Something Unrelated To Nussmei--wait it's totally about Nussmeier
Sam Webb's latest Detroit News feature covers the potential recruiting impact of Doug Nussmeier; according to Greg Biggins—who covered the West region for Scout before becoming their national analyst, and therefore is familiar with Nussmeier's recruiting efforts at Washington—he's a more active and willing recruiter than his predecessor:
“I'm a big fan of Doug Nussmeier as a coach, recruiter and person,” Scout.com National Recruiting analyst Greg Biggins said. “He's a high-energy, loud, fun-loving coach who has a magnetic personality. He relates very well to kids because of his youthful, outgoing personality. Just from a personality standpoint he's basically the opposite of Al Borges if you're looking for a comparison. He really loves to recruit.
As a lead recruiter, Nussmeier secured commitments from two four-star All-American QBs at Washington for the 2012 class, four-star All-American Cooper Bateman for Alabama in the 2013 class, four-star All-American David Cornwell for 2014, and the consensus #2 2015 quarterback, Ricky Town, who pledged to the Tide last August (and remains "very solid" in that commitment, for those hoping he'd follow Nussmeier to Michigan). That's quite a track record, and there's more; even if you don't want to credit him too much for landing 4.5-star Tuscaloosa native Bo Scarbrough, he certainly earns points for venturing up to Ohio to reel in four-star WR Derek Kief in the 2014 class.
With Michigan still searching for a quarterback in the 2015 class—and highly unlikely to receive a commitment from their two current offered prospects, five-star Josh Rosen and three-star David Sills—there's work to be done on that front by Nussmeier. Thankfully for Michigan, he's already developed a relationship with one of their top targets, three-star CA QB Kyle Kearns:
We've also got a "sam webb knows all" tag on this blog for a reason; it's possible he gave away Michigan's next offer, as this is buried in the Nussmeier story:
Pending Nussmeier’s evaluation the Wolverines could decide to intensify their pursuit of already-offered prospects like Bellflower (Calif.) Don Bosco’s Josh Rosen (five-star, No. 2 QB nationally), Elkton (Md.) Christian Academy’s David Sills (three-star, USC commit), and Albuquerque (N.M.) Eldorado’s Zach Gentry (four-star, No. 23 QB nationally) -- or move on to other talented options like Birmingham Brother Rice triggerman Alex Malzone (four-star, No. 20 QB nationally).
None of the four recruiting services—including Scout, Webb's employer—lists Gentry as holding a U-M offer; thus far, his only listed offers are from Louisville, Tennessee, San Diege State, and the two New Mexico schools. That list should grow, however, as he's the 12th-ranked quarterback in the country according to to the 247 Composite and his film is impressive—he's a 6'6" pocket passer with impressive mobility and a strong, accurate arm when he's not throwing off his back foot (a big issue in his sophomore tape). If Michigan has offered (or plans to offer) Gentry, he looks quite worthy of it.
The reaction from current commits and targets in the wake of Nussmeier's hiring was overwhelmingly positive($); here's a pretty representative quote from four-star 2015 PA OT Sterling Jenkins:
"That's a great hire for Michigan. I can't wait to get the chance to meet him."
Meanwhile, Nussmeier is already reaching out to prospects he was recruiting at Alabama. On the recruiting front, there's no question he's an upgrade over Borges. The only current commit whose status may be of concern after Borges' firing is 2015 RB Damien Harris, whose high school coach was a grad assistant under Borges:
There's been concern about Harris' commitment going back prior to the OC change; thus far, however, there's been no remotely definitive sign that the childhood Michigan fan is going to back out of his pledge. For now, it's a wait-and-see situation, and the Wolverines don't plan to wait long to talk to Harris: Nussmeier and Fred Jackson plan to stop by his school later this week, per Sam Webb.
[After THE JUMP, a Michigan commit saves a life (seriously), the latest on the 2014 running back situation, Brandon details five new underclassman offers, and more.]
Don't Pass Out Drunk In The Snow
An obvious life lesson, perhaps, but one we should all keep in mind—especially if you don't live in close proximity to 2016 OL commit Erik Swenson, who encountered such a situation last week and acted heroically, per Steve Lorenz (via Erik's father, Swen Swenson) ($):
"So proud of my son and wife tonight. Son driving home late (working on his winter driving skills) and came across a guy laying right in the road just south of downtown Downers. Passed out drunk as a skunk, around 65 or so and practically frozen with his arms, etc. buried in the snow. Not sure how no one else saw him or didn't run over him. At any rate, they got him up and to his home. Told them that he had just had heart surgery not too long ago. Had pissed himself frozen and fingers were already turning white. Hope you sleep it off buddy and realize that your angels were looking out for you tonight."
That's a slightly more intense winter driving practice session than I ever had growing up.
Five New Offers
Michigan offered five underclassmen prospects within the last week or so:
Five-star 2015 NJ CB Minkah Fitzpatrick
Four-star 2015 NC WR Juval Mollette
Four-star 2015 NC WDE Jalen Dalton
2016 Traverse City West OT Thiyo Lukusa
2016 NJ RB Kareem Walker
Brandon caught up with all five new offerees in a post this week, so I won't expand too much here. Fitzpatrick's offer has been a long time coming, and fellow New Jersey native Jabrill Peppers has already begun recruiting him.
Mollette declined to name any leaders to Brandon, and while he did the same with GBW's Andre Barthwell, he went in depth on five schools in their interview—Michigan, Ohio State, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Clemson ($).
Lukusa was initially thought to be a major Michigan lean until the 2013 season played out, and as of last week insiders believed Michigan State had a real chance to land his commitment before the Wolverines even entered the fray; as it stands right now, this should be a heated in-state battle.
