Thursday Recruitin' Explores The South

Thursday Recruitin' Explores The South

Submitted by Ace on September 26th, 2013 at 1:46 PM

McDowell Lines Up Officials


Malik McDowell (#67) relaxes before playing Farmington (Bryan Fuller)

Southfield top-50 DL Malik McDowell has been quiet throughout the recruiting process to the point that I'm not entirely sure this is breaking news; regardless, Josh Helmholdt posted McDowell's official visit plans in his Around The Midwest column, and this is the time I've seen five schools lined up for visits ($):

While the Wolverines and fellow in-state Big Ten program Michigan State are strong contenders for McDowell's signature, the nation's No. 40-ranked prospect will take all of his official visits out of state. All will take place after his senior season. The five schools he has tabbed for those official visits are Alabama, Florida, Florida State, LSU and Ohio State.

Michigan and MSU won't get officials because McDowell has seen each school multiple times and can easily make his way to games if he wishes. The Wolverines are in the driver's seat of McDowell's recruitment and I don't think the official visit schedule changes that; while that's a who's-who list of top programs, depending on how far Southfield goes in the playoffs, McDowell's season could extend into November, limiting his options for visiting on actual game days—the visits that tend to have the biggest effect on a recruitment. McDowell is so familiar with the Michigan program at this point that it's hard to see him winding up elsewhere.

Cole: "They're All Even"

2015 Saginaw Heritage ATH Brian Cole's recruitment has already taken a couple twists and turns—first Michigan looked to be in command, then MSU, and now the Wolverines again as Saginaw natives haven't appreciated MSU's (lack of) usage of De'Anthony Arnett—and for now, Cole says there isn't a leader at all, per Sam Webb ($):

“(I like) Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Tennessee, Alabama, Wisconsin, Indiana, and a couple more schools,” Cole said.  “They’re all even. They’re all about the same. They all treat me nice. I’m not committing anywhere yet.”

I'd expect this still comes down to an in-state battle—one that'll be hotly contested—though some schools on there (OSU, Alabama) cause more concern than others (Indiana? Word?). Michigan is recruiting Cole as a receiver, though he could also play defensive back at the next level.

[Hit THE JUMP for evaluations of Da'Shawn Hand, Lawrence Marshall, Jared Wangler, Erik Swenson, and Kyle Kearns, plus updates on a couple underclassmen.]

Monday Recruitin's On Another Planet

Monday Recruitin's On Another Planet

Submitted by Ace on September 23rd, 2013 at 1:52 PM

Shaun Crawford, Mini-Jabrill

A much-anticipated matchup between Cleveland.com's top-ranked Cleveland St. Edward squad and #9 Cincinnati Elder didn't live up to the hype, as St. Eds ran away with a 48-7 victory. Much of the credit for the blowout goes to 2015 commit Shaun Crawford, whose stat line looks like one posted by a certain other defensive back headed for Ann Arbor:

Yes, it appears Michigan may have the best player on the best team in Ohio, and he's only a junior. This is nice.

Jabrill Peppers, Still Jabrill

2014 commit Jabrill Peppers, meanwhile, did a little bit of everything to lead Paramus Catholic to a 35-21 victory over DePaul. Peppers rushed seven times for 41 yards, caught four passes for 49 yards and a TD, returned a kickoff for 47 yards, tallied four solo tackles, recorded three pass defenses, and returned an interception 32 yards for another TD.

Got all that? If you'd like to see Peppers in action, a full replay of the game is available at msgvarsity.com, which also has clips of a big hit by Peppers and the pick six.

[Hit THE JUMP for more outstanding performances by Michigan commits, plus an interesting development in JuJu Smith's recruitment.]

Thursday Recruitin' Should Probably Know Those

Thursday Recruitin' Should Probably Know Those

Submitted by Ace on September 19th, 2013 at 1:37 PM

Hand Changes Plans

Da'Shawn Hand has altered his visit plans after his scheduled visit to Florida conflicted with taking the SAT; as a result, he'll now visit Alabama on October 26th, when they play Tennessee, and Florida on November 9th, when they host Vanderbilt. Rivals analyst Mike Farrell thinks this is another good sign for Michigan, and a particularly bad one for Alabama, which won't get to host Hand for their marquee game against LSU ($):

Now Alabama has lost the advantage of selling Hand on the Tide during what would certainly be a huge home game with "College GameDay" in attendance. The Gators now get the last chance to impress Hand. The question is this: Can Florida dazzle him enough in one weekend on a first impression just days before his announcement and overcome all the work Michigan has done with two great visits since the spring?

