...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
Nasvhille offensive lineman Blake Bars (6'5", 275 lbs, 4 star) took in Ann Arbor with his father this past weekend. Bars has been a fast rising commodity within the past few months, which he attributes to a late release to his highlight film. I spoke with Blake tonight to talk about his visit to Michigan and when he'll be making his college choice. Here's a look at his film and what he had to say.
TOM: Now that you've taken your trip to Michigan where are you at overall?
BLAKE: I just talked to Coach Smith tonight, and that went really well. We talked about me potentially going [to Michigan] as a player and he told me I was a priority for them. He was really real with me and he wasn't giving me any BS. He told me to talk everything over with my family and to let him know when I'm ready.
TOM: With the Michigan visit do you feel more comfortable now talking to the coaches, like Coach Smith?
BLAKE: Definitely feel more comfortable that I went up there. We stayed up at Michigan on campus for six hours. I really got to know Coach Smith and Funk really well. I can really understand their philosophies. At the end of our visit all the coaches gathered in Coach Mattison's office and they were drilling me with questions about random easy going stuff. It was a fun and easy conversation, and that was something that really stuck out to me. How personable they were was really cool.
TOM: What was it like to see the facilities and the Big House?
BLAKE: It was awesome to be in the Big House without the fans there. We stood on the 50 yard line, and I can imagine when it's filled with the fans it's amazing. It was really exciting just standing there.
TOM: Did you get a chance to meet any of the current players?
BLAKE: We did see a few players there. The starting left tackle and starting right guard. They basically said hello and welcomed us. That was pretty special.
TOM: You told me that your dad went up there with you and that he's from Michigan originally. What was his reaction?
BLAKE: Yeah, he grew up in Farmington Hills and his reaction was very positive. Although he went to Notre Dame, I think we shared some mutual agreement on liking Michigan. He told me my decision is up to me and we both got some positive feedback from Michigan.
TOM: I know you said last time that your aunt was recruiting you to Michigan with baked goods. Was she trying again while you were up there?
BLAKE: Yeah, we went up to my grandma's house and she lives in Trenton, but she introduced us to everyone with hey my grandson is going to check out Michigan. Then we went over to my uncle's house and he told me I have some good options but at Michigan I would have him to come watch my games. They're really supportive though, and I also have family by Penn State and in Nashville naturally.
TOM: Earlier you had said Coach Smith told you to take your time, does that mean you're close to deciding?
BLAKE: Yeah, I'm going to make my decision within the next week. We're going to sit down and evaluate each school on a different number of levels. Talk about how I would fit in, the level of football, and what it would do for me after football. We'll just go from there and then say where I want to go. We might be taking one more visit this weekend to either Boston College or Florida, but that's if my mom can find a good flight. After that we'll be done with visits.
TOM: You said evaluate each school, who are you evaluating? How many schools are left?
BLAKE: I'm really evaluating a top five of Michigan, Penn State, Florida, LSU, and Vanderbilt. We'll just lay out all those schools and what they have to offer.
2013 offensive lineman Steven Elmer (6'6", 297 lbs) has already seen his recruitment heat up. His offers first started with Mississippi State, Wisconsin, and Michigan State, and recently Michigan jumped on board with an early offer. Elmer will be in contention for the top prospect spot in the state of Michigan, but should also undoubtedly be among the top recruits in the country for his class. I caught up with his father to expand more on what's been happening. Here's Steven's film and what his father had to say.
TOM: Looks like Steven is starting to get more attention now, and I know the Mississippi State offer seems a little odd, but where do you think this is all stemming from?
MR. ELMER: Mississippi State was out of the blue, they said they've watched videos and YouTube stuff. They've seen the articles people wrote and his combine numbers and they liked what they saw. They contacted our high school coach and told him and we're still kind of surprised. We went down to South Carolina and we thought they'd be interested, but we didn't really have contact with Mississippi State.
TOM: I know all of this is early, but do you think you'll try to make it down to a Mississippi State over the summer?
MR. ELMER: We already had what camp we were going to planned which were Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, and maybe Western Michigan.
TOM: When did all of the hype start for him, or when did you really think he has a chance to be a big time athlete?
MR. ELMER: I didn't really know what we had until we went to Notre Dame's camp last year. Michigan's camp a couple years ago was with all different coaches and everyone got to look at you. We went there for that reason and all these coaches were talking to us and he was only in 9th grade. They were talking about how good his hips were and his hands, and it was stuff that I didn't even think about then. Then we started sending out YouTube videos, combine numbers, and just throwing stuff out there.
