Today's recruiting roundup recaps reactions from the weekend's visits and discusses the impact of Jerry Montgomery's departure.
Big February Recruiting Weekend Produces No Commits... For Now
Drake Harris (photo via Detroit News)
There weren't eight commitments, not that anybody expected as much. There wasn't even one commitment. That doesn't mean that Michigan's big visit weekend was a failure; far from it, in fact.
If a player was going to pledge over the weekend, it was FL OL Mason Cole. While Cole didn't take the plunge, he told Scout's Josh Newkirk that Michigan solidified their place atop his leaderboard ($):
“Michigan’s leading,” Cole said. “but I don’t I really don’t have an organized top-five. And from here on out anything can happen.”
As far as a decision timeline, Cole didn’t let out any hints of an early commitment.
“I’m just going with the flow,” Cole said regarding a timetable.
Regarding that fluid timetable, Cole told ESPN's Chantel Jennings($, info in header) that a commitment "could come at any time," to one of his top schools—Michigan, Notre Dame, Clemson, and Florida State. If he makes a choice soon, it's almost assuredly going to be Michigan, and they've positioned themselves well for a commitment whenever Cole decides to, er, decide.
The Wolverines also strengthened their position with current Michigan State commit Drake Harris, the top in-state wide receiver. Harris told 247's Steve Wiltfong that every school he's looking at—Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Florida, Georgia, and Notre Dame—is on equal footing, and the attention shown to him by both Michigan's coaches and commits made a big impact ($):
The Michigan coaches aren’t the only ones recruiting Harris. Quarterback commit Wilton Speight is also working to get him in the fold, as is 2013 signal-caller signee Shane Morris. Speight was on campus this weekend hanging with Harris.
“He seems like a great person,” Harris said. “I’ve been texting with him but this was the first time meeting him and we had a good time. I look forward to hanging out with him more. I’ve been in contact with Shane Morris and he wants me there. Everyone was giving me a lot of attention including Coach (Brady) Hoke and Michigan made a great impact on me this weekend.”
Harris has already set his next visit to Ann Arbor for March 10th, when the basketball team takes on Indiana in what should be a game with plenty of hype and excitement. Getting back-to-back visits is a great sign, even if there will be stiff competition from upcoming visits to Florida (March 22nd) and Ohio State (planned, not set).
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the reactions from the weekend and the impact of Jerry Montgomery's departure.]
The top in-state recruit, Detroit Loyola DE Malik McDowell, had a typically muted reaction when recapping his visit with The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan ($):
"The basketball game was fun," said McDowell, who played basketball for Loyola until this year. "This was also my first time seeing the academic center, and that was all I hoped it would be. I take my studies seriously, and it was good to see that this time."
McDowell still won't name any leaders and laughed when saying he's "not close at all" to making a decision, so don't expect his recruitment to end any time soon. He's considering a trip back to Ann Arbor for the Indiana game, as well—he's still yet to stay overnight on a visit and says he'd like that experience.
Four-star NC RB Elijah Hood stopped by Michigan on Saturday during a Midwest swing that included trips to Notre Dame and Ohio State. Hood told TomVH that the visit in Ann Arbor "opened [his] eyes to the program," and the Wolverines could be his new leader ($):
Before his visits to Notre Dame, Michigan and Ohio State, running back Elijah Hood (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Catholic) had a top five of Notre Dame, North Carolina, Clemson, Michigan and Ohio State. That list, however, is soon to change.
"I have to wait and think about it, but there will be some movement on that list. Both Michigan and Ohio State will move up," he said. "One of these three schools will be my leader, but I have to talk with my family first. I'd like to get the new top five out as soon as possible."
Hood's top five has changed a couple times in recent weeks, so any lead Michigan could take may not be a commanding one; Hood wants to make a decision before his senior season, however, so being one of his early leaders is critical.
Four-star Southfield DE Lawrence Marshall has learned from his blink-and-you-missed-it commitment to Ohio State—after his Michigan visit, he claimed no favorites. The Wolverines did put to rest any concerns about the departure of D-line coach Jerry Montgomery to Oklahoma, per Sam Webb ($):
“I found that out (Friday),” said Marshall regarding Montgomery’s move to Oklahoma. “It really didn’t hurt Michigan’s chances. Coach Mattison would be the guy coaching me. I’d be working directly with him so (Montgomery leaving) was no loss. Coach Mattison I was with him the whole time. He said I’d be like Terrell Suggs as a rush guy coming off the edge.”
Marshall did say that this was a more comprehensive visit than his prior ones. He must've compared notes with Hood, as he also said the visit "opened up [his] eyes."
OH LB Kyle Berger told Tim Sullivan that his visit over the weekend "really helped Michigan," and it certainly helped that he got to see Jake Ryan—a fellow Cleveland St. Ignatius product—and Brady Hoke in fine form ($) [emphasis mine]:
Berger also got a chance to connect with Ryan on the trip. He's good friends with brother Zack Ryan, who is a freshman linebacker at Ball State. Jake even got to create a little comic relief when Brady Hoke's footwear choice was questionable from a fashion standpoint.
"Jake Ryan was making fun of his boots that he had on (cowboy boots with a maize block M on them)," Berger said with a laugh. "Coach Hoke responded and was like, 'oh come on, they're swag.' But we talked about everything, things outside of football as well as the SAM LB position and all about Michigan football."
Berger told Sullivan that he's planning trips to Tennessee, Boston College, and Stanford, and would like to visit to Ann Arbor again for a spring practice; he'd like to make a decision in April or May, one again putting the Wolverines in a good position to land a prospect making an early choice.
Per Allen Trieu, Michigan offered 2015 Saginaw Heritage ATH Brian Cole at the basketball game on Sunday ($). Cole could play a number of positions in college and the Wolverines are recruiting the 6'2" athlete as a wide receiver.
OH CB Shaun Crawford—who hails from the same Lakewood St. Edward program that produced Kyle Kalis—had Michigan as his leader before the visit, and this weekend only cemented their position ($):
"After seeing everything Michigan is about, I have to say this visit definitely boosted my feelings toward the school, and I like them even more," he admitted. "Before the visit I saw Michigan as a fan, but today I got to see things from the inside, and when you see the combination of athletics and academics it's really unbelievable. The coaches being so great to us made it even better."
Crawford didn't get an offer on the trip, and in a refreshing bit of honesty and humility said he didn't expect one over the weekend, either. I still wouldn't be surprised to see him get one down the road—even though he's undersized, he's got great speed and could fit in as a nickel corner.
Montgomery To Oklahoma: Does This Hurt Michigan?
Defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery left Michigan for Oklahoma over the weekend, and while the Wolverines should be just fine replacing his defensive coaching—let me be the 2398478923th person to tell you that Brady Hoke and Greg Mattison coach the D-line, too—it may be tougher to pick up the recruiting slack. Montgomery was the primary recruiter for all three 2014 commits, though all are firm in their commitments after his departure, and has been one the best recruiters on the staff the last couple years.
Looking at recruit reactions from the myriad recruiting sites, however, it doesn't look like Montgomery's departure will hurt Michigan too badly. Michigan sells recruits on their tight-knit coaching family, and that means most recruits are in contact with more than one coach—for instance, top 2014 recruit Da'Shawn Hand has been in touch with both Montgomery and Mattison. Since their pitch focuses on selling the program—This Is Michigan, Fergodsakes—over any individual, it's doubtful that Montgomery's departure will make or break Michigan's chances with any one recruit. They'll still have to find a solid coach to replace him, of course, but Hoke and Mattison's ability to help with the defense gives them plenty of flexibility in bringing in a replacement who can recruit on par with Montgomery.