Exit Emil Ekiyor

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Ace October 29th, 2017 at 4:10 PM


[Isaiah Hole/247]

After an official visit to Tuscaloosa turned the tide, it seemed likely. After he cancelled this weekend's visit, it seemed inevitable. Now it's official: four-star IN OG Emil Ekiyor decommitted from Michigan and flipped to Alabama this afternoon.

As Sam Webb stated in the post linked aboved, Michigan wanted to keep Ekiyor in the fold, and they've pursued other interior linemen since it became clear the interest between Ekiyor and Alabama was serious.

At #105 on the composite, Ekiyor was the top-ranked player among Michigan's 2018 commits. While Mustapha Muhammad, at #109, isn't far off, Ekiyor was the only interior offensive lineman in the class, though it isn't a pressing need. (Four-star linemen Jalen Mayfield and Ryan Hayes both project to tackle or, in Hayes's case, tight end.) If the class calculator hasn't failed me, Michigan holds steady as the #14 class in the country and #3 in the Big Ten behind Ohio State and Penn State at first and fourth, respectively.

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Monday Recruitin' Retrofits Checklist

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Ace October 23rd, 2017 at 2:10 PM

A Good Thing Happened Last Week

So, yeah, this hasn't been a great week. Not all is bad, though! On Friday evening, Michigan picked up a commitment from one of their top remaining targets, four-star TX TE Mustapha Muhammad. The full Hello post is here, and there's been plenty of #content on him since. Muhammad actually made a silent commitment way back when he visited for the Spring Game, and while those don't always stick, he told Sam Webb that he didn't waver—in fact, he's even been recruiting for Michigan for months. One of the main draws, unsurprisingly, is the offense's use of tight ends actually living up to the recruiting pitch:

“(Michigan’s tight end play), definitely had an impact on me,” Muhammad said. “I had been told by a lot of tight end coaches around the nation about how they use the tight end, but when I watched them on actual game film I didn’t really see anything as impressive as Michigan’s play-calling and the different variations of how they use the tight end position. That’s really important to me… that they were really giving me everything they were selling.”

The checklist he gave 247's Steve Wiltfong appears to have been retrofitted for Michigan:

Muhammad listed those boxes.

Business School
TE Usage in Offense
NFL Pipeline
Large Muslim Population
Connections
Great dining hall
Jordan Uniforms

Scout's Greg Powers, meanwhile, updated his evaluation with a couple promising notes:

Muhammad has established himself as the type of player who can make elite plays in the passing game, whether it be a a heroic touchdown catch and run that is capped off by a full extension dive into the end zone or jumping over a defender trying to make a tackle, he possesses that special it factor, but he is also underappreciated as a blocker by many. He is an excellent zone blocker, who understands leverage and how to use his hands on defenders. He has added some weight to his frame and some strength and that has helped develop him into an even more complete package at the position.

Adding bulk and functional strength is the main thing Muhammad needs to do to see the field early at Michigan; he's already begun the process.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]

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Friday Recruitin’ Is Probably Not My Neighbor Mike

Friday Recruitin’ Is Probably Not My Neighbor Mike Comment Count

Seth September 29th, 2017 at 4:33 PM

[That’s not the usual author note: Ace is off today for a family thing so you get me.]

Ol’ Doyle Rules

Yes we found a second quarterback for the class, and lo Kevin Doyle already has a prospectin’ name: a commenter in Ace’s Hello post suggested “Ol’ Doyle Rules” and this somehow got past the Sandler-hatin’ boss so it’s official. We also got a handful of post-commitment takes to share, no thanks to longtime/beloved Ireland striker Kevin Doyle who chose to muddy up recent news searches by retiring from soccer yesterday.

INSCMagazine’s Evan Massey posted an interview yesterday with Doyle (the quarterback) where he shared what Michigan liked:

“He has said that he thinks I am a very good quarterback and have played well this year against very good talent (we have played three to four games against Top 25 talent: #4, #7, #14). He said that I have shown very good signs of knowing the game cerebrally.”

He fits the pattern. Doyle described his game as a cross between Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith, two quarterbacks who tend to keep plays alive. Elsewhere, Rivals Adam Friedman on the apparent lack of offers:

He had his heart set on going to a Top 25 program and waited for one of those schools to come calling. In doing so, many of his earlier offers dried up.

Brandon Brown named offers from Iowa, MSU, Ole Miss, Nebraska, and West Virginia, FWIW. Also Yale and Princeton. In the first link Friedman also listed some areas for improvement:

He needs to consistently throw accurate passes and consistently get the ball out of his hand quickly," Friedman explained. "Those are things he's able to do early in games but it seems to fade late in the third and fourth quarters.

