What do you see from Minnesota that you’re preparing for?
“Well, they’re gonna run the rock. Their mantra, you can tell, is they’re big, strong. I think the best offensive line we’ve played to this point in terms of run blocking, and they’ve got multiple running backs that can carry the load so we’ve got to do a great job in controlling the run game and then obviously doing a good job on third down from our standpoint.”
With Aubrey Solomon getting the start, what did he do to earn that start?
“Wow. Just a big boy growing up. He’s learned the system, he’s minimizing errors, and he’s kind of solidifying himself as a solid guy we can depend on on a three-down basis. And it’s not rocket science. I mean, on third down, we’ll do whatever we want to do anyway to get off the field, so with some of those things he’s involved and some of ‘em he’s not involved, but he’s a tremendous run defender and a very solid pass defender.”
On that second touchdown drive against Rutgers they hit a couple plays where your guys were right there on them. Is that going to happen and are there times where you as a coordinator just tip your cap?
“Well, I tip my cap on the pass. The kid made a one-handed catch. I thought Tyree was in great shape. You want to be able to lean into him and go through his hands and all that but at the end of that day it was like that [mimes a one-handed catch away from the body].
“So, you know, the bottom line is… let me paint a picture for you. You’re in zone coverage, okay? And we played a bunch, by the way, last Saturday, but we play combination coverages so guys are—we don’t want guys running free. We don’t want, oh we’re in zone, this guy dropped him. We’re not doing that, okay? So I’d rather spend my time teaching great technique, great fundamentals, let B. Smith and Mike Zordich do their deal and also be able to mix in, when we decide, other concepts that will cover people. Not people running through air and then relying on those zone pieces. I mean, that’s just not what we do.
[I had to split this answer with THE JUMP because posting novellas to the front page during the season is discouraged]
What’s it like practicing against a Don Brown defense every day?
“It makes us better. It makes us better without a doubt. It really is a true test of our rules, you know, with the energy that they bring and how intense his defense is. It raises the level of our intensity as an offense.”
Where have you seen Brandon Peters get better from the start of the season?
“Well, Brandon’s still a work in progress. He’s only played in a portion of one game. Just like a lot of our young players, time on task, having more time on task has allowed them to improve. I don’t want to say that there’s not still a lot of work to be done, because there is. But he’s gotten more reps as of late and we expect continued improvement.”
What did he do to convince you guys to put him in the game? What’s he doing in practice?
“He had a better understanding as the season went on of the offense. More recently, once Wilton went down he had more of an opportunity to get reps with the first offense.”
Was there a play or two that stood out Saturday as impressive to you for a guy getting his first live action?
“Absolutely. Finding the checkdown. The play where we had a four vertical concept called in the red zone, he didn’t force it downfield, he didn’t force it to one of our tight ends that were running down the seams, he stepped up in the pocket, showed tremendous poise, and checked the ball down to Henry Poggi and that was a big play for us.”
[After THE JUMP: finding offensive rhythm with the guys you’ve got, more on Peters, and Mo Hurst: destroyer of games, wrecker of handoffs]
DOES THIS THING HAVE A DIFFICULTY LEVEL HARDER THAN "INSANE"
The Law of Harbaugh: it doesn't matter who your QB is
Jim Harbaugh is a kid sitting in a basement frustrated because Dark Souls is too easy. Sure, he crafted the first draft pick of any variety in San Diego history. He beat USC with a pottery major. He got Alex Smith a 70-million dollar contract. He nearly won a Super Bowl with a guy the league is currently passing over in favor of Stoney Case. (For bad reasons, admittedly.) And he turned an Iowa castoff into an NFL draft pick and in-demand trade bait:
All about the QB & 1 generating interest from GMs: #Lions QB Jake Rudock. Went 10 of 13 for 113 vs #Patriots. Teams tried to poach him in 16
Quarterbacks? Quarterbacks are easy. He has all the Quarterbacka Universalis IV achievements. Except one: take a quarterback recruited by Al Borges and have him finish his career as the starter. It's never happened. Never! Never ever ever. And no wonder. This Speight quote from last year only gets more boggling 12 months later:
"In their eyes, myself, David Cornwell, and this kid from IMG Academy Michael O'Connor are the best quarterbacks in the nation in this class."