Considering how deliberately and thoughtfully Hand has handled the process, it'd surprise me if he picked Florida after one visit occurring just five days before he makes his announcement, especially since he had a spectacular official visit experience at Michigan.

Ken Burns Effect In Full, Er, Effect

A lengthy video on Jabrill Peppers featuring interviews with Peppers, Juwann Bushell-Beatty, their coach at Paramus Catholic, and lots of close-up shots panning across faces in slow motion (also, Jabrill Peppers highlights, which never stop being fun):

Per MLive's Josh Slagter, Peppers rushed for 116 yards and an 80-yard touchdown, hauled in a TD reception, and recorded five tackles and an interception last week, then discussed how he deals with calls from other schools:

"I've made it abundantly clear I'm a Michigan Man," Peppers told MSGVarsity.com recently. "I've been recruiting some of the top talent throughout the country for Michigan. I'm just trying to explain to people what I felt, and why I committed."

You can stop calling him now, everybody else.

[Hit THE JUMP for scouting on the East Lake duo, the latest on Brian Cole, and much more.]

Thursday Recruitin' Got That On Camera

Thursday Recruitin' Got That On Camera

Submitted by Ace on September 12th, 2013 at 3:50 PM

Apologies for the lateness and relative brevity; I spent all day dealing with Comcast, whose technician decided it was necessary to shut off my internet while changing out cable boxes, then left for an hour when he realized he had the wrong box—without turning the internet back on. Good times.

I Was Like "Hmmmm" (Whoosh) And I Was Like "BOOM" (Cackles)

The Washington Post series with Da'Shawn Hand has been a great follow for moments like the one featured below, in which Hand picks up some poor running back and just body-slams him into the turf. The header is my best effort at a verbatim quote from Hand when he's interviewed about the play. Yeah, it's impressive:

GIF'd, because this is what I do:


Apologies for the quality; working out the kinks with my screengrab software.

As for recruiting-related info, Hand talked before his visit for UTL II about how his main priority was finding a place where he's comfortable. Steve Lorenz caught up with Hand after the visit, and yes, it sounds like he's pretty comfortable here ($):

Coaches: "That comfort level has been there for a long time. I watched some film with Coach Mattison, but in a lot of ways this visit was the same with the coaches, which is great because I like that coaching staff."

Hand's comfort level with the coaches and the commits is going to be tough to top by Florida and Alabama; his Florida visit will be his first time in Gainesville, and he's been in Ann Arbor more times than he's been to Tuscaloosa and seems to have a better rapport with Michigan's coaching staff.

Meanwhile, Dr. Mark Rosentraub, aka Professor Needs A Raise, is mentioned by name as being "the man". Seriously, get that man a raise.

Hand brought two friends with him: 2015 five-star DT Tim Settle and 2015 four-star OT Matthew Burrell. According to Hand's former coach and current mentor, John Harris, the visit went very well for both junior prospects, per Lorenz ($):

"They both knew this visit was mostly about Da'Shawn," he said. "The coaches sat both of them down and told them they passed the eye test. They said they just want to make sure they have the numbers to back up a potential offer for either player. Michigan has always been honest with Da'Shawn, so it makes it easier for the kids to believe what they're saying. They have learned a lot about recruiting already even though they're pretty young. I think they were too busy enjoying themselves to worry about an offer at this point."

That's an important point, as Michigan hasn't offered either prospect; in Burrell's case because of the numbers crunch at tackle, while with Settle there are rumors of potential grade issues on top of the limited scholarship availability. Despite leaving without an offer, Settle spoke very highly of Michigan in the aftermath of his visit to Sam Webb, and Webb also got a very intriguing quote from Wilton Speight, who spent much of the game chatting up his fellow Virginians ($):

I really felt that like we made tremendous progress on Tim Settle,” said Speight.  “He actually said after the game, ‘I didn’t even have Michigan on my list.  I had no idea about any of this up here. Da'Shawn just wanted me to come.  Now this is my top school.’  It just made a huge impression on him.”

