Bama usually gets what they want. They'll just cut a fifth year senior starter to make room.
Mike Lantry, 1972
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 ($):
“[Michigan] probably won’t [be visited] to be honest,” said Jones. “If there is a great opportunity away from home then I would take it, but I would say location would be a factor.”
[Hit THE JUMP for new offers, visit reactions from last weekend, Shaun Crawford runnin' real fast, and more.]
Shaun Crawford said he was disappointed in his start on the 40-yard dash at the Massillon Nike combine. Video of his 4.50 40 has surfaced. This won't take long.
I'd kill to be that slow.
More comprehensive video of Crawford's combine performance is also up on YouTube.
Sophomore highlights. Junior highlights can be seen here.
247's Steve Lorenz reports three 2015 Michigan offers have gone out in the last couple days. Top-100 VA CB Garrett Taylor said he's "had his eye on" a Michigan offer for a long time, and the Wolverines will be among his leaders when he narrows the scope of his recruitment ($):
"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?
Bama usually gets what they want. They'll just cut a fifth year senior starter to make room.
Historically, a guy who is leaning heavily toward another place who visits Alabama is essentially a an Alabama lead. Michigan's been burned twice this way and we got off light.
Poggi came here.
And Marquis Maze.
I feel terrible for Hart. I felt like he was going to be a very good RB. Essentially all he's been at Bama was injured or on special teams. Now I believe he's no longer on the roster.
I may be wrong, but I think I heard on a radio show (Bill King maybe?) that Hart regretted his decision to go to Alabama. That could be part of the recent troubles, who knows?
He is facing possession charges as well as being investigated for potentially passing counterfeit money.
Yeah, that's no good. I didn't know that.
and call the cops.
Either I'm no good at evaluating WRs of Friedman isn't, because we have very different thoughts on that groups of receivers.
Raw speed isn't the only thing that makes you a deep threat. Manningham wasn't fast for a receiver or big, but he ran excellent routes and was an outstanding deep threat.
Agreed. The eight WRs + Funchess give us a good corps and this class filled needed skill gaps. He'd have been better off talking about the DL misses and the gap at S.
He's listed on rivals as running a 4.40. That's pretty fast.
Manningham doesn't run a 4.4 and Damien Harris doesn't run a 4.3 40. Didn't Denard run a 4.5 at the combine?
which is still really, really good and I think top 10 at the event.
And that coming from a player who hadn't run a 40 since high school and didn't work on speed drills like the WRs there did. His technique was off as well from not having more than a couple weeks' practice at it.
Denard is fast but his speed wasn't what made him lethal. His speed in college was elite but he had on occasion been chased down from behind and guys who can keep up with him are everywhere in the NFL.
Denard and Hemingway were also very quick, as evidenced by every Denard highlight reel and Hemingway's shocking 3-cone result at the Combine. But again, ankle-breaking cuts and "knack for YAC" still don't give me the feeling the full story's been told.
It seems to me that RichRod was great at finding guys who have 360-degree quickness. A lot of guys are great at side-to-side cuts, but Denard's quick cuts were made in every possible direction. He'd juke, sure, but he could also stop on a dime and follow with a one-step burst that would completely throw off a tackler's timing. It also forced some less disciplined/decisive defenders to instinctively hedge. If his quickness was limited to two directions, a skilled defender can position & time himself in such a way that he won't miss (or at least bottle up the motion until the cavalry arrives), but not with 360. I couldn't count the number of times Denard would milk another 5 yards untouched with a defender right next to him because the poor guy was terrified of committing to a direction.
Getting back on track, it looks like Canteen has the same quality thanks to his obsessively practiced footwork. He doesn't need to blow by his guy; a few Gallon-esque feints and he's got separation. The challenge will be on the QB to time and locate the throw.
After watching Denard for 4 years in Maize and Blue I can't recall him being caught from behind once. I'm 99.0% sure it has never happend. Prove me wrong.
Healthy, it never happened. Period. I have been watching michigan football since 88 and the only guy with the straight line speed to mess with denard was Wheatley. I'm not sure if he was faster or I just remember him blowing through holes and exploding up the field, so he seemed just as fast... It's tough. Denard is fast and if he trained for the 40 it would have been an even better time... But sub 4.4 is fast either way you cut it.
