Twitter. Transferred to IMG, thus the FL state rankings.
Jordan Anthony is the most athletic of Michigan's incoming linebackers, and one of the most intriguing. His physical attributes are evident, and they're paired with tantalizing linebacker skills. The scouting reports here are highly encouraging on their own, but Anthony's relative lack of experience makes them even more so. I can say this despite Anthony's presence at IMG because he spent his junior year at running back before flipping to defense in 2016. Then he had a weird signing day:
BRADENTON, Fla. — Jordan Anthony sat at a table with three of his female IMG Academy classmates.
It was February 1, but there was no signing day drama for him. Anthony was decked out in Michigan gear and ready to sign his National Letter of Intent two months after he made the announcement that he was going to Ann Arbor in 2017. He was one of 21 IMG Academy football players who earned a college scholarship, yet he sat at the table as the odd man out.
Anthony wasn’t an early enrollee. All of his IMG teammates were already a month into their respective college careers. But Anthony wasn’t held back because of academics or eligibility issues.
He was just a kid who wanted to keep playing baseball.
Anthony was the only two-sport athlete on IMG's team a year ago, and that's time not devoted entirely to his college craft. The junior year spent on offense further limited actual scouting—he performed on offense at many of the camps he went to. As a result there's a relative paucity of information on a consensus four star who Rivals went bonkers over late in the year.
“Anthony is the most active member of an IMG defense that might just be the nation’s best. He moves incredibly well laterally …. as disruptive a linebacker as there is in the class and seems to be in the backfield on most snaps."
That is an impressive evaluation indeed when Anthony spent his time at IMG next to Dylan Moses, an early candidate for the #1 player in the class.
Other sites were more circumspect in their rankings but hit on the same themes. Anthony is a mobile open-field tackler and athletic blitzer:
Brian Dohn, Scout: "…what stands above all else is his ability to tackle in space. If it 1-on-1 with a running back, he is winning it. He changes directionwell, has the ability to find the ball carrier in traffic, and he gets off blocks well. … very good instincts and should be a tremendous weakside linebacker in college."
Steve Wiltfong, 247: "a true hybrid backer … can play inside or outside in the Big Ten, certainly lining up in the box or even covering from the nickel spot in space. … 4.7 laser-timed speed … The trait that stands out the most is the physicality and quickness Anthony plays with. He’s a sideline to sideline player."
Kevin Wright, IMG: “very, very good athlete … a lot of versatility. …. [You get a lot of guys] physical enough to play in the box yet when you get spread out can’t play outside the box. I think he has the potential to do both of those things.”
Chad Simmons, Scout: "… decisive, he plants and goes … sideline to sideline linebacker who can play some in space. He has a nice burst to the ball carrier and he has shown great instincts and anticipation … smart player who takes good angles to the ball with toughness and speed. There is not one phase of his game that may blow you away, but he is strong is so many areas."
Don Brown:"…tremendous position flexibility … extremely sudden and will explode at the point of contact. He is a guy who can play against spread offenses and can play in space. He is a high-motor athlete and chases the ball with great passion. In a word, he is relentless."
Chris Partridge: "…phenomenal athlete … very fast and explosive … makes plays all over the field and can play both inside and outside. …will add versatility to the linebacker core."
ESPN's eval is one of their most obvious fire-and-forget moments, mentioning his sophomore season as a linebacker and his junior year at tailback; it was clearly issued before his senior year and never revisited, which is especially irritating in this circumstance. Even so their take on Anthony the linebacker is resoundingly positive:
…very good raw strength. Runs well, but has better short-area burst and quickness than long speed. We like his skill set inside the hashes as opposed to sideline-to-sideline range …great power on contact and the ability to dish out punishment. Good wrap-up tackler who is capable of being a hard striker and knocking ball carriers back. Does not let up leaky yardage. … Displays a good nose for the ball. … Quick to fill downhill and blow up the inside run play. Beats blockers to the point of attack with inside-out angles.
