Catching Up, Three Commits Later
Michigan hauled in three 2014 commits in the last three days in Freddy Canteen, Brandon Watson, and Noah Furbush — if you missed any of their Hello posts, simply click on their name. While I initially couldn't find any film of Canteen in game action, a poster helpfully noted (though I forget where and can't find the link) that he shows up plenty in ECA quarterback David Sills' highlight tape. The focus of the video is obviously on Sills, so we don't get to see Canteen's vaunted route-running; he does, however, make several impressive grabs — look for him in the #19 jersey:
That's a solid body of work for just three games, and is evidence that Canteen has the hands and ball skills to complement his footwork.
In a post-commitment interview with Sam Webb, Watson revealed that despite talking about committing together, he and Canteen actually decided to pull the trigger independently; he also threw out a juicy morsel about another offer ($):
“We’ve been talking about (committing to Michigan) since we got the offer,” said Watson. “Freddy was looking at a couple of schools, and I was kind of leaning toward USC and Michigan. I just wanted to go out to SC and see what that felt like. When I came back I talked to coach I just said, ‘I want to go to Michigan.’ Freddy called about two minutes after and said, ‘yo, are you committing tomorrow?’ I said, ‘yeah.’ He said, ‘oh yeah? Me too!’ We basically told Coach Hoke ten minutes apart.”
“It’s funny I just got the Tennessee offer this morning,” Watson later added. “I told him ,’it’s a little too late… I’ve already made up my mind to go to Michigan.”
Watson's coach had previously mentioned that a USC offer was forthcoming until he committed to Michigan, adding to the growing pile of evidence that he and Canteen are better prospects than their rankings would indicate.
Landing two prospects from Eastern Christian Academy gives the Wolverines a potential edge with 2016 ECA LB De'le Harding, whose coach said he earned rave reviews at camp, per Sam Webb ($):
“He is the best rising sophomore in the country,” ECA coach Dwayne Thomas said. “I took him to Tennessee’s camp he was dominant and he got an offer. I took him to Michigan’s camp and no one would have even known he was 14 years old unless I told them. They’re going to offer him. Brady told me, ‘coach, we love that dude.’ The defensive coordinator told me, ‘we love that dude.’ I’ve been doing this a long time. I coached in college for 17 years and I don’t blow smoke. He will be the best player I’ve ever had. I’ve coached a lot of great ones. I’ve got two at USC and one already committed; I’ve got them at Auburn… I’ve got a lot of kids over the last three years at a lot of places, and he will be the best one, no doubt.”
Harding already has offers from Tennessee and USC after dominant performances at their respective camps; he's poised to be one of the top players in his class, and a Michigan offer should come sooner or later. Canteen and Watson both say they'll be giving their younger teammate their best recruiting pitch.
With the commitment of Furbush, meanwhile, Michigan is looking for one more linebacker prospect, specifically an outside linebacker, to complete their 2014 recruiting of that position group. Four-star CA OLB Dwight Williams is rumored to favor Florida, though Michigan also has a good shot; he told 247 that he's locked in officials to Florida, Michigan, and Hawaii, and the Wolverines are speculated to be the Gators' biggest competition ($). Three-star MO OLB Jimmie Swain, the other most-likely target, told Rivals that he's looking to cut two schools from his top five to ensure he can take officials to each of his finalists ($). Michigan is joined in that group by TCU, Michigan State, Oregon, and Stanford; the two Pac-12 school have yet to offer, and it appears the Horned Frogs currently hold the edge:
"TCU is the only one of the top five I've visited already. When I went down there, I just enjoyed the campus and the team and the way they practice. Coach Patterson and I talk on a regular basis. I just loved what I saw when I went down there. Ever since then, I have just been all about TCU. I just loved the atmosphere and everything about that school."
Swain says he hopes to decide in September; his visit, should he make it, will obviously be of great importance if Michigan hopes to land him.
[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on a trio of five-star prospects, an overview of the 2014 running back situation, and more.]
Tapping Into The Glenville Pipeline?
