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FORMATION NOTES: Pretty much the standard by this point in the season: Michigan alternates between 1 and 3 TEs, spends 70% of its time in the gun and/or pistol, uses Ben Mason a little bit less than you'd like, and has largely abandoned Stanford-esque manball formations.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: QB, OL as per usual except Bushell-Beatty came out after the first two drives and Stueber went the rest of the way. Higdon resumed taking the plurality of RB snaps, with Evans, Mason and Wilson spotting him about half the time. Mason got some FB snaps as well; Wangler had a couple out of the pistol.
WR and TE were about usual too. Black got more snaps; Bell and Martin fewer than last week, but it was still Collins and DPJ most of the time with Perry in the slot. Michigan was slightly less TE heavy, with McKeon and Gentry out there about two-thirds of the time; Eubanks got his usual 15-20.
SPONSOR NOTE: Reminder that Matt is hanging out at the Charity Tailgate at 327 East Hoover (if you were at the preseason MGoEvents this year and last it's the same place). There are food trucks, beer, televisions, a giant colorful bus, and it's right next to Revelli so the band will march past. Check it out.
FORMATION NOTES: Michigan ran an absolute ton of 2TE sets in this game, with fullbacks and third receivers barely making an appearance. MSU continued to be MSU, running a base 4-3 over on virtually all plays.
SUBSTITUTION NOTES: The usual at QB and on the OL, with Stueber getting the final mashing drive after JBB's injury scare. Higdon got the vast majority of RB snaps with Evans backing him up; Wilson got one snap.
Gentry and McKeon got most of the TE time, with Eubanks getting a fair number of 3 TE snaps and a few opportunities to replace the starters. Gentry and McKeon were out there almost the whole time.
Mason was again limited but able to get in a dozen or so snaps; Wangler had a couple cameos when Mason was at RB. Collins and DPJ got the bulk of outside WR snaps; Black got on the field briefly; Martin and Bell got their usual dozen or so snaps. Perry was the only slot.
[After THE JUMP: missed opportunities and a few taken ones]
10/20/2018 – Michigan 21, Michigan State 7 – 7-1, 5-0 Big Ten
No ghosts, no magic, no secret sauce: there's nothing hidden in Michigan State's recent run with Paul Bunyan. Most of the time they were a better football team than Michigan, and better football teams tend to win football games. All the noise was just that. Michigan lost games because they were bad football teams run by bad football coaches.
But holy hell, you just try to believe that when it's 7-7 despite a second quarter spent entirely on the Michigan State side of the field and it's raining and Michigan's fumbling like Urban Meyer trying to get his story straight and MSU's backup punter spears a disaster snap out of the air with one hand.
Then he hits a 60 yard punt, which is nearly double his season average. If the Black Pit of Negative Expectations didn't rise up and claim you then, you are a better human than I. The rain, and the turnovers, and the improbable thing by the guy in the thing with the rain… etc.
Fortunately, it turns out that being a vastly superior football team is still a good way to win football games. The rain cleared, the five-star quarterback threw a pass to the five-star wide receiver for a 79-yard touchdown, and that was more or less that. All over but the shouting.
But this is Michigan-Michigan State, so the shouting is the main event.
Jim Harbaugh described the pre-game dust up as "bush league," and that was about right. If you are a human like me who has been infected with the Lebowski virus your immediate thought was the Jesus ranting about BUSH LEAGUE PSYCH-OUT STUFF. And that's what it was.
There is no other reason to roll out on to the field in helmets and no pads—because that's a thing people do—ten minutes late, when you know various Michigan players will be on the field for their allotted whatever. And there's no other reason to walk through those players with your arms locked. Hell, it probably worked. Devin Bush went full Rick James on the Spartan logo at midfield shortly after; he picked up a mystery unsportsmanlike conduct flag in the first half.
In the aftermath, MSU beat writers are going into more detail about a confrontation that doesn't even warrant the term "kerfuffle" than any one of the many incidents that ESPN turned up when they investigated the Spartan athletic programs in the aftermath of Larry Nassar. The word "class" has been uttered. This is all a distraction.
Shouting is warranted. Shouting about some goons holding green bones trying to pull an imaginary one over on a team that will hold them to 93 yards of offense in the near future is not. Michigan State is, has been, and will be trash. Shout about that. Michigan State deserves no respect and should be treated with nothing but contempt.
This has always been true. An event like the above happens about every third year. That, too, is a sideshow.
