Let's have an overview
It's a three-week sprint to the finish line now. Michigan has 24 commits and is likely to go to 27 or 28. Steve Lorenz was pretty positive that it's 27 but that was before Willie Henry's departure. Sam Webb reported today that Michigan's max number was now 30(!), about which more later.
There are a number of commits on the fence. MD CB Sir Patrick Scott decommitted yesterday; I believe maybe three more decommits are on he way. In addition one commit is a grayshirt offer hoping for the Clark/Pallante bump. (And he knew this from the drop.) Given that, my guess is that Michigan has four current commits who don't sign for various reasons and will take approximately eight additional players.
They are done at QB and RB.
The situation at the other positions:
- OL: Texas grad transfer Jake Raulerson, a center, is the top priority. If he goes elsewhere Michigan looks set to pursue MD OL Stephen Spannelis, a UVA commit. They will poke at Jean Delance to make sure he's sure.
- WR: Michigan is still recruiting NJ WR Donald Stewart and FL WR Pie Young. They are in good shape for both. Before the number 30 got batted around I assumed they could not take both, but maybe they would now.
- TE: MO TE Chase Allen is expected to commit on his official. Michigan will get an official from CA TE Devin Asiasi on the 22nd. Asiasi appears to be very open at this juncture. FL TE Jacob Mathis is also on the board.
- DL: NJ DE Rashan Gary is kind of a big deal, M still seems like a strong leader despite recent Ole Miss talk. AZ DE Connor Murphy comes in the 22nd. TX DE Levi Onwuzurike is still an option but seems unlikely ATM. Asiasi's teammate and CA DT Boss Tagaloa will visit Michigan at the same time. Michigan is also looking for additional options here.
- LB: FL LB Jonathan Jones is an M/ND battle and signing day decision. FL LB/DE Joshua Uche has been treated as a DL by many but he's 6'1", 210, he's a LB. He visits, wide open. TX LB Dontavious Jackson is on the board but mysterious.
- DB: CA DB David Long is giving Washington a chance to change his mind this weekend; if they don't he's in the boat. MI CB Lavert Hill is taking three officials and isn't the lock he was but M still seems to lead. NJ CB/S Jordan Fuller is down to the four big Midwestern programs and will visit OSU, M, and PSU. OSU may lead but it's fluid. PA ATH Khaleke Hudson probably fits most neatly at S.
- K: MI K Quinn Nordin is the only name on M's board and seems likely to flip from PSU.
Before Henry left I'd been expecting Michigan takes eight additional recruits after they lose those decommits; now it could be nine or even up to eleven.
Wait, 30? That's unpossible.
It's never been personally relevant so I've never looked up the specifics of what the NCAA and Big Ten rules actually are and how they intersect. A thorough Googling has clarified things.
There is an NCAA limit of 25 signees a year, but you can back-date midyear enrollees. Michigan can backdate all 7 early enrollees since their class last year was 16. They could hypothetically go up to 32 signees. Transfers do not count against that cap.
The Big Ten has a different limit that is essentially a "good faith" estimate of all the scholarships you have available plus three. The 28 number that gets kicked around is a misconception.
I still don't see where all the space is going to come from
Michigan is at 19 now so, yes, there is going to be some turnover. Given that Lorenz had a solid number of 27 for a couple months prior to recent events it seems clear that Michigan is already aware that several players will leave the program, likely those that have no road to playing time.
Meanwhile, remember those reports that last spring certain graduates were essentially trying out for their fifth year? Michigan is going to do that again, which is why only Terry Richardson has announced a departure amongst those players. Guys like Bars and Gant and Strobel will stay with the team through spring and possibly beyond if Michigan has room.
This means it will look like Michigan is oversigning when they're actually not. They will be over 85 because they are keeping their options open with fifth-year players in case there is unanticipated attrition. They will not be asking guys without degrees to leave.
