tyrone wheatley jr
Even though Devin Funchess is
more of a wide receiver these days, the tight end position is once again a prominent piece in the Michigan offense. Jake Butt had great success as a true freshman and Ian Bunting looks like a Funchess-style matchup problem who could grow into a combo star in the future. The 2015 class for Michigan is expected to be around 15 or so and the coaches would like for two of those spots to go to tight ends. At this point five tight ends have been offered and two of them do seem like possible eventual commits. There are multiple others who have been in contact with the coaches to some degree and may earn an offer moving forward.
Devonaire Clarington – Champagnat Catholic – Hialeah, FL (★★★★ .9535)
Clarington is a Funchess-type of athlete at 6’6” and just over 220 lbs. and could be the same type of weapon at the next level. While he holds a Michigan offer I don’t see much of a chance he ends up in Ann Arbor. Clarington told me that he hears the most from Miami, living just miles from campus it’s easy to understand why. He also said this his entire recruitment is extremely difficult to sort through. He says that he has no leader and all teams are even right now, but I’m pretty confident that Ann Arbor won’t be his future home.
Chris Clark – Avon Old Farms – Avon, CT (★★★★ .9386)
Chris Clark surprised a lot of people by committing to North Carolina just a few days ago, including me. I intro’d Chris back in December when he only had 10 offers, a list that didn’t include Michigan at the time and when he committed he had over 40. I had actually been in pretty regular contact with Chris as he was set to visit Ann Arbor this upcoming weekend and I didn’t get the slightest feeling that the Tarheels had a chance with him. I actually thought he’d be a Wolverine, Buckeye, or a Sun Devil based on our conversations. He told me that in the end North Carolina just felt like home to him when he visited. He also cited the way that UNC uses their tight ends as a reason he liked them and that the recent success of Eric Ebron was a good testament to that. Chris was really looking forward to his visit to Ann Arbor but the charm of Chapel Hill won him over before the visit happened.
Hale Hentges – Helias – Jefferson City, MO (★★★★ .9378)
Hentges told me that he and Chris Clark are actually close friends and talked about their recruitment weekly and even he was surprised by Clark’s commitment to Carolina. That being said, Hentges may be the new top target for Michigan and they are preparing for his visit the weekend of April 4th. Hentges actually spoke with Coach Ferrigno the day I spoke with him and he said he was getting anxious to check out Ann Arbor. Hentges rattled off an unofficial top 5 of Michigan, Ohio State, Alabama, Florida State, and LSU when I asked him what schools he was serious about. He plans to visit all of those schools and possibly a few others. Hentges will not camp at Michigan this summer be he said he would like to see a game during the fall. Competition will be stiff for him, but his upcoming visit to Ann Arbor could really help Michigan’s chances.
Tyrone Wheatley Jr. – Canisius – Buffalo, NY (★★★★ .9252)
“TJ” as he’s known, is thought of by most as a virtual Michigan lock, but everything he has ever told me doesn’t necessarily support that. He was very open with me when I asked him about his recruitment.
I have no leaders or favorites. My recruitment is still wide open and I’m talking to new schools every day. I was recently offered by Louisville and Auburn so I’m still just trying to get to know everyone and see all of my options. I’m still not even sure if I want to play tight end or defensive end at the next level.
247Sports has 25 Crystal Ball predictions for Wheatley Jr. and 100% of them say Michigan is the future spot for him. I asked him about that and asked him to clarify why “expert opinions” are so strong in favor of the Wolverines and his answer was pretty interesting.
I mean they probably think that because my dad played there and I have lived there, but you’d really have to ask them how they came up with that because I’ve honestly never spoken to any of them. I myself wonder sometimes how they come up with that stuff. I mean I have talked with some of the Michigan guys (I mentioned Lorenz, Webb, Sullivan) but not in a while, but there’s like 25+ predictions. I’ve talked with like four people.
Wheatley Jr. says he’d like to take officials but won’t know where to until much later in the process. He is not looking that far ahead yet, he’s just trying to succeed in the now.
It obviously wouldn’t surprise anyone if Wheatley Jr. eventually did choose Michigan, but I don’t believe it’s 100% guaranteed like many might think. TJ has a stacked offer list and Michigan isn’t the only place he could make an impact.
Jalen Wilkerson – Coffee – Douglas, GA (★★★ .8845)
Wilkerson is a Georgia product that doesn’t appear to be leaving the south as 247Sports says he’s high on Florida State, Auburn, and Alabama. Wilkerson hasn’t responded to me recently and his name is almost never brought up in Michigan circles. He doesn’t appear to be a realistic option.
