Monday Recruitin' Falls Into Place

Monday Recruitin' Falls Into Place

Submitted by Ace on August 12th, 2013 at 3:08 PM

From L to R: Jared Wangler, Jack Wangler, Shane Morris, Brent Morris (via Tim Sullivan)

Dad Achievement: Unlocked

Jared Wangler's commitment flip from Penn State to Michigan on Friday gave the Wolverines their final linebacker in the 2014 class. It also gave Jared's father, former Michigan quarterback John, a rare hat trick of sorts, per The Wolverine's Chris Balas ($):

[I]t's a good thing business is good at his Top Cat sales company (an adidas distributor), the elder Wangler said with a laugh. Son Jack is a walk-on wide receiver and daughter Halle is transferring from Oakland University to walk on to the Michigan team this year.

"I do have a few college tuition bills to pay," Wangler said.

He's not complaining, though, rather living a father's dream.

"I can't honestly say it was a goal, but I guess you always hope and dream," he said of sending three kids to Michigan. "It fell into place. I don't think you can ever draw it up.["]

John also said that Penn State "did everything right" in their recruitment of Jared, but that the difference with Michigan was simply that "it's Michigan." ('Fergodsakes' implied, surely.) Friday's events didn't just fulfill a dream for dad, of course; Jared told Scout's Josh Newkirk what the Michigan commitment means to him ($):

“I have been going to Michigan since I was a little kid,” Wangler told GoBlueWolverine. “So it was kind of like a dream come true. It was definitely really special to me. Especially, because I have the opportunity to play with my brother and with Shane (Morris), who is one of my best friends, and play where my dad played. I just think it’s a cool opportunity.”

Jared also heaped plenty of praise upon the Nittany Lions coaching staff, namely Bill O'Brien and Ron Vanderlinden ("two of the greatest guys I've ever met"), and said that Michigan was the only school that could sway him from his Penn State commitment.

Allen Trieu provides another scouting report on Wangler in the wake of his commitment ($):

At 6'1, 215-pounds, he's a kid who transitioned over from safety, but while he's not as big as some of the other linebackers we've seen in this class, Wangler is not afraid of contact. He does a nice job of taking on blockers and when he arrives at the ball carrier, he's a strong tackler who can deliver a strike. He's a smart, instinctive kid who keeps himself in good position, doesn't lose contain and does a good job of diagnosing plays quickly and using his ability to run to get to the ball carrier.

The big question about Wangler's ability to project to SAM, one of two positions where he might end up (the other being WILL), is whether he has the size and block-shedding ability required to take on that role; while he won't reach ideal SAM height, he's got the frame to add 20 or so pounds, and with his quickness and football IQ he could develop into a very viable edge player.

[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on Malik McDowell and Brian Cole, Scout unveiling their first 2015 five-stars, and more.]

Hello: Jared Wangler

Hello: Jared Wangler

Submitted by Ace on August 9th, 2013 at 1:32 PM

Commitment Vine (that's a first) via Scout's Josh Newkirk

After talking matters over with his (Maize-and-Blue-blooded) family, Warren (MI) De La Salle linebacker Jared Wangler announced on Twitter that he's chosen to switch his commitment from Penn State to Michigan today after unexpectedly receiving a Wolverine offer last week. Wangler, the son of former Michigan quarterback John and brother of 2013 preferred walk-on receiver Jack, becomes the fourth linebacker in the 2014 class and the 15th commitment overall.


Scout Rivals ESPN 247 247 Comp
3*, #53 OLB 2*, NR OLB 3*, 77, #63 OLB 3*, 88, #38 S 3*, #69 S,
#843 Ovr

Wangler has a pretty bizarre recruiting profile in that, despite the middling rankings above, he earned offers from Penn State (Linebacker U, remember), LSU, and Michigan, not to mention an invite to the Under Armour All-American Game. This may have to do with his status as a tweener — he's transitioning from safety to outside linebacker, and at 6'1", ~215 lbs. (the general consensus of his size from the four services) might be a little undersized as a linebacker.

As for what linebacker position Wangler will play, that's yet to be determined; he told Steve Lorenz that Michigan is looking at him at two different spots after his visit yesterday ($):

"Coach Hoke, Coach Manning, Coach Mattison and Coach Mallory all were talking with us," he said. Wangler's dad made the trip as well. "They like me at both SAM and WILL linebacker and showed me the depth chart at linebacker for the future. It was something I had questions on going into the visit and I didn't realize that the opportunity for playing time at Michigan may be there for me earlier than I thought. We went over my film (a lot of it from his 7v7 work this off-season) and they talked about how they would like to use me and that they like my versatility. It answered a lot of the questions I had."

Given his skill set, I think Wangler makes more sense at WILL, but where he ends up may be determined by how Michigan's linebackers develop in the classes ahead of him.


As a safety-turned-linebacker, Wangler is pretty athletic for his position and well ahead of the game when it comes to his coverage skills; he's also a very willing and impactful hitter, which is good to see considering the concerns about his size. Scout's Allen Trieu lists those three areas as Wangler's positives on his free profile, with block shedding as the only negative, and provides this take on his game:

Former safety who has transitioned his athletic tools into the linebacker position. Is able to play over the slot and does a nice job in coverage, both in man to man and dropping into zones. Has good closing speed to the football and is a good striker who explodes into his tackles. Having just transitioned into playing in the box, he simply has to continue to get stronger and work on getting off blocks. Likely a WILL in college. - Allen Trieu

ESPN is a little more bullish on Wangler's ability to shed blocks, though with the (relatively safe) assumption that he'll continue to add strength:

Reacts quickly to the run and pass demonstrating the agility and balance needed to move through traffic and play downhill to the football. Fashes [sic] the ability to shiver, shed and keep his feet free when working in traffic. Added bulk with improved playing strength will accelerate his take-on and shed skill. Displays the foot quickness needed to avoid blockers and make plays in tight spaces.

