As recently as yesterday, it appeared all but assured that Michigan would take a running back in the 2014 class, whether it be Jeff Jones or newly offered Marlon Mack or perhaps a reinterested Kalen Ballage.
Not so fast, my friends. This morning, Sam Webb said on his WTKA recruiting segment* that he doesn't expect Jones or Mack to end up in the class—a change from his earlier stance—and he reiterated that in a board post on GBW (link $). 247's Steve Lorenz confirmed that report this afternoon and added that he believes it also applies to Ballage ($).
As of now, the reasoning behind this shift from the coaching staff is unclear. There's an optimistic take out there, though; Doug Nussmeier visited 2015 RB commit Damien Harris last week in the midst of rampant speculation—including from his fellow commits—that a decommitment was on the horizon. Harris has been quiet of late; it's possible that Nussmeier felt more comfortable with Harris' status—and Michigan's depth chart at RB—after the visit and felt a scholarship could be better used at another position (or in the 2015 class). It may also help Harris' commitment status if he's reassured that there won't be extra competition from a running back in the class ahead of him.
It appears it's Malik McDowell or bust to round out the 2014 class; given the needs already filled and the small projected class size for 2015, banking a scholarship or two isn't a bad idea, even if it means a less exciting Signing Day (again) this year. For what it's worth, while Sam Webb continues to be optimistic that McDowell will stay close to home, at least one reliable Florida State insider likes their chances after McDowell took his official to Tallahassee last weekend.
[Hit THE JUMP for info on Michigan's two most recent 2015 offers, the final Rivals 100, the DetNews Blue Chip list, and more.]
Michigan offered a pair of touted 2015 prospects over the weekend. Four-star Tampa (FL) Plant OT Jake Fruhmorgen (Hudl highlights) already held offers from a who's-who of college football powerhouses—including Alabama, where his father John starred on the O-line—before the Wolverines came through with one, but Michigan has some connections of their own and should be in the thick of his recruitment, per Steve Lorenz ($):
"Michigan is a school I know he was excited to get an offer from," [John] Fruhmorgen said. "It's always been a school he's followed since he was a kid. I used to coach (former Michigan kicker) Jay Feely and we've also had a relationship with (former Michigan kicker) Garrett Rivas as well, as he coaches at a school we're familiar with at Berkeley Prep. When he was younger, Rivas was one of Jake's favorite players, so Michigan has always been there in his mind."
The elder Fruhmorgen said he's "very confident" Michigan will receive a visit. Right now he's still in the evaluation stage, not naming any leaders, and while there's plenty of competition the Wolverines should be firmly in the mix to land him.
The Wolverines also offered TN OLB Joshua McMillon (Hudl highlights), another four-star holding offers from several top SEC schools. He told 247's Clint Brewster that he maintains no leaders and would like to visit Michigan ($). Michigan is pushing hard for outside linebackers in the 2015 class—each of their nine linebacker offers has gone out to a player projected to play on the outside.
The finalized Rivals100 is out for the class of 2014 and just two Michigan commits made the cut: Jabrill Peppers dropped from #2 to #3 (#1 CB) and Mason Cole moved up from #129 to #92 (#12 OT). Malik McDowell earned a fifth star in the final rankings, climbing to #26 overall, and Josh Helmholdt explained the reasoning behind the bump:
"When McDowell first burst onto the scene as a sophomore, it appeared the sky was the limit. Here was a kid 6-foot-6, 290 pounds running a sub-5.0 40 and he was dominating older Division I offensive line prospects. But McDowell did not progress during that first year and a half," said Rivals.com Midwest Analyst Josh Helmholdt. "It wasn't until his senior season that he started to realize his own potential and played to it, and by the time he arrived at the Army Bowl, he had solidified himself as elite defensive linemen."
Meanwhile, Drake Harris earned the nod for the #1 spot in the annual Detroit News Blue Chip list, enraging scorned Spartans who don't understand that the list is a projection of how good these prospects will be in college, not a redundant all-state team. McDowell is third, followed by his fellow Southfield lineman, Lawrence Marshall. At #9, Moe Ways rounds out the Michigan pledges on the list.
Recently offered five-star 2015 NJ CB Minkah Fitzpatrick wants to visit Michigan "as soon as possible," per an interview with Steve Lorenz ($).