Settle, who seems to take after his friend Hand in terms of playing his cards close to the vest, wouldn't name any leaders when asked about that by Webb. One would still have to think that Michigan would be among his top schools if they come through with an offer; the same goes for Burrell. Rivals analyst Mike Farrell said much the same in his "Mind of Mike" column, and also gave Michigan a 75% chance of signing Hand ($). Notably, Florida—not Alabama—is the school he gives a 20% chance of pulling the upset.

[Hit THE JUMP for updates/scouting on Noah Furbush, Ian Bunting, Erik Swenson, and Tim Settle.]

Monday Recruitin' Has WOW Experience

Monday Recruitin' Has WOW Experience

Submitted by Ace on September 9th, 2013 at 4:04 PM

Yes, A WOW Experience

I deign to use Dave Brandon's favorite phrase in any non-sarcastic context; when you've got Beyoncé on the big board introducing the halftime show, Eminem up in the booth, and a record-setting crowd rocking the Big House in a rivalry win, however, it's appropriate, especially when talking about how UTL II came off to a large contingent of high school recruits.


From L to R: Mason Cole, Matthew Burrell, Damien Harris, Tim Settle, Da'Shawn Hand, Wilton Speight, Drake Harris, George Campbell (photo courtesy of reader Canzior)

According to his mentor, five-star WDE Da'Shawn Hand came away very impressed on his official visit, per Scout's Sam Webb ($):

“It went very well,” said Hand’s mentor and former coach John Harris.  “The boys got to hang out with (Wilton) Speight after the game.  The atmosphere at the game was electric also.

"The boys" also included 2015 five-star DT Tim Settle and 2015 four-star OL Matthew Burrell. Despite their high ratings, neither holds an offer; if one comes for Burrell, it sounds like Michigan will be at or near the top of his list, per Steve Lorenz ($):

"This was by far the best visit I've been on," Burrell said. "The people, the coaches. It was just a well-rounded visit. I felt like I was on top of the world I was having so much fun and I wasn't even a commitment."

Based on Coach Funk telling Burrell that he "hope[s] that [Burrell] will be a Wolverine," I'm guessing an offer will come sooner or later; Burrell and PA four-star OT Sterling Jenkins are two quality options for what is, for now, Michigan last O-line spot in the '15 class. Thanks to friend of the blog Canzior for sending along several photos from the Virginia crew's trip, including this fantastic shot of Burrell on the field with John Beilein:

Canzior mentioned that a parent of one of the prospects went so far as to say that Ohio State "didn't even compare" to Michigan.

In a late surprise, four recruits from Glenville—2014 ATH Marshon Lattimore, 2014 S Erick Smith, and 2015 WRs Milan Golden and Trevon Story—made the trip to Ann Arbor; their assistant coach, Robert Andrews, told 247's Steve Wiltfong that all four came away very impressed ($):

Those guys they were blown away by Michigan. Michigan has treated them special. Our kids come from the inner city and a lot of times they lack the little things in life, and people making a big deal about the little things for them, and Michigan makes everything they do big and important.”

Ohio State still has to be considered the favorite to land Lattimore and Smith, though it's unclear if they'll have room to take the latter; if they don't and Michigan does, the Wolverines are in very good position for him.

2014 five-star DL Malik McDowell ended up staying the night after the game—obviously, a positive sign—and his father told Wiltfong that the visit went very well ($):

“I know [staying the night] was a big plus for him,” Greg McDowell, Malik’s father told 247Sports early Sunday afternoon.

“I just got off the phone with him. He said it was crazy in the Big House. It was roaring. He enjoyed the game and everything.”

Michigan top target in the 2015 class, five-star WDE Jashon Cornell, gave quite a lofty comparison when discussing the atmosphere, per TomVH ($):

“We all thought it was crazy that they had Beyonce on the big screen and Eminem and all the famous people. It was like the Super Bowl,” he said. “All the recruits thought it was special, too, because that’s the last time they will play each other there.”

