"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Cardale Jones is a quarterback at Glenville, in Ohio, so he hates Michigan right? Well, I just had an interesting conversation with him. I actually ended up telling him halfway through, that I still wasn't sure if I believed what he's saying to me, because of his school affiliation.
I started out by asking him how Braxton Miller's recent commitment to Ohio State would affect him. He said it wouldn't. I took that as meaning that maybe he wasn't thinking about Ohio State seriously, but he told me that Miller wouldn't scare him away. I should note that Jones doesn't have an offer from OSU, and with Miller's commitment, likely won't get one. However, from my past experience, when a kid continues to talk about a school, it usually means that there's still mutual interest. None of that makes sense to me; I don't know why Ohio State would continue to pursue him.
The second part was that he told me he actually grew up a MIchigan fan, and he really likes the Wolverines. His words were, "I was a huge fan of them growing up, and now I have a chance to play for them, so what's not to like?"
I wanted to say, "Coach Ginn hates Michigan, stop lying to me!" but that came out as, "Wait, what?" Jones says he hasn't narrowed his list down, but he does really like Michigan.
I eventually, in a polite, subtle way, asked what coach Ginn's perspective on Michigan and head coach Rich Rodriguez was. Cardale told me that his coaches opinion doesn't matter, or change where he wants to end up. Coach Ginn told him to pick the place that he feels the most comfortable for the next 4-5 years. Read into that how you will.
I'm not usually a tin foil kinda guy, but there's some obvious links to Glenville's lack of friendship with Michigan. Take all of this FWIW, and I don't even really know what any of it means. I still think he'll end up at Cincinnati, or West Virginia. Just thought I would share.
6'2, 240 lbs.
As everyone knows, Corey Marshall recently took the trip up and over to Michigan for the BBQ. Marshall came away impressed with what Michigan had to offer, and has been analyzing all of the schools he's interested in. Marshall:
The Michigan visit was the most impressive from the standpoint that I got to stay a little longer, and see more of what they had to offer. I'll be going to West Virginia next, and then back to Tennessee to talk to Chuck Smith.
So far, Marshall has taken visits to Michigan, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, and Virginia. As he said, West Virginia is up next. He spoke highly of Michigan, and the academic department, but I have a feeling that Virginia Tech and Tennessee are probably in the lead. There's a lot that can change, but the fact that he's taking a second visit to Tennessee says something. We'll see what happens there.
6'6", 255 lbs.
Fort Pierce, Florida
Giorgio is one of the top ranked players in the country and was recently named in the Rivals top 100l. He told me tonight that he plans on taking an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor to check out what Michigan has to offer.
They (Michigan) love me up there. It's looking good, so far, with them. I'm not sure when it will happen, but I'm definitely trying to make it up there sometime this summer.
An interesting tidbit: Rod Smith is recruiting Newberry. He previously coached with one of Giorgio's current high school coaches. Michigan has a guy in their corner, and Newberry has always spoken highly of Michigan. If the visit happens, Michigan could be a player here.
6'3", 210 lbs.
Matthews, North Carolina
Frost, like Newberry, was also recently ranked in the Rivals top 100, sitting high on the list at number 27. Kris has been trying for awhile now to make it up to Michigan, and has finally found the right time. Frost, along with his mother, father, and possibly brother, will be coming up to Ann Arbor on June 18th for Michigan's camp. They'll be coming up for the camp, but also treating it as an unofficial visit. To say he's excited is an understatement:
My whole family is excited about it, we can't wait. It's happening 100%, too, which feels good. I haven't been up there since last summer, and this is the first time my family will be there, so that will be good. They'l be able to see everything that I have.
Kris is going to wait for signing day to make his decision, but is very vocal about his feelings towards Michigan. He told me he is very high on Michigan, and is planning on trying to make it up for two or three games this season. He's already set his official visit:
We're coming up for the Michigan State game in October, and I'm actually coming with (QB) Marquise Williams. We met at the Shrine Bowl practices, and it's cool to talk to him about how he feels about Michigan too. I know they're in his top five, so it's cool to have someone else that feels like that for Michigan, too.
