Yes, A WOW Experience
I deign to use Dave Brandon's favorite phrase in any non-sarcastic context; when you've got Beyoncé on the big board introducing the halftime show, Eminem up in the booth, and a record-setting crowd rocking the Big House in a rivalry win, however, it's appropriate, especially when talking about how UTL II came off to a large contingent of high school recruits.
From L to R: Mason Cole, Matthew Burrell, Damien Harris, Tim Settle, Da'Shawn Hand, Wilton Speight, Drake Harris, George Campbell (photo courtesy of reader Canzior)
According to his mentor, five-star WDE Da'Shawn Hand came away very impressed on his official visit, per Scout's Sam Webb ($):
“It went very well,” said Hand’s mentor and former coach John Harris. “The boys got to hang out with (Wilton) Speight after the game. The atmosphere at the game was electric also.”
"The boys" also included 2015 five-star DT Tim Settle and 2015 four-star OL Matthew Burrell. Despite their high ratings, neither holds an offer; if one comes for Burrell, it sounds like Michigan will be at or near the top of his list, per Steve Lorenz ($):
"This was by far the best visit I've been on," Burrell said. "The people, the coaches. It was just a well-rounded visit. I felt like I was on top of the world I was having so much fun and I wasn't even a commitment."
Based on Coach Funk telling Burrell that he "hope[s] that [Burrell] will be a Wolverine," I'm guessing an offer will come sooner or later; Burrell and PA four-star OT Sterling Jenkins are two quality options for what is, for now, Michigan last O-line spot in the '15 class. Thanks to friend of the blog Canzior for sending along several photos from the Virginia crew's trip, including this fantastic shot of Burrell on the field with John Beilein:
Canzior mentioned that a parent of one of the prospects went so far as to say that Ohio State "didn't even compare" to Michigan.
In a late surprise, four recruits from Glenville—2014 ATH Marshon Lattimore, 2014 S Erick Smith, and 2015 WRs Milan Golden and Trevon Story—made the trip to Ann Arbor; their assistant coach, Robert Andrews, told 247's Steve Wiltfong that all four came away very impressed ($):
“Those guys they were blown away by Michigan. Michigan has treated them special. Our kids come from the inner city and a lot of times they lack the little things in life, and people making a big deal about the little things for them, and Michigan makes everything they do big and important.”
Ohio State still has to be considered the favorite to land Lattimore and Smith, though it's unclear if they'll have room to take the latter; if they don't and Michigan does, the Wolverines are in very good position for him.
2014 five-star DL Malik McDowell ended up staying the night after the game—obviously, a positive sign—and his father told Wiltfong that the visit went very well ($):
“I know [staying the night] was a big plus for him,” Greg McDowell, Malik’s father told 247Sports early Sunday afternoon.
“I just got off the phone with him. He said it was crazy in the Big House. It was roaring. He enjoyed the game and everything.”
Michigan top target in the 2015 class, five-star WDE Jashon Cornell, gave quite a lofty comparison when discussing the atmosphere, per TomVH ($):
“We all thought it was crazy that they had Beyonce on the big screen and Eminem and all the famous people. It was like the Super Bowl,” he said. “All the recruits thought it was special, too, because that’s the last time they will play each other there.”
Cornell won't name any leaders but said that the Wolverines "stand up there" to Wiltfong ($). He'll be back in Ann Arbor in November for The Game.
2015 four-star OH LB Justin Hilliard was impressed with the festivities, as you can see at the top of the post, and told Scout's Dave Berk that Michigan is among a group of schools standing out to him early ($):
“Right now programs like Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Ole Miss and some others are sticking out,” said Hilliard. “It’s getting a little overwhelming, but not too much. So I’ll probably be narrowing my list down after my season.
Iowa is also a major factor in his recruitment; his brother, C.J., is committed to their 2014 class.
2015 four-star Cass Tech RB Mike Weber came away from the game with a rediscovered love for Michigan, per Scout's Josh Newkirk ($):
“When I was little I loved Michigan,” Weber said. “Then I still loved Michigan. But when the other guy (Damien Harris) committed, I kind of put my head down towards it. But after I went there last night – it’s back to where it had been when I first even thought about Michigan.