This weekend on WTKA, Lorenzo White openly joked about the giant piles of steroids MSU was doing the last time they were relevant. This is a widely-reported fact that did not prevent George Perles from becoming an MSU trustee. An internal investigation cleared Perles; in 2008 Tony Mandarich admitted his steroid use and told Armen Keteyian that by the time he reached the NFL he was addicted to painkillers. It is an open secret that MSU did zillions of steroids in the early 1990s and that Mandarich exited Michigan State a ticking timebomb. Not only did MSU let that guy escape with his undeserved dignity intact, they put that guy on the board of trustees.
I mean, why not, right? The rest of the board consists of former football players, infamous slumlord/booster Joel Ferguson, the grandson of the guy the basketball arena is named after, and a couple people who don't even have a good reason to be a shameless lickspittle in the face of incontrovertible evidence that the institution they nominally govern is a failed enterprise. Collectively they said Lou Anna Simon should keep her job after the worst sexual assault scandal in the history of the United States.
So fuck Michigan State. Fuck their football and basketball teams especially, as they are the main drivers of the deranged culture that enabled Larry Nassar. There is a straight line to draw between Perles and the rest of his board to Mark Hollis to Lou Anna Simon, all of it enabled because Michigan State got to beat big brother in some sports sometimes. Nobody in power at that university cares about the woman subjected to Keith Appling and Adriean Payne's charms, or Auston Robertson's victim, or Travis Walton's, or the various people subjected to the presence of Michigan State players in events that weren't sexual violence but were sure as hell violent. So why would they care about insistent reports dating back 20 years about a doctor abusing gymnasts?
Well, you see, sometimes we get to rub the big in-state school's nose in it. So, obviously. It's all good.
There's an undercurrent in the Michigan fanbase that MSU is beneath notice. This is wrong, but I get it. There was a point in time in the past when the best revenge was celebrating with Paul Bunyan in the locker room. This is no longer the time we have, for various reasons. One is Michigan having various bad football teams. The other is what happens when MSU is beneath notice.
You've been noticed. We see you for what you are.
Well Jim Harbaugh just doubled down on calling Michigan State "bush league." Pulled out a piece of paper and read an old quote from Mark Dantonio: "It's not a product of the team. It's a product of the program."
#1(t) David Long, Lavert Hill, and Brandon Watson. The main drivers of a 5/25 passing performance. Joel Klatt, a former quarterback, reached untold depths of despair when trying to describe what Brian Lewerke was seeing downfield: absolutely nothing. Two points each because they're made up and don't matter and this section probably should have highlighted them more this season but doesn't because they barely get thrown at.
#2(t) Chase Winovich and Josh Uche. The other half of the dominant pass performance; three sacks between them, with Chase chipping in his usual level of run pursuit.
#3 Donovan Peoples-Jones. It was just one catch, but it was a good one.
Honorable mention: Karan Higdon had a Chris Perry kind of day. Shea Patterson had ups and downs but his legs are now a thing. (Don't tell any DCs about that.) The OL got another collective W.
Donovan Peoples-Jones gives Michigan the winning margin in one giant play when everyone in the world thought a coinflip slog was in the offing.
Honorable mention: Jordan Glasgow rakes out a fumble. BPONE mitigated by a couple of deflected catches. Patterson stands in and hits Collins for a first-half TD.
MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.
Chris Evans fumbles to set Michigan State up at the 7, leading to a tie game and many sufferers of BPONE.
Honorable mention: Karan Higdon stumbles into the mesh point for another fumble. MSU's punter goes combo OBJ/Orin Incandenza. Patterson dorfs a couple of fairly easy TDs. The entire second quarter of implausibly not scoring.
PICKING UP THE PIECES from the very worst Michigan offensive line in living memory—you're off the hook, 2008—is going to be a difficult and unfortunately extended process. The mercifully fired Tim Drevno shot airballs at tackle in his first two recruiting classes, coming up with only flier Nolan Ulizio in Michigan's transition class; this is doubly painful since the only tackle who can block a Rutger recruited by Brady Hoke was Grant Newsome. Newsome will be your senator someday. He will not be on the field this fall, or ever again.
So even if the coaching transition from Drevno to Ed Warinner goes as blindingly well as DJ Durkin to Don Brown, this is going to be a survive-and-advance-down-the-field-a-bit situation. Warinner inherits some potential Dudes on the interior and has an excellent backup plan if something should go awry there. Tackle? Don't talk to me about tackle.
