Today's recruiting roundup covers a spate of new offers, Wilton Speight, and several things that don't sound like "spate" at all.
Wilton Speight: Part Cyborg
Signing Day 2013 is over, as for the most part so is our discussion of it here—probably for the best, given that the dominant post-NSD story centered around what Reon Dawson may or may not have said about his childhood favorite school. Brian and I did an extensive breakdown of the class on this week's podcast (coming soon) if you haven't had your fill, and I'll update the recruiting class rankings today.
Meanwhile, Michigan got a jump on the 2014 class with the Signing Day commitment of VA QB Wilton Speight, who was profiled on his school's website—he described the injury that caused him to reclassify:
“It was an option-read,” Speight said of that fateful play late in Cougars’ opener, a 34-19 victory over Trinity Episcopal. “I got past the defensive end and linebackers. There was one man between me and the goal line. I tried to jump over him. As I was in the air, he caught my feet, which flipped me over. I tried to break the fall with my elbow, but (the impact) shot my shoulder up.
“I walked to the sideline hoping it was a stinger. (Athletic trainer) Shannon (Winston) moved it around. She felt crunches. I heard it crunch. My collarbone was broken in two places.
“Looking back, I probably didn’t have to make that play, but when you’re competitive, it’s hard to just step out of bounds.”
While Speight had complete confidence in his surgeon, Dr. “Moose” Herring, he knew that fulfilling his dreams was now dependent upon his own perseverance, strength of will, and self-discipline.
Speight's injury woes didn't end there, despite the best efforts of Dr. "Moose" Herring, who by virtue of name alone I would entrust with my life, let alone my collarbone. After dealing with a partial MCL tear in basketball season, Speight's collarbone took another hit during lacrosse season, and as a result he's now part cyborg:
“I had the ball and came around the cage,” he recalled. “When I shot, a defensive player brought his stick down on my (right) shoulder.
“He hit it hard enough that the part of the bone not covered by the plate broke off the metal.
“It was a clean break, thankfully. Dr. Herring was able to open it back up and put in a six-inch plate with eight screws that covers my whole collarbone.
“It will definitely prevent anything from breaking up there again.”
I, for one, welcome any and all cyborg athletes willing to aid Michigan's quest for
world domination a Big Ten championship.
Also of note: cyborg QBs apparently recruit a little, too.
[Hit THE JUMP for the 2014 Rivals100, a bevy of new offers, and my take on Lawrence Marshall committing to Ohio State.]
Marshall To OSU: Panic?
Ohio State continued their torrid start to the 2014 class by picking up Southfield (MI) DE Lawrence Marshall, a four-star who held a Michigan offer. This means that, a year before NSD 2014, the Buckeyes have snatched up two of the state of Michigan's top four prospects (Damon Webb being the other); Michigan thus far has none. Even Michigan State can claim a tenuous hold on Drake Harris, though now that his focus has turned to football it seems unlikely he'll stick there.
Anyway, losing Webb and Marshall to Ohio State has caused a bit of a panic, and for not unjust reasons; Michigan doesn't have the in-state talent of Ohio to be able to afford losing too many of the top-flight recruits from their backyard. At the same time, it's far too early for a full-blown freakout. While Webb seems firm in his commitment, Sam Webb is already floating rumors that Marshall may still check out Michigan and Michigan State as soon as this week($). Michigan is still one of the two favorites (along with Notre Dame) for the state's best prospect, Detroit Loyola DL Malik McDowell, and they'll also be a major player for Harris.
Keep in mind that Michigan raided Ohio for several of their best class of 2013 recruits, only to see Urban Meyer's class overtake the Wolverines in the rankings with recruits from around the country. The Wolverines are in the mix for several national names, including #1 overall player Da'Shawn Hand. Buckeye partisans declaring this battle won should take heed from Michigan fans who did the same last February—this one is far from over.
Now that the 2013 class is officially wrapped up, the coaches have sent out a huge wave of 2014 (and also some 2015) offers.
At the top of that list is five-star CA CB Adoree' Jackson, who despite playing across the country had a strong familiarity with the Michigan program, per Steve Lorenz ($):
"Michigan has been putting defensive backs into the pros for a while now," Jackson said. "I know that's where Charles Woodson went to school too and if you're producing players like Charles Woodson, you're doing something right. I definitely knew of Michigan growing up and playing in the Midwest isn't a problem for me at all and location isn't really a factor in my recruitment. I have a lot of family in the area and I wouldn't mind being back by them."
Jackson should be a visitor at some point down the road and appears to have genuine interest in Michigan; he'd certainly soften the blow of losing Webb.
Other offers to go out include: PA RB Shai McKenzie (LINK - $), CA DB John "JuJu" Smith (LINK - $), TX LB Otaro Alaka (LINK - $), NJ WR Juwann Winfree (LINK - free), NJ WR Saeed Blacknail (LINK - $), and CO RB/SLOT Christian McCaffrey (LINK - $), the son of former Denver Broncos WR Ed McCaffrey. Among those, Michigan got named among the top group for several—including Smith, Winfree, Alaka, and Blacknail—but the true test of interest comes when it's time to schedule visits.
Michigan also offered elite 2015 FL RB Jacques Patrick, who already has offers from several of the country's top programs, per 247's Clint Brewster ($). Patrick says he'll take a visit to Michigan with his older cousin, Detroit MLK assistant coach Terel Patrick.
Rivals100 Released for 2014
Rivals came out with their initial 2014 Rivals100, and Michigan commit Michael Ferns lands at #84 on the list. Other names of note:
VA DE Da'Shawn Hand (#1—offer, top five)
VA DT Andrew Brown (#6—just named M to top ten [$])
CA DB Adoree' Jackson (#8—offer)
MI DE Malik McDowell (#21—offer, likely top two with ND)
MI DB Damon Webb (#32—offer, Ohio State commit)
OH ATH Marshon Lattimore (#41—offer)
PA ATH Montae Nicholson (#47—offer)
TN OL Alex Bars (#55—offer, brother of M OL Blake Bars)
MI WR Drake Harris (#56—offer, soft MSU commit)
OK QB David Cornwell (#63—no offer)
FL WR Artavis Scott (#93—offer)
IL OL Jamarco Jones (#94—offer)
That is by no means a complete list of the guys holding Michigan offers or interest. Wilton Speight did not make the cut—we'll see if he's in the Rivals250 when that is released.
Also worth a look is Touch The Banner's breakdown of the top in-state prospects for the 2014 class.