TOM: This early interest now kind of gives you guys some leverage as far as what you want to look at. Do you know yet what the criteria will be for choosing a school?
MR. ELMER: We have to have a great school first and foremost. He has a 4.3 GPA so we have to find him a good school, could be Ivy league, could be a place like Michigan. When he decides what he wants to study he'll look into that. We're looking out for him and our other children too, he's helping us develop for our other children when it's their turn. I actually study this stuff more than I should, the rosters, the positions they have on the team, who they signed for 2010 and 2011. I'm not really concerned with the 2012 commits because I think he can play with those kids.
TOM: So you have watched who each school is recruiting and who they've signed recently?
MR. ELMER: I do look at who they're signing and all that. For Michigan as far as tackles I think it looks good for a kid coming in. I crunched the numbers for 25 schools and Michigan came out number one and Wisconsin was right behind them. The numbers were based on a formula I put together.
TOM: I think it's out there, pretty much everywhere now, that your wife is a Michigan State grad. What schools did you all root for when Steven was growing up?
MR. ELMER: We're more of a fan of individuals. My wife went to MSU so we always had some allegiance to them. Being a catholic family we always had Notre Dame stuff, but we're not really big fans of any one program. I hadn't been down to U of M since the year I was trying to get in there to play football. We hadn't thought too much about football and when Steven got old enough I was trying to get him to watch football. That was when Rodriguez was there, but it's totally different now. This recruiting class is pretty phenomenal and Ohio State is falling apart so this is a good time for Michigan.
This interview took place before Steven camped at Michigan. You can see the quotes from Mr. Elmer after camp in the Weekly Update, which is here.
Ohio running back Alden Hill (6'2", 220 lbs) planned on going up to Michigan's camp to prove to the coaches he was worthy of an offer. He was happy with his performance and so were the Michigan coaching staff. Hill called me today to let me know that he spoke with the coaches and they have offered him a scholarship. Here's a look at his film and what he said about the offer.
TOM: What did the coaches say?
ALDEN: I talked to Coach Hoke and he said that I have an offer to Michigan.
TOM: Did they tell you what role you would be playing, or what position you would have on the team?
ALDEN: They want me as an all purpose back, a full back and running back. Someone they don't have to change personnel if they switch plays out of the two back system. I'm definitely good with that role, it's good for competition. I actually just got an offer from Iowa too, so the Big Ten is starting to come in now.
TOM: What's next for you then, are you heading out to any other camps? Are you going to try to make it out to Iowa?
ALDEN: I haven't been to Iowa yet, but I'll be at Ohio State on Saturday. I'll go up there and workout because I know there will be other coaches there too.
TOM: What do you want your timeline to look like? How is your recruitment going to play out?
ALDEN: I'll probably make my decision early to mid football season, I'll have it done by then. I'll have it narrowed down by the time my season starts up.
TOM: With this Michigan offer now where does that put the Wolverines? Are they in your top group?
ALDEN: Oh definitely. They're in my top five with Illinois, Boston College, Vanderbilt, and Iowa now.
TOM: You have a few teammates that are also being recruited. I know Zach Higgins is committed to Michigan State and 2013 ATH Dymonte Thomas has a Michigan offer. Are you close with them?
ALDEN: Yeah, we are real good friends. I have been friends with Dymonte before he came to our school through sports. Dymonte, Zach, and I all stay close through this recruiting process because we can all relate in this unique situation. We would love to play together, not too many guys get to play with their teammates from division three high school to a division one college.
Flint defensive tackle Danny O'Brien (6'2", 293 lbs) has seen his recruitment take off. He's added offers from the likes of Alabama and Florida among others. He went up to Michigan's camp today to show the Michigan coaches what he could do and prove his worth. Here's what he had to say about the day.
TOM: How did the day go?
DANNY: Good, I tore it up. I didn't work out in the second part, I just kind of hung out and talked with everybody.
TOM: What was the outcome from this camp with Michigan? I know there was a discrepancy of sorts with being on the same page.
DANNY: There was basically some confusion during the spring on how they wanted things to go and they told me they wanted me to come to camp and prove myself. They told me that there's basically only a couple defensive tackles with offers and they will probably only take one interior guy. They're going to recruit me really hard now and they gave me the pitch and everything.
TOM: So what's next? I know you told me the other day that you were going to come out with a top five soon.
DANNY: Yeah in July I'll come out with a top five. I don't have a leader anymore, I'm just going to evaluate all the schools in the top five and go from there.
TOM: Do you know when you want to have your final decision made?
DANNY: I'd like to take some official visits then make the decision late in the season or after the season, but I'm not sure yet.
