Yup, Still Want
Damien Harris headlined last weekend's Best of the Midwest combine, and for good reason—no matter where you look, he leads off the list of top performers. Scout's Allen Trieu broke down his overall combine MVP performance:
One of the headliners was Madison Southern (Ky.) running back Damien Harris, a four-star junior who will challenge to be the top running back in the country on Scout. We all know Harris is fast and he proved that again by clocking in the 4.3s in his 40 yard dash. But he also showed grit, toughness and great technique when it came to the pass blocking drills. He took on some of the camp's most physical linebackers and won his reps. We also had a chance to see him catch the ball a little bit, something we had already known he could do from past events. He has shown time and time again that he is a complete all around back and did nothing to diminish his standing as our top prospect in the Midwest.
247's Barton Simmons called Harris "dominant" and stated Michigan and Ohio State are on top in Harris's recruitment right now. Another program recently entered the picture, however. Harris is slated to visit this weekend for Michigan's Junior Day; his other planned trip is to the latest school to enter the picture, Alabama, per Trieu ($):
The Wolverines are one of the schools he will visit in the near future. The other school is Alabama, his most recent offer.
"I'm going up to Michigan on the 23rd of this month then I'm taking a visit to Alabama on March 1st but after that I don't really know. I haven't made any plans for spring or who I'm going to check out for spring ball. I'll probably do that soon."
With Harris planning to extend his recruitment until Signing Day, the Tide have plenty of time to work their way towards the top of his list. Based on the quotes Harris has given since his decommitment, however, including this one to Land Grant Holy Land (SBNation's OSU outlet), Michigan will still be the team to beat going forward:
"Like I said earlier, my interest in [Michigan] hasn't gone down. I don't not like them as much as I did before, there's really nowhere I like more than that. But with coach Borges being gone, it's hard going somewhere with someone who didn't recruit you."
The latter part is why Harris took a step back; if he develops the a similar comfort level with Doug Nussmeier as he had with Al Borges and sees improvement in Michigan's offense, he should end up back in the fold.
Meanwhile, Michigan is making a strong push for 2015 Cass Tech RB Mike Weber, who visited campus last weekend. He said as much to 247's Steve Wiltfong ($):
"Yeah," Weber said on Wednesday when asked if the Wolverines are trending with him. "They are on me hard."
The Wolverines looked to be the clear leader early in Weber's recruitment before Harris committed and interest between both parties seemingly waned, allowing Michigan State to become Weber's leader; he even considered committing to MSU back in November. With Michigan redoubling their efforts to land Weber, however, the battle between the two in-state powers is pretty even at this point.
One 2015 running back you can cross off your wish list is recently offered TX four-star Ronald Jones II, who gave this refreshingly honest quote to Scout's new Midwest intern, Eric Rutter ($):
“[Michigan] probably won’t [be visited] to be honest,” said Jones. “If there is a great opportunity away from home then I would take it, but I would say location would be a factor.”
Jones boasts a who's-who list of Big 12 and SEC offers. Michigan isn't happening.
[Hit THE JUMP for new offers, visit reactions from last weekend, Shaun Crawford runnin' real fast, and more.]
A "Slow" Start
Shaun Crawford said he was disappointed in his start on the 40-yard dash at the Massillon Nike combine. Video of his 4.50 40 has surfaced. This won't take long.
I'd kill to be that slow.
More comprehensive video of Crawford's combine performance is also up on YouTube.
Four New 2015 Offers
Sophomore highlights. Junior highlights can be seen here.
247's Steve Lorenz reports three 2015 Michigan offers have gone out in the last couple days. Top-100 VA CB Garrett Taylor said he's "had his eye on" a Michigan offer for a long time, and the Wolverines will be among his leaders when he narrows the scope of his recruitment ($):
"I'm looking to narrow things down pretty soon," he said. "Michigan is definitely going to make the cut too. I like Stanford, Vanderbilt and Michigan State too. Tennessee and South Carolina are in there as well. I need to start thinking more about cutting it down and who will still be there, but Michigan is going to be one for sure."
