Hi. I'm back, and ingeniously timed my return for the last roundup before the BBQ, which means... oh, jeez, there's a lot to catch up on. Time to get rid of, oh, 50 or so open tabs. I totally thought this one through, everyone.
BBQ Preview: Bad News First
Michigan's biggest summer recruiting event, the BBQ at the Big House, is on Sunday, and one of the program's top 2015 targets won't be able to make the trip as originally planned.
While four-star TN LB Josh McMillon maintains this is due to a logistical issue, and Michigan is still in the running for his commitment, this isn't the headline you want to see with a decision less than a month away, via Tim Sullivan:
McMillon will miss Barbecue, but nears decision
That decision is set for August 22nd, and the signs point to Alabama being the choice at this juncture. In a free Scout article, McMillon discussed his recent Ole Miss visit and current plans to visit Auburn before his final choice, but when talking about Michigan he didn't mention any plans to reschedule his trip to Ann Arbor. That doesn't look so good in conjunction with this quote:
Michigan is where his high school coach, Rodney Saulsberry, graduated.
"He always talks about what a good experience he had at Michigan. I probably know less about Michigan than the other schools, but I did get a chance to go up there and take a look around. I didn't know anyone from Michigan but a defensive lineman of theirs named Pip talked to me for a while. I got a chance to meet several of their players on their team. They told me that it is fun to play for their coaches. He said they are real happy with their coaching staff."
McMillon has been to Alabama multiple times, including with his parents. Unless he finds time to schedule a visit to Ann Arbor with his family in tow before his decision date, it'd be a major surprise if he didn't choose the Tide.
At least one top running back target won't make it this weekend, either. Per Sullivan, Damien Harris no longer plans to attend the BBQ ($). Mike Weber might not be able to make it, either, as he's visiting USC until Sunday and might not make it back in time to get to Ann Arbor before the BBQ is over—he says he's trying to make it work, however, and as you'll see below Michigan continues to work their way back to the top of his list.
BBQ Preview: The Good, And The List
Before I go any further, Brandon posted a tentative list of BBQ visitors last week; there have been a few other changes in addition to the cancellations of McMillon and Harris.
Four-star in-state ATH Brian Cole is off the "maybe" list; while he won't be at the BBQ itself, 247's Steve Lorenz reports he'll be on campus tomorrow with his father and uncle ($). Michigan will host one other pre-BBQ visitor this weekend: 2016 four-star PA WR Cameron Chambers, who'll visit on Saturday. There's also an addition to the visitor list for the BBQ: three-star LA DE Jalen Bates, who's seeing increased interest from top schools, including a recent offer from Texas A&M.
While a lot of the recent focus here has been on 2015 four-star Virginia Tech CB commit Mook Reynolds, who'll be at the BBQ, another corner committed elsewhere could be in line to take Shaun Crawford's vacated spot in the class. Four-star DC CB Marcus Lewis will be in town on Sunday—he told 247's Steve Wiltfong that U-M is "very close" to Florida, the school to which he's currently committed, and the Wolverines might even be in position to change his mind this weekend ($):
"I don't think I'll commit, but I'll definitely make progress," Lewis told 247Sports on Tuesday morning. "It'll be a great visit though."
At the very least, he's leaving open the chance that Michigan will make a serious move towards the top of his list. In addition to the coaches, a host of current U-M commits—including recruiting point man Alex Malzone—will be at the BBQ, and you can bet they'll be turning up the heat on Lewis, who said this will be his final visit of the summer.
If you're hoping for a commit watch, the best bet among offered prospects is four-star NC SDE Darian Roseboro, whose presumed leader is Michigan heading into his weekend visit; he's already planned an August 29th decision, however, and should stick to that unless his time on campus goes so well he can't wait that long—a definite possibility given this coaching staff's track record with campus visits. If he reels in an offer, 2015 three-star Birmingham WR Grant Perry, Malzone's top target on Brother Rice, could be a guy who commits immediately. Perry camped at Michigan each of the last four years and has the attention of the coaches.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on a pair of Cass Tech prospects, three new 2016 running back offers, updates on several key 2015 and 2016 targets, and more.]
