at least it's not just us?
As the Wolverines and the Irish prepare to square off in the second installment of Under the Lights many high profile recruits will begin arriving in Ann Arbor to take in the experience. Now that my internet is finally hooked up at my new house I’ve been able to touch base with just a few of them and see how they are feeling about what is poised to be an electric atmosphere.
2014 Uncommitted Prospects
Southfield DL Malik McDowell is a hard young man to get in touch with but I did speak with his trainer John Vickers to see what he thinks is going on inside Malik’s head. I asked John if there was any chance of Malik committing this weekend and he said, “I don’t think so. I’m pretty sure he’s waiting it out. We will see though. It’s really hard to say honestly. 99% he doesn’t. There is 1% slight chance though. He really wants to see other schools.” Most believe McDowell will be a Wolverine, but it doesn’t seem as though it will be anytime soon.
Big-time DE Da’Shawn Hand didn’t respond to me this time around, but after speaking with him last month I got the impression that he knows he’s coming to Michigan and I really believe this visit will solidify that decision. Alabama will get the last crack at him before he decides and that’s dangerous, but I think Michigan is in really good shape.
2015 Uncommitted Prospects
Potential top Ohio prospect LB Justin Hilliard will be in attendance as well and he holds the Wolverines and the Irish both in high regard. “It’s going to be a great game and definitely will have a lot of excitement. I’ve wanted to see Michigan football in full effect. I’m sure this visit will help out Michigan a lot but we’ll see.” Ace mentioned yesterday that his final four could very well consist of Ohio State, Iowa, and of course the two teams playing tonight under the lights. A Michigan victory could be a solid recruiting boost for his services.
6’6”, 215 lb. QB David Edwards will roll into Ann Arbor with his father and his O-line coach around 6 pm, just in time for a 6:30 recruiting presentation which will be packed with talented recruits. Edwards and I will speak after his visit so I can get the scoop on what the presentation was all about and see how his overall visit went.
In-state signal caller Alex Malzone will be in attendance for the game but not as a recruit this time. He’s going as a fan and he mentioned to me that he actually hasn’t talked with the coaches since he attended the Michigan camp in June. I’ve stated before that Malzone appears to be on the coaches radar but isn’t a top priority at this point in time.
Virginia OT Matthew Burrell is making the trip to Ann Arbor with fellow Virginians Da’Shawn Hand and 2015 DT Tim Settle. Burrell summed up his thoughts about the visit with one word, “Ecstatic!!!” in a text response to me last night. Burrell and Settle will probably both receive offers this weekend now that they’ve shown enough legitimate interest by visiting.
Safety prospect Tyriq Thompson out of Detroit King makes the quick trip to Ann Arbor looking for his third potential B1G offer after Illinois and Wisconsin saw enough in the young man to extend a scholarship. Thompson is a legacy recruit as his father played for the Wolverines in the 90’s. He knows the history between the two teams, “I’m excited to see the matchup. It’s a great rivalry.” He must’ve been listening to Brian Kelly…during the latter part of the week anyway.
The potential top player in the nation, DE Jashon Cornell has been texting with Wolverine commits George Campbell and Damien Harris all morning about the excitement surrounding this weekend in Ann Arbor. Cornell said “I’m feeling pretty good. I just can’t wait for my first College Gameday experience.” He said he was looking forward to hanging out with George and Tim Settle and the other recruits from his class. He also said that Notre Dame and Michigan might be his top two right now, but wouldn’t commit to that completely. Regardless of where the two schools currently rank for the five-star this game is a big one in his recruitment.
2016 Uncommitted Prospect
Stud OL Erik Swenson, who is supposed to be a Michigan lock, will be in Ann Arbor with his dad and had this to say, “It’s going to be a lot of fun! It’s giving me goosebumps just thinking about over 75,000 people singing Hail.” Don’t expect a commitment from Erik just yet, as he told me that “my parents don’t want me to decide until my junior year just to see all what happens.”
However, he then went on to say that he would like to commit right now…but you’ve got to listen to your parents. I think we can write his name on the 2016 commitment list, even if it’s in pencil for now.
This weekend is going to be invaluable in making connections between commits and targets across the 2014, 2015, and 2016 classes. A Michigan victory could tip the scales in the minds of some of the players in attendance but I don’t believe there will actually be a commitment this weekend. Many of the players attending have already set timetables. If there isn’t a commitment this weekend it is not cause for panic. The atmosphere will be electric and the experience enjoyable for all in The Big House. A “W” would be icing on the cake for fans and recruits alike.
Notre Dame Visit Primer
The second interation of Under The Lights should be Michigan's biggest recruiting weekend of the fall. 247's Steve Lorenz was kind enough to give me permission to post his list of visitors($); this doesn't cover every visitor who'll be on campus this weekend (there are many), just the ones I've deemed most important to point out. To make this easier, I'm breaking it up into categories.
