here's one vote for "John Beilein's head in a Futurama jar"
Welcome: Garrett Taylor
Michigan gained their fifth commitment of the 2015 class on Monday in VA CB Garrett Taylor, the third prospect from the talent-rich Richmond area to commit to U-M in the last three classes (joining Derrick Green and Wilton Speight). Sam Webb has a lengthy (and free) post-commitment feature on Taylor that covers his relationship with Roy Manning, scouting quotes from his coach and a Scout analyst, and the visit that drew him to Michigan:
“We got to go to the school of business… the Ross School of Business, which is really great,” Taylor reported. “The professor toured us around, which was really great. I’ve never had that before. So we toured around, saw the classrooms and stuff like that. It was really personal. We obviously toured all the facilities and the football facilities are great. We got to see all the resources they have in terms of their Glick Fieldhouse. That was big to see a full indoor field, especially with the weather. They go over there sometimes and to have that as a resource is really good. We got to see the weight room. Then we met with Shari (Acho), the head lady of all the academic support so that was great to see. We got a tour of the academic side. You’ve definitely got the support of the tutors and everything like that to make sure that you’re on track academically. It was awesome. It was awesome! It really felt like they wanted me to be up there.”
After reading that quote, it probably shouldn't surprise you that Taylor tweets things like "properly equipped for the SAT tomorrow" with a pencil-on-paper emoji and photo of his already-laid-out TI-83, pair of sharpened Ticonderoga #2s, and pack of old-school erasers. Coaches and reporters alike laud Taylor for being a great, personable kid; Michigan's landed another prospect who fits the proverbial Pattern™.
As for how his commitment affects the class moving forward, Scout's Michael Clark provides some details ($):
After landing Taylor, the Wolverines are done at cornerback in the 2015 class. Now, the staff will turn their focus towards landing one more safety. Top targets include Whitehouse (Texas) and Texas A&M commit Justin Dunning, Dallas (Texas) South Oakcliff’s Prentice McKinney and Evans (Ga.) Lakeside’s Rashad Roundtree.
Many have asked how Taylor's commitment impacts Michigan's pursuit of five-star NJ CB Minkah Fitzpatrick. It already looked like Fitzpatrick would end up elsewhere before Taylor's commitment—Alabama, Florida State, and Ohio State are the three schools currently generating the most noise in his recruitment, and Michigan hasn't been mentioned in a while. With a small projected class containing two blue-chip prospects already slotted for corner, I doubt U-M is a serious player in Fitzpatrick's recruitment going forward.
[Hit THE JUMP for details on a couple recent offers, an update on Justin Hilliard, and more.]
Surprise Visitor Surprised By Visit
Most of the recruiting buzz last week centered on a surprise visitor who didn't want his name to be revealed. That visitor turned out to be five-star CA QB Josh Rosen, the first quarterback offered by Michigan in the 2015 class. Rosen had already set a March 20th decision date before his trip to Ann Arbor, and UCLA was—and still is—his expected choice. He told Scout's Greg Biggins, however, that Michigan made the choice more difficult ($):
“I was honest and told [Doug Nussmeier] that I didn’t see myself picking Michigan. He told me I should still come up, no strings attached but said to just come up and check out the school for the experience and I have to, it was a lot better than I thought. I was actually hoping to get up there and not like it to reaffirm my decision but I really loved it there, Michigan is an incredible place.”
Just getting Rosen on campus is impressive; the program leaving that level of an impression even more so. Unfortunately, it appears this will be a moral victory, as Rosen still plans to keep his current timeline, and he told Rivals's Adam Gorney that his ultimate decision is unlikely to change ($):
"Coach Nuss is a very convincing guy," Rosen said. "He talked about the pro-style versus the spread offense and how my skill set would fit in one versus the other. He took me to The Big House and there were a lot of academic meetings and there is a great support staff at that school.
"I'm going to step back and think a little bit. I'm pretty positive, I'm pretty sure I'm going to stick with who I originally thought of, but it makes the decision harder.