Taylor holds offers from all the schools mentioned, as well as Ohio State, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Clemson, Miami (YTM), Penn State, and others. He's prioritizing academics in his decision, as is apparent from the schools he holds in high regard, and that should keep Michigan in the mix.
Offers to top-50 LA WR Tyron Johnson and three-star NC CB Stephen Griffin are so new that there aren't accompanying articles on them yet. As a top-ranked Louisiana recruit with an LSU offer, Johnson is a future Tiger, in all likelihood. Griffin, whose top offer is from Clemson, could be a more realistic option.
Sam Webb interviewed three-star TX S Prentice McKinney, another recent offer recipient who has Michigan among his early leaders ($):
Sam Webb: Lastly, kind of give me an idea of what your list looks like. Do you have a favorite or a top list of schools that you are considering at this point?
Prentice McKinney: “Yes sir, my favorite is Notre Dame, Oklahoma, or Michigan. I really like Michigan or Notre Dame. When they play each other that is a really good game, so either way it goes, them two schools, excellent academic schools and a good football program. So, they are good on both sides of each thing.”
Those three schools also represent McKinney's best offers; thus far, he hasn't been in close communication with the major Texas schools. He's looking to make a choice either this summer or after his senior season, which could bode well for Michigan given their current standing.
Recently offered IN LB Josh Barajas is shooting up the recruiting rankings and piling up offers; one of those came from Michigan, and he made a surprise visit to Ann Arbor on Sunday. He told Rivals's Josh Helmholdt the visit was a good one ($):
"Michigan has really shot up on my list," Barajas said. "I really, really like that coaching staff. I felt really comfortable with them the whole time. My dad liked Michigan as well. He also commented that he felt comfortable with the coaches, which is a big plus. He said he trusted the coaches at Michigan."
Barajas also visited Michigan State, which hasn't offered him yet, and just received an offer from Penn State. Getting in on Barajas early—U-M was his third offer—looks like it was a great call.
2016 OH OL Liam Eichenberg visited for the Wisconsin game after getting a U-M offer and has the Wolverines among his early leaders, per Sam Webb ($):
Michigan now finds itself in strong contention for one of the Buckeye State’s best, but there are a number of others that can also make that claim.
“Notre Dame, Penn State, North Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Michigan and Ohio State obviously… and then Iowa,” Eichenberg said laying out his current list. “That’s about it.”
Eichenberg had high praise for the coaches, especially Greg Mattison, and the facilities; he's planning to make it back up to Ann Arbor for a spring practice and this summer's technique camp.
2016 OH QB Messiah DeWeaver, one of the top contenders for a coveted Michigan QB offer, took the trip last weekend looking to find out where he stood with the new offensive coordinator. He told Steve Lorenz he was "very satisfied" with what he heard from Doug Nussmeier, and made plans to throw for Nussmeier in person in June ($).
Brandon has the details on another 2016 QB to connect with the coaches recently, Ohio prospect Elijah Cunningham.
247 has a free, complete rundown of Michigan targets who moved in the updated 2015 Top247. Not included: commit Shaun Crawford, who dropped ten spots to #140 overall.
Rivals's Adam Friedman posted his final thoughts on the 2014 class and has an interesting take on Michigan's offensive recruiting ($):
Michigan didn't get the help they needed on offense. The Wolverines didn't upgrade at quarterback with Wilton Speight, and they didn't get a receiver who can take the top off of the defense. While Drake Harris, Freddy Canteen and Maurice Ways are good receivers, Michigan needed at true downfield threat that can open up the underneath routes for other receivers.
I can see Friedman's point about Speight, though I'm unclear on what he's supposed to be an "upgrade" over,* and I'm hoping for Friedman's sake he watched film of a different Drake Harris.
*A prospect who didn't commit? An open scholarship? Shane Morris? He can't possibly mean Devin Gardner, right?