The WWL is also very high on Wangler's pass coverage and tackling ability, citing his "relentless desire to chase down the football" as a means to get on the field as a special teams demon. With a redshirt year to add bulk, ESPN thinks he's got the frame and athleticism to be a productive outside linebacker. It's a very positive scouting report overall, and it should come as little surprise that ESPN televises the Under Armour game — though it is surprising, given all of the above, that Wangler isn't rated higher on ESPN. Fire and forget, I guess.

Penn State's 247 outlet had SpartanTailgate's Sean Scherer provide his scouting report on Wangler after his initial commitment, and once again his coverage skills come in for high praise ($):

"Wangler is a very versatile linebacker that will be effective in both the passing game and running game. I expect him to play outside backer, which will allow him to cover tight end, running back, fullback or even a slot receiver but also be effective in stopping the run. Wangler already does an excellent job of keeping his opponent in front of him and uses outside shoulder to help contain his target. By always chopping his feet, he's in constant motion, which allows him to create great angles and make a play."

Wangler participated in various camps and 7-on-7 tournaments over the last couple summers, and while he usually gets just a passing mention, the same couple positives keep popping up. Here's Trieu again after this year's Columbus NFTC ($):

Penn State commit Jared Wangler is another who may not be quite as big as some of the aforementioned guys, but is a smart kid, who, as a former safety, can run well.

247's JC Shurburtt, at the same event:

Penn State commit Jared Wangler (Warren, Mich./De La Salle) continues to add bulk and plays well in space. He also displays a high football IQ.

247's Steve Wiltfong from the Adidas Showcase at Grand Valley State:

Warren (Mich.) De La Salle linebacker Jared Wangler was one of the more fluid and athletic linebackers on site.

Wiltfong again from this year's Sound Mind Sound Body camp:

Penn State linebacker commit Jared Wangler showed good speed and strong cover ability against the running backs in 1-on-1s.

I think it's safe to say Wangler is athletic for a linebacker and solid in coverage. When asked to do a self-evaluation in the wake of his Penn State commitment, Wangler's report echoed those of the experts, along with a promising tidbit about his work ethic ($):

"The position I'm going to play is a lot like Mike Hull, number 43. They like my versatility, that's big for them. Right now, I weigh about 218 and have ran a 4.6 forty, so they think I have quick feet and play well in space. They also like my hands, They see me as someone that will most likely cover tight ends, maybe slot receivers. They also think I can grow into the type of player that can be physical enough to play in the box and make a tackle. Versatility is big, they feel like they can mold me into whatever they need, I just have to do my part and learn from the coaching, which I will. I know I won't have any problems with weight lifting. I love that and Coach Fitzgerald is the man. He'll have us all in shape."

Later in that article, Wangler mentions block shedding as the area he most wants to improve; he also says he currently maxes out at 325 pounds on the bench, with the hopes of getting that up to 350 before this season, so he's not joking when he says he loves the weight room.


Wangler's marquee offers came from LSU, Michigan, and Penn State; he also held offers from Bowling Green, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Eastern Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio, Toledo, Western Michigan, and Yale. That last offer is a pretty solid indication that Wangler won't have any academic issues.


Warren De La Salle, as you probably well know, is the school that produced current freshman quarterback Shane Morris, as well as walk-on receiver Jack Wangler. They play in the Catholic League, so Wangler faces some of the strongest competition that one can find in Michigan.


Per 247, Wangler recorded 76 tackles, 15 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, and an interception (which he returned for a touchdown) as a junior.


None of the recruiting sites list a 40 time, so all we have to go on is Wangler's self-reported 4.6 from the interview with PSU's Rivals outlet. That's really impressive for a linebacker, so despite Wangler's excellent athleticism, without any confirmation I'm giving that a solid three FAKEs out of five.


Junior highlights ahoy:

Wangler also posted some 7-on-7 highlights from this summer that feature a some very impressive catches on both sides of the ball:

YouTube user DETROITNATIVECB has a bevy of single-game cut-ups, which are very useful for judging Wangler's real in-game impact. There's even more, as usual, at Wangler's Hudl page.


Given Wangler's coverage ability, athleticism, and size (a little short for the strong side), I expect he'll end up at WILL when he gets to Michigan; that means Michigan has all their linebacker spots covered in this class with Michael Ferns at MIKE, Chase Winovich at SLB, and Noah Furbush potentially able to plug in at any of the three.

When Wangler gets to campus, James Ross and Royce Jenkins-Stone will both be juniors; the only other player on the roster currently projected to WILL is Ben Gedeon, who'll be either a redshirt freshman or true sophomore (likely the former) in 2014. Assuming Wangler takes a redshirt year, he'll compete for Ross's open spot as a redshirt freshman and go from there. If he ends up at SLB, he'll be working for a spot on the two-deep along with Mike McCray and Winovich; that seems like the tougher path for him to get on the field.


