Monday Recruitin' Warned You

Monday Recruitin' Warned You Comment Count

Ace September 5th, 2016 at 4:33 PM

If Tarik Black Doesn't Commit, His Coach Just Might


I'll go out on a limb and say this didn't hurt last weekend's recruiting efforts. [Upchurch]

Four-star CT WR Tarik Black was the only uncommitted official football visitor last week. Michigan gave him plenty of attention, and if his reaction is anywhere close to his coach's, they hit it out of the park, via 247's Steve Wiltfong:

"It was great," Dave Dykeman, Black's coach told 247Sports. Black made the trip with Dykeman and his parents. "What an unbelievable place. I think he's very, very impressed.

"No commitment but a pretty special place. That was pretty obvious to all of us."

Usually when someone has to clarify that a commitment didn't occur, that means it was under serious consideration. Black plans to visit Auburn this weekend, but with Notre Dame seemingly on the outside looking in, Michigan should be considered the favorite here.

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

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Monday Recruitin' Is Beautiful

Monday Recruitin' Is Beautiful Comment Count

Ace August 29th, 2016 at 4:59 PM

Jim Harbaugh Is Different, Part 347

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.

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

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Thursday Recruitin' Updates Lists

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Ace July 21st, 2016 at 3:12 PM

247, Scout Update 2017 Rankings

The spring/summer camp season culminated with The Opening finals, and as prospects turn their attention to the upcoming season, the recruiting sites are updating their rankings. Scout and 247 both released new rankings over the last week, and while Michigan lost their only composite five-star, there were quite a few positive developments.

QB Dylan McCaffrey was good, but not great, at The Opening, and that was enough to drop him from #39 to #101 overall on Scout and from #30 to #54 on 247. He's now the #39 overall player on the 247 Composite, 12 spots away from regaining five-star status.

DE Luiji Vilain moved up nine spots to #85 on 247 and held steady at #138 on Scout. Making incremental gains—and avoiding small drops—is tougher the higher a player is ranked, especially when there's significant movement like there is in the post-camp re-ranks; Vilain inching up the composite (to #96) is impressive in that context.

The same principle applies to DT Aubrey Solomon, who dropped nine spots to #216 on 247 and two spots to #129 on Scout. LB Josh Ross had a more significant fall, moving down 16 spots to #193 on 247 and an even hundred spots to #228 on Scout.

The most significant split is over CB Benjamin St-Juste, whose star turn at The Opening earned him a massive jump from three stars all the way to #92 overall on 247; Scout, meanwhile, kept him as a three-star, only giving him a four-spot bump to #32 in their cornerback position rankings. The point of contention doesn't seem to be the quality of his camp performances—those were praised by both sites—but the dearth of other information on the Canadian prospect; if he played his high school ball in, say, Florida, I don't think there's much doubt he'd be a solid four-star.

There's a similar difference of opinion on RB AJ Dillon, who vaulted 112 spots to #99 overall on 247 while remaining a three-star on Scout. Again, weighing camp performances against quality of high school competition could be an issue here—Dillon doesn't face high-level foes in Massachusetts.

DE Corey Malone-Hatcher and OT JaRaymond Hall both dropped out of the Top247; Malone-Hatcher is still a four-star at #260 overall, while Hall lost a star in dropping down to #370. Both took less drastic tumbles on Scout, landing at #248 (Hall) and #296 (CMH).

OT Kai-Leon Herbert stayed at #180 on Scout and didn't crack the Top247. 247 still hasn't updated Herbert's ranking, but Barton Simmons indicated on their board that Herbert is in line to move up from his outdated, middling three-star ranking:

Good player. Size/Strength keeps him out of the Top247 for now. He's athletic. Will be a guy to monitor.

He should get a bump once 247 updates rankings of guys beyond the Top247.