While it's unlikely Michigan ends up getting Rosen, that doesn't mean the weekend was all for naught. Word spreads quickly among top recruits, and Michigan is targeting several California prospects. While Rosen will likely be recruiting for UCLA, the Bruins can't land everyone in the state, and a good word for Michigan could help get other recruits on campus—and that's often all this coaching staff needs to make a huge move in a prospect's recruitment.
[Hit THE JUMP for a potential commit watch from a big-time recruit, visit reactions, other 2015 QB updates, and more.]
2015 Quarterbacks: Wimbush, Waller Next?
Sam Webb knows things. So, when he pens a DetNews article on 2015 quarterbacks that features two unoffered prospects, it's a good bet that Michigan is strongly considering them for the next wave of offers. The first quarterback mentioned is dual-threat NJ four-star Brandon Wimbush:
One that appears to be becoming an increasingly viable option is Jersey City (N.J.) St. Peters standout Brandon Wimbush. Ranked a four-star prospect and the No. 14 quarterback in the country by Scout.com, the 6-2, 205-pound signal caller currently holds offers from Ohio State, Penn State, Miami, Virginia Tech, Michigan State, and a host of others.
“Wimbush has a big-time arm and showed it his junior season, which was his first as a starter,” Scout.com East Regional Manager Brian Dohn said. “He has huge hands, spins the ball well, can throw the 15-yard out on a line, and throws a nice deep ball. He is also a threat running and can make defenders miss. He needs to improve his intermediate throws and his accuracy, but could become a program-building quarterback.”
His highlights are above, and it'll take four plays at most before you're convinced he goes in the "DO WANT" category. After initially planning to make an early decision—which likely would've been in favor of Ohio State—he's taking his time after "other schools came in to play." Michigan would have their work cut out for them if they offer—the coaches plan to see him throw in the spring. Wimbush seems like a prospect worth putting in the effort; Webb notes he doesn't plan on visiting Ann Arbor unless he receives an offer.
Also featured in Webb's article is dual-threat CA four-star Travis Waller, another quarterback prospect seeing an uptick in Michigan interest since the Doug Nussmeier hire. Based on the type of quarterback Nussmeier appears interested in—big-armed prospects who can run—and this quote from Waller, you can get a sense of how the new OC wants the offense to look:
“(Michigan) came out about a month ago and then I talked to Coach Nuss on Twitter,” Waller said. “I gave him a call and we talked about how definitely I can fit into their program and make things happen – (how) I can help make them become a winning football team. (We talked about) how I bring my athleticism to the table, extend plays, and do the spread offense. He also told me, ‘We’re not just spread. We also do under center, single back -- that type of stuff.’ I was actually excited to hear that. I actually do like to drop back. Being in shotgun is fun, but I also like to go under center. So that’s what I like to hear. Coach Nuss said we’re going to get this thing started.
I'm all for keeping spread elements a part of the offense, and Michigan's focus on quarterbacks that threaten in the run game is fine by me.
Also in that article: Alex Malzone, who recently received his first major conference offer from Wake Forest, still wants one from Michigan and plans to visit for a spring practice, as does Waller. Meanwhile, QB guru Steve Clarkson goes full Fred Jackson when discussing his pupil, David Sills:
“I will tell you, if you like Johnny Manziel, he is a taller version of that without the off-the-field stuff.”
Sills's situation is one to monitor going forward; he has an offer from Michigan, but it was extended by Al Borges, not Nussmeier. Sills has, in my opinion, the least impressive film of the quarterbacks fielding serious Michigan interest; he's also among the lowest-rated. My guess is he'll have to show a whole lot more to Nussmeier in a throwing session if that offer is going to be committable. He's slated to visit on Thursday, so we might get some clarification on his situation soon.
[Hit THE JUMP for a new 2016 offer, updates on Mike Weber and Keisean Lucier-South, and more.]