Only when he was injured/hurting.
Manningham was listed as a 4.4 on rivals likely because that's what he told the rivals guy he could run. I think he ran a 4.7 at the combine.
Let's hear Friedman's take on Funchess..."Too slow to beat a CB off the line...blah blah blah...they need someone to take the top of the defense...blah blah blah"
[grabs pitchfork and torch]
I too love this WR class, deep threat = Harris, slot terror = Freddy C., big posession receiver = Mo Ways.
Lol at the criticism of our receiver recruits. I love this receiver class. I actually think any one of them can go over the top, which makes the trio that much more dangerous. Harris is a burner, Ways will beat anyone on a jump ball, and Canteen will leave DBs so turned around they'll never make up the distance. I think this will be one of the best WR classes of my lifetime.
Not to mention guys already here like Chesson, Darboh, York, Dukes, Jones...I'm not saying that all of these guys will be dynamic, but the WR depth is going to be extremely solid for a long time.
I have not seen a ton of Canteen but from what i did see he reminded me of another Wolverine who i didnt miss many games live of his high school career..Mario Manningham.
For what it's worth, Harris was wearing Michigan gloves in that video!
Probably means nothing. If I had free gloves from a school offering me a scholarship I would wear them too; and I'm sure they are really nice gloves and all that, but it isn't a bad thing to see him representing Michigan at a combine. Hopefully this is a small sign that he ends up at UM.
Unfortunately ther Bama offer is bad news, especially if he decides to take a visit down there and waits until signing day. You think 'Ol Saban won;t be selling the "We didn't think our offensive coordinator was good enough and so we let him go to Michigan" angle as hard as he can.
As they say in Star Wars, "I've got a bad feeling about this."
I find your lack of faith disturbing.
Yeah, they scare me more than Ohio. At a certain point the whole "At least he went to a different conference" line begins to become a moot point
I didn't even notice that but cool tidbit
I'm hoping for more of this as our taller receivers continue to add bulk.
Chesson is a baller. He has some pretty nice tackles on special teams too.
Dude blew someone up almost every time he touched the field. Blocking, tackling, whatever. I love that kid.
Someone needs to make a GIF out of the 1:47 to 1:55 segment of that video and use it everytime Harris is mentioned in a post. Similar to the GIF of Canteen running through the cones. I can't decide which one is moe impressive.
Then Harris committed and Weber's recruitment slid.
Then Harris decommitted and it was feared Michigan might get neither.
Now they may be the leader for both again. That would be huge after no RBs in 2014.
might make getting both Harris and Weber more likely when all is said and done. He used multiple backs in Alabama, and seems more a fan of that approach than was Borges with his search for one feature back. Makes sense for a recruit in that it reduces the wear and tear and also increases the likelihod of playing. So much will depend on how we play this year; we really need to have a better season, and also look more consistent offensively.
Harris shows signs of being a complete back including his blocking. If you watch his video, especially 2:34 to 2:50 mark, he really holds his own against much bigger guys. Very strong base, great leverage and a healthy mean streak. During that last one, there was a takedown and it looked like things got a little heated. Yes, please!
If we get Harris he may never come off the field.
Even on defense?
Normally 6'4" 180-190 lbs WRs with speed have trouble getting downfield.....wait a second
That's rather fast.
I mean, that's really quite speedy.
if at all possible. But, I don't like to see the statement that his recruitment may go to NSD. That's never a good sign for us. The SEC schools and their ilk will do whatever it takes to get kids to commit down the stretch. Our best hope is he makes his decision much earlier after having a chance to visit schools.
DH shuts it down before NSD. Thinks he tires of the process,knows where he wants to go...pulls the trigger for Blue.
heavy michigan lean that extends his decision to NSD while every quote from said recruit and expert thinks he is going blue for a long period of time? Ya, I've heard this one before
But they always end so well........
Won't get along this year very well and maybe even publicly which might lower Harris's opinion.
C'mon Kiffin, do your usual thing!!
After watching the video of Damien Harris posted by Ace at the top of this page, this is my reaction:
Yup. Still want.
yup yup yup yup yup yup yup yup yup yup...
Hope we get Barajas, great talent.