If you missed it, Brandon caught up with Michigan's latest legacy offer, Detroit MLK OLB Tyriq Thompson.
*Listen for plenty of optimism on the Malik McDowell front, as well.
I'm surrounded by so many Brians/Bryans that I'm just calling everyone that these days, I guess.
Pretty sure Brian Moorman was a punter for the Bills, so you didn't completely pull it out of nowhere.
Brian Moorman would like you to know he's still alive and kicking, thank you...
And beat Buckeyes and Sparty!
I wish that optimistic take on Damien Harris wasn't just speculation...
Go get 'em Nuss!
Reading the DetNews blue chip list, am I the only one completely amused by the fact that Jhonathon Williams is committed to Norte Dame?
Whats the joke I missed ?
I think he means that in the article, there is a typo saying "NoRte Dame", and the H in Jhonathon Williams is not where you would usually find it.
I think the coaches can afford to not take a RB in 2014 if it helps bring Harris in. Something happened recently with that whole situation so hopefully Nussmeir and Jackson have re-affirmed Harris.
a RB in this class. But if we can't get Harris, it will make our recruiting a couple good backs in 2015 critical.
Michigan just offered a 2015 QB by the name of Blake Barnett. He's committed to ND and was the first QB in his class invited to the Elite 11 finals.
If the staff is going hard now for OLB, Im wondering what Mike McCray's progress is, because I thought for certain that he would play this year.
As of right now, I don't think there is anything to worry about McCray. Ryan, Morgan and Beyer (who is probably playing SDE next season) graduate after 2014. Gant, McCray and Winovich are the only SAMs on the team after this season. That is if Gant and Winovich stay at SAM (which who knows for sure right now).
Also, with Furbush possibly bulking up and playing DE one day, the four LBs in the 2014 class could turn into three. I could see the coaches taking another three LBs in the 2015 class. It just depends on how everything works out.
I thought McCray was projected as MIKE.
According to the depth chart for the K-state game, he is 3rd at MIKE behind Morgan and Bolden.
I think he was projected to SAM, but I have seen him listed at both SAM and MIKE. I have him listed at SAM on my depth chart, but again I think that is where he was originally projected to play. We shall see this spring on where he will actually play hopefully.
Are you saying the coaches are no longer pursuing any running backs or they won't be landing those running backs?
Not pursing those back basically means pursing no back since it is so late into the process.
I guess a Norfleet situation is possible, but it seems unlikely.
I don't mean this as a way to put down Harris. I am asking, honestly, if he is that good to not take another runningback. I know I have repeatedly seen people on here post that we are light on running back depth and having a need for more runningbacks on the roster. I have to admit I am extremely ignorant when it comes to the depth issue, and what we need. I would think even if Harris is that good, he would not mind some competition.
It is good to take at least 1 RB in every class, and quite frankly I think the coaching staff is making a mistake if they won't sign any in 2014. We all saw the results of not taking a QB in 2012.
While that might not have been the best decision in 2012, I don't think that necessarily applies to RB recruiting in 2014.
In '12, we only had Denard, Devin, and Bellomy at what's arguably the single most important position on the team. Today, we've got eight guys at RB or FB, and this doesn't include Drake Johnson. I can see that it's a nice insurance policy to sign a RB each year, but it seems to me that we're far from thin at that position now.
If there is in fact a decision to not offer a RB in '14, it could mean that the staff believes there will be no RBs transferring.
I'm not sure a true freshman QB in 2012 would have been ready to step in and save the day at Nebraska.
I am not sure you want Shallman, Houma, Kerridge or Norfleet running IZ. Hayes is some sort of a hybrid player who doesn't play, Green and Smith are unproven and Rawls is apparently transferring.
What is it about IZ that makes those guys unsuited to running in it?
In the presser on the day he signed, Hoke specifically mentioned Shallman as a guy that could run the inside zone.
Also, I'm sure I disagree that Green and Smith are unproven. Do you mean they're unproven because they haven't had a big season in college football yet? By now, the coaches know the talent those guys have, and if they're not taking a back, they certainly trust them. And don't forget Hayes and Drake Johnson.