Michigan is very much done at linebacker now, which means CA four-star Dwight Williams is now out of the picture. The focus for the rest of the class will turn to reeling in the big fish: VA DE Da'Shawn Hand, MI DT Malik McDowell, and PA S Montae Nicholson are the most likely guys to end up in Ann Arbor.

Yes, I've left IL CB/S Parrker Westphal out of that for now, and you may have noticed that my Crystal Ball prediction for him has changed to Northwestern; that's not going on anything concrete (I was torn between predicting Northwestern and Vanderbilt), but it's looking more and more like Michigan may not have room in the class for Westphal, since they're done at corner and seem to like Nicholson more as a safety prospect.

Michigan will also continue to recruit CA ATH JuJu Smith and Glenville teammates ATH Marshon Lattimore and S Erick Smith; at the moment, those guys appear to be longshots, though it'll be interesting to see what happens with Erick Smith if Ohio State is indeed full at safety for the 2014 class.

Thursday Recruitin' Meets Tito

Thursday Recruitin' Meets Tito

Submitted by Ace on August 8th, 2013 at 2:09 PM

You Know The Drill

Michigan's latest 2014 offer, Warren De La Salle linebacker and current Penn State commit Jared Wangler, will visit campus today along with his father, former Michigan quarterback John Wangler, per Jared's Twitter. Wangler plans to decide between sticking with PSU and flipping to Michigan before the start of football season, and while many expect him to choose the Wolverines today, that's not coming from Wangler — he told Scout's Allen Trieu($) that he's "not planning on committing today," and you can read into that however you like.

I think Wangler will end up at Michigan, but it's certainly not guaranteed; don't count out the fact that Penn State was the first major program to offer him. He even passed up an offer from LSU that came in a couple weeks after his initial commitment. That said, his father and brother didn't play for the Tigers, and the Wanglers being something of a Michigan institution should factor heavily into his final decision.

A 150+ Comment Thread Suggests I Should Talk About This

Michigan State's hiring of Curtis Blackwell as their de facto recruiting coordinator paid immediate dividends yesterday when 2015 Cass Tech quarterback Jayru Campbell committed to the Spartans. Campbell was one of several top in-state juniors in East Lansing yesterday — Technician teammates Mike Weber and Josh Alabi, Saginaw athlete Brian Cole, Oak Park athlete John Kelly, and Saint Clair Shores lineman Kyonta Stallworth (who may or may not have committed, and almost certainly will eventually) were also present. Getting that many key local targets on campus — and pulling in commitments from two of them, most likely — is a big step for State, and the credit should rightfully go to Blackwell, who has a relationship with all of these players from his time running Sound Mind Sound Body and coaching the Maximum Exposure 7-on-7 squad.

HOWEVA, the consternation among Michigan fans in the wake of Campbell's commitment is unnecessary for a couple of reasons:

  • Campbell, in all likelihood, was never going to get a Michigan offer. CA five-star Josh Rosen is the only 2015 QB with an offer, and I don't believe Campbell was even in the next group of signal-callers being considered by the Wolverines. Having watched Campbell play many times over the course of the last two years, I don't think he has the pure arm strength — especially on short-to-intermediate routes — that this coaching staff wants in a quarterback. You can watch the tape and judge for yourself.
  • Michigan's projected to take a very small class in 2015, and so far they're pursuing elite national prospects to fill those coveted spots. Weber's potential place in the class was taken by Damien Harris, a higher-ranked running back; Kelly wasn't under serious consideration for an early offer; and the Wolverines may only take two offensive linemen — with Jon Runyan Jr. already in the fold and Michigan looking good for PA four-star tackle Sterling Jenkins, I don't think Stallworth was going to get one, either. Cole and Alabi are the only two guys among yesterday's MSU visitors who could be counted as real head-to-head losses for Michigan, and neither is guaranteed to end up at State by any means.

Is Campbell a solid pickup for State? Certainly. He's made great strides as a passer in the last two years while quarterbacking CT to back-to-back state titles and he gives MSU a commitment from the state's best talent factory.

Is this a major blow to Michigan? Nope. The Wolverines could strike out on every top in-state junior and still put together one of the best classes in the country; in case anyone has forgotten, they're already off to a very good start in that regard.

[Hit THE JUMP for perhaps the worst recruiting pitch ever, the latest on Malik McDowell's transfer to Southfield, and more.]

Monday Recruitin' Sets The Date

Monday Recruitin' Sets The Date

Submitted by Ace on August 5th, 2013 at 3:07 PM


The answer is still no, and that's excuse enough to post this again.


That, of course, is arguably the #1 overall prospect in the country, VA DE Da'Shawn Hand, who now has a decision date in mind — not coincidentally, his 18th birthday — with his field now narrowed down to his top three schools, per Rivals's Adam Friedman ($):

Hand had been showing interest in USC and LSU but it does not sound as if they are being considered anymore.

"I just decided that there is no need for all of this to get drawn out," Hand said. "I was interested in USC and LSU but I know a lot about Michigan, Alabama and Florida and I'm just going to let them be."

Lane Kiffin reacted to this news by drinking a six-pack of Mike's Hard Lemonade and tearfully sending Hand a slew of angry texts that all ended in "im so sorry plz come visit". Les Miles chewed on fieldturf — the rubber pellets really add texture — and contemplated the meaning of... fieldturf, probably.

Hand will officially visit Ann Arbor for the Notre Dame game; he has yet to set up officials to Alabama or Florida, though both he and his coach say those visits will happen as well.

