"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
Before I get into the recruiting roundup, I'm planning a recruiting mailbag post for tomorrow and could use a couple more questions. If you've got one (or more!) please send me an email or tweet it to me. Now back to your regularly scheduled Jabrill Peppers update.
Jabrill Peppers Heat Status: Infinity Chilli
If you somehow haven't watched this just do it already. Yes, all of it.
As the recruitment of Jabrill Peppers evolves, Michigan's chances of landing the five-star corner appear to be getting better and better. The latest news from Peppers is that he's moving up his decision timeline and putting Penn State back in the mix—he'll make a May 18th visit to Happy Valley per 247's Steve Wiltfong ($) [emphasis mine]:
“They never left the picture,” [Paramus Catholic head coach Chris] Partridge said of Penn State. “Them and Michigan were his top visits. He decided he wanted to move up his decision timeline. He doesn’t have any negatives about Penn State. Them or Michigan. He wants to go and stay overnight at Penn State.”
Peppers is still aiming to get to Stanford before deciding.
“He is looking to commit sometime in early June,” Partridge said.
Peppers previously visited Penn State on February 20th, and while his coach is now talking up the visit there wasn't nearly the same over-the-moon reaction in the immediate aftermath as he had post-Michigan. Securing a second visit from Peppers is remarkably impressive for Bill O'Brien and PSU considering the circumstances; it seems unlikely they'd be able to overtake Michigan. This is very important considering the next bit of visit-related news:
2014 DB Jabrill Peppers hasn't cancelled his Stanford visit but it is proving difficult to plan around his track schedule, per his coach.
— The M Block (@TheMBlock) May 8, 2013
Despite finding it difficult to reschedule his trip to Stanford, Peppers is moving up his timeline. Even the staunchest of pessimists has to take that as a very good sign for Michigan's chances.
As it stands, it's hard to see a scenario in which Peppers sticks to his new timeline and doesn't choose the Wolverines. Penn State—and, if he makes the trip, Stanford—is still a threat, but there's more than one reason for Peppers to take a final visit: not only does he want to make sure he's making the right decision, he's got a high school teammate—QB Steve Shanley—who visited Happy Valley with him in February and is still hoping for a Nittany Lion offer.
PSU insiders certainly seem less optimistic than their Michigan counterparts—for good reason, with the sanctions and all. If early June is really the decision timeline, the Wolverines are going to be very tough to beat here. The current commits certainly seem to think so—either Drake Harris knows something we don't or he's just a very confident recruiter, via Sam Webb ($):
When asked if he thinks Michigan has a good chance of landing Peppers’ after their private conversations?
Harris replied, “I’ll just say we have good chance.”
Do you feel good where things stand with Peppers?
“I feel great!” Harris replied with a coy smile confidently.
Go ahead, watch that highlight tape again, and allow yourself to get a little excited.
[Hit THE JUMP for more from last weekend's camps, this weekend's visitor list, notes on new offers, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers this weekend's visitors, the latest word from Da'Shawn Hand, Wheatley on Wheatley, and more.
Guess Who's Back?
The visitor list for this weekend isn't quite as star-studded as it was two weeks ago, but it still features a top tight end target and some marquee in-state prospects.
One such Michigander is WR Drake Harris, who'll be making his third visit to Ann Arbor in three weeks. Harris told Scout's Sam Webb this week that Devin Gardner receiving his medical redshirt "did help out" Michigan's chances, though he maintains that he's committed to Michigan State... for now ($) [emphasis mine]:
The Wolverines have clearly made up substantial ground in a very short period of time, and they’ll have an opportunity to further improve their position when Harris returns to Ann Arbor Sunday for his third visit in as many weeks. That said, Harris made it clear that anyone suggesting that Michigan has unseated Michigan State as the team to beat is off base. Many have questioned whether he still considers himself a Spartan commit, and hasn’t hesitated in offering them an answer.
“Yeah, right now I am,” he said regarding his commit status. “It’s a solid verbal. I said that I don’t have a list right now, but if I did have a list (Michigan) would be somewhere around the top.”
