Thursday Recruitin' Thinks It'll Go For A Walk

Thursday Recruitin' Thinks It'll Go For A Walk

Submitted by Ace on August 1st, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Not Dead ... Yet

The commitment of 2015 KY RB Damien Harris led many, including myself, to assume that Michigan's recruitment of 2014 LA RB Leonard Fournette — who'd just no-showed a planned visit for the BBQ — was D-E-D dead. Per 247's Kipp Adams, however, it appears there's still a faint pulse ($):

According to Fournette’s father, Leonard II, three of those four programs are slated to get coveted official visits from the No. 1 overall prospect in the Class of 2014 247Composite.

He plans to take officials to Alabama, USC, Michigan and Florida,” Fournette II said, adding that Miami (Fla.) is likely to receive the fifth one.

LSU was not listed as a school slated to get an official, but Fournette II did list them as an additional top school.

Huzzah.

Unfortunately, Michigan isn't mentioned once in the rest of the article, which features plenty of talk about LSU, Alabama, and USC. There is one other revelation: the Fournettes are apparently the Gradys of the South, as Leonard III's younger brother — a thus-far unoffered 2015 running back — is named... Lanard. That doesn't get confusing, I'm sure.

As far as Fournette's recruitment goes, I'll believe Michigan has the slightest of chances when he's physically on campus, and even then the outlook is still probably grim. But, hey, Damien Harris...

PRETTY GOOD, GUYS

...is pretty good, guys. GBW had Allen Trieu talk about Harris's potential impact and lo, is there ever potential for impact ($):

“He was at the Best of the Midwest Combine two winters ago," Trieu said, "and he was already pretty physically put together, and ran a pretty good 40 there, and then when you find out that kid is only a freshman you’re like, wow. I was able to go back and pull up the film from his freshman year and after the first three plays on the film, I basically turned it off and said I know this guy is a big time guy -- a national guy. And I don’t get too many guys like that, to be honest.

"There’s not a ton of guys that I turn on the film and right away I know that this guy is going to be right up there with the best in the country but, for him to be that way at an early age, I knew that there was something special there.”

Trieu also mentions that Harris is a "really good receiver" in a camp setting, something that doesn't come through on film because why throw to the guy when you can hand the ball to him directly and probably score a touchdown, amirite?* Harris's high school coach echoed Trieu's praise and talked up his football IQ to TomVH ($):

Madison Southern High coach Jon Clark said Michigan is getting a big, multidimensional back in the 5-foot-11, 210-pound Harris.

"He's a lot bigger than people think. He's not a small speed back, either," Clark said. "He's an excellent receiver out of the backfield, he is a smart player and he understands defensive schemes."

Harris confirmed to Trieu in another article that, while he's been leaning heavily towards Michigan for a long time, the commitment of George Campbell accelerated his process; a childhood fan of the Wolverines, Harris gave a great quote about committing to his dream school ($):

"I don't even know what to expect. Growing up and loving a school and it being your dream and being able to achieve the dream and play at Michigan, it's mind blowing to think it's coming true. I'm going to be thinking about how blessed I am to be playing, not only for a great school, but with great teammates and great coaches and a great fan base. I hope to live up to the expectations they have, but I'm going to work hard and come in and play my game."

It's always great to see these kind of dreams fulfilled, and even better when they're the dreams of five-stars.

Speaking of insanely talented recent 2015 commits, a local news article on Campbell contains this tidbit about his academic plans:

"Everyone, not just the coaches but also the players, they all took me in as one," Campbell said on Monday. "Pretty much, it's like a big old family there. Not just that, but the academics. I plan on majoring in Sports Management, and they have a great program there. It's the best choice for me at the moment and for my future, too."

If this was the work of Professor Needs A Raise, he's now been upgraded to Professor Needs A Building Named After Him. You know, as soon as one of us remembers his real name — The Professor Needs A Building Named After Him, Er, Building doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.

How rare is a commitment from a kid like Campbell? DGDestroys put together this chart over at Maize n Brew of the eventual destinations of Florida five-stars ranked among the top 15 players in their class (covering 2002-2013):

You'll note the complete lack of Big Ten schools, with Notre Dame representing the only program north of West Virginia to land a prospect matching the criteria. That prospect was Aaron Lynch, who transferred to USF after his freshman year. As long as Michigan holds onto Campbell — and he stays where he is in the rankings — then they're pulling off something that hasn't been done in the Rivals era.

Speaking of making recruiting history, The Wolverine's Michael Spath dug through the Rivals database($) and found that the last team to pull in the #1 players in their class at running back and receiver was USC in 2007 with Joe McKnight and (sigh) Ronald Johnson. Michigan has a chance to do that with Campbell and Harris; it would be the first time the Wolverines pulled off the feat since 1998, predating the modern recruiting services, with Justin Fargas and David Terrell.

[Hit THE JUMP for, oh hey, another 2015 prospect that looks like a stone-cold Michigan lock, more reactions from last weekend's BBQ, how OSU's latest commitment could affect the Wolverines, and more.]

