Obligatory Daniel Faalele section, now with content
FL OL Daniel Faalele gets his own SI profile complete with Vulcan Bill Brasky stories:
In one of Faalele's early practices Elder taught him to punch the pass rusher with both hands, then grab his chest. During a one-on-one drill that day, Faalele fired his hands to disrupt the lineman's charge. Then one hand disappeared inside the rusher's shoulder pads and the kid went limp. Sensing something wrong, Faalele let go and backed away. "He had grabbed [the defender's] collarbone," Elder says, shaking his head at the memory. Elder clarified: Seize the chest plate of the shoulder pads. "His hands are steel," Elder says. "If he gets them on you, it's over. Doesn't matter if he has good technique or bad technique, it's over."
Faalele's starting to put some steak behind the sizzle as well, impressing at a UA camp:
The massive Australian import created the most oohs and ahhs in the trenches Sunday with his power. He worked up and down the line but most at left tackle, where anyone trying to make a move on him inside felt his incredible punch and it was usually paired with what looked like a finishing move. Faalele buried more defenders than any other lineman on this day and it wasn't particularly close.
Hopefully Michigan's satellite camp appearance will put them ahead of the curve for a dude who can Vulcan nerve pinch guys accidentally.
No public leader for DTR
— Steve Wiltfong (@SWiltfong247) March 5, 2017
Since he was talking up UCLA previously, this is a good sign for Michigan in their pursuit of 4* NV QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson:
Dorian Thompson-Robinson maintains that the schools in his top 12 are all running even, but no doubt he's high on Michigan and UCLA, schools that are scheduled to get a spring visit.
Thompson-Robinson returns to UCLA this coming weekend and Michigan will get him to campus around April 11.
New Michigan offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton has made a fast impression and the opportunity to play in a pro-style offense under Jim Harbaugh is advantageous.
Meanwhile UCLA wants to talk to him about being a dentist, because death by electrocution's like life under Jim Mora. The pro-style/dentist statements are not quotes but they do seem like things that DTR told Steve Wiltfong, because ain't nobody else know about dentistry plans.
FWIW, Wiltfong expanded on that short note with a full article. DTR says he's "really built a relationship" with Hamilton in the last couple months; he also repeats the fact that UCLA picking up Jedd Fisch is "huge."
Actual (mostly) scheduled visits
- 4* GA CB Myles Sims has locked in a visit for this weekend. Lorenz previously reported that he was very high on Michigan's board, so this might be a situation to keep an eye on.
- 4* MI OL Ryan Hayes will visit "sometime this month" per Lorenz after being forced to cancel a planned official last weekend. Lorenz implies this is likely to come down to Michigan and Notre Dame, with Greg Frey a major asset since Frey recruited Hayes's older brother at Indiana.
- 4* NJ DT Tyler Friday has set a visit for the 26th, which will be his first trip to AA since a camp appearance last summer.
- 4* NY TE Jeremy Ruckert says he's "going to try" to see Michigan again that same weekend. He's not planning to take his recruitment out much longer than that; with Jay Harbaugh moving away from TE he hasn't met his actual position coach yet. Adam Friedman says OSU is "clearly in the driver's seat," but Adam Friedman.
Obligatory list of new names
- 4* WA ATH Tre'Shaun Harrison grabbed an offer, says he'll visit in the spring or summer, says he's considering academics heavily, and he doesn't care about distance.
- 4* OR ATH Talanoa Hufanga: offer, interest, vague visit plans.
- 3* NC DE/DT Alim McNeill grabbed an offer, says he's focused on a "forty-year decision," and that he has vague plans to visit AA over the summer. He told Rivals that Michigan "will be in it to the end."
- 5* FL CB Patrick Surtain Jr says he wants to visit Michigan, but it sounds like he's got a number of other visits locked in and Michigan is currently up in the air; he does not list Michigan in a group of six leaders.
- 3* NY WR Aron Cruickshank is a slot type who has an offer type substance; trying to set up a visit, Brown reports that he's a "mid-tier target" who interest might ramp up in later.
- 4* FL ATH Amari Burney apparently got an offer back in May; he reports that he doesn't hear from Michigan offer but they are still a "very big player" for him.
Grudging 2019 section
FL RB Cesare Mellusi fields an offer, speaks highly of Michigan. This section exists mostly because of his name.
GA ATH Javonni Cunningham gets an offer; it's his second and Howard is the other so naturally he declared Michigan his leader. Vague visit plans. 2019 CA RB Charles Mincy Jr says Michigan leads amongst his four offers. One of the others is Oregon, so that's not bad.
MI CB Marvin Grant, who's at King, was offered by Iowa. He told Allen Trieu he will be visiting Michigan today. Big Ten offer this early for Grant probably means he'll join the Belleville kids amongst the most sought-after players in the 2019 class.
FL QB Joe Milton, who's the entirety of the Michigan QB board other than DTR at this moment, also impressed at that UA camp:
From drills to one-on-ones even through seven-on-seven work, Milton was the creme of the Orlando crop on Sunday. He is physically impressive on the hoof, tall and well put-together, but his arm was fluid with a quick release through the afternoon.
