Today's recruiting roundup covers a huge visit weekend, new offers, and more.
Big February Visit Weekend Is An Annual Thing, Apparently
It's that time of the year again, when Michigan rounds up a large group of highly-touted recruits, shows off their program with the coaches and current commits in full-on recruiting mode, and renders me unable to leave my laptop for the weekend. Those hoping for a repeat of last year's eight-man commitapalooza should temper their expectations, but there's nothing wrong with getting excited about the talent that will be on campus ($). Here's a rundown of this weekend's visitors (all are 2014 prospects unless otherwise noted):
OH LB Michael Ferns and VA QB Wilton Speight — Two of Michigan's three commits—and the two that have been most active in recruiting other prospects—will be on campus doing their best Shane Morris impressions. Both have been mentioned by other prospects as doing an impressive job of selling Michigan.
OH LB Kyle Berger — Berger hails from the same Cleveland St. Ignatius program that produced Jake Ryan, and it could come down to a Michigan/OSU battle for the four-star linebacker.
FL OL Mason Cole — If a player is going to commit this weekend, it's probably Cole, a four-star guard who's already made multiple trips up from Florida. Getting Cole would be big in its own right, and it would also give Michigan the inside track at his high school teammates, four-star WR Artavis Scott and 2015 blue-chip ATH George Campbell—both have offers, and Campbell will accompany Cole on this weekend's visit.
MI WR Drake Harris — This will be the first visit for Harris since his commitment to Michigan State; he's since opened up his recruitment after deciding he'll focus exclusively on football at the next level, though he still remains a soft Spartan verbal. Wilton Speight told Sam Webb he's been talking with Harris on a daily basis and convinced him to spend two days on campus this weekend. While Harris doesn't seem close to making a final decision, a productive visit could move him closer to making a change in his commitment.
NC RB Elijah Hood — The four-star back had Michigan tied for fifth in his recruitment as of last week, but he's since updated that list and now has the Wolverines in fourth, per ESPN's Kipp Adams ($). This weekend will be key if Michigan hopes to make up ground on Notre Dame, Hood's leader, especially since he plans to make a decision before his senior season.
MI DE Lawrence Marshall — Marshall briefly committed to Ohio State a couple weeks ago before opening up his recruitment after visits to Michigan State and Michigan forced him to reconsider. I'd expect the Southfield four-star end will take a little longer before making another pledge.
MI DE Malik McDowell — While McDowell has been a familiar face around Ann Arbor, he's yet to spend a lot of time with the coaches—that should change this weekend, obviously. McDowell has been mum about his leaderboard, but it's believed that Michigan and Notre Dame hold an edge over Ohio State and Michigan State, and this will be a chance for the Wolverines to separate themselves from the pack.
2015 FL ATH George Campbell — As said above, Campbell is teammates at Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake with Mason Cole and Artavis Scott, and he appears ticketed for five-star status when the 2015 rankings eventually come out. This will be his first visit to Ann Arbor.
2015 MI ATH Brian Cole — Cole projects to be one of the top athletes in Michigan's rising junior class and could end up at receiver or defensive back at the next level. The 6'2" product of Saginaw Heritage already holds offers from both Michigan and MSU. This will be his first visit to Ann Arbor.
2015 OH CB Shaun Crawford — Crawford doesn't yet hold a Michigan offer, but that didn't stop him from pegging the Wolverines as his favorites in an interview with Scout's Bill Greene ($). He already holds offers from Illinois and Tennessee and ran an electronic 4.52 40-yard dash at a Nike SPARQ combine last week, so don't be surprised if Michigan comes through with an offer sooner or later.
The only player on this list that can be reasonably expected to commit this weekend is Mason Cole, and that's by no means a guarantee. As we've seen in the past, however, strange things can happen when this many prospects get on campus at the same time.
[Hit THE JUMP for the early leading candidate for dumbest rumor of the 2014 cycle, a couple of new offers, and more.]
From a Wilton Speight interview with Sam Webb comes this little gem of the recruiting process ($) [emphasis mine]:
Sam Webb: Who are some of the other guys off the top of your head that maybe you reached out to and have been kind of receptive?
Wilton Speight: “Mason Cole, down in Florida. Juju Smith, he and I talk a lot. He really likes Michigan on the education side because he wants to do some stuff with medicine in his studies. Adorree Jackson. Joe Mixon -- he's getting offers from literally everyone this week, but he still has Michigan in his top three, which is good. He and I have been texting a lot. I’ve been trying to get in touch with Jabrill Peppers, but he seems kind of hard to get a hold of, and for some reason he thinks that Coach Hoke is going to the NFL, but I think that was set straight and he doesn’t think that any more."
Sam Webb: Where did that come from? Have you talked to him at all about that?
Wilton Speight: “No, I literally haven’t been able to get in touch with him, but there’s been rumors that it started coming from Ohio State."
Rumors are just that, rumors, so take all of that with a big ol' grain of salt. That said: LOL.
(Also, if it's true that Joe Mixon—four-star RB from the Bay Area—has Michigan in his top three, that's big news; he may be the top back on Michigan's board and has been piling up big-time offers lately.)
Offers And More
Michigan is one of many schools to recently offer LA WR Malachi Dupre, one of the best wide receivers (and best names) in the 2014 class, per Scout's Chad Simmons ($). This seems like a longshot at best—pulling a top-flight player out of Louisiana is one of the taller tasks for any school, let alone one that experiences several months of snow.
Also receiving an offer is four-star NJ OL Juwann Bushell-Beatty, who tells 247's Steve Wiltfong that he plans to visit campus in April ($).
One of the top tackles in the class, NC OL Bentley Spain, has narrowed his list to six schools—LSU, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, Stanford, and Virginia—per Scout's Michael Clark ($). Spain plans a spring decision and says he won't do any more interviews until he makes a commitment; don't expect him to land at Michigan unless he visits before making his choice.
GA LB Bryson Allen-Williams tells Steve Lorenz($) that he'd like to visit Michigan—a school his mom "loves"—but that they're currently trailing South Carolina (his leader), Georgia, and Alabama. Allen-Williams picked up an offer from the Wolverines last week.
2015 Cass Tech prospects DE Joshua Alabi and RB Mike Weber tell Scout's Kyle Bogenshutz that Michigan is the "top school" for each of them ($). Both hold Michigan offers after impressive sophomore seasons for the reigning back-to-back state champs.
2014 five-star VA S Quin Blanding will announce his decision on February 27th, per ESPN's Corey Dowlar ($). While Michigan is in Blanding's top ten, he's expected to end up at Virginia—the chances of him picking the Wolverines are slim-to-none.