The Running Back Situation
Video courtesy of DGDestroys/Maize n Brew
2014 three-star TX RB Vic Enwere is officially off the board after reaffirming his commitment to Cal on Saturday. The writing was on the wall here when Michigan showed increased interest in other backs recently, including...
2014 four-star MN RB Jeff Jones, a soft Minnesota commit who excelled in the Under Armour All-American Game, after which Michigan came through with an offer. Jones has now given the Wolverines his final official visit, scheduled for the weekend January 31st. This looks to be a pretty even two-team race between Michigan and Minnesota; Jones took an official to Florida but they weren't thought to be serious contenders even before they picked up four-star back Brandon Powell last week, while Michigan State—the other would-be contender—already has two backs in the class and likely don't have room for Jones.
I believe Michigan has good reason to be confident in landing Jones—Michigan/Minnesota recruiting battles tend to favor the former and Jones' eye has wandered for a while now—but if they don't, it appears they've got a backup option in mind: Nussmeier and Chris Singletary reached out to three-star FL RB Marlon Mack, a UCLA commit, on Saturday. In talking with Brandon, Mack didn't sound like he's very firm in his commitment, so a late offer could be enough to flip him should Michigan miss out on Jones.
Final 2014 ESPN300 Released, Other Commit Updates
ESPN released their final rankings for the 2014 class today. Jeff Jones and Wilton Speight were two of the big movers, albeit in different directions: Jones climbed 44 spots to #137 overall (#12 RB) while Speight tumbled 124 spots to #257 overall (#13 QB) based largely on their respective performances in the Under Armour practices and game. The rest of Michigan's commits and one significant target:
Commit Jabrill Peppers remained at #2 overall (#1 CB)
Target Malik McDowell moved up from #67 to #60 (#5 DT)
Early enrollee Drake Harris dropped from #72 to #85 (#10 WR)
Early enrollee Bryan Mone dropped from #76 to #91 (#7 DT)
Commit Lawrence Marshall dropped from #112 to #121 (#13 DE)
Early enrollee Michael Ferns dropped from #123 to #129 (#7 ILB)
Commit Juwann Bushell-Beatty dropped from #122 to #142 (#11 OT)
Early enrollee Mason Cole dropped from #146 to #165 (#10 OG)
Commit Ian Bunting dropped from #118 to #200 (#6 TE-H)
As you can see, Michigan commits took minor falls across the board with the exception of Peppers (staying put) and Speight/Bunting (dropping far). Speight's drop is reminiscent of Shane Morris' last year after a similarly uneven UA-week performance; Bunting's fall concerns me less since I believe he'll be utilized more like Devin Funchess—GIANT receiver—than a full-blown tight end, which is how the recruiting services are evaluating him.
Lawrence Marshall stood out in the Offense-Defense Bowl, and the hard work he's put in since his senior season ended had much to do with that, per The Wolverine's Michael Spath ($):
"After the last game of our season, I was 225 pounds and I'm 240 now so I've gained a lot of weight and I'm trying to play with that weight," he said. "In the game last weekend, I think I did well with it. I adjusted to being bigger.
"I didn't miss a step. Everything that I had before, I still had, but then my punches got stronger. I could feel myself beating the offensive linemen with better moves, with more power. And I think I actually got faster too because I added some explosion at the snap."
Michigan returns all of their weakside defensive ends, so Marshall has a tough path to early playing time; with the strides he's made since the beginning of his senior season, however, he's doing everything he can to make that a possibility.
DGDestroys put together cut-ups of the Michigan commits in the UA game—Speight, Peppers, Mone, and JBB (and, well, the Ferns video is interesting)—as well as the video of Jones embedded earlier in this post. Peppers, Mone, and Jones all acquitted themselves well. Speight's performance was greatly impacted by poor pass protection—some of that, unfortunately, due to Bushell-Beatty having a rough day in that regard—and his intended receiver falling on his final throw, resulting in an interception. Ferns has solid towel-waving form (if you're very confused by that video, he sat out the game with a shoulder injury).
MI DT Malik McDowell continued to hide his hand at the Army AA Game, telling GBW's Josh Newkirk that Michigan and MSU are "pretty even with each other," but refusing to say if they were his two leaders ($). McDowell has taken official visits to Alabama and Florida, with scheduled officials set to Florida State, LSU, and Ohio State each of the next three weekends before a planned Signing Day announcement.
Despite recent coaching shakeups at two of his top three schools, 2015 PA OT Sterling Jenkins told Sam Webb that Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State remain at the top among his lengthy list of offers ($).
2015 four-star FL RB Jacques Patrick included Michigan in his newly-released top ten. Patrick holds a Wolverine offer and tentatively plans to make a decision in late September or early October, though official visits could take precedence. Michigan likely has ground to make up against Florida and Florida State if they want to land him.
2015 four-star CA WR/CB Stanley Norman already holds offers from much of the Pac-12, including USC and UCLA, but told GBW's Josh Newkirk at the Army combine that Michigan is an offer he covets after visiting Ann Arbor last summer following the Sound Mind Sound Body camp ($):
“I have kept talking to Michigan after that,” Norman said. “The unofficial was amazing. It’s the Big House. Just being at Michigan was a great experience for me. Michigan is consideration where I go to college. I feel like after that, we talked and build a bond toward each other. Now, I am just waiting to see if I get an offer from Michigan.
“I am supposed to go to the Sound Mind, Sound Body again this year. So if I go out there, I am for sure going for an unofficial again.”
Norman, nationally ranked at both cornerback and receiver, told Newkirk that one of the biggest factors in his recruitment is the freedom to get some snaps on offense while primarily focusing on playing cornerback. First, we'll see if Michigan comes through with an offer, and then we'll find out if they'll acquiesce that request.