Welcome to the second annual early signing day, which is basically early Christmas for recruitniks and the day most likely to be celebrated by both those overflowing with optimism about the promise of the future and those who view the commitment of anything less than a five-star as a treatise on the state of the program. If you’re the kind of person who follows recruiting tangentially you can expect some suspense today, but it’s clustered around very few players. In case you’re looking for a primer, Michigan’s 2019 class is currently #9 nationally and #1 in the Big Ten with an average player rating of 0.90 per the 247 composite. Michigan expects 24 of its 25 verbal commits to sign and email in their letters of intent today according to 247’s Steve Lorenz, with the lone February signee slated to be KS ATH Amauri Pesek-Hickson. That leaves two suspense-generating commitments to wait on, and one that seemed to be going Michigan’s way until early yesterday morning.
On that note, things don’t look great for Michigan with regard to the nation's #4 overall player, OH DE Zach Harrison. The deluge of crystal ball flips started yesterday morning around 7:30 with Sam Webb and continued throughout the day. Webb said on the radio last week that he wasn’t going to flip until he had solid intel and to keep an eye on his crystal ball; five crystal balls flipped in an hour, and with those Michigan’s chances clearly flat-lined. It’s been well publicized that the outcome of The Game had an adverse impact on his recruitment, and it seems that Michigan’s multiple visits to try and assuage any fears weren’t enough to yank him out of Ohio State’s orbit. And it’s that part, that proximity and pull toward Ohio State, that appears to be too much for Michigan to overcome. 247’s Steve Lorenz posted his final thoughts heading into today and said that the rumblings about Michigan falling to third and this turning into a decision between Ohio State and Penn State illustrates how serious the people around Harrison were about him not going to Michigan. Lorenz went on to say that the biggest factors in Harrison not committing to Michigan are the people close to him who have his ear and Urban Meyer resigning. Harrison was reportedly not Meyer’s biggest fan, and Ryan Day getting the head job bolstered the Buckeyes’ chances. Lorenz said Michigan fans have a right to feel a little snakebitten at that particular development, which, yeah.
Moving to a recruitment that should jumpstart a second volume of Road to Ann Arbor for Tom VH should he flip (again), Michigan seems to be back in the battle for five-star OK S Daxton Hill. Multiple reports cite Alabama planting a seed of doubt in Hill’s mind that the current coaching staff would remain in Ann Arbor for long, with the poorly-timed Don Brown interview at Temple and the ever present Harbaugh-to-the-NFL rumors giving their staff the leverage they were looking for to flip Hill unexpectedly. It’s no surprise in light of this that Harbaugh went to ESPN’s Adam Schefter the next day to let people know that he was not leaving Michigan, calling the rumors a “choreographed message” that emerges every year before signing day. With Don Brown also staying, Michigan’s staff worked hard to erase any personnel doubts Hill had, and there was a surge of optimism that Hill would flip back to Michigan. That still appears to be a possibility, but a complication has emerged and somehow Ohio State’s involved in this one, too.
According to WolverinesWire’s Isaiah Hole, the commitment to watch today in relation to Hill's recruitment is that of FL S Jordan Battle. Though technically a Buckeye commit until this morning, it’s been expected for some time that he would flip his commitment to Alabama. Hole on the situation:
The word is, Hill is not looking to be a part of a class that has three safeties. So, in short, watch what happens with Battle and Alabama on Wednesday. Should he sign a letter of intent before Hill to end up in Tuscaloosa, there’s a strong indication that Hill could be back in the fold in Ann Arbor.
Hole goes on to write that the staff feels optimistic about flipping Hill back regardless of what happens with Battle, but it certainly seems that Battle signing before Hill would significantly bolster Michigan’s odds. The Wolverine’s Chris Balas reports that Alabama’s staff didn’t expect Hill to sign today as recently as this weekend, though they’re pushing hard to get him to do so. Balas says those close to Hill’s recruitment expect it to continue into January, so for today, keep an eye on Jordan Battle.
[The good news is after THE JUMP]