Whether or not those officials happen, Michigan appears to be in very good position — especially since Alabama's marquee home game, against LSU, occurs just five days before Hand plans to announce his choice. Given that Hand seems like the type of recruit who's going to be very well-versed in each school before he makes a decision, I'd be surprised if he waited that long to make the trip to Tuscaloosa. It's also still possible, of course, that he's blown away at the Notre Dame game and never ends up taking those last two officials. We'll see — it's never safe to count out Nick Saban.

Michigan could also see Hand's 2015 five-star buddy, VA DT Tim Settle, on campus in the relatively near future, per 247's Michael Bohlin ($):

"I am supposed to be going to Michigan but I don't know when," replied Settle. "I will be going to UVa for the Oregon game, I want to go to the Virginia Tech vs Alabama game but that one is in Atlanta so we'll see. I am also planning on taking a visit to USC at some point."

I'd speculate that Settle would visit for the Notre Dame game, in order to be on campus with Hand, but that Virginia-Oregon game is slated for the same day. We'll see if he ends up making the trip, but at the very least there's another five-star considering Michigan, and that's never a bad thing.

[Hit THE JUMP for more recruiting news, including Michigan attempting to snake-oil a legacy recruit, Bruce Feldman on what it'll take to keep the momentum going, and more.]

Thursday Recruitin' Thinks It'll Go For A Walk

Thursday Recruitin' Thinks It'll Go For A Walk

Submitted by Ace on August 1st, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Not Dead ... Yet

The commitment of 2015 KY RB Damien Harris led many, including myself, to assume that Michigan's recruitment of 2014 LA RB Leonard Fournette — who'd just no-showed a planned visit for the BBQ — was D-E-D dead. Per 247's Kipp Adams, however, it appears there's still a faint pulse ($):

According to Fournette’s father, Leonard II, three of those four programs are slated to get coveted official visits from the No. 1 overall prospect in the Class of 2014 247Composite.

He plans to take officials to Alabama, USC, Michigan and Florida,” Fournette II said, adding that Miami (Fla.) is likely to receive the fifth one.

LSU was not listed as a school slated to get an official, but Fournette II did list them as an additional top school.


Unfortunately, Michigan isn't mentioned once in the rest of the article, which features plenty of talk about LSU, Alabama, and USC. There is one other revelation: the Fournettes are apparently the Gradys of the South, as Leonard III's younger brother — a thus-far unoffered 2015 running back — is named... Lanard. That doesn't get confusing, I'm sure.

As far as Fournette's recruitment goes, I'll believe Michigan has the slightest of chances when he's physically on campus, and even then the outlook is still probably grim. But, hey, Damien Harris...

PRETTY GOOD, GUYS pretty good, guys. GBW had Allen Trieu talk about Harris's potential impact and lo, is there ever potential for impact ($):

“He was at the Best of the Midwest Combine two winters ago," Trieu said, "and he was already pretty physically put together, and ran a pretty good 40 there, and then when you find out that kid is only a freshman you’re like, wow. I was able to go back and pull up the film from his freshman year and after the first three plays on the film, I basically turned it off and said I know this guy is a big time guy -- a national guy. And I don’t get too many guys like that, to be honest.

"There’s not a ton of guys that I turn on the film and right away I know that this guy is going to be right up there with the best in the country but, for him to be that way at an early age, I knew that there was something special there.”

Trieu also mentions that Harris is a "really good receiver" in a camp setting, something that doesn't come through on film because why throw to the guy when you can hand the ball to him directly and probably score a touchdown, amirite?* Harris's high school coach echoed Trieu's praise and talked up his football IQ to TomVH ($):

Madison Southern High coach Jon Clark said Michigan is getting a big, multidimensional back in the 5-foot-11, 210-pound Harris.

"He's a lot bigger than people think. He's not a small speed back, either," Clark said. "He's an excellent receiver out of the backfield, he is a smart player and he understands defensive schemes."

Harris confirmed to Trieu in another article that, while he's been leaning heavily towards Michigan for a long time, the commitment of George Campbell accelerated his process; a childhood fan of the Wolverines, Harris gave a great quote about committing to his dream school ($):

"I don't even know what to expect. Growing up and loving a school and it being your dream and being able to achieve the dream and play at Michigan, it's mind blowing to think it's coming true. I'm going to be thinking about how blessed I am to be playing, not only for a great school, but with great teammates and great coaches and a great fan base. I hope to live up to the expectations they have, but I'm going to work hard and come in and play my game."

It's always great to see these kind of dreams fulfilled, and even better when they're the dreams of five-stars.

Speaking of insanely talented recent 2015 commits, a local news article on Campbell contains this tidbit about his academic plans:

"Everyone, not just the coaches but also the players, they all took me in as one," Campbell said on Monday. "Pretty much, it's like a big old family there. Not just that, but the academics. I plan on majoring in Sports Management, and they have a great program there. It's the best choice for me at the moment and for my future, too."

If this was the work of Professor Needs A Raise, he's now been upgraded to Professor Needs A Building Named After Him. You know, as soon as one of us remembers his real name — The Professor Needs A Building Named After Him, Er, Building doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.

How rare is a commitment from a kid like Campbell? DGDestroys put together this chart over at Maize n Brew of the eventual destinations of Florida five-stars ranked among the top 15 players in their class (covering 2002-2013):

You'll note the complete lack of Big Ten schools, with Notre Dame representing the only program north of West Virginia to land a prospect matching the criteria. That prospect was Aaron Lynch, who transferred to USF after his freshman year. As long as Michigan holds onto Campbell — and he stays where he is in the rankings — then they're pulling off something that hasn't been done in the Rivals era.

