ht/Wt: 5’10" / 150 lbs. / 4.4
Location: Franklin – Reisterstown, MD (2016)
Offers: NC State, Ohio State, West Virginia, Alabama, UConn, Florida State, Georgia, Marshall, Michigan, Old Dominion, Penn State, Rutgers, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech
Rating: ★★★★ .9755 (247 Composite)
Ranking: #62 NAT / #9 WR (247 Composite)
The Michigan coaching staff hasn’t offered many wide receiver prospects under six feet but after watching a few highlights of Steven Smothers it’s easy to see why he is an exception. What Smothers lacks in size, he makes up for in skill as well as confidence, describing himself in a way that I have never heard before.
I’m a totally different kind of player from any other on the field. The things I can do are like no other. I think I might be from a different planet! (Laughs) My game is based on pure speed. I think I’m the most dominant player in my class and I consider myself just all around electrifying.
On film Smothers appears to have legitimate 4.4 speed and he’s been told that his game is reminiscent of two fellow Maryland wideouts, one of which Michigan fans know all too well.
I’ve been told I play like my Godbrother Tavon Austin. Another close friend that I like to model my game after is Stefon Diggs. It’s cool to hear from both of them about the next levels.
At his size and age, Smothers’ offer list is impressive. His recruitment has already exploded for a rising junior that plays a position where size is often paramount. All of the big boys are interested in the young speedster.
I don’t really have a leader right now but Alabama, Tennessee, Ohio State, West Virginia, Miami, Oregon, and USC are who I’m hearing from the most. I’d say my top four is NC State, Ohio State, West Virginia, and Florida. I still really have to look into Michigan more because I just found out about my offer even though I think it happened about a week ago. I know that the tradition is real big at Michigan and about their huge rivalry with Ohio State.
Even though Smothers doesn’t know a lot about Michigan yet, he does have a little bit of a connection and plans to check into the Wolverines much more in the coming months.
I’ve talked to Blake Countess before through Stefon when they were both still in high school. I’m going to try and visit Michigan this summer. I'd like to get some officials in when the time comes and I’d like to make my decision a week after National Signing Day. Stefon did it that way and I liked it, so I want to make it suspenseful also.
5 – Trending Blue
4 – Solidly in a top 2-3
3 – Contender in a top 3-7
2 – Among large (8-15) group under consideration
1 – Let’s see if he visits before we talk
0 – Passing interest or none
As a 2016 prospect with offers from Florida State, Alabama, Ohio State, and Georgia among others, competition will be stiff to even get Smothers to Ann Arbor. The fact that he has a slight acquaintance in Blake Countess might help him take a serious look at a visit, but the likelihood of a commitment is far off at this point. He is a top flight recruit and his recruitment will play out as such. If he does visit this summer of course the whole process will get more interesting.