Cornwell and O'Connor were both nowhere near the two deep before they transferred, Cornwell to Nevada and O'Connor to UBC. As in British Columbia.
The Borges achievement wasn't going to happen this time either, because John O'Korn was going to swoop in and gun-sling his way into our hearts. Then it did happen. Wilton Speight, a redshirt sophomore who played a chunk of the season with something deeply wrong with his collarbone, was the second-most efficient QB in the Big Ten, averaged nearly eight yards an attempt, and had a 18-7 TD-INT ratio. He's already the best Borges-recruited QB ever, easily outstripping Cam Coffman's 6.7 YPA (and subsequent move to TE) in 2012.
At this point I'm willing to see what the Harbaugh version of Denard Robinson looks like under center. Just in case.
[After THE JUMP: references marginally less dorky than EUIV!]
Yes, that McCaffrey. This one, Dylan McCaffrey, is a quarterback with a prototypical frame and a long way to go to maximize it. In most other ways he's as far along as anyone else in his class.
He sounds like a McCaffrey, basically. He's taken full advantage of his athletic legacy and arrives in college a technically advanced player. ESPN notes that he plays in a "multiple I-formation" offense with a lot of play action and timing routes—i.e., a high school manball offense. While this may be a bit exaggerated based on his highlights, there are some snaps from under center. He's "the rare QB who can go under center and take a drop," per Scout, and he performs in that context:
prototypical size … very lanky. … very polished player. …nice feel for where to go with the ball pre-snap. … Play-pass ball handling and quickness in his set-up is as good as any in the class. …calm, shows balance and good movement skills in the pocket to work through reads and deliver the football. Very heady and does a great job with feet and eyes under duress. … Anticipation and ability to throw guys open is very impressive. …very impressive tools and footwork … adequate-to-good arm strength and when sound with his footwork can make just about every throw. Compensates with timing and pacing with his feet, drops and delivery. …still blooming and has a high ceiling … will get stronger and thus be able to make deeper throws at the next level.
McCaffrey draw praise for his polish and general McCaffrey-ness in just about every evaluation. Clint Brewster:
…really sees the entire field. McCaffrey makes decisions that put his team in position to win. He is a smart player and really dissects coverage well, with precision accuracy and decisiveness. He makes a ton of advanced level throws and reads on film and can really pick you apart with his arm. His mobility is just the icing on the cake.
McCaffrey's mechanics in the pocket are very polished, especially for a player with his type of upside and mobility. His pocket presence and footwork really set him apart from others in the class.
tremendous upside. … 6-5 but can move around in the pocket and has no problem escaping pressure and either making a throw down the field or running … can throw with heat or with touch, is accurate to all three levels of the field and shows poise and a calmness in the pocket beyond his years. … extremely bright quarterback with a high football IQ. … checks off every box you could want in a next-level quarterback. He has not only the physical tools but more importantly, the makeup required to lead a big-time program.
There are some disagreements about his physical abilities right now. McCaffrey does not have a Mallett/Morris cannon. Arm strength takes range from the generally positive ("velocity is already above average; McCaffrey can zip passes into tight windows with confidence") to the middling ("good arm, not a great arm"; "won't necessarily wow anyone with elite arm strength").
McCaffrey's motion produces similar disagreements. Drevno asserts that he "loves the way he throws the ball … he's got a quick release"; ND's 24/7 site praised his "clean, compact motion" and footwork. On the other hand, when 24/7 started moving him down from his near five-star status after the Elite 11 Barton Simmons said he "has a glaring technical flaw he needs to clean up," without any explanation as to what exactly that was. Rivals mostly talked about his option game in a post where they explained a move down; the scouting report sounds like a different player entirely:
McCaffrey was impressive in operating the option read in the game we attended earlier this season, tucking the ball when he could and making plays with his feet, but he struggled a bit throwing down field. He certainly has the athleticism and awareness that makes him a terrific game manager at this stage in his development, but he should probably be lower in the rankings until he proves he can be a top-flight passer.