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

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Monday Recruitin' Leaves The Frame

Monday Recruitin' Leaves The Frame Comment Count

Ace July 11th, 2016 at 2:21 PM

To avoid a 5000-word post, I'm breaking the roundup into two parts. Today's covers the performances of Michigan's commits—plus a new offer—from the weekend's The Opening finals. Tomorrow's will cover the considerable recruiting fallout from the weekend.

McCaffrey Builds Rapport With Iowa McCaffrey

This year's iteration of Nike's elite camp, The Opening, has come and gone, and Michigan's commits and top targets acquitted themselves well. Team Hypercool, the squad comprised largely of Michigan recruits, made a nice run in the 7-on-7 tournament—knocking off Buckeye-heavy Team LunerBeast in the process—despite minor injuries causing Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins to both sit out by the end of the tourney.

Quarterback commit Dylan McCaffrey had a strong weekend. 247 ranked him as the second-best quarterback on Saturday, praising his decision-making, and placed him fifth after Sunday's action:

Michigan commit Dylan McCaffrey - He looks like a pro on the field. Not in terms of his size or physical traits, not even his technique. The way he processes what's in front of him is elite though. He has a glaring technical flaw that he needs to clean up but when that happens, he's going to be special for Jim Harbaugh.

Unfortunately, Simmons didn't elaborate on the "glaring technical flaw," which I assume has something to do with McCaffrey's long delivery—he brings the ball down low before releasing, a habit that can be fixed over time.

With Peoples-Jones and Collins both sidelined by the final day, McCaffrey had to build a rapport with other receivers, and he found a pair of unlikely go-to targets. One was four-star MI CB Ambry Thomas, who flipped sides of the ball and showed he's a very talented receiver prospect. TMI's Josh Newkirk:

He already had a stellar Saturday showing at cornerback, but late in the evening he switched to offense due to injuries at wide receiver for Hypercool.

And the switch worked for Thomas, how well exactly? Well, the four-star standout caught four touchdowns of 40+ yards on simple go routes, he simply just out ran his opponent. It was one of the better performances you’ll ever see in a camp setting.

While Thomas is first and foremost a (very good) cornerback prospect, he's got the potential to play both ways in college. His performance earned him a spot on the all-tournament team.

McCaffrey's other favorite target came in as a nondescript three-star who'd had only MAC offers until last month. IA WR Oliver Martin left with a Michigan offer after earning the trust of his potential future teammates, per Sam Webb:

His chemistry with McCaffrey was readily apparent on an over the shoulder throw 40 yards down the seam for a score in the semis. That was clearly Martin single biggest play, but where he consistently did damage was in the short and intermediate areas. He consistently moved the chains. Michigan fans should picture Grant Perry, but bigger, stronger, faster, and with more shake.  This isn’t a kid that the Wolverines were heavily involved with before The Opening, but they are now. Thanks to some not-so subtle suggestions from the Michigan commits at The Opening, the Maize & Blue offered Martin a scholarship Sunday night. He spoke to The Michigan Insider afterward and expressed his strong interest.

247's Steve Wiltfong wrote a feature on Martin today that is well worth your time; in addition to being a football prospect who's going to rise up the rankings considerably, Martin is a D-I baseball prospect and state champion swimmer, and his younger sister just nearly made the Olympic swim team as a rising high school junior. Their father was a standout swimmer; their mother the same in track. Michigan might have just found the Iowa McCaffreys.

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

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Hello: Kai-Leon Herbert

Hello: Kai-Leon Herbert Comment Count

Ace July 6th, 2016 at 12:09 PM


Herbert (right) with five-star teammate TJ Slaton. [Isaiah Hole/247]

When Plantation (FL) American Heritage four-star OT Kai-Leon Herbert started picking up attention from power programs back in February of 2015, he called Miami (YTM) his "dream school" and picked up an offer from them shortly thereafter. By that summer, Florida had also offered, and for the better part of the year the Gators held the pole position in his recruitment. In late March, Herbert said he was ready to commit—and that Florida still held the lead.

Then Michigan made their move. Herbert never set a spring commitment date and the Wolverines' recruitment of him went to plaid.