Speaking of making recruiting history, The Wolverine's Michael Spath dug through the Rivals database($) and found that the last team to pull in the #1 players in their class at running back and receiver was USC in 2007 with Joe McKnight and (sigh) Ronald Johnson. Michigan has a chance to do that with Campbell and Harris; it would be the first time the Wolverines pulled off the feat since 1998, predating the modern recruiting services, with Justin Fargas and David Terrell.

[Hit THE JUMP for, oh hey, another 2015 prospect that looks like a stone-cold Michigan lock, more reactions from last weekend's BBQ, how OSU's latest commitment could affect the Wolverines, and more.]

Monday Recruitin' Goes Wholy Holy

Monday Recruitin' Goes Wholy Holy

Submitted by Ace on July 29th, 2013 at 3:51 PM

If you think the headline contains a typo, try listening to better music.

George Campbell, Mayor Of Twitter

As Michigan fans tried to decrypt Wilton Speight's Twitter teaser, Saturday afternoon bled into Saturday evening with no word about a commitment. Would it be Shaun Crawford? Sterling Jenkins? Erik Swenson? Maybe even Malik McDowell? Any would've been great; the real answer, though, elicited a rapturous response.

George Campbell's commitment briefly turned the entire Michigan twittersphere into Robin and Brady Hoke into the proudest papa.

Mason Cole's Instagram also features ... are those tears, Coach?

It also attracted the attention of the CEO of Twitter, Michigan grad Dick Costolo.

Modified rule: Don't tweet at recruits — unless you're the CEO of Twitter. [Side note: This is a story. Get here already, football season. Also, Matt Hayes must be stopped, and this is one of a very short list of things Michigan and Ohio State fans can agree upon.]

Why is everyone so excited? Because if "500" was an Olympic sport, George Campbell would win the gold, silver, and bronze.

Also, have I mentioned he's 6'4" and runs a 4.36 40-yard dash?

I mean...

Wow, indeed.

Yes, Campbell still has work to do when it comes to his hands and route-running — this video from the Columbus NFTC highlights both the best and worst parts of Campbell's game right now — but with two more years of high school ball to play, his potential is terrifyingly vast. Scout's Jamie Newberg provided a detailed scouting report of Campbell after his commitment, and even the areas for improvement section features one of them good problems ($):

What may be of concern: Campbell catches the ball well but is not a natural pass catcher. Sometimes he fights it but he is getting better and better. Size is also an issue because you just can’t forecast just how big this cat is going to get. He has a giant frame and long arms so there is no telling what his size will be like in three or four years. Remember, he still has two high school seasons to play before he gets to Ann Arbor. Will his growth prompt a position change? If so, how will that impact his develop?

All of these are concerns but I see them as minor concerns because Campbell is such an outstanding athlete. Recruit him now and worry about it later.

Oh no he might be even more giant and still probably really fast.

Campbell's commitment does more than just give Michigan one of the top prospects in his entire class. It also looks like he'll be a major recruiting conduit in the tradition of Morris, Speight, Ferns, et al — Campbell reportedly struck up a close friendship with 2015 MI ATH Brian Cole, and he's already reaching out to other top prospects on Twitter. Others, including 2015 MN LB/DE Jashon Cornell, ESPN's #1 overall recruit in the class, took immediate notice after Campbell tweeted out his commitment announcement.

Oh, and some other guy passed along his congratulations.

That guy is consensus top-100 2015 running back Damien Harris. He committed to Michigan while I was writing this post. Brian, mercifully, handled the Hello post. Commitments come in pairs, Brady Hoke poops magic, and Michigan now has their top targets at wide receiver and running back already in the fold for 2015.

Hello there, potential überclass:

Not a bad start to the week, you guys.

[Hit THE JUMP for much, much more on the BBQ, including reactions from Malik McDowell, Shaun Crawford, Sterling Jenkins, and Justin Hilliard, plus surprise appearances from a couple of Glenville's finest.]

Thursday Recruitin' BBQ Bonanza

Thursday Recruitin' BBQ Bonanza

Submitted by Ace on July 25th, 2013 at 1:39 PM

Fournette (via)

BBQ Rundown*

Michigan's annual BBQ at the Big House is on Sunday, and the Wolverines will also host visitors on Saturday — or, in LA RB Leonard Fournette's case, starting today. All of the major sites have published expected visitor lists, and in the grand tradition of attempting to pin down the plans of teenagers, there are slight discrepancies between them. Here's a rundown of the top targets who will be on campus this weekend and a general idea of where Michigan stands with each of them:

2014 Commits

Ian Bunting, Freddy Canteen, Mason Cole, Michael Ferns, Drake Harris, Lawrence Marshall, Wilton Speight, Brandon Watson, Maurice Ways, and Chase Winovich are all expected to be in attendance. Jabrill Peppers is trying to make it into town, as well — his presence would only help Michigan's efforts with the uncommitted recruits, and especially fellow blue-chip Fournette.