Monday Recruitin' Goes Wholy Holy

Monday Recruitin' Goes Wholy Holy

Submitted by Ace on July 29th, 2013 at 3:51 PM

If you think the headline contains a typo, try listening to better music.

George Campbell, Mayor Of Twitter

As Michigan fans tried to decrypt Wilton Speight's Twitter teaser, Saturday afternoon bled into Saturday evening with no word about a commitment. Would it be Shaun Crawford? Sterling Jenkins? Erik Swenson? Maybe even Malik McDowell? Any would've been great; the real answer, though, elicited a rapturous response.

George Campbell's commitment briefly turned the entire Michigan twittersphere into Robin and Brady Hoke into the proudest papa.


Mason Cole's Instagram also features ... are those tears, Coach?

It also attracted the attention of the CEO of Twitter, Michigan grad Dick Costolo.

Modified rule: Don't tweet at recruits — unless you're the CEO of Twitter. [Side note: This is a story. Get here already, football season. Also, Matt Hayes must be stopped, and this is one of a very short list of things Michigan and Ohio State fans can agree upon.]

Why is everyone so excited? Because if "500" was an Olympic sport, George Campbell would win the gold, silver, and bronze.

Also, have I mentioned he's 6'4" and runs a 4.36 40-yard dash?

I mean...

Wow, indeed.

Yes, Campbell still has work to do when it comes to his hands and route-running — this video from the Columbus NFTC highlights both the best and worst parts of Campbell's game right now — but with two more years of high school ball to play, his potential is terrifyingly vast. Scout's Jamie Newberg provided a detailed scouting report of Campbell after his commitment, and even the areas for improvement section features one of them good problems ($):

What may be of concern: Campbell catches the ball well but is not a natural pass catcher. Sometimes he fights it but he is getting better and better. Size is also an issue because you just can’t forecast just how big this cat is going to get. He has a giant frame and long arms so there is no telling what his size will be like in three or four years. Remember, he still has two high school seasons to play before he gets to Ann Arbor. Will his growth prompt a position change? If so, how will that impact his develop?

All of these are concerns but I see them as minor concerns because Campbell is such an outstanding athlete. Recruit him now and worry about it later.

Oh no he might be even more giant and still probably really fast.

Campbell's commitment does more than just give Michigan one of the top prospects in his entire class. It also looks like he'll be a major recruiting conduit in the tradition of Morris, Speight, Ferns, et al — Campbell reportedly struck up a close friendship with 2015 MI ATH Brian Cole, and he's already reaching out to other top prospects on Twitter. Others, including 2015 MN LB/DE Jashon Cornell, ESPN's #1 overall recruit in the class, took immediate notice after Campbell tweeted out his commitment announcement.

Oh, and some other guy passed along his congratulations.

That guy is consensus top-100 2015 running back Damien Harris. He committed to Michigan while I was writing this post. Brian, mercifully, handled the Hello post. Commitments come in pairs, Brady Hoke poops magic, and Michigan now has their top targets at wide receiver and running back already in the fold for 2015.

Hello there, potential überclass:

Not a bad start to the week, you guys.

[Hit THE JUMP for much, much more on the BBQ, including reactions from Malik McDowell, Shaun Crawford, Sterling Jenkins, and Justin Hilliard, plus surprise appearances from a couple of Glenville's finest.]

Thursday Recruitin' BBQ Bonanza

Thursday Recruitin' BBQ Bonanza

Submitted by Ace on July 25th, 2013 at 1:39 PM


Fournette (via)

BBQ Rundown*

Michigan's annual BBQ at the Big House is on Sunday, and the Wolverines will also host visitors on Saturday — or, in LA RB Leonard Fournette's case, starting today. All of the major sites have published expected visitor lists, and in the grand tradition of attempting to pin down the plans of teenagers, there are slight discrepancies between them. Here's a rundown of the top targets who will be on campus this weekend and a general idea of where Michigan stands with each of them:

2014 Commits

Ian Bunting, Freddy Canteen, Mason Cole, Michael Ferns, Drake Harris, Lawrence Marshall, Wilton Speight, Brandon Watson, Maurice Ways, and Chase Winovich are all expected to be in attendance. Jabrill Peppers is trying to make it into town, as well — his presence would only help Michigan's efforts with the uncommitted recruits, and especially fellow blue-chip Fournette.

2014 Targets

Fournette is obviously the big fish here; the nation's top running back — and #1 overall prospect on the 247 Composite — arrives in Ann Arbor today and will stay all the way through Sunday's BBQ. If you regularly read this roundup, you've seen his highlight tape. A video released by ESPN this week shows more of his personal side, and none of it will make you want him at Michigan any less. The broken record on Fournette is that, despite his assertions of being wide open, he'll inevitably end up in the SEC, likely at LSU. GBW's Kyle Bogenshutz talked to Fournette's father, and NOPE NOPE NOPE I REFUSE TO GET MY HOPES UP ($):

As a father that knows his son’s game and how it might translate to the college level, he can see what the portrait might look like in the Maize & Blue.

