"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
When California offensive lineman Erik Magnuson committed to Michigan the fans were excited, but were still unsure of just what or who they were getting with the talented prospect. A 6-foot-6, 275-pound four star offensive lineman with around 20 offers from the biggest programs in the country typically means you have a star on your hands. His position on the field and geographic location however made it hard for fans to get a read on whether Magnuson was worthy of the hype.
Magnuson's head coach Sean Sovacool believes that Michigan is getting the real deal with Erik. "He's one of the most athletic offensive linemen in the country," he said. "That's his big selling point is that he's a real athlete. At that size, a full 6-foot-6 and 280 plus pounds he can run with just about everybody on the team. It's ridiculous how athletic he is." While Magnuson is slated for the offensive line at the next level he often tries to play defensive end, tight end, and even wide receiver sometimes in practice.
Coach Sovacool mentioned Erik's playful and fun side, but was quick to reply with how dedicated he is on the field. "He's a jokester and has a lot of fun, but he's got an edge, he's not afraid of anyone," he said. "He works his butt off and has that midwest blue collar approach. Always competitive, almost overly enthusiastic sometimes, very energetic. He's a big time kid." Magnuson was one of the few prospects invited to both the Army and Under Armour All American games, and chose to play in the Army All American game in January.
Sovacool had spent six years coaching at Palomar Community College prior to manning the La Costa Canyon High program. His experience there saw numerous division one athletes come through, but he still believes Magnuson is one of the best he's seen. "There's a few names that come to mind when you think about Erik. Outside of those couple guys though he's kind of in his own category," his coach said. "He has camp film online doing some drills and it's like are you kidding me? The footwork at his size is great."
The attention that high school prospects get compared to JUCO prospects is somewhat different, but Erik has handled it all in stride from what his coach can tell. "I don't think he could have dealt with all this any better. He worked hard, did his due diligence and made the choice," said Sovacool. "He was very responsible returning phone calls and emails, and he did a great job handling all that attention." La Costa Canyon and their coaching staff were used to the attention, though, with former players like WR Kenny Stills at Oklahoma and DE Ian Seau at Kansas State.They had been there before and knew what to expect with Erik.
The coaches had also heard the sales pitch from college programs before, and believe that there was one school that stood out above the rest. "Coach Ferrigno did a hell of a job recruiting Erik. I think they did the best job out of everyone," he said. "I know Coach Hoke and he did a very good job recruiting him. He's a real personable guy and that's a quality you have to have because sometimes you're more of a politician than a ball coach." The comfortability with the coaching staff ended up being a huge selling point for Magnuson, and the fact that they were honest with him really seemed to hit home. "They were being real with him, and you can kind of see the guys that aren't," said his coach. "It was can I play tight end? No. Can I return kicks? No, you're here to play tackle. Not that he was asking that but they were just real about it. They told him you're going to be a part of something special and Erik found that refreshing."
It was refreshing enough for Magnuson to commit to the Michigan coaching staff in person while on a visit to Ann Arbor. The decision was right for Erik and he knew Michigan was the place for him, even if it was his coach's rival school. "I'm a buckeye fan, I have family back in Ohio and they gave me a hard time about it, but it's all in fun," he said. "I called and emailed Ohio State three times about Erik and didn't hear a single thing back from them. I know sometimes they think West coast kids can't play but they're about to find out on Saturdays," his coach said. Erik was also kind enough to bring a Michigan t-shirt back from his visit for his coach, just in case he wanted to change sides.
The Michigan coaches have gone after some of the top quarterbacks in the 2012 class including Zeke Pike, Gunner Kiel, and Maty Mauk. Without landing any of their targets yet it has still given hope to a few prospects without an offer from the Wolverines. Trotwood Madison quarterback Mike Simpson (6'2", 208 lbs) showed up to Michigan's camp with intent to impress the coaching staff and the desire to earn an offer.
This wasn't his first time at a Michigan camp, but with the new coaching staff it was like a brand new experience. "I talked to Coach Hoke while I was there and I saw they were doing a lot more under center stuff," he said. "I went to camp when Coach Rich [Rodriguez] was there and everything was shotgun. This was more balanced, and I like that because I think that fits me."
Simpson believes that he can run if necessary, but considers himself a passer first who can make something happen with his legs. "I've only ran for three touchdowns in high school, and I started since my sophomore year," said Simpson. "We ran a spread but we didn't run a lot. I throw the ball a lot, and when we're under center I was looking to pass. You can call me a dual threat quarterback, but I consider myself more dropback."
