“Good. It’s been good. We had a good day. Our guys had more energy and were moving around better; [they] had a bounce in their step. This’ll be a big weekend. This is—guys are going to get done with training, get into playing positions. It’s a big weekend for it because we start making those two-deep rosters soon. Train’s already left the station and it’s picking up steam.”
Are you going to give us those two-deeps?
“Uh…no, I didn’t say that.”
You said 8-15 practices for the quarterbacks to--
Has anybody stepped up? Is it still a three-horse race or a two-horse race?
“Yeah, John [O’Korn] and Wilton [Speight] have really stepped up. I think they’ve created a little bit of separation and they’re battling now. It’s going one with the ones and the next day the other’s with the ones and the other’s with the twos. We’re keeping a very close eye on it and it’s progressing well.”
Pep said the other day that one of the things he really likes [QBs to have] is command of the offense. As a former quarterback, what does that mean to you when somebody says they have command of the offense?
“Well, it’s just a process of knowing where all your players are and figuring out what the defense is trying to do to you or take away or give you or where they’re more vulnerable, being able to move the team in and out of the huddle, and make reminders is always another one.
“If a guy has good command of the offense he’ll be able to give other guys reminders, the running back or the fullback or a wide receiver or a tight end. He’s got it on the tip of his tongue and he just knows it cold; that’s having command of the offense.”
Is that the kind of thing that Brandon [Peters] has to do to get back to the same level as John and Wilton?
“Yeah, I mean, it’s just a process for him. He’s competing hard and doing good. Not to say that it’s set in stone right now. I think that the two guys have really created a little bit of separation.”
[After THE JUMP: right side of the line, the unblockables, young guys likely to contribute, and more]
Junior (there's no unified senior highlight reel):
Deron Irving-Bey is the second in a series of fringe four star DL who have promise and problems. (Unfortunately, Corey Malone-Hatcher's problems ended his career before it could start.) Irving-Bey's promise is that he is a largehuge dude who's just scratching the surface of his potential. The problem is that he's just scratching the surface of his potential. This is partly because of Irving-Bey:
“The crazy thing is I didn’t take football serious until my junior season,” Irving-Bey said.
And partly because of his circumstances. Southwestern coach Chane Clingman:
“At Southwestern, we didn’t have the luxury of having all the coaches. I never had a D-line coach. So going to Michigan, Greg Mattison is one of the best. I’m excited what’s coming.”
Stuck on a 1-8 team, Irving-Bey remained a total unknown through the end of his junior season when he attended a series of winter camps and caught the eye of Miami (not that Miami). One MAC offer was all it took. MSU followed shortly after, as did a series of regional offers. Tennessee and Pitt—ie, the two out-of-state schools with the most in-state connections—jumped in. But Michigan and Greg Mattison would not be denied.
"He plays with a very high motor and shows a lot of talent when he is playing; he shows flashes on tape, and that gets us excited. We see the potential, and he is like a sponge because he absorbs everything and wants to be as good as he can be. That really impressed me. He will probably improve every day he is here because of the level of football."
Irving-Bey is one of those frames on which college coaches hope to hang an All American. Sam Webb:
…raw prospect with a ton of upside. He is a quick-twitch kid, and at 6-5, 266 that is extremely impressive. That translates on the field as great get-off (think Maurice Hurst or Michael Dwumfour), and really good change of direction. Then there are his super long arms. A parent of one of Michigan’s commits indicated to me that Deron’s wingspan was measured and wound up being the longest in the Wolverines’ 2017 class. …has to hone his technique and needs time in the weight room.
When Scout moved him from nowhere to inside their top 300, Allen Trieu cited Irving-Bey's "rare length and athleticism" and "great set of tools." His profile at that site has similar overtones, citing "technique and moves" as an area for improvement while praising his physical package:
…great frame that continues to fill out… Long arms, naturally bends well and moves well. Gets off the ball quickly and plays with a good motor. Still developing technique and using his hands better. … an attractive package of skills.
Good height and bulk with big frame … good raw strength and very good first-step quickness. …able to fire off on snap of the ball with pad level and power through contact and disrupt with penetration … too inconsistent at this stage with hand usage and pad level and can get pushed back and struggle to get off blocks … Flashes ability to convert speed-to-power and drive blockers back when he stays low, but aspect of arsenal he needs to better develop and utilize. Can get up-field with get-off, but looks to lack a plan and needs to better utilize weapons. …good raw tools to build off … may take some time.
Unfortunately the other two sites had scanty-at-best scouting. 24/7 did not have one of those "what team X is getting" posts even when a guy inside their top 200 committed; the only thing even resembling hard data came from Steve Lorenz, who does not have any influence on their rankings. He did catch Irving-Bey at the Army game, for what it's worth:
…both quick and strong. His coaches loved him, and after every rep he'd immediately walk over to whichever one was free to get some feedback on how to get better. You can see why he's a high ceiling guy, as he can punch, rip but also out-quick tackles with a first step that caught Filiaga off guard in a second rep the two took against one another.
Meanwhile the only scouting at Rivals comes from a couple camps. Helmholdt singled him out as the most impressive player at MSU's elite camp ("impressive combination of size, athleticism and power and proved nearly unblockable") and highlighted him after a Chicago thing ("size and strength to handle the point of attack, he has an explosive first step that allows him to get into offensive linemen before they set, and he has a great feel for what rush moves to make in which situation"), and that was it.
I kind of expect that for fringe prospects in out of the way places like Rhode Island (see Kwity Paye), but for an Army All-American in Flint that's pretty pretty bad for half the crootin industry to not even bother with a scouting report.
Speaking of, Irving-Bey's Army game appearance provided a slight rankings bump on Scout and overall. Allen Trieu mentioned him positively a couple times, albeit in reserved terms: "nice day," "continues to play well," etc. For a guy like Irving-Bey merely looking like he belonged in the midst of a withering step up in competition level was a win. He either did this…
…absolutely belongs. DIB is really quick off the ball, shows good speed off the edge for his size and has made some plays. There is room for improvement in his technique and he needs to get stronger at the point of attack, but the Fint Southwestern star won a bunch of 1-on-1 reps. The only lineman that gave him significant trouble was five-star offensive line target Tedarrell Slaton Jr.
Irving-Bey has a lot of potential but struggled a bit against top talent in San Antonio for the U.S. Army Game.
That last take was from The Wolverine in a "Signing Day capsule" that had to go back 11 months to find the last piece of scouting Rivals had offered up on Irving-Bey. It's frustrating when the major outlier doesn't bother to explain itself, and Rivals is a pretty big outlier here: they gave Irving-Bey just three stars and ranked him outside of the top ten in-state.
Where Irving-Bey ends up depends on just how big he gets. When he first popped up on the scene he was a 250-pound WDE sort…
…terrific as an edge rusher … The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Irving-Bey was unblockable until he met Boyd in the best of the best round. Irving-Bey used his speed and power to quickly dispose of offensive tackles, at times going virtually untouched to the bag.
…and now articles are listing him at 280. That's a big gain in a short amount of time but it doesn't seem to be much bad weight. When he committed the first thing Trieu mentioned was his "consistent effort" and motor, which is doubly impressive because Irving-Bey started both ways for his very bad team. Clingman:
“His off-season work ethic was tremendous,” Southwestern coach Chane Clingman said. “He’s a kid that just wanted a chance and he’s trying to be the best football player he can be. He made tremendous strides this off-season with his motor and the way he works in the weight room and he still has a lot of untapped potential.”
He'll have to go down and come back up; he seems to be a guy who wants to gravitate towards 290 or 300 pounds. He could easily end up a three-tech. With his twitchy first step, long arms, and lanky frame I prefer him at SDE, where he could be jumbo-sized and still retain some unusual pass rush ability. Jeter, Paea, and Hudson are all potential three-techs also in this class; only Jeter has a long term future that could involve SDE.
FWIW, a number of earlyevaluations talk about his potential as an offensive lineman, and Clingman said that Michigan "offered him on both sides of the ball." His considerable upside on defense and the sudden retirement of Malone-Hatcher should see him stay on the DL for the duration, especially because his lack of technical know-how means Michigan probably shouldn't jerk him around. If he does get buried there's another avenue for Irving-Bey to contribute. About half of his junior film above is Irving-Bey displaying a Cole-like ability to operate in space as a lineman.
Etc.: "FatGlizzy__" twitter handle is not only spectacular but implies the existence of two other Fat Glizzies?
A source added that, "Irving-Bey's senior film wasn't that impressive and doesn't play with a high motor."