For sure he would be a good fit for Michigan,” said Fournette’s father. “I know for sure he would be a great fit for Michigan. He’ll fit right in.”

...

“Me and my wife are real high on education, first of all,” Fournette’s father said. “And we have to feel like our child is going to be in good hands, from a family aspect, not just coaches, but a friend and a father figure on the field and off the field.”

Fournette will be accompanied by his parents on the trip; he'll undoubtedly get the full tour of both the academic and football side of things, and it'll be very interesting to see where Michigan stands after this weekend.

NJ RB Jonathan Hilliman is listed as attending in some places and not in others; assuming he shows, this will be Michigan's best chance to chip away at Ohio State's lead for the three-star boasting a very impressive offer sheet. [EDIT: Per 247, Hilliman won't be visiting for the BBQ. That ship appears to have sailed; it's Fournette or bust at running back, reportedly, with Kalen Ballage being recruited as an athlete-slash-backup plan.]

MI DL Malik McDowell is always tough to pin down when it comes to his recruitment plans; he's another potential visitor. While he's attempted to stay quiet about where things stand, he's let slip a couple times that the Wolverines are out in front, and the general opinion is that he'll stay in-state.

2015 Targets

Cass Tech DE Josh Alabi and RB Mike Weber will visit Ann Arbor together for the umpteenth time. Both are early four-stars with a high level of interest in the Wolverines.

FL WR George Campbell is the top-ranked 2015 recruit who'll be on campus, coming in at #7 in the 247 Composite. He'll have his high school teammate, Cole, giving him the full sales pitch. How he reacts to this latest trip to Ann Arbor should give a good indication of where the Wolverines stand now that fellow East Lake receiver Artavis Scott chose Clemson over Michigan.

OH CB Shaun Crawford has long held Michigan as his leader, with many even expecting that he'd commit during an earlier visit this offseason. Crawford will have his family in tow, and his mother makes it sound like he's the best possibility of a commitment this weekend, per TomVH ($):

"Michigan is definitely at the top of the list, because it's a wonderful school. It's been a favorite for a long time and he grew up a Michigan fan," Crawford's mother said. "I think this type of event will kind of answer any questions we all may have and bring it all together for him. It's definitely something that's worthwhile in the decision process."

In this early stage of the 247 Composite rankings (only 247 and ESPN have released 2015 rankings), Crawford is listed as the #92 overall player, #9 corner, and #4 prospect in Ohio. He'd be a very nice early pickup, obviously.

OH LB Justin Hilliard ranks one spot above Crawford in the Ohio state rankings. His recruitment could come down to a big Midwestern battle — his older brother plays for Iowa and he already holds offers from all the Big Ten powers and some national schools, as well.

At 6'8", 305 pounds, four-star PA OT Sterling Jenkins is exactly what Michigan is searching for in an offensive lineman — tackle is the biggest, and potentially only, need left on the offensive line. Michigan is among his top schools, and despite lots of national interest they could very well be in the lead.

Michigan has experienced recent success recruiting in Utah, landing Sione Houma in 2012 and Bryan Mone for the 2014 class. They'll try to replicate that with four-star UT LB Osa Masina, though the Wolverines could be facing an uphill battle against the in-state Utes, where Masina's older brother signed in 2013.

The above players are confirmed for this weekend by multiple outlets; other potential visitors include MI ATH Brian Cole, OH DT Hjalte Froholdt, and NY TE Tyrone Wheatley Jr. — Michigan is in very good shape with all three prospects.

2016 Targets

If Crawford isn't the most likely to commit this weekend, then it's 2016 IL OL Erik Swenson, who's stated in no uncertain terms that a Michigan pledge is all but inevitable — he nearly pulled the trigger when he camped here last month.

Swenson is the only rising sophomore slated to attend who currently holds an offer, but that could change; MD LB De'le Harding is expected to join his older teammates, Freddy Canteen and Brandon Watson, on this weekend's visit, and he's a player who should earn an offer sooner or later. OH QB Messiah DeWeaver, who's shown very strong interest in Michigan, will also be at the BBQ, though I'd be surprised if a 2016 quarterback pulled an offer this early.

[Hit THE JUMP for updates on Parrker Westphal, JuJu Smith, Dravon Henry, and more.]

Tuesday Recruitin' Seems Kinda Like Mario

Tuesday Recruitin' Seems Kinda Like Mario

Submitted by Brian on July 16th, 2013 at 12:17 PM

Ace: off. That is not a John Woo movie, but rather a state of things. Fearless Leader steps into the breach. I probably shouldn't call myself that.

Kiss the baby

jungle beats

For some reason, that's what MD WR commit Freddy Canteen wants to make defensive backs do. I don't know why, but I do know I've watched the footwork video another three times. Stupid mesmerizing footwork video.