As for his camp performance he believes he left an impression on the coaches and showed them what he can do. "Coach Smith asked the QB coach how I did and he said really well. Coach Smith told me to call him and talk about everything," Simpson said. No offer has been extended, but Simpson is eager to hear more from the coaching staff. "I'm hoping that they offer. I know that they liked Zeke Pike and then he went to Auburn," he said. "They don't have any other commits, and I know they have a commit from the 2013 class [Shane Morris] but not any in our class."
Mike currently holds offers from Northern Illinois and a couple other smaller schools, but has started to garner more attention as of late. "I heard from Kentucky early on and still do, all the MAC schools really like me, I've also been hearing from Illinois and Boston College lately, too," he said.
Simpson's interest in Michigan is high and part of that comes from one of his best friends. "Kaleb [Ringer] went up to camp with me. He didn't do anything, but he rode up with me," he said. "We play for different schools, I went to Chaminade and then transferred to Trotwood, but we've just known each other for awhile now."
Having that familiar face and friend committed to Michigan has given him a level of comfortability with the Wolverines. Simpson says that he would rather not wait everything out and if Michigan were to come calling it might be difficult to pass up. "If they offered I would talk about it with my family and everyone and look into it," he said. "But with Kaleb [Ringer] going there and me fitting in that system it would be pretty hard for me to say no."
Since there are only roughly nine spots left in the 2012 class it's already time to take a look at more prospects in the 2013 class. With Shane Morris committed and a handful of offers extended, the Michigan coaches are definitely getting a head start.
One 2013 lineman that could start to hear more from Michigan is Illinois offensive tackle Kyle Bosch (6'5", 275 lbs). Bosch has racked up offers from Arizona, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State, and West Virginia. He's also hearing from programs outside his offer list, and hopes to hear from more. Here's a look at his film and what he had to say about his recruitment.
TOM: I know it's still early for you but what schools are you hearing from so far?
KYLE: I'm hearing from Notre Dame, Indiana, Illinois, Florida, Ohio State, West Virginia, Michigan State, Iowa, Wisconsin, Arizona, Penn State, Boston College, Stanford, Northwestern, and a couple more.
TOM: Wow, that's a lot. What do you think has gotten you so much attention? What are schools saying about you?
KYLE: Most colleges are saying that I play with a chip on my shoulder and I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty. They also like how I always play to the whistle.
TOM: What about Michigan, are they a school that you hope to hear from?
KYLE: Absolutely. They are not only a great football school but they also put major focus on academics. It has the best of both worlds.
TOM: Do you think you'll get up to Michigan this summer, or for a game? What about summer visits in general?
KYLE: I went to a couple camps this summer but now my camp circuit is done. I actually tried to contact Michigan and tell them I wanted to visit because I was going up there anyways for the MSU camp, but I couldn't get a hold of anyone. I'd love to get up there I just need to figure it out. [TomVH ED: Contact rules are strict, so they probably couldn't call him back. Happens a lot.]
TOM: When you go to evaluate a school what are you looking for?
KYLE: I'm looking for a coaching staff that I could see myself playing four years for and enjoying my time there. I'm also looking at the type of academics they offer because in the end no matter how good you are football will end. You always need something to fall back on.
TOM: You've mentioned academics, do you already have an idea of what you want to major in?
KYLE: Business or political science.
TOM: So it's safe to assume that the business school at each program will be important too?
KYLE: Yeah, that'd be safe to say.
TOM: Ok, and how do you see all this playing out? When do you think you'll try to make your decision?
KYLE: I will probably wait until signing day of my senior year to make my decision.
It was a busy weekend for Michigan with both Chris Wormley and Kyle Kalis making it in to visit. With roughly ten spots left (Ed: Now 9!), remaining recruits are watching every move, and Michigan's coaches must be strategic in their actions. Here's a look at what's been happening and what could happen next. As always you can follow me on Twitter here, and if you have any tips or questions email me at TomVH@MGoBlog.com.
Chris Fox (2013)
6'6", 297 lbs.
Fox was a standout performer at Michigan's camp this past week. The Michigan coaches liked the 2013 prospect so much that they offered him once he left.
I talked to Coach Hoke and Coach Funk and they offered me. I got a Colorado offer a few weeks ago, too. The [Michigan coaches] told me that I fit what they're trying to accomplish, and that I look like a Michigan guy.
Fox traveled all the way from Colorado to Michigan just to camp, the trip ended up being well worth the distance. Not only did he get his offer but he also started the foundation for a relationship with Coach Funk.
I'm definitely comfortable with Coach Funk and all the coaches there now. Coach Funk was out in Colorado and stopped by our school and I actually have some family that lives up in Michigan. I love Michigan, they have great football and it would be awesome to go there. Both my parents were born and raised in Michigan too. My family is kind of split in half with Michigan and Michigan State fans. Right now I've only heard from Michigan, MSU hasn't really contacted me.