As for Houman, Kerridege, and Norfleet--I basically agree. I think 'Fleet is going to be our slot next year, and Houma and Kerridge are unlikely to carry the ball much, if at all. Rawls isn't gone yet, but he was buried on the depth chart anyway.
Shallman has been practicing at H-B and I am not sure he has the vision to run IZ effectively, and while Green and Smith have an upside, they spent their freshman year getting swarmed behind the LOS. Obviously the OL had something to do with it, but until they prove themselves, they will remain unproven players, albeit with potential.
They must have some type of position expectation for special teams contribution because 6 does seem like more than enough.
I would be surprised to see the staff bank a scholarship for next year with such a small class this year. I think we'll see a signing day surprise taking an additional spot, and either McDowell or one of the RBs taking a spot.
Well said, sir.
Can anyone tell me if McDowell and Lawence Marshall are buds? I would really like to see him in a winged helmet. It's hard to imagine someone who has always been a Michigan fan to end up not going to the U of M. It pains me!
and on the same line for that matter. I certainly hope theyre buds.
McDowell actually transferred to play his senior season with Marshall.
I don't believe he was transferring just to play with Marshall. The competition at Detroit Loyola (where he came from) was subpar, and I think he realized it would behoove him to play with and against better players.
IDK, Loyola was beat in the finals two straight years by a bunch of 140 lb white kids from the upper pennisula.
I'm kidding though. Loyola was in the second to smallest division in Michigan H.S. football so staying there would have gained him nothing.
We see in this class is what were getting basically. I don't feel good about McDowell and never had. I think this class is stacked anyways. Go Blue!
If not taking a RB in this class keeps Harris in the fold for next year, I am all for it.
currently on the roster and they felt the urgency was gone. The seaarch for a running back started before Nuss was hired.
Is there anyone on the Detroit News list besides Webb that Michigan seriously pursued but they committed elsewhere? I don't think so. Obviously McDowell is to be determined.
It would be great to snatch a top quality running back in the 2014 class. I understand that recruiting is a pipeline of young men some of whom will under perform, some of whom will meet expectations, and some of whom will surprise all of us.
I also understand that in an ideal world, or maybe just in a sane world, Michigan will recruit a soild or maybe outstanding RB prospect in every recruiting class. I understand why building that kind of depth is important.
This year Michigan may not get that guy, which would suck at many levels, but we are looking at a team with an amazing amount of talent. A lot of young talent. Now the coaches have to season their players and either this year or next we'll all see an enormous resurgence.
To add a bit more to the speculation about Damien Harris - didn't he commit about the same time as a potential Leonard Fournette visit? Did he commit as part of an agreement with the staff not to take additional RBs? Was he relying on Borges' word? Is that why Borges' departure was so important to him? Is that why we are backing off our pursuit of other RBs?... ok, I'm done speculating and I have no evidence. It is an interesting series of coincidences, though. For what its worth, Harris is an amazing RB and I think it is worth it to accomodate him if he wants to be the only RB in 2014 and 2015. we have plenty of depth. we are, however, exposing ourselves to be victimized if he decommits. he seems like a pretty solid Michigan guy though (lifelong fan, etc.)
Drake Johnson has a 0% chance of getting a medical RS for 2013. He RS freshman year voluntarily, so unless he gets injured again in his college career, he isn't available for a medical RS.
Coaches want Jabrill to learn the defense first before considering learning a complex position like RB. Maybe one year, but not off the bat.
Joe and Sione are FBs, not RBs.
Wyatt was recruited as a RB for Michigan so it is possible.
Not to change the subject but...ohio is on a two game losing skid in football and a four game WTH is going on losing skid in b-ball. I'm loving it, 2014 just gives in so many unexpected ways.
Yes love the OSU stumbles. This recruiting thing reminds me of debating how much snow is gonna fall in Ann Arbor next January......who knows. Michigan is getting its share of quality players for sure! Now they gotta get them to play some winning football...thats the hard part....Maybe John Bellien needs to work with the football team some. My favortie coach from a psycological perspective to team sports? Far and away...Pete Carroll. (not debating the guys ethics here darlin).
Giants just announced RB's coach Jerald Ingram will not be retained. HE would be a great replacement to Fred one day. Coached 8 1,000 yd rushers during his 10 years in NY. Played for Michigan in the early 80's.