Spartan Tailgate was told Irving-Bey is not likely to end up at Michigan State unless they miss out on several other defensive linemen targets ahead of him.
Irving-Bey was a couple weeks away from Army Bowl practices when this was published; MSU's only DL addition during their late flailing period last year was Ohioan DeAri Todd, the composite #1411 player in the country.
Why Chris Wormley? Very similar frames and recruiting profiles, down to Rivals being the turd in the punchbowl. Wormley bulked up to 300 pounds over the course of his career and bounced between three- and five-tech, finally settling in as an SDE when Michigan's DT situation allowed him to focus on one spot. Wormley was a physical marvel in high school who drew some skepticism because of a lack of production; that skepticism turned out to be unwarranted. Irving-Bey is a similarly impressive physical package with some question marks.
The other recent comparable that makes some sense is Taco Charlton, who stuck at WDE at 270 but probably could have bulked up to play SDE if necessary. His long arms, power, recruiting rankings, frame, and relative rawness are all in DIB's range.
Guru Reliability: Moderate-plus. Mostly agreement except for the Rivals outlier, but scouting is relatively scanty and it's difficult to draw much information from a high school career playing on a bad team against mostly bad teams.
Variance: High. Admittedly a project. Escapes "very high" because he is close to physically ready. There's no chance he ends up scuffling because he can't get heavy enough.
Ceiling: Very high. Already near his playing weight and still drawing quick-twitch praise. The kind of guy you can roll a critical hit on and get a monster.
General Excitement Level: High-minus. Have to like Irving-Bey's shot at hitting his ceiling under Greg Mattison, who's been killing it on the defensive line since he returned to Michigan. Rivals skepticism came with no readily available justifications.
Projection: One of the most obvious redshirts in the class. Irving-Bey will spend a year powering up and then is almost certain to be a sparingly used third-string SDE or three-tech in year two. His first shot at real playing time will be in 2019, when Rashan Gary is presumably in the NFL and a couple hundred backup SDE snaps open up as Carlo Kemp moves into the starting lineup. He'll be the favorite to take those snaps since Donovan Jeter is already being talked about as a DT and anyone else will either be younger or bulking up to move from WDE. (Ron Johnson, come on down?)
That redshirt sophomore year will be an inflection point. He has the upside to blow past Kemp, who seems like a reliable plugger sort, not a star. It's unlikely but not impossible he does so. If he does end up behind Kemp he'll be a long term rotation guy with a shot at starting as a redshirt senior. The guess here is this becomes something of a Godin/Hurst situation where both guys can play and they split snaps down the middle with the older guy a ceremonial starter.
By now I don't have to tell you that 5* CA RB Najee Harris stuck with Alabama after the world's highest low-profile recruitment. While it would have been real nice to get the #1 recruit in the country in back-to-back years, Michigan is well stocked at running back for the next few years with Chris Evans, Karan Higdon, and redshirt freshmen Kareem Walker and Kingston Davis already on campus.
Losing AJ Dillon stings a bit more now; getting the slightly wobbly O'Maury Samuels to cease wobbling is a January key.
Ultimate crootin' comes to Aubrey Solomon
5* GA DT Aubrey Solomon arrived at the Army game proclaiming that Alabama had a "huge" lead; later he popped up on Periscope saying things that you usually read on people's shirts at away games. (Especially Illinois, for reasons that remain obscure.) Thus ended Michigan's long, strange recruitment of—
Er. That is a Ryan Bartow crystal ball in favor of Michigan entered on the seventh, which he explained thusly:
Per a source, Solomon reached out to his high school staff following the bowl game in San Antonio indicating he’s planning to commit to the Wolverines.
Solomon, per a source, indicated a similar message to Michigan’s staff later in the evening.
Bartow is a national 247 guy with the excellent track record you can see above. Most recently he was ahead of the curve on Isaiah Wilson's late shift to Georgia.
More detail? Sam Webb has extensive interviews with Solomon and his mother after The Periscope Event. Solomon himself was contrite...
“(Michigan is) one of my top schools,” he replied. “Bama is top, but Michigan is up there with Georgia too. So you never know.”
...and said that an upcoming official to USC was the last trip he'd take. Solomon's mother, meanwhile, has seemingly memorized everything about the official she and her son took this fall, and lists an If Momma Decided top three of Michigan, Georgia Tech(!), and Alabama. Lorenz, meanwhile, reports that he's been told Michigan "truly made progress" with Mrs. Caldwell on the official, which the interview confirms. Also that certain people in his camp aren't big fans of Alabama.
Extensive parental interviews with Sam are a good thing. So are Serious 247 Analyst crystal balls. Offsetting that good thing are some less than good things, but if you told me I'd be fairly optimistic about landing Solomon after last week I'd take that and run.
The stretch run
With the Army decisions out of the way, Michigan has 25 solid commits and approximately seven spots left in the class. The situation for everyone who's still on the board, has an offer, and has bothered to visit or schedule one:
NM RB O'Maury Samuels is scheduled for a mid-January official. If that comes off it's likely he sticks in the class. No other visits scheduled at this instant. WAG: 90% to stick.
UT RB Sione Heimuli-Lund has said he'll take an official sometime this month. He's said he'll official for months now and hasn't; he's definitely a Harbaugh guy. WAG: 2%.
GA WR Nico Collins has had Michigan at the top of his recruitment for months now, and visited on his own dime repeatedly. That's a recipe for getting a bit talent out of the South but Michigan has to dodge some officials. Wiltfong heard from a "source close to Clay-Chalkville" that Georgia is Michigan's biggest competition and that that source "thinks" it will eventually be UGA. That would be a kick in the nuts, not least because... (WAG: 50%)
...IA WR Oliver Martinisn't mentioning Michigan any more in interviews, seemingly because Michigan ceased their pursuit. Webb and Lorenz were predicting Michigan removing itself before articles like the above started popping up, so that's probably what happened here. That only makes sense if they're extremely confident in Collins. We'll see. Martin only has one official set in January, that to MSU. Michigan could pop back up here. WAG: 10%
FL OL Kai-Leon Herbert has officials set up to Auburn, Miami, and Florida. He's been circumspect in interviews to the point where he doesn't seem like a commit, and Michigan's already had their shot. WAG: 30%.
FL OL/DT Tedarrell Slaton has named Florida his leader and Michigan is drifting away. Slaton told Josh Newkirk that he talks to Michigan "sometimes." He's been on campus but without a 180 this isn't happening; step one in that process is scheduling a January official. WAG: 0% without official, 30% with one.
GA DT Aubrey Solomon was extensively discussed above. WAG: lol don't even ask.
UT DT Jay Tufele is one of those guys who nobody has a good read on. He recently asserted to Scout that location doesn't matter, which means "recruit has been asked about location and given the standard answer." WAG: 33%.
MS LB Willie Gay may or may not have been screwin' around when he said he was headed to LSU; buzz there is "real" per Lorenz, but Michigan thinks they're very much in it. Per Sam, mom and aunt—who were with him on his official—are in Michigan's corner and pushing. Playing time seems to be key. Gay told Lorenz that it was "50/50" he would take an unofficial to Michigan in January. That would echo Rashan Gary and make everyone feel much better that one-time Michigan lead was going to stick. WAG: 40%.
CT CB Brandon Sebastian will take an official in January and a flip is on the table. WAG: 80%.
CA CB Elijah Hicks is going to stick with ND, I guess? Because Brian Kelly seems like a good idea right now? WAG: 10%.
I project 3 or 4 weird guy spots available.
Army bowl scouting
MI CB Ambry Thomas popped up periodically. He made Scout's East top five on Day two largely because he was able to contend with Peoples-Jones and "his length and speed makes him a tough defender for receivers to separate from."
MI WR Donovan Peoples-Jones "explodes off the ball" per Brandon Brown—I haven't seen much national scouting from Rivals yet—and beat UGA commit Richard LeCounte deep because he had "no chance of running with Peoples-Jones." Scout put him in a top five because he "regularly showed the ability to stretch the field vertically." Lorenz reported that he "did what he was supposed to do" to maintain his spot as the #1 WR on the composite.
CT WR Tarik Black "flashed a bunch" per 247 and made the East top 5 on Scout because he's a "smooth athlete with a big catch radius" who "really stood out in a strong receiver group." Brown reported that he is the "most consistently effective receiver" on his team because he's not just a big body:
His ability to quickly get downfield at the snap allowed him to easily eat up the cushion of the East cornerbacks, who spent much of the day playing off coverage. Black showed off an advanced understanding of how to use his stem and body movements to manipulate defenders. ...
