"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
Today's recruiting roundup covers last weekend's visitors, including #1 overall recruit Da'Shawn Hand, as well as new offers and more.
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 ($):
"Well I'm not comparing schools right now," Hand explained. "I'm just experiencing each one. Once I go to all five schools then I can compare them. I'm just taking it slow again. I'm not making any sudden moves.
"I'm going to chill out, focus on school and train," he said. "The new guy I train with, Kevin Johnson is amazing. This guy is really high energy, does his research and we always have a good time. We work on a lot of core, balance and explosion stuff."
Time will tell where Michigan stands with Hand, but it's hard to imagine this visit could have gone much better. While it's far too early to call them any sort of favorite—Alabama looms, after all—it's apparent that the Wolverines will be in contention until the end.
[Hit THE JUMP for more weekend visit reactions and more.]
GBW's Josh Newkirk caught up with four-star IL TE Nic Weisher after his weekend visit—Weishar was very impressed by the pace and energy of Michigan's practice, and that he can see himself fitting in with the Wolverines ($):
“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.
Nice right up, Ace. I gotta hand it to you.
There's something wrong with your post, but I can't put my finger on it write off the bat.
And should have left this alone.
Mark Rosentraub is the man when it comes to urban development and stadium/arena planning. I was not fortunate enough to take his class but heard tons of great things about it.
Hand speaks as highly about Michigan as we all do. We have a real chance at the number recruit in the country!
Ace, I read on TTB that Drake Harris was going ot make it back to Ann Arbor this weekend. Do you know if he ended up here this weekend, and if so, any news on how it went?
I'm pretty sure he did not visit over the weekend—wasn't on the list of planned visitors and I haven't seen a word about him being on campus.
Could he have been on campus for the Tom Lemming photo shoot?
He was on the list early in the week, but it was updated on Friday, I believe.
Oh, that's not the kind of tabloid you were talking about...? Nevermind.
I wish! Hip agility and footwork are crucial for his position. Getting that with bigfoot's frame would be a huge recruiting coup.
with a British accent and hacking into phones.
Yossarian would approve, Ace....
Seems ballsy (or stupid) for a player to tell a recruit who's not even a commit that they "can't stand being around their coach."
or Honest? How many of your co-workers would do the same thing about your boss? Some people have the IDNGAF gene that stops them from mincing words. From my experience in sports, athletes are born with a higher likelihood of having that gene.
This actually came back to bite a friend of mine. We had a recruit visiting (not FB) and my friend honestly described the best and worst parts about playing for our coach. Even though what he said was 99% positive, the recruit confronted our coach, asking why this player (by name) said this about him.
Then again, this kid seemed like an ass. Hand does not.
Is Mixon's list in any order? If it is I'd prefer us be #5 than #12
Edit: that's #16 teams
Not in order. Also, I wouldn't put a lot of stock in any list that goes beyond five teams or so—doesn't tell you a whole lot except that a team isn't eliminated from contention.
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.
I realize it's not done til it's done ... there's a lot of recruitin' left to do.
That said, I'll repeat what I've said many times before: Hoke has repeatedly said his mission is to help make the players 'better men, better husbands and better fathers.' If delivered insincerely it's pretty recognizable as BS; but delivered with sincerity -- and with Hoke and staff I truly believe it is -- it's potent stuff. It starts with Hoke and has become part of the whole program ... and players can sense it. They respond in kind -- with hard work, with support for each other, with community and togetherness.
I love me some Mattison, for sure ... but let's not forget it was Brady Hoke that lured Mattison away from the Ravens and the NFL. He has said as much -- he (Mattison) wanted to work with Hoke again.
We have ourselves a damn fine head coach.
...to come to Michigan. The entire state is shaped like a Hand. That's about as clear a sign as possible.
I don't believe this one will be topped, and if he commits needs to become a T-shirt . Good work French toast Indian.
You can't triple post a double post
also influential as other recruits pay attention to the alpha guys.
He seems like a good, balanced kid.
Is there any video clips of Hand in action?
This is the internet. There are millions of videos of "hand in action". Good luck.
There are also numerous videos on the internet that will put your own hand in action. Or so I've heard...
This is a great update on Hand. Ace. Would if be possible to look for updates from other teams' sites after he makes those visits to other schools? It could be interesting to compare and see whether and how he mentions Michigan.
If I could say anything to Hand it would be this: you cannot underestimate how valuable it is to be in a program where the players love their coaches so much they don't even want to leave practice. I have never heard of such a thing before. Everywhere I visited the players hated the coaches. Players would do lots of extra work on their own but nobody really wanted their coaches around if it could be avoided. When I was down at IMG training I met lots of SEC and ACC players who felt the exact same way, they hated their coaches even if they respected their ability to win.
Lastly, having gone through official and unofficial visits myself, I know what it's like to be BS'ed for hours on end by coaches. I'm very impressed by Hands observations of player/coach interaction. I could not have assessed that as eloquently as he states it at 18 years old.
Thats what I get for posting on the metro. If I could downvote myself I would
He would supposedly fill the SAM with only 1 recruited for 2014 and JMFR possibly departing after next year.
Is it UM vs OSU? Any perspective on his dad or family preferences?
You heard it here first.
Seems odd that Mixon would have ruled out both Oregon and Stanford already. Boise State too for that matter.
Seems like a really good kid. Would be hard to root against him if he goes to the dark side.
Ace, do you know if Deshawn Hand is a military brat - get a lot of those in Northern VA, and he seems to follow the stereotype.
or is that Hebrew?
Anyway, I'd like to see Da'shawn come to U-M for many reasons obviously, but one reason in particular would be to be able to say:
"Talk to the Hand" after Da'shawn sacks the QB
Hey Ace, there are a lot of mixed comments about Coach Brown on the boards when he posts. Since you're using him as a source, can you confirm his legitimacy?
I feel he gets knocked around quite a bit here, but I'm not sure why. Seems you trust him. And I trust you. So, thoughts?
My thoughts were a new lack of trust on the recruiting posts because of the M block quotes. MGOBLOG's main page should be better than having to quote a site that is considered suspect by what appears to be a significant portion of the readers.
I don't know if Hand is a good fit for Michigan after all. We already have a Taco, a Johnson, and a Butt. Rule 34 of the Internet tells me this won't end well.