Today's recruiting roundup covers last weekend's visitors, including #1 overall recruit Da'Shawn Hand, as well as new offers and more.
Michigan Gets Leg Up On Hand! Can They De-Feet Rest Of Country? Head-To-Toe Coverage Follows.
Sorry, everyone. Just practicing in case I ever get a job writing headlines for a tabloid. (Don't worry, I'm keeping my day job.)
Anyway, VA DE Da'Shawn Hand—the nation's top-ranked recruit—spent the weekend in Ann Arbor and posted his impressions on Twitter in the aftermath. You could say it went well:
The full weekend visit allowed Hand to take in a lot for one trip, from a spring practice to a meeting with a Sports Management professor to a one-one-one chat with Denard Robinson. What stood out the most, though, was his time spent getting to know the players and coaches, per 247's Steve Lorenz ($) [emphasis mine]:
Among the players Hand spent time with were sophomore cornerback Blake Countess, sophomore tight end AJ Williams, incoming freshmen Shane Morris and Taco Charlton and also fellow 2014 recruit Michael Ferns, who is already committed to Michigan.
"Honestly, it was like I had known these guys for years," Hand said. "We all clicked right away. The people in general are just really nice and really genuine. It's the one thing about the visit that really stood out most to me. The coaches as a whole all really stood out as people - - they are my favorite coaching staff and being around them this weekend reinforced that."
That last bit is a major, major statement, as is this: Hand told Lorenz that he's "absolutely" coming back for the Notre Dame game, and may even fit an additional summer visit into his busy schedule. Sam Webb got a few more details on why Michigan's coaches have made such a strong impression ($):
“It was the coaching staff,” Hand said, reflecting upon what stood out most. “It was my favorite coaching staff. A lot of charisma. They’re just fun guys to be around. You can tell by looking at the players. All the players are comfortable talking to the coaches. A lot players (at different schools) say, ‘man I can’t stand this coach.’ And also when practice is done they can’t wait to leave. But the (Michigan) players… it seemed like they want to stay around. They don’t mind being around their coaches.”
“Coach Mattison is the man,” Hand exclaimed. “That dude is a genius. The things he teaches his players… it’s so simple, but it amazing at the same time because it works. His defensive scheme is real creative, it’s real tricky, and he likes the bring the house. I respect that. He has a lot of different blitz packages with looping and stunting, and I love that because you’ll never get bored during the game.”
Hand also gave Webb as glowing a quote as I've seen about an academic presentation, saying that to hear Sports Management professor Mark Rosentraub talk "was really amazing," and that he "just wanted to sit there in the class." Hand has made it clear that academics will play a serious role in his recruitment; it doesn't sound like he's just paying lip service to that notion, just as it appears Michigan did a great job of showing him what the school can provide.
While the Wolverines certainly strengthened their position, Hand is waiting until he sees each school in his top five before he begins to compare them, per Rivals's Adam Friedman ($):
"Well I'm not comparing schools right now," Hand explained. "I'm just experiencing each one. Once I go to all five schools then I can compare them. I'm just taking it slow again. I'm not making any sudden moves.
"I'm going to chill out, focus on school and train," he said. "The new guy I train with, Kevin Johnson is amazing. This guy is really high energy, does his research and we always have a good time. We work on a lot of core, balance and explosion stuff."
Time will tell where Michigan stands with Hand, but it's hard to imagine this visit could have gone much better. While it's far too early to call them any sort of favorite—Alabama looms, after all—it's apparent that the Wolverines will be in contention until the end.
[Hit THE JUMP for more weekend visit reactions and more.]
Oh, Right, The Other Guys
GBW's Josh Newkirk caught up with four-star IL TE Nic Weisher after his weekend visit—Weishar was very impressed by the pace and energy of Michigan's practice, and that he can see himself fitting in with the Wolverines ($):
“I don’t have a top-five list right now,” he explained. “I will be able to get in more visits this spring and summer. And hopefully we can narrow it down after that pretty soon. Yeah, I can definitely see myself fitting in at Michigan. I really enjoyed myself there. I spent a lot of time with the players. I really fit in with them and they were great guys to be around. Yes, overall I really enjoyed it.”
OH LB Kyle Berger told Steve Lorenz that his visit "exceeded expectations," and the newest member of the coaching staff played a big role in that ($):
One of Berger's new primary recruiters will be outside linebackers coach Roy Manning, someone who he was familiar with when Manning was at Cincinnati.
"My dad and I went out to dinner with Coach Manning and Jake Ryan last night," [Berger] said. "He's such a passionate guy and he couldn't stop talking about how happy he was to be back at Michigan as a coach. He didn't even have to speak about it to show how thrilled he was; you could just tell by seeing him and being around him."
Berger said he'd like to visit Ann Arbor again before making a decision in May, a timeline that bodes well for Michigan's chances.
The M Block has a post with updates from all the non-Hand visitors, including the latest on MI OL Tommy Doles [emphasis his]:
OL - Tommy Doles - Grand Rapids Christian High School (Grand Rapids - MI) Doles is still my pick to be the next recruit to commit, but he is a very heady kid who is taking his time to make the right decision. He told me about the visit, "The visit went well. It was good to see the practice and see the coaches in action. I had a good time." Doles plans on definitely visiting Northwestern but he hasn't scheduled it just yet. There are also some other under-the-radar schools he is interested in right now. "Army and Air Force offered me recently and there is a chance I might be able to see West Point over spring break but I'm not sure yet. I have always been interested in the Armed Forces and the academies. I just recently heard from the academies for football and I am open to learning more about that." Even with the other interests from top notch academic institutions, Doles openly said that Michigan is still his leader.
Like Coach Brown, I expect Doles to drop for Michigan sooner or later.
Per The M Block, Michigan offered four-star OK S Steven Parker, who can already claim Alabama, Oklahoma, and Texas among his many offers. He's probably a long-shot but says he's currently open to anyone and has interest in a visit—if one materializes we'll see what happens.
The Wolverines also put out a recent offer to 2015 LA OL Garrett Thomas, the first scholarship offer he's received, according to Wolverine247 ($). Thomas is already getting interest from a who's-who of top SEC schools, so getting in the game early is key if Michigan wants any hope of plucking a big-time prospect out of Louisiana.
Four-star CA RB Joe Mixon has seen his offer list balloon to nearly 40 schools, and he recently decided it was time to trim that list—per Rivals's Adam Gorney, Michigan made the cut for his top 15 schools ($):
Mixon, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound prospect who has nearly 40 offers, said Notre Dame, USC, Arizona State, Clemson, Michigan, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Cal, Oklahoma, UCLA, Ohio State, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Georgia, Washington and Oregon State will continue to be seriously considered as his recruitment continues.
As one of the most sought-after backs in the country, it appears Mixon still has a ways to go before he's ready to make a choice.