Yoink. [timeline via 247]

This afternoon, before participating in the Opening finals in Oregon, Herbert announced his commitment to Michigan via an impressively produced Walking Dead-style video that features some serious rival-stompin'. He becomes the 18th commit in the 2017 class and the fourth on the offensive line, joining JaRaymond Hall, Joel Honigford, and Andrew Stueber.

GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN 247 247 Comp
4*, #22 OT,
#183 Ovr
4*, #10 OT,
#61 Ovr
4*, 83, #15 OT,
#106 Ovr
3*, 86, #72 OT,
#683 Ovr
4*, #22 OT,
#166 Ovr

Herbert is a prospect with serious upside and plenty of development to go, so it's not a surprise to see some variance in his rankings. That said, I can't find a reasonable explanation for 247's outlier ranking—they've had positive scouting reports from the last couple Opening Miami regionals—but I expect Herbert will get a healthy bump when they update rankings after this week's Opening finals. Everyone else has Herbert within the top 200 overall prospects, with Rivals the most bullish.

Herbert is listed at 6'4" or 6'5" and anywhere from 255 to 284 pounds. He's definitely at the higher end of that listing; Scout said he weighed 277 as of March. Herbert is reportedly still getting taller, too—with his long arms, he's got the look of a left tackle.

SCOUTING

Herbert first started getting major attention on the recruiting trail following his sophomore season. In February of 2015, 247's Luke Stampini named him as one of ten players to emerge at a loaded Opening regional in Miami, ranking him just behind five-star teammate TeDarrell "TJ" Slaton:

While the 6-foot-5, 265-pound Hebert is not on the same level as Slaton, he proved he was worth watching moving forward. He has an excellent frame with long limbs to pack on the weight and flashed solid mobility for such a young prospect. With another year of development we could be talking about Herbert as one of the best in the Sunshine State.

Despite being a year younger than many of the players in attendance, Herbert earned mention for just missing the top overall performers at the RCS Miami camp a month later:

Herbert has incredibly violent hands. That was the prevailing lesson about his game on Sunday, anyway. He used his initial punch to knock defenders back but also to make a mark on the camp, during which he put on a mostly impressive performance. Herbert was not the most complete lineman at the camp, but he did some things that showcased what seems to be great potential.

At that point, Herbert hit a bunch of SEC team camps, earning offers from the likes of Tennessee in addition to UF and Miami. Michigan offered in May, getting their foot in the door early.

After a strong junior season, Herbert hit the camp circuit again, showing up to this year's Opening Miami regional bigger and better than before. Scout's Chad Simmons:

Herbert has really grown and matured physically and as a football player.  He has added close to 20 pounds.  He is playing stronger and more violent.  He has very good feet, he can bend, and he has so much upside.  Look for his ranking to increase in the coming days.  Florida is in the lead.

Scout mentioned Herbert first when naming their top ten offensive performers; 247 had him fourth, citing a slow start, and mentioned his "plus athleticism." The performance earned Herbert an invite to this week's Opening finals, and a few days later, Scout bumped him up to four-star territory:

When you look at Herbert, you see an offensive tackle with a great frame.  He is a very natural bender, he has good feet, and he has the reach coaches covet at that position.  He has come so far in the past 18 months.  He has added over 20 pounds, he is playing much stronger, and he is developing into one of the most complete offensive tackles in the 2017 class.

Herbert also had another standout RCS Miami outing:

Herbert was one of the most aggressive offensive linemen when it came to taking reps and after a bit of a slow start, he enforced his will as one-on-ones went along. By the time the session was over, it was clear Herbert was the MVP. His combination of size and strength allowed him to overpower several defenders and his hand placement allowed [him] to keep leverage against shorter defensive linemen as well.

He played well enough that Rivals named him one of the top five offensive linemen from their entire 2016 camp series alongside blue-chips Alex Leatherwood, Walker Little, Isaiah Wilson, and Brett Neilon. Rivals moved him up from #222 overall to his current perch at #61 in the aftermath.