[after the jump: targets]
This weekend’s basketball game has huge implications in the B1G standings and something like above would be marvelous. Taking advantage of the expectedly electred atmosphere in Crisler Arena, the coaches scheduled a junior day for the big game. A few younger prospects will also be on hand for the biggest recruiting event of the year thus far. I heard back from about 50 prospects and each one will be listed and labeled with information as I dig it up.
CB Shaun Crawford
K Andrew David
S Tyree Kinnel
ATH Brian Cole
CB Ray Buford Jr.
DE Dre’Mont Jones (maybe, basketball schedule may interfere)
LB Tyriq Thompson
LB Darrin Kirkland Jr.
LB Troy Henderson
LB Asmar Bilal
RB Damien Harris
RB Mike Weber
TE Austin Ervin
TE David Edwards
TE/OL Harrison Moon
ATH Daelin Hayes
OL Thiyo Lukusa (commit watch)
RB Kentrail Moran
WR Desmond Fitzpatrick
OL Jon Runyan Jr. (will visit March 8 & 9)
CB Garrett Taylor (will visit for a spring practice)
CB Minkah Fitzpatrick
DE Darian Roseboro
DE Jake Pickard (will visit during the summer)
DE Josh Alabi
DE Jashon Cornell (visiting Ole Miss this weekend, no plans to visit at this time)
LB Josh Barajas (visited for Wisconsin game, may visit again for spring practice)
LB Jerome Baker (will visit for a spring practice)
LB Jake Cooper (has frequent contact with staff, no plans to visit at this time)
LB Justin Hilliard (would like to visit for a spring practice)
OL Drew Richmond (has no plans to visit at this time)
OL Sterling Jenkins (will visit for a spring practice)
OL Gabe Megginson (high interest, would like a Michigan offer)
OL Grant Newsome (will visit for a spring practice)
QB Nick Johns (will visit during his spring break)
QB Brandon Wimbush (will visit for a spring practice)
QB Ryan Willis (focusing more on schools that have offered, waiting on more interest)
QB Alex Malzone (will visit for a spring practice)
QB Riley Neal (not much contact since hiring of Nussmeier)
QB Jon Wassink (very interested, not much contact since hiring of Nussmeier)
RB Andrew Dowell (would like to visit for a spring practice)
S Omari Stringer (would like to visit for a spring practice)
TE Chris Clark (will visit March 22)
TE Tyrone Wheatley Jr. (will visit for a spring practice)
TE Austin Dorris (will visit March 1)
TE CJ Conrad (will visit for a spring practice)
TE Cole Chewins (has no plans to visit at this time)
WR David Dowell (would like to visit for a spring practice)
Dramatization. The real song our coaches sing on road trips is ram-a-lamma-ding-dong. Insiders believe Nussmeier could be the tenor the staff has been lacking.
The Michigan coaches have been traveling all over the country checking in on commits, offerees, and targets in recent weeks. I have been reaching out to recruits for the past couple of days to see who has been visited or who still might be. I’m sure this list isn’t all-encompassing but I was able to get in touch with a lot of prospects from the 2015 class. I mean A LOT of prospects:
Athletes and Defensive Backs
ATH David Dowell & RB Andrew Dowell – Lakewood, OH/St. Edward – Teammates of Shaun Crawford, the Dowell brothers were visited by Coach Mattison in the early part of the week and he told them he’d like them to come up for a visit, but it’s not planned yet.
ATH Osa Masina – Salt Lake City, UT/Brighton – Masina wasn’t visited this time around but Coach Hoke and Coach Ferrigno did visit him back in mid-December. There aren’t a ton of reasons to stop in Utah so visits to Salt Lake City will probably be few and far between.
ATH Jerome Baker – Cleveland, OH/Benedictine – Baker holds a Michigan offer and was visited by Coach Mattison on Tuesday and says that he is feeling Michigan a lot.
|Cole could wind up the top-ranked player in the state. [Sam Webb]|
ATH Brian Cole – Saginaw, MI – Heritage – Cole was visited by Coach Hoke earlier in the week.
CB Kei Beckham – Trotwood, OH/Trotwood-Madison – Coach Smith stopped by Trotwood-Madison on Friday but Beckham missed him due to his class schedule. TMHS is a frequent stop for the coaching staff so Beckham is confident he’ll see them again.
CB Marcus Lewis – Washington, DC/Gonzaga – One of four prospects to chat with Coach Mallory from Gonzaga. Lewis really liked Coach Mallory and plans to stay in close touch with him moving forward.