[Hit THE JUMP for what’s a guy gotta do to get a receiver offer, and some ill news from the southern front]

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Future Blue Originals: Cathedral vs Jeffersonville

Future Blue Originals: Cathedral vs Jeffersonville Comment Count

Adam Schnepp September 27th, 2017 at 4:30 PM

IMG_1668[1]

[Nasternak]

Last weekend David and I hopped in the creeper van CheFBOlet and took advantage of Michigan playing in Indiana. We made our way to Indianapolis to check out Cathedral’s Emil Ekiyor, the highest-rated prospect in Michgan’s 2018 class (per the 247 composite). David thought he’d be getting Ekiyor film during this year’s Prep Kickoff Classic in Detroit, but an injured left ankle kept Ekiyor on the sidelines for the first game of the year. He’s now back in the lineup, but having been only a month since the game in Detroit the ankle is unsurprisingly still heavily taped.

Emil Ekiyor Every-Snap Film

Ekiyor is #72 and lined up at center.

[Hit THE JUMP for the Ekiyor scouting report]

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Friday Recruitin' Feels The Mood

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Ace August 4th, 2017 at 3:32 PM

Part one of this week's two-part roundup, covering the recent commits, can be found here.

Official Offers Out: Sims Enrolling Early


full res photo here

August 1st was the first day written scholarship offers could go out to the class of 2018. You can see what Michigan's formal offers look like above; over the last couple years they've added the "we expect you to continue to strive for excellence" section as an explicit defense against another Erik Swenson situation.

Offer day came with some news this year: four-star GA CB Myles Sims will take advantage of the new early signing period and sign on December 21st, getting Michigan their top defensive back commit on campus for spring ball.

In other commit news, four-star MI DE Aidan Hutchinson announced yesterday he was selected for the Army All-American Bowl.

After last weekend's BBQ at the Big House, Michigan's odds of holding onto four-star IN OG Emil Ekiyor have improved. Following a recent visit to Alabama, Ekiyor said he'd eventually decide between the Wolverines and the Tide, and it sounded like it might be a coin-flip. He told 247's Isaiah Hole, however, that he's simply covering his bases:

While there's still a long ways to go until Signing Day, Ekiyor reaffirmed that he's taking visits as part of an exploratory process, but that he remains firmly committed to Michigan.

“Michigan is definitely the place that I want to be," Ekiyor said. "But I'm also (taking visits) just to make sure that I'm not being blind to another place, just because I feel so good about Michigan.”

It helps that a fellow Indianapolis native, four-star LB Cameron McGrone, joined the class on Monday. Ekiyor told The Wolverine's Brandon Brown he's "really excited to get up there" and join McGrone (plus Hoosier state products Chris Evans and Brandon Peters) in Maize and Blue:

"It makes you feel more comfortable with everybody up there," Ekiyor said. "We already know each other from being in the same city. You get more people from Indy supporting you too because basically all of the best players are heading to Michigan. It just gives you a level of being comfortable."

While Michigan will have to sweat out more visits, Ekiyor's commitment looks to be firmer than we believed last week.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]

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Thursday Recruitin' Reheats Star Debate

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Ace August 3rd, 2017 at 2:08 PM

There's enough to cover from the BBQ that I'm splitting this edition of the roundup into two parts. Today I'll cover the five recent commits; tomorrow I'll go over the rest.

If you missed them, the five recent Hello posts: Luke Schoonmaker, Nolan Rumler, Stephen Herron, Cameron McGrone, Sammy Faustin.

Sammy Faustin and When Stars Really Matter

Let's start this roundup with the most recent of Michigan's slew of commits, three-star FL S/CB Sammy Faustin. It was quite clear from the comments that many around here didn't see much past this...

Scout Rivals ESPN 247 247 Comp
3*, #75 CB,
#876 Ovr
3* CB NR CB 3*, 86, #74 CB,
#730 Ovr
3*, #78 CB,
#870 Ovr

...before passing judgment on Faustin and questioning why the coaches would take such a low-rated player this long before signing day. One of the main arguments against Faustin is one we've made many times here: star rankings really do matter.

They do. There's a mountain of evidence to back up that assertion. Context is key, however. The recruiting rankings that matter are the final rankings, once the recruiting services have as much data as they can gather. Nobody is going back to look at rankings at the time of a player's commitment. 

