Commitments Come In Pairs, Volume [I Lost Count]
Michigan's 2015 class grew by two highly-regarded Ohio defensive backs over the weekend; if you missed them, here are the commitment posts for cornerback Shaun Crawford and safety Tyree Kinnel. The pair represent the fifth and sixth commits in the '15 class; to say the pace of recruiting has increased is an understatement:
Adding to that, Michigan's sixth commitment for the '14 class came when Ian Bunting pledged on April 23rd of this year; their sixth for '13 also occurred during The Greatest Mid-February Weekend In The History Of Mid-February Weekends.
Crawford and Kinnel aren't just highly-touted players from Ohio; they're both lifelong Michigan fans, which played a part in each of their commitments. Here's Crawford's post-commitment reaction to Tim Sullivan ($):
"Just being able to run out the tunnel and jump up and touch the sign, I've always seen it on Saturdays and finally getting the opportunity to do it is something I've always wanted to do," he said. "I can't wait to make the Michigan family happy."
And Kinnel talking to Scout's Dave Berk ($):
“We’re all Michigan fans because my dad grew up in Jackson, Michigan,” he said. “He just loved Michigan and ever since I was born, he just brained washed me on Michigan.”
They've been groomed for the Maize and Blue; now, do they fit The Pattern™? Of course they do. Crawford to 247's Mark Zakrajsek ($):
"I will bring my effort, that's the only thing I can promise right now," Crawford said. "With great effort all the great things I do on the field will come. I will play every down like it's my last because it's my dream to play on national television on Saturdays. My goal isn't to win the Heisman or any personal awards, I just want to be the best teammate I can be and make sure my team and coaches know I won't let them down."
And Kinnel's high school coach to Berk ($):
“Tyree comes from a great mom and dad,” said Minton. “He’s from a great close knit family and he’s not your typical high school kid that goes out and hangs out.
He’s much more like Braxton [Miller] was as they don’t mind staying in and playing a video game or something like that. He knows there are a lot of bad decisions that are out there and he doesn’t want to get caught up by anything like that.”
As for on-field ability, I posted my favorite Crawford clip as a GIF and forgot to do so for Kinnel; Kinnel's coach talked up his instincts and play recognition, and this is a fine example—watch him play bracket coverage underneath the slot receiver while managing to keep his eyes on the quarterback, then come screaming from the opposite side of the field to stop the QB's scramble cold when it looked like an inevitable first down or even touchdown:
Making that play wasn't Kinnel's responsibility; he made it anyway after taking away the deep crossing route. Add that to the quote from his Hello post about Kinnel's coaches trusting him to call defensive audibles as a rising junior and we get an idea of his level of football smarts—he's very advanced in that regard for a player his age and it shows in his play.
Crawford and Kinnel were each Michigan's first offered prospects at their respective positions; their commitments add to an impressive trend in Brady Hoke's '15 class:
That is a remarkable stat considering four of those players—Crawford, RB Damien Harris, WR George Campbell, and K Andrew David—are considered among the very top prospects (if not the top) at their position, and only David didn't hold offers from multiple BCS powers when he committed.
[Hit THE JUMP for updates on Da'Shawn Hand's and Leonard Fournette's official visit plans, highlights of several Michigan commits from last weekend's high school action, and two reasons you're definitely going to want Hjalte Froholdt to end up at Michigan.]
He Loves Me! He Loves Me Not.
Those still holding out hope that somehow, some way, top-ranked 2014 RB Leonard Fournette would end up in the class got a glimmer of hope from this NOLA.com article published after Fournette's scrimmage last Thursday:
St. Augustine running back Leonard Fournette will take official visits to LSU, Alabama and Michigan his father, Leonard Fournette Sr., said Thursday after watching St. Augustine scrimmage John Ehret.
But then 247's Kipp Adams spashed us with the proverbial bucket of cold water after posting this quote from the younger Fournette after the very same scrimmage ($):
“Alabama and LSU will get one, Florida and Miami will get one, and Michigan might get the last one,” Fournette said. “If not, then probably USC.”
Frankly, I'll be surprised if Fournette makes it to campus, and downright flabbergasted if anything materializes from it.
Hands Across Americaaaaa
We've known for a while that five-star 2014 WDE Da'Shawn Hand is taking his official visit to Michigan for the Notre Dame game; we finally know when he'll take trips to his other two finalists, Alabama and Florida, per Tim Sullivan ($):
Oct. 5, he will see the Florida Gators take on Arkansas in Gainesville, and Nov. 9 will find him in Tuscaloosa, Ala. to see the Crimson Tide face LSU in one of the biggest games of the SEC's regular season.
Hand announces his decision on November 14th, his 18th birthday, just five days after his official visit to Alabama. Tim posits that Florida, the only finalist Hand hasn't visited yet, is Michigan's biggest competition at this point; unless something major changes prior to November, it seems unlikely that he'd reverse course and pick the Tide over the Wolverines with so little time to marinate on his trip to Tuscaloosa. Unless Florida blows him away, Michigan's prospects still look very good.
Speaking of Hand, the Washington Post began their "First and 17" series that'll cover his senior season and recruitment in depth—a lot of depth, if the first installment is any indication. Along with a video and interactive features on his college choices and inner circle, the Post has a must-read article on Hand's upraising by his parents, who were just 17 and 14 years old when Da'Shawn was born; despite starting parenthood at such a young age, they've made sure Da'Shawn—and his academics—come first:
Once, when Da’Shawn was a freshman at Woodbridge, he brought home a C in math on a midterm report. Sharif immediately pulled him out of the football team’s offseason weightlifting program.