Ohio State OL commit Kyle Kalis has been caught in the mix with the Ohio State allegations. He said that he was set to decommit from the Buckeyes until interim head coach Luke Fickell talked him out of it. Kalis then went on to say that he does have interest in Michigan and a few other schools. He told me tonight that he and his father will be visiting Ann Arbor this weekend. Here's a look at his film and what he had to say.
TOM: Is there any chance that you head up to Michigan this week for their camp?
KYLE: Yeah me and my dad are going up there this weekend to meet everyone for a visit. We're driving up Friday night then staying all day Saturday.
TOM: What prompted this visit? I know that you've been saying you are interested in Michigan, but why visit now?
KYLE: It's pretty much for the past few months I've become really good friends with Tom Strobel and he said I would love it up there, he fell in love with it. Tom was up there last weekend and he was talking about me with the coaches, they were joking around saying we could be roommates. I think Chris [Wormley] will be up there too [TomVH ed: I confirmed with Wormley that he is visiting this weekend]. I'm closer with Tom, but I am friends with Chris.
TOM: Is that important for you to have people that you already know there, too?
KYLE: Yeah, a big part of me liking Michigan is being able to come in with guys like Tom, maybe Chris [Wormley], being able to know that I'll practice with guys that are going to make me better.
TOM: I'm assuming your dad is an Ohio State fan too, what has he said about all this?
KYLE: He's actually not an Ohio State fan, he's indifferent. With him he's already been through this so he tells me to go with my heart. He's told me to get up there and talk with Coach Hoke, get up there and meet them in person.
TOM: What are you looking to get out of this visit
KYLE: The main thing is just getting a chance to sit down with Coach Hoke and a big thing is also to meet with the strength coach. I want to sit down with him and see his tactics. I also want to sit down with Coach Funk and maybe meet a few of the players.
TOM: Is this your first time up there?
KYLE: Yes, this will be the first time. Tom [Strobel] said when you get up there it's just a different place.
TOM: What's next after this? Are you taking any more visits?
KYLE: This summer I might get out to Auburn, Alabama, Iowa, or Miami. I probably won't get out to all of them, I want to enjoy my summer so we'll see.
It was an important weekend for offensive line recruiting with a total of six linemen on campus: Jordan Diamond, Andrus Peat, Chris Muller, Blake Bars, Trey Keenan, and Steven Elmer. New offers were also extended and camp has begun. Here's a look at some of the recent happenings and what a few recruits had to say about Michigan.
6'5", 270 lbs.
Michigan was always high on Keenan's list since his family is originally from Michigan. A summer visit had always been in the works for him and he finally got to take in Ann Arbor this past weekend.
All the places I've been to are southern schools and I've never really been to a place like Michigan. It's flattering to be here and see all the tradition and history in the buildings. They have national championships and all americans so it's pretty cool to be here.
This visit gave Keenan a better look at what Michigan really has to offer, and it also gave him a chance to meet face to face with the coaches.
We got to talk to everybody, Coach Hoke, the Athletic Director, Coach Funk. We took a tour of everything and you could definitely tell that the whole thing was a well thought out process. Every place has nice stuff and nice facilities but Michigan has so much tradition. I really felt welcomed, too, and I felt wanted and needed.
Feeling like he was wanted was something that really stuck out to Trey while he was on campus.
They only have something like eight scholarship linemen. We've been to places that have said they need linemen, but with Michigan it was major here. There's a chance to play early here and that is something really cool at a place like Michigan. I also really liked the strength coach and how he put everything. He talked about everything and how they individualize certain aspects.
So what's next for Keenan?
We're going to the morning session of camp tomorrow [Monday]. I'm going to work out with Coach Funk to get a feel for him and how he interacts with his players. We do have a short list right now and Michigan is on that short list. I don't want to say how many are on it yet. We're going to take the next week then talk about everything with my coaches and family. All my planned summer visits are done with so we'll figure out what's going to happen next. This visit did nothing but up Michigan's status though.
Like he said he plans on meeting with his coaches and family within the next week to discuss what's next. If I had to guess it would seem like he's getting close to a decision, and it seems like Michigan could be in good shape.
6'3", 325 lbs.
Kansas City, Missouri
Pipkins recently released his top seven of Michigan, Alabama, Oregon, Tennessee, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Florida. It's no secret that Ondre has ties to Michigan, especially with his father still living there. He has planned on taking a summer visit to Michigan all along and it looks like he has an idea of when it will take place.
I'll be up there in late July or the beginning of August. I just can't wait to see the Big House, somewhere that I can possibly live out my dreams.