Their only real critique is that he "may not be elite in terms of speed and suddenness." ESPN tends to bring that up for everyone short of Donovan Peoples-Jones because they seem to judge on an NFL plane; other services think he's real good. 24/7 called him an "explosive linebacker that moved at a different speed from his peers" when he attended an Opening regional; Scout came away from the same event saying that he was "fluid in space and really matched up well with the running backs"; there's a bunch of talk about burst and explosion and sideline to sideline above. Possible that he developed in that regard from his sophomore to his senior year and ESPN missed it.
FWIW, Steve Lorenz has been talking up the LB class about since they signed; in his latest re-iteration he notes that Anthony was very high on Michigan's board from the drop and rose even further after a strong senior year.
Anthony's combination of athleticism, skill, and untapped upside is enticing, and the things he's best at are the things Don Brown prizes most highly.
Why Darron Lee? There aren't many spacebackers in Michigan's recent history, what with the 3-3-5 and 4-3 under and being terrible against spread offenses. MSU's Denicos Allen and OSU's Darron Lee are good recent comparables. Here are Lee's NFL draft positives:
Quick to diagnose and flow to the ball. Has unusual ability to find the most efficient routes to the ball. Has athleticism and flexibility to contort his body and succeed through difficult tackle angles. Plays with loose hips, quick feet and desired agility of an NFL weak-side linebacker. Former high school quarterback with the change of direction and speed to be a rangy playmaker. Comfortable in space and excels there. Has plus man cover talent. Willing to stand in and take on blockers with a leveraged strike if his gap is being threatened. Capable gap blitzer with ability to get skinny through the holes.
That's pretty close. Lee was more of a "big safety" per NFL.com and Anthony is more of a pure linebacker.
If you're looking for a Michigan comparable, Anthony is a LB/RB hybrid with the ability to play inside and the athleticism to cope in space and at this point it's all but impossible to dodge an Ian Gold comparison. Frame is exactly the same, too. Gold was a very long time ago now and memories of him are no doubt fuzzy for most.
Guru Reliability: High-minus. Consistent scouting, but it's a little light in quantity. Position switch after junior year limited LB film during the critical phase of his rankings. Spread is pretty big for a universally praised croot.
Variance: Low-plus. The RB year is the only blip on his resume. He's had two of his last three years at LB, appears college-sized or close enough already, and has a clean bill of health.
Ceiling: High. Depending on who you talk to, lacks an A+ size/speed combo but that's about it when it comes to negatives. Potential first-round spacebacker type.
General Excitement Level: High. Anthony seems certain to be a contributor and has the look of a potential star.
Projection: Most likely of the incoming LBs to play because he's not coming off an injury and should be ahead of the game after two years at IMG. Still, all are relatively close and it would not shock to see him pick up a redshirt if someone else emerges. Prospects for significant playing time in year one are dim.
Year two sees the MLB spot open up; Anthony will put his name in for it. Projecting who comes out of a wild six-or-seven-way melee for that spot is a futile undertaking; if it's not Anthony, Michigan will probably size him up for SAM and WILL down the road, with SAM looking more likely—he's got fewer competitors out there.
Commitmas continues unabated as four-star IMG Academy linebacker Jordan Anthony announced his commitment to Michigan this evening via video. The Wolverines beat out fellow finalists Auburn, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Penn State.
Anthony is the 25th commit in the 2017 class and the fifth to make his pledge in the last eight days, following Tarik Black, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cesar Ruiz, and Deron Irving-Bey—all of them are composite four-star recruits or, in the case of Peoples-Jones, even better. If you happen to agree with Rivals, Anthony is also a five-star talent.
4*, #13 OLB,
5*, #1 ILB,
4*, 83, #9 ATH,
4*, 92, #12 OLB,
4*, #6 OLB,
There's a significant outlier here: Rivals, which already had Anthony at 70th overall, moved him into five-star range in their latest update. ESPN, which likes Anthony as both a running back and linebacker, also has him a little higher than the other two. He's was primarily a running back as a freshman and junior; he was primarily a linebacker as a sophomore and senior. ESPN is the only site that spends much time discussing his potential on offense:
Quite honestly it would be easy to immediately slot this guy into a linebacker role for the next level which he likely is, but the more you watch him on offense the more belief you have that he may be able to remain on offense in the right scheme as a load carrier.