ESPN's scouting report is, as usual, full of hedging, but they make it clear they like Herbert's upside:

(Pass protection) Can set quickly and possesses good arm length and while he doesn't display a jolting punch and can improve placement he is active with hands. Displays good lateral agility to mirror rushers when he stays low, but does need to watch pad level. Can gain good positioning against power and slow, but needs to add size and do better job of sinking hips to help him better anchor. Room to improve physically and technically, but good upside in this area.

(Run blocking) Can quickly get into defenders and deliver a good initial pop. When he gets positioning can control and steer defenders, but needs to improve hand placement and pad level, as can get tall and narrow. Flashes enough lateral agility and quickness to reach defenders from the backside or seal on the front side. Can improve angles, but good range and body control top adjust and get a piece of second level targets.

They like his "excellent height and length" and think he brings "promising upside" at tackle.

Scout's free evaluation is a solid summation:

Evaluation

Herbert is an offensive tackle with a great frame. His length stands out immediately and he has good feet to go with that. He has the body that is developing and with that, he will add mass and more power to his game. He can really move and get into his pass sets well. From his sophomore year to the end of his junior year, he added good weight, he played with more aggression, and he has really started to separate himself as one of the best in Florida. He is a very smart player and he is always working to get better. His flexibility is good and his punch has improved a lot. He could be a true left tackle on the next level.

Strengths

  • Arm Length
  • Body Control and Balance
  • Feet
  • Flexibility
  • Intelligence

Areas to Improve

  • Pad Level
  • Power And Strength

While Herbert isn't the most polished offensive line prospect out there, his potential is apparent; his combination of size and athleticism make him an ideal left tackle prospect once he adds the requisite weight and strength, and he's come a long way in that regard over the last year. It's notable that on a high school team featuring Slaton, a five-star lineman, it's Herbert that lines up at left tackle with Slaton playing on the right side.

OFFERS

Herbert holds offers from Auburn, Cal, Colorado, Duke, FAU, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Marshall, Maryland, Miami (YTM), Mississippi State, NC State, UNC, Ole Miss, Tennessee, UCF, USC, USF, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

HIGH SCHOOL

American Heritage is one of Florida's top talent producers. Recent blue-chips include five-star 2015 CB Tavarus McFadden (FSU), five-star 2014 RB Sony Michel (Georgia), and top-50 2013 RB Greg Bryant (Notre Dame). Michigan got a commitment from them in 2015 TE Nick Eubanks. Five-star 2017 OG TeDarrell Slaton is a top Michigan target. Three-star 2017 LB James Houston also holds an offer. The Wolverines already have offers out to two of their 2018 prospects, five-star CB Patrick Surtain Jr. and four-star CB Tyson Campbell, and they hosted DT Nesta Silvera for a visit in June—if Silvera, who's close friends with Herbert and Eubanks, lands an offer, Michigan should be among his top schools.

STATS

Is OL, no stats.

FAKE 40 TIME

Herbert's Hudl page lists a verified electronic 40 time of 5.44 seconds, which gets zero FAKEs. Other combine numbers: 4.90 shuttle, 27.2" vertical leap, 40.2-foot powerball throw.

VIDEO

Junior highlights:

Sophomore highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.

PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE

Herbert will be one of what should be a healthy group of talented tackles who could be in line for early playing time. While Ben Bredeson is the early favorite to take over at right tackle after Erik Magnuson departs, Bredeson is better suited for the interior, so we could see a situation similar to this year with Mason Cole; somebody is likely to emerge from the 2015 or 2016 class at tackle and bump Bredeson inside. With a couple years of development, Herbert could very well be that guy; at worst, he's a great candidate to take over for Grant Newsome at left tackle in a few years.

UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS

Michigan is now at 18 commits in a class that should reach the mid to upper 20s. With the Wolverines already up to four offensive line commits—plus a fifth who could be a guard in DT Phil Paea—we'll see how things shake out with their remaining top-tier OL targets: Slaton, OT Isaiah Wilson, and OC Cesar Ruiz. At this point, they may only be able to take two of the three, though it isn't safe to assume all three would've ended up in the class anyway.