Raiding The Old Dominion
Michigan is once against looking to the state of Virginia, where they've pulled Derrick Green and Wilton Speight in the last two classes, for an infusion of talent. The Wolverines have put out offers to 2015 top-100 WDE Clelin Ferrell and heralded 2016 WR Scott Bracey, both of Richmond Benedictine College Prep. In a two-part article, Sam Webb interviewed Benedictine coach Greg Lilly to get the scoop on the pair ($):
Greg Lilly: “Coach Manning has done a great job as far as recruiting the guys. When he has had the opportunity to get to the state of Virginia has always come by and seen us and he has done a really good job when he has been here. He is a very nice guy, personable guy. I think he had a great rapport with the kids. I can’t remember if it was in January or December, whatever that recruiting period was, but Coach Hoke did come in and stop by and let us know how interested they were in both kids. I think both the guys, Clelin and Scott were impressed by that and honored by that. We’re a small private school, 275 boys. It is a military school, a catholic school. There is obviously an emphasis put on their education and them wanting to go to good academic schools and be good student-athletes and obviously Michigan offers that opportunity.”
Ferrell and Bracey have been taking unofficial visits together, and Lilly said "they are going to get out there and see Michigan," when they take some trips this summer. It appears Michigan has a better shot with Ferrell—despite being in the class below him, Bracey holds more offers at the moment—though the Wolverines are in the mix for both.
[Hit THE JUMP for a quick recap of last weekend's visits, the latest on Brian Cole and several other 2015 prospects, and more.]
Damien Harris: Not Gone, Gone, Gone, Woooooaaaahhhh
Sam Webb caught up with Damien Harris's mother in the wake of the former commit's visit last weekend; she had very positive things to say about Doug Nussmeier, and it sounds like her son still has Michigan on top ($):
“It was the same comfort,” Ms. Harris reported. “I know for me it was. I really haven’t gotten a chance to sit down with Damien and discuss it (at length) because he has been in school and practice since we got home. I did ask him (Monday) night, ‘did the feelings come back that you had initially with Michigan?’ He was like, ‘the feeling never left. I never loss [sic] any of the feeling that I had for Michigan.’
In fact, Ms. Harris went on to say that she believes her son's recruitment is a Michigan-OSU battle and the good guys have the edge. There are several visits yet to come—Alabama, Florida, FSU, Miami, and Wisconsin all got mentions—and a long way to go until Signing Day, when Harris now plans to announce his decision. Still, this is a very positive sign, and per 247's Steve Lorenz, Harris may be back on campus in the near future ($):
"I haven't talked to Damien about it yet, but I believe we will be back up in the spring, and possibly the summer too," [Ms. Harris] said. "There are other schools he's looking to visit right now, and if we're not able to make it during the off-season, we will be up for at least one game."
All indications since Harris's decommitment have been that Michigan is still his favorite school and he just wants to utilize the entire recruiting process to check out other schools and ensure he makes a well-informed decision. In my opinion, nothing has changed there; if anything, Harris developing a relationship with Nussmeier has only strengthened Michigan's position.
Speaking of top 2015 targets, in-state four-star ATH Brian Cole also visited over the weekend, he told Tim Sullivan what he's looking for in his recruitment ($):
"I'm just trying to find the truth," he said. "That's basically it, just trying to find the truth, see who's real and not real. I don't know how I'll figure it out.
"Everybody's even. Everybody's No. 1 right now."
Michigan State and Michigan have been his presumed leaders for a while, with the Spartans seemingly holding the edge. Cole had to cancel a planned trip to Wisconsin recently that he plans to reschedule; he's also fielding increased interest from Alabama and could visit there, too.
[Updates on Michigan's 2015 defensive back commits, a look at U-M's options at linebacker, and more after THE JUMP.]