The camp gave Fox a good look at how the Michigan coaches interact with players and a good feel for the campus.
I'd definitely like to get out [to Michigan] for a game this season. It would be great to get out there. I liked everything, the campus was incredible and the Big House is incredible. I don't have a list yet, I'm just going through the process with open eyes looking for my best fit. As of right now Michigan and Colorado are my top two because they've offered.
Now that he's been on campus and gained a level of comfort with the staff, he feels great about what Michigan has to offer and where he is in the process.
It just feels good to know that I have options this early and it feels good to know that I could go there. I'd like to make my decision before my senior year so that's probably what I'll do, sometime next summer.
Fox is a name that seems to be popping up all over the place now, so I wouldn't be surprised if he got some big time attention soon. Early offers for offensive lineman are usually good signs of talent level and Fox should be right up near the top.
6'4", 255 lbs.
Wormley made a visit up to Ann Arbor this weekend. He's been relatively quiet lately and generally doesn't like talking to the media. I did catch up with him via text to see how his visit went, and where he's going from here. He briefly said the following.
It went very well. Yes I definitely came closer to a decision. My family and girlfriend [went on the visit], and I loved every part of it, but joking around with the coaches was the best part.
I asked if he knew when he would like to make his announcement or decision and he said he will make it when it feels it's right. I can't imagine that it would be much longer though. This visit seems to have been a positive for Michigan moving him in the right direction, so we'll see when it happens.
LaQuon Treadwell (2013)
6'3", 190 lbs.
Treadwell is the younger teammate of 2012 Michigan commit Anthony Standifer. LaQuon accompanied Standifer on his visit to Ann Arbor and immediately saw what his teammate liked so much about Michigan.
Going in I expected it to be great and that's what it was. I think it was overall a great experience, the buildings, the field, and the coaches were great. The field and the academic center where you do all your class work were probably the best parts.
Since he's new to the process he feels that he benefited from Standifer's presence on the visit.
Anthony was asking most of the questions so I was picking off of him and just going off of what he was saying. I'll probably do what Anthony did and decide in the summer too. He talks to me about Michigan a lot and him being committed there helps them with me.
Their coach does not let them visit other schools or decommit once they have committed to a school, so he wants to make sure he gets it right. Treadwell has also been hearing from Michigan State, Indiana, Purdue, and Vanderbilt.
16 17 commitments already in this class it seems likely that Michigan will have most of their spots filled by the time the season hits. Here's who's left and where they are in the process.
Offensive line (1-2):
- Nashville OL Blake Bars: Committed on Sunday.
- Ohio OL Kyle Kalis: Just took a visit to Michigan. He isn't saying much to reporters right now, but I did speak to him today. I wouldn't be surprised if he makes his decision very soon. There are a lot of rumors out there, but like I said he's not saying much in public so be careful what you believe.
- Illinois OL Jordan Diamond: Michigan is still in great position, as they always have been. Jordan's mother says that she's not sure when his decision will come but she wouldn't be surprised if he waited until after the season. He's gone back and forth so we'll just have to wait and see his final decision.
- Pennsylvania OL Adam Bisnowaty: His athletic director told me that ideally Adam would like to take a few official visits then decide. Adam has also been quiet (a theme here) but I should have something from him soon. He seems to be a forgotten name, but the Michigan coaches do really like him.
- Arizona OL Andrus Peat: I also reported how Peat's visit to Michigan went a week ago. Don't get too excited about Peat yet, I still think he ends up elsewhere but stranger things have happened.
- Washington OL Joshua Garnett: Recently put Michigan in his top eleven and told me back in May that he would like to take an official visit to Michigan, which he still maintains. I should have more on him this week, but spots remaining could end up being an issue here depending on timelines and decisions of his peers.
- Washington OL Zach Banner: The same can be said for Banner as with Garnett. Timing and space might hinder this, but we'll see how it plays out.
Defensive Line (2-3):
- Missouri DT Ondre Pipkins: He told me last week that he will be making a visit to Michigan in July or August, we'll see which one it ends up being. He also might choose to move up his decision, which is interesting.
- Michigan DT Danny O'Brien: Performed well at Michigan's camp this past weekend and told me the coaches were impressed. He also told me the Michigan coaches expressed that they want one interior lineman, which seems to be between Pipkins, O'Brien, and kind of Sheldon Day. I do think there is still a chance they could take both. O'Brien would ideally like to take a couple official visits, but is also watching what Pipkins does in his recruitment.
