Monday Recruitin' Knows, Won't Tell
Today's recruiting roundup covers last weekend's All-American games, high profile names emerging (or re-emerging) as targets, and a potentially wavering 2014 commit.
Spill The Beans, Green
Five-star linebacker Reuben Foster: visit on tap?
Michigan didn't land one of their remaining high-profile targets over the weekend when FL S Leon McQuay III committed to USC. They appear poised to get better news regarding VA RB Derrick Green, however—the nation's top running back has maintained Michigan as his leader in recent weeks and told Rivals($) after the Army All-American Game, "I know where I'm going." Green plans to announce sometime this month and it's safe to expect good news barring a sudden change of heart.
While USC snagged a Michigan target, it's possible the Wolverines return the favor after CA WR Sebastian LaRue decommitted from the Trojans; the four-star told 247's Clint Brewster that he plans to talk to Coach Ferrigno about a potential visit to Ann Arbor ($). LaRue currently has a visit to Notre Dame scheduled and is also looking at Miami, Arkansas, and Texas A&M.
The Wolverines may also have suddenly found themselves in the mix for the nation's top linebacker recruit, Alabama prospect Reuben Foster, after he connected with commit Henry Poggi at the Under Armour game. Poggi reportedly alerted Foster to Michigan's potential interest and convinced him to get in touch with the coaches, and Foster looks to be following through, per Sam Webb ($):
Once Foster and Michigan begin having more conversations, the 6'1, 240 pounder says it’s likely he'll get up to Ann Arbor for a visit at some point before signing day.
"I don't know but the odds are pretty darn good cause I'm cool with [Poggi's] dad that I just met this week --- very cool with him," said Foster.
With a month to go until signing day, it's very late in the game to enter into the recruitment of such a high-profile player, but the former Auburn commit seems to have genuine interest. It's early yet to harbor serious hopes of a commitment, but if a visit materializes it would obviously be fantastic news for Michigan.
A more likely candidate for one of the final few spots is CA OL Cameron Hunt, who spent time with Michigan's contingent of commitments at the UA game. Hunt will take his official to Michigan next weekend, followed by visits to Oregon and Cal, and he told Sam Webb that those three schools comprise his leading trio ($).
[After THE JUMP, video and evaluations of Michigan's All-Americans, the latest on Denzel Ward, and more.]
Well, We Know He Can Take A Hit
The All-American games have come and gone, and it was an up-and-down week for Michigan commits. For Shane Morris, it was mostly down—after an uneven week of practice, he finished just 2-for-10 with an interception in the Under Armour game, taking a highlight-reel hit on a scramble and landing squarely in the "Expected More" category in Rivals's post-week wrap ($):
Shane Morris, PQB, Warren (Mich.) De La Salle: It was a tough week for the five-star quarterback who never found his rhythm. Morris is coming off an upper respiratory illness that caused him to miss most of his senior season. His rust showed during practice and during the game. He completed a couple of passes to Treadwell, but he threw an interception and was never comfortable in the pocket. No one can discount his arm strength, but he needs to become more consistent on his progressions and taking what the defense gives him.
You can see his highlights above, as well as the entire game here, courtesy of MGoVideo. Morris did have a stellar throw to Treadwell that would've gone for a touchdown if not for a great breakup by game MVP Vernon Hargreaves III; he also forced passes and missed reads. Yes, All-American games leave little time for learning playbooks, and the results are generally ugly for quarterbacks across the board—it's also obvious, having seen Morris many times at this point, that he's still got a lot to work on.
Michigan's other participants in the UA game mostly fared better. Henry Poggi didn't have a huge game stat-wise, but was a disruptive force up front, registering a couple of QB hurries and holding the point of attack well while also recovering a fumble. Patrick Kugler had a great week of practice and was solid at guard. Logan Tuley-Tillman held his own on the edge against some of the nation's best pass rushers. David Dawson got beat a few times by the nation's #1 recruit, Robert Nkemdiche, but got his revenge with a pancake; Dawson did look lost when pulling from his guard spot, but keep in mind he played tackle for Cass Tech this season.
Mike McCray sat out the game with a torn labrum, an injury he tells Sam Webb is from his junior year of high school—he says he'll be back and ready to train come April ($).
The two Wolverines to participate in the Army All-American game—Dymonte Thomas and Jourdan Lewis—didn't get much pub in the postgame write-ups and I've yet to get a chance to watch the film; both reportedly had solid weeks in practice, though it took Thomas a day or two to warm up. One guy who did stand out in the game: Derrick Green, who earned the nod from Rivals as the East's top performer ($):
Coming to San Antonio with a target on his back didn't seem to bother Green. The running backs on the East and West team tried to dethrone the nation's No. 1 back but were unsuccessful. In practices and in the game, Green ran with toughness and speed, cut very well and showed he has the vision to make an early impact at the next level. His signature moment was a 23-yard run in the game during which he broke at least two tackles.
Mike Farrell lauded Green's work ethic in his awards post:
Green came in to break down his practice film after yet another nightly workout despite a full day of practice. He never stops working.
This is probably not a surprise if you've ever seen a picture of Derrick Green.
Maurice Hurst Jr. was one of the standouts of the Semper Fi Bowl, showing surprising quickness for a player of his size; again, thanks to MGoVideo for putting together highlights:
You can find the full game and video of Ross Douglas over at MGoVideo.
Ward Looking Around
We've already seen how the unprecedented number of early commits in the 2013 class has led to a similarly high amount of players decommitting across the country. That trend looks likely to continue—and grow—in the class of 2014, and could be hitting close to home; OL commit Denzel Ward has expressed interest in opening back up, and then visited Florida on Sunday, per 247 ($):
“I’m committed to Michigan at the moment but me and my family have talked about opening things back up. I’m seeing whats going to happen going into the spring camp season because a lot of other schools have started to show interest. I’m starting to get interest from Florida and some other schools.”
That quote came from before the visit, and Ward also told 247 that if he opened things back up his leaders would be Florida and Michigan, with Ohio State and "a few others" also in the mix ($). We'll see how this visit affects his commitment status; Ward has been in touch of the coaches, so they're aware of the situation. It seems inevitable that he'll re-open his recruitment, either of his own volition or because of Michigan's nebulous policy, though it also looks like the Wolverines could easily regain a commitment down the road.
Michigan makes the top five for two 2014 quarterbacks, neither of whom hold offers as of yet. OK QB David Cornwell has Michigan in the mix with Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, and UCLA, per ESPN's Bob Pryzbylo ($). VA WB Caleb Henderson places the Wolverines alongside Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, and Oregon, per Scout's Don Callahan ($).
2015 KY RB Damien Harris turned heads at the Army Combine last weekend, running a hand-timed 4.35 40-yard dash while checking in at 5'10", 197 pounds. He also told Sam Webb that Michigan's lead in his recruitment could be hard to overcome ($):
“Michigan still has got the edge by a small margin,” Harris reported. “I honestly don’t know what Ohio State would have to do to take the #1 spot. It would be tough honestly. Just growing up being a Michigan fan, not liking Ohio State… the odds are kind of against them. It’ll hard for them.”