The 2012 recruiting year is about to get underway and we should hear new offers and junior days being scheduled sometime in the next week. You're probably asking yourself where we're at and who we're going to target.
This post attempts to answer that question. Jeff posted a look at the 2012 Hotlist for Offense the other day. There's some good content in there, and I believe he will have a defensive post soon. Without overlapping too much with that here's some quotes from recruits I've talked to and notes on others Michigan will go after. This isn't a full list, it's just who I've spoken to or believe will be targeted. More names will pop up.
Michigan will look for one quarterback in this class, and one in every class after it. I'm not sure if they will land an elite QB like Zeke Pike or Gunner Kiel but if not, there are some other good options out there.
Tyler O'Connor (6'3", 202 lbs, Lima Central Catholic/Ohio): Tyler already holds offers from Bowling Green, Toledo, and Northwestern and is starting to hear from Michigan as well.
I have those three offers, and Tennessee, Virginia, Clemson have shown interest. The Michigan offensive line coach came up and introduced himself a couple weeks ago.
You can watch Tyler's junior highlights here. Looks like he has a pretty strong arm and good accuracy. He'll continue to pick up offers; Michigan's interest will be clearer after a couple junior days.
Collin Michael (6'5", 200 lbs, Lexington/Ohio): Collin doesn't have any offers yet, but told me he has a lot of interest in Michigan.
I'm open to anyone right now, but mainly Big Ten schools. Both my parents and most of my family went to Purdue, so I grew up a fan of them. I'm definitely interested in Michigan, though.
All we have to do now is wait for him to commit to Purdue and it should only be a matter of weeks before we steal him away. Collin's highlights are available here.
Connor Brewer (6'2", 185 lbs, Chaparral/Arizona): Chaparral is the home of current Wolverines Taylor Lewan and Craig Roh. It's also the home of Jake Roh, Craig's younger brother. Chaparral head coach Charlie Ragle likes Michigan, and the new offense would fit Connor very well. West Coast schools seem like the early favorite but Connor is an outstanding quarterback and I'd like to see Michigan pursue him. Here are his highlights.
Other names to keep an eye on:
Cole Gautsche (Cole is a Michigan fan, grew up in Michigan until he was 14. He's hoping to hear from Michigan), Maty Mauk, Jeff Lindquist, Shane Dillon, Jameis Winston, Bart Houston, Gray Crow, Wes Lunt.
Tight end is a position of need in the 2012 class even though Michigan pulled in a late pick with Chris Barnett. They'll get at least one and probably two.
Taylor McNamara (6'5", 235 lbs, Westview/California): Taylor was previously high on Ohio State, but that interest has cooled from both sides it seems. Being from San Diego, McNamara knows the current staff and is hoping to hear more from them now at Michigan.
Ohio State I think has moved down on my list. I think now that Coach Hoke is at Michigan it helps them. I'd like to hear from Michigan, Notre Dame, and Oregon too.
Taylor was told by the coaches that they would recruit him heavily his senior year while they were at SDSU, so I don't see why that would change, especially since he already holds offers from Arizona, Cal, Florida State, Kentucky, and Stanford. His sophomore film can be viewed here.
Other names to keep an eye on:
Michigan will probably take 4 or 5 offensive linemen in the 2012 class after trying to take 4 or 5 in 2011 and coming up short.
Jordan Diamond (6'6", 290 lbs, Simeon/Illinois): Jordan is teammates with new Wolverine Chris Bryant and really likes Michigan himself. Don't be surprised if Jordan decides to take all his visits and then announces after his final visit. He may take officials, or just do unofficials and be done with it.
Either way Michigan is in his top group, and he was recently offered by Ohio State. I'll have an interview with him soon, and you can see his film here.
Other names to keep an eye on:
Josh Smith, Tyler Alt, Stephon McCray (from Cali but has family in Inkster), Ryan Anderson, Ben Braden, Marquise Walker (NTMW), Jake Notario, Chase Deback (really likes Michigan), Ryan Brodie, Shane Callahan, Sid Anvoots, Kyle Knapp, Greg Pyke, Jordan Simmons, Jonah Pirsig, Taylor Decker, Anthony Stanko.