“Hey, Sharif, I understand what you’re doing,” Harris, Woodbridge’s defensive coordinator at the time, told Da’Shawn’s father. “But we’re making a lot of progress here.”
“Coach,” the elder Hand replied, “I appreciate everything you’re doing for Da’Shawn. But I wouldn’t be as upset if I thought he busted his behind for that C. He skated and got that C. I know my son. He shouldn’t get no C in that class.”
Da'Shawn raised that 'C' to a 'B', now boasts a 3.71 GPA, and is looking to major in either civil engineering, architecture, or sports management, with an eye on potentially designing stadiums in the future. Well done, mom and dad.
I'd be remiss in my duties as a Michigan Man (and troll) if I didn't post this quote, as well:
The tougher cuts came after Hand had arrived at a top 10 list last winter and, finally, a top five by January. Virginia Tech was eliminated because it didn’t offer his preferred majors. South Carolina was the victim of a “gut feeling.” Ohio State’s downfall? “I don’t want to talk about it,” he says.
Nope, still isn't getting old.
Yes, I'll Take The Maori Viking Death Machine
2015 four-star DT Hjalte Froholdt is spending his junior year playing on a U-19 team in Copenhagen after his visa for studying in the US expired. He is also, according to this interview with OSU blog Men of the Scarlet and Gray, a full-blooded killing machine:
Every Jason Statham movie I have ever seen has the same premise the birth of a “Perfect Weapon”. I think I have finally found that in real life with an interview I did with Hjalte Froholdt a young man from Denmark whose father is a Viking (Not the fake Minnesota kind) and Mother is a Maori (You know a warrior from Tonga).
YES, PLEASE. Since I'm sure you're wondering, Froholdt does in fact have a brother, though he's disappointingly decided to play handball, a sport in which he's probably freakin' dominant.
Froholdt plans to come back to the States for visits to his top four schools this fall, per Steve Lorenz ($):
Despite playing this season across continents over in Europe, former Warren (OH) Harding defensive tackle and top 2015 defensive target Hjalte Froholdt has a return visit to Michigan in mind.
"I'm probably going to visit in October," Froholdt said. This trip back to the States would also include Michigan State, Ohio State and Arkansas. "I've been emailing Coach Mattison quite a bit, updating him on my situation and letting him know how things have been going for me in Denmark. He can't answer until September 1st, but I'm looking forward to a return visit."
Froholdt tentatively plans to make a decision in December or January, so these visits will be of paramount importance. Michigan should obviously hold the edge because our coach has a pet viking, fergodsakes.
Commit Dominance, Offense Portion
High school football season in under way—WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO—and a few of Michigan's commitments were in action last weekend. The headliner is 2015 commit Damien Harris, who returned the above kickoff 60 yards for a touchdown and added, oh, just 23 carries for 210 yards and five more TDs in a 41-13 win. More highlights are available via Fox Sports Next. This photo caption seems a little too kind to the defender:
Quite the fight there.
2014 WR commit Freddy Canteen, playing in Eastern Christian Academy's first real football game in 11 months, posted some pretty impressive numbers himself:
That included this 69-yard catch-and-run:
He's pretty fast, you guys. Fellow Michigan commit and teammate Brandon Watson recorded an interception in a blowout win for ECA.
Moe Ways had an impressive touchdown of his own in Detroit Country Day's scrimmage, via Tim Sullivan:
Michigan's third 2014 wide receiver commit, on the other hand, did not have such a good weekend. Drake Harris is out four-to-six weeks after aggravating a hamstring injury originally suffered earlier this month.
Commit Dominance, Defense/Special Teams Portion
2014 commit Bryan Mone anchored a dominant defensive line in Highland's 37-7 season-opening victory over Mountain Crest, recording a sack in which he almost certainly committed a facemask penalty (that's Mone on the right, holding the damning evidence)...
...but who cares, as it led to this fantastic photo that'll certainly get regular use around these parts:
Sorry, nearly-decapitated quarterback, but I don't think he's helping you up. (A barely-noticable-yet-perfect touch to this picture: Mone casually dropping the QB's helmet to the ground, which you can see just behind the QB's head.)
Meanwhile, Michigan's 2015 kicker commit showed off a big leg in Massillon's scrimmage against Willoughby South:
After the game, David was named Massillon's starting quarterback. Counting the seconds until Mark Dantonio realizes Michigan has a kicker commit who can pass and does everything in his power to sway his commitment so he can execute his next TOTALLY SURPRISING TRICK PLAY THAT INFURIATINGLY WORKS ANYWAY.
A 247 article on Glenville teammates Marshon Lattimore and Erick Smith doesn't have too much groundbreaking info—yes, both still like Ohio State a lot—though it does contain Smith's plans for official visits, and Michigan will get one of them ($):
“I know I’m going to go to an O-State game, I don’t know which one yet, a Michigan game and a Bama game. That’s it right now,” Smith said. “It’s an official visit to Alabama, the game they play LSU (Nov. 9), and I’ll take an official visit to O-State and an official visit to Michigan. I don’t know of any more.”
2015 five-star MN WDE Jashon Cornell plans to cut his list down to around ten school soon, per Josh Helmholdt ($). Michigan is almost certain to make it; he'll be visiting campus for UTL II. Iowa, Notre Dame, Minnesota, and Ohio State are other schools he plans to see this fall.
An eagle-eyed reader notes that Damien Harris will be named one of Rivals's initial five-star recruits for the 2015 class.
Ohio State landed their first 2015 commit, and it's a big one: ATH Eric Glover-Williams, the top-ranked junior in Ohio.