Their take was very much an outlier, though Brandon Brown did note his "passing motion can look slow and deliberate."
This space is usually dubious about "intangibles" since they're typically nonsense feelingsball, but we'll make an exception for quarterback recruits since there are some actual attributes that get shoved in there. QBs can get shook in a way that doesn't really happen to running backs or wide receivers or anyone else who doesn't have to stand still and hope that a 270-pound man isn't about to barrel into his back. The ability to keep calm and carry on reading defenses, especially on the road, is a real skill. I'll also admit that I believe that QB leadership can have a tangible on-field impact. So too the invisible stuff that happens before the snap. Organization is a real QB skill.
So. One thing that the above scouting reports touch on are those intangibles, which McCaffrey appears to have in spades. Scout gave him a 10 in that department:
…pure pocket passer with good athleticism and a great feel for the game …very good footwork and poise. He's a natural leader with the arm strength needed to make all the throws and is able to escape pressure and make a play with his legs.
Family lineage and elevated football intelligence make Dylan McCaffrey one of the country's most compelling quarterback prospects. … Impressive mental aptitude in terms of digesting a complicated playbook; excelled in this facet at the Elite 11 Finals. A competitive athlete who commands his offensive huddle with authority. Selected by Elite 11 counselors as finalist with the strongest leadership attributes. Mental intangibles and potential for physical growth create high-ceiling projection. …presents the playbook diligence and mental fortitude coaches covet. His personality, athleticism and smarts suggest he'll be ready to follow family footsteps toward stardom when opportunities arrive in Ann Arbor.
"…this kid will be offered by every program that is taking the pro-style, multiple approach that requires a great deal of the quarterback at the line of scrimmage and to run the offense -- both in the run and pass game."
A couple of those scouting reports mention McCaffrey's ability to move, which is significant. Rivals actually had him listed as a dual-threat QB for most of the cycle, and in crunch time last season his team started relying on his legs more than any other in their possession. His high school coach:
“Especially in the playoffs, we relied a little bit more on his legs: he ended up being our leading rusher. He was able to get us 3-5 first downs a game with his legs in addition to what he could do with his arm."
In addition to completing two-thirds of his passes for nearly ten yards a pop, McCaffrey rushed for around 600 yards with ten touchdowns and even caught three passes. Other scouting reports that touched on his athleticism call him "very athletic," "mobile but a pure pocket passer," and the like.
Harbaugh himself said he's "very athletic and he's going to be able to move." With Brandon Peters possessing approximately the same level of mobility, Michigan's going to be able to design their offense with a half-dozen or so QB carries in mind no matter who emerges in a post-Speight world.
Speaking of, if all of this sounds barely distinguishable from Peters, yep. 24/7 called him another version of Peters, one "maybe even more talented," when he committed. A different analyst followed that up when they saw him at the Elite 11:
"a lot of similarities between McCaffrey and Brandon Peters. …similar calm to his game and seems to play without panic … really high release point … unorthodox route to get there. … just a guy that has a maturity about him."
At the level of specificity this series aspires to these guys are almost the same prospect.
They ended up at the same point in the rankings, eventually, but at one point McCaffrey was ranked the top QB on the composite not because any one scouting service was particularly high on him but because all four thought he was a top-50-ish prospect. He steadily dropped over the course of the cycle. His most precipitous drop came after the Army game. He was busy attending that award ceremony where he zinged his parents on the first day, and when he arrived he was naturally behind the other guys in attendance:
…looked a little out of sync … was late on some throws but he certainly flashed that major potential as well with some nice throws while also displaying he can be an RPO threat in Ann Arbor getting loose in practice with his legs as well.
…struggled a bit on the first day, never really settling into a rhythm with his receivers.
He would settle in as the week went on, but criticism continued. Some of it gives off a whiff of Wormley Derangement Syndrome wherein a recruiting guy is talking about putting together a high school all star team instead of projecting to the next level:
… showed the most poise and accuracy but lacked the arm strength to make deep and tight throws.