Anyway, Canteen's team is continuing to tour camps and 7-on-7 events. Last week's event was a good one for baby-kissing coercion. Scout's Brian Dohn:

…like he did so many other times in the last few months, covering him at the 7-on-7 was virtually impossible.

Canteen used his speed and route-running technique to set up cornerbacks all day en route to Eastern Christian Academy (Elkton, Md.) winning the title. If he wasn’t catching 5-yard in routes, he was using his speed to blow past the cornerback and beat the safety for deep scores, and it should come as little surprise.

Tennessee was actually recruiting him as a corner; Scout's now listing him at 6'1", and Rivals says he's 6'2" and change now. His role in the offense:

“I did what I regularly do; route running, technique, speed, hands,” he said. “I’ve worked on everything. I think I got better everywhere. (Michigan) liked my route-running. With them having all the 6-4, 6-5 commits, I offer a different game. I can play the slot and I can play outside. I can return kicks.”

I was always fine with Canteen's addition to the class and each new report amps the enthusiasm. Could be a sleeper of the year… d'awww he's got four stars on Rivals. I think I have to relax that requirement: with four sites to track, dang near everyone who ends up at Michigan is going to look shiny in someone's eyes. Canteen might not even make the sleeper cut with relaxed requirements, though, as Dohn said Canteen has "a very good shot" to get a fourth star as soon as his team plays some, you know, games.

Minor downer: MD CB commit Brandon Watson "good, not great" in Dohn's eyes.

Merph: Tranquill Moving Towards Happy Trails

I was all about the possibility of adding IN LB Drue Tranquill after he had great performances at both SMSB and Michigan's camp, but it seems like Noah Furbush dropping has pushed Tranquill out of the class. Without an offer from M or ND, Tranquill looks to be taking his talents to West Lafayette:

While Tranquill doesn’t have his mind made up just yet, he is certainly leaning toward one school.

“I have a good idea [about the decision],” Tranqull said. “Obviously, Purdue has been my top school. Unless something jumps out, they’re the one to beat.”

I like S/LB hybrids who can play nickel or WLB, and don't see one in this class. Maybe Gedeon in the last, I guess?

It is possible that Michigan could come back later in the year and flip the kid. Sounds like the door isn't totally closed:

Notre Dame and Michigan were also in that top group to start the month, though neither has offered. Michigan picked up a linebacker commitment shortly after Tranquill camped with the Wolverines. Communication is still ongoing there, but the timetable for a potential offer has been pushed back.

If they end up with a spot late they could do worse. Yes, Purdue, we can drink your milkshake like that.

HANDPOCA—actually a rather small Hand item

Tim Sullivan reports that VA DE DaShawn Hand is not likely to make the BBQ. Sad face. Here is something to make you feel better.

mattison_zpsd4c7da811_7[1]

A Man Who Knows How To Travel

CA S JuJu Smith is a man with many traits to envy, like his nickname and ability to run and tackle a deer. But near the top of the list is his knack for scheduling official visits:

The 6-foot-1, 206-pound athlete had official visits scheduled to Michigan on Sept. 6 and Notre Dame on Oct. 18. Recently, he added to those with trips to Ohio State on Sept. 27 and Alabama on Nov. 8. He'll see the Wolverines host Notre Dame, the Irish host USC, the Buckeyes host Wisconsin and the Crimson Tide host LSU. Smith also will take an official visit to Mississippi, though he hasn't set a date for that trip at this point.

Dang son. UCLA and USC are also in the mix. Wisconsin is claimed to be, but the team that isn't local and doesn't get a visit is not actually in contention. Smith's all over the place with his quotes. This article has one that is unfriendly to M's chances, maybe:

"Everybody says it's the best league, and you get a chance to compete against the best of the best," Smith said. "Staying home is good too, but I feel like going out and competing against the best will make me a better player."

"It" is the SEC, of course. That does sound like a guy leaving the West Coast, at least.

Smith just lit up a 7 on 7 out west:

Smith turned in arguably his best performance this offseason. Early in the day against powerhouse Serra, the four-star standout caught two touchdown passes at receiver and picked off a pass playing safety. There are times when Smith gets lost in the shuffle, but he has the ability to dominate on both sides of the ball. He looked unstoppable at receiver and safety.

Can't Hurt

Serra-relay-390x245[1]

Michigan's hired a track coach. Why is this in a recruiting roundup? CA CB Adoree Jackson and his Olympic long-jump hopes. Let's check the new guy's bio:

During Clayton's 15 seasons at Auburn (1998-2013), the Tigers won the 2006 NCAA Women's Outdoor Track and Field championship. He helped Auburn to 18 top-10 finishes at the NCAA Track and Field Championships (indoor and outdoor), including 10 top-five finishes. Clayton personally coached 10 NCAA national champions, had his student-athletes earn 51 All-America honors and 34 SEC individual titles. He had 79 performers qualify for the NCAA Track and Field Championships.