CB Iman Marshall – Long Beach, CA/Poly – Marshall’s father told me that a Michigan coach stopped in to see his son on Monday of last week, he was unsure of who it was but I’d guess Ferrigno.
[After the jump: look at the tags above. There's a lot.]
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.]
They come in pairs
Crawford (bottom) and Kinnel
Two 2015 Ohio defensive backs have proclaimed Michigan their outright leader, and both have given Michigan fans a reason to believe they'll pop in the near future. In OH CB Shaun Crawford's case, that's because he's announcing on Friday at 4 PM on ESPN.com. He told Rivals's Mark Givler that "I don't really have a group of finalists, it's mainly just that one school for me," actually moved Miami down his list after visiting, and hasn't been offered by other potential favorite Notre Dame. This one is not heavy on suspense.
Crawford is a leetle guy at 5'8" to 5'10", depending on who you believe, but he brings 170+ pounds to the table already—the same as Michigan's 6'2" freshman corners—and impressed Givler with his toughness:
Shaun Crawford is as good in run support as any corner I've seen come out of Ohio the last few years.
Commence the Antoine Winfield comparisons that will never, ever stop.
That is a highly reassuring thing to hear about Crawford, since no one doubts his athleticism or skill—it's all on the size, or lack thereof. Crawford's actually playing safety for his team so that he'll have more impact on the game this fall, FWIW.
The other guy, OH S Tyree Kinnel, has not been as explicit as Crawford but according to Brandon has set a visit for Saturday. Kinnel was clamoring for a Michigan offer, extremely disappointed when one didn't come after camp, and now has one. A commit watch is definitely on. While Kinnel was momentarily inclined to open things up given the lack of proverbial love, Hoke and company have a knack for closing the deal, like they did with George Campbell.
Kinnel is a four-star to 247 and Scout but has not been rated by ESPN yet. Those four star rankings in the range where Kinnel would be on the tail end of top X lists or just outside; he's a solid 3.5 star guy by our reckoning. The major drawback is that he seems to be a CB/S tweener, which Michigan doesn't care about at all. Nickelback, maybe?
[After the jump: Jabrilladiculous]
I'm back from parts unknown—okay, Phoenix—with definitive proof that TomVH, not myself, is the recruiting analyst with the vacation-commitment curse (or gift, depending on your perspective). It's been mostly quiet on the recruiting front for the past week, save for Michigan finally pinning down a big-time visit.
Roll Out The
Red Blue Carpet
LA RB Leonard Fournette would like some extra barbeque with his barbeque, please:
New Orleans (LA) St. Augustine 2014 running back Leonard Fournette has been talking about visiting Michigan for some time now.
On Sunday, Wolverine247 insider Steve Lorenz confirmed that Fournette, the Nations top running back, will visit Michigan for an extended visit next week.
This year's BBQ at the Big House is a two-day event slated for Saturday/Sunday; Fournette will arrive in Ann Arbor on Thursday and spend the weekend — accompanied by both of his parents, per GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz ($). Fournette and his family remain adamant that the nation's top back doesn't have any leaders despite everyone expecting the Louisiana native to stay in the Southeast. Michigan is still a longshot and I will continue saying that until there's very concrete evidence to the contrary; Fournette staying for a long weekend with his parents, however, certainly indicates serious interest.
Fournette won't be the only 2014 running back in attendance at the BBQ; Michigan has long been among the top schools for New Jersey three-star Jonathan Hilliman, whose offer sheet far outstrips his current rankings — he'll be in town this weekend, but the Wolverines have ground to cover, per Rivals's Adam Friedman ($):
Hilliman's top five schools were, in no order, Ohio State, Alabama, Rutgers, Michigan and Vanderbilt but he already knows of one school that will make it to the next round.
"I'm going to cut down to three," he said. "Ohio State is still the leader. We're keeping in contact and it's easy for me to see how interested they are. I know Ohio State is going to make the cut and most likely Rutgers will also but I want to see how the visit goes. I'm not sure of which school will be that third one.
The BBQ gives Michigan a good chance to be that third school; Ohio State is obviously the team to beat. I'll have the full rundown on BBQ visitors on Thursday, once I've had a chance to settle back in and more recruits confirm whether or not they'll attend.
[Hit THE JUMP for news on early enrollees, the latest on Adoree' Jackson, and updates on several underclassmen, including Tyrone Wheatley Jr. and the two choice eliminations from his recruitment.]