There is some good news. Michigan's late season surge on the ground was preceded by a couple of weeks where they were almost there...
The run game is close to putting it together. Unless they don't in which case I said none of this. But seriously folks: PSU was an average-ish P5 run defense and Michigan's blocking was pretty good, with gains held down by the nonexistent passing game and one guy blowing way too many plays.
... all in all it was probably the best run-blocking OL in Ann Arbor since 2011 or possibly even before. PFF graded out Ben Bredeson and Mike Onwenu at 72/100 or better despite what could not have been acceptable pass pro grades; those guys are legit good on the ground. Add in midseason revelation and locked-in starter Cesar Ruiz promising an organization upgrade at C plus an established elite college OL coach and the words "night" and "day" should be in your lexicon.
Just don't talk to me about tackle.
TACKLE: I TOLD YOU NOT TO TALK TO ME ABOUT THIS
Fine! Fine. It's fine. We'll talk about it. Last year's preview featured this totally awesome GIF...
...and asserted that GIANT COMPUTER-ANIMATED QUESTION MARK [recruiting profile] would bookend Mason Cole. This year the question is who's bookending the Giant Computer-Animated Question Mark.
From the perspective of a program outsider just trying to read tea leaves, the worst case scenario was this: Michigan moves Juwann Bushell-Beatty to left tackle because they have no one else, and they insert Jon Runyan Jr at right tackle because they have no one else. No underclassmen even poke their head in the direction of the job. Michigan gets whatever marginal improvement JBB manages in his fifth year and plays a 6'3", maybe 6'4" guy on the other side.
This was exactly the situation as reported out of spring.
So it's with some relief that I can report this situation has changed slightly. They've slid Runyan over to left tackle, you see, and slid Bushell-Beatty back to the right. The deck chairs are repositioned.
[After THE JUMP: look nobody's paying you to read this, it's ok]
What have you seen from some of the younger guys at tackle, Stueber, some of those guys?
“They’re doing really well. That transition of coming from high school to college is going really good. You’re seeing them move around do things more natural now than six weeks ago, seven weeks ago, so really excited about the young group. There’s a good group and it’s going to be fun to watch them continue to grow and compete and prepare and the whole nine yards.”
Is that typically a pretty big transition coming from high school to college as an offensive lineman?
“Oh yeah, absolutely.”
What’s been the difference for Juwann [Bushell-Beatty]? He started out no. 2, now he’s in there moving people.
“Juwann’s—he’s really maturing in just his outlook and how he goes and it’s been really fun to watch and interesting to see, like you said, overcome some adversity early on and continue to battle and continue to press. Certainly not where we want him to be or where he feels he can be but I think he’s on that road and it’s been really fun to watch.”
He’s been moving people. Is the pass pro part still where you’re really—
“Yeah, it’s always because every defense presents different challenges, and so as a group and watching these guys, they’re attacking those challenges. Still making some mistakes. There’s still some things we’ve got to get where maybe a guy gets anxious or something happens where we’ve got to calm him down a little bit but he’s solidly moving forward to become what we think he can become.”
[After THE JUMP: how Frey approaches TEs, updates on Hudson, Newsome the player/coach, and a Maryland scouting report of sorts]
[Ed. note: Newsome is actually a true junior but we are assuming he redshirts this season so the listed year is more accurate spiritually. Also Paea is probably a DT this year but I ran out of OL anyone's heard of.]
Michigan lost three starters to graduation and will be without left tackle Grant Newsome after his scary injury midway through last season. And… eh. By the time the graduated had played out their eligibility it was clear that there wasn't much anyone could do to turn them into a crew of firebreathers. Ben Braden (-9.4 to PFF) was willing but the very definition of stiff. Kyle Kalis(-6.3) was a missed assignment machine to the last. Erik Magnuson(+9.1) was a solid player but never an impactful one. None were drafted, and they collectively plateaued three years ago:
Adj Line Yards
Adj Sack Rate
Advanced line stats are a bit wonky because they also depend on the running back and style of offense, but the whole set tells a story. That story: mediocre players hitting their ceiling.
At some point it was clear they were playing mostly because Michigan didn't have any alternatives. When Newsome went out there was a brief dalliance with Juwann Bushell-Beatty at left tackle that went so poorly that Michigan flipped Braden out and brought in a true freshman in his stead. Everyone else other than Patrick Kugler, who was stuck behind Mason Cole, was some flavor of freshman as well.