McCaffrey is 6'5" and probably 30 pounds from the finished product. The arm strength will come. You can't make the same assertions about fireballers without any vision.
The resulting drop was dramatic. 247 slid him almost 150 spots, and McCaffrey went from 51st in the composite to 123rd. And that's fine. If it's me, I'm not looking at a guy named McCaffrey who's going to play QB for Jim Harbaugh and knocking him down the list based on this amount of data…
only got to lead the West offense twice in a scrimmage format, he threw a bad interception in one of them … being looked at based on (literally) a handful of throws
…mostly because he's not as far along physically as some other guys in his class.
“It was Denard Robinson," he said. "I loved watching him! They were definitely tough to beat. I laid out all the options, so I really did look at all the schools that I was interested in. It just so happened that they fit me best."
MSU DB target Cumber beats Michigan QB commit McCaffery
Cumber committed to Colorado State.
Why Also Andrew Luck? He's the same recruit as Brandon Peters so he gets the same comparison. Luck is a pocket passer with plus athleticism who was ranked in about the same range coming out of high school.
Guru Reliability: High. Heavily scouted QB, All Star and Opening appearances. More or less total agreement rankings-wise, but some scouting wobbles.
Variance: Moderate. Competition level and tendency to drop when put in those All Star appearances do give some pause, as does a certain amount of projection needed to get him to 230 and assimilate increased arm strength into his repertoire.
Ceiling: Vast. 6'5" guy with some wheels and an advanced ability to process information. McCaffrey's top end is bonkers.
General Excitement Level: Very high. I mean… McCaffrey QB coached by Harbaugh seems pretty all right.
Projection: Harbaugh QB means redshirt, especially when there are three guys in front of him. Assuming Speight maintains the job McCaffrey will be in a three-way competition for the job with Peters and Joe Milton in 2019. That competition could come a year early if Speight takes off and heads to the NFL.
“They’re working hard. They’re working hard. It’s a very talented group. I think they have intensified the level of competition amongst that receiver group. To say that they’ve made progress is somewhat of an understatement.”
MGoQuestion: Obviously it’s a meritocracy but how do you plan to get all those young receivers on the field considering the depth and the talent there?
“Well, we still have 25 days before we play a game, so there will be guys that continue to make progress that separate themselves and ultimately give themselves a chance to play. “
Have you already seen some players emerging in front of the group?
“I think there’s been a ton of guys that have had really good days. It’s just a matter of stacking days and being consistent and once again, in time Coach will have some hard decisions to make.”
There’s so much talk about the younger receivers. What about some of the older guys? Maurice Ways comes to mind. How is he doing and how does he fit in?
“Well, like I said, I think the younger receivers, they’ve made all of our receivers have to work hard—not that they wouldn’t have to work hard anyway, but just getting reps is really competitive at this point. We have a lot of reps over the course of practice so everybody has a chance to get up there and make plays and there’s a ton of guys that are making plays.”
Is there a noticeable difference in how the receivers are with chemistry [and] timing with Wilton Speight as opposed to in the spring?
“No. I think overall as an offensive unit we’ve improved from a continuity standpoint. I think that’s what you’re saying. I think that the time that the players spent this summer in the player-run workouts gave them a better sense of the timing that’s required for us to be successful as an offense, and so there have been improvements.”
Obviously the guys have to get a grasp on what you’re teaching. How much of a sense of control do you feel being new, going through camp? How much do you feel like you have a sense of control?
“I don’t know that ‘control’ would be the word I would use. I think the players are starting getting more of a conceptual understanding of what we want to do schematically on offense, so as a result they’re playing faster.”
[After THE JUMP: how QBs adjust to young WRs and an interesting point about the speed of the offense]
The two guys not pictured, DaQuan Pace and DeJuan Rogers, both went to MAC schools and signed as UDFAs so this is likely to be short-lived. Nonetheless that is extraordinary. Jermain Crowell, the DBs coach at Cass Tech at the time:
He planned to take all four of his NFL-bound protégés out to dinner to congratulate them Tuesday night.
