Today's recruiting roundup covers today's spring practice visitors, new 2014 offers, and updates on several top targets.
Michael Ferns, Rebel With A Cause
Michael Ferns: star high school football player, Michigan commit, GameBoy aficionado, leader of the air traveler resistance movement.
Also, wearer of silly hats.
Spring Practice Visitors
Michigan is hosting several recruits for today's spring practice. Here's a list of the top targets on campus today, culled from several outlets:
TN OT Alex Bars — The four-star younger brother of U-M OL Blake Bars is one of the early favorites to fill a spot in this class, though a decision is not imminent.
MI CB Jalen Embry — The Detroit King product does not hold an offer and probably won't get a chance to until he camps at Michigan this summer. If he earns one, however, the Wolverines are the likely favorite to land him.
MI DE Malik McDowell — McDowell is still largely quiet about his recruitment, with the early consensus that it'll come down to Michigan and Notre Dame not really changing yet. Though I don't expect his recruitment to end any time soon, another trip to Ann Arbor can't hurt Michigan's standing.
MI WR Maurice Ways — Detroit Country Day's Ways, much like Embry, is an intriguing in-state prospect who could earn bigger offers (including Michigan) down the road with a strong summer.
2015 RB Mike Weber, 2015 DE Joshua Alabi, 2015 QB Jayru Campbell — The Cass Tech rising junior contingent will once again make their way to campus. Weber and Alabi hold offers and regard Michigan among their leaders; Campbell, as a quarterback, will have to wait until the coaches get around to narrowing down their 2015 prospects at the position.
Southfield DE Lawrence Marshall was expected to be on campus today, but according to 247's Clint Brewster he was unable to make the trip.
[After THE JUMP, updates on new offers, some big-time potential visitors, and more.]
Newly-Offered Players Are... Not Talkative
Michigan has two new 2014 offers to report, though it doesn't appear that either player has been tracked down to comment about the Wolverines by any of the recruiting services or blogs so far.
The first is AZ ATH Ismael Murphy-Richardson, an unranked prospect to all but Scout (three-star OLB) who nonetheless is seeing his recruitment blow up, per Scout's Jason Jewell($)—Arizona, Arizona State, Florida, and Michigan all offered him in the span of a couple days, joining his first offer, Washington. Murphy-Richardson, who's listed at 6'4", 215 pounds, is a versatile prospect who could end up at linebacker, defensive end, or even wide receiver.
The second new offer is VA WR Jaason Lewis (first name: not a typo), who is listed at wide receiver but may be more of a tight end prospect at 6'3", 230 pounds. Lewis also holds early offers from Florida State, North Carolina, Virginia, and Virginia Tech, per 247.
Planned Visits, Top Lists, Etc.
Rivals's Adam Friedman reports that four-star MD OL Sam Mustipher will visit Northwestern, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Ohio State starting on April 1st ($). Mustipher is still in the process of narrowing down his options; this trip should help him do that, and he told Friedman what he's looking for when he gets to Ann Arbor:
"I love the Michigan fans, they're some of the most rabid fans in the country," Mustipher said. "I really want to see what Ann Arbor is like. I want to get a feel for the town and the program. It's one of the most historic programs in the country. I want to see what that tradition is like for myself. Hopefully I'll get a chance to see (Good Counsel alum) Blake Countess. I've been talking to Coach Mallory regularly and getting a lot of hand-written letters from the coaching staff.
One of the top overall prospects in the class will also see Ann Arbor this spring; according to ESPN's Jared Shanker, five-star Tuscaloosa native and Alabama commit RB Bo Scarborough will swing by campus in May, when he's slated to participate in a camp outside of Toledo ($). I wouldn't get my hopes up here—Scarborough's trip is primarily for the camp, it appears, and pulling a five-star Alabama commit from (almost literally) their own backyard would be quite the recruiting coup.
2015 NY TE/DE Tyrone Wheatley Jr. recently pulled in an Alabama offer, and he discussed his upcoming visit plans with Scout's Allen Trieu ($):
"I'm going to try to go down to Alabama's spring game on the 20th. I'm going to Michigan on the 13th for their spring game and I'm going to try to go down to one of Penn State's practices sometime next week."
One would assume Michigan has a solid leg up on the competition given Wheatley's lineage, but an Alabama offer is obviously a big deal—Wheatley said he was "thrilled" and nearly speechless when told of the offer.
Sam Webb's latest at the Detroit News features speedy three-star CO RB Kalen Ballage, who's received a lot of early attention from the Michigan coaches:
"Nobody has just marched me down like Michigan," [Ballage] said. "Coach Funk and I kind of just clicked from the get-go, and ever since things have just escalated. Literally I saw Coach Funk two times within two weeks. Then to see him again when he comes with Coach Hoke the third time … I'm like, 'Wow that's crazy! He could be anywhere in the world right now. Why would he be here in little old Falcon, Colorado?' That was pretty cool. Their persistence is out of this world."
Ballage won't name any leaders but it's clear that Michigan has put themselves in a good position to contend for his signature—he's trying to set up an early summer visit.
Four-star NJ WR Saeed Blacknail currently has a top three that doesn't include Michigan, but he told Rivals's Adam Friedman that a trip to Ann Arbor could shake things up ($) [emphasis mine]:
This week, Blacknall announced that the LSU Tigers are currently his top school, followed by Ohio State and Florida State, in that order.
"I was asked by my mom and my coaches about which school I liked and decided 'What the heck?!' All of this could change though when I visit Ohio State and Michigan," Blacknall said. "I need to see Michigan and go from there. I could go there and get my mind blown and that would make the decision even tougher. As of right now, LSU is at the top."
Blacknail didn't mention a specific date he'll be in Ann Arbor, but it's clear that he intends to make his way to campus before his recruitment is over.
Based on an interview with Derek Young of Eleven Warriors, it looks like Michigan and Ohio State are in a dead heat for Cleveland St. Ignatius linebacker Kyle Berger:
Is it safe to say it remains a 50/50 battle between Ohio State and Michigan or were the Buckeyes able to make a significant move?
I think it is still a 50/50 battle. I'm not certain of which school I like more yet and I know I'm going to be very torn when making this decision. My visits to other schools may give them a chance to make a move as well.
Berger has maintaned throughout the process—and again in this interview—that he intends to take a few visits next month and make a May decision; he'll get back to Michigan and Ohio State once more for each school, and I'd be surprised if another school got serious consideration.
Waste Of Funny Money
A 2013 Penn State football signee is currently facing felony-level hot water for conspiring to use counterfeit money to buy... food at McDonald's. /facepalm.gif