In my opinion, Harris will maintain that Michigan State leads as long as he's still considered a commit—frankly, I'm not sure he has much of a choice in that regard. The Spartans could very well be leading at this juncture, too. The trend of his recruitment, however, points towards an eventual decommitment, with Michigan in a very strong position to take over that top spot sooner or later.
Here's the full visitor list for this weekend, culled from multiple sources, including WolverineNation ($) (2014 prospects unless otherwise noted):
- MI OL Tommy Doles — Doles is likely the only prospect who could be thinking about a commitment this weekend, though that's been the case for a while now and he's yet to pull the trigger.
- MI CB Jalen Embry — Embry is a cornerback prospect out of Detroit King who currently holds a handful of MAC offers. He's making the trip with high school teammate...
- MI LB Carl Fuller — Fuller is one of the better linebacker prospects in the state, though his chances of getting an offer are hurt by what should be a very small Michigan class at the position.
- 2015 OH S Tyree Kinnel — Kinnel, a rising junior from Dayton (OH) Wayne, doesn't hold any offers but has early interest from both the Wolverines and Buckeyes.
- MI DE Malik McDowell — The top player in the state will be in Ann Arbor for the second time in three weeks, but he's still a long way off from a decision.
- IL TE Nic Weishar — The four-star tight end also took an unofficial to Ann Arbor last August, but Michigan may have some ground to cover to catch Notre Dame.
2015 Cass Tech QB Jayru Campbell is also a potential visitor, though he's yet to confirm.
[Hit THE JUMP for Da'Shawn Hand's thoughts on his upcoming visit and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers the latest NCAA rulebook changes, a change in plans for Durham Smythe, a possible 2014 commit, and more.
NCAA Deregulation: All Of The Text Messages
Kelvin Sampson, presumably after hearing about the latest NCAA rule changes
On Saturday, the NCAA approved several rule changes that will have a major impact on recruiting. As part of an ongoing effort by NCAA president Mark Emmert to slim down a bloated rulebook, the changes are largely of the deregulation variety. To wit:
- Proposal 13-3 "will eliminate restrictions on methods and modes of communication during recruiting."
- Proposal 13-5-A eliminates restrictions on mailing printed recruiting materials.
That means, starting with the class of 2014, coaches can call, text, tweet, facebook, snapchat, or use whatever other form of communication they so desire to contact recruits as often as they want (recruiting dead periods aside, of course). It'll be open season on snail mail, too.
On the positive side, this means the NCAA can stop paying investigators to tally phone calls, and coaches can no longer get a recruiting edge by ignoring limits on communication (looking at you, Mr. Sampson). The negative is obvious: big-time recruits, already inundated with calls and texts from coaches and reporters alike, now must brace themselves for more of the same—especially with the potential for a recruiting arms race as coaches fall over themselves to make sure they're recruiting a prospect the "hardest".*
The other notable changes to recruiting involve the NCAA removing limits on which staff members can recruit. The Bylaw Blog's John Infante outlined the ramifications for Proposal 11-2, which eliminates the rule that recruiting functions must be performed by a head or assistant coach, in conjunction with deregulated communication with recruits:
The potential model of recruiting that develops is very clear. A general manager/director of player personnel will have a staff of recruiting coordinators who do much of the early grunt work in recruiting. They’ll watch film, gauge interest, rank prospects, and evaluate needs. The coaching staff will go see top targets in person, invite prospects on visits, and go see recruits at home or at school. The player personnel staff and the coaching staff will then meet to make decisions and send offers.
That would free coaches from much of the busy work of recruiting and let them focus on coaching their current teams. Player personnel will become the major track for aspiring coaches as well as a career path in its own right. Recruits may see more sophisticated and intense recruiting from a dedicated staff.
If Infante is correct—and you can bet he is—this means we'll start seeing separate player personnel staffs at the schools that can afford to create them. This is good news for Michigan and other big-budget athletic departments, and unlike the deregulated communication measure there isn't an obvious downside for the recruits themselves. The impact from a competitive balance standpoint is clear: the rich will get richer unless the Indiana States of the world successfully push for staff limits on these new player personnel departments.
*It's not hard to imagine Lane Kiffin screaming at his recruiting coordinator, "Mr. Orgeron, we must not allow a Snapchat gap!"