Scout lists him at 6'4.5", so he's definitely a pocket guy.
MO CB Mario Goodrich reiterates a tentative lead for Michigan early in the process, saying they're "probably at the very top right now." Vague visit plans.
CA CB Isaac Taylor-Stuart says Michigan is a possibility for an official, but doesn't really mention any unofficials and says he might commit in late summer if he's ready.
Former commit and OH LB Antwuan Johnson lists Michigan amongst a number of schools he'll be visiting over the summer. Looks like a team tour kind of thing since there are a wide range of schools on the list, ranging from Georgia and Michigan at the top end down to Toledo and Purdue on the bottom.
CA OL Tommy Brown says he's trying to get money together for an unoffical to Michigan, possibly at their Big Man camp.
Michigan begins to fade for FL DE Nik Bonitto.
Game on in-state
— Steve Wiltfong (@SWiltfong247) February 20, 2017
Hutchinson vs 5* 2019 MI OL Devontae Dobbs
Michigan of course picked up a commitment from MI DE Aidan Hutchinson a couple days ago. I was chatting off air with Sam Webb today and we settled on Ryan Van Bergen with a bit more edge rush as a comparable for Hutchinson, FWIW. As a bonus, Harbaugh story:
Harbaugh paid a visit to Divine Child last month and was greeted by school pastor James Bilot.
“The priest meets him when he walked in and Harbaugh said, ‘Give me your top three,’” Hutchinson said, laughing. “The priest didn’t know what he was talking about. ‘Give me your top three saints. You’ve got to have a top three!’ My son’s school was like, ‘Whaaat?’”
I hope Harbaugh has a board on which he has his top saints ranked that he regularly rearranges. Tough day for St. Francis of Assisi, but St. Thomas More is really picking it up lately, etc.
Hutchinson, the #4 player in Michigan per the composite, is a legacy widely expected to end up in Ann Arbor; the rest of the instate crop is far less locked in to any particular school. Of the top ten in state, two are committed to ND already and #8 Jason Whittaker is headed to Northwestern; aside from Hutchinson everyone else is open.
That includes Traverse City West OL Ryan Hayes, who just picked up a Michigan offer and plans a visit next month. Trieu describes him as "Jake Fisher 2.0," referring to the instate lineman who decommitted from Michigan after Rich Rodriguez was fired and went on to have a successful career at Oregon. Fisher was a second round draft pick a couple years back. Per Trieu, Greg Frey recruited both Fisher and Hayes's older brother Connor, who ended up at Pitt. The younger Hayes is up to the #2 player in the state after a significant bump from 24/7.
#1, OL Marquan McCall, was widely regarded a Michigan lean but recently Lorenz said he might not be as high on Michigan's board as that would imply and there might not be room for him in a tight class. #5, OL Tyrone Sampson, is a legit four star but there is one complicating factor. Trieu:
Strong, great balance and base and technically very sound. True center and a potentially elite one.
Michigan took #1 C Cesar Ruiz last year. One or the other could play guard but if Sampson believes his best spot is C Michigan is not likely to be the destination. They haven't offered yet in any case.
File under crootin
GA OL Jalil Irvin, who was briefly a commit, took an unofficial to Ann Arbor and returned saying very positive things:
“I love Michigan after today,” Irvin, a former Michigan commit, said. “Just the campus, coaches, academics, and everything.”
Meanwhile, IN OL Emil Ekiyor, who is currently a commit, has visited multiple schools recently. A trip to Indiana is decidedly unthreatening:
"My main priority right now is Michigan. I'll look at other schools, but I'm pretty focused on them."
Going down to Tallahassee is considerably more alarming, especially considering his recent trip there was his second. That it's part of a southern swing through Georgia, Alabama, and the Noles is... not better, but not worse. Ekiyor, FWIW:
"Just exploring, making sure I am making the right decision," Ekiyor said. "But I am locked into Michigan right now. Nothing has changed with that. I'm just looking."
"I'm locked in ... I'm just looking" is a hefty slab of grade A crootin for you right there. Ekiyor decommit DEFCON is currently at 3, and will move up to 2 if he camps at FSU, like he told 24/7 he was "thinking about."
On the other hand, 4* GA LB Otis Reese seems totally solid. He's planning an April unofficial and Lorenz reports that Michigan has not let their pursuit flag despite the fact he is committed.
Large class complaints will be minimal this year
Per Lorenz, Michigan is currently done(!) at DE and LB with one guy at each spot (Hutchinson and GA LB Otis Reese), and there's some circumstantial evidence to back that up from 4* CA DE Jeremiah Martin, a weakside type:
“(I’m) not really (hearing from them),” said Martin. It just same with some other offers like offered then don't really communicate. I mean mail that's about it.”
Martin still wants to visit but feels like the interest is more on his end than theirs at the moment.
That seems a bit shortsighted to me since there's always attrition even when you don't want there to be attrition (see: Asiasi, Devin). But the depth chart is pretty stocked at both spots now, which was emphatically not the case a year ago.