2014 Targets

Fournette is obviously the big fish here; the nation's top running back — and #1 overall prospect on the 247 Composite — arrives in Ann Arbor today and will stay all the way through Sunday's BBQ. If you regularly read this roundup, you've seen his highlight tape. A video released by ESPN this week shows more of his personal side, and none of it will make you want him at Michigan any less. The broken record on Fournette is that, despite his assertions of being wide open, he'll inevitably end up in the SEC, likely at LSU. GBW's Kyle Bogenshutz talked to Fournette's father, and NOPE NOPE NOPE I REFUSE TO GET MY HOPES UP ($):

As a father that knows his son’s game and how it might translate to the college level, he can see what the portrait might look like in the Maize & Blue.

For sure he would be a good fit for Michigan,” said Fournette’s father. “I know for sure he would be a great fit for Michigan. He’ll fit right in.”


“Me and my wife are real high on education, first of all,” Fournette’s father said. “And we have to feel like our child is going to be in good hands, from a family aspect, not just coaches, but a friend and a father figure on the field and off the field.”

Fournette will be accompanied by his parents on the trip; he'll undoubtedly get the full tour of both the academic and football side of things, and it'll be very interesting to see where Michigan stands after this weekend.

NJ RB Jonathan Hilliman is listed as attending in some places and not in others; assuming he shows, this will be Michigan's best chance to chip away at Ohio State's lead for the three-star boasting a very impressive offer sheet. [EDIT: Per 247, Hilliman won't be visiting for the BBQ. That ship appears to have sailed; it's Fournette or bust at running back, reportedly, with Kalen Ballage being recruited as an athlete-slash-backup plan.]

MI DL Malik McDowell is always tough to pin down when it comes to his recruitment plans; he's another potential visitor. While he's attempted to stay quiet about where things stand, he's let slip a couple times that the Wolverines are out in front, and the general opinion is that he'll stay in-state.

2015 Targets

Cass Tech DE Josh Alabi and RB Mike Weber will visit Ann Arbor together for the umpteenth time. Both are early four-stars with a high level of interest in the Wolverines.

FL WR George Campbell is the top-ranked 2015 recruit who'll be on campus, coming in at #7 in the 247 Composite. He'll have his high school teammate, Cole, giving him the full sales pitch. How he reacts to this latest trip to Ann Arbor should give a good indication of where the Wolverines stand now that fellow East Lake receiver Artavis Scott chose Clemson over Michigan.

OH CB Shaun Crawford has long held Michigan as his leader, with many even expecting that he'd commit during an earlier visit this offseason. Crawford will have his family in tow, and his mother makes it sound like he's the best possibility of a commitment this weekend, per TomVH ($):

"Michigan is definitely at the top of the list, because it's a wonderful school. It's been a favorite for a long time and he grew up a Michigan fan," Crawford's mother said. "I think this type of event will kind of answer any questions we all may have and bring it all together for him. It's definitely something that's worthwhile in the decision process."

In this early stage of the 247 Composite rankings (only 247 and ESPN have released 2015 rankings), Crawford is listed as the #92 overall player, #9 corner, and #4 prospect in Ohio. He'd be a very nice early pickup, obviously.

OH LB Justin Hilliard ranks one spot above Crawford in the Ohio state rankings. His recruitment could come down to a big Midwestern battle — his older brother plays for Iowa and he already holds offers from all the Big Ten powers and some national schools, as well.

At 6'8", 305 pounds, four-star PA OT Sterling Jenkins is exactly what Michigan is searching for in an offensive lineman — tackle is the biggest, and potentially only, need left on the offensive line. Michigan is among his top schools, and despite lots of national interest they could very well be in the lead.

Michigan has experienced recent success recruiting in Utah, landing Sione Houma in 2012 and Bryan Mone for the 2014 class. They'll try to replicate that with four-star UT LB Osa Masina, though the Wolverines could be facing an uphill battle against the in-state Utes, where Masina's older brother signed in 2013.

The above players are confirmed for this weekend by multiple outlets; other potential visitors include MI ATH Brian Cole, OH DT Hjalte Froholdt, and NY TE Tyrone Wheatley Jr. — Michigan is in very good shape with all three prospects.

2016 Targets

If Crawford isn't the most likely to commit this weekend, then it's 2016 IL OL Erik Swenson, who's stated in no uncertain terms that a Michigan pledge is all but inevitable — he nearly pulled the trigger when he camped here last month.

Swenson is the only rising sophomore slated to attend who currently holds an offer, but that could change; MD LB De'le Harding is expected to join his older teammates, Freddy Canteen and Brandon Watson, on this weekend's visit, and he's a player who should earn an offer sooner or later. OH QB Messiah DeWeaver, who's shown very strong interest in Michigan, will also be at the BBQ, though I'd be surprised if a 2016 quarterback pulled an offer this early.

[Hit THE JUMP for updates on Parrker Westphal, JuJu Smith, Dravon Henry, and more.]

Monday Recruitin' Is Open To (Almost) Everyone

Monday Recruitin' Is Open To (Almost) Everyone

Submitted by Ace on July 22nd, 2013 at 3:20 PM

I'm back from parts unknown—okay, Phoenix—with definitive proof that TomVH, not myself, is the recruiting analyst with the vacation-commitment curse (or gift, depending on your perspective). It's been mostly quiet on the recruiting front for the past week, save for Michigan finally pinning down a big-time visit.

Roll Out The Red Blue Carpet


LA RB Leonard Fournette would like some extra barbeque with his barbeque, please:

New Orleans (LA) St. Augustine 2014 running back Leonard Fournette has been talking about visiting Michigan for some time now.