Michigan is not dealing with Allen and Glasgow as scholarship players right now. There's a 99% chance they will get scholarships as slots always open up between spring practice and game #1, but those two slots are open for recruits.
- 19 spots
- high probability of a Derrick Green transfer
- ~3 fifth year guys who will be kept through spring but are not likely to be on the 2016 roster
- ~2 walk-ons who are year to year
Michigan really has 25 spots now and clearly anticipates a few playing time transfers.
Anyway, on to events…
Visitors this weekend
The following uncommitted recruits will take visits:
- PA ATH Khaleke Hudson. Hudson talked to Rivals, giving generally positive and unrevealing takes on his four finalists. Seems like a Michigan-Penn State battle.
- MO TE Chase Allen. It would be a surprise if Allen didn't commit on the visit.
- Texas grad transfer OL Jake Raulerson. It sounds like Raulerson is likely to commit; UCLA appears to be the main competition.
- Maybe MI CB Lavert Hill. Hill cancelled his USC official and there is chatter he may take his umpteenth unofficial to Ann Arbor instead. There is a surge in MSU chatter from everywhere except the kid himself. He has an official scheduled there next weekend, and then a Clemson visit that is probably 50/50 to get canceled.
Webb reports that FL LB Joel Dublanko's visit has been moved to next weekend, which is the big one for Michigan. Dublanko doesn't have an offer yet.
Meanwhile the opposition will take swings at a number of Michigan targets:
- CA CB David Long visits Washington. Harbaugh has an in-home immediately after on Monday. A commit could come at that in-home or shortly after; vibe there still excellent but crootin. In Long's case he's already been to UW a couple times so the chance they show him something that changes his mind seems low.
- CA TE Devin Asiasi and CA DT Boss Tagaloa also visit Washington. The Washington 24/7 mods will fight you if you assert either is going to Michigan.
- TN WR commit Nate Johnson visits Miami. While that quote I highlighted recently convinced many that he was not likely to stick, he told Rivals that Miami would have to "show [him] a lot to be right up there with Michigan." I think it's 80/20 they keep him.
- FL WR Pie Young also visits Miami. He tells Rivals that it will be "hard" for Miami to catch Michigan but "it's not a big gap, anything can happen." Uh. I think the former sentiment is closer to accurate since recruits rarely downplay a host's chances like that.
- NJ WR Donald Stewart visits Stanford. Conflicting info on how his recruitment will go, with Scout's Brian Dohn projecting Stanford and 247's Steve Wiltfong on Michigan.
- TX S Chris Brown and TX LB Dontavious Jackson visit Florida. Your guess is as good as mine with those guys.
- AZ DE Connor Murphy visits USC. USC just lost their recruiting coordinator so that's not good timing. They have a new DC Murphy will meet. Murphy named a final five of M, Bama, USC, Oregon, and ASU.
- NJ CB Jordan Fuller visits Ohio State. OSU is thought to lead but Fuller is hard to read.
- FL LB Joshua Uche visits Auburn. Uche is a Don Brown kind of guy but his recruitment has a distinct southern flavor. The Auburn 247 site thinks Florida is the favorite.
Jake Raulerson has two years to play two and is essentially a JUCO who Michigan can take because he's a high-academic kid who got a degree in three years. If he gets admitted to Ross he's likely to come:
“It’s the position I played at Texas the whole time and like to play,” he said. “I want to get my MBA, so that’s a big deal, and I’m trying to make sure I have the maximum opportunity to do that but also play in a great program, win some games. I know both Michigan and UCLA will be good next year, offenses and defenses, so what’s the best opportunity?"
As a transfer he can wait as long as he likes before making a decision. Michigan has clearly prioritized him.
Unpleasant Lavert Hill rumbles evaluated
MSU fans started getting excited about getting MI CB Lavert Hill in the aftermath of teammate Donnie Corley's commitment, to the point where their 247 site is saying things like this:
The key here is for the Michigan State staff to get Hill's mother on campus for his official visit to MSU. If Hill's mother gives him the green light, look for him to pull the trigger on the Spartans.