Maintaining The Pipeline
Back to Mike Weber. The Cass Tech star is taking a long unofficial to USC this week, and it may keep him from making the BBQ, but there's no question which school is recruiting him the most recently: Michigan, as Weber told 247's Steve Wiltfong ($). With the recent push, the Wolverines are back in his top group:
Just a month ago, Michigan was outside the lead group for the 5-foot-10, 205-pound Weber. Now they’re back at the top of the list for the No. 2 prospect in the state according to 247Sports.
“They have,” Weber said when asked if the Wolverines have made a move as of late. Michigan does not have a running back pledged yet in 2015. “How committed they are to me. How bad they want me.”
While the USC trip could prove worrisome, Weber told Wiltfong that he's "probably going to do the Big Ten," but he didn't want to pass up a chance to check out what the Trojans have to offer. Michigan looks more and more like the team to beat for Weber, and of the 2015 running backs I think he's the most likely to end up in the class.
Another Technician got big news this week, as Michigan offered 2016 four-star CB Lavert Hill, younger brother of current U-M S Delano Hill, per the younger Hill himself. Lavert has already been on campus several times, and he'll be back again this weekend; Michigan should prove tough to beat for him.
2016 RB Offer Spree
Today is apparently the day Michigan finished evaluating 2016 running backs; they sent out offers to three such prospects this afternoon, including one that has the Wolverines at the top of a four-star's list.
That would be four-star IL RB Kentrail Moran, the #219 overall player on the 2016 247 Composite rankings.
While Moran can't make it to Ann Arbor this weekend, he told GBW's Josh Newkirk after receiving the offer that a visit to Michigan is imminent ($). He told Newkirk he plans to wait until the summer before his senior season to make a decision. Meanwhile, he told Wiltfong "I don't know if I want to commit early," which leaves a little more wiggle room. Either way, Michigan is clearly the team to beat right now.
The other two 2016 RBs to reel in offers today are two North Carolina products: Robert Washington, the #167 overall player on the 247 Composite, and Antonio Williams, who comes in at #117. Both are relatively wide open in their recruitments; thus far, Washington has talked more about Michigan, so after Moran he may be the most realistic target at the position.
The trio of new offers may be related to the commitment of '16 PA RB Miles Sanders to Penn State. Michigan was in his top two before a weekend visit to Happy Valley led to him pulling the trigger. Happy trails, kid.
2015 Updates: Merritt, Bilal, Masina, KLS
Michigan's latest 2015 offer comes in as I'm writing up this post, as the coaches have zero respect for the sanctity of the first day back at work:
Merritt is listed at 5'11", 203 pounds; he ran an electronically timed 4.43 40-yard dash and posted a 43-inch vertical leap in winning the aforementioned Sparq title. He could be an all-purpose back or receiver. Michigan will have an uphill battle ahead of them; Merritt already has a top three of Oregon, Texas A&M, and Auburn, per 247's Justin Hopkins ($).
2015 four-star IN LB Asmar Bilal told Scout's Anna Hickey that he's narrowed his focus to Michigan and Notre Dame, and he's not ruling out an early decision ($):
Is a commitment on tap before his senior year kicks off on August 22?
"I don't really know," Bilal said. "I might. If I do commit before the season, I won't need another visit. It will be a gut decision because I'm really not leaning (in one direction). If I don't commit, I really doubt I'll take official visits to anywhere but Notre Dame and Michigan."
Bilal visited both schools as recently as last month and has no further trips scheduled. Notre Dame is the presumed favorite right now based on his Crystal Ball picks, so it might benefit Michigan if he takes his time—and those official visits—before deciding.