Brady Hoke will make both lines a priority for this next class, and after getting just two defensive tackle prospects in the last three classes there's no spot on the roster more desperately in need of a talent infusion. Fortunately, there are some good local defensive tackles for him to target.
Danny O'Brien (6'3", 278 lbs, Powers/Michigan): Michigan and Tennessee are the early leaders with Danny, but I have a feeling that Tennessee is the leader overall. Michigan may have some ground to make up with O'Brien, and he's a can't miss prospect for Brady Hoke this year. A top ranked instate prospect at a position of need is someone that becomes a must get. We'll see how it plays out and what Danny decides once the real recruiting starts.
Jaleel Johnson (6'2", 277 lbs, St. Joseph's/Illinois): Jaleel has both interest in Michigan and a ton of potential. Michigan's new defensive coordinator could end up being a big selling point for Jaleel when all is said and done.
It would be an honor to receive an offer from Michigan. I'm hoping to hear from Michigan, Wisconsin, and Purdue right now. I really like the Ravens, so that definitely helped Michigan when they hired their defensive coordinator.
Wisconsin was the first to show interest in Jaleel so he said he became somewhat of a fan of the Badgers, but that's nothing that can't be overcome. He has a highlight video that includes him pancaking blockers on kick/punt returns.
Other names to keep an eye on:
Defensive end also has a lot of great talent in the Midwest. The biggest name for Michigan fans is Toledo Whitmer's Chris Wormley. The rumor is that Michigan currently leads for Chris. With Ohio State short on scholarships and Ohio in possession of multiple top-flight DEs, all signs point in their direction.
Alex Balducci (6'4", 250 lbs, Central Catholic/Oregon): Alex is a West Coast kid that is somewhat familiar with Hoke and staff from SDSU. He's also hoping to hear more from Michigan.
I like the tradition and history of Michigan. I haven't really had the experience of going around the country, but I don't know why I wouldn't consider one of the best programs in the history of college football. Coach Ferrigno was out to our school about two weeks ago. They want to see my film and go from there, it would be great to get an offer from Michigan.
Alex's dad was a high school coach, and power football was the type of game he liked. They often watched Big Ten film rather than Pac Ten due to that, so he's very familiar with Michigan's style of play.
Ifeadi Odenigbo (6'4", 210 lbs, Centerville/Ohio): Odenigbo is teammates with 2011 Ohio State commit Mike Bennett. Everyone has been assuming that Odenigbo will be an OSU lock, but he's not even sure himself that Ohio State will offer. They have already extended offers to a few other local defensive ends, and Odenigbo is definitely keeping his options open.
I will most likely make my decision in the summer. If I don't do it then I'll do it after my season and take official visits. I actually want to be a doctor like my mom, she's a pediatrician. We plan on taking some unofficial visits in the summer, we'll talk about the pros and cons of each school. What's nice about Michigan is that their coach is from Kettering, and I live five minutes from there.
If Ohio State doesn't offer I think Michigan has a really good chance. I still think they have a shot if OSU does offer, if they can get him on campus with his mother. Academics will be important here.
Odenigbo somewhat reminds me of Jermaine Cunningham coming out of high school. Cunningham played for Florida under Mattison in '08, weighed around 195 lbs coming out of high school and ended up with the Patriots. Their size and tape is similar.
Other names to keep an eye on:
We'll have a better idea of where Michigan stands with a lot of these recruits once the offers roll out and the coaches shift their focus froom their late scramble to fill the 2011 class. This is a good year for Brady Hoke to take over with all the local talent in the Midwest, but the challenge will be to close the deal on the top ranked kids.
Greg Mattison has proved he's a top notch recruiter, and from everything that we've heard Brady Hoke is the same. There is a definite opportunity for Michigan to finish with a top 15, top 10 class if they can get all the pieces they want.
Signing day is almost upon us, and there are roughly six recruits to keep an eye on.This staff has done an excellent job keeping kids committed and adding additional pieces to fill gaps. Here's a look at what to expect, and when to expect it.