They expect him to wind up at linebacker and Michigan's needs indicate he'll play defense, too. I don't believe the position-switching explains the split in his rankings; IMG is too well-scouted for sites to fire-and-forget on their highly touted guys.
Every site save 247 (6'0", 220) lists Anthony at 6'1" and 220-226 pounds. Depending on how Don Brown utilizes the SAM spot post-Peppers, Anthony could wind up at either the WILL or SAM; he's got the athleticism and coverage ability you want in an outside linebacker.
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.
enjoying the fact that this picture's filename is 0_0.jpg [Scout]
4* CA OL Aaron Banks is announcing in a few hours. The recruiting world's expectations: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. This is one invisible four-star recruit. Until yesterday he had got one Crystal Ball, that a year old from the weirdo who puts in a pick for every recruit in the country way early and then forgets about most of them.
One thing we can probably deduce from Banks's visit schedule: it's Michigan or Notre Dame. He took officials to those two schools and Oregon, which just imported a new staff. If Oregon was still in it he'd delay his announcement to catch up with the new guys. Cal and Stanford, the local-ish schools, aren't in it. There was some UCLA chatter after Jim Mora had an in-home, but he hasn't been to Westwood since this summer. Apparently that was the first time Mora had ever met Banks. That would be a weird way to pick up a commit.
The most definitive opinion is from Scout's Greg Biggins, who feels pretty strongly that it'll be Michigan since "it's the only school he talks about" to the point where coaches from other schools on official visits mostly hear about Seoul Street's Korean street food, renovations to the IM building, and Stadium Boulevard being closed until spring. We have put a crystal ball for Banks to Michigan mostly because that's the most definitive take out there. Tom Loy, naturally, put one in for Notre Dame. Neither outcome would surprise.
The perils of naming any visit list ever: CA CB Darnay Holmes and PA S Paris Fordwill not be on campus. That's a minor bummer. Sam Webb says that Michigan is focusing on ND commit Elijah Hicks as their fifth DB at this point. As of a few days ago Hicks's imminent flip from ND had been downgraded to "up in the air" after a hard ND push. You'd think that 4-8 and not having a defensive coordinator would make it hard to push.
Brad Hawkins can get up
4* NJ WR Brad Hawkins is a rare prep-and-follow guy for Michigan who actually came through and joined the next recruiting class. I was surprised, and now I'm not.
You know it's a good WR highlight video when the wide open touchdowns are in the second half; that is a man who can go get footballs.
The above and news that Michigan might not have room for one of the four very good WR prospects they're pursuing means we can shelve Hawkins-to-safety talk for the time being. Wiltfong told the ND 247 site that Michigan had removed itself from pursuit of 4* IA WR Oliver Martin because they were more or less full at wide receiver, which is a very good sign for the three names other than Martin currently on the board. 4* CT WR Tarik Black announces in a week and 5* MI WR Donovan Peoples-Jones is an early enrollee whose last visit before a decision is to Michigan this weekend; only 4.5* AL WR Nico Collins looks set to take it to signing day.
Obligatory Najee Harris section
5* CA RB Najee Harristold Bleacher Report that he wanted to take all five officials before deciding, which... uh... probably not since that would mean two visits in addition to Michigan before the 12th. Cal is feasible because it's nearby, and it appears that the Bears did indeed host Harris. They sent him a party bus and everything. USC is maybe less realistic.
Sometimes crystal balls are silly, like when Rutgers led on Isaiah Wilson's for four months
Georgia was a thorn in Michigan's side last year and they may be again. Unlike last year, location plays in Michigan's favor for 5* NY OL Isaiah Wilson. Alabama is perceived to be the main competition, but with the primary Bama 247 guy flipping his crystal ball to Michigan a couple days ago it appears the only thing standing between Michigan and Wilson is this weekend's official visit to Athens.