Wait, what? Michigan hired Auburn's head track coach? Weird. So… the guy's established, has a lot of success, and married a long-jump All-American. If Michigan won't let Jackson run track as a freshman that's probably all for naught but it sounds like short of importing Baylor's program Michigan's done as well as they could with that hire, in both Jackson-acquisition and hey-this-guy-runs-the-track-program departments.

Not likely to matter in the end, though. FWIW, Jackson gave an interview to ESPN in which he says little except he's going all the way to Signing Day with his decision; he told Rivals his list has actually expanded by adding Oregon and Oklahoma.

Kinnel waiting

2015 OH S Tyree Kinnel was reputed to be a guy who might drop for Michigan the instant he got an offer. An offer has not come yet, and he seems a bit frustrated:

"I’ve heard a little bit from Michigan since I camped there,” he said. “I know they want to follow me this fall. But I don’t know what is holding them back from offering me as they’ve told me they really want me with them.”

Kinnel's a little small for Michigan's tastes but camp observers thought he played very well.

Mayor this commissioner, water general

Sam Webb hits up uber-2015 WR George Campbell:

"Me and Tay grew up together ever since we were little kids, so we’re like brothers and we have a close bond,” Campbell said. “So it’s kind of a big impact what he chooses, but at the same time I have to do what’s best for me and choose my school for me."

Stupid Clemson. Campbell is planning on being at the BBQ, so there's that. He plans on waiting a while.

Soon-to-be-retracted Malik McDowell leader opinion

This one comes from his dad, so may have some staying power:

“In my opinion I believe [Michigan and Michigan State] are the front runners,” Greg McDowell, Malik’s father told 247Sports. “By us being here located in Michigan and him getting to those schools as much as he has, those are the ones heavy on his mind.

“He’s had the opportunity to go to both schools and everything they do to invite him out to games and practices, they’re top contenders and rank right up there. But he wants to visit other schools and get a feel for what they’re about and get a sense for the direction he wants to go.”

They're headed south to some SEC heavyweights in the fall, and they may provide some competition. It has long seemed like McDowell is just waiting around to commit to M, but Treadwell and etc etc etc. I'll eat my hat if he goes to State, though.

Etc.

PA S Montae Nicholson has made an exciting cut to… twelve schools. Nevermind. Michigan is on said list. He's planning on taking all his officials. He did say he's "built really good relationships pretty much the entire staff up there."

Michigan to make 2015 FL RB Jacques Patrick's top ten. 2015 MI RB Mikey Weber will hit the BBQ. Michigan's sole 2015 QB offeree is CA QB Josh Rosen, and while he says he's willing to look outside of California if you read between the lines Michigan's going to have to offer some more dudes to find a QB. Bizarrely, his team went 8-5 last year with four forfeits.

NJ CB commit Jabrill Peppers is going after Hand and Leonard Fournette. Godspeed, Jabrill. Next time you talk to Borges make sure he brings up Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown in re:

"The best part is that [having Derrick Green around] would preserve him more because he's not gonna have to take on the whole load by himself. He'll get a blow and we won't lose productivity on the field. Getting those breaks will allow him to have a longer career than most running backs."

Though I'm sure Borges has already thought of that.

Recruitin' Mailbag: ECA Academics, Camp Vs. Game Film, Trusting The Coaches, And More

Recruitin' Mailbag: ECA Academics, Camp Vs. Game Film, Trusting The Coaches, And More

Submitted by Ace on July 2nd, 2013 at 1:16 PM


2013 Eastern Christian Academy prospect Kenny Bigelow has already enrolled at USC.

I initially planned on covering football and basketball as well as recruiting in this mailbag, but enough of you sent in questions (thanks!) that I had to go recruiting-only; I may do a separate mailbag to cover the rest later in the week. On to the questions...

For a number of reasons, I'm not worried about this. If you haven't read the SI article on Eastern Christian Academy, it's highly recommended, and should allay some of these concerns [emphasis mine]:

Strictly speaking, Eastern Christian is not even a school but rather a club, with members who attend an online private school called National Connections Academy. "There is a lot of confusion," says Steven Guttentag, president of Baltimore-based Connections Learning, which is the parent company of National Connections. "Eastern Christian is not a school. It's a football training program that provides a site. National Connections Academy is the school. They're our team." Connections Education counts more than 45,000 students among its accredited private and public schools. Its students include everyone from prodigies at New York City's prestigious Juilliard School of Music to Olympic hopefuls, but Eastern Christian represents the company's first foray into team sports.

...

[T]he reputation of National Connections, and the fast-growing digitalization of U.S. education, affords Eastern Christian a degree of insulation from skepticism. The growth of charter schools and homeschooling have pushed the number of students in grades K-12 taking online courses well into the hundreds of thousands. "What you're describing is definitely unusual," says Allen Ezell, a former FBI agent who spent 11 years investigating diploma mills. "But this sounds like a proctored setting, with adults watching over kids as they do their work and take their exams, and in today's world that's becoming normal."