- Ohio DE Adolphus Washington: He and teammate Dwayne Stanford are still trying to reschedule their trip to Ann Arbor. Stanford told me they are waiting because of the Fourth of July holiday. I don't think we'll know how interested they really are until they visit. They both were very fond of Ohio State so it could be interesting how it plays out.
- Ohio DE Chris Wormley: As mentioned above Michigan is in good shape with Chris and he's going to announce when he feels he's ready.
- Ohio S Jarrod Wilson: I posted a few days ago that Wilson will be announcing in July 8th at 2:30pm EST per his coach's email and press release.
- The other prospects Michigan is recruiting like Bri'onte Dunn, Ron Thompson, Aaron Burbridge, Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson, Alden Hill, EJ Fatu, and Sione Houma are still somewhat in limbo. Dunn, for example is still committed to Ohio State according to his father. His father told me Bri'onte would be at Ohio State's camp this past week and it looks like that happened. I still believe they're waiting to see what the sanctions are before making a move.
PA running back Greg Garmon told me that he received an offer from Ohio State this weekend. I was told that he worked out at camp as a defensive back and may have been offered as an athlete. It's interesting to say the least that he received an offer from them. He also told me that Michigan is still in it for him and that he, "Loves them."
New Jersey ATH Devin Fuller told me that he's not sure of the exact date but he would still like to make it out to Michigan this summer.
Michigan grabbed a verbal commitment from Oak Hills offensive lineman Caleb Stacey (6'4", 275 lbs) back in March. The commitment came directly after a visit to West Virginia mainly because Stacey said he just knew Michigan was the right place. The decision was made so quickly that his parents never had the chance to see Ann Arbor or the campus.
Stacey brought his parents up to Michigan for the first time today to show them what he fell in love with. "Since it was their first time up there they were really impressed with everything," he said. "First we went to the academic center and they were blown away."
The academic presentation is usually a topic of discussion for parents after a Michigan visit, and this time was no different. "My mom, this was really only her second visit. She came with me to Miami (Ohio) and she was so happy that she teared up a little bit," said Caleb. "She looked at me and said great choice." The academics and support that Michigan provides not just during football, but after his college career really seemed to strike a chord with the Stacey family.
"After that we checked out the trophy room and we saw all the facilities," he said. "My dad was really excited about the Big House. He said he can't wait to get there for a game." Mom is excited about academics and dad is excited for the game, sounds like the norm. The Stacey's also got a chance to meet with Caleb's future position coach Darrell Funk. Coach Hoke was unavailable but the family took enough away to feel more than comfortable with their son's choice.
A name that has been popping up a lot since Michigan's camp is Kentucky safety Jeremy Clark. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound defensive back went up to Michigan to show the coaches what he has to offer. He now finds himself in a unique scenario, and I caught up with his coach today to talk about where Jeremy is at.
"He was offered a greyshirt today by the coaches, which could eventually lead to being a part of this class if the other safety they're in on doesn't commit," his coach said. The other safety he's talking about is likely Ohio defensive back Jarrod Wilson, who could be deciding as early as tomorrow.
To those that aren't familiar, a greyshirt would mean Jeremy would commit to Michigan and pay his way through school, likely only for a semester. Once the semester is up he would then be able to earn a scholarship, the greyshirt preserves his eligibility while not counting towards the 2012 class numbers.
"He's going to talk to his dad tonight and make a decision soon. He really fell in love with Michigan and the coaches," said his coach. "He said the facilities, the tradition, and the coaches just made him feel at home. He said it just felt right." Deciding to take the greyshirt from Michigan would show just how interested he is since he would be passing up full rides from North Carolina State, Akron, Ball State, CMU, Illinois, Ohio, and Toledo.
"Jeremy is a great kid, kind of quiet, but very hard worker. As far as on the field, he's a head hunter. I coached a kid that went to Notre Dame as a safety, and I think Jeremy has potential to be better," said his coach. Jeremy is a big defensive back at 6-foot-4, but his coach reports he ran a 4.4 forty time at both Kentucky and Cincinnati's camp. "He'll come down hill and play hard nosed football, too. He's got size and speed, and he just grew three to four inches in the last year. He went from being undiscovered to blowing up."
Clark's coach isn't sure when he'll decided but is supposed to speak with his father tonight to go over what exactly a greyshirt is. "I told Jeremy what [a greyshirt] is, so I'll tell his dad tonight," he said. "I don't know when he'll decide but I know he was as excited as I've ever seen him that Michigan still wanted him." It sounds like Clark could make his decision soon. The Michigan coaches explained to him that he can take the greyshirt and if Jarrod Wilson were to commit elsewhere then Clark would take that spot for the 2012 class.