Nobody is talking about this outside of the Georgia sites because nobody expects much to come of it. Wilson told Adam Friedman* that his mind was just about made up a few days ago:
“The school I’m thinking of just seems perfect. That’s the best way I can put it. I’ll leave it at that. People can go on an do their guessing. I think I pretty much know where I’m going."
Always some small danger, but I'd be much more worried about Bama for an out-of-region recruit. To Wilson they probably look the same except one has Nick Saban and the other has Bootleg Nick Saban.
*[Yes, the guy who said Wilson was an OSU/Clemson battle earlier this year. This is a direct quote so Friedman's tendency to say CLEMSON EVERYTHING does not interfere.]
Meanwhile Michigan has a road game against Georgia (and Alabama, and apparently the rest of the SEC) for 4.5* GA DT Aubrey Solomon. Solomon just announced that he's going to spend that fifth official on the Bulldogs. Or not, and instead they'll spend it on Auburn. He's already been to Bama and M; his January schedule will take him to USC on the 13th, Georgia or Auburn the following week, and Florida just before Signing Day. Right now it seems like Michigan is where he wants to go, but they've got to dodge a ton of bullets to get to the finish line. UGA 247 reporter Kipp Adams has it about right:
This is an all-out war. Every school should be worried about everyone.
I dunno, man. Auburn—which has not been involved so far—kind of seems like another southern option that might be a compromise between Michigan (where Solomon wants to go) and Somewhere Close (where mom wants him to be). USC does not fit this narrative, admittedly, but I go back to that recent interview where Michigan seemed to be the choice.
I though that about DaShawn Hand, too, so don't take that too seriously.
Reitmaier set to stick with Oregon?
There's a poster on Rivals's board who is clearly connected with TN DT Rutger Reitmaier; he asserts that after Willie Taggart's hire at Oregon Reitmaier looks set to stick with his commitment. Message board rando discounts apply but this guy in particular seems consistent and credible.
I wouldn't write him off just yet, since it seems clear where his parents want him. Reitmaier's dad talked with Sam Webb for a very long piece, which is usually a good sign. In it he's pretty open:
When Coach Harbaugh and Coach Mattison reached out to us and once I started talking to them and doing the research I'm like, ‘oh boy, this is a really good school, and obviously, the program is great.’ But I didn't realize how (great) on the academic side it is. So (what you’re) kind of trying to figure out as a parent is, you want to have him play where he wants to play, but also give some (perspective) to the youth that doesn't have experience.
Michigan probably doesn't have room for all four of the DL currently on the board but they really need at least one NT type, and Reitmaier is in the Glasgow mold. 3.5* MI DE/DT Deron Irving-Bey probably tops out as a three-tech. Getting at least one and preferably two of Solomon, Reitmaier, and 4.5* UT DT Jay Tufele is neck-and-neck with a ready-to-play tackle as the most pressing need remaining in the class.
Lorenz reports that Anthony will visit Ann Arbor on an unofficial this weekend instead of taking an official to Maryland. If so that is game over, man. Anthony's announcement will have zero suspense, which is the way I like my announcements.
Lorenz also reports Michigan thinks 3.5* OH DE James Hudson's senior film is really good too. He and Stueber are probably the most underrated guys in the class.
4* 2018 MI LB Ovie Oghoufo is a Notre Dame commit but sounds very open about listening to Michigan, as you would expect after Notre Dame went 4-8. 4* 2018 GA LB commit Otis Reese just got a trio of heavy-hitting offers: Bama, Georgia, and Florida. If there's going to be wobble in his recruitment it'll start now. He sounded very committed just a couple weeks ago.
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.
After gaining a commitment, losing it, looking out of the picture, and then crawing their way back in, Michigan made their latest push for four-star GA DT Aubrey Solomon on his official visit for the Maryland game. Solomon was accompanied by his mother, who came very prepared, and the most critical aspect of the visit from M's perspective was winning over—Solomon's interest in Michigan has always been very strong while his mom has been a skeptic. According to Sam Webb, they pulled out all the stops:
Front and center for most of the visit were Gwen Bush and Devin Bush Sr. They were with mom a ton with one observer offering, “Gwen hardly left his mom’s side.” And as we speculated heading into the visit… “Momma Gwen” having sent her own questionnaire out during her son Wayne Lyons’ recruitment before deciding to send him to school on the other side of the country (from Florida to Stanford) really appeared to help forge a connection. For good measure Wayne was also on hand for the Solomons to meet.