Faustin hasn't even played his senior season. We already have a couple recent examples of who-dat defensive back commits taken by this staff developing into (or being recognized as) solid prospects by the time signing day rolled around. Josh Metellus was either a two-star or unranked on all four services when he committed in the 2016 class; three sites subsequently gave him the Michigan bump to three stars, while ESPN got fresh eyes on him and rated him a four-star prospect with an evaluation to match. Metellus saw the field as a true freshman, impressed, and should start this year. More recently, Benjamin St-Juste was a literal unknown when he committed—initial camp reports got his name wrong—then starred at The Opening and cracked the 247 top 100.


Faustin is skeptical of your armchair scouting.

"Trust the coaches" can be a lazy deflection. Between Jim Harbaugh and Don Brown, though, it's hard to question these guys when they identify a player they want early. At the very least, we should let the process play out a little further. Sometimes it only takes a day; read Scout's post-commitment writeup on Faustin and tell me where you think he should be ranked:

Faustin, who passes the eye test with prototypical size in the secondary, is a versatile defender who does a great job of reading and reacting from his cornerback position. Once dissecting the play, Faustin turns heads with the ability to burst out of his back pedal by pushing off his back foot, flashing impressive acceleration in the process. This is a kid who also shows decent technique for a cornerback of his stature.

Faustin is one who does not shy away from physicality either. Once finding his lane to the ball carrier, Faustin closes on the ball in a hurry while also playing under control. There are times when he loses track of his tackling technique, but for the most part, Faustin is a sound tackler in space who strikes with good pad level. He is not the most explosive kid and can work on his flexibility, but does not have much of a problem flipping his hips and readjusting. Faustin is a defender who provides that pop at the point of attack.

For a safety who'll cover the slot, that's a pretty ideal evaluation. It jives with the junior film, which doesn't look like that of the #78 corner in the country. The Wolverine's Brandon Brown caught up with Tom Lemming for a scouting report, and this one also sounds like it's meant for someone better than a middling three-star:

"Faustin is one of my 'Other Players to Watch' in Florida," Lemming said. "He's 6-2, 175 pounds and has legit 4.5 speed. He has good range, quick hands and loose hips and does a very good job of playing the ball. He needs to add weight and strength but is an exceptional athlete."

In related news, recent tight end commit Luke Schoonmaker got a 14-spot bump in Scout's tight end position rankings, added a three-star ranking from Rivals, and got evaluated by ESPN, which now has him as the #19 in-line TE in the country. There's plenty more in last week's roundup.

If you're going to star-gaze without watching the film, I recommend at least waiting until February.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]

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Friday Recruitin' Coaches Up The Youths

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Ace July 28th, 2017 at 2:41 PM

BBQ Visitors: McGrone Ready To Commit

The annual BBQ at the Big House takes place this weekend; in fact, some visitors are already on campus. As usual, it's one of the biggest visit weekends of the year, and it should produce at least one commitment. Four-star IN LB Cameron McGrone, who recently shot into the top 50 in 247's rankings, is visiting and will then announce his decision on Monday at noon between Michigan, Notre Dame, and Indiana, per TMI's Evan Petzold.

The Irish were seen as Michigan's biggest competition but the Wolverines have all the momentum; they have the last 19 picks on McGrone's Crystal Ball, including those from Steve Wiltfong, Allen Trieu, and (most tellingly) Irish247's Tom Loy. It'd be a shock if McGrone went elsewhere, so expect a lot more on him in this space come Monday.

Along with many current commits, some top 2018 prospects will also be on campus this weekend. The notables, culled from 247's Steve LorenzTMI's Brice Marich, and The Wolverine's Brandon Brown:

  • Top-100 MO DT Michael Thompson, who has Michigan in his top five but looks to be leaning towards in-state Mizzou at the moment.
  • Four-star CA S Bryan Addison, who Lorenz believes is M's top safety target in the cycle. USC is the favorite but this is his first visit to campus.
  • Four-star TX OT Rafiti Ghirmai, a longtime target despite being somewhat off the radar who may be a tough pull from Texas.
  • Three-star FL CB Sammy Faustin, who Lorenz says M "quietly lead" his recruitment with Don Brown spearheading the effort.
  • I usually don't take much note of visits by current commits, but in the case of Emil Ekiyor, who's coming off a visit to Alabama, his is worth mentioning.
  • Four-star MO DE Ronnie Perkins, an Oklahoma lean and perhaps M's top defensive end target, is a maybe as he's looking for transportation to Ann Arbor, per Lorenz.
  • Lorenz reports that Michigan is also expecting top-100 MD DE Eyabi Anoma, who plays for Biff Poggi at St. Frances, to be on campus this weekend. TomVH subsequently reported, however, that Anoma plans to visit Maryland. Crootin!