5'10", 215 lbs.
Rawls is a three star prospect, which most people assume is because of the concern with his grades. Most people assumed he would not qualify, which led to a not so impressive offer list. Also, since his high school coach is Fred Jackson's son and he's made no secret of the fact that if he qualifies he's going to Michigan other schools may not have bothered.
Don't let that list fool you, because Thomas is the kind of back Brady Hoke is looking for in his offense. I can only imagine the conversations about Thomas between Fred Jr and Fred Sr. [ed: "Son, you are the greatest coach in the world and you have created a combination of Herschel Walker, House, and Bo Jackson."]
Rawls recently came back from his trip to Ann Arbor with an offer and a plan:
I wouldn't say it was the dream offer, Michigan is the dream school. I grew up watching them, and I just worked to get there. I basically had the offer, but I just didn't say much. I don't want to say too much about academics, but I will be eligible for the 2011 season. I want to keep some stuff for my press conference, which will be at 9:30am on signing day at Flint Northern.
Thomas is "deciding" between Michigan and CMU on signing day. This should be an excellent pick up for Michigan, and an excellent job by Thomas to get eligible.
6'7", 270 lbs.
Traverse City, Michigan
Jake Fisher is fresh off a visit to Oregon, and it's coming down to the wire. Chip Kelly is pretty strict when it comes to prospects visiting and offers they hand out. They like kids to visit if they are seriously thinking about coming to Oregon, and I think Jake is. I spoke to him after his visit, and he had this to say:
Everyone is fair game right now. I'm going to sit down with my parents and talk everything over. I'm either going to announce the day before signing day, or on signing day.
He also told me the visit to Oregon went well, but not much more than that. Jake is really tough to read, so this could go one way or the other. The Michigan coaches have made him a priority. Will it be enough?
Who's Signing When
Signing day is Wednesday. As mentioned earlier there are roughly six prospects that Michigan has honed in on. They would have enough room for all six under certain circumstances. Here's who's left, and when they plan on announcing.
- MI RB Thomas Rawls: Signing Day at 9:30am.
- CO LB Leilon Willingham: Signing Day at 7pm MT. Michigan is in great shape still with Willingham. He'll be choosing between Michigan, ASU, Colorado, Washington, and UCF presumably.
- OH LB Frank Clark: Signing Day around 10 or 11am.
- MD DT Darian Cooper: Signing Day.
- MI OL Jake Fisher: Either announcing the day before signing day, or on signing day. Visit to Oregon went well. He plans on talking it over with his parents and then deciding.
- TX TE Chris Barnett: Will announce on Saturday. Wants to weigh out all the options rather than think on emotion. The Michigan visit went very well. He is deciding between Arkansas and Michigan.
Prediction: I don't like predicting, but Michigan has a legitimate shot at landing all six that are left. I don't know if they will, but they have a shot. I am confident about three of them, somewhat optimistic about one, and usure about two. I think when it comes down to it they will most likely land 3 or 4, if they get the 5th or 6th it's a bonus.
Defensive tackle is one of the holes that hasn't been filled yet for Michigan, which makes Darian Cooper one of the most important recruits left on the board. Up to even a few weeks ago it seemed like Cooper wasn't going to entertain the idea of even visiting Michigan. The new coaching staff made him a priority and convinced him to visit this past weekend. Michigan has now moved into his top four with MSU, Iowa, and Georgia Tech. Here's his film, and what he had to say about the visit.
TOM: Tell me from the start what you guys did.
DARIAN: We got there at five on Friday, and we went and ate dinner at the Big House. After that I hung out with some of the players, we hung out with Josh Furman, Patrick (Omameh). We got to meet all the players and we played some video games.
TOM: Was Saturday more the business side of it then?
DARIAN: Yeah, Saturday was more the academic side of it. My mom and little brother were with me, and we spent a few hours with the Dean of business. They went over what a degree means from Michigan and the overall academics there.
TOM: That's usually what parents care the most about, did your mom come away impressed with that?