No quotes from the kid, just second-hand stuff including vague tweets from MSU commits who know Hill that could mean anything.
Cause for concern? Clearly some, yes. I'd still peg Michigan a heavy favorite. Wiltfong says he "hasn't heard anything that makes [him] believe he won't be a Wolverine" and that he "damn near enrolled early" at M, FWIW. Flipping mom is going to be a tough task after a million visits to campus, and if Hill's worried about the depth chart one conversation with someone who isn't trying to sell him on MSU should clarify—Michigan loses both Jourdan Lewis and Jeremy Clark next year.
Handicapping Donald Stewart
NJ WR Donald Stewart is surging back up crootin radars after Wiltfong ballz'd him to Michigan. The Stanford Rivals site catches up with him to provide some more context. Stewart has been admitted to Stanford, which is always a hurdle. On the other hand, he twice says he "absolutely loves" Michigan. One of these:
"I'm still not sure right now," Stewart said. "I'm just going to visit these next two schools. These are my top two. Like, I absolutely love Michigan."
Despite the who-you-talk-to factor the article is encouraging for Michigan's chances. Stewart doesn't say anything about a timeline except it'll come after his officials the next two weekends to his finalists.
Names that probably won't come to much but here they are
Lorenz reports that Michigan might get a visit from IL DE Daniel Joseph, a four-star Penn State commit. Interestingly, he notes that this intel is coming from Joseph's end, not Michigan. That might mean Joseph is seriously thinking about a move after PSU DC Bob Shoop's departure.
Also, KS S Isaiah Simmons reports that Greg Jackson just left his school. Simmons is an uncommitted four-star.
One final round of All Star evals
Brandon Huffman reports on the West team; David Long "has great ball skills and closing speed" while Dylan Crawford is a "polished route runner."
Allen Trieu has an extensive article covering all of the Michigan commits and targets. His take on MI OL Michael Onwenu:
Whenever he has had top competition in front of him at camps and other events, Big Mike has stepped it up big and he again impressed this week. He's tough to move and anyone who tried to bull rush him, even All-Americans, quickly got stone-walled. He's powerful, but can really bend for a kid his size and that extends his leverage advantage. He can be as good as he wants to be and he had a very good week.
Can't wait to see Onwenu develop into a sui generis player.
And while this isn't an Army eval, Steve Lorenz likes IN WR Chris Evans quite a bit:
Surveying Michigan's current commitment list in 2016, Evans is one player I feel is a safer bet to outplay his ranking than a lot of the players on the board. He has versatility and speed that can't be coached, and is one of those players that simply makes plays when the ball is in his hand.
Michigan's feelings are equally strong after fending off Ohio State for his signature.
2017 things or "items" or what-have-you
I've mentioned FL CB CJ Cotman a couple times already; Brandon Brown interviews him for Rivals:
“I paid really close attention,” Cotman said. “I think I watched every game that they played this year. I think I can fit into that offense. I would also like playing both ways and they used Jabrill Peppers for that.”
And Lorenz for 247:
I want to play on both offense and defense in college and the fact that Coach Harbaugh will give players an opportunity to do that makes me like them a lot. I know he is one of the best coaches in college football too, and that's something my family has talked about.
Not sure just yet if Cotman is really really interested in Michigan or if he's a kid who is equally excited about several different schools, but he's done a lot of talking to Michigan sites early and should be a guy high on your radar going in to next year.
He declared FSU his leader in August. That was before a bunch of other teams including M offered, however, and Cotman told both Lorenz and Brown he's looking to go out of state. We have put in an admittedly speculative crystal ball for Cotman. Who you talk to is important; Cotman has now given interviews to the three major Michigan sites in short order.
There are plenty of visits and offers but it's hard to tell who's a major target this early. With 2016 still coming together we'll wait a couple weeks to put together the picture for 2017.