Michigan is most definitely in Frost's top five, with the others being Auburn, LSU, Cal, and North Carolina. His parents have been to Auburn and North Carolina so far, so they already have a barometer for other schools, and what they have to offer. Don't expect a commitment yet, but this visit further shows his genuine interest in Michigan.
- A new name to add to the list is Ohio defensive end Deonte Gibson out of St. Edwards. Gibson told me that he spoke with Coach Tall before the weekend, and that Tall was recommending him for an offer. They are now waiting on Rich Rodriguez to give the approval, or not. He thinks he'll find out sometime this week. His highlight film is here, if you care to look.
- Louisiana defensive back Daren Kitchen is 95% sure he will be at Michigan's elite camp this weekend. I asked him if it will be over if Michigan extends an offer. His response was an emphatic, "Oh yeah."
- Illinois offensive lineman Pat Flavin will also be at Michigan's camp this weekend. I spoke to his coach, Patrick New, and he told me Flavin is definitely interested in Michigan's tradition, and what they have to offer. He also said that Patrick gets the sense that he might not be on the top of Michigan's list. They both understand that some schools like to see athletes in person at camp before extending offers, especially on the offensive line. Flavin is likely to make a decision at the end of the summer.
- Michigan has also offered GA DE Ray Drew. Drew is the #6 DE in the country to Scout and his getting heavily recruited by area schools, so he will be a tough guy to pull.
Desimon Green, out of Clairton High School in Pennsylvania, recently got some exciting news from the Michigan coaching staff. Coach Gibson and Coach Robinson told Green that he would have an offer once Rich Rodriguez gives the thumbs up after the holiday weekend. Desimon is calling the Michigan coaches back tomorrow, and is expecting the offer to be extended.
Green is a 6-foot-5, 215-pound athlete, that plays defensive end, quarterback, wide receiver, and even linebacker. "Whatever the team needs me at, that's what I play. You don't usually see a teams quarterback turn around and line up at the defensive end spot, but I can do it all," said Desimon. The Wolverines are recruiting Green for either the defensive end spot, or the hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker position. "That's kind of what I play now, for our team, so that fits me pretty well," Green said.
Desimon told me he was a fan of Michigan growing up, but being a fan and a recruit are two different things. "They're not my favorite just because I was a fan. Those are two different things. They have a good chance, but they're not my leader," said Desimon. Michigan isn't the leader, but they are among his top five. "Texas Tech, Michigan State, West Virginia, Cincinnati, and Michigan are the top schools so far," he told me.
For what it's worth, Michigan State is recruiting him for tight end, which is ok with him. Desimon is hoping to have a decision made by September, and November at the latest. He's looking for a certain comfort level, and the opportunity to play early. He doesn't plan on camping at Michigan, because he doesn't want to camp anywhere he already has an offer with.
LB Sean Duggan (St. Xavier/Cincinnati, OH) has an unofficial top 5-10 (11) schools that are sticking out to him. He told me he has a lot of great schools after him, so his list changes every day.
The two that seem to be sticking out the most, at this point, are Wisconsin and Boston College. He said, they're not really his official leaders, but they stick out right now. The rest of the list includes Michigan (top 5), Virginia, Vanderbilt, Cincinnati, Oregon, Minnesota, and Arizona, Louisville, and NC State are tied. (Yes, I realize that's 11).
His father and grandfather both went to Notre Dame, so the rumor goes that he too will have a golden dome. Sean said that Notre Dame hasn't offered, so he's not worrying about them, and that he doesn't want to be someones second option, either. He wants to go to a school that wants him as much as he wants them.
He seemed pretty genuine in that, and I have to take him for his word. If Brian Kelly swoops in on a silver horse, with an offer in hand, they might still ride off in to the sunset, but I can't tell. He made it pretty clear that the rumors about Notre Dame leading, even if they were to offer, needed to be squashed.
He's been in contact with Coach Dews and Singletary, and finds them both very easy to talk to. He and Coach Dews have a few things in common, which has made the conversation easier. Sean was also excited that Michigan has a strong need at the linebacker position. He won't be at Michigan's elite camp, because he already has an offer, but is very excited to visit campus soon. His list will continue to change as he takes more visits, but he was adamant that Michigan is near the top.