What was most impressive during today’s practice was Black’s speed, which does not show up on film as well as it did during today’s practice. Black was able to run by several defenders on vertical routes, often gaining several steps on corners. He made a number of impressive plays, but one of his best was blowing past Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech cornerback Donovan Johnson on a go route.
We've been talking about how fast Johnson is for a couple months here, usually when we're wondering why MSU didn't bother offering him. For a 6'4" guy to blow by him is maybe a bit of a fluke but also impressive. Sam thought he was "the revelation" for Michigan fans at the Army game; Lorenz thought he was "really good" and had an argument to move up.
MI DT Deron Irving-Bey didn't come in for much notice nationally; Brown noted that after some early success against an ND commit Irving-Bey started to get predictable and lose reps. He was playing end, which I don't think is going to be his spot at Michigan. One dollar says he's a three tech, and his performance there is in "ask again later" territory. OTOH, he nearly earned a starting spot on his team per Sam because of his "speed off the edge."
for some reason this picture makes me think Willie Gay is in a Coen brothers movie
In guys we hope are future commits, Solomon was praised for a "twitchy first step" and his strength by 247; after day one they named him the #2 guy on his team since he "split double teams with ease ... showing elite quickness and high energy." Scout talked up his "excellent get-off and close-quarters quickness".
Tufele was also one of the most-praised defensive linemen. 247: "the one defensive lineman that can beat you with quickness and power ... consistently the toughest West defender to slow down." A top performers take: "great quickness in interior one-on-ones and he shows big-time power in defeating run blocks." Scout: "most dominant interior defensive lineman in practice ... step is as quick as any one in this class and his got great strength to push his blockers off the ball."
Gay was named the "best pass game linebacker" by 247 because he's a "flash to the football" and is "the perfect nickel linebacker." In another of those top performers articles they asserted he is "maybe the most athletic linebacker in the country." A third 247 take: "outstanding first-move twitch, very fluid, great speed, rangy, has courage to stick his nose in against the run, made plays in the alley, was sound in drills, performed like a five-star." Lorenz further hinted he would get that bump in an Inside Michigan Recruiting.
Brandon Brown talked with a Detroit King coach about Cass star and MI S Jaylen Kelly-Powell, who sounds like another one of those hybrid types that are so critical for defending the spread:
"He’s ferocious against the run and can really tackle but he’s really good in coverage too. He’s a really strong kid. It’s great when you can have a guy who can cover in man, play in the zone, and tackle in the box and Kelly-Powell is that guy. Even at a place like Michigan he should be able to stay on the field all the time."
Cass's coaches confirmed that coverage take when they matched JKP up on one Ambry Thomas in the city championship game:
"...we didn’t think he was going to be on Ambry. He did a good job on Bry and that’s tough to do. We were looking at him as a true safety but they did a good job switching that up and putting him on Bry like that."
There's talk that Kelly-Powell will be given a look at VIPER(!!!) as Michigan seeks to maintain the flexibility Peppers offered the 2016 defense. Willie Gay is the ideal fit there, but Michigan has some options if he ends up in the South.
Allen Trieu had a Q&A session which is worth the trip behind the paywall. This is the opinion I liked the most because I happen to agree with it:
Of the current commits, in your opinion, who in 4 years do Michigan fans look back at and say "wow he was undervalued coming in".
James Hudson recently earned a fourth star, but I could see that kid really blossoming further in college and out-performing his ranking. We ranked Taco Charlton somewhat cautiously as a lower four-star based on his outstanding physical traits, but also his rawness. He has developed into a potential first-round pick. We are at the same point with Hudson where he really came on as a senior and has great size and ability, but still has some parts of his game to improve.
Hudson's senior film is Willie Henry-esque. Dude is crazy strong and explosive. Might take a year; afterwards, look out.
...quick with his hands, and he uses several moves instead of just relying on his physical ability to overwhelm his opponent. ...gets up the field well from the defensive end position. He uses a swim move and also will club the offensive lineman. He also has a spin move, and he will use strength, led by a solid initial punch. ... body can easily handle 290 pounds, and keeping his quickness is not a concern. His hand speed will also allow him to be successful on the interior of the defensive line.
Three-tech is all set in this class and Michigan can turn one of Jeter, DIB, or Hudson into a nose if that turns out to be necessary. Having a pure NT like Tufele or Solomon is the one way they can seriously upgrade in January.
FWIW, I had MI DT Phil Paea and NJ WR Brad Hawkins listed as early enrollees. Per Isaiah Hole those guys aren't actually EEs. Everyone else expected to arrive has done so.
In "Aubrey Solomon does something that is not surprising": he praises 2018 GA LB commit Otis Reese, a teammate, as "the best in the country."
Michigan is recruiting 2018 TX TE Malcolm Epps, a Bama commit. Hooray!
Brian is out sick so this is my first shot at one of these. I’m not as plugged in as the other guys so if I missed something important leave it in the comments. Mostly this is going to be Army Game practice stuff.
No Blind Siding
Michigan target Chuck Filiaga, with normal-sized humans [U.S. Army All-American Bowl, via USA Today]
Let’s start with the good news: Crystal balls to Michigan are still flying in for 4* TX OT Chuck Filiaga, who’s a 6’6/335 pound shot at a starting left tackle that Michigan desperately needs. Filiaga will be at right tackle during the Army Game because his team is full of LTs. His decision, between Michigan, Oklahoma, and Nebraska is scheduled for noon.
Even if Filiaga enters the fold, Michigan is not done recruiting potential tackles. Next likeliest target, 3* OT Mekhi Becton, told Maize and Brew that Michigan remains “definitely high on my list.” Michigan also make the top three for AL 3* OT Toryque Bateman, though grades and the likelihood of other commits coming/sticking makes that seem unlikely now.
Obligatory Najee Section: We are linebackers
You have been a good recruiting follower so you’ve so far managed to refrain from watching the parade of ankleless linebackers following 5* CA RB Najee Harris to various endzones. The recruiting industry is finding him just as slippery. We are now officially past the Flight Aware segment of the recruitment and on to Flight Plan Aware. 247’s Bart Simmons first wrote yesterday that Army Bowl people said they’re flying Harris back home after the game, but then said a source told him Harris had requested a change to the wrong Birmingham:
Per a source, Harris has requested a flight change — asking to land in Birmingham now, instead of back home in California (Oakland). That would put the running back on Alabama's campus by Sunday evening at the latest as an early-enrollee, ending a dizzying back-and-forth between Alabama and Michigan that's worn on for months.
I maintain that you should ignore virtually everything until Harris is literally on campus at one school or the other on Monday, since that is quite apparently his preferred method of announcement. Bama people seem confident, Michigan people seem confident. Rivals had their national analysts weigh in, with votes going 2-1 in favor of the Tide. Harris has denied everything. Look closely at anyone new in your freshman seminar Monday.
"Really all of my schools are even. LSU has probably got a little bit high, a little bit. I don't know where I'm going to go yet but LSU has moved up a little bit higher."
…but reported that Gay’s family is still heavily favoring Michigan, and this doesn’t sound like someone who’s moved on:
"They didn't move down,” he said. “When I went to Michigan it was like, perfect. Everything I ever wanted in a school… academics, I feel like I was at home still (and) the weather wasn't that bad to me. I was cool with the cold weather. I loved it."
Gay called the report that LSU leads “kind of accurate.” Call me a homer but I think this one has a lot of elements of a guy who’s messing with reporters. Michigan does still have to weather an official visit to down-the-street Mississippi State in addition to that to LSU on the 20th. I doubt it’s done.
LSU is courting Gay as a WILL linebacker to help pad the team’s depth at a crucial position.
If you remember your Wisconsin previews, Aranda’s 3-4 has a WILL that’s a second middle linebacker—think Mike McCray’s job—so no they’re not trying to make him Vince Biegel, but neither are they calling him a slot overhang guy. Michigan has made it clear he would play the multifarious Peppers SAM spot.
Possibly unrelatedly, this got tweeted:
Y'all gotta think... a kid will press one school to then choose the other for the surprise ... just think
You would think if there is only one word in the English language that an uncommitted prospect can put before “Michigan” to erase any doubt about his intentions, it’s “F---.” Well, 5* GA DT Aubrey Solomon dropped just that particular bomb this week in a Periscope to fellow former Michigan commit WR Jeremiah Holloman (now a 4* UGA commit). A day later Solomon apologized on twitter to Michigan fans.
I guess there are two ways to look at it: On one hand perhaps Aubrey was consoling a friend who apparently got pushed out of the class by higher-rated receivers. The other way to look at it is “What is literally the last thing you want to hear from a guy Michigan is recruiting?”. The likelihood of Option B is the likelihood this is officially happy trails. If you’re holding out for the sympathy words excuse, Michigan still has a lot of ground to make up.