On Sunday, Wolverine247 insider Steve Lorenz confirmed that Fournette, the Nations top running back, will visit Michigan for an extended visit next week.

This year's BBQ at the Big House is a two-day event slated for Saturday/Sunday; Fournette will arrive in Ann Arbor on Thursday and spend the weekend — accompanied by both of his parents, per GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz ($). Fournette and his family remain adamant that the nation's top back doesn't have any leaders despite everyone expecting the Louisiana native to stay in the Southeast. Michigan is still a longshot and I will continue saying that until there's very concrete evidence to the contrary; Fournette staying for a long weekend with his parents, however, certainly indicates serious interest.

Fournette won't be the only 2014 running back in attendance at the BBQ; Michigan has long been among the top schools for New Jersey three-star Jonathan Hilliman, whose offer sheet far outstrips his current rankings — he'll be in town this weekend, but the Wolverines have ground to cover, per Rivals's Adam Friedman ($):

Hilliman's top five schools were, in no order, Ohio State, Alabama, Rutgers, Michigan and Vanderbilt but he already knows of one school that will make it to the next round.

"I'm going to cut down to three," he said. "Ohio State is still the leader. We're keeping in contact and it's easy for me to see how interested they are. I know Ohio State is going to make the cut and most likely Rutgers will also but I want to see how the visit goes. I'm not sure of which school will be that third one.

The BBQ gives Michigan a good chance to be that third school; Ohio State is obviously the team to beat. I'll have the full rundown on BBQ visitors on Thursday, once I've had a chance to settle back in and more recruits confirm whether or not they'll attend.

[Hit THE JUMP for news on early enrollees, the latest on Adoree' Jackson, and updates on several underclassmen, including Tyrone Wheatley Jr. and the two choice eliminations from his recruitment.]

Monday Recruitin' Envisions Matchup Chaos

Monday Recruitin' Envisions Matchup Chaos

Submitted by Ace on July 8th, 2013 at 2:44 PM

Ian Bunting: Tall

Bunting and Funchess: Hopefully the football version of this minus the disappointment.

Tight end Ian Bunting was Michigan's lone representative* at Nike's invite-only camp The Opening, which wrapped up over the weekend. While he didn't crack any of the top performer lists I've seen, Bunting stood out in a more literal fashion, leading off 247's rundown of players with "eye-popping" measurements:

At 6-foot-6, Bunting measured in as the tallest prospect in attendance at The Opening. He also weighed in at 223 pounds and has added some strength to his frame, starting to look like a college tight end.

Bunting dealt with a balky hamstring during the combine and 7-on-7 sessions; with the injury, he recorded a 33-inch vertical leap and 5.0-second 40-yard dash ($). Assuming that 40 time improves when healthy, Bunting has some tantalizing measurables — combining that hamstring-hampered leap with his height puts Bunting at 9'3" off the ground, by my math, before he even puts his hands in the air. Putting him and Devin Funchess on the field at the same time could cause total matchup chaos for future Michigan opponents, especially in the red zone.

While slot receiver commit Freddy Canteen wasn't invited to The Opening, four-star CB Jalen Tabor told Sam Webb($) that he would've shined — a notable shout-out considering Tabor is one of the few to face Canteen in person:

“He’s got good routes.  I definitely respect Freddy Canteen.  We go at it all the time.  That’s my man.  We just had 7-on-7 at Maryland.  The whole championship game it was just me and him. My coach said, ‘go get (Canteen).’  And they were testing me.  We were going at each other.  So I’ve definitely got a lot of respect for Freddy Canteen. He is going to be good in college.”

Asked if Canteen would've done well at The Opening, Tabor replied "without a doubt, yes." He also spoke highly of fellow corner Brandon Watson, specifically for his ability to jam receivers at the line: "I've seen him jam some people up... real good." Unsolicited praise about Michigan commits from a prospect who's not considering Michigan is always nice to see. This is your weekly Rank Our Guys Higher For Reasons update.

The Opening Recruiting Updates: It's Real, And It's Spectacular

(via SBNation Recruiting)

PA S Montae Nicholson could be Michigan's most realistic possibility to fill the final spot in the secondary, depending upon your thoughts—or the coaches', really—about Parrker Westphal's prospects as a safety. He continues to play his cards close to the vest, telling SBNation in the above video that he's still open to several schools, including Florida State and Stanford (skip to 1:48 for recruiting talk unless you want to hear Nicholson's thoughts on sneakers). Nicholson's recruitment should extend through official visits, and in a good sign for Michigan, the only one of those he's set up so far is for Michigan-ND in September. Penn State is another school that could make a run; Michigan being one of the first schools to recruit Nicholson should help them be in the mix until the very end.

Meanwhile, five-star CA ATH Juju Smith told GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz at The Opening that, despite the distance factor, Michigan is very much a player in his recruitment ($):

For Michigan, the interest on Smith’s end is sincere, with an official visit to Ann Arbor set in stone this fall.

It’s really real,” Smith told GoBlueWolverine. “On an honest level, Michigan is up there. They’re one of my top five, I’m taking an official visit, and hopefully I can see what they have for me.

Smith originally planned to take an official for the Notre Dame game but instead will be in Ann Arbor for The Game. Michigan would likely take him as a safety who could moonlight as a receiver; Smith's top schools—including Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame, UCLA, and USC—have all mentioned the possibility of playing on both sides of the ball. While expectations should always be held in check when it comes to top-flight West Coast prospects, the Wolverines have a legitimate shot here.