"This might be the last check that I pick up," he said. "This might have to be the last one."
Bits and pieces of the schedule. Michigan's added some guarantee games in 2018 and 2019. They'll play WMU in 2018 and MTSU and Army in 2019. The Broncos are likely to be far enough removed from the PJ Fleck era to be a major threat, but they're likely to be on another level from a low-level MAC opponent.
It's even tougher to project to 2019. FWIW, MTSU has been about .500 the last four years. They were competitive with Vandy (a 17-13 loss) and Illinois (a 27-25 loss) last year; this year they were hammered by Vandy but beat (a very very bad) Mizzou. Army has been the service academy it's safe to schedule for about 20 years now but they got off the mat for an 8-5 2016 with third year coach Jeff Monken.
Hooray for not worrying about this anymore. This site used to have annual posts dedicated to the Academic Progress Rate, because a late Carr falloff and disastrous transition to Rich Rodriguez had Michigan hovering near the Mendoza line. That 880 fell off a couple of years ago, and from there it's been about consolidating a spot at the top. Mission accomplished:
Top 6 APRs (Academic Progress Rates) in FBS football:
Oddly, I don't see Notre Dame on that list. Someone check ND Nation for fainting spells.
Excellent job all around here, and if you're scoring at home Michigan just had the most NFL draft picks, the third-highest APR in college football, and took a trip to Rome. Croots should be knocking the doors down. For real:
Michigan's coaching staff was just returning from an Italian dinner -- their final meal as a team in Rome -- in a 17th century Baroque mansion with marble door frames and elaborate chandeliers when their phones started to buzz again. A few thousand miles away, on the other side of the Atlantic, the New York Jets had just selected Jeremy Clark with the 197th pick of the NFL draft. He was the 11th Wolverine to have his name called in Philadelphia, a new school record.
In one particular way it's tough being a McCaffrey. Zing:
Hurst will go high. PFF has always been about Maurice Hurst and it looks like that is approaching consensus in the draft analyst community. Todd McShay:
Hurst has started just four games at Michigan, but I love what I've seen on tape so far. He was frequently Michigan's best defensive lineman during the games I studied. And remember: That group just had three D-linemen selected in the 2017 draft.
He's projected to go 16th next year. Don't expect much else: Michigan has just eight seniors. Mason Cole is likely to be drafted and Mike McCray could play himself into the middle rounds. Khalid Hill might be a draftable fullback. Unless there are some very surprising breakouts from juniors that would be it.
Though Dave Brandon was unseated as athletic director in Oct. 2014, the revenue monster he built breathes without him. Michigan always was a conference heavyweight but it has recently become the unrivaled giant of money-making B1G football programs, the first in the league to approach the $100 million mark in gross revenue. The 2015-16 figure is a whopping 10-percent increase over 2014-15's $88.3M. Michigan's $60.6 net after expenses is easily the conference's largest.
Jones must have missed the collapse of Michigan's season ticket waiting list and ~75,000 fans at the dismal Maryland game. The part of Michigan's revenue surge that isn't TV money lifting all boats is directly attributable to one Jim Harbaugh, not the athletic director he didn't want to work for.
This year’s event seemed to be focused more on the internal stars, if you will—brining out the coaches, introducing the alumni, all that. What was the decision behind that and what do you think of this event compared to last year’s?
“Yeah, that was really it. It was just a thought that I had, we had, to make it more about Michigan, from the band, the cheerleaders, the drum line, coaches, players, parents. Just make it about the family, make it about the family that we are at the University of Michigan.”
Why did you want to make that change compared to last year?
“I just thought it’d be better. Not comparing the two; I think they’re both great. Just kind of the direction—it just felt right. That was the ‘why.’”
Does that reinforce the family atmosphere here at Michigan?
“It means so much to me. Never has that resonated more; brought home our seventh child yesterday. Came right out, gave it to Eddie McDoom on a fly sweep. They were giving it to us. Had to take it. There’s no better word in the English language to me than ‘family,’ this family of ours, the University of Michigan.”