That leaves Michigan’s hopes for a guy who can instantly spell Mone next year down to just UT 4* DT Jay Tufele. While Ohio State was a major factor earlier in this recruitment, lately the sense has been that hometown Utah has moved ahead of both Midwestern rivals. Michigan’s former director of player personnel Tony Tuioti leaving to become DL coach at Fresno State could not have helped the Wolverines’ chances. However Tufele told Sam at the Army Game practices today that at least distance won’t be a deciding factor:
“It was never a factor,” he reiterated. “For me going away or going home… it’s either one. It’s just at the end of the day it is going to be wherever best fits me… that’s where I’m going to go.”
While painting the picture of a Ryan Glasgow-like player, Sam noted the relationship with Bryan Mone. Official visits to USC and Utah loom for a now-crucial recruitment that could go a lot of ways. Scout…uh scout Brandon Huffman also chimed in on why Tufele’s a big deal:
Through the first part of the week, Tufele has been the MVP of the defense. He's yet to lose rep in the one-on-ones and when he went against the East interior offensive linemen during Tuesday's practice, he was beating them repeatedly just as he was the O-linemen for the West team. Tufele has a cat-quick first step and grown man strength. Tufele is considering BYU, Michigan, Ohio State, USC and Utah.
While BYU and USC are probably placeholders, Michigan has at best as good a chance as the other two, which equals not a great chance.
At least our scouting works. Once again solid Oregon commit Rutger Reitmaier is making everybody’s lists for top performers at the Army practices. 247’s Bart Simmons’s East team update depressingly mentioned two names familiar to Michigan fans this cycle as standout defensive tackles: Reitmaier, and OG prospect Tedarrell Slaton, who’s expected to commit to Florida. Slaton was also the largest prospect in attendance, weighing in at 363 lbs.
The Sabanification of Georgia is Not a Good Development
A source close to Clay-Chalkville Top247 receiver Nico Collins told 247Sports this week he thinks Michigan and Georgia are on top.
He added he thinks will be the Bulldogs and not the Wolverines that ultimately sign the four-star recruit.
That would indeed be an upset of greater magnitude than turning around Isaiah Wilson, since Collins made multiple visits to Michigan on his own dime. He’ll announce on national signing day.
The Dawgs showing some bite on the recruiting trail after Kirby Smart’s first season ended 8-5 in the Liberty Bowl has caused some people in our community to wonder what’s going on down there. The answer is that it was far more extraordinary that Richt had Georgia at merely Lloyd Carr level in the Age of the SEC. Georgia is twice the recruiting ground of any other SEC state save Florida, and in-state rival GT is less of a threat than Michigan State is to us. Plus, Athens is gorgeous, admittedly as nice a town/campus as Ann Arbor; I can personally attest that their gameday atmosphere is unreal. And Georgia's not a bad school either.
I’m sure some Bama stuff is going on there, but the real reason they’re a threat to Michigan now is because Michigan has chosen to invade SEC territory and compete against the best the SEC has to offer.
Scouting Updates on Committed Recruits
Sam Webb did a feature this morning on WTKA on the Michigan guys he’s watched and spoken to down in San Antonio, and while I couldn’t get the Audioboom recording to work MGoUser ColelsCorky kindly summarized it on our board. Among tidbits in there that weren’t mentioned already, Ambry Thomas looks like an early contributor, Deron Irving-Bey is unrefined but also Young Taco-like off the edge, and Tarik Black has been a “revelation.” Huffman’s scouting report agreed on the last:
The Michigan commit has consistently made plays all week and impressed with his smooth route running for being a bigger framed kid. He has shown good, reliable hands and ball skills as well.
Sam and Josh Newkirk caught up with Black on Wednesday and asked him to name his (homer) pick for top cornerback he’s faced, which offers us a nice segue into MI 4* CB Ambry Thomas:
“I’m not being biased or anything like that cause he’s a Michigan commit. But I do think he’s the best corner out here.”
Adding: “He’s a technician, a long ranging guy and has a lot of speed. You've got to work him to get open.”
Another Michigan recruit who could challenge for early playing time, DE/DT Donovan Jeter got a new eval from Brian Dohn, and it sounds like one of those that could accompany a ratings bump:
Final Thought: Jeter offers position flexibility, which is a great thing for a staff and a player. He can be a defensive end, particularly on the weakside where he can use his length and quickness in his first two steps, or he can add weight and strength and move inside. His body can easily handle 290 pounds, and keeping his quickness is not a concern. His hand speed will also allow him to be successful on the interior of the defensive line.
At 6’6/261 Jeter seems large enough to be in the mix for some standard-down spelling of Chase Winovich as a more Taco-shaped WDE, or Rashan Gary’s backup at SDE immediately. Since Gary is expected to take off some of Hurst’s load at tackle this year, the Anchor position has plenty of snaps available.
The Distant Future 2018
After talking up SEC football 6’6 NJ TE Elijah McAllister told Steve Wiltfong he grew up a Michigan fan and that Michigan has been in contact. I may have posted that just for this quote:
“I liked the SEC culture, everyone is great down South. Growing up in New Jersey, a lot of fast-moving people, not everyone is nice. Down South everyone is nice.
MGoBlog’s official Southern correspondent BiSB reports that “Bless your heart” is actually Tennesseean for “F--- you!”, but as we noted above that doesn’t necessarily mean they hate you.
With the commitments of FL C Cesar Ruiz and MI DE Deron Irving-Bey Michigan has picked up four touted recruits in the past week. Do not be deceived. Just when you think you can poke your head out of the foxhole without getting conked by a four-star recruit, here come some linebackers. FL LB Jordan Anthony announces Thursday and there are rumors that NJ LB Drew Singleton may announce in the near future. In both recruitments it is unclear who is currently running second.
As per usual there were a bunch of scouting articles posted for Ruiz and Irving-Bey that did not make it into Ace's Hello posts. Here's a gross story about Ruiz!
Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy coach Kevin Wright saw Cesar Ruiz’s finger as he ran to the sideline and it was bent sideways.
For the first time in two years, Wright thought the nation’s No. 1 center recruit per 247Sports would have to sit for a snap or two.
Ruiz had other plans.
A trainer popped Ruiz's finger back into place in the 2016 season finale, and the blue-chip recruit hustled back on the field to finish out IMG’s 16-6 victory over Bishop Sullivan Catholic.
...true center prospect with a lot of experience and the ability to play early on the next level. He checks a lot of boxes when going down the list on prospects at his position. He has a great frame. He is very strong. His punch is a real asset. He has shown the ability to get to the second level. He is very smart. He has great awareness. He likes to compete and finish. Michigan is getting one of the top offensive linemen in the country and Ruiz will give the Wolverines an anchor in the middle in the years to come.
TTB gave Ruiz a 99(!), which I don't think I've seen before from Magnus:
Ruiz also does a very good job of staying low out of his stance, and he moves his feet well to down block or reach block defenders to either side of him. IMG Academy plays a rather difficult schedule, so he’s playing some of the best competition in the country, and he’s having success. As a pass blocker, he anchors well without getting driven into the backfield, and his low center of gravity makes him a good match for any really technical nose tackles who try to use leverage.
Ruiz is unique amongst Michigan center prospects in recent memory in that he actually plays the position in high school. Most college-level OL end up at left tackle for obvious reasons; Ruiz was afforded the ability to play center since he's surrounded by fellow college-level OL at IMG.
That gives Ruiz a shot at playing early—even very early—at a spot that usually sees a veteran deployed to make the call. ESPN says he can "at least" make the two deep as a freshman, and Sam broached the idea he could play in year one if Speight was able to make the line calls a la Andrew Luck. In a normal year there's no way he starts, but with the rather looming hole at tackle and Cole's ability to play there you might see some odd things.
Meanwhile, Irving-Bey is an interesting prospect who came from nowhere to be a near-unanimous four star (Rivals is the outlier). The MSU spin that Irving-Bey isn't much of a loss because of an indifferent senior season has nothing backing it. 247 just moved him up about 100 spots—I did not see an explanation as to why, but it happened just a couple weeks ago, so "senior film evaluated" is the most likely explanation. Meanwhile Trieu specifically debunks the spin:
...has turned in two dominant seasons at Flint Southwestern. That is not always against the best competition, but it evens out as he has not always been on the best team either. Even in situations where his team has been down in games, he gives consistent effort and shows motor.