The vibe between Mom and Bush Sr. was noticeable. One observer said, "they went back and forth like they've known each other for years."
Rashan Gary and his mother, who was visiting for the weekend, hosted Solomon, though his mom wasn't able to get together with Gary's; she did, however, have lunch with Greg Harden, Michigan's director of academic counseling—he played a big role in landing Gary.
Both Sam and Steve Lorenz believe Aubrey himself wants to go to Michigan, but they still have work to do to win over his mother. Lorenz:
If the choice was 100% his, there would likely be some 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions coming back the Wolverines' way. However, it appears to not be fully his decision. We reported on Sunday that mom was impressed with what Michigan had to offer. That remains the case in the grand scheme of things, but according to a second source we spoke with on Monday, the visit reportedly could have gone better from Michigan's standpoint regarding impressing Solomon's mother.
Also of note: Sam is getting the "distinct impression" that Clemson, not Alabama or Georgia, is the school closer to home with the best shot at Solomon. I'm not sure how to take that: on one hand, that looks like some tough competition is taking a step back; on the other, well, head-to-head recruiting against Clemson can be quite the experience. Michigan made progress this weekend; we'll see if it sticks after more visits.
Michigan hosted a huge group of official visitors for the win over Wisconsin, and coming out of the weekend it sounds like they've made some serious progress recruiting for the offensive line.
The visitor most expected to eventually end up in the class was four-star IMG OC Cesar Ruiz. That impression didn't change a bit after the visit. Ruiz told The Wolverine's Brandon Brown that getting to spend time with a few recruits he's befriended during the process—Jedrick Wills, Alex Leatherwood, and Baron Browning—as well as the crew of fellow New Jersey natives on the team put Michigan in a different league from his other recent official visit:
"That made the visit ten times better for me," he said. "That’s what really separated it from my North Carolina visit last week. Jonah Melton is a really cool dude but I didn’t know him previously. Since I knew all of these dudes at Michigan previously we just decided to go have fun. We really enjoyed our time."
Florida and Oklahoma are the two official visits left on his itinerary. He made it sound like the Wolverines will be hard to catch:
"Michigan is in a good spot," he said with a chuckle. "We are going to leave it at that but yes, Michigan is in a good spot right now."
While Ruiz's warm reception to M's recruiting pitch didn't come as a surprise, the reaction five-star FL OT Alex Leatherwood, an Alabama commit, gave to TomVH was an eye-opener:
Leatherwood is still committed to Alabama but is exploring his options. His time spent in Ann Arbor seemed to have a big impact on his recruitment.
"Phenomenal, unreal atmosphere," Leatherwood said. "Changed [my recruitment] big time. My dad loves it here."
"To be honest, Michigan is making me think about my commitment to Alabama. My dad even likes them a lot. We're gonna do some very deep thinking on this.
"I can't really explain the feeling I have at Michigan -- I just like it a lot."
Sam Webb mentioned Leatherwood's father had been skeptical about the program entering the trip and ended up wearing Michigan gear on the visit; the repeated mentions that he enjoyed his time there could be as meaningful as the impression made on his son.
"It was a great visit," Filiaga told 247Sports. "From the game, the crowd, the coaches, the players, they all make it something special! Michigan truly does have a great set up for its program."
Finally, four-star KY OT Jedrick Wills hasn't gone on the record about his visit yet, but a look at his Twitter page indicates it went quite well, too.
Michigan in in the driver's seat for Ruiz and may have moved to the top of the list for Filiaga, as well. Leatherwood and Wills are probably longer shots—especially Wills, who's expected to end up at Alabama—but it's clear the Wolverines made a strong impression on both of them.