Anyway: any class with just two guys at DE/LB is going to be pretty small. Especially if they're not going to push for FL DE Nik Bonnito as a result, as Lorenz asserts.
Obligatory Faalele section
FL OL Daniel Faalele checked in at 6'8", 400 pounds at the Orlando Nike Camp. Apparently Mike Onwenu convinced them to get bigger scales at these things. This news was the impetus for that rarest of birds: a Good Tweet.
— Henry Stark (@HRussellStark) February 19, 2017
Extremely grudging 2019 stuff
MI OL Devontae Dobbs is an early five star on 24/7 and continues tracking that direction after an impressive Elite Big Man camp:
— Allen Trieu (@AllenTrieu) February 14, 2017
Trieu asserts that he's "a blue chipper without a doubt."
FL LB Anthony Solomon took an unofficial last week and returned saying Michigan was his new leader, displacing Alabama. Solomon is at St. Thomas Aquinas, which is now Harbaugh's favorite saint. STA sends a lot of guys to ND and various northern schools, so it's not out of the question Michigan hangs on. Solomon told Sam Webb that he's very close with Devin Bush—"their family and my family grew up together"—and that can't hurt.
Another recent visitor who Michigan leads for is KY DE Stephon Herron Jr, per Lorenz. Here is the default sentence about vague leaders two years out.
Brice Marich reports that Michigan is keeping tabs on 3* MI OL Michael Furtney. 4* IL OL Verdis Brown was "super excited" to get a Michigan offer, has vague visit plan. 3* AL DT Timaje Porter very much wants a Michigan offer. Michigan offers GA ATH Quindarious Monday, and yes I just mentioned this because of the name.
The board is narrow and looks set to stay that way. Let's get to it.
Oliver Martin: In The Boat?
4* IA WR Oliver Martin did make his official to Ann Arbor. That knocks out a host of schools trying to get in last minute and restricts available options to the places he's been. It also probably means he's in the boat. Wiltfong is at the point where he would be "shocked" if it wasn't Michigan; Lorenz says it would be a "significant surprise"; Webb issued a gut feeling.
Most likely scenario: Martin is already committed and just waiting to announce. Silent verbals and all that, sure, but two days before Signing Day I like Michigan's chances to make that stand up.
Nico Collins: Uh, Same?
My operative theory on the way wide receiver recruiting went this year was: they wanted four. They had three guys who were committed, two silently, after Brad Hawkins re-emerged. They held a spot for Donovan Peoples-Jones no matter what. Thus those couple months where it looked like Martin would head to Notre Dame. Once noise about AL WR Nico Collins and Georgia started up, Michigan re-engaged Martin to get back to four.
Soooo then about this:
Those are the main 24/7 Georgia writers pegging Collins to Michigan after an official to Athens on the last available weekend of the cycle. As far as crystal balls go that's pretty definitive: bad-news picks from plugged in folks late in the game are almost certainly on point. Mansell's explanation is pretty wishy-washy, unfortunately:
truthfully this is starting to feel that ends up somewhere else. That guess from me right now would be Michigan.
Nonetheless a flood of Michigan picks has triggered, including Wiltfong. Collins hasn't said much about his recruitment in forever, so it appears that nobody will be getting clarity until he announces on NSD. Wiltfong related that the Georgia crystal ball run was initiated by Collins's coach at Chalkville telling people that Georgia had surged when everyone was in San Antonio for the Army game; nobody appears to have talked to Collins himself.
That may be the crux of the swings here, with people around Collins saying things that don't actually reflect his mindset. Brown quotes a source:
"We are beginning to hear that the Georgia staff doesn't think they're going to land him," our source said. "I don't really know what happened but he looked miserable at the basketball game this weekend."
It was always odd that Collins, who had taken not just an official but three(!) unofficials despite living in Alabama, would be genuinely in play. Maybe he never was, but there were reasons to pretend like there were? Only thing that makes sense at this juncture.
Side note: What's the deal with five receivers? Michigan has the space, with 26 current commits and a class that can get up to 31 or 32 per reports earlier in the year. They're seriously chasing just six guys, all of whom get section headers in this post. A clean sweep of the five guys not named Collins is extremely unlikely, so the question is "do you want a 6'5" WR with offers from Alabama and Georgia or air?" That's not tough to answer.
[Update: Sam's latest update says Michigan has four slots left, but "could push it to five." A sweep of the offered guys other than Tufele would apparently shut Melifonwu out.]
Aubrey Solomon: status quo is good
Signs still point to Michigan for 5* GA DT Aubrey Solomon. Michigan fans are in a state of panicky anticipation about his recruitment—and to be fair it is that kind of recruitment—so occasionally someone must hold the fanbase's collective hand and reassure them. Sam did that last night, saying the word from down south was "still Michigan." He won't put the ol' gut feel on it because it's that kind of recruitment; it sounds like he's got a ton pointing the right way here.