Trieu thinks he's a bit raw but that some folks are exaggerating just how much, FWIW. In the same article, Sam Webb says he's "quick twitch" and uses Maurice Hurst as a comparison. Isaiah Hole caught up with his coach and you can see a bit of Hurst in his description as well:
"He's a kid that plays well with his hands. He's good on either side of the ball -- offense or defense. He's a kid that's very explosive. He comes off the ball pretty fast. He had to be a two-way player for us this year, so he's got good stamina. Able to go the distance. Those are the things I like most about him. He's able to shed offensive guys pretty quick. He plays a lot on the other side of the ball, meaning he has a lot of tackles for loss."
possesses very good first-step quickness and can be disruptive presence. With a quick first-step he can develop into a handful as a pass rusher, though needs to better use his hands and refine his arsenal.
Interestingly, Irving-Bey has the longest arms of anyone in the class, which would help him either at DE if he sticks there or OT if that's the way it works out. (Given the OL class, it probably won't.)
Irving-Bey isn’t particularly athletic or physical, and he does not play with a non-stop motor that might overcome other deficiencies. He reminds me of Columbus (OH) St. Francis DeSales defensive lineman Chris Rock from the class of 2011.
That is pretty harsh.
Also commit aftermath
this is a very silly picture
I also have some tabs about 5* MI WR Donovan Peoples-Jones open that I'm sure you'll enjoy. Steve Lorenz:
Michigan is getting about as sure a star prospect as you will see at the high school level. Immense athleticism, but he's somebody who worked hard in the weight room and bulked up too to match his physical stature with that athleticism. A true instant impact prospect who not just could, but should be a guy who will see the field and make plays from day one in Ann Arbor.
He has great ball skills. He can make acrobatic catches and has good overall athleticism and body control. As a route-runner, he can still be polished. At Cass, he ran a lot of go-routes and screens which allowed him to use his run after the catch ability, but he still has room to grow and get better which should be exciting for Michigan fans given his talent.
Peoples-Jones has tremendous length and range to be an acrobatic playmaker when the ball is in the air. He brings the height and arm length that coaches covet, but he moves like a smaller receiver with the ball in his hands. He can accelerate, tempo his routes, and take the top off the defense with a combination of size and speed.
FWIW, I went over the last three years of WR recruits. Amongst the top five guys in the country there were 4 players I would describe as immediate stars: Christian Kirk (A&M), KD Cannon (Baylor), Demetris Robinson (Cal), and Cameron Ridley (Alabama). There were a couple other guys who got 20 or so catches and Speedy Noil, who got 43 on what I assume were a bunch of screens. It's not easy for a WR to be an instant star.
DPJ probably needs a year to polish up his routes. As Ace mentioned in the Hello post, Cass mostly sends him deep and cackles at the results.
Obligatory Najee section
There is no announcement scheduled for 5* CA RB Najee Harris and there may not be one. Scout's John Garcia Jr:
A separate source near him says he's not expecting a formal announcement or anything in terms of his final decision, whether it's been made or not. It goes along with Najee's personality, as he may not sign any FAAs and simply enroll somewhere in three weeks. That would be the most Najee thing ever in terms of ending the process.
I wouldn't believe anything you hear about a date unless it comes from an established reporter. Also in this vein: I have seen some Najee threads around the internet that talk about his latest follows being Michigan players. Najee Harris does not have a twitter account, so nope.
In terms of actual news, there is none. The closest to it are rumblings that Cal or Florida might hire Tosh Lupoi, Harris's primary recruiter, as their defensive coordinator. This would obviously be very good for Michigan. When Harris talks about his recruitment, he mostly talks about Jim Harbaugh and Tosh Lupoi.
Getting to 32: maybe, maybe not
We've been projecting a 32-man class since the season started, but that might be difficult to pull off without some weird guys showing up. Michigan has 24 commits. We have 12 guys listed in "top group" or "leader" on the recruiting board, and we're not sure if IA WR Oliver Martin and FL OG Tedarrell Slaton are takes right now. Let's assume Michigan holds out for AL WR Nico Collins, leading Martin to commit elsewhere, and Slaton's testing doesn't go sufficiently well to get Michigan back in the game; let us further assume that both of those upcoming LB announcements go well.
To hit 32 without going off the board Michigan would have to get six of the following eight recruits: Harris, Collins, TX OT Chuck Filiaga, VA OT Mekhi Becton, UT DT Jay Tufele, AL DT Aubrey Solomon, MS LB Willie Gay, and CA CB Elijah Hicks. And that's without any decommits.
Possible. Maybe not probable, and with Michigan's board so restricted right now it's hard to see where a potential hole gets filled. There's nobody outside of the aforementioned 12 who seems at all likely at this instant. Now, you may recall Michigan's recruitment of Nick Eubanks last year, which went like this:
Nick Eubanks is on campus
who is Nick Eu—
But those are uncommon. Weird guys who pop up late have usually been on the radar at least somewhat.
A listing of potential weird guys
I do have a few names in this category:
4* AZ S Isaiah Pola-Mao. Currently ticketed to Washington by the Crystal Ball, Pola-Mao is a ninja type who could follow the Eubanks script. Hyphenated last name so it's a surprise he's not already committed.
3.5* CA OT Jalen McKenzie. McKenzie's popped up from time to time in articles where he's pining for offers from USC and Michigan, and he just did so again on Scout. Two, in fact. If Michigan offers he will at least take a visit.
3.5* MI CB Donovan Johnson. He's small but he's not that small, right? One of the enduring oddities of this recruiting cycle is the lack of M and MSU interest for Johnson—especially the latter given how things are going for MSU right now. If Michigan does not get Hicks they might throw an offer Johnson's way, and since he's at Cass you never know.
3* CT CB Brandon Sebastian. Michigan kicked the tires on the BC commit earlier this year but withdrew.
In addition there will be random guys Michigan offers if they think they have spots to fill.
"I think they're getting a hell of a ballplayer," Wallick said. "Obviously, with that length - 6-6, 280 - that much bend and athleticism. He's got a lot of room to grow, a great frame to build on. They're not going to get anyone that's going to work harder in the weight room and on his footwork than he is. He has put a lot of extra time and effort into becoming the best football player he can become."
Needs to polish some areas in his game like first step explosiveness, reactionary quickness, and a more consistent pad level. A focus on range of motion exercises will improve new bend, and allow him to better his setup prior to the snap.
I was led to believe that "bend"—the ability to play in a somewhat crouched position so that you can explode on contact—is largely a you-have-it-or-you-don't kind of thing. Michigan has prioritized that with their tackle recruits, and that's the most likely reason they didn't put a full court press on Banks
If you'd like to read Lorenz extensively quoted about Michigan locking down the state, this Matt Wenzel article is for you.
Nico Collins got recruited by a bunch of Bama guys at that All Star game they have against Mississippi; while our bet is on Michigan here, Collins is more in the DPJ boat than the Ruiz one—it wouldn't be a total shock if he decided on somewhere else. It would be a surprise, gotta dodge some visits, etc.
Harbaugh acolyte on Harbaugh violence as Oregon offers 2018 NV QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Robinson plans to decide over the summer after a suite of unofficials including M, Oregon, UCLA, and a couple Florida schools.
Per a source, Michigan State had the lead for Irving-Bey even before he had an offer from MSU. Michigan State co-defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett has been in touch with Irving-Bey since January and has done an outstanding job recruiting him. Irving-Bey plans to visit Michigan State again very soon. A source added that if MSU stays on Irving-Bey that he’ll end up a Spartan soon.
Some recruiting insiders are hearing Irving-Bey is leaning towards Michigan, but a source close to him told Spartan Tailgate, "I know he loves Michigan State and I'm surprised he hasn't already committed." Irving-Bey plans to take an official visit Tennessee later on this month. We are also told Irving-Bey plans to visit Michigan State again in the near future. Irving-Bey is a high priority for Michigan State because he has the ability to play the same positions for MSU as Malik McDowell does. He can play multiple positions on the defensive line and with McDowell likely to declare for the NFL after his junior season, Irving-Bey is a must get for the Spartans in the class of 2017.
By that time, however, Irving-Bey had become an increasingly frequent visitor to Ann Arbor. A visit to East Lansing (for the Michigan game, incidentally) was sandwiched between an October unofficial and December official visit to Michigan. As Crystal Ball picks to Michigan came flooding in, SpartanTailgate sources changed their tune:
According to a Wolverine source, "The only way Michigan doesn't get Irving-Bey is if he waits too long."
Irving-Bey has taken official visits to Maryland on Dec. 3 and Michigan on Dec. 10. Irving-Bey is announcing at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and likely to select Michigan but could still visit MSU.