/Ambry Thomas sneaks up behind Harbaugh
“Compete, Coach! Compete!”
JH: “Compete! Compete! Compete! Was that good? Good job, Ambry.”
You touched on it up there, but the combination of this receiving class you’re brining in and Pep Hamilton moving forward with that group.
“It’s a very dynamic group. Wonderful guys, you know. Really talented people, and just thankful. Today is a day I thank the guys. I thank ‘em for coming to the University of Michigan, for choosing Michigan. I thank the parents for trusting us with their children. So, it’s a day to be thankful. It’s a day to celebrate, and very happy. I mean, this is Michigan. I want just to come be great. I want them to take advantage of everything Michigan has to offer. So, a lot of emotions, but mostly joy.”
Can you talk about the trip to Italy and your reaction to the NCAA ruling that this is the last year of spring break camps?
“Yeah, we’re not going during spring break, so…[/smiles]. We’re going at the end of the term, so it’s compliant with all rules or new rules that have been made. And let’s talk about what mainly it is: it’s an unbelievable opportunity for all of us—youngsters and adults alike—to have an educational opportunity, to connect with the people from another country, to study in terms of study abroad. Most all our players are going to have that opportunity to study abroad, do internships, do service.
“We’re going to Italy, we’re gonna be there for a week, we’re going to practice, but from there all our players are going to be able to branch out all over the world. Thinking that the classroom—the world is our classroom. And they’re going to be going to Iceland, Belgium, Japan, Israel, South America, Puerto Rico, all over the world to do their classes in May. It’s so phenomenal that I can’t wait to get there.”
[After THE JUMP: Tom Brady, HC; loading the Jim Harbaugh Coaching Express; future trips abroad]
Tuesday's post covered the final Rivals 100; since Rivals has released all of its final rankings. Scout, 24/7, and ESPN have finalized theirs as well. We're going to ignore small moves down, since those are mostly drops based on other guys flying up the board and don't signify a change of opinion regarding the prospect in question. Guys who had significant moves on at least one site:
COMMITS: STOCK UP
CT WR Tarik Black got a ten spot bump on Scout.
FL OL Cesar Ruiz saw steps forward everywhere ranging from minor bumps (247 moved him up 12 spots to #54) to more significant ones (up 36 spots to 41 on Rivals). ESPN has him 28th (up from 69th), which would be five-star territory except ESPN is apparently only handing that out to 14 recruits this year.
OH DT James Hudson had a big rise on 247 from 237th to just outside the top 100.
VA DE Luiji Vilain surged to the cusp of five-star status at 247 (up 49 spots to 36th) and up 107 slots to #74 on Rivals. ESPN bumped him up to 69th (nice) from #95.
MI DE Deron Irving-Bey got a ~25 spot bump on ESPN and a 10 spot bump on Scout.
FL LB Jordan Anthony got a ~30 spot bump on Scout and was otherwise static.
COMMITS: STATIC BUT I'M MENTIONING THEM ANYWAY
MI WR Donovan Peoples-Jones had a significant fall at 247 to 26th (from 8th) and minor bumps elsewhere. He's now in a very tight range.
MI CB Ambry Thomas dropped 30 spots to 62nd on 247; he gained about that many slots on Rivals but that only got him up to #146.
COMMITS: STOCK DOWN
CO QB Dylan McCaffrey took a nosedive. 247 moved him from 58th to 204th; Rivals slid him about 80 spots to land at #131. Scout and ESPN have him in that same range now.
TX OL Chuck Filiaga dropped about 60 spots to #175 on Rivals. He had a ~10 spot drop on Scout.
NJ LB Drew Singleton fell 21 spots at 247 to exactly 100th despite being laid up with an ACL injury. That's a grumble.
UT DT Jay Tufele jumped up to 14th (+25) on 24/7 and 37th(+64) on Rivals.
GA DT Aubrey Solomon jumped 11 spots to 20th on 24/7 and solidified his five star status elsewhere.
MS LB Willie Gay jumped 18 spots to 33rd on 24/7 and from outside the Rivals 250 to 73rd.
