Today's recruiting roundup covers this weekend's visitors, the latest on Malik McDowell, and more. Thankfully, I wrote this before the Wisconsin game, and feel no remorse about immediately bumping my own post off the top of the page.
[Insert Hand Pun Here]
Purported high schooler Da'Shawn Hand
Michigan hosts a small group of 2014 visitors this weekend. Small isn't bad, however, when one of those visitors in the nation's top overall prospect, VA DE Da'Shawn Hand. Sam Webb has an extensive feature on Hand in the Detroit News in which he alleviates any concern that Jerry Montgomery's departure will hurt Michigan's chances:
"I heard about it, but I'm not sweating it," said Hand on Montgomery's departure. "Montgomery is a good dude, and that's a good move for him, but I'm not interested in Oklahoma whatsoever. That's how I feel about it. He is a good dude, but I like Coach Mattison."
"(Mattison) is young at heart. I don't even know how old he is. I think he's like 60 — don't tell him I said that — but that dude is 25 at heart. And he's a good guy. He's funny, but he knows what he's talking about. He knows his stuff. He's been a defensive coordinator for the (Baltimore) Ravens. I look up to Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, — it's so many people, it's endless. And they have so many components to that defense. For him to come to Michigan just shows how dynamic the defense is, and for me to be a part of that, they can move me everywhere and get me prepped for the NFL."
Mattison would be Hand's position coach at Michigan, a point I'm sure won't go unmentioned this weekend. Hand also discussed his friendship with fellow Virginian Derrick Green, whom he met on the camp circuit—the two have "just been clicking" since hanging out at The Opening. The Wolverines will be in a serious battle with the rest of Hand's top five—Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, and Virginia Tech—but they've certainly got a few things working in their favor.
[Hit THE JUMP for more on this weekend's visitors and, um, more.]
According to 247's Steve Lorenz, four other 2014 prospects are expected to be on campus this weekend: IL TE Nic Weishar, OH LB Kyle Berger, MI OL Tommy Doles, and committed OH LB Michael Ferns.
Weishar, a four-star tight end, is the subject of a must-read column by Scout's Beth Long—his older brother, Andrew, succumbed to a three-year battle with colon cancer last October. Even though his brother is gone, Nic says he'll still be taking his advice throughout the recruiting process:
One of the moments that Weishar remembers the most, was a moment on a recruiting trip with his oldest brother.
“I remember going to Michigan and Andrew was with us then, and we sat down with Coach Hoke for an hour and a half or so,” Weishar said. “And he loved Coach Hoke and similar with the other places we visited together.”
Plus, Andrew always had good advice for his youngest brother.
“He always told me his opinion on coaches and the visits,” Weishar said. “And those stick with me too. I love to have those memories and I will keep those things in mind when I am making my decision on a college.”
Again, the whole thing is worth a read—Nic and his brother Danny are heading up a foundation in memory of Andrew, with plans for a music festival this summer.
Berger was a relatively late addition to the visitor list, but decided he'd stop by a spring practice after attending a photo shoot in town hosted by Tom Lemming—Malik McDowell will be at the same event, but unlike Berger hasn't committed to stopping by practice.
Doles, meanwhile, is still the player most likely to commit next. He's on campus for the second straight week, and told Tim Sullivan what most had assumed—Michigan remains his leader—after being in Ann Arbor last weekend ($):
"Michigan is still on top. It's the school that I've visited the most, have learned the most about. It's probably still my favorite, but I've still got more to do in my mind, I guess."
Doles says he's like to make a decision by the summer. He's visited Michigan at least six times by my count (that figure, if anything, is low) and the only other unofficial he's taken was to Northwestern a couple weeks ago. To say the Wolverines are in a strong position to land him is probably underselling matters.
Other 2014 News
Brian covered the inevitable Drake Harris decommitment a couple days ago, so I'll move along instead of being completely redundant. Short version: MSU is eliminated, Michigan is probably his leader—though he maintains he doesn't even have a top list—and there's still a ways to go with him planning to check out several top schools.
Per The M Block, Michigan recently offered another Illinois tight end, 6'7" Hinsdale Central product Ian Bunting. Bunting is a four-star on 247, a three-star on Scout, and unranked on Rivals and ESPN (well, left off the ESPN150 Watch List for the latter); he's probably behind Weishar and Tyler Luatua in the tight end pecking order but still a very quality option.
Michigan made the top ten for four-star DC CB D'Andre Payne, according to Adam Friedman of Rivals ($). Payne was a camp visitor last summer and says he plans to visit again this spring.
NJ RB Jonathan Hilliman is rated as a three-star but has an offer sheet more suggestive of a four-star prospect, and he told The M Block that he'll be visiting Ann Arbor on March 23rd and 24th.
Not sure what's the most absurd part about this recruiting note: the words it contains, or the fact that it's basically a form letter.