The NCAA, according to the article, considers National Connections "an approved nontraditional course provider," so there should be no issue passing their academic requirements. ECA and its predecessor, Red Lion Christian Academy, have produced several D-I recruits in the last few years, and as far as I can tell there's been no issue with the NCAA or the recruits' respective schools. An incomplete list:

  • 2011 Red Lion DL Angelo Blackson is entering his junior year at Auburn, where he's expected to start for the second straight season.
  • 2012 Red Lion DL Eli Ankou was accepted by UCLA and redshirted last season.
  • 2013 ECA five-star DL Kenny Bigelow enrolled early at USC, so he's already passed admissions and gone through a semester of classes.
  • Fellow 2013 ECA prospects Khaliel Rodgers (USC) and Jahmere Irvin-Sills (Miss. St.) signed with BCS programs. Michigan's coaches reportedly contacted Rodgers after David Dawson's decommitment last year, but he was solid to USC and did not receive an offer.

Michigan admissions could be a different animal — though UCLA and USC are both fine schools — but here's where my final point comes in: Brady Hoke, quite simply, doesn't take academic risks. None of his recruits have failed to qualify and the line of communication between his staff and the admissions department is strong; let's just say the athletic department learned from the Demar Dorsey debacle.

While we're on the subject of Canteen and Watson...

Ace!  Love your writing, dude. 

Question on Recruiting. I trust the coaches, I love the coaches. They've earned the right to pick who they want. But do you think it's a little weird to go so hard after a few guys so off the radar at this point in the process (the past 3 days), or do you think the coaches truly see that much potential in these guys, and got some steals? I know - hard to know when a guy only plays 3 games a year, but curious for your take.

Josh

The longer I cover recruiting and, on occasion, happen to stumble into some insider-y info, the more I realize that the coaches do everything — everything — for a reason. In fact, you don't even need insider info to know this. Just look at how the wide receiver recruiting shook out over the last few weeks:

  • Artavis Scott visits Clemson for their camp, which runs from June 12th-14th.
  • Freddy Canteen picks up his offer at Michigan's camp on June 18th.
  • In an article released on June 24th, K.J. Williams tells 247 that his top three is Syracuse, Michigan, and Mizzou, in that order ($).
  • On June 26th, ESPN's Brian Stumpf reports that Scott has moved up his announcement and will decide at The Opening, which is going on this week. Clemson immediately becomes his presumed destination.
  • Freddy Canteen commits to Michigan on June 29th.

Even if we presume that Canteen is the third option among those prospects — and I'm not sure the coaches would put Williams above him, especially since they wanted a slot receiver — it's clear that the coaches saw the way things were trending with Scott and Williams and decided to make a move instead of waiting, which could've left them coming up empty on all three prospects.

Then we get into the fact that Canteen, along with Watson, had very good reasons for being under the radar, and earned their offers by performing for the coaches in person. The Wolverine's Michael Spath posted a great rundown of recruits who were offered at camp and committed to Michigan; there have been 23 such players since 2002 ($). Of those 23, just six ended up as four-star prospects, and given that fact Michigan has been quite successful in identifying overlooked talent:

Among the 23, 21 have already completed their eligibility, and of those, 10 started at least one season for the Wolverines. Multi-year starters include: LB David Harris (2002 class), [OL Jake] Long, [DL Will] Johnson, [OL Alex] Mitchell, P Zoltan Mesko (2005) and OL David Molk (2007).

Yes, the list of camp-offered commits includes such luminaries as David Harris, Jake Long, David Molk, and the Space Emperor (Of Space). NOT BAD.

With the increased pace of recruiting, it's easy to forget that the current rankings will look wildly different come February; the recruiting services still haven't had a look at every available prospect, obviously, and there's still a good chunk of camp season, next fall's actual football season, and the postseason All-American games to go. Especially at this stage in the recruiting process, it's best to trust the coaches, at least until there's any shred of evidence that they're not good talent evaluators (and all of the available evidence points in the exact opposite direction).

It's not as simple as this with most prospects — the coaches do their best to use everything at their disposal to evaluate a recruit, and how much they weigh each factor is largely dependent on the specific recruit. Camp allows the coaches to not just judge a player's size, potential, and technical ability in person, it also gives them insight into how quickly a prospect picks up on their coaching — they can judge coachability and character in a way that they obviously can't do with a highlight tape.

The problem with camp, of course, is that it isn't actual football — they're running drills without pads, not lining up and playing 11-on-11. That's why game film is still quite valuable. With guys like Canteen and Watson, who simply don't have much film available, the coaches have to lean more heavily on how they did at camp, but for most prospects that's not the case. I wouldn't say camp trumps film, nor the opposite; this answer is a bit of a cop-out, but it goes on a case-by-case basis, as the available information differs — sometimes dramatically — from prospect to prospect.