[Hit THE JUMP for Durham Smythe's visit plans, potential commitment watch for a 2014 in-state four-star, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup discusses visits from Alvin Bailey and Jordan Wilkins, the top lists of #1 overall prospect Da'Shawn Hand and other 2014 standouts, and more. Also included is an interview with Michigan's first 2014 offered prospect, UT DT Bryan Mone.
Future Touchdown Dance: The Funky Charleston
Pictured on the right is FL WR Alvin Bailey (photo via his Twitter) from his visit to Michigan on Wednesday. If Bailey and his Seffner Armwood teammate Leon McQuay III both end up as Wolverines, let me present the motion to nickname the duo "Kid 'n Play," both due to Bailey's spectacular high-top fade and the fact that it could spur Special K to play some decent music for once.
Anyway, Bailey was on campus this week, and the four-star receiver came away impressed, according to an interview with TomVH ($, info in header):
"It helped them a lot. I was already up on Michigan, but this definitely helped," he said. "I knew some things about them, but being able to see it in person it meant a lot."
Bailey is in the midst of a slew of trips that has also seen him visit Georgia, South Carolina, Notre Dame and Clemson, with Florida State, Georgia, and Auburn also on the docket for July. The Wolverines and Irish could be at a serious disadvantage, however, as Bailey said this to GBW's Kyle Bogenshutz ($):
One issue that plays against Midwest schools such as Notre Dame (which he visited on this trip as well, right before U-M) and Michigan, however, is the issue of distance from home—something Bailey admits is a factor for him.
“It’s big,” said Bailey. “I’m not going to lie, it’s real big. That’s something that I would probably have to sacrifice, so it’s big.”
Sounds like distance is a big factor, which would not bode well for Michigan's chances. Bailey also mentioned that the Wolverines will only take two more players—not a surprise, considering the current number crunch—and his decision could come either before or after his senior season.
While Bailey got the full tour, TN RB Jordan Wilkins stopped by on Tuesday for a quick three-hour visit, and there's very little in the way of visit reaction from him thus far. 247's Clint Brewster did post on their message board that Wilkins's father, who wasn't on the trip, said the visit went "very well" for Jordan ($). There's discussion of a potential visit later in the summer, which would greatly improve Michigan's chances of getting Wilkins, but for now it's safe to assume that Auburn is still the prohibitive favorite.
In 2013 commit news, Jourdan Lewis was invited to the Army All-American Bowl, joining fellow commits Chris Fox and Mike McCray should he choose to participate (roster here). Michigan also has six commits—Shane Morris, Gareon Conley, David Dawson, Logan Tuley-Tillman, McCray (he'll have to choose just one, obviously), and Patrick Kugler—currently slated to participate in the Under Armour All-American Game.
First Journey Joke Earns a Banhammer
Sam Webb's latest DetNews profile is on 2014 OH LB Michael Ferns, who recently narrowed his list to a final three of Michigan, Notre Dame, and Penn State. While making such a cut this early is unusual, Ferns's father reveals that there's a very good reason his son has eliminated many of the schools pursuing him, including the home-state squad:
"It's not that he doesn't like the coaches, facilities, etc. (at Ohio State)," Mr. Ferns explained. "It's just that he grew up in a town of 3,500, so it's difficult to feel comfortable in a (large) city. It has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that he feels more comfortable in college town settings. Ideally, if Ohio State would work for him, it would be great for me from a geography and local hype standpoint. But if you don't feel comfortable living in a city, you simply don't. It's no different than the kid in the south having no interest in moving north. It's what they know."
He's just a small-town boy, you see, born and raised in [bans self]. The elder Ferns—no word on if Webb stood between the two during the interview, unfortunately—also had very high praise for their recent trip to Michigan and Jerry Montgomery as a recruiter—"He's as strong a recruiter as we've dealt with." As for future visits, Ferns plans to check out a game at all three of his final schools during the fall.