So, they're gone and the replacements are incapable of voting. It's the end of the Hoke as we know it, and I feel fine. Except about the Newsome thing. That sucks.
TACKLE: COLE AND THE RANDOS
there and back again [Eric Upchurch]
Last year MASON COLE moved to center because it was clear he was not a tackle. This year he returns to tackle because it's clear nobody else is.
Despite the somewhat awkward fit with Cole's body type, this foray should be mostly successful. At tackle, Cole was a near-elite run blocker, capable of overpowering and outmaneuvering defensive ends and linebackers. At center Cole's lack of oomph left him vulnerable to planet-sized nose tackles he couldn't move and gents like Malik McDowell who just wanted to bulldoze him.
Cole was better at the mental aspects of being a center. At the same time he was getting plowed by McDowell he was instrumental when MSU turned to their double A gap twist blitz. That blitz bedeviled Michigan for years under less competent coaches; Cole (and Harbaugh) throttled it:
The trademark MSU defensive playcall was comprehensively beaten. Finally. All of these plays feature the extreme aggression of the MSU linebackers being used against them, something that Michigan hasn't been able to do in forever. Can't block 'em? Run right by 'em.
The line just about maintained its very good adjusted sack rate with Cole at center despite suffering an injury to Newsome they simply could not afford. A large part of that goes back to Cole's ability to make the line calls. Bredeson's freshman biffs aren't on Cole's ability to organize, and Michigan was pretty dang organized in pass pro:
Zone running not so much, but more about that in Five Question and Five Answers. Michigan's frustrating inability to identify first level blocks on stretch plays all but removed those from the offense, so we never got to see if Cole could get his David Molk on. Getting a reach block is really hard and really good if you manage it and Cole had some promising upside in that department that never came to fruition.
[After THE JUMP: LARGE ADULT SONS, except not quite adult.]
Andrew Stueber had an old-fashioned sort of recruitment: he camped for an offer (twice), got one, and immediately committed. Back in the day this was usually a good sign, because up-close evaluations were often more revealing than recruiting rankings still based largely off highlight reels and absurd physical claims. As things crept into the late Carr era and a… less enthusiastic coaching staff started to rely too heavily on camp, guys who committed at one flamed out at increasingly prodigious rates.
The lack of camp guys in Michigan's recruiting classes of late should restore faith in the guys who do come out of nowhere to claim spots. Steve Lorenz:
He's actually a relatively polished prospect who could very easily see the field in his second season in Ann Arbor if he puts in the work. … Michigan took Stueber knowing full well where they sit with a plethora of tackle targets. They evaluated him twice in person. … it says something when they not only offer Stueber, but take him almost immediately.
Also the fact that the two camp offers—Benjamin St Juste is the other—flew up to four star territory, or at least the edge of it, afterwards.
Stueber did not start there. He was ranked like a new-era Michigan State recruit when he committed: 1485th on 247. By the time I wrote him up he'd already moved up several hundred spots, but was still a virtual nobody. ESPN had nothing on him; he was a generic three star at Scout and Rivals.
This isn't a huge surprise for a player from Connecticut, a barely scouted state. If anyone laid eyes on Stueber it was a different prospect entirely. Stueber went from a 320 pound sophomore to a 280 pound junior, with the usual results:
“My strength is improving, I definitely feel better as a player. I can get off the ball faster and I feel like a better player when I’m faster.”
He proved that at Michigan's big man camp, where he won four of five agility/explosiveness events.
Stueber went from some lower-level and Ivy offers to a suite of regional/academic suitors (Maryland, UNC, Pitt, Duke, Vandy) and Penn State, which was actually first off the mark with a shrewd, if ultimately unsuccessful, courtship. This wasn't their fault, really. Stueber had already made up his mind:
ANN ARBOR - Andrew Stueber was a freshman when he targeted Michigan.
He was just one year removed from his first season of competitive football and admittedly a raw prospect, but felt Michigan was his ideal future home - despite being an East Coast prospect with no ties to the Wolverines.
"I picked them out in the beginning as the school I really liked academically and football-wise," Stueber said. "That's what my parents always told me about - you've got to plan for the future and I think Michigan does a great job of that academically."
"I don't mind working for my offer. I had some offers that were just over the phone, I had some that were in-person over my visit, but the fact that I had to work for my offer at Michigan was something that I like.