Impeccable timing by Mark Dantonio, who just offered PA LB Branden Jackson. If you somehow missed the front page, and I don't know how you did, but here's my interview with Branden. Branden told me he had been hearing a lot from MSU, so this isn't out of the blue.
He's also been hearing from Louisville and Texas Tech quite a bit, so I would expect offers coming from them soon.
[Editor's note: Tom's put out a torrent of content about this weekend's BBQ at the Big House. Other items in you may be interested in:
- MD DT Darian Cooper didn't name any leaders following the trip but did say Michigan helped themselves: "They weren't trying to hype anything, and I really liked that. We just got to sit back and talk about life and not all football, which was great."
- FL RB Demetrius Hart did not make it in due to the expense of two trips to Michigan back-to-back. "Nothing has changed" as far as the Harts' opinion of M.
- Michigan has offered three additional kids in Ohio: DE Austin Traylor, TE Nick Vannett, and C Ryan Kelly. Traylor says he will visit; the interest levels of the other guys is unknown. Vannett is reputed an OSU lock.
Now on with this particular show.]
One of the prospects in attendance at this past weekend's BBQ was McKeesport linebacker Branden Jackson. Branden is a 6-foot-5, 220-pound middle linebacker for his team who runs a 4.5-4.6 forty. Here's what he had to say about the trip, and his versatility.
TOM: What did you know about Michigan before this trip? Why did you have interest?
BRANDEN: I just knew that Michigan was always good. They have a good track record, a huge alumni base, and they have those nice helmets. I liked some of the players growing up, and I also knew they had the biggest stadium, but that was about it.
TOM: So what were you expecting out of this kind of visit?
BRANDEN: I was really just expecting to get a feel for the school, the players, and the environment. I wanted to see if I could fit in, and I got exactly that. Exactly what I thought I would.
TOM: What about the environment, or atmosphere, stood out to you?
BRANDEN: The campus was really nice. I knew it would be, but it was really nice. Once I got around some of the players, too, I knew I wouldn't be left out. Everyone was just real nice, and made you feel comfortable. They weren't hyping anything, they were just being real about what they go through. I hung out with Tate Forcier, and Roy Roundtree a little bit. Roy's hilarious, he was cracking jokes the whole time. I talked a little with Stephen Hopkins, too. It was good to hear from someone that just committed, and just got up there.
TOM: Did you get to have as much fun with any of the coaches?
BRANDEN: Yeah, coach Gib [Gibson]. Since I met him, he's been real cool. He's always been down to earth with me, and he's in to modern things, too. He's not too old school, and I like that. I actually talked to the defensive coordinator, too. He was a little older, so I didn't know how much we'd have in common, but he was real cool, too. I was surprised, he knew a lot about some modern things.
TOM: What was the conversation like between the coaches?
BRANDEN: We were just talking about the things I'd get out of Michigan. The education, how big the alumni base is, and how that can help with jobs. We talked about the defense, and if I came there, I would play outside linebacker. They like quick, aggressive, and athletic linebackers. We also talked about how the head coach wants to offer kids that will add to the family atmosphere, and help create a bigger family, which was cool.
TOM: Does the outside linebacker spot fit you? Are you comfortable with that?
BRANDEN: I'm 6-foot-5, and 220-pounds, but if you look at me, I don't look like I weigh that much. I have really good speed, and I feel like I'm smaller for the middle spot, so the outside is probably better for me. I actually used to play safety, but we were short on linebackers, so I had to play in the middle. I'm aggressive, though. I like to come off the edge, even though I'm in the middle, I cover tight ends all the time in our defense. I'm pretty versatile; I could really be anywhere on the field. The last time I ran the forty was around a year ago, and it was a 4.5 something.
TOM: I know you wanted your teammate, Delvon Simmons, to come with you, too. He didn't make it?
BRANDEN: No, he couldn't make it, but I'm going to tell him everything about it. He'll definitely want to come back up with me in the summer. We talk about going to the same school all the time. I say if it happens, it happens, but he says it's definitely going to happen. I don't really know yet. It's too early for me to narrow things down, until I take more visits. Michigan is definitely up there, but there's no list, yet.