Michigan may not add to the 2018 class this weekend beyond McGrone, but if they can make progress towards solidifying Ekiyor's pledge it'd be a successful BBQ. A big visit for Thompson is high on the wish list, too.

Meanwhile, there's a star-studded group visiting from the 2019 class, which I'll cover after the...

[JUMP]

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Thursday Recruitin' Reels In A Big One

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Ace July 6th, 2017 at 11:52 AM

Quite A Catch

Five-star 2019 GA DE Chris Hinton has an important announcement to make:

oh, did you think I meant

ah, yeah, I can see why you'd think that

my bad, everyone

The Opening: Michigan Commits

Sam Webb and Josh Newkirk recap The Opening.

Nike's elite invite-only camp, The Opening, took place last weekend, and pretty much the entirety of this post will be devoted to the post-camp fallout. Michigan had four commits participate: guard Emil Ekiyor, running back Christian Turner, and defensive backs Myles Sims and Gemon Green.

Ekiyor, who was feeling a bit scrappy, had a strong weekend, earning an invite to the Army All-American Game. He showed a lot of progress in pass protection, according to TMI's Josh Newkirk, and excelled in the run-blocking portion on day two, earning a top performer nod from 247's Steve Wiltfong:

Michigan center commit Emil Ekiyor flashed athletically in offensive line drills and come the competition portion showed he can bang with the very best. He defeated Ohio State five-star defensive tackle commit Taron Vincent in a run blocking 1-on-1 drill and impressed overall with his strength and feet at the point of attack. The 247Sports Composite ranks Ekiyor as the nation’s No. 4 offensive guard but he moves to center as a senior this fall.

Ekiyor's ability to play center may further explain why Michigan hasn't gone after in-state four-star Tyrone Sampson; between Cesar Ruiz and Ekiyor, that position is well-stocked for the future, and both of those guys are better-suited to sliding over to guard than Sampson.

Sims showed that while he's considered a safety by many due to his length, he's got the fluidity to play corner. TMI's Gene Hankerson:

Michigan cornerback commit Myles Sims had a really good day.  You can’t miss him, because the kid is freakishly long and lengthy.  I watched Sims during drills, and was surprised with how fluid his hips were in and out of breaks.  He transferred that over to the 1 on 1’s where for the most part he ran stride for stride with receivers and broke up several passes.

247's Keith Neibuhr added that Sims "seemed to be in the right place a lot."

Green also made life tough on opposing quarterbacks. While I can't find any clips of him posted to Twitter, he made 247's top performers list for Texas prospects:

One of the most underrated recruits in the state, Green was extremely impressive today. The Michigan commit played shallow for his team and didn’t allow anything underneath. Green finished the day with four pass breakups and also notched a big interception.

Finally, Turner showed some wiggle in the Make 'Em Miss drill:

It was otherwise a quiet weekend for him, as the entire running back group was held in check by an impressive group of linebackers, per 247's Hank South:

Michigan commit Christian Turner looked good running routes, but didn’t show much in the 1-on-1 portion. Again, the linebacker corps dominated the entire running back position as a whole on the night.

On the plus side, at least one of said linebackers looks like a good bet to join Turner in the class.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]

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Tuesday Recruitin' Rocks 'Em, Shocks 'Em

Tuesday Recruitin' Rocks 'Em, Shocks 'Em Comment Count

Ace June 6th, 2017 at 12:08 PM

Elite 11 Finals: Shough Makes, Milton Misses Cut

Ah, it's that time of year when I try to remember how the Elite 11 works. Bear with me. The Elite 11 Finals, which went down over the weekend, featured 24 participants competing for 12 spots in the final finals, which will occur at The Opening finals.

Michigan commit Joe Milton had a solid first day but didn't show the consistency in 7-on-7 drills to make the final cut. SBNation's Bud Elliott sums up what he needs to work on, which falls in line with his commitment profile:

Michigan QB Joe Milton has the strongest arm at the event. It's one of the biggest I've seen in covering this event since 2012. The next step for him is shortening his delivery, and dialing up the appropriate amount of touch and speed on each throw. Not every pitch is a fastball. Not dropping the ball so low will allow him to become more consistent.