"I don't like anything coming easy. I know it takes a lot of work to get your offer so it just made me more intrigued that I would have to work for my time there and it kind of set the tone for that school and that offer."
Hand in glove.
Once Stueber committed, recruiting sites started catching up. Three of the four would eventually offer four stars, with Rivals the lone holdout. And even though Rivals didn't bother with a rerank their regional analyst talked him up anyway:
"excellent frame. Even though he’s over 300 pounds he doesn’t have much bad weight on him. There’s still a lot of room left to fill out his frame … moves really well. He’s a great bender and is a very athletic guy … very good run blocker because he also does a good job level keeping his balance when moving forward. … great wingspan and that’s helped him a lot in pass protection. …could easily play at 320 or 330 and still be an athletic guy."
That sounds like a top 100 eval, but he's the #74 OT in the country. Rivals shruggie dot emoji. Other evals accompanying much higher rankings are actually less effusive. Still good, but not that good. ESPN:
Tall with good bulk and big, lengthy frame … good arm length to be able to push rushers past the pocket. Doesn't display a real powerful punch. Flashes effective kick-step … can set too high and open too quickly at times. … adequate balance and lateral quickness … Big body that can engulf defenders and control and steer them when he gets hands on, … Limited range, but locates well with good balance. … big fish in a smaller pond.
…engulfs defensive linemen … quick off the snap, has a tremendous burst and is strong with his initial punch. … drives his legs well while maintaining engaged on the defender. He can scrape and get to the linebackers quickly, and he has the body control to make the block. … needs to improve his pass protection. … needs to widen his base and sit back more. … needs to work on his kick step. … natural right tackle, but he could develop into a left tackle.
"very athletic … possesses great initial quickness. We love his athleticism. He has a great frame and going to put the right kind of weight on … will play with great strength and can be a force for us."
The more athletic version of Stueber started bubbling up the rankings. Scout said he was "already technically sound" and that his improved athleticism warranted a 16-spot jump in the position rankings; ESPN and 24/7 both moved him up to low four-star range as well. Like Khaleke Hudson last year, I shook my fist at these changes for removing a slam dunk from the "sleeper of the year" pool, which is restricted to guys with at most one four-star ranking.
Will beat his ranking: Andrew Stueber. This one is relatively easy for me. …we've reported for months that the staff believes he could potentially contribute in year one. … Fans should maybe start looking at Stueber in a similar light to some recent versatile OL the staff has recruited like Ben Bredeson and Mason Cole.
Elsewhere he picked Stueber out as Michigan's "most college-ready" OL commit—this was pre-Filiaga but when Kai-Leon Herbert was in the class. This despite the fact that he's pretty young. He was just 16 when he committed a year ago; he'll just be turning 18 around when fall camp starts. That further enhances some already promising upside and provides an easel on which his high school coach paints a hell of a picture:
…he still has three or four years of physical maturity that will turn him into a monster. … Andrew is unusually strong for his size. Usually a 16-year old kid who’s that big can be a little awkward and a little weak. They are as big as a house but they are weak and haven’t put it together yet — not this kid. He can squat 450, he can bench press 275 with extremely long arms. Coaches love that about him, by the way. And he also cleans about 240 and that’s the measure of athleticism.
"So if you take those numbers and fast-forward three years from now, oh my God."
Early returns agree. Stueber didn't enroll early but has been on campus for a couple months doing summer conditioning. As you might remember from the Honigford profile, both he and Chuck Filiaga rate as "huge dudes" to John Runyan while Honigford checks in as "pretty big, too."
Etc.: Got nothin'.
Why Taylor Lewan? Lewan was another late rising OT from a state that doesn't get much attention—in his case Arizona—with the height, strength, and arm length to project to left tackle at a high level. Lewan rose more quickly, becoming a consensus four star, but stayed outside of everyone's top 100s. Lewan did field more praise about his upside than Stueber, who is not likely to become an All Pro NFL tackle. Because that's not likely for anyone.
Fellow huge dude Ben Braden is another potential comparable, if Stueber only sort of works out and ends up stiffer than is ideal.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. Stueber was at least afforded the courtesy of a re-rank from three of the four sites and his rankings are more in line with his potential than Honigford. Still: OL against questionable competition.
Variance: Moderate. OL, questionable competition, but of all of Michigan's OT candidates he's the closest to a finished product physically.
