"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."
Here's a Fox Sports report on the strange recruitment of Chris Barnett. To me the kid seemed a little flaky ever since he first appeared on Michigan's radar. I hope everything's on the up and up. The kid has a lot of talent, but I wonder what's going on in his head sometimes.
So I'm not sure if anyone's heard this, but Chris Barnett sounds like a flat-out confident beast. Can't wait for this guy to lay out some fools.
Signing day is almost upon us, and there are roughly six recruits to keep an eye on.This staff has done an excellent job keeping kids committed and adding additional pieces to fill gaps. Here's a look at what to expect, and when to expect it.
5'10", 215 lbs.
Rawls is a three star prospect, which most people assume is because of the concern with his grades. Most people assumed he would not qualify, which led to a not so impressive offer list. Also, since his high school coach is Fred Jackson's son and he's made no secret of the fact that if he qualifies he's going to Michigan other schools may not have bothered.
Don't let that list fool you, because Thomas is the kind of back Brady Hoke is looking for in his offense. I can only imagine the conversations about Thomas between Fred Jr and Fred Sr. [ed: "Son, you are the greatest coach in the world and you have created a combination of Herschel Walker, House, and Bo Jackson."]
Rawls recently came back from his trip to Ann Arbor with an offer and a plan:
I wouldn't say it was the dream offer, Michigan is the dream school. I grew up watching them, and I just worked to get there. I basically had the offer, but I just didn't say much. I don't want to say too much about academics, but I will be eligible for the 2011 season. I want to keep some stuff for my press conference, which will be at 9:30am on signing day at Flint Northern.
Thomas is "deciding" between Michigan and CMU on signing day. This should be an excellent pick up for Michigan, and an excellent job by Thomas to get eligible.
6'7", 270 lbs.
Traverse City, Michigan
Jake Fisher is fresh off a visit to Oregon, and it's coming down to the wire. Chip Kelly is pretty strict when it comes to prospects visiting and offers they hand out. They like kids to visit if they are seriously thinking about coming to Oregon, and I think Jake is. I spoke to him after his visit, and he had this to say:
Everyone is fair game right now. I'm going to sit down with my parents and talk everything over. I'm either going to announce the day before signing day, or on signing day.
He also told me the visit to Oregon went well, but not much more than that. Jake is really tough to read, so this could go one way or the other. The Michigan coaches have made him a priority. Will it be enough?
Who's Signing When
Signing day is Wednesday. As mentioned earlier there are roughly six prospects that Michigan has honed in on. They would have enough room for all six under certain circumstances. Here's who's left, and when they plan on announcing.
- MI RB Thomas Rawls: Signing Day at 9:30am.
- CO LB Leilon Willingham: Signing Day at 7pm MT. Michigan is in great shape still with Willingham. He'll be choosing between Michigan, ASU, Colorado, Washington, and UCF presumably.
- OH LB Frank Clark: Signing Day around 10 or 11am.
- MD DT Darian Cooper: Signing Day.
- MI OL Jake Fisher: Either announcing the day before signing day, or on signing day. Visit to Oregon went well. He plans on talking it over with his parents and then deciding.
- TX TE Chris Barnett: Will announce on Saturday. Wants to weigh out all the options rather than think on emotion. The Michigan visit went very well. He is deciding between Arkansas and Michigan.
Prediction: I don't like predicting, but Michigan has a legitimate shot at landing all six that are left. I don't know if they will, but they have a shot. I am confident about three of them, somewhat optimistic about one, and usure about two. I think when it comes down to it they will most likely land 3 or 4, if they get the 5th or 6th it's a bonus.
This was the last weekend before Signing day and Michigan still has some big name recruits left on their board. Four star Texas tight end Chris Barnett was a little late to the party, but he's at a position of need for Michigan. With this visit Chris will now have to decide between staying committed to Arkansas, or choosing Miami or Michigan instead.The coaches went out and convinced the Arkansas commit to come up and experience what Michigan had to offer. Here's his film, and what he had to say about the visit.
TOM: Tell me about the visit. When did you get there, and how did it go?
CHRIS: We got there Friday afternoon. We went through Schembechler Hall on a mini tour first. When the rest of the recruits got there we went out to eat and hung out with our hosts. The next morning we went through an academic tour, position meetings, we met with the AD, took a tour of the stadium, took a tour of Ann Arbor, and walked through the campus a little bit. We went to dinner later on and then hung out with our hosts again.
TOM: You mentioned your hosts, who was your host?
CHRIS: I had multiple hosts. I had Kevin Koger, Patrick Omameh, Junior Hemingway, and Devin Gardner. I met Darryl Stonum from Texas too.
TOM: What was it like hanging out with the players? Did you feel like you were comfortable with them?
CHRIS: The players have been through a lot together. The only thing that's been consistent with them is each other. They've been through coaching changes and everything. When they introduce themselves, they don't say this is my friend or this is my homeboy, they say this is my brother he plays quarterback. They're not associates, they're family. This is how close they are. We were about to go to Kevin Koger's apartment, we walked in and there was already three players there before Kevin even was. He just walked in and it was cool, it was fine that they were there. We went to someone else's house and we just walked right in. I haven't seen anything like that on any of my other trips.
TOM: Outside of the players, what about the coaches, what did they talk to you about?
CHRIS: They basically talked about the system that they were carrying over from San Diego State. They need guys that are mentally, physically, and emotionally ready to play. They were really honest and open that it wasn't going to be easy, it was going to be hard, but it would be rewarding in the end and the long run. They talked about the things they expect from their players, the three strike rule they have, and what they expect out of them.