Cornell won't name any leaders but said that the Wolverines "stand up there" to Wiltfong ($). He'll be back in Ann Arbor in November for The Game.

2015 four-star OH LB Justin Hilliard was impressed with the festivities, as you can see at the top of the post, and told Scout's Dave Berk that Michigan is among a group of schools standing out to him early ($):

“Right now programs like Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Ole Miss and some others are sticking out,” said Hilliard. “It’s getting a little overwhelming, but not too much. So I’ll probably be narrowing my list down after my season.

Iowa is also a major factor in his recruitment; his brother, C.J., is committed to their 2014 class.

2015 four-star Cass Tech RB Mike Weber came away from the game with a rediscovered love for Michigan, per Scout's Josh Newkirk ($):

“When I was little I loved Michigan,” Weber said. “Then I still loved Michigan. But when the other guy (Damien Harris) committed, I kind of put my head down towards it. But after I went there last night – it’s back to where it had been when I first even thought about Michigan.

“I know what college is the best fit for me, there is people there. I know I will have to beat them out. I’m not scared of competition.”

If Michigan has room for him, Weber seems like a good possibility to end up in the class.

Per Steve Lorenz, 2016 IL OT Erik Swenson—one of the top prospects in the class and a heavy Michigan lean—had an "insane" time at the game and will be back for the Ohio State game ($). He has no other visits lined up. JPTTA.

Despite the lack of commitments, it's tough to say that last weekend was anything but a roaring success from a football and recruiting standpoint.

[Hit THE JUMP for a roundup of Michigan's commits in high school football action from last weekend.]

Friday Recruitin' Hates Flying, Too

Friday Recruitin' Hates Flying, Too

Submitted by Ace on September 6th, 2013 at 11:50 AM

Notre Dame Visit Primer

The second interation of Under The Lights should be Michigan's biggest recruiting weekend of the fall. 247's Steve Lorenz was kind enough to give me permission to post his list of visitors($); this doesn't cover every visitor who'll be on campus this weekend (there are many), just the ones I've deemed most important to point out. To make this easier, I'm breaking it up into categories.

Commits

Unfortunately, Michael Ferns and Jabrill Peppers can't make it, so Michigan won't have two of their primary commits/recruiters; Wilton Speight will be there, however, as will George "The Mayor" Campbell, Damien Harris, and a host of other Wolverine pledges from both the 2014 and 2015 classes.

2014 Uncommitted Prospects

Just two players fall into this category, and they happen to be the two prospects sitting atop Michigan's board for 2014: Southfield DL Malik McDowell and VA WDE Da'Shawn Hand. The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan caught up with Hand's mentor and former position coach, John Harris, to discuss what the nation's top defensive end will look for on his visit ($):

"[Saturday,] he'll look at how the coaches react if Notre Dame gets an early touchdown. Do they get down on guys or are they encouraging? He'll look at the scheme, but he's already been through that. If you can justify how you can use him in it, he won't say, 'I don't like that front.' Everything is about how he fits into it."

Tell Hand the story of Brendan Gibbons's confidence-fueled rise from beaten-down shank artist to brunette-envisioning record-setter and I think he'll be encouraged by the coaching staff's level of, er, encouragement. Hand himself also spoke with Adam Friedman of Rivals about what he wants to see this weekend ($):

"I just want to go up there and have fun," said the 6-foot-4, 248-pound defensive end. "The first time I was up there it was mainly an academic visit because I met with one of the professors. This is more of a visit to see if I can live there for four or five years. I know that it's not going to be like this weekend every day but at the same time I want to see how it is on game day."

As for McDowell, he told Sam Webb that he won't take any official visits during the season in order to focus on his own football season ($). That means he'll try to cram in five officials between the end of his season (likely November with playoffs included) and whenever he makes his decision; this is just my speculation—I don't see that happening. Regardless, Michigan is still in a very good position for McDowell.