Ceiling: Very high. Could be an ideal left tackle at this level and maybe the next.
General Excitement Level: High. Lorenz's chatter is coming from folks close to the program and is a reliable proxy for the opinios of the coaches; I'd bet they think Stueber is the best of the tackle prospects they brought in.
Projection: Will have a shot at the right tackle job immediately and is the most likely freshman to wrest it away from Runyan. The other guys are too small or too big; Stueber is just right. The bet here is still on Runyan, which then creates a bit of a redshirt dilemma: obviously you'd like to preserve a fifth year for a high upside tackle, but if Stueber is the #6 or #7 guy that might be tough to accomplish.
As for the rest of his career, see the Hall and Honigford profiles: big opportunity next year for anyone tackle-shaped when Mason Cole graduates. The winner of that battle is going to be a 3 or 4 year starter. The losers of it will have to wait two more years for anyone to depart. I'd give Stueber the slight edge in that race.
I'm a little late getting to this after the bye week, but fullback Chase Lasater is no longer a member of the class. Lasatar announced his decommitment on his Twitter account, which is now set to private. He said he and his family "feel it is best" to reopen his recruitment and that Michigan remains one of his top schools; he thanked Jim Harbaugh and Bam Richards for recruiting him.
With Michigan going after LSU fullback commit Tory Carter, who has an official visit scheduled, it would be a surprise if Lasater ended up back in the class.
The coaching staff didn't take it easy during the bye week, instead heading out for a long list of recruiting visits headlined by Jim Harbaugh's stop in Antioch to see the #1 recruit in the country, CA RB Najee Harris. Scout's Josh Henschke has a full, free rundown of who the coaches saw.
Notably, a few new offers went out, including one that spurred a new Crystal Ball prediction. That came after Michigan offered three-star TN DT Rutger Reitmaier, who's committed to Oregon, a program you may recall hiring a defensive coordinator with a very strong track record of unearthing excellent defensive linemen. Reitmaier has some impressive junior film (see above) and Oregon commits are ripe for picking these days. This offer looks like a reflection of both Reitmaier's ability and M's waning hopes of bringing Aubrey Solomon back into the fold; Sam Webb was in Lee County during the bye and came away saying M's chances at Solomon are "essentially nil."
Harbaugh also offered top-100 Las Vegas Bishop Gorman S Bubba Bolden, and Sam Webb says that despite the late timing of the offer, Michigan could have a shot:
Michigan offered four-star safety Bubba Bolden from Bishop Gorman. Despite the relative lateness of that offer, the interest definitely appears to be mutual. Bolden has two open visit dates and has expressed a desire to give Michigan one of them. No firm date has been established but a trip to Ann Arbor now appears to be a distinct possibility.
The coaches also offered four-star AZ S Isaiah Pola-Mao, who currently has Washington on top of his list. The multiple new safety offers could be a result of commit J'Marick Woods, who recently had high praise for his Arkansas official visit, taking a look around; I highly doubt it's a product of losing confidence in their ability to land Jaylen Kelly-Powell.
The above is a 20-minute long junior highlight reel of the nation's #1 overall recruit, Antioch (CA) RB Najee Harris, who's currently committed to Alabama. It is now relevant to your interests, per 247's Steve Lorenz:
Michigan will host the nation's top overall prospect for their BBQ at the Big House, as Antioch (CA) 2017 five-star running back Najee Harris will be in Ann Arbor on August 6th for the annual recruiting event.
The visit was actually set over a month ago when Michigan, in a remarkable coincidence, hosted a satellite camp at Harris's high school. While Alabama insiders feel confident in the Tide's chances of holding onto Harris, Lorenz isn't ruling out M's chances of a flip:
We've written a lot lately about Michigan narrowing their recruiting board down heading into the season. Linebacker...cornerback....wide receiver...these are all spots where Michigan has concentrated their efforts on the nation's elite. At running back, it currently appears to be Najee Harris and everybody else.
I think the staff's chances with him are better than people realize. A visit on his own dime is of course noteworthy as it always is, but in talking to some sources closer to the Michigan side of things following the Antioch camp, there's a belief that he's a fit for Jim Harbaugh's culture and what he's trying to do at Michigan.
Don't watch that video unless you want to get dangerously excited about the possibility of landing Harris, which won't be easy at all—Bama isn't Michigan's only competition, as USC, UCLA, Oregon, and Cal are also in contention.