DARIAN: Their degree ranks 15th in the nation, so it's hard not to be impressed with that. My mom doesn't care so much about the football side. She wants there to be stability with the coaching staff. Football is football, you line up and the objectives are all the same, so she's worried about the other parts.
TOM: I'm assuming you also met with the coaches, Coach Hoke and Mattison, on Saturday. What did they have to say?
DARIAN: They were talking to me about my role on the defense. For the past few years their strength has been offense, and they were telling me that they're defensive minded coaches and they want to bring that defense back. They're putting an emphasis on defense now.
TOM: What did they say as far as your role in the defense, what's their pitch to you?
DARIAN: They were telling me it's a great opportunity to play early. My freshman year, Coach Mattison said I would be a relief for Mike Martin on the field. They would work me into a nickel package, and a third down rushing defensive tackle. Playing is good, I don't really care what my role is as long as I get to play.
TOM: You went from not wanting to visit Michigan, to now potentially having them in your top group when you decide. Did this visit help Michigan even more?
DARIAN: Michigan moved up in my mind, definitely. I'm really focusing on my experience with the players at each school. Buildings are buildings, but it's all about the people in the place not the bricks that have been laid.
TOM: Was there anything that really stuck out to you that was different from other visits?
DARIAN: It was an official visit, so everything's going to be great. What I liked was that they didn't take me to the most expensive restaurant that I'll never eat at again, which was interesting. They took me to the training table and told me everything that was real, and this is how you'd live here. They didn't try to sell me with stuff that wasn't going to be how it was there. I liked that part.
TOM: Where do you go from here?
DARIAN: Most likely make my decision on signing day. I'll sit down with my mom, and make my decision.
This was the last weekend before Signing day and Michigan still has some big name recruits left on their board. Four star Texas tight end Chris Barnett was a little late to the party, but he's at a position of need for Michigan. With this visit Chris will now have to decide between staying committed to Arkansas, or choosing Miami or Michigan instead.The coaches went out and convinced the Arkansas commit to come up and experience what Michigan had to offer. Here's his film, and what he had to say about the visit.
TOM: Tell me about the visit. When did you get there, and how did it go?
CHRIS: We got there Friday afternoon. We went through Schembechler Hall on a mini tour first. When the rest of the recruits got there we went out to eat and hung out with our hosts. The next morning we went through an academic tour, position meetings, we met with the AD, took a tour of the stadium, took a tour of Ann Arbor, and walked through the campus a little bit. We went to dinner later on and then hung out with our hosts again.
TOM: You mentioned your hosts, who was your host?
CHRIS: I had multiple hosts. I had Kevin Koger, Patrick Omameh, Junior Hemingway, and Devin Gardner. I met Darryl Stonum from Texas too.
TOM: What was it like hanging out with the players? Did you feel like you were comfortable with them?
CHRIS: The players have been through a lot together. The only thing that's been consistent with them is each other. They've been through coaching changes and everything. When they introduce themselves, they don't say this is my friend or this is my homeboy, they say this is my brother he plays quarterback. They're not associates, they're family. This is how close they are. We were about to go to Kevin Koger's apartment, we walked in and there was already three players there before Kevin even was. He just walked in and it was cool, it was fine that they were there. We went to someone else's house and we just walked right in. I haven't seen anything like that on any of my other trips.
TOM: Outside of the players, what about the coaches, what did they talk to you about?
CHRIS: They basically talked about the system that they were carrying over from San Diego State. They need guys that are mentally, physically, and emotionally ready to play. They were really honest and open that it wasn't going to be easy, it was going to be hard, but it would be rewarding in the end and the long run. They talked about the things they expect from their players, the three strike rule they have, and what they expect out of them.
TOM: Was that a good thing for you? Is discipline something you like in a coach?
CHRIS: It was great to hear that because you want them to be your coaches, but you also want to have someone that's there for you and they really seemed like they care about their players. It wasn't about them. I think you need discipline because that's how you grow as a person and player, with discipline and structure.
TOM: What about the academic side, you mentioned you took an academic tour. Did that have any impact on you?