A source close to Irving-Bey said, "Deron is still looking at Michigan State and plans to visit there in January."
A separate source said, "A darkhorse in Irving-Bey's recruitment is Maryland." ...
247Sports ranks Irving-Bey as the No. 5 strong-side defensive end in the country. Michigan State is recruiting to Irving-Bey play defensive tackle.
A source added that, "Irving-Bey's senior film wasn't that impressive and doesn't play with a high motor."
Spartan Tailgate was told Irving-Bey is not likely to end up at Michigan State unless they miss out on several other defensive linemen targets ahead of him. That's one of the reasons why Irving-Bey hasn't taken an official visit to Michigan State yet.
Here are a couple totally unrelated screenshots:
Here is a full list of 2017 Michigan State commits on the defensive line along with their 247 Composite rankings:
The Spartans do not have a defensive tackle in the class and zero of the 13 DTs in the 247 database holding offers from MSU are listed with more than "cool" interest in the Spartans. Seven of them have already committed to other schools, including Michigan commit Phil Paea. The remaining six don't have a single MSU Crystal Ball selection between them. The only strongside end listed as "warm" for MSU weighs 215 pounds and is ranked 1240th overall. They're expected to pick up a commitment from a 230-pound weakside end they offered yesterday who's ranked 2106th.
But, yeah, I'm sure they passed on the consensus four-star from Flint because he was too far down their board.
A source tells me Irving-Bey is not expected to make that January visit to East Lansing.
*The rest of the list: #5 Christian Cumber (Colorado State commit), #4 Lynn Bowden (Kentucky holds large lead on Crystal Ball), #3 Ambry Thomas (heh), and #2 KJ Hamler (Penn State). I'm noting this both for the lols and to save for posterity in case it mysteriously disappears from SpartanTailgate's archives.
4*, #24 DE,
3*, #18 SDE
4*, 81, #18 DT,
4*, 93, #5 SDE,
4*, #9 SDE,
Scout and ESPN both have Irving-Bey at the tail end of their top 300 lists; 247 is the bullish outlier, Rivals the bearish. His position rankings are all over the place because there isn't a consensus on whether he'll wind up on the inside or outside of the defensive line. Like fellow 2017 commits James Hudson and Donovan Jeter, Irving-Bey could be a DT or SDE at Michigan, and like Hudson he even has some potential as an offensive tackle.
Irving-Bey is listed at 6'5" by every site save ESPN (6'4") and somewhere between 265 and 284 pounds to every site save Rivals (a comically low/outdated 245).
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, highlights, and more.]
When getting off of the line of scrimmage, Black knows how to set up the cornerback and stick his foot into the ground and make a cut. He gets his head around quickly and locates the ball well.
Black also has big, strong hands, and he does a very good job of securing the ball quickly and heading up the field to make yards.
I'm not sure who he'll get compared to when I do the recruiting profile. Michigan hasn't had a lot of 6'4" guys at WR with Black's apparent polish. FWIW, Black will enroll early.
Orbiting panic guy getting a workout
Drama must accompany any announcement from a recruit in the five star range even when there doesn't seem to be much available, and we hit that point with MI WR Donovan Peoples-Jones and NY OL Isaiah Wilson yesterday. There has been FSU and OSU chatter about Peoples-Jones, and there was a surge of Georgia optimism—one that included a couple crystal balls—for Wilson.
The situations for both are similar: there is a genuine uncertainty since neither player has told coaching staffs where they are headed prior to their announcement. Black was a silent commit for a couple months before his announcement, and there are some other guys on the board who are equally drama-free. Neither of these gents are that.
Webb reports that Peoples-Jones was still sounding folks out for advice as of Monday. DPJ has been on Michigan's campus a zillion times, including an official visit last weekend; Isaiah Hole reports that he spent a lot of time with Najee Harris and his mother, purportedly in an attempt to recruit them to Michigan. Lorenz says it would be a "considerable upset" if he went anywhere else, etc. This has a Lavert Hill vibe to it where there's some uncertainty going into the announcement but the sheer number of visits DPJ has taken and his connections to Michigan should see M win out.
The Wilson stuff looks like a Reverse Nauta to me. If you remember last year's recruitment of TE Isaac Nauta you'll remember the surge of Michigan optimism late that ended up petering out. This is a little different since 247's Ryan Bartow has issued a CB for Wilson to UGA based on a "trio of contacts." He's currently the only member of the insider crew with that opinion. Lorenz is still hearing Michigan; Bama people are hearing Wilson "prefers to play in the SEC" but that Alabama isn't really in it anymore for whatever reason and still riding with Michigan; Mike Farrell and Adam Friedman at Rivals are picking Michigan; 247 Georgia guy Rusty Mansell thinks it's "tight" but also goes with Michigan.
I still go back to that Friedman article I've referenced a couple times where he said he pretty much knew where he was going. That was before the Georgia visit. So for Georgia to win this recruitment one of these two things has to be true:
Everyone was completely wrong about Wilson's inclinations for the duration of his recruitment and a single unofficial over the summer to UGA was enough to overcome full-court presses from Alabama and Michigan.
Georgia did enough on his official visit to overturn an already-made decision.
I guess it's possible; I'll believe it when I see it. Wilson should decide around noon tomorrow.
Obligatory Najee Harris section
Wheatley coaching Harris at Michigan's satellite camp in Antioch
Sam Webb dropped what is probably the longest insider post on a single recruit I've ever seen. The topic, as you may infer from the section header, is naturally CA RB Najee Harris. There's too much in it to even summarize. The most salient bit in my eyes is the total media blackout since Harris's visit:
That includes Scout's Bama writer A.P. Steadham, who has actually spent time in Najee's home interviewing his mom. He was the first to interview her, and for that matter I think he has interviewed her more than anyone else. Since the visit I’m told he has gotten crickets.
Huffman has spoken with the kid and folks in the school more than anyone else in the media (Huff is SUPER connected Antioch). So far crickets for him too (but don’t expect it to be that way much longer).
That blackout results in the kind of reports you see about Harris, where guy who works for team-oriented recruiting site asks team sources how they feel. Naturally they feel real good. 247's Hank South is their main Alabama guy and reports that "a source familiar with Harris's recruitment" believes Harris will stick with 'Bama, which is basically what they've been saying for a year with no more or less conviction.
The other running backs
Harris's uncertain status and AJ Dillon's BC flip puts the other two RB commits in the spotlight. MSU appears to be kicking the tires on 3* GA RB Kurt Taylor. Dillon's decommit should make Taylor's spot in the class much more secure. Still worth noting since that's the only non-Michigan activity on Taylor's profile since April, when he may or may not have taken an unofficial to South Carolina.
Meanwhile NM RB O'Maury Samuels was upgraded to "moderate" on the imaginary flip watch spreadsheet after his official had to be delayed until January so he could re-take the ACT. Sam mentioned a potential Brad Hawkins redux in the Scout best guess list; not everyone is up for a prep year if someone else will take you immediately.
If Harris goes the wrong way Michigan could end up with a thin RB crew. Probably doesn't matter a ton since they have three contributors returning and Davis/Walker coming off redshirts, but I really liked both Samuels and Dillon as prospects.
In case you'd like to know how competitive Michigan State is in the race for MI DE/DT Deron Irving-Bey's commitment, here's an MSU recruiting insider bombing the talent level of the only instate four star other than MSU legacy Hunter Rison the Spartans have a shot at:
A source added that, "Irving-Bey's senior film wasn't that impressive and doesn't play with a high motor."
Spartan Tailgate was told Irving-Bey is not likely to end up at Michigan State unless they miss out on several other defensive linemen targets ahead of him. That's one of the reasons why Irving-Bey hasn't taken an official visit to Michigan State yet.
Irving-Bey will announce on January 7th at the Army game. MSU's several DL targets in front of Irving-Bey... will not do that.
A source close to Harris told SEC Country recently that he prefers Alabama’s weight program more so than Michigan’s. In fact, one player Harris personally knows at Michigan became very out of shape, and it was off-putting. Harris is a workout freak and Alabama strength coach Scott Cochran may be the best in college football.
That is almost certainly Harris's trainer and indicates where he wants Harris to go more than anything else. The idea that there's a huge problem with a Michigan S&C program that is about to put 12 kids in the NFL draft is bush league pyschout stuff, man.
EPISODE IV: A NEW ROSS
Senior film from 4* MI LB commit Josh Ross:
Ross is a bigger version of his brother and will probably play ILB what with Michigan recruiting various safety/LB hybrids for the Peppers spot.