TOM: Was that a good thing for you? Is discipline something you like in a coach?
CHRIS: It was great to hear that because you want them to be your coaches, but you also want to have someone that's there for you and they really seemed like they care about their players. It wasn't about them. I think you need discipline because that's how you grow as a person and player, with discipline and structure.
TOM: What about the academic side, you mentioned you took an academic tour. Did that have any impact on you?
CHRIS: Yeah, it was crazy. I went up there with my cousin, and we knew they were good but (a Michigan) degree is something like 14th overall in the country. They rank right up there around Yale and Harvard. They talked a little about how the athlete weighs in and how it's easy for you to connect with people later in life, too.
TOM: What did this visit do for Michigan? Did it help them out, how is everything going to play out for you?
CHRIS: I was amazed by a lot of things. It's going to be interesting. We're going to go back and weigh the pro's and cons and my emotions with these programs. We'll figure out what's best for me. I'm going to look at if the school has connections, will my degree mean more coming from that school, it's going to be a tough choice. I've been that guy so far that makes my decision with emotions and got caught up in the glitz of everything. I'm in a stable place now, and I'm not just looking at that stuff. I want to sit down and weigh everything out.
TOM: There was talk that you would wait until after signing day to decide, is that the case?
CHRIS: Yeah, I'll probably sign on Friday or Saturday. I just want to take myself out of the emotions for awhile, and away from everything. Sit down weigh everything out and then make my decision.
This weekend was a huge success for Michigan, not only with the three commitments from K Matt Wile, DB Raymon Taylor, and DE Keith Heitzman, but with the other visitors as well. Here's what some of them had to say.
5'11", 170 lbs.
The interest from McClure came from his relationship with Brady Hoke at San Diego State. Now that Hoke was at a bigger program like Michigan, McClure was interested.
It was a great time. We met with all the coaches, saw the stadium, and hung out with the players. My host was Denard Robinson, which was pretty cool. He's like a celebrity there. Walking through the Big House was pretty cool, too.
Michigan's new defensive coordinator, Greg Mattison, has only been on campus for one weekend, but he's already polished off his recruiting tricks.
I talked with the defensive coordinator quite a bit. We talked scheme, and he knows his x's and o's. It was pretty cool to be able to talk with him. I also talked to coach Hoke about the school, tradition, and the opportunity to play early there.
Stefan has said he will decide and announce sometime this week. I would imagine distance might be a factor with him, and I wouldn't get too excited. While I think he had a good time, it's hard to pull kids out of California. I would guess he'll stay home and go with someone like Cal.
6'2", 240 lbs
Willingham is a four star that had been committed to Texas A&M, and decided recently to take a trip out to Michigan. Coincidentally, or not so coincidentally, he took a recent visit to Colorado the same weekend as current Michigan commit Kellen Jones. Kellen had an opportunity to tell Leilon why he chose Michigan, and what he liked about it. This weekend he got to see it for himself.
We got a chance to talk to all the coaches, and it was pretty cool to sit down with the defensive coordinator. Ray Lewis is my idol, so that was like a dream. They were just telling me how they would use me up there, ether inside or outside. I really liked it up there. I mean, the Big House speaks for itself, everything was great. We hung out with all the other recruits, and everybody was just having a good time.
Willingham does have one more visit scheduled to UCF, and says that he will announce on signing day.
The (Michigan) coaches know I'm going out to Central Florida, so that's fine. I'm decommitted from Texas A&M, too, so I'm not with them anymore.
However, don't be surprised if he decides to "come public" with his choice earlier than that. This visit put Michigan in the driver's seat, and then some.
6'2", 210 lbs.
Although he's from Glenville, Clark has always maintained that Michigan is high on his list. Before this visit Michigan was in his top three with MSU and UNC. I spoke to him briefly after his visit, and Michigan has definitely helped themselves with Clark.
He described the visit as, "excellent" and said that he will be announcing his decision on Friday the 28th. Clark is in the same category as Willingham right now. He will make his choice public soon, but Michigan has put themselves in the driver's seat with this visit.
- OL Chris Bryant is announcing on Friday. Likely between Michigan, Arizona, and Pitt. I like Michigan's chances.
- TE/LB Frank Clark is announcing Friday. Between Michigan, UNC, and MSU. I like Michigan's chances.
- LB Leilon Willingham may announce this week, but could wait until signing day. I like Michigan's chances.
- 4 Star TE Chris Barnett is visiting this weekend, the 28th.
- 4 Star DB Floyd Raven may visit Alabama this weekend instead of Michigan. We'll see what happens.
- RB Thomas Rawls may visit this weekend, and is announcing on the 31st. If he's qualified, I like Michigan's chances.
- DB Blake Countess may come back up for an unofficial visit to meet the new DC, and potentially the new DB coach if they have one in place.
- OL commit Tony Posada was in Ann Arbor this weekend, and the visit reassured him of his commitment to Michigan. Nothing to worry about there.
- DT Darian Cooper just got done with an official to Iowa. He tweeted that Michigan's new DC Greg Mattison promptly called him, and said he was, "very interesting." That could be something to watch if they go after him hard.
Via Rivals, 4* TE Chris Barnett will be visiting the weekend of January 28. He's currently a commit to Arkansas, but has seemingly opened up his recruitment as he is visiting Michigan, as well as Miami this weekend. (Note to Al Golden: kindly FUAD.)
No word on our chances per se, but hey, if you can get 'em on campus anything's possible.