While he wasn't selected for the Opening, Milton told 247 he was relatively happy with his performance:

Milton, as usual, flashed major upside all weekend and has the strongest pure arm of any quarterback in the class. He felt good about his performance for the most part, but knows some work on the mechanics is still a necessity.

"I should have been keeping my shoulder up a little bit more," he said. "I came into the weekend knowing I needed to work on my footwork and learn more about when I'm standing tall in the pocket. I scored high though and I was mostly satisfied with how I played."

Top target Tyler Shough, meanwhile, continues to rise in the eyes of scouts; he was selected for the finals after displaying an advanced ability to read defenses:

Shough told Scout's Blair Angulo that he's hoping to make a decision in June or July; the sooner he pulls the trigger, the better it looks for Michigan.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]

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Thursday Recruitin' Is Not Concerned, Dude

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Ace June 1st, 2017 at 12:58 PM

In-State Tackles Come In Pairs

Michigan added a pair of high-upside four-star in-state tackles last week in Jalen Mayfield (Hello) and Ryan Hayes (Hello). As per usual, there are some additional scouting reports that have come out after the commitments. Barton Simmons detailed why 247 ranks Mayfield higher than the other three sites:

"I think with Mayfield, you're seeing a guy who already possesses a lot of the tools you can't teach," he said. "He's long and extremely athletic for his size. Then you turn on his film and you're seeing a guy who is beating the hell out of the guy across the line from him on a consistent basis. Those are really three of the bigger things you look for in a high school offensive lineman; he has them in spades. In a 2018 tackle class that isn't the strongest, I think Mayfield is a guy who has the potential to develop into a first round pick down the line. Michigan will get time to develop him and work him into a big-time player. When you trust your weight program and can find a guy like this, you're going to want one like him 10 out of 10 times over a 330-lb. tackle who may be maxing out towards the end of his high school career."

247 ranks Mayfield as the top player in the state. Rivals has him way down at #19. Rivals' Josh Helmholdt explains why he's a bit wary:

"Any time you have to put weight on a prospect there are risks involved with that," Helmholdt explains. "You can’t perfectly project how that weight is going to affect their athleticism and with athleticism being one of Mayfield’s strengths, any additional weight is going to be a bit of a concern.

"The thing that concerns me when I look at him, frame wise, is that he doesn’t have those big coat-hanger shoulders that you look for on guys who need to add weight. The guys with shoulders like that are often able to add that weight and maintain athleticism a little easier in my experiences."

Scout's Allen Trieu, who's seen more of Mayfield than anyone else from what I can tell, doesn't share this concern:

As a sophomore, Jalen was about 230 pounds when we first saw him, then 245 the next time we saw him and now he is 260 pounds and measured nearly 6-foot-6 at the NIKE Opening Regional in Chicago, which is a tad taller than what we expected, so I am not concerned about his weight at all. He will fill in easily. He has not really been able to put forth his full effort into gaining weight as he plays basketball too and I, along with most schools, would much rather have to add weight to a kid than have to cut it off of him.

In message board rumors that seem too specific to be made up, a poster on the TMI board says Mayfield fielded an Alabama offer in the week leading up to his commitment and Brian Kelly made a late push for an in-person visit that Mayfield rebuffed.

There's been much less on the scouting front for Hayes, who's a bit out of the way in Traverse City and hasn't hit the camp circuit to gain exposure. We do have a fun note from Steve Lorenz about Michigan making up a lot of ground on Notre Dame to snag him:

This is a really nice win for Greg Frey over Notre Dame, as the Irish were well out in front to begin this recruitment (as Wiltfong posted yesterday). Frey is the potential beneficiary of two in-state players that fit his mold at the tackle position to a tee. You think about how the Wolverines were victimized by Florida State (more than anyone else) with speed rushers on the edge beating tackles consistently. Hayes and Mayfield are the types of prospects with the potential to slow those types of players down at the tackles. They're two really, really valuable commitments in that regard.

Lorenz thinks Hayes is arguably M's most important commit because of the flexibility he gives the staff in approaching recruiting at two positions: tackle and tight end. As detailed in his Hello post, Hayes will begin his career at TE while adding the requisite bulk to play OT.

Meanwhile, Michigan's other O-line commit, top-100 IN OG Emil Ekiyor, had previously mentioned his contact with the coaches hadn't been as frequent as he'd like, and Alabama emerged as a potential threat. In that light, Trieu's note that Ekiyor reached out to Mayfield after his commitment and said he's "all in" is comforting. The coaches won't let Ekiyor go without a fight.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]

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