Cleveland Glenville has long been one of Ohio State's most consistent sources of top talent; the program spearheaded by Ted Ginn Sr. produced Buckeye stars like Troy Smith, Donte Whitner, and of course Ted Ginn Jr. The Wolverines have been able to grab a couple useful players from the Tarblooders — Frank Clark and Willie Henry hail from Glenville — but in recent years it's been assumed that any top Glenville talent will head to Columbus. That means Michigan fans, myself included, have assumed that five-star ATH Marshon Lattimore and four-star S Erick Smith are OSU locks, but Ginn Sr. told Sam Webb in a Detroit News feature that he's not steering anybody away from Michigan — quite the opposite, in fact:
While Ginn insists he never discouraged any of his players from considering the Wolverines, he acknowledged that Brady Hoke’s return has made Michigan a more viable presence within his program.
“Brady is my guy,” said Ginn with a smile. “(Greg) Mattison’s my guy from way back. Brady has taken care of a lot of my kids. I had about seven kids at Ball State. I remember Brady when I had Pierre Woods (at Michigan). So he was Pierre’s coach and we have always had a good relationship. When he got the job back here it opened up a lot of doors for my kids, as you can see.”
For their part, both Lattimore and Smith — who've each been very quiet about the recruiting process — say they're wide open:
While most pundits have long considered both strong Buckeye leans, Smith and Lattimore patently dismiss talk that they are locks for Ohio State.
“That’s just rumors,” said Smith.
“They don’t know nothing,” the normally quiet Lattimore said. “They think because we’re from Glenville, that we’re going there.”
Both prospects plan to take all five official visits, and one would expect they'll each use one of those to check out Ann Arbor. If I had to guess where each of them will end up, I'd still say Ohio State, but that is by no means set in stone.
Five-Star Updates, Good And Bad
Da'Shawn Hand has taken a break from recruiting since narrowing his list to three schools: Michigan, Alabama, and Florida. While Hand isn't talking to any coaches, he told Rivals' Adam Friedman that coaches are still in touch with him — but that's not always a positive ($):
"All of them are sending me mail," he said. "Michigan is sending a lot of handwritten mail. Florida is trying to get in contact with me the most. Alabama is respecting what I said and know that I'm taking a break. Michigan is doing the same. I like that about them. Florida, on the other hand, is still trying to get in touch with me. My coach is handling all of that."
Hand won't reveal if he has a leader, though it's presumed to be Michigan, but he did say that "Jabrill [Peppers] is my man," and Peppers is doing his best to recruit Hand to Michigan. Even though Hand is taking a break from recruiting, he has a timeline in mind:
Given the above, it seems more and more like this will be a two-program battle between Michigan and Alabama.
The outlook is far less sunny when it comes to CA CB Adoree' Jackson, who told Sam Webb (jeez, Sam, looks like you deserve a vacation) that Michigan's policy of not allowing freshmen to play other sports — let alone their lack of an elite track program (and head coach) — is not helping their chances ($):
“I’ll be 100 (percent honest)… yeah, (the policy hurts Michigan) a little bit because the Olympics (are) in 2016,” Jackson stated. “You can’t take no days off. If I slip up and miss it by that one year, coming back trying to do it a second year, it‘s going to be hard for me. Somebody else is out there getting better and grinding, and that’s the same time that I need to be grinding. So if I’m focusing (only) on football it might take a little bit off my game. I might end up coming short a couple of inches. I’ll know if I had that extra year I’d probably win by a couple of more feet, a couple of more inches. So I’ve got to take everything into consideration and see how is that going to happen.”
Given that info, Michigan will have a difficult time beating out schools such as Florida, where Jackson has already developed a relationship with their track coach, per 247's Luke Stampini ($):
“The only track coach I talk to is Florida,” Jackson said Monday at Nike’s The Opening. “He’s basically letting his resume speak for itself. He has those two that went to the Olympics that came from Florida and did the long jump. Me being a long jumper, that stands out.”
Jackson isn't planning on attending the BBQ at the Big House even though he'll be nearby in Illinois — where he grew up — when that's going on; that's a pretty bad sign for the Wolverines.