Other areas of need include WR, TE, OLB, CB, and S. Here's the class as it currently stands:

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Tuesday Recruitin' Announces Tomorrow

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Ace July 5th, 2016 at 2:58 PM

Edit: Oh, right, it's Tuesday.

Herbert Announcing Tomorrow

Michigan is in prime position to pick up another offensive lineman when four-star FL OT Kai-Leon Herbert announces his decision sometime tomorrow between the Wolverines, Florida, and Miami (YTM). Michigan got his most recent visit and has the last nine picks on his Crystal Ball, including that of 247 scouting director Steve Wiltfong. When previewing his decision for 247's Luke Stampini, Herbert may have tipped his hand in what's been considered a Michigan/Florida battle with Miami on the periphery [emphasis mine]:

“It’s the relationship I have with Coach [Mike] Summers, Coach [Randy] Shannon, and Coach [Jim McElwain] himself,” Herbert said of Florida. “They were my leader for quite some time and they definitely know how to recruit.

Herbert would be an impressive pull from a powerhouse program (American Heritage), and a commitment from him could also help Michigan land five-star OG teammate TJ Slaton, whose recruitment may become a Michigan/Clemson battle.

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

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Monday Recruitin' Swaps Shirts

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Ace June 20th, 2016 at 2:54 PM

The 2017 recruiting board was updated heading into the weekend. Meanwhile, I'm taking off for vacation tomorrow and will be out until next Wednesday. Naturally, today's send-off roundup is one of the longest of the year.

D-Tackle Out Of Nowhere

There was very good reason nobody saw Aubrey Solomon's commitment coming. Solomon didn't even initially plan on being in Ann Arbor last weekend; he was supposed to be on an unofficial visit to Alabama. He told Sam Webb that once he got to Michigan and found out he had an offer, things moved quickly from there:

“I came into Michigan not knowing that I had an offer,” Solomon said. “Once I found that out it really changed everything.  Then seeing what they could do for me in the future, like 10-20 years after football, I just fell in love with it. It wasn't just football, it was ‘what would I do for the rest of my life after football?’"

Solomon credited Chris Partridge and Jim Harbaugh for convincing him Michigan was the place to be.

The commitment of Solomon's 2018 teammate, Otis Reese, came as far less of a shock; Reese had previously named Michigan as his leader and he has ties to the area—his older brother is a redshirt freshman receiver at Central Michigan. Reese described the scene when he and Solomon committed to Webb:

"(Solomon) was feeling it but he kind of shocked me,” said Reese.  “I didn't know he was going to commit."

"Coach Harbaugh was on the phone with my mom and we were talking about my commitment. Aubrey got on the phone talking to his mom and he said he wanted to commit. It was just like the whole room was lit… full happy emotions. They were jumping around. Actually my receiver coach (who brought them up on the visit) and Coach Harbaugh traded shirts. Coach Harbaugh still has (Lee County) shirt on, and my coach has his on.  It was just a happy moment and it was a blessing."

Michigan nearly added another commitment on the weekend. Three-star CT OT Andrew Stueber impressed the coaches at camp enough to pull in an offer, and in the aftermath Steuber told 247's Steve Wiltfong that Michigan is "the one to beat" in his recruitment. Based on what Sam tweeted over the weekend, it sounds like Steuber will join the class as soon as he can get his mom to campus.

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

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Wednesday Recruitin' Has Great Expectations

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Ace June 15th, 2016 at 2:33 PM

Yaaaaaaaa Luiji

The usual spate of post-commitment scouting reports have come in since Luiji Vilain announced for Michigan on Sunday, and lo, they are good. The Wolverine's Brandon Justice talked to an opposing high school coach who made a lofty comparison—Jevon Kearse—and had difficulty finding an issue with Vilain's game:

"Without any disrespect to other teams we play, he's the first name that pops up that comes to my mind when I think about defensive ends we'll play," he said. "I wouldn't say he has any flaws - just some size and strength to add, and Michigan will take care of that. I think he's right where they want him to be. I think he's big enough where he can make an impact right away, like a third-down specialist. He's just too athletic to keep off the field."