Ace,

I know people pay probably too much attention to stars when it comes to recruits, but the recent conversation about what coaches saw in certain players bothered me because it was based on an inexact rating system.  If you think about a previous QB battle, mgoblog has this to say:

"Projection: Even if Robinson doesn't pan out Michigan won't be moving him for at least two years and doesn't have the quarterback depth to redshirt anyone this year, so at the very least you'll see him reprise the Feagin role from last year's Minnesota game except with a definite possibility he'll throw. Going forward it'll be a battle between his electric athleticism and Forcier's polish, with Forcier having the obvious early edge because of his spring enrollment."

And remember the recruiting hubaloo around Kevin Newsome and Shavodrick Beaver.  This got me thinking, of those who have pledged to Michigan in the past few years which player(s) do you think have far outperformed their ranking?

Thanks,

Chris

I'm not sure the example used here is the best one for the question, since both Forcier and Denard were highly-regarded prospects, but there are a few from Hoke's first couple classes. In the 2011 class, Frank Clark looks poised to outperform his three-star rating; he may have done so already simply by seeing the field and contributing early. 2012 signee Devin Funchess was a borderline 3/4-star recruit and he showed tantalizing potential as a freshman; when a freshman gets put on school record watch — in this case, Jim Mandich's career mark for receptions by a tight end — it's safe to say he's performing at a very high level. Ben Braden is another player from the 2012 class who could easily surpass his three-star expectations; Braden has a good chance to start at guard as a redshirt freshman and eventually make his way out to left tackle. Jehu Chesson, Willie Henry, and Mario Ojemudia are a few other candidates from that class to make a bigger splash than their recruiting rankings would indicate, potentially as soon as this fall.

So, with the three recent commits and the 2014 class already up to 14 guys, does this mean it's all quiet on the (mid)western front? I know this class was projected to be in the teens, maybe up to 20 guys, and I feel like we've gotten there quickly. Is Michigan kind of done for the time being on the recruiting scene or will there be another push right before the season?

I'm tempting fate by saying this, but I think the pace of recruiting for the 2014 class is going to slow down now that camp offers have gone out (and been accepted) and most of the remaining targets are high-profile players — those guys are more likely to utilize the full process, take their officials, and make a late decision knowing that programs will leave a spot open for them. Da'Shawn Hand, Adoree' Jackson, Malik McDowell, and JuJu Smith all fall under this category, and I'm surely forgetting a couple other targets either slated for late decisions or taking the process slowly. It's possible that Michigan picks up a couple more commits before the season starts, but for the rest of the summer I'd expect as much action (if not more) from the 2015 class.

How do you see the 2014 recruiting class finishing up based on what we know today? — AC1997

I'm operating under the assumption that Michigan makes it to 20 spots in the class, even though for now there aren't that many scholarships available. With 14 current commits, that leaves six open spots. I'd expect those to be filled by:

  • VA DE Da'Shawn Hand (not a lock by any means, though)
  • MI DL Malik McDowell
  • A safety, hopefully JuJu Smith (a longshot) or PA ATH Montae Nicholson (a much more realistic option).
  • An offensive tackle. There isn't an obvious candidate here with Jamarco Jones committing to Ohio State.
  • An outside linebacker. Of the players currently holding offers, three-star Jimmie Swain and four-star Dwight Williams are the most likely candidates. I'm skeptical of Michigan's chances with Williams (a presumed Florida lean), though, and Swain named Oregon and Stanford to his top five recently despite not holding an offer from either; if one of those two comes through, that could spell trouble for Michigan's chances. We could see a late offer go out here.
  • The best player available that doesn't match the above. That could be Jackson, though I highly doubt he ends up at Michigan, or perhaps a running back — CO three-star Kalen Ballage is the back they appear to have the best chance of landing with Jonathan Hilliman leaning towards Ohio State.

I did not overlook Parrker Westphal, though that's not based on any insider info. The longer his recruitment stretches out, the less I think he ends up at Michigan, especially since he seems like a better cornerback prospect than a safety and the Wolverines just took a pure corner in Brandon Watson.

Monday Recruitin' Reads Monday Recruitin'

Monday Recruitin' Reads Monday Recruitin'

Submitted by Brian on June 10th, 2013 at 11:28 AM

Hey kids. Ace is off and I step into the recruiting roundup breach.

Guest columnist Adoree' Jackson

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Verily, let us discourse on the fine gentlemen of the Michigan recruiting class. Nay, ask me not your questions. Rather I will ask you which of the gentlemen has the most beatific smile. The world is all topsy-turvy this day! Ha-HA!

–probably what Jackson is saying right here

CA CB Adoree' Jackson talks about his fresh top ten with College Level Athletes, and would we be reading too much into a random interview if we noted that Jackson seems to know almost as much about Michigan's recruiting class as the assembled lunatics here?

"It means something because you wanna build a class that you feel comfortable with. For me and the (Jabrill) Peppers situation, that's a corner that's similar to me and we could do a lot of the same things, and if you just look at that you've got confidence on the other side. Like I said, 'me and Jabrill on the field, that's a scary sight.' You don't really think of having two great corners on the same team… that's rare."