Junior Day: No Commits, Still A Success
Shaun Crawford (left) and Tyree Kinnel at the MSU game [Fuller]
Brandon continues to round up reactions from yesterday's Michigan State game/Junior Day, which featured high-profile visitors such as Damien Harris and Brian Cole. Michigan nearly secured their second commit of the 2016 class; while Traverse City West OL Thiyo Lukusa ultimately decided to take his time, the Wolverines are his team to beat:
OL Thiyo Lukusa – It was sweet, super fun! I decided to put my commitment on hold for now. I just have to be 100% sure. The visit and the activities were 1st class as always. I’m still all Michigan right now but I just want to enjoy my recruitment.
Lukusa understandably wants to see more schools before he makes a commitment at this early juncture; it's tough to see a school overcoming Michigan even with so long to go until he signs an LOI. Hit the link for more reactions from yesterday's visitors.
After hosting him last weekend for their Underclassmen Day, Michigan offered 2017 Orchard Lake St. Mary's LB Josh Ross, the younger brother of Michigan LB James Ross. The younger Ross already holds offers from Oklahoma and Michigan State, and he told Steve Lorenz that U-M provides a point of comparison for the other schools pursuing him ($):
"I hear stories about [James's] work in the weight room and he is definitely enjoying his time at Michigan," [Ross] said of his brother. "It does give Michigan a bit of advantage because I've been around it a lot and know everyone in the program so well, whether it be players, coaches or even parents and all of that stuff. I know exactly what Michigan is all about and what they have to offer me. They give me something to compare other programs to going forward."
With his early offers and pedigree, Ross has the look of a national-level prospect—expect Michigan to have plenty of competition for his signature.
Offers keep going out to 2015 prospects, as well; four-star DC CB Marcus Lewis got one late last week and told Lorenz he plans to visit Michigan and MSU either this spring or summer ($). Curt Mallory has already established a strong connection with Lewis, including multiple in-school visits, which should help the Wolverines moving forward.
Michigan Adds Walk-On Long Snapper/Potential YouTube Sensation
Allen Trieu reports Michigan has added 2014 Troy Athens long snapper Andrew Robinson as a preferred walk-on:
"It is great to be given this opportunity. I have worked so hard and put so much time into my snapping, i would have never thought it could get me this far and especially to a school with such football tradition like Michigan. I never doubted myself, I just knew it was going to be a long process and I didn't know where I would end up at the end."
As you can see from the video above, Robinson has some skills—the coaches said he'll have the opportunity to compete for a starting job this fall.
Michigan's first 2017 offeree, OH OL Josh Myers, told Tim Sullivan about his reaction to getting offered by the Wolverines ($):
"My expectations were to meet the coaches, and have a good time and get to meet some of the other players that are getting recruited and are committed. I wasn't quite expecting an offer or anything going into it. With that being said, it surpassed my expectations bigtime. I couldn't really believe it to be honest. I had tears in my eyes. I thanked them - I couldn't thank them enough - and I was just really excited."
Michigan is the best program among Myers's five offers, though there's a long time to go, of course. He's still open to all schools and planning to visit Kentucky, Ohio State, and Tennessee over the new few weeks.
Fast-rising 2015 IN LB Josh Barajas put Michigan among his top schools after receiving an offer, per Allen Trieu ($):
Barajas also visited rival Michigan State and several new offers have come since. Even though he remains open, he does have a few programs he is liking.
"For the most everyone is on the same level but I'd say Michigan, Penn State, Virginia Tech and Ole Miss are my top right now."
In variations on the same theme, coveted 2015 CA DE Keisean Lucier-South won't name leaders but did note the schools pursuing him the hardest, per Scout's Anna Hickey ($):
Though Lucier-South does not have any favorites at this point, he did name five schools that were recruiting him the hardest.
"UCLA, USC, Michigan, Notre Dame and Tennessee," Lucier-South said.
This one won't end any time soon, as KLS plans to take all his officials before making a commitment. LSU just put forth an offer, as well.
If you missed it, Brandon got an offer reaction from VA CB Garrett Taylor, who's got Michigan among his top schools.