Wiltfong's in much the same boat, telling the Michigan 247 board that Solomon's "always loved Michigan" and that he continues to hear Michigan is where he's leaning; Alabama and USC lurk. Georgia appears to be out. Brandon Brown reports that word out of Lee County was still M as of a couple days ago.
Willie Gay: status quo is not good, sayin' there's a chance
LSU remains the tentative favorite for 4.5* MS LB Willie Gay. Wiltfong currently has Michigan in third; Sam did clarify that a "VERY" well-placed source asserts that Michigan is #2 to Willie. The Compromise Pick scenario is thus in play since this is believed to be the situation:
PREFERENCES OF GAY'S MOTHER
- Mississippi State
PREFERENCES OF GAY
- Mississippi State
That's obviously a long shot. I would get your fists ready to shake at the Mississippi black hole.
FWIW, LSU's recent flip of 4* TN LB Jacob Phillips from Oklahoma is one that should help, not hurt, LSU. Phillips and Gay were on campus at the same time and reportedly hit it off; Phillips is 6'4" and 230 and projects to MLB. Gay is emphatically an OLB.
Mekhi Becton: cumong man look at the depth chart
Conflicting signals on 3.5* VA OL Mekhi Becton. Scout's Michael B Clark reported that Michigan had "gained momentum" after their in-home, which focused heavily on the depth chart and chance to play early. Michigan has been recruiting Becton hardest per a proverbial source close to Becton; VT and Michigan are supposed to be his top two.
That's hopeful for a badly needed option at tackle. The rest of it not so much. Wiltfong hears that VT and Louisville are the top two; with that previous report from a Louisville commit that UL and Michigan were the top two, folks reporting on Becton have hit for the cycle.
Ifeatu Melifonwu: I think I can pronounce it now
MA S Ifeatu Melifonwu did not immediately flip from Syracuse after his official; in fact, Wiltfong reports that he returned to Syracuse this weekend. It's unclear whether Michigan has offered at this point or if they're waiting to see how things work out with the non-weird guys on the board.
Either way, Melifonwu has decided to do a hat thing on NSD:
I will be at Grafton High on National Signing Day when Ifeatu Melifonwu makes his big announcement where he'll play college football pic.twitter.com/Akp6eBFSq7
— Carl Setterlund (@CarlSetterlund) January 28, 2017
It's odd, but Melifonwu is a guy I'd really like Michigan to add. They don't have a lot of safeties, is brother is headed for the early rounds of the NFL draft, and Don Brown is familiar with the area and the family. I'd be more bummed about missing out on him than one of the WRs despite the WRs being highly touted folks.
MI DT commit Deron Irving-Bey profiled and hoo man:
Sitting in Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio’s office a year ago, Deron Irving-Bey couldn’t hold it back.
It seemed like the seminal moment in his journey.
“He surprised me with it,” Irving-Bey said of MSU’s scholarship offer. “We were on a little academic tour. He called me in his office and said he was going to offer me. That’s when I just started crying. I always thought I would have to go to a JUCO because I never thought I was good enough for that.
“Just the thought of Michigan State, one of the top colleges, I’m like, ‘This is a dream come true.’ ”
Been a rough crootin' year for our friends in East Lansing. Did you hear the one about the guy they flipped from Temple who took under a week to be like "nah, I'm going to Rutgers"?
Michigan is "heavily" pursuing FL OL/mountain Daniel Faalele, which is what I like to hear.
Walk-on commitments are beginning to roll in. Amongst them are former Air Force commit Sean Fitzgerald, an instate OG/DT with respectable size already. A college coach told Trieu that he "will play there at some point." Michigan also flipped Columbia commit Jack Young, a safety out of Pennsylvania. MI LB Adam Fakih announced a commit, as did FL TE Chris Hanlon.
FWIW, former Michigan TE commit
Jack Carter Dunaway landed at Princeton.
Solomon has decided, has not announced
Chad Simmons talks to GA DT Aubrey Solomon:
"I feel like I have found out where I am going," Solomon said. "It came to me on Wednesday. I just prayed about it the night before and when I woke up, the answer came to me."
Football and graduation rate are the two things Solomon cited in his decision, and things are holding steady with the expectation it will be Michigan. The Georgia 24/7 guys still think it is Michigan:
Just talking to a few sources in the last 48 hours, I continue to feel like Aubrey Solomon is going to Michigan. Just too much smoke there. Alabama I feel like is 2nd from talking to most down South.
Martin visiting this weekend
Michigan's renewed fervor in its pursuit of IA WR Oliver Martin appears to be paying off:
Source: #Michigan getting an official visit from 4-star WR Oliver Martin this weekend. Huge.
— Brandon Justice (@LandOfJustice) January 26, 2017
This Oliver Martin visit, unlike to OSU, seems like it's really happening. Michigan source: They're already working on "flights, hotel, etc"
— Matthew Bain (@MatthewBain_) January 26, 2017
Martin returning to Michigan, a school he's already been to, instead of heading to one of his other suitors, speaks volumes about his recruitment. We've flipped our crystal ball back to Michigan in response.