CA CB Elijah Hicks is in a holding pattern after his official to Michigan. His coach still swears up and down he'll sign with ND, but he is an unreliable narrator. Michigan stopped by PA OL and PSU commit CJ Thorpe for whatever reason. Unless things go haywire down the stretch that's unlikely to amount to anything either way.
2019—you are old and will die soon—GA OL/DL Chris Hinton Jr is a potential five star who Michigan has offered. He's worth a mention even at this early stage because both his parents went to Northwestern. I'm giving him an honorary hyphen and expect he'll be a hot name around this time next year.
Former MSU DT Craig Evanslands at Oregon State after a JUCO year. Oregon State is where Gary Andersen is after he left Wisconsin in a huff, largely because he couldn't get guys like Evans, a former UW commit, in. So there's a thing.
MI CB Donovan Johnsonshot up to #7 in the state on the composite, which is a bummer for Michigan twitter screenshotting. Johnson just committed to PSU. MSU didn't even offer, which is the weirdest thing about this year's in-state recruiting.
Also I just need to say that Alabama is recruiting guys named "Buggs" and "Ruggs" at the same time. That is all.
Michigan's enormous visit weekend is in a few days. Folks who say they will be on campus:
5* CA RB Najee Harris. You may have heard of him.
5* MI WR Donovan Peoples-Jones. You may have seen him leap over a yeti to dunk a basketball. DPJ took a visit to FSU last weekend and came back with the same carefully positive take he's had throughout the process. While Michigan seems to have a strong lead he is the kind of guy who could shock the proverbial world because he's very reserved.
5* CA CB Darnay Holmes. Holmes had to cancel an official earlier this year so he could get some test scores. With those in hand he'll be on campus. Nobody really expects much since he's got a strong family connection with UCLA, but at least Michigan will get its at-bat.
4.5* MI CB Ambry Thomas. Scattered reports that Thomas was at MSU last weekend. This is kind of like the Lavert Hill recruitment where Michigan people are very confident and MSU folks are alternately either the same or saying there's a chance. There's even a brief flurry of PSU optimism. It should end the same way. Sam's gut is rumbling. With Thomas enrolling early a decision won't take much longer.
Maybe 4* FL LB Jordan Anthony. Anthony—who just got a fifth star from Rivals—is planning to announce sometime in December. Lorenz reports that he did not make a scheduled official to Oklahoma. Maryland is expecting him this weekend; Wiltfong reports that Anthony "may" visit Michigan this weekend and would "like to" visit Maryland. This is the last visit weekend before the dead period and Anthony wants to announce this month. If he is in Ann Arbor it's a wrap. It's pretty much a wrap even if he does visit Maryland.
4* PA S Paris Ford. Ford is a new name on the board; he committed to Pitt in October but claims a bunch of big offers and is a top 100 kid on the composite. This is the first recruiting activity he's undertaken since his Pitt commit, so unknown how soft he is.
3.5* MI DE Deron Irving-Bey. Irving-Bey is coming off a trip to Maryland and is using his last official before his announcement on Michigan. MSU people still think they have a shot, and they may; Michigan people are confident.
Various commits: MA RB AJ Dillon, NM RB O'Maury Samuels, OH DT James Hudson, MI S Jaylen Kelly-Powell—who will gently prod Thomas, MI OL JaRaymond Hall, and probably some more guys I'm forgetting.
As far as uncommitted recruits go this is just about everyone high on the board who has not already taken their official visit. 4* IA WR Oliver Martin, who apparently came in for an unofficial in October, and 4.5* FL OL Tedarrell Slaton, about whom more in a second, are the only players we have in "top group" or "leader" on the recruiting board who have available officials they are not using this weekend.
December is going to be emoji fire lit did I do that right
Here's a list of players who have set definite commitment dates; will be a busy December and early January:
12/9: 4* CA OL Aaron Banks. Banks is a mystery.
12/16: 4* CT WR Tarik Black. Black is not, despite a recent 'Bama flurry.
12/18: 4* FL OL Cesar Ruiz. Don't know who else is even really in on Ruiz.
12/25: 5* NY OL Isaiah Wilson, who is going to greatly please one fanbase and displease the other given that date. A 247 UGA mod just put in a crystal ball for Michigan after hearing that Georgia's a distant third behind M and Alabama.
1/7: 4.5* TX OL Chuck Filiaga, MI DE Deron Irving-Bey. Army game announcements.
Early-enrolling recruits with no set date who have to go off the board by the first week of January: Ambry Thomas, DPJ, and Najee Harris. As mentioned above, Jordan Anthony also wants to get it done.
Rivals re-rank uncommonly relevant
Rivals went through their rankings and a number of Michigan prospects saw their stock change quite a bit. GA DT Aubrey Solomon and FL LB Jordan Anthony(!) added a fifth star. Anthony's a bit of a surprise. Rivals was already higher on him than any other service—the other three generally have him around #200, and they had him 70th. Now he's all the way up to 26th.
FL OL Cesar Ruiz also moved up 41 spots to 77th; GA WR Nico Collins dropped from 23rd to 59th, which is more in line with where everyone else has him. Other Michigan prospects were static or close to it.
My other brother Tedarrell
Yes, I've used that joke before.
We've been relatively down on Michigan's chances with FL OL Tedarrell Slaton based first on various vibe things and then a cancelled official visit. While it would still be a mild surprise to see him end up in Ann Arbor, Scout's Corey Bender has an article that makes things seem a bit brighter:
"I talk to Michigan every day," Slaton said. "We're just in the communication part right now. They're looking forward to me getting the scores and up for a visit as fast as they can.
"I like the coaching staff, and I've built a good relationship with all of their coaches."
Slaton hasn't taken any official visits and won't until he gets his ACT score back. That will be an inflection point for Michigan's pursuit of him: either they ramp it back up to previous levels or there's a parting of the ways. Slaton is 100% a guard, and there's definitely room for an Onwenu in this class—virtually everyone they're pursuing other than Ruiz is a tackle.
Solomon tea leaves
GA DT Aubrey Solomon took an official to Alabama last weekend. One of the 247 Georgia guys interviewed him and has separate posts about the Georgia and Michigan sections of that; the Michigan one doesn't have many quotes but here's a transcript of one section:
They showed my mom the reason why I did commit there, you know. I *did* know what I was talking about—that's what my mom said.
"They have to show me the academic part really hard," Solomon said. "I know they have a good sports management program. I have been there a lot. They talk about football, football, football, but I want to know about the grades. What am I going to get in return?"
If this was a kid from Kentucky, done deal, Michigan. The hometown pull is still pretty powerful, though, and M will have to weather some storms if they're going to pull this one out. From watching the two interviews it seemed pretty clear which one had the edge with Solomon as of early December: Michigan.
"A lot of stuff they had, Michigan had," he said. "I'm not saying it was the same, but they had some sort of it. So that really hit me hard being closer with that. It really took effect on me."
So where does the Crimson Tide stand coming out of the visit?
"I really couldn't tell you that right now," Solomon said. "I'm not saying it's a tie, because I don't believe in ties, but Alabama really impressed me and my mom."
No video there, unfortunately. Alabama is always a threat.
I'm not too worried about January visits to Oregon(?!) and "maybe" USC; further Georgia visits would be the biggest red flags in the future. I'm not saying he's a lock but the difference in his demeanor when talking about Georgia and Michigan was so notable that even the Georgia 247 board was skeptical he'd end up in Athens.
James Hudson's senior film is all right
Skip the first minute of blindside blocks and witness Willie Henry 2.0:
That's a pretty high level of high school football he's playing and he's tossing people around like they are sacks of grain. Scout recently gave Hudson a fourth star—he's got the full set now. Their reasoning:
His film looked more explosive and athletic than it did a year ago and, as he has continued to grow, he has been evaluated more as an inside guy or an inside-outside guy rather than purely an edge prospect, which is what we ranked him as initially.
He does play a lot of end in high school but that's a DT all the way.
AL OL Toryque Bateman has fallen by the wayside of late—I didn't even mention him amongst the OL Michigan was pursuing in the recent recruiting overview—but still lists Michigan in his top two along with Louisville. The Cardinals seem like a good bet at the moment.
Status quo with AL WR Nico Collins, who told Steve Wiltfong that Michigan was "different"; Wiltfong feeling good about his CB to Michigan. One complication: unlike a lot of guys on the board, Collins is taking his recruitment through Signing Day. Michigan will have to weather some officials.
Tom Herman gets after TX OL Chuck Filiaga. Texas people seem to think they have a shot; they are not as yet issuing that emoji with the cocked eyebrow.