CHRIS: Yeah, it was crazy. I went up there with my cousin, and we knew they were good but (a Michigan) degree is something like 14th overall in the country. They rank right up there around Yale and Harvard. They talked a little about how the athlete weighs in and how it's easy for you to connect with people later in life, too.
TOM: What did this visit do for Michigan? Did it help them out, how is everything going to play out for you?
CHRIS: I was amazed by a lot of things. It's going to be interesting. We're going to go back and weigh the pro's and cons and my emotions with these programs. We'll figure out what's best for me. I'm going to look at if the school has connections, will my degree mean more coming from that school, it's going to be a tough choice. I've been that guy so far that makes my decision with emotions and got caught up in the glitz of everything. I'm in a stable place now, and I'm not just looking at that stuff. I want to sit down and weigh everything out.
TOM: There was talk that you would wait until after signing day to decide, is that the case?
CHRIS: Yeah, I'll probably sign on Friday or Saturday. I just want to take myself out of the emotions for awhile, and away from everything. Sit down weigh everything out and then make my decision.
The recruiting process has been a long one for 4 Star Illinois OL Chris Bryant, and he's ready for it to be over with. Bryant makes his decision on Friday the 28th at 7:30pm at his high school in Chicago. I caught up with him to talk about the final hours, and what he'll be focusing on while making his decision for tomorrow. Here's a look at his film, then the interview.
TOM: Are you ready for all this to be over with yet?
CHRIS: Yeah, I mean it's stressful. It's been fun, but difficult so I'm almost ready.
TOM: What's it like today and tonight, the day before you make your decision?
CHRIS: Well, Coach Hoke came by the school today and then the Pitt coaches, Coach Graham and Calvin Magee are coming by later tonight. After that I'm just going to check over all the places I've been, the trips I've taken, and sit down and think about it. I want to make sure that I'm comfortable, because I have to live there the next 4 to 5 years. In my mind, I know where I'm leaning, but I want to sleep on it and do my thing tomorrow.
TOM: When the coaches come by this late in the process what are they talking to you about? For instance, what was Coach Hoke saying today?
CHRIS: Going through this process it's just been about building the relationship. That relationship doesn't come over night, and today was just kind of a regular conversation. He was telling me how I fit in, and about their new type of offense. It was just us getting to know each other more.
TOM: You talk about building a relationship. In a short period of time, do you think you've done that with the new Michigan coaches? Do you feel comfortable with them?
CHRIS: Ever since the first day I met them we hit it off. He's a player's coach, and someone you like having a conversation with. I didn't have a hard time bonding with him. I feel comfortable with all these coaches, I wouldn't second guess playing for them.
TOM: What happens after all the coaches leave? Do you and your parents sit down and discuss everything, or are they letting you make the decision?
CHRIS: My parents are a big part of my decision. After the coaches leave we'll sit down and talk through everything, then just get ready for tomorrow.
TOM: How many hats will be on the table?
CHRIS: I'll have four. Arizona, Michigan, Pitt, and Illinois.
Tom is having trouble posting on the site, so follow him on Twitter for the latest updates - Tim
- TX TE Chris Barnett. Arkansas soft commit. Also considering Texas A&M and others.
- MI RB Thomas Rawls. Looking for a Michigan offer (waiting on a qualifying test score). Announcing on Signing Day.
- OH LB Commit Antonio Poole. Committed to Michigan Tuesday.
- MD DT Darian Cooper. Had an in-home with DC Greg Mattison yesterday. Scout's Gene Hankerson is feeling good about the situation there. Iowa and Michigan State are the main competition. Iowa was out in front, who knows if the news that they try to kill their players will affect him.
- OH DE Commit Keith Heitzman. Committed last Saturday.
Arizona OL Ryan Nowicki is not coming. He has been telling me he feels good about being committed to Penn State, so it's not a big surprise. They were in on Ryan late anyway, so it shouldn't come as a shock to anyone.
Don't be surprised if some of these guys end up committing to Michigan on Signing Day - or even before that, if the visit weekend goes well. Expect some of Michigan's current commits to unofficially visit as well.
The list is subject to change over the next 24 hours. Stay tuned for updates.