The Running Back Outlook
Michigan has focused on three running backs in the 2014 class, and thanks to their strong recruiting at the position in 2013 they don't have a pressing need to take any of them. That's a good thing, as they're falling out of the picture for one and trail a rival school for another.
CA RB Joe Mixon has offers from every top school in the country save Alabama and LSU; while those two schools could enter the picture, Michigan's offer has been out there for a while and Mixon didn't mention them when Tim Sullivan asked for a top group ($):
I've pretty much narrowed my list down. They're not for sure [a final] top 10, but I pretty much have an idea they're going to be," he said. "That's pretty much: Oregon, Georgia, Texas A&M, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, UCLA, Texas, and Washington, then Probably Cal."
Mixon mentioned that he's still in touch with Coach Ferrigno and "probably" will take an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor this summer, but I'll believe that when it happens; even if he makes it, the Wolverines are probably on the outside looking in.
NJ RB Jonathan Hilliman named Ohio State as his leader recently, though he still plans to visit Michigan for this month's BBQ, per Steve Lorenz ($). Hilliman said "nothing is set in stone," so the Wolverines still have a decent shot. For now, though, they're facing an uphill battle.
That leaves CO RB Kalen Ballage, who was supposed to visit Michigan in the spring until Mother Nature intervened, per (you guessed it) Sam Webb ($):
“It was pretty crazy,” Ballage said. “509 homes got burned down in my area… just two or three miles away. Everybody was being evacuated while I was on my way up to Michigan. We stopped in Nebraska to see my sister because she goes to Hastings College there. We got the call and we turned around and went right back home.”
“Fortunately, we’re alright.”
Ballage is looking to reschedule his visit, along with several others, and he still maintains Michigan in his top four along with Boise State, Nebraska, and Arizona State. Of the three backs Michigan is pursuing, I think they have the best shot at Ballage, though Hilliman is also a definite possibility.
Five-star VA DT Andrew Brown, as expected, committed to Virginia over the weekend. He'd mentioned the Wolverines among his schools under consideration but never visited.
Penn State picked up a commitment from MD CB Troy Vincent Jr., who held a Michigan offer. He's the son of former Wisconsin star and NFL cornerback Troy Vincent. Quite an impressive pickup by Bill O'Brien, who's done a remarkable job recruiting despite the sanctions.
CA CB Adarius Pickett narrowed his list to 13 schools and left out Michigan, per Rivals ($). Michigan was never under serious consideration.
Four-star OK S Steven Parker told Rivals' Rob Cassidy that he's interested in Michigan and OSU, but he's waiting for someone to pick up the phone ($):
"I keep saying I'm going to get down to Michigan and Ohio State," Parker said. "But I still don't have that planned yet. I've tried calling them to set it up, but they didn't answer. So I haven't been able to set those up yet."
Parker is taking his time with his recruitment and seems to be favoring the two in-state schools at this juncture; somebody answer the phone, please.
2015 OH CB Shaun Crawford made his trip to Miami last weekend; while he was expected to make a decision — almost certainly for Michigan — after the visit, he's pushing that back because Miami's coaching staff was on vacation, per 247's Mark Zakrajsek ($). Crawford will instead take a few more visits, including one to the BBQ, and he still favors the Wolverines.
2015 four-star PA OT Sterling Jenkins told Steve Lorenz that he'll be at the BBQ, as well, and has been developing a relationship with one of Michigan's 2014 commits ($):
Jenkins has been the recipient of a little bit of a recruiting pitch from some of the current commits, namely linebacker and fellow Pennsylvanian Chase Winovich.
"I guess we played basketball against each other this year," he said. "He's told me a lot about Michigan and about how much he loves it and we also talked a lot about the coaches as well. I was actually supposed to go swimming with him today, but wasn't able to make it. We'll be chilling soon though."
Jenkins is a national-level prospect and the Wolverines are in a good position for him early.
Michigan is one of four schools sticking out for elite 2016 TE Isaac Nauta along with Alabama, Clemson, and Florida State, per Sam Webb ($).
Jeff at Maize Pages delves into positional flexibility and Michigan's linebacker recruiting under Greg Mattison.