"It was really hard to make my final decision because I like Arkansas a lot, but I am picking Michigan," said Woods. "I just prayed about it and the Lord showed me signs. I feel good about my future as a Wolverine."
He's an early enrollee so this should be a definitive end to his recruitment. There are two visit weekends before the dead period and afterwards he'll be in Ann Arbor. Kind of get the feeling the Arkansas/Mississippi State dalliances were manufactured to provide his school with an excuse to do some hat stuff.
Keeping Woods is important with Michigan's need at safety and the lack of other names on the board at the spot; Scout makes him sound a lot like Jeremy Clark:
Woods is a defensive back with great length. He is lean and will need to add weight to his frame when he gets to the next level. He could get a look at cornerback, but he is likely a free safety in college. His length is an asset in coverage and recovery.
I'll take another Clark.
All hands to the tweet decryption stations
Michigan's coaches are on the road this week, visiting anyone and everyone they're still recruiting. CA OL Aaron Banks lives in El Cerrito, California, and this may or may not mean anything.
I have an emoji for this.
Harbaugh finally got his latte after like 15 minutes
Clash of Royale Strike level up
Banks is announcing for Michigan on the 9th.
Harbaugh's making telescopes? And selling them for profit? I guess?
It's times like these I wish Michigan had a TOOT TOOT ALL IN FOR THE GOVERNOR wink wink commit thing, like many schools do. Just a few hours prior to the above tweet, Lorenz reported that Michigan had little idea what Banks would do. Reports that Banks was not a take appear to be incorrect.
FWIW, Brice Marich hears that the in-home with Banks "went excellent and was very informative too."
Dominate the hyphens
Michigan's quest to dominate the state of Hyphen continues unabated after their setback with Brelin Faison-Walden. Next up might be MI DE Deron Irving-Bey, who is set to announce at the Army game. With just two visit weekends left before the dead period and one official visit in the books, some tea-leaf reading is possible:
His list of six is really a list of four. He's visited Tennessee, plans to visit Maryland this weekend, and has been on the MSU and UM campuses many times for unofficials. Syracuse and Cincinnati are window dressing.
Webb reports that he'll take an official to Michigan for their huge December 9th weekend. That should be his last in person recruiting contact before his commitment, since the dead period starts the 12th. In a dead period you can only interact on the phone or by text.
While you can't entirely rule MSU out since he's familiar with the program, Michigan is perceived to lead and gets the last crack. Also he has a hyphen in his last name.
Linebacker board static
Sorry for leaving FL LB Jordan Anthony off the recruiting overview post on Wednesday. That was an oversight only; Michigan is still expected to get him. That does rather complicate things in the projected class, which had MS LB Willie Gay on it and then did not when I inserted Anthony.
Despite that omission, Gay remains very high on Michigan. Per Lorenz, Partridge stopped in on Tuesday and Gay said it went "better than I would have ever thought," which is kind of a weird statement and also very encouraging. This is still in "believe it when I see it" territory. If Gay schedules an unofficial back to Ann Arbor, then I will start thinking it's happening. I remember Fletcher Cox and will not discount Mississippi State for an instate kid, ever.
Meanwhile, MI LB Antjuan Simmonsdecommitted from Ohio State, making that one guy's article about Meyer's recruiting coup look a bit silly. Do not expect Michigan to get involved. Simmons still appears salty about Michigan's lack of enthusiasm early in the process. Even after he started looking around and must have had an inkling that he was not going to end up in Columbus, his twitter feed was... uh... aggressive about Michigan.
This is mostly disappointing because I wanted this screenshot to be a wall of block Ms:
Seven out of eight wouldn't be bad. Webb's hearing Arizona may be Simmons's landing spot, which would be something. Notre Dame is also a strong contender.
NJ LB Drew Singletonwill be at The Big Recruiting Weekend.
Rutger is fine, it's just the S that makes it a problem
Webb reports that the parents of TN DT Rutger Reitmaier are in Michigan's corner, and with Oregon in flux they will have a great shot to flip him. Reitmaier's dad has been on campus more than some committed recruits:
The elder Reitmaier made his way to campus for a game weeks before his son came up for an official visit. It gave dad an opportunity to spend some quality one-on-one time with Harbaugh. They built on that when the entire Reitmaier family came up for Rutger's official visit a few weeks ago.
A recent OSU offer may be the main competition if Reitmaier follows through with a visit.
“I want to play right away," he said when asked what he's looking for in a school.
“Miami says I can come in and play right away, Florida says that I can come in and play, and Michigan says that I have to come in and compete with [junior tackle Juwann Bushell-Beatty] and probably another tackle [current Michigan commit Joel Honigford].”
It is unrealistic that Miami and Florida don't have guys at least on JBB's level. If Herbert's takeaway from those two competitors is "I should go to another school," that sounds like the kind of reason that's not the real reason. He's the only guy in the class I think is a serious threat to voluntarily decommit.
Edges of the board still active
Marich also reports that CT CB Brandon Sebastian plans a mid-January official and that AZ S Isaiah Pola-Mao has tentative plans to official at some point during that month as well. That's good timing for Michigan, as a lot of questions about who will and will not be in the class will be resolved by the time either guy gets around to making a decision.
Meanwhile, chaos at Oregon has seen a number of their top prospects decommit or Explore Their Options; delightfully named OL/DL Popo Aumavae is one of them. He's setting up a suite of visits and he'd like Michigan to be one of them.
Obligatory Najee Section
Tom Van Haaren puts a not-at-all-completely-arbitrary chance on CA RB Najee Harrisflipping:
Committed to: Alabama Chance he flips: 50 percent Toughest competition: Michigan
I like that number. It is a high number. Lorenz reports Harris will follow through on his plan to visit Michigan for The Big Recruiting Weekend. Like Irving-Bey, that should be the last in-person crack anyone gets at him before he enrolls early. (Or commits, in Irving-Bey's case.)
Dillon, who said he would have considered enrolling early at Michigan but his school doesn't allow it, will take his first of five allotted official visits to Boston College this weekend and then go to Ann Arbor the following week. He's also considering visits to Nebraska and Iowa, but nothing is arranged yet and he's still firmly committed to Michigan, which he's been watching from afar all season.
"I was really impressed with them, they're still doing great."
A Notre Dame visit would be something to watch out for given Dillon's family ties; I doubt that Nebraska, BC, or Iowa have the recruiting mojo to flip Dillon without an external bombshell named Najee.
Happy trails to TX LB Baron Browning, who committed to OSU. GA WR Jeremiah Holloman isn't really a happy trails since Michigan hasn't been on his list since shortly after his decommit almost a year ago, but if you're curious he just committed to Georgia.
Keep an eye on the FAU job. Bruce Feldman reports that Mario Cristobal is a candidate; if he gets it that would greatly aid Michigan's chances with Alex Leatherwood.
Brandon Brown lists the various guys who plan to enroll early. I was not aware of a couple of these names. For the record: JaRaymond Hall, Donovan Jeter, Corey Malone-Hatcher, Ben Mason, Benjamin St-Juste, Jaylen Kelly-Powell, J'Marick Woods, Donovan-Peoples Jones, Ambry Thomas, Tarik Black, Cesar Ruiz, and Najee Harris all plan to enroll early. Michigan should have room since they'll have a ton of guys who want to get done with school this semester so they can prep for the NFL draft.
Yes, it's time for more guarded optimism about #1 overall recruit Najee Harris. The Alabama commit didn't make his scheduled official visit to Tuscaloosa last weekend because he couldn't leave his high school game early enough to catch his flight. Today, the San Francisco Chronicle continued their series on Harris with a feature focused on Harbaugh's bye week visit to Antioch; while there are many more factors to this recruitment, Michigan has a clear edge in relationship with the head coach:
Harris, though, was flattered by Harbaugh’s decision to attend his game and amused by the way he mingled with fans.
“Not many head coaches go out there and take pictures with everybody,” Harris said. “Everything he’s doing is cool.”
Harris will make it to Tuscaloosa eventually. He doesn’t have the same fondness for Tide head coach Nick Saban as he does for Harbaugh, but he does have a relationship with [Alabama assistant Tosh] Lupoi, the recruiter.
There's another telling passage in there: Harris's main recruiter at Alabama, Tosh Lupoi, called him after Harbaugh's visit and "belittled Michigan’s schedule in the Big Ten" in comparison to Bama's. As a general rule, you don't negative recruit another school unless you perceive it as a threat.
While the date hasn't been set, Michigan's coaches still fully expect Harris to make it to campus for an official visit. Harris plans to enroll early, so this recruitment will move quickly once OVs start happening, and it'll be fascinating to follow.