2015 Uncommitted Prospects

Da'Shawn Hand is bringing a pair of very talented friends with him to Michigan: five-star DT Tim Settle and four-star OT Matthew Burrell Jr. will accompany Hand on the trip. While neither of those players currently hold offers, I'd expect both will have them after the weekend; the coaches like to wait until prospects show serious interest before putting offers out there and a visit certainly qualifies. Both Settle and Burrell are top prospects at positions of need who'll be the subject of heated recruiting battles; it's good that Michigan is getting early looks from each of them.

Four-star Saginaw athlete Brian Cole looked to be a strong Michigan lean early; since Michigan State hired Curtis Blackwell, his 7-on-7 coach, the tides have shifted in favor of the Spartans—at least, that's the perception after Cole has been a steady presence in East Lansing. He's visited Michigan several times, as well, and a positive experience this weekend could move the needle once again. Cole is the one 2015 in-state prospect that I think Michigan would do well to haul in; it'd be a real loss if he ended up at State.

A few other notable in-state prospects are scheduled to attend: the Cass Tech duo of RB Mike Weber and DL Joshua Alabi plan to be there along with a few of their 2016 teammtes (CB Lavert Hill, brother of freshman S Delano Hill, as well as linemen Ostell Martin and Michael Onwenu). Detroit King LB Tyriq Thompson, son of former Michigan safety Clarence Thompson, is likely to attend as well.

MN DE Jashon Cornell is the #1 overall 2015 prospect on ESPN and a composite five-star; his visit is particularly interesting given that he comes from a school, Cretin-Derham Hall, that is traditionally a Notre Dame pipeline. Though he boasts offers from across the country, Cornell appears to be looking to stay in the Midwest—he's also got unofficials lined up to Iowa, Ohio State, Wisconsin, and—yes—Notre Dame. He took notice when George Campbell committed and The Mayor will surely look to convince Cornell that they should team up in college.

Four-star linebacker Justin Hilliard is a consensus top-three player in Ohio; he's got an extensive list of planned unofficials that includes a return trip to Ann Arbor for The Game. It wouldn't be surprising if his recruitment came down to Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Iowa, where his brother C.J. is 2014 running back commit (lord help him—no, AIRBHG, a different lord ohhhhhh no what have I done).

A couple more potential visitors are AZ ATH Cassius Peat, a 3.5-star OLB/DE-type and the brother of Stanford lineman Andrus, and NY TE Tyrone Wheatley Jr., son of... well, you can probably guess. Peat has an early Michigan State offer and enjoyed a summer visit to Ann Arbor; Wheatley already has a Michigan offer and looks like a strong candidate to end up in the class at some point.

LA four-star DT TD Moton is also a potential visitor, though there's a hurdle to clear here:

Stay strong, Mr. Moton.

2016 Uncommitted Prospects

The one to watch here is IL OT Erik Swenson, whose tone regarding Michigan has been downright rapturous after his previous visits; he may want to take his time with a decision, but sooner or later he's almost guaranteed to end up committing. That will be very good news, since he's one of the top overall prospects in the 2016 class.

Other notable sophomores include Traverse City OL Thiyo Lukusa, who already has a Michigan State offer, and Farmington WR Desmond Fitzpatrick, who has three offers himself (Indiana, Ohio, and Toledo) and has been a consistent presence on campus

Overview

There isn't an obvious candidate to commit this weekend with the possible exception of Swenson—interestingly, one of the youngest prospects who'll be in attendance. The two 2014 targets have long maintained that their recruitments will stretch well past this weekend. The 2015 visitors for the most part are either players who should have very competitive recruitments (Settle, Burrell, Cornell) or guys Michigan hasn't offered or may not have room to take—Wheatley is an intriguing exception to this rule.

Of course, this was much the same case the last time these two teams played at the Big House, and then Dymonte Thomas shocked Ohio State fans by pledging to the good guys (and, yes, sticking to that commitment) after getting swept up in the excitment of Robinson-to-Roundtree. In what should be another incredible atmosphere on Saturday, who knows what surprises this weekend holds in store?

I should note that 247's Steve Wiltfong has a very informative free overview of what's turning into a big visit weekend across the Big Ten.