Five-star TX OLB Baron Browning: Notre Dame, Ohio State, Texas, and UCLA appear to be Michigan's primary competition, and while the Wovlerines have been regarded as a fringe contender for much of Browning's recruitment, 247's Steve Wiltfong said this week his summer visit put M in better position than ND and OSU. Browning's brother played for Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, which can't hurt M's chances.
FIve-star FL OT Alex Leatherwood (Alabama commit): Michigan and Florida are trying to pry Leatherwood away from Bama, but Steve Lorenz has mentioned on our podcast that this is quite a long shot unless Bama OL coach Mario Cristobal leaves the staff after the season.
Four-star KY OT Jedrick Wills: Wills looked like he'd drop to Alabama before ever making it to Ann Arbor. While that didn't occur, Bama remains the favorite.
Four-star NJ OLB Drew Singleton: There's still a lot of optimism from Michigan insiders about Singleton—who's here for his second game this season—despite the buzz surrounding Clemson.
Four-star IMG OLB Jordan Anthony: Another linebacker prospect long considered a Michigan lean.
Four-star IMG OC Cesar Ruiz: As Lorenz said in this week's recruiting mailbag, Ruiz is arguably the most important target left on the board, and with Alabama seemingly out of the picture this is a race Michigan expects to win.
[This list is long enough to JUMP mid-section. As I said, it's a huge visit weekend.]
The weekend in which I can't leave my laptop for more than 30 seconds is nearly upon us. The BBQ at the Big House is on Saturday, and it features a visitor list absolutely loaded with top-end talent. 247's Steve Lorenz has the full, updated list posted for free, as well as an excellent VIP post that goes in-depth on each uncommitted 2017 and 2018 prospect who'll be on campus. I'll do my best to cover the highlights. Keep in mind that every 2017 Michigan commit save for Aubrey Solomon, Kai-Leon Herbert, and AJ Dillon is slated to be in attendance.
The headliner, of course, is #1 overall prospect Najee Harris, the California running back committed to Alabama. According to Lorenz, Bama insiders think Michigan is the top threat to flip him from his current commitment, and Harris will be accompanied by his mother on the trip. Harris won't be the only back at the BBQ; four-star UT RB Sione Heimuli-Lund is a Stanford commit who could wind up at RB, FB, or LB (or, given Harbaugh, all of them).
Michigan's top four targets at wide receiver will all be in attendance. Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins need no introduction at this point; Michigan leads for Collins and is the presumed leader for DPJ. Four-star IA WR Oliver Martin is ramping up his recruitment now that baseball season is over—this weekend should give us a good idea of where Michigan stands compared to MSU, Iowa, Wisconsin, and his other contenders. Four-star CT WR Tarik Black has Michigan in his top group, though Lorenz thinks Notre Dame and Stanford are out ahead at this point. Michigan's top tight end on the board, four-star CA TE Josh Falo, will also be at the BBQ.
With three-star AL OT Toryque Bateman naming Michigan his leading heading into his BBQ visit, the offensive line is the most likely (though far from only) source of a weekend commitment—Bateman pegged his chances of committing at 50% and potentially higher if the visit goes as well as his last trip to Ann Arbor. Four-star tackles Isaiah Wilson and Aaron Banks are also on the list; Wilson is a Michigan/Bama battle right now, while the Wolverines are hoping to lure Banks away from top-tier Pac-12 programs.
As I was writing this, Steve reported that four-star OT Henry Bainivaluwill make the trip from Washington. This is the second unofficial for Bainivalu, which is especially notable for a prospect from the other side of the country—Michigan definitely has a shot, and...
...oh boy, we might have a situation here.
One prospect who'd been mentioned as a possible visitor who won't make it: five-star KY OT Jedrick Wills, who looks like a longshot at best.
In the 2018 class, four-star Oak Park OG Marquan McCall—who could also wind up at DT—will accompany his committed teammate, OT JaRaymond Hall. While I've avoided mentioning the 2019 class, early rankings have Belleville OT Devontae Dobbs as a five-star prospect; he'll be at the BBQ with a couple classmates from a program that's got a lot of young talent.