Michigan also has a real chance at another top California product, four-star OLB Dwight Williams, who confirmed to Bogenschutz that he'll take an official for the Notre Dame game ($). Florida, the only other school scheduled to receive an official from Williams, may be the biggest competition for the Wolverines.

Four-star GA DE Andrew Williams — Do I consistently get him confused with Dwight Williams? Yes. — also attended The Opening; not only is Michigan among his leaders, but he'll be on campus soon, per Sam Webb ($):

Though not yet ready at the time of this interview to lay out his entire list of finalists, he did open up a bit regarding the Wolverines’ standing.

“They’re up there,” Williams replied when asked if Michigan is in his top five. 

“I would love to get down there for the 19th. That’s definitely one visit I personally plan on taking. I’m definitely interested in Michigan.”

Michigan is firmly in the mix for Da'Shawn Hand and Malik McDowell; Williams is quite the contingency plan should one (or both) of those two end up elsewhere.

*Drake Harris also received an invite, but couldn't attend due to summer school — if you missed the news, he did that to ensure that he can enroll early.

[Hit THE JUMP for LEONARD FOURNETTE VISIT POSSIBILITY (sirens), the latest on Shaun Crawford, and more.]

Tuesday Recruitin' Makes Up Its Mind

Tuesday Recruitin' Makes Up Its Mind

Submitted by Ace on July 2nd, 2013 at 4:29 PM

Catching Up, Three Commits Later

Michigan hauled in three 2014 commits in the last three days in Freddy Canteen, Brandon Watson, and Noah Furbush — if you missed any of their Hello posts, simply click on their name. While I initially couldn't find any film of Canteen in game action, a poster helpfully noted (though I forget where and can't find the link) that he shows up plenty in ECA quarterback David Sills' highlight tape. The focus of the video is obviously on Sills, so we don't get to see Canteen's vaunted route-running; he does, however, make several impressive grabs — look for him in the #19 jersey:

That's a solid body of work for just three games, and is evidence that Canteen has the hands and ball skills to complement his footwork.

In a post-commitment interview with Sam Webb, Watson revealed that despite talking about committing together, he and Canteen actually decided to pull the trigger independently; he also threw out a juicy morsel about another offer ($):

“We’ve been talking about (committing to Michigan) since we got the offer,” said Watson.  “Freddy was looking at a couple of schools, and I was kind of leaning toward USC and Michigan.  I just wanted to go out to SC and see what that felt like.  When I came back I talked to coach I just said, ‘I want to go to Michigan.’  Freddy called about two minutes after and said, ‘yo, are you committing tomorrow?’  I said, ‘yeah.’  He said, ‘oh yeah? Me too!’  We basically told Coach Hoke ten minutes apart.”

It’s funny I just got the Tennessee offer this morning,” Watson later added.  “I told him ,’it’s a little too late… I’ve already made up my mind to go to Michigan.

Watson's coach had previously mentioned that a USC offer was forthcoming until he committed to Michigan, adding to the growing pile of evidence that he and Canteen are better prospects than their rankings would indicate.

Landing two prospects from Eastern Christian Academy gives the Wolverines a potential edge with 2016 ECA LB De'le Harding, whose coach said he earned rave reviews at camp, per Sam Webb ($):

He is the best rising sophomore in the country,” ECA coach Dwayne Thomas said.  “I took him to Tennessee’s camp he was dominant and he got an offer.  I took him to Michigan’s camp and no one would have even known he was 14 years old unless I told them.  They’re going to offer him.  Brady told me, ‘coach, we love that dude.’  The defensive coordinator told me, ‘we love that dude.’  I’ve been doing this a long time.  I coached in college for 17 years and I don’t blow smoke.  He will be the best player I’ve ever had.  I’ve coached a lot of great ones.  I’ve got two at USC and one already committed; I’ve got them at Auburn… I’ve got a lot of kids over the last three years at a lot of places, and he will be the best one, no doubt.”

Harding already has offers from Tennessee and USC after dominant performances at their respective camps; he's poised to be one of the top players in his class, and a Michigan offer should come sooner or later. Canteen and Watson both say they'll be giving their younger teammate their best recruiting pitch.

With the commitment of Furbush, meanwhile, Michigan is looking for one more linebacker prospect, specifically an outside linebacker, to complete their 2014 recruiting of that position group. Four-star CA OLB Dwight Williams is rumored to favor Florida, though Michigan also has a good shot; he told 247 that he's locked in officials to Florida, Michigan, and Hawaii, and the Wolverines are speculated to be the Gators' biggest competition ($). Three-star MO OLB Jimmie Swain, the other most-likely target, told Rivals that he's looking to cut two schools from his top five to ensure he can take officials to each of his finalists ($). Michigan is joined in that group by TCU, Michigan State, Oregon, and Stanford; the two Pac-12 school have yet to offer, and it appears the Horned Frogs currently hold the edge:

"TCU is the only one of the top five I've visited already. When I went down there, I just enjoyed the campus and the team and the way they practice. Coach Patterson and I talk on a regular basis. I just loved what I saw when I went down there. Ever since then, I have just been all about TCU. I just loved the atmosphere and everything about that school."

Swain says he hopes to decide in September; his visit, should he make it, will obviously be of great importance if Michigan hopes to land him.

[Hit THE JUMP for the latest on a trio of five-star prospects, an overview of the 2014 running back situation, and more.]