[Hit THE JUMP for a couple of Michigan commits getting rankings bumps, highlights of Jashon Cornell in action, the decline of head-to-head recruiting battles between Michigan and Notre Dame, and more.]

Monday Recruitin' Shook The College Football

Monday Recruitin' Shook The College Football

Submitted by Ace on September 2nd, 2013 at 5:51 PM

Oh, Cool, We Get To Root For The Blue Guys Again

It's a very odd experience to have Cass Tech playing a marquee game and not have several Michigan commits/targets to root for wearing green and white, but that was the case on Friday night when the Technicians—featuring OSU commit Damon Webb and MSU commit Jayru Campbell—took on a Southfield squad starring Michigan pledge Lawrence Marshall and top Wolverine target Malik McDowell. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend due to a family matter (all is well, don't worry), but there was plenty of coverage to round up from Cass Tech's 18-14 victory.

Maize & Blue News has cut-ups of McDowell (#67 in white), who finished with five TFLs in a very impressive performance in his first game for Southfield—an especially good sign given the greatly increased level of competition compared to what he faced in his first three years of high school:

M&BN also posted clips of Marshall (#12 in white), who finished with eight tackles and 1.5 sacks, per Steve Lorenz:

This was Marshall's first game after tragically losing both his father (complications from diabetes) and grandfather (heart attack) within the last two months; TomVH has the full story of Marshall using football as his refuge while going through such a difficult time. Despite those trying circumstances, Marshall had a very impressive game; here's Lorenz on his performance ($):

Marshall was another player who impressed consistently. He still has difficulty disengaging blocks at points, but was very impressive physically and did not look even the slightest bit slower after putting on about 30 pounds since this time last season. He never quits on a play, and made a couple backside pursuit tackles that may have prevented Cass Tech touchdowns. He looked great.

McDowell, meanwhile, earned the nod as top defensive performer of the entire Prep Kickoff Classic from Rivals's Josh Helmholdt ($):

McDowell was named by Rivals.com as one of 10 class of 2014 players who needed to step it up in his senior season, and in the first game he did just that. Detroit Cass Tech fields one of the biggest offensive lines Southfield will see all season and it sent double teams at the 6-foot-7, 290-pound defensive lineman all night long, but it didn't matter. McDowell lived in the Cass Tech backfield, registering five tackles for loss. He was making plays sideline to sideline, showing a great motor.

The major questions surrounding McDowell after three years at Detroit Loyola centered on his motor and whether he could dominate against high-level competition; the early returns on both fronts are obviously quite good. His ability to play both inside and outside on the line could be very valuable if he ends up at Michigan given Greg Mattison's proclivity for moving players around depending on the situation.

Cass Tech's major standout was 2015 RB Mike Weber, who scored two touchdowns and had another brought back due to a penalty. While it's unclear if Michigan will have room for him in their class with Damien Harris already on board, Weber told Scout's Josh Newkirk that he's still got U-M under consideration ($):

While Michigan already has a running back Damien Harris committed in its 2015 class, Weber said he’s still looking at U-M as an option and he isn’t afraid of a little competition in Ann Arbor.

“I’ll go compete anywhere,” Weber said. “If I want to go there and it’s a good fit for me, I don’t care how many running backs go there -- I’m going to try to beat them all out.”

Weber visited for the Central Michigan game and enjoyed seeing several of his former high school teammates on the field, per Steve Lorenz ($). Michigan, Michigan State, and Tennessee are the three schools currently standing out for him; there's a large overlap between his top schools and those of 2015 teammate Joshua Alabi, who told Scout's Mike Wilson that he and Weber share a top two ($):

Me and Mike, we liked Tennessee,” he said. “That’s our number one, but our number two is both Michigan State, so it’s kind of like even. … We were planning on going to Tennessee’s first night game, so whenever that is.”

Alabi's quotes about the rest of his top five—Michigan, Ohio State, and Wisconsin—indicate that the Wolverines are still under consideration, and may in fact have a good shot if they seriously pursue him:

Michigan: Michigan, that’s a home school. Who wouldn’t want to play for Michigan? If I wind up there, it would be a blessing.”