Gay still somewhat up in the air
Sam caught up with MS LB Willie Gay's mother and talked about it on WTKA this morning. A reader paraphrases:
Long story short, it sounds like Willie Gay's favorite school is LSU at the moment. However, to say Mom would be disappointed in that choice is a bit of an understatement. The way Sam puts it makes it sound like basically LSU is not an option in HER opinion. Willie could still choose LSU obviously, but if her opinion has even a small bearing on his decision, then LSU better do something to sway her opinion.
Sam doesn't think Michigan is the favorite here; the most realistic scenario that sees Gay end up in AA is mom nixing LSU and Gay liking Michigan more than Mississippi State.
Sam has a couple of pieces on Scout with more detail:
My feel for this is Mississippi State is Mom's first choice followed by Michigan. I think Willie is leaning to LSU and that she is really against it. I don't know who Willie likes more between Mississippi State and Michigan.
There's a window that Michigan can hit here but it looks like a small one. Lorenz reports that Gay will be a "tough pull" at this point.
Weird guy watch
MA S Ifeatu Melifonwu did make it to campus per Sam, and the odds that he'll get his offer are "really good"; a flip is naturally anticipated.
Other than that, all the various weird names have faded. Michigan look set to swing on their top targets and move on with a 27-29 man class unless they roll a critical hit. Lorenz did mention that Michigan is poking around OH P Brad Robbins, a Nevada commit. Robbins is "strongly considering" a visit the weekend after Signing Day; at that point Michigan will know if they have a scholarship spot or not. Survey says: very probably.
Guys like Dennis Norfleet do come out of the woodwork late. If there's a gentleman like that lurking about he's probably a low-to-mid three star instate kid like MI S Allen Stritzinger, who is also committed to Syracuse.
I may have to redefine Kaiju
2018 FL by way of Australia OL Daniel Faalele is turning heads at IMG because he is an absurd person.
He stands 6-foot-9, weighs 394 pounds and possesses a rare combination of power and speed. He is of Tongan and Samoan ethnicity and was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. He's 17 years old and wears size 18 shoes.
You may remember Michigan heading out to Australia last year for a satellite camp at which Faalele was the main attraction; Michigan offered a few months ago. That followed a half-dozen teams who did so despite the fact that Faalele has never taken a snap in anger. He's scheduled to do so this fall for IMG, and you should prepare yourself for a torrent of hype:
Wright recalls one memorable play when Faalele was responsible for trapping 6-foot-6, 260-pound defensive end Josh Kaindoh, a five-star recruit bound for Florida State, at the line of scrimmage. Faalele delivered a hit that sent Kaindoh airborne, and although Faalele sheepishly denied trying to do it intentionally, Wright isn't so sure.
"I stopped and thought, 'Did that really happen?' " Wright said. "Then I got in the huddle and said, 'Daniel, did you aim to do that, or did you just run into him?' Daniel said, 'Coach, what was I supposed to do?' I said, 'You were supposed to hit him.' He goes, 'That's what I did!' "
Michigan's obviously got an in here. Fingers crossed, because I need to see this kid next to Xavier Simpson.
GA WR Nico Collins will take an official to Georgia this weekend; things continue to trend away in that recruitment. If Michigan does lock down Martin it's a wash.
Both GA RB Kurt Taylor and NM RB O'Maury Samuels reaffirmed commitments to Michigan. Taylor had said he would visit MSU; Samuels was still considering Arizona. With those two shutting their recruitments down, all of Michigan's commits are solid heading into the final visit weekend.
This isn't a surprise at this point but Sam says Michigan's pursuit of UT DT Jay Tufele is likely fruitless, with USC surging late and Utah though to be in front of the two Big Ten schools.
If you'd like to dwell, CA RB Najee Harris explains how close he was to flipping to Michigan.
Michigan offers 2018 OH LB Dallas Gant, cousin of former Wolverine Allen. They'll get a visit, etc.
Matt Wenzel profiles MI WR enrollee Donovan Peoples-Jones.
Martin cuts the brakes on his recruitment, leaps from van soon
IA WR Oliver Martin did not make a visit to Ohio State last weekend; he's got a couple visits left but people think he's just taking the one this weekend. "Flight issues" were cited, as they usually are; we'll see if that's accurate or not when Martin ends up on someone's campus this weekend. OSU, Auburn, Florida, and Michigan are all vying for that visit. If it's Michigan that would be a very good sign since he's already been on campus. Somewhere else would not be the death knell.
FWIW, Lorenz reports that Martin's recruitment has evolved into quite the wildcard:
Based on who I've talked to, there are three different coaching staffs who believe they are going to sign Martin in Notre Dame, Michigan and Michigan State.
Michigan State thinks a lot of things, I'm sure. It's a luxury to be (mostly) competing with teams that went 4-8 and 3-9 this fall, which Notre Dame and Michigan State did. Go 4-8 and 3-9. Those were their records. That they had. This year.
Losing both Martin and GA WR Nico Collins (who has gone radio silent) would be a bummer, but one that takes an A+ class down to an A-.