IA WR Oliver Martin rose to 47th (+23) at 247 and entered the Rivals 250 at #206.
GA WR Nico Collins fell about 40 spots to 200th at 24/7 and around 60 spots to 120th at Rivals
More positive than negative here, as the only player to take a major hit was McCaffrey; meanwhile three guys who are in the class (Vilain, Ruiz, Hudson) and four of the five major targets got bumps.
Aubrey Solomon trending to M, says everyone except Aubrey Solomon
Solomon with 2018 commit Otis Reese back in the day
Good news: Michigan's surge on 5* GA DT Aubrey Solomon'scrystal ball has continued unabated. Michigan's picked up the last 14 picks, amongst them another handful of 24/7 personnel including Steve Wiltfong. Further reports from the Michigan in-home are very positive as well:
“Aubrey’s mom was really impressed that he brought his daughter along,” Webb said. “The visit hit all the marks. Anyone doubting Michigan’s strong standing in the race just isn’t paying attention.”
“It was one of the best in-home visits ever. It was just a different setting to see a coach,” Solomon said. “My mom loved it, too, and was just shocked how engaging the coaches were, especially with my baby sister. His daughter and my sister got a long so well, it was just heartwarming and a great visit.”
Wiltfong went as far as to say that a couple of sources indicated it was a Michigan-USC(!) battle, which would be excellent news indeed.
Defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon (Leesburg, Ga./Lee County) said Alabama still leads.
"They still lead big, but not by a huge margin," Solomon said. "I like the physicality they bring and their defense."
That was Tuesday about an hour after the previous recruitin' went up; nothing about that statement has done anything to dissuade people from picking Michigan. The author of that piece, Ryan Bartow, is in fact the guy who was first to pull the trigger on a Michigan pick, and he remains unmoved.
Solomon says "right now I'm done" but that something could come up, because that's how this recruitment has gone. I go back to the UGA moderator who said Solomon might not even take in-homes with Saban and Smart. If that turns out to be the case Michigan fans can go into his Signing Day decision with a lot of confidence. If those guys do drop in it will be a nail-biter.
Elsewhere in five-star DTs, Lorenz has put in a crystal ball for UT DT Jay Tufele to Utah. That appears to be the consensus from both OSU and Michigan folks.
Oliver Martin will be going somewhere this weekend, or nowhere
Michigan has officially landed in Iowa City. Wolverines here for in-home visit with Oliver Martin today. pic.twitter.com/RCzEumNHi5
That's how geography works. You're always in a place. You're never nowhere unless you're Michigan State and it's bowl season.
Anyway, Michigan has once again put on a full court press for IA WR Oliver Martin, who they supposedly led for until a parting of the ways a couple months ago. That parting occurred when it looked like they'd get a dozen OL along with four WRs—I think you can assume that GA WR Nico Collins was a silent commit given the pattern here—and could not afford the space for a fifth. Martin is reputedly a Harbaugh fave-rave so the only reason they'd back off is if they thought they had no room.
With Collins now much more in play than previously thought and spots seemingly available, heeeere's Oliver again. Lorenz and Isaiah Hole flipped their crystal balls back to Michigan once pursuit was re-engaged in earnest, and Wiltfong might not be far behind. Lorenz:
I was around him all week at the Army game in San Antonio and there's definitely a bond between he and quarterback commitment Dylan McCaffrey. I also believe Martin would already be committed to the staff if they had the room earlier in the process.
Martin has a couple of officials left, one of which can be to Ann Arbor since his October visit was an unofficial. Depending on which article you read you'll discover that he's headed to Gainesville, Ann Arbor, dunno, or nowhere (because he has a swim meet on Saturday). An official to Ann Arbor is probably game over for the other chasers, but it sounds like the Martins might shut it down and just take some in-homes.
The Becton Oversight
mean mug grade: A-
I've neglected to mention anything about VA OL Mekhi Becton the last couple times. This was solely because I didn't have any Becton tabs. Lorenz reports that confidence is still strong on Michigan's end and that the academic angle is important to him. That passes the smell test since Becton was reputed to be a strong Virginia lean for a while. Wiltfong, however, is hearing differently:
247Sports was told last weekend that it could be a Louisville-Hokies battle for Becton who is also considering Michigan, Michigan State, Oregon and Virginia among others. There’s confidence around the Hokies program the 6-foot-7, 345-pound Becton will end up at VT.