Michigan State: “With Jayru Campbell, he just committed there so I wouldn’t mind going there with me, Mike and Jayru. We were planning on all going to one school, so that could work out.”

Reading into quotes from high schoolers is a dangerous exercise, but that sure looks to me like Alabi is hoping for a spot to open up. At this point (even with an offer out) I think the coaches are in wait-and-see mode, and Alabi reportedly didn't impress with his play on Friday.

[Hit THE JUMP for the full roundup of Michigan commits in action, including Damien Harris posting mind-blowing numbers, a look at the Rivals250 Watch List for 2015, and more.]

Monday Recruitin' Decapitates, Shows No Remorse

Monday Recruitin' Decapitates, Shows No Remorse

Submitted by Ace on August 26th, 2013 at 3:41 PM

Commitments Come In Pairs, Volume [I Lost Count]

Michigan's 2015 class grew by two highly-regarded Ohio defensive backs over the weekend; if you missed them, here are the commitment posts for cornerback Shaun Crawford and safety Tyree Kinnel. The pair represent the fifth and sixth commits in the '15 class; to say the pace of recruiting has increased is an understatement:

Adding to that, Michigan's sixth commitment for the '14 class came when Ian Bunting pledged on April 23rd of this year; their sixth for '13 also occurred during The Greatest Mid-February Weekend In The History Of Mid-February Weekends.

Crawford and Kinnel aren't just highly-touted players from Ohio; they're both lifelong Michigan fans, which played a part in each of their commitments. Here's Crawford's post-commitment reaction to Tim Sullivan ($):

"Just being able to run out the tunnel and jump up and touch the sign, I've always seen it on Saturdays and finally getting the opportunity to do it is something I've always wanted to do," he said. "I can't wait to make the Michigan family happy."

And Kinnel talking to Scout's Dave Berk ($):

“We’re all Michigan fans because my dad grew up in Jackson, Michigan,” he said. “He just loved Michigan and ever since I was born, he just brained washed me on Michigan.”

They've been groomed for the Maize and Blue; now, do they fit The Pattern™? Of course they do. Crawford to 247's Mark Zakrajsek ($):

"I will bring my effort, that's the only thing I can promise right now," Crawford said. "With great effort all the great things I do on the field will come. I will play every down like it's my last because it's my dream to play on national television on Saturdays. My goal isn't to win the Heisman or any personal awards, I just want to be the best teammate I can be and make sure my team and coaches know I won't let them down."

And Kinnel's high school coach to Berk ($):

“Tyree comes from a great mom and dad,” said Minton. “He’s from a great close knit family and he’s not your typical high school kid that goes out and hangs out.

He’s much more like Braxton [Miller] was as they don’t mind staying in and playing a video game or something like that. He knows there are a lot of bad decisions that are out there and he doesn’t want to get caught up by anything like that.

As for on-field ability, I posted my favorite Crawford clip as a GIF and forgot to do so for Kinnel; Kinnel's coach talked up his instincts and play recognition, and this is a fine example—watch him play bracket coverage underneath the slot receiver while managing to keep his eyes on the quarterback, then come screaming from the opposite side of the field to stop the QB's scramble cold when it looked like an inevitable first down or even touchdown:

Making that play wasn't Kinnel's responsibility; he made it anyway after taking away the deep crossing route. Add that to the quote from his Hello post about Kinnel's coaches trusting him to call defensive audibles as a rising junior and we get an idea of his level of football smarts—he's very advanced in that regard for a player his age and it shows in his play.

Crawford and Kinnel were each Michigan's first offered prospects at their respective positions; their commitments add to an impressive trend in Brady Hoke's '15 class:

That is a remarkable stat considering four of those players—Crawford, RB Damien Harris, WR George Campbell, and K Andrew David—are considered among the very top prospects (if not the top) at their position, and only David didn't hold offers from multiple BCS powers when he committed.

[Hit THE JUMP for updates on Da'Shawn Hand's and Leonard Fournette's official visit plans, highlights of several Michigan commits from last weekend's high school action, and two reasons you're definitely going to want Hjalte Froholdt to end up at Michigan.]