Gay still fairly mysterious
Relatively good news in the recruitment of MS LB Willie Gay: after his LSU visit there is still uncertainty about where he'll end up. As per usual, Team X Is Confident:
"I think the coaches at LSU feel great about landing him but no one seems to truly know what he's going to do," Scarborough explained.
LSU is battling local Mississippi State and Michigan for the Starkville (Miss.) High standout, and while Tigers sources feel good here, no question this one could still go a few different directions.
Lorenz reports that "multiple members" of Gay's camp are in Michigan's corner, however, and Michigan can really hammer home the certainty they provide when Harbaugh goes in home. Gay knows he'll play early at Michigan. He knows the defense has a spot that is perfect for him. He knows that Don Brown and his five-year contract will be there for the duration of his career. By God, if Michigan can't get Willie Gay out of Mississippi they'll never get anyone.
Becton VT trend?
A bunch of crystal balls for VA OL Mekhi Becton to Virginia Tech came in after his official visit. Tim Sullivan:
"Virginia Tech made a huge move," Sullivan said. "He's not going to commit soon but confidence is very high in Blacksburg."
As mentioned in the previous recruitin' roundup, Becton has people all over the place as they try to project where he might end up. The sudden VT interest isn't good for Michigan's chances, but this is another one of those recruitments that is low on certainty. Harbaugh is going in-home today, so expect some pictures of him hitting some dingers with a baby strapped to him.
Inevitable decommit happens, less inevitable one probably doesn't
FL OL Kai-Leon Herbert made the obvious official by decommitting, throwing off some slightly upset comments as he did so. Given Herbert's previous quotes about how there was opportunity at Miami and/or Florida while he'd have to compete for time at Michigan, it sounds like some assistant got in his ear.
In happier news, NM RB O'Maury Samuels's visit did in fact happen and went well. Any concerns about in-class competition should be mitigated by Najee Harris and AJ Dillon heading elsewhere; Arizona is the only competition. That would be a stunner, to say the least.
While we're on the subject, some brief rumbles about CT OL Andrew Stueber possibly flipping to BC are unfounded.
Weird guy watch
Michigan's been casting around for a fifth DB in the class and may have struck upon their guy: MA S Ifeatu Melifonwu, a Syracuse commit. Per Sam, Melifonwu is in town currently and is staying through Thursday. The vibe is that an offer will be followed by a flip.
Melifonwu is a deep cut New England recruit who is no doubt directly attributable to Don Brown's connections in the area. Specifically, Brown recruited Melifonwu's brother Obi to UConn. Ifeautu was a who-dat two star until recently, when 24/7 took a new look at his tape and bumped him into the low-to-mid three star range. (He's #874 if you want to get specific.) He's a true sleeper with a max of four articles on any of the sites, none of which scout him. Mostly they say "this person committed to Syracuse" in slightly different ways.
ESPNBoston comes in with the save:
Melifonwu ran a 4.58 in the 40 last year, so he has legitimate Division 1 speed. He plays even faster than that on tape. He moves well in space and he gets in and out of cuts with ease. Melifonwu is a long strider and he can accelerate quickly when running with or without the ball.
Melifonwu is also a receiver, so the ball skills are evident on both sides of the ball. He can high point the ball one on one in coverage and he's strong with the ball in his hands. Melifonwu has long arms and a wide catch radius which enables him to win jump ball situations.
Melifonwu has the size and the athleticism to be a productive press corner at the next level. Teams at the NFL and college level want corners with length that can jam and re-route receivers out of Cover 2. Melifonwu can do that and effectively support the run. The 40 time might not be ideal, but Melifonwu plays faster than his time and his athleticism is evident on tape. There no question that Melifonwu has the physical tools to be a multi-year starter at Syracuse.
If Melifonwu is anything like his brother he'll be a steal. Obi redshirted and then was a four year starter at UConn, earning All AAC honors this year. He's set to get drafted, possibly very high:
Executive 2: UConn safety Obi Melifonwu
"The UConn safety is really intriguing. He's freaky athletic and he's going to put up big-time testing numbers. He'll run low 4.4s (in the 40-yard dash) and jump over 40 inches. He can play in the slot as well. Huge upside."
While everyone prefers bigger names with more proven ability, Melifonwu is deep in Don Brown's wheelhouse. I'll ride with him.
No other fringe names appear likely to surprise at this juncture. PA OL CJ Thorpe's visit to Ann Arbor was as pointless as it looked; he immediately reaffirmed to PSU. Lorenz reports that VA LB Ellis Brooks didn't get an in-home and Michigan isn't actively recruiting him.
The thing about fringe names is that you don't often know them until things suddenly happen; 50/50 another guy comes out of nowhere if Michigan has a spot late—and it looks like they will, especially since Jeremy Clark got screwed.
Ryan Bartow recently told the USC board he's still sticking with his Michigan pick for GA DT Aubrey Solomon.
Everyone finalizes their rankings
Tuesday's post covered the final Rivals 100; since Rivals has released all of its final rankings. Scout, 24/7, and ESPN have finalized theirs as well. We're going to ignore small moves down, since those are mostly drops based on other guys flying up the board and don't signify a change of opinion regarding the prospect in question. Guys who had significant moves on at least one site:
COMMITS: STOCK UP
- CT WR Tarik Black got a ten spot bump on Scout.