I know that Pipkins has wavered on when he would like to make his final decision, but it seems like there's a chance that it could be sooner than originally planned.
6'6", 297 lbs.
Elmer was on campus today with his father and was extended an offer from the Michigan coaches. He's a 2013 offensive line prospect that now holds offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Mississippi State. It's safe to say he'll be one of the better prospects in the country come next year. His father told me a little about how the visit went today.
It was great, we took an unofficial visit before camp today. We got to meet with the coaches, Coach Hoke, Borges, Funk, and the fact that it was the busiest day for them and they got us in there says a lot. I told Steven that this will probably be as good as or better than anything he's ever seen so far, and we were very impressed.
Academics will be a big factor in Steven's recruitment and Michigan always seems to impress in that department with Shari Acho.
The academics was the best part of the trip. Shari gave the part that I wanted to hear the most and it was fantastic. She explained that when you go to the University of Michigan you are part of a select group of people and you don't really understand that until you hear it in person. She was trying to talk fast and squeeze it all in but I told her we can see everything else any time. If I could go back and talk more about the academics with her I would.
This is all happening very early, especially for an offensive lineman, so the family is still taking everything in.
Steven did really well at the Sound Mind Sound Body camp. We really like the message that camp sends so we went out there for that and he did really well. There's obviously been a good amount of interest from what he did there and people have been watching the videos all over the place, too. My wife is actually going with him out to Notre Dame later this week. She hasn't seen Notre Dame. She needs to see that stuff too, and the academic pitch from places like Notre Dame, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
The family plans on sitting back and watching everything play out. They plan on trying to get out to a few games during the season as well. I spoke more with the elder Elmer and will post more on Steven later in the week.
5'7", 151 lbs.
Wiggins was another 2013 prospect who had an outstanding performance at the Sound Mind Sound Body camp. Following the event he was notified that he had received an offer from Michigan. He also reports holding offers from Cincinnati and Ohio State. He told me that he was very surprised to see Michigan jump in the mix.
My coach in Atlanta always talks about Ohio and Michigan players are real ballers. So I wanted to come up north and show my southern skills. I wasn't trying to impress anybody, just go out there and play. I really wasn't expecting the offers at all. I never really heard anything from them so I guess when they watched me in the one on one drills they liked me.
An early offer is definitely a good indicator of how interested they are. Wiggins also talked about his process and who he grew up watching.
My dream school was Florida State, but after Cincinnati offered me I had a long conversation with their staff. They made me really comfortable. I like how FSU uses their cornerbacks, and I know that Michigan is known for great talent at corner. Guys like Charles Woodson, I can't remember some of the other names but they're good for cornerbacks. From how I feel now I'll probably wait until after my junior year or during my junior year. I think I'll make my decision pretty early so I get my recruitment over with.
Wiggins told me that he plans on making it back up to Michigan very soon. I have a feeling that Michigan has made a very good impression on him and he wants to explore that further. There's a good chance Michigan is one of his top schools.
Arizona OL Andrus Peat discussed his visit to Michigan. I think this trip helped Michigan tremendously with Peat. He didn't know much about the city or university so this gave him a good look at what they have to offer.
2012 Georgia WR Jason Croom recently received a Michigan offer. His mother happened to be in Michigan and stopped by campus this past weekend. Jason will make it back up to Ann Arbor in August.
Here's a list of some of the visitors expected in for camp this week.
2013 Ohio DB Cameron Burrows could be hearing from Michigan soon. He hails from Trotwood Madison which is the home of Roy Roundtree, Mike Shaw, and Brandon Moore. He is friends with Roy and talks to him on occasion. Keep an eye on his name.
I reported last week that Ohio DB Jarrod Wilson will be meeting with his coaches again on Monday [the 20th] to discuss what's next for him. He's very quiet so they aren't sure if he plans on making a decision or waiting things out.
Ohio QB Maty Mauk told me via text that his decision should come in the next few weeks. He's been keeping everything close to the vest so I'm not sure where he's leaning, or who he's deciding between.
Illinois OL Jordan Diamond stopped by Michigan before he made it over to the Sound Mind Sound Body camp. He also made it back over to Ann Arbor Sunday morning for one more trip.
Massachusetts OL Eric Olson told me that his decision will likely come before the 4th of July. I think Michigan has a good chance, but he keeps everything quiet so we'll see what happens.
Nike and ESPN are hosting an event called The Opening that takes place in Oregon on July 5th to the 9th. It is invitation only and you'll notice some familiar names on the list. Anthony Standifer told me that he will likely be going, as will Ron Thompson and Danny O'Brien.