Unfortunately, Michael Ferns and Jabrill Peppers can't make it, so Michigan won't have two of their primary commits/recruiters; Wilton Speight will be there, however, as will George "The Mayor" Campbell, Damien Harris, and a host of other Wolverine pledges from both the 2014 and 2015 classes.
2014 Uncommitted Prospects
Just two players fall into this category, and they happen to be the two prospects sitting atop Michigan's board for 2014: Southfield DL Malik McDowell and VA WDE Da'Shawn Hand. The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan caught up with Hand's mentor and former position coach, John Harris, to discuss what the nation's top defensive end will look for on his visit ($):
"[Saturday,] he'll look at how the coaches react if Notre Dame gets an early touchdown. Do they get down on guys or are they encouraging? He'll look at the scheme, but he's already been through that. If you can justify how you can use him in it, he won't say, 'I don't like that front.' Everything is about how he fits into it."
Tell Hand the story of Brendan Gibbons's confidence-fueled rise from beaten-down shank artist to brunette-envisioning record-setter and I think he'll be encouraged by the coaching staff's level of, er, encouragement. Hand himself also spoke with Adam Friedman of Rivals about what he wants to see this weekend ($):
"I just want to go up there and have fun," said the 6-foot-4, 248-pound defensive end. "The first time I was up there it was mainly an academic visit because I met with one of the professors. This is more of a visit to see if I can live there for four or five years. I know that it's not going to be like this weekend every day but at the same time I want to see how it is on game day."
As for McDowell, he told Sam Webb that he won't take any official visits during the season in order to focus on his own football season ($). That means he'll try to cram in five officials between the end of his season (likely November with playoffs included) and whenever he makes his decision; this is just my speculation—I don't see that happening. Regardless, Michigan is still in a very good position for McDowell.
2015 Uncommitted Prospects
Da'Shawn Hand is bringing a pair of very talented friends with him to Michigan: five-star DT Tim Settle and four-star OT Matthew Burrell Jr. will accompany Hand on the trip. While neither of those players currently hold offers, I'd expect both will have them after the weekend; the coaches like to wait until prospects show serious interest before putting offers out there and a visit certainly qualifies. Both Settle and Burrell are top prospects at positions of need who'll be the subject of heated recruiting battles; it's good that Michigan is getting early looks from each of them.
Four-star Saginaw athlete Brian Cole looked to be a strong Michigan lean early; since Michigan State hired Curtis Blackwell, his 7-on-7 coach, the tides have shifted in favor of the Spartans—at least, that's the perception after Cole has been a steady presence in East Lansing. He's visited Michigan several times, as well, and a positive experience this weekend could move the needle once again. Cole is the one 2015 in-state prospect that I think Michigan would do well to haul in; it'd be a real loss if he ended up at State.
A few other notable in-state prospects are scheduled to attend: the Cass Tech duo of RB Mike Weber and DL Joshua Alabi plan to be there along with a few of their 2016 teammtes (CB Lavert Hill, brother of freshman S Delano Hill, as well as linemen Ostell Martin and Michael Onwenu). Detroit King LB Tyriq Thompson, son of former Michigan safety Clarence Thompson, is likely to attend as well.
MN DE Jashon Cornell is the #1 overall 2015 prospect on ESPN and a composite five-star; his visit is particularly interesting given that he comes from a school, Cretin-Derham Hall, that is traditionally a Notre Dame pipeline. Though he boasts offers from across the country, Cornell appears to be looking to stay in the Midwest—he's also got unofficials lined up to Iowa, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and—yes—Notre Dame. He took notice when George Campbell committed and The Mayor will surely look to convince Cornell that they should team up in college.
Four-star linebacker Justin Hilliard is a consensus top-three player in Ohio; he's got an extensive list of planned unofficials that includes a return trip to Ann Arbor for The Game. It wouldn't be surprising if his recruitment came down to Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Iowa, where his brother C.J. is 2014 running back commit (lord help him—no, AIRBHG, a different lord ohhhhhh no what have I done).
A couple more potential visitors are AZ ATH Cassius Peat, a 3.5-star OLB/DE-type and the brother of Stanford lineman Andrus, and NY TE Tyrone Wheatley Jr., son of... well, you can probably guess. Peat has an early Michigan State offer and enjoyed a summer visit to Ann Arbor; Wheatley already has a Michigan offer and looks like a strong candidate to end up in the class at some point.
LA four-star DT TD Moton is also a potential visitor, though there's a hurdle to clear here:
— Tim Sullivan (@TimS_Wolverine) September 5, 2013
Stay strong, Mr. Moton.
2016 Uncommitted Prospects
The one to watch here is IL OT Erik Swenson, whose tone regarding Michigan has been downright rapturous after his previous visits; he may want to take his time with a decision, but sooner or later he's almost guaranteed to end up committing. That will be very good news, since he's one of the top overall prospects in the 2016 class.