Also getting the profile treatment this week was IL CB Parrker Westphal, whose father spoke at length with TomVH. According to Mr. Westphal, Michigan has set the standard by which his son will measure his other suitors ($):
"I think what better school to base a standard from. Michigan is a big school with a big program, really good academics and facilities," he said. "If he would have gone to Nebraska first, though, that's a big school with modern facilities. That might have been the standard."
It doesn't mean that U-M is Parrker's favorite, but it is up there.
Westphal's father mentioned that Parrker would like to finish up his recruitment "sooner rather than later," but there's no rush as they make sure to examine each school carefully.
OH DB Darius West was one of the standouts at Michigan's camp, and although he didn't pick up an offer, he's got serious interest and reciprocated by putting the Wolverines in his top two with childhood favorite Ohio State, according to Matt Pargoff. You'll also enjoy this quote that he gave to Sam Webb ($):
Sam Webb: Talk to me about Michigan State. How did that camp go for you?
Darius West: “I mean, if I had to rank Michigan, Ohio State, and Michigan camp, Michigan State would be third.“
West told Pargoff he'd like to decide by the end of his junior year, so he's one to keep a close eye on if Michigan comes through with an offer. He told Webb he's being recruited at both corner and safety at the moment.
247's J.C. Shurburtt caught up with the nation's #1 overall prospect for 2014, VA DT Da'Shawn Hand, and got an early top seven from him: Virginia Tech, Ohio State, UNC, Clemson, USC, Alabama and Michigan. VT seems to have the early edge—he's visited campus twice and mentions Bud Foster as his favorite recruiter—but he's yet to visit most of the schools on his list, including Michigan.
Happy trails to MI WR Drake Harris, who committed to Michigan State on Wednesday over Michigan and Notre Dame.
Quickly: Clint Brewster reports that Michigan offered CA TE Tyler Luatua, who's pegged as the top tight end in the class in 247's early rankings. Correction from Tuesday's post: TX LB Hoza Scott doesn't yet have an offer, according to Tim Sullivan, but he probably has to visit campus first, which may not happen soon due to the distance factor ($). MI CB Damon Webb continues to see his stock rise, recently picking up offers from Ohio State, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Catching Up With Bryan Mone
I had the chance to chat with UT DT Bryan Mone, a high school teammate of incoming freshman Sione Houma who picked up Michigan's first 2014 offer way back in December. This is the first time Mone has given an interview, and he updated me on the status of his recruitment, his current size and preferred position, and a potential visit next week:
ACE: First of all, how's everything going with your recruitment? Which schools are in contact with you right now?
BRYAN: So far, so good. It's just really a blessing sir. But the schools that I'm in contact with are Utah, BYU, and Utah State.
ACE: Which schools have offered you so far?
BRYAN: All of the three [as well as Michigan].
ACE: I know Michigan gave you their first 2014 offer. Have you been in contact with Michigan at all since then?
BRYAN: Yeah, well kind of. I keep in contact with the D-line coach. I might just go out to Michigan with my dad next week.
ACE: Do you talk to Sione Houma at all now that he's enrolled? What has he told you about Michigan?
BRYAN: Yes I do, I was just talking to him. He told me that it's really good out there and that some of the football players don't know what a Tongan is [laughs] and he was just saying it's a great program and all.
ACE: You mentioned possibly visiting Michigan. Are there any other schools you'd like to check out over the summer?
BRYAN: No sir, just Michigan.
ACE: I know it's early, but do you have any favorites at this point?
BRYAN: All my favorite schools are the ones that offered me and Colorado all because my other cousin told me about Colorado.
ACE: What's your height and weight right now, and what would you like to play at next season?
BRYAN: 6'4" height, 300 weight [Ed-Ace: Up from a listed 6'3", 255 last year]. I'm going to play D-tackle and offensive guard.
ACE: What would you say are your biggest strengths on the field, and what are you trying to improve for next year and the next level?
BRYAN: My biggest strengths are mainly [being able to play] on the line on both sides of the ball. I am trying to improve on my speed and strength for next year and the next level.
ACE: When looking at schools, what do you think will be the biggest factors in your decision? Do you know when you'd like to make a choice?
BRYAN: First of all my education and how I would fit in the program and the community and the brotherhood of the football team. I don't know [when I'd like to make a decision] ... like you said sir I'm still young.