Thursday Recruitin' Is A Man

Thursday Recruitin' Is A Man

Submitted by Ace on August 22nd, 2013 at 12:48 PM

The Pattern™ Personified


Steve Griffin | The Salt Lake Tribune

Stop whatever it is you're doing (reading this post, presumably) and read The Salt Lake Tribune's touching feature on 2014 Michigan commit Bryan Mone, who fits The Pattern™ as much as any recruit in recent memory:

To the 6-foot-4, 320-pound Mone, this is being a man: Wiping your brother’s chin as a spoonful of his lunch dribbles out of the corner of his mouth. It is giving your brother a drink when he’s so thirsty that he bangs on your door, unable to articulate what he feels or what he wants.

"He’s the head of the family," Bryan said, dangling a piece of cantaloupe by his brother’s mouth. "He runs things around here."

Bryan’s brother, Filimone Mone, is 22 years old. He never has been able to feed himself. He wears a diaper, which often is Bryan’s responsibility to change. He very nearly is blind, only capable of seeing bright lights. He can’t recognize his family members. He can’t watch a football game.

Filimone never has been able to say "thank you" to Bryan. He doesn’t have to, because Bryan is the one who is grateful.

The teen tells him as much every day with his actions when he cleans, feeds and watches over Filimone: Thank you for my life. Thank you for giving me football. Thank you for teaching me what it means to be a man.

If that doesn't get you to click through and read the whole article, you are not human, and I'd like to thank Nick Saban for taking the time to read the blog.

[Hit THE JUMP for Jabrill Peppers scrimmage highlights—and his thoughts on Michigan's chances with Da'Shawn Hand—plus another commit getting a rankings bump, a familiar name emerging as a potential future target, and more.]

Thursday Recruitin' Waits For The Inevitable

Thursday Recruitin' Waits For The Inevitable

Submitted by Ace on August 15th, 2013 at 1:11 PM

Oh, Just Another Imminent Probable Commitment


Shaun Crawford (#17) makes a tackle (via Cleveland Plain-Dealer)

2015 four-star OH CB Shaun Crawford has long been on commitment watch, and now we know precisely when to watch for said commitment:

"I will be making my decision public on August 23rd," Crawford told Scout.com. Lakewood St. Edward has a scrimmage scheduled that day with Warren Harding, and the Crawford announcement is expected at 5 p.m.

While Crawford spoke positively of Miami (YTM) and Notre Dame after visiting those schools over the summer, he named Michigan as his leader following the BBQ at the Big House and hasn't taken any visits since. It would be quite a surprise if he didn't choose the Wolverines.

For more on Crawford, Maize n Brew's Anthony Mammel just happened to post a lengthy breakdown of his game this morning. Purely coincidence, I'm sure.

The Glenville Duo Speaks

Glenville prospects Marshon Lattimore and Erick Smith were surprise visitors for last month's BBQ, but in the time since we haven't heard much from them about their respective recruitments. Scout's Bill Greene finally caught up with the pair to talk about their trips to Ohio State (for their Friday Night Lights event) and Michigan; here's Lattimore on the BBQ ($):

On Michigan: “It was my first time out there," he stated. "It was nice. I’m considering them, too. It was everything. It was just the coaches, everyone was laid back. It’s like a team up there. It was nice to see the chill side of the coaches and see how they really are outside of football. I liked it.”

And Smith ($):

"It was my first time being at Michigan," he added. "It was actually better than I thought it would be. I really enjoyed myself. All the coaches were there. Coach [Brady] Hoke was a lot more active than I thought he would be. I got to establish a relationship with the coaches. They were down to earth. I feel I could fit in there."

Lattimore added that Michigan and Ohio State will both receive official visits from him this fall — notably, he didn't name any other teams in the running for officials — and presumably he'd be accompanied by Smith on those visits. Both prospects still hold Ohio State in very high regard, but Michigan is at least making a push. In Smith's case especially, the Wolverines appear to have a decent shot at landing a commitment; it's uncertain if OSU will have room in their sanction-limited class to take him.

[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on Parrker Westphal and Kalen Ballage, updates on a couple top underclassmen recruits, a look at the new 2015 Scout 300, and more.]