Aaand this appears to be a direct quote of a text from a UL commit that the Louisville site may have published a bit unwisely:
“Becton (didn’t) talk much but is debating between Michigan and us, which is pretty dumb with early playing time at Louisville but he doesn't follow me back.”
I have news for this young gentleman about the state of Michigan's 2017 offensive line.
Further complicating matters: Becton has a VT visit this weekend and Oregon the week after. So that's four schools with insiders swearing up and down that they lead with Oregon lurking on the perimeter. Anything could happen.
Elsewhere in OL news, Lorenz reports that while PA OL CJ Thorpe will official this weekend it would be an "absolute stunner" if he flipped his commitment.
Weird Guy Watch
Rivals projects VA LB Ellis Brooksto Maryland, but mostly because they have to project him somewhere. Their certainty level is low indeed. 24/7 latest update on him states that the last-weekend visit is now up in the air between Michigan and Penn State.
Clemson OT transfer Jake Fruhmorgen has a narrow list of Michigan, LSU, and Florida. Sam caught up with his dad, who apparently reads PFF:
(Jake can) get a redshirt, and good strong year (training) will put him in a strong position to compete at LSU. And they ranked #1 in college last year as a unit.
The only site out there ranking OL units is PFF. Anyway. Florida just lost their OL coach and Fruhmorgen and father have put great emphasis on position coaching in their decision, so they are likely behind the eight ball a bit. Drevno has tried to get in touch, so Michigan appears set to pursue Fruhmorgen in earnest.
Isaiah Hole talks to 4* PA DE commit Donovan Jeter's coach about what he brings:
"Size and ability. I think the biggest thing out there, from a recruiting standpoint, is that they're looking for kids with size and they're looking for kids that can move. Donovan certainly possesses those intangibles. We saw a motor and an explosiveness from him in his stance"
Scout's John Garcia Jr clarifies that TN QB Jackson Gibbsis a PWO candidate at a few different schools and will be picking between M, Alabama, and UCLA. Reports a few months ago that he had gotten a bonafide offer never made any sense, anyway.
That shouldn't matter since his dad and both uncles played at M.
I will deign to mention that Michigan has offered 2019 MN OT Quinn Carroll, who looks to have the profile of a top 100 guy so far. There are a couple of big-timers instate as well as OH OL Nolan Rumler, as well.
I was hearing rumblings coming out of the Barbecue at the Big House that the Wolverines moved into pole position for the Cheshire (Conn.) Academy standout.
I'm also told Stanford and Alabama are the biggest threats to Michigan. Notre Dame was once considered the top contender but the Irish have faded some. The Cardinal staff is expected out to see Black next week.
Black wants to announce at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl but I would not be surprised if he did something sooner.
Notre Dame was considered the leader for a long time; if they're not the main contender, that's great news for Michigan.
[Hit THE JUMP for a quick McCaffrey eval and more.]
The San Francisco Chronicle has a lengthy feature on the number one prospect in the country, Antioch (CA) RB Najee Harris, an Alabama commit who's also considering Michigan. As he has throughout the process, Harris keeps the state of his recruitment under wraps, but he did put forth one of the better Harbaugh recruiting stories I've seen:
On one of his two visits this year to Antioch High, the former 49ers coach sat in Principal Louie Rocha’s office, his feet propped on Rocha’s desk and his cap pushed back from his forehead as he chewed on licorice.
When Harris walked into the office, Harbaugh animatedly declared, “You’re a beautiful young man!” The room burst into laughter. He subsequently told Harris he should pursue a career in movies.
“It was kind of funny how he said it,” Antioch head coach John Lucido says. “It made Najee comfortable and kind of broke the ice with everybody.
Harris had more to say about Harbaugh. While I wouldn't read too much into it, I'd definitely check out that full article.