- FL OL Cesar Ruiz saw steps forward everywhere ranging from minor bumps (247 moved him up 12 spots to #54) to more significant ones (up 36 spots to 41 on Rivals). ESPN has him 28th (up from 69th), which would be five-star territory except ESPN is apparently only handing that out to 14 recruits this year.
- OH DT James Hudson had a big rise on 247 from 237th to just outside the top 100.
- VA DE Luiji Vilain surged to the cusp of five-star status at 247 (up 49 spots to 36th) and up 107 slots to #74 on Rivals. ESPN bumped him up to 69th (nice) from #95.
- MI DE Deron Irving-Bey got a ~25 spot bump on ESPN and a 10 spot bump on Scout.
- FL LB Jordan Anthony got a ~30 spot bump on Scout and was otherwise static.
COMMITS: STATIC BUT I'M MENTIONING THEM ANYWAY
- MI WR Donovan Peoples-Jones had a significant fall at 247 to 26th (from 8th) and minor bumps elsewhere. He's now in a very tight range.
- MI CB Ambry Thomas dropped 30 spots to 62nd on 247; he gained about that many slots on Rivals but that only got him up to #146.
COMMITS: STOCK DOWN
- CO QB Dylan McCaffrey took a nosedive. 247 moved him from 58th to 204th; Rivals slid him about 80 spots to land at #131. Scout and ESPN have him in that same range now.
- TX OL Chuck Filiaga dropped about 60 spots to #175 on Rivals. He had a ~10 spot drop on Scout.
- NJ LB Drew Singleton fell 21 spots at 247 to exactly 100th despite being laid up with an ACL injury. That's a grumble.
- UT DT Jay Tufele jumped up to 14th (+25) on 24/7 and 37th(+64) on Rivals.
- GA DT Aubrey Solomon jumped 11 spots to 20th on 24/7 and solidified his five star status elsewhere.
- MS LB Willie Gay jumped 18 spots to 33rd on 24/7 and from outside the Rivals 250 to 73rd.
- IA WR Oliver Martin rose to 47th (+23) at 247 and entered the Rivals 250 at #206.
- GA WR Nico Collins fell about 40 spots to 200th at 24/7 and around 60 spots to 120th at Rivals
More positive than negative here, as the only player to take a major hit was McCaffrey; meanwhile three guys who are in the class (Vilain, Ruiz, Hudson) and four of the five major targets got bumps.
Aubrey Solomon trending to M, says everyone except Aubrey Solomon
Solomon with 2018 commit Otis Reese back in the day
Good news: Michigan's surge on 5* GA DT Aubrey Solomon's crystal ball has continued unabated. Michigan's picked up the last 14 picks, amongst them another handful of 24/7 personnel including Steve Wiltfong. Further reports from the Michigan in-home are very positive as well:
“Aubrey’s mom was really impressed that he brought his daughter along,” Webb said. “The visit hit all the marks. Anyone doubting Michigan’s strong standing in the race just isn’t paying attention.”
“It was one of the best in-home visits ever. It was just a different setting to see a coach,” Solomon said. “My mom loved it, too, and was just shocked how engaging the coaches were, especially with my baby sister. His daughter and my sister got a long so well, it was just heartwarming and a great visit.”
Wiltfong went as far as to say that a couple of sources indicated it was a Michigan-USC(!) battle, which would be excellent news indeed.
Defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon (Leesburg, Ga./Lee County) said Alabama still leads.
"They still lead big, but not by a huge margin," Solomon said. "I like the physicality they bring and their defense."
That was Tuesday about an hour after the previous recruitin' went up; nothing about that statement has done anything to dissuade people from picking Michigan. The author of that piece, Ryan Bartow, is in fact the guy who was first to pull the trigger on a Michigan pick, and he remains unmoved.
Solomon says "right now I'm done" but that something could come up, because that's how this recruitment has gone. I go back to the UGA moderator who said Solomon might not even take in-homes with Saban and Smart. If that turns out to be the case Michigan fans can go into his Signing Day decision with a lot of confidence. If those guys do drop in it will be a nail-biter.
Elsewhere in five-star DTs, Lorenz has put in a crystal ball for UT DT Jay Tufele to Utah. That appears to be the consensus from both OSU and Michigan folks.
Oliver Martin will be going somewhere this weekend, or nowhere
Michigan has officially landed in Iowa City. Wolverines here for in-home visit with Oliver Martin today. pic.twitter.com/RCzEumNHi5
— Matthew Bain (@MatthewBain_) January 17, 2017
That's how geography works. You're always in a place. You're never nowhere unless you're Michigan State and it's bowl season.
Anyway, Michigan has once again put on a full court press for IA WR Oliver Martin, who they supposedly led for until a parting of the ways a couple months ago. That parting occurred when it looked like they'd get a dozen OL along with four WRs—I think you can assume that GA WR Nico Collins was a silent commit given the pattern here—and could not afford the space for a fifth. Martin is reputedly a Harbaugh fave-rave so the only reason they'd back off is if they thought they had no room.