Other notable sophomores include Traverse City OL Thiyo Lukusa, who already has a Michigan State offer, and Farmington WR Desmond Fitzpatrick, who has three offers himself (Indiana, Ohio, and Toledo) and has been a consistent presence on campus
There isn't an obvious candidate to commit this weekend with the possible exception of Swenson—interestingly, one of the youngest prospects who'll be in attendance. The two 2014 targets have long maintained that their recruitments will stretch well past this weekend. The 2015 visitors for the most part are either players who should have very competitive recruitments (Settle, Burrell, Cornell) or guys Michigan hasn't offered or may not have room to take—Wheatley is an intriguing exception to this rule.
Of course, this was much the same case the last time these two teams played at the Big House, and then Dymonte Thomas shocked Ohio State fans by pledging to the good guys (and, yes, sticking to that commitment) after getting swept up in the excitment of Robinson-to-Roundtree. In what should be another incredible atmosphere on Saturday, who knows what surprises this weekend holds in store?
I should note that 247's Steve Wiltfong has a very informative free overview of what's turning into a big visit weekend across the Big Ten.
[Hit THE JUMP for a couple of Michigan commits getting rankings bumps, highlights of Jashon Cornell in action, the decline of head-to-head recruiting battles between Michigan and Notre Dame, and more.]
If you think the headline contains a typo, try listening to better music.
George Campbell, Mayor Of Twitter
As Michigan fans tried to decrypt Wilton Speight's Twitter teaser, Saturday afternoon bled into Saturday evening with no word about a commitment. Would it be Shaun Crawford? Sterling Jenkins? Erik Swenson? Maybe even Malik McDowell? Any would've been great; the real answer, though, elicited a rapturous response.
— Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) July 27, 2013
— DG (@DGDestroys) July 27, 2013
holy pants. Hoke, you are the stockiest ninja.
— mgoblog (@mgoblog) July 28, 2013
George Campbell's commitment briefly turned the entire Michigan twittersphere into Robin and Brady Hoke into the proudest papa.
Mason Cole's Instagram also features ... are those tears, Coach?
It also attracted the attention of the CEO of Twitter, Michigan grad Dick Costolo.
— dick costolo (@dickc) July 29, 2013
Modified rule: Don't tweet at recruits — unless you're the CEO of Twitter. [Side note: This is a story. Get here already, football season. Also, Matt Hayes must be stopped, and this is one of a very short list of things Michigan and Ohio State fans can agree upon.]
Why is everyone so excited? Because if "500" was an Olympic sport, George Campbell would win the gold, silver, and bronze.
Also, have I mentioned he's 6'4" and runs a 4.36 40-yard dash?
There were 3 WR's in the 2013 NFL Combine w/ a 40 as fast/faster than George Campbell. They were 6', 5'8", and 5'9". Campbell is 6'4". Wow.
— CoachBrown TheMBlock (@CoachBrown3) July 28, 2013
Yes, Campbell still has work to do when it comes to his hands and route-running — this video from the Columbus NFTC highlights both the best and worst parts of Campbell's game right now — but with two more years of high school ball to play, his potential is terrifyingly vast. Scout's Jamie Newberg provided a detailed scouting report of Campbell after his commitment, and even the areas for improvement section features one of them good problems ($):
What may be of concern: Campbell catches the ball well but is not a natural pass catcher. Sometimes he fights it but he is getting better and better. Size is also an issue because you just can’t forecast just how big this cat is going to get. He has a giant frame and long arms so there is no telling what his size will be like in three or four years. Remember, he still has two high school seasons to play before he gets to Ann Arbor. Will his growth prompt a position change? If so, how will that impact his develop?
All of these are concerns but I see them as minor concerns because Campbell is such an outstanding athlete. Recruit him now and worry about it later.
Oh no he might be even more giant and still probably really fast.
Campbell's commitment does more than just give Michigan one of the top prospects in his entire class. It also looks like he'll be a major recruiting conduit in the tradition of Morris, Speight, Ferns, et al — Campbell reportedly struck up a close friendship with 2015 MI ATH Brian Cole, and he's already reaching out to other top prospects on Twitter. Others, including 2015 MN LB/DE Jashon Cornell, ESPN's #1 overall recruit in the class, took immediate notice after Campbell tweeted out his commitment announcement.
— Jashon Cornell (@Jay_Rock16) July 28, 2013
— Jashon Cornell (@Jay_Rock16) July 27, 2013
Oh, and some other guy passed along his congratulations.
— Damien Harris (@Damien_D1Harris) July 28, 2013
That guy is consensus top-100 2015 running back Damien Harris. He committed to Michigan while I was writing this post. Brian, mercifully, handled the Hello post. Commitments come in pairs, Brady Hoke poops magic, and Michigan now has their top targets at wide receiver and running back already in the fold for 2015.
Hello there, potential überclass:
— Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) July 29, 2013
Not a bad start to the week, you guys.
[Hit THE JUMP for much, much more on the BBQ, including reactions from Malik McDowell, Shaun Crawford, Sterling Jenkins, and Justin Hilliard, plus surprise appearances from a couple of Glenville's finest.]