“I know what college is the best fit for me, there is people there. I know I will have to beat them out. I’m not scared of competition.”
If Michigan has room for him, Weber seems like a good possibility to end up in the class.
Per Steve Lorenz, 2016 IL OT Erik Swenson—one of the top prospects in the class and a heavy Michigan lean—had an "insane" time at the game and will be back for the Ohio State game ($). He has no other visits lined up. JPTTA.
Despite the lack of commitments, it's tough to say that last weekend was anything but a roaring success from a football and recruiting standpoint.
[Hit THE JUMP for a roundup of Michigan's commits in high school football action from last weekend.]
"Kanyeezy, You Did It Again!"
After rushing for 352 yards and five touchdowns a week ago, you'd think 2015 commit Damien Harris would maybe take it easy for a game. Nope. Battling through a bruised collarbone, he rushed for 315 yards and three touchdowns on 31 carries to lead Madison Southern to a 34-27 win over Madison Central, their first in four tries against their cross-county rival. He's set the bar very, very high for himself:
Harris was kept in check, relatively speaking, in the first half. He ran 13 times for 102 yards, including a 55-yard TD, and Madison Central was able to forge a 17-13 lead.
Harris then rushed for 137 yards in the third quarter, so I guess that really was holding him in check. He now has 802 yards and 13 touchdowns in three games this season.
Lawrence Marshall and Malik McDowell wreaked havoc in Southfield's 32-7 victory over Farmington; it was Marshall, not the higher-ranked McDowell, who earned some seriously lofty praise from the opposing coach after the game:
Marshall recorded a safety just before halftime.
“He is the finest player I’ve ever seen,” Farmington coach John Bechtel said. “I’ve been doing this for 35 years, and I’ve never faced a player like him before.”
Paramus Catholic opened their season with a titanic matchup against perennial power Gilman (MD), the school that produced Henry Poggi (and is coached by Poggi's father, Biff). Thanks to some offensive fireworks from Jabrill Peppers and an astounding defensive performance, the game didn't quite live up to its billing as PC won 28-0:
Behind tremendous performances from both its offensive and defensive lines, the reigning Non-Public, Group 4 champion, No. 2 in The Star-Ledger Top 20, racked up 517 yards of offense while holding its opponent to just 23 in a bruising triumph yesterday in Paramus.
Goodness. The stat-line for Peppers:
You can see highlights and an interview with Peppers at the link above.
Chase Winovich celebrates a fumble recovery (Photo: Sidney Davis | Tribune Review)
Other commit performances from the weekend:
2014 LB Chase Winovich scored twice on offense, had two sacks, and recovered a pair of fumbles in a 42-0 victory.
Fellow '14 linebacker Noah Furbush recorded nine solo tackles, seven assists, five tackles for loss, and two sacks in Kenton's 52-16 triumph over Wapakoneta. If not for Harris, that's your performance of the week.
2014 WR Moe Ways hauled in a 44-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring, though Country Day fell to U-D Jesuit, 28-27, on a blocked extra point in overtime.
2015 WR George Campbell recorded one catch for 12 yards in East Lake's 22-0 shutout of Largo. Of East Lake's nine completed passes, six went to 2014 Clemson commit Artavis Scott.
2014 TE Ian Bunting hauled in two catches for ten yards in Hinsdale Central's 36-14 blowout of Addison Trail.
2015 K Andrew David had a very rough outing, missing field goals of 33, 45, and 33 (again) yards and had an extra point blocked due to a bad snap; he did recover to boot the game-winning 20-yard field goal in overtime, per Tim Sullivan ($).
While I can't find mention of 2015 CB Shaun Crawford's stats, his St. Edward squad had a remarkable defensive performance, beating Akron Buchtel 63-8 while holding ten of Buchtel's 44 offensive plays to negative yardage. Buchtel didn't cross midfield until the final drive of the game.