247's Clint Brewster posted a film breakdown slideshow featuring a strength of Vilain's that I didn't highlight much in the Hello post:

Villain's play recognition is another important aspect of his game that stands out on tape. He never drops his head and his awareness for run/pass diagnosis are impressive. At defensive end you have to be a quick-thinker and react to plays in an instant. Vilain's awareness allows him to come up with many bat-downs on tape and he's able to diagnose the read-option and come up with stops in the backfield. His ability to diagnose keeps him a step ahead on plays where there's mis-direction in the backfield.

Discipline on the edge is paramount against today's college offenses; Vilain appears to have it.

Scout's lengthy, free scouting report ends thusly:

Vilain will compete from day one at Michigan and he's going to be hard to keep off the field.

Ultimately, I expect him to be a multi-year starter, all-conference performer and play on Sundays.

That would be acceptable.

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

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Thursday Recruitin' Envisions Aquatic Bowling

Thursday Recruitin' Envisions Aquatic Bowling Comment Count

Ace June 9th, 2016 at 4:09 PM

A Top Three... Of One

Michigan's recent push for five-star CA CB Darnay Holmes is paying off. Holmes is in the process of narrowing his recruitment to three schools, and he told Maize n Brew he knows one school that will make the cut:

Nebraska is also a safe bet to be in the top three; the only official visit Holmes has set so far is to Lincoln, though he also plans to take officials to Michigan and Ohio State. Stanford and UCLA are also heavily involved. Michigan has gone from the fringe of Holmes' recruitment to the possible leader in a hurry.

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

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Monday Recruitin' Tips The Scales

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Ace May 4th, 2015 at 2:02 PM

Another Week, Another Camp

247's Steve Wiltfong has a free recap of last weekend's Chicago regional for The Opening, which featured Michigan commit Brandon Peters and several top targets. Four players earned invites to The Opening finals, including Detroit King's Lavert Hill and Donnie Corley. Peters wasn't among them, nor was he MVP of his position group—that honor went to Messiah deWeaver, incidentally—after what Sam Webb described as a decent performance with room for improvement ($):

Michigan quarterback commit Brandon Peters showed impressive arm strength throughout the day, often drawing praise from camp instructors for the nice zip he put on the football. That said, his accuracy was up and down and he was high with many of his passes. He did find some semblance of consistency during 7-on-7 action at the end of day, during which he was much more accurate

You can see both the strong arm and the tendency to overthrow in the Vine from Lorenz above. In an article that also includes more detailed analysis from Clint Brewster, Peters gave a self-assessment to Lorenz:

"I learned a lot about my game today and what I need to do to get better," he said. "I need to work on how I use my lower body a lot better and have to develop a better consistency at keeping my eyes level as I scan the field. I thought I performed alright today but I definitely have some work to do."

Brewster's comparison for Peters at this stage is Sam Bradford; I'm sure Michigan fans would be just fine with his college career playing out in similar fashion.

Allen Trieu's top ten performers from the event is also worth checking out, as it's mostly comprised of Michigan targets. One of them, Cass Tech OG/DT Michael Onwenu, was the subject of a rather unfortunate mix-up, via Sam Webb on The Victors Board ($):

I've been getting questions on Mike Onwenu's weight. Specifically, did he weigh in at 360 lbs. I didn't see the scale, so I can't say for sure that he doesn't weigh that much. All I can say is he didn't look like he is 360 and he didn't move like he is 360.

It's my theory that he got mixed up with Juan Harris. That said if Onwenu is 360, then Harris is well over 400 (word was he currently tips the scales at 390 lbs.)

The photos confirm; Onwenu's on the left, Harris on the right:

Webb noted Michigan backed off their offer to Harris, which isn't at all a surprise given the above.

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

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