Bye Week Visits: A Trip To Colorado (No, Not For That)
Well played, Maison Bleue.
Last weekend's bye afforded the coaches an opportunity to hit the recruiting trail, and Michigan coaches checked in on the likes of top 2015 MN DE Jashon Cornell, 2015 four-star NC OL Mason Veal, 2015 four-star RB Nasir Bonner, 2015 NJ WR Irvin Charles, and several others.
The most interesting prospect to receive a visit, however, is 2014 ATH Kalen Ballage, as Coach Funk stopped by his school last week, per Sam Webb ($). Michigan originally recruited Ballage as a running back, and it's been long thought that the Wolverines had cooled on him—that obviously isn't the case, even if Ballage is simply a backup option, and the fact that he can also play linebacker or safety is likely fueling at least some of Michigan's renewed interest. With a few spots left in the class and only a handful of prospects under consideration, his versatility could be the key should he want to end up in Ann Arbor.
[EDIT: Per Brandon, Michigan may not have talked to Ballage at all:
Webb is pretty plugged in and I can't find any sort of retraction from him; since there are rules about contact with recruits, it's possible Funk stopped by Ballage's school but never actually was in contact with him. I'll try to clarify the situation when more information is available.
UPDATE TO THE EDIT: Per 247($), school was not in session when Michigan dropped by; the Wolverines are still recruiting Ballage but obviously didn't talk to him first-hand when they were out there.]
Another visit recipient that caught my eye: 2015 NC jumbo athlete Anthony Rush, who told 247's Steve Lorenz that Michigan is "leaning towards" extending an offer ($). Rush is listed at 6'4", 280 pounds as a junior, and the Wolverines are recruiting him as a tight end. Clearly, the coaches would like more blocking and size up front—most schools are looking at Rush as a defensive tackle.
Prepare For PANIC
(Aw, crap, it's already started.)
As you're probably well aware, Da'Shawn Hand took his official visit to Alabama over the weekend, and reports from the trip have been quite positive. Here's Hand himself:
Despite the good visit experience for Hand, Alabama insiders around the internets seem to think the Tide still have ground to make up if they're going to catch Michigan; if that's the case, the Wolverines just have to survive Hand's official to Florida—just five days before his Nov. 14th announcement—and they should be in the clear. Still, Alabama is a serious contender, and that's always a frightening opponent to face on the recruiting trail.
To keep the good times rollin', Malik McDowell took a surprise visit to Ohio State for their evisceration of Penn State; he was his usual verbose self in the aftermath:
At this point, I might be more confident in Hand ending up at Michigan than McDowell, for the sole reason that we have some idea about what Hand thinks about Michigan, while getting information out of McDowell is like breaking into Fort Knox. If I had to bet, I'd wager both land at Michigan, but there's plenty of uncertainty.
[Hit THE JUMP for commit stat updates, the newest 2015 offer recipient, and more.]
New 2015 Offer: John Reid
Michigan recently offered the #78 overall prospect and top junior in Pennsylvania, St. Joseph's Prep cornerback John Reid, per 247's Clint Brewster ($). If the name of the school strikes a bell, that's because he's teammates with current 2015 commit Jon Runyan Jr., though Reid is much further away from making a pledge of his own:
“I can’t really visit any schools because most of our games are on Saturday but I’m going to sit down with my coach and my Dad and figure out some visits to take this offseason. I don’t have anything planned but Michigan is definitely a school I’m interested in.”
Reid hasn't named any favorites or committed to a timeline. You can see his sophomore highlight reel above.
Commit Updates: Speight As Big Ben?
TomVH posted an article on Wilton Speight and the work he does with his private QB coach, California-based Steve Clarkson, who compared the Michigan commit to a two-time Super Bowl champion ($):
Clarkson has known Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges for more than 26 years and knows exactly what type of quarterback Borges needs for his offense. When the Michigan offer came through for Speight, Clarkson knew it was a home run.
“Knowing (Borges) and what he’s looking for in a quarterback, Wilton Speight is everything and more of what he wants,” Clarkson said. “(Borges) wants to run some traditional stuff and I’ve actually compared Wilton to another client of mine, Ben Roethlisberger. I can’t wait to see him on that campus.”
Speight continued his outstanding senior season by completing 19 of 27 passes for 348 yards, three passing TDs, two interceptions, and a one-yard rushing touchdown in Collegiate's 28-6 win over Norfolk Academy.
In the same week Bleacher Report named him one of the ten best pass-rushing linebackers in the 2014 class, Chase Winovich landed on the front of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Varsity Extra after an outstanding offensive performance:
Moe Ways recorded touchdown catches of 50 and 97(!) yards en route to 180 yards on five receptions, leading Country Day to a playoff-clinching triumph over Brighton.
Previously-undefeated Paramus Catholic dropped their second straight game, this one a 27-14 defeat at the hands of St. Joseph, but Jabrill Peppers still made a major impact, recording a 50-yard touchdown run (VIDEO) to give the Paladins a puncher's chance late.
Among the 2015 commits, the headliner is—you guessed it—Damien Harris, who tallied 217 yards and three touchdowns on just ten carries, all but one of which came in the first half, to lead Madison Southern in a 49-14 blowout.
Rivals analyst Josh Helmholdt named Shaun Crawford the #4 performer in the Cleveland area despite him battling through an ankle injury ($):
Crawford came into this game nursing an ankle injury, and it started to show as the game wore on. Early on, though, Crawford looked his usual self, flying around the field and making big hits. At just 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds Crawford does not look like he could lay a lick, but he has perfect tackling technique and plays at full speed all the time. That is not to say he is undisciplined, however. There are very few mistakes made by the Michigan commit and he always seems to be in the right spot at the right time. That was true on Moeller's first drive when he pulled in an interception with one hand off the tip. Crawford is also a factor on offense, where he plays wide receiver but also will flash into the backfield for a carry or two. He picked up the game-sealing first down when he went 15 yards on third and long late in the fourth quarter.
George Campbell hasn't been limited by injury, but he has by his team's own prowess—once again, East Lake barely threw the ball in a blowout victory, attempting nine passes and completing four in a 42-12 victory over previously-undefeated Pinellas Park. While Campbell didn't catch a pass, he still managed to make an impact, forcing a fumble on a sack that was returned for a touchdown by a teammate.
Via our own Brandon Brown, Bryan Mone's paperwork is in, so he officially the seventh early enrollee in the 2014 class.
Michigan still hasn't offered 2015 VA four-star tackle Matthew Burrell despite him visiting for the Notre Dame game due to space issues in the class; if an offer comes, it sounds like the Wolverines would have a very good shot, per Sam Webb ($):
“That visit (for the Notre Dame game under the lights) was the best visit I’ve been on by far. That place is memorable. I hadn’t been to another place like that. Michigan was a great place, Coach Funk is a great coach, (and they have) a very great tradition. I enjoyed it.”
Looking ahead to the 2016 class, top running back Robert Washington has already visited campus four times and developed strong relationships with Roy Manning and Fred Jackson, per Tim Sullivan ($). Washington already holds nearly a dozen offers; he projects to be a national-level recruit—UCLA has already offered, and Washington is from North Carolina—so showing this much interest in the Wolverines is a very good sign.
If you missed it, Brandon got updates with a pair of 2015 in-state quarterbacks, Tyree Jackson and Alex Malzone.