With Collins now much more in play than previously thought and spots seemingly available, heeeere's Oliver again. Lorenz and Isaiah Hole flipped their crystal balls back to Michigan once pursuit was re-engaged in earnest, and Wiltfong might not be far behind. Lorenz:
I was around him all week at the Army game in San Antonio and there's definitely a bond between he and quarterback commitment Dylan McCaffrey. I also believe Martin would already be committed to the staff if they had the room earlier in the process.
Martin has a couple of officials left, one of which can be to Ann Arbor since his October visit was an unofficial. Depending on which article you read you'll discover that he's headed to Gainesville, Ann Arbor, dunno, or nowhere (because he has a swim meet on Saturday). An official to Ann Arbor is probably game over for the other chasers, but it sounds like the Martins might shut it down and just take some in-homes.
The Becton Oversight
mean mug grade: A-
I've neglected to mention anything about VA OL Mekhi Becton the last couple times. This was solely because I didn't have any Becton tabs. Lorenz reports that confidence is still strong on Michigan's end and that the academic angle is important to him. That passes the smell test since Becton was reputed to be a strong Virginia lean for a while. Wiltfong, however, is hearing differently:
247Sports was told last weekend that it could be a Louisville-Hokies battle for Becton who is also considering Michigan, Michigan State, Oregon and Virginia among others. There’s confidence around the Hokies program the 6-foot-7, 345-pound Becton will end up at VT.
The UVA 247 site meanwhile says that sources at his high school are "still adamant that Becton should be considered a heavy UVa lean."
Aaand this appears to be a direct quote of a text from a UL commit that the Louisville site may have published a bit unwisely:
“Becton (didn’t) talk much but is debating between Michigan and us, which is pretty dumb with early playing time at Louisville but he doesn't follow me back.”
I have news for this young gentleman about the state of Michigan's 2017 offensive line.
Further complicating matters: Becton has a VT visit this weekend and Oregon the week after. So that's four schools with insiders swearing up and down that they lead with Oregon lurking on the perimeter. Anything could happen.
Elsewhere in OL news, Lorenz reports that while PA OL CJ Thorpe will official this weekend it would be an "absolute stunner" if he flipped his commitment.
Weird Guy Watch
Rivals projects VA LB Ellis Brooks to Maryland, but mostly because they have to project him somewhere. Their certainty level is low indeed. 24/7 latest update on him states that the last-weekend visit is now up in the air between Michigan and Penn State.
Clemson OT transfer Jake Fruhmorgen has a narrow list of Michigan, LSU, and Florida. Sam caught up with his dad, who apparently reads PFF:
(Jake can) get a redshirt, and good strong year (training) will put him in a strong position to compete at LSU. And they ranked #1 in college last year as a unit.
The only site out there ranking OL units is PFF. Anyway. Florida just lost their OL coach and Fruhmorgen and father have put great emphasis on position coaching in their decision, so they are likely behind the eight ball a bit. Drevno has tried to get in touch, so Michigan appears set to pursue Fruhmorgen in earnest.
Isaiah Hole talks to 4* PA DE commit Donovan Jeter's coach about what he brings:
"Size and ability. I think the biggest thing out there, from a recruiting standpoint, is that they're looking for kids with size and they're looking for kids that can move. Donovan certainly possesses those intangibles. We saw a motor and an explosiveness from him in his stance"
Scout's John Garcia Jr clarifies that TN QB Jackson Gibbs is a PWO candidate at a few different schools and will be picking between M, Alabama, and UCLA. Reports a few months ago that he had gotten a bonafide offer never made any sense, anyway.
Michigan's top 2018 QB target, NV QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, told Maize n Brew that the Fisch move was a big deal for him:
“That’s a huge get,” he said, regarding UCLA hiring Fisch. “It’s going to be tough for schools to beat out UCLA for me making my decision.”
That would be a bummer. I'd love to see what a dual-threat can do with Harbaugh.
Various other 2018 names:
- 4* TX CB D'Shawn Jamison (doesn't know anything about M, vaguely plans visit),
- 5* NC DE KJ Henry ("definitely" plans a visit),
- 5* FL DT Taron Vincent (IMG kid, formerly a protege of Biff Poggi, says M is outside his top 3 of OSU, Bama, and FSU),
- 4* NJ WR Jahan Dotson (top ten, has been on an unofficial, knows Singleton fairly well),
- 4* MO WR Kamryn Babb (M "absolutely" a factor per Trieu after recent offer)
Nick Saban is dropping out of helicopters on FL TE Will Mallory.
— T.CallahanFoundation (@TC22Foundation) January 18, 2017
That shouldn't matter since his dad and both uncles played at M.
I will deign to mention that Michigan has offered 2019 MN OT Quinn Carroll, who looks to have the profile of a top 100 guy so far. There are a couple of big-timers instate as well as OH OL Nolan Rumler, as well.