Just after I took off last week, top-100 UT OLB Osa Masina—whose performance at The Opening vaulted him to five-star status on Scout and earned him a bump in 247's latest rankings update—named a top five of Arizona State, Michigan, UCLA, USC, and Wisconsin. While Masina couldn't work out plans to make the BBQ, he told Sam Webb all the teams in his top five are on level footing, and he spoke highly of Greg Mattison's recruiting style ($):
But the most impactful aspect of [last year's BBQ] visit was his interaction with Mattison. In the year since Masina visited Ann Arbor the two have formed a strong bond.
“He’s kind of an older guy, so I think he gets it,” said Masina. “He doesn’t try to bug you. He doesn’t try to do anything to hassle you… ‘come to Michigan,’ all that stuff. He really just gave me some space and gave me time to think about it. At the same time, he’s still a recruiter. He is a really cool dude. The linebackers at Michigan, they are real.”
Since Masina has been unable to visit Michigan since last year's BBQ, U-M almost certainly needs an official visit if they want to land him; otherwise, the closer Pac 12 schools beckon.
According to Rivals' Adam Gorney, five-star CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South plans to cut his list down to five programs in the near future ($):
"I'm trying to decide my top five in August. That's what I'm trying to do right now and it's really difficult because all these schools are talking to me. The schools I'm really talking to right now are Oregon, USC, UCLA, Michigan, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Texas and Oklahoma."
Michigan and Notre Dame should make it, as KLS has already set up official visits to both schools—he's still determining where he'll take his other three officials.
2016 Updates: deWeaver, Ross, Taylor, Gary
Per GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz, 2016 QB commit Messiah deWeaver is gettin' swole ($):
“I gained like 22 pounds or something,” deWeaver said. “I was about 180 and I’m about 206 now so probably about 26-pounds.
“In the weight room, I took it serious. I didn’t play basketball cause that extra weight would’ve been taken off of me running up and down the floor so I was trying not to play basketball and all my weights went up and exercises went up, eating right, I just saw my weight go up and body changing.”
His next task is recruiting; he said he plans to give his best pitch to fellow '16 prospects IN WR Austin Mack and GA RB Elijah Holyfield at the BBQ after playing a big part in convincing both to visit in the first place.
Despite a lot of early attention from national powers, Orchard Lake St. Mary's four-star LB Josh Ross told Tim Sullivan that the two in-state schools stand atop his list ($):
Michigan makes Ross' early top two, along with an in-state rivals that has also offered.
"Probably Michigan and Michigan State, that's about it," he said. "Michigan State, they just have a real good coaching staff. I've always liked Michigan State when I was young and everything, and their coaching staff is one I like a lot. with Michigan, I'm just around them all the time, and I know all the coaches and stuff. I like that school."
Ross said he's considering an early commitment, like his brother James did with Michigan, and if that's the case the Wolverines would be in very good shape.
Michigan may also have an edge for four-star VA CB Levonta Taylor, U-M's top target at the position for 2016, per GBW's Josh Newkirk ($):
While Taylor won’t name a leader, he did admit he does have a certain appreciation for his offer from the Wolverines.
“My thoughts are heavy on that,” Taylor said on his U-M offer. “I am the only 2016 corner that they offered in my class. That’s real heavy right there. They just picked up that one kid from my state [Garrett Taylor] that plays corner and they have Jabrill Peppers.”
When asked what he's looking for in a program, Taylor responded with "loyalty," and Michigan making it clear he's their top priority at cornerback should help them there.
NJ DT Rashan Gary, Scout's #1 prospect in the 2016 class and the #5 overall player on the 247 Composite, is considering a visit to Ann Arbor, per Sam Webb ($):
“I don’t know that much about them, that’s why Coach Manning said, ‘you’ve just got to come and see it for yourself because it is a great place to see,” Gary stated. “Right now they’re the same as every other school. I’ll call them maybe once a week when I have time. The relationship is building like everybody else.”
“(Manning) is a cool coach and I’m starting to get a feel for him and he’s getting a feel for me. He just say enjoy the process because you only live once.”
Gary suits up for Paramus Catholic, which produced U-M freshmen Jabrill Peppers and Juwann Bushell-Beatty; hopefully that connection will help the Wolverines.