"(Wilton) Speight at the quarterback position, you want somebody who's good so when you're practicing they can go hard at you and you can compete. As for Drake (Harris) as a receiver, he's a great receiver, so you just want to compete with them everyday, day-in and day-out. That's going to be a decision for me, making sure we have a great quarterback and great receivers. I want to make sure the receivers are sound so we can all get better."

Jackson spends a lot more time talking Michigan than any of his other schools, and while I still suspect that track is going to pull him away from Ann Arbor I get the vibe that he really likes M. Dollars to donuts they at least get an official.

Sam Webb's News article this week covered a lot of ground, some of it about Jackson's recruitment:

“I don’t think he’s leaning anywhere. I think he's extremely open to leaving the West Coast because he's not a West Coast guy, and he'll openly say, ‘I’m not a West Coast guy.’ He kind of brags about it. It's almost like he wears that with a badge of courage, so I definitely think he's open. I think so much of Adoree’s recruitment is going to be determined by how they do on the field. The Serra connection he has kind of tells me that USC kind of has the inside track.

Uber-WR Marquise Lee is also from Serra. Biggins says he's "extremely open" to leaving the West Coast, but that the local schools are still in it. IE, ain't nobody know things.

Challenge leads to visits

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Kalen Ballage uses myspace and has a dumbphone. Kalen Ballage is from 2005. He is also a SWAG ANIMAL, of course. Kalen Ballage is an important recruit to get even if he is from 2005.

The Rivals Five-Star Challenge was held in Chicago over the weekend, which provided a couple of distant prospects the opportunity to check out the Midwest. CO RB Kalen Ballage told Rivals he'd visit Michigan on Thursday (and Michigan State afterwards, but lol). Arizona State, Boise State, Nebraska, Washington, and Vandy are also involved.

AZ WR Jalen Brown is stopping by Tuesday as part of a Midwest swing that encompasses OSU, MSU, and Wisconsin. Brown wants to cut things down after that an a visit to some southern schools and pick pretty quickly after that.

CA WR/S JuJu "John" Smith was a guy who expressed interest in the Midwest early and has since dropped off the radar. Why? Dunno, as Smith told Rivals's West Coast guy that leaving the state remains a strong possibility:

The four-star safety said during registration day … that some of the major programs in the Big Ten appeal to him, among others.

"So far I have Michigan, Ohio State, and I'm going to take a visit to Alabama and maybe Ole Miss, and Notre Dame looks good too," Smith said. "Wisconsin is also looking good."

When you mention Wisconsin, you are seriously serious about exiting. Smith mentioned he was "especially serious"—author's words—about Michigan and OSU. So that's good, but it's an uphill battle if USC decides to get involved:

“He grew up an SC fan. I talked to (another recruit’s) dad after they were at the USC-UCLA game last year, which was at UCLA. He said JuJu was openly cheering like you would not believe for SC the entire game -- in the UCLA student section."

That would be a first: a USC fan that gives a crap about cheering for USC.

On the other hand, USC isn't after him that hard right now and amongst non-USC options it sounds like Michigan is a strong contender, possibly the strongest:

I think [USC's lack of pursuit] made it more open. I think he is open to leaving. He loves Michigan, he likes Notre Dame a little bit, and UCLA has done well with him.

The 247 Crystal Ball is split about evenly between ND, UCLA, and USC, FWIW. IE: ain't nobody know.

And in "really lol wut" news, LA RB Leonard Fournette wants to visit Michigan!

"What I'm looking for is academics first," he said. "People-wise, I love great personalities. That's it. That's what I like about Michigan."

Has Fournette planned a trip to Ann Arbor?

"No, not yet," he replied. "I would like to take a visit up there. It would be during the fall, for an official visit."

I'm just… naw. Naw man, naw. We'll see if that gets scheduled before we move Fournette from total pipe dream to "so you're saying there's a chance." I'm leaving him in the pipe dream category at the moment.

In non-Challenge-related visit news, according to TomVH($) IL OL Jamarco Jones has planned his final visits: M Saturday, MSU Sunday, OSU Monday. Notre Dame appears to be out. The M Block reports that NJ RB Jonathan Hilliman is trying to decide between Michigan and Vandy for a visit this weekend

McDowell admits a leader sorta kinda probably

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That's a really good disguise, Adoree', but I see right through it. Five stars have x-ray vision, which you know because you, too, are a five-star. See into my heart. Yes. It is a regulation block M the right color and everything. I can give you the hex codes.

-probably what Malik is saying right there

Five-star MI DT Malik McDowell weighed in at 6'6", 306 at the Challenge, which like whoah. Tim Sullivan described him as a "grown-ass man," so he'll pump in a hat trick against a Caribbean team sometime soon. Woo deep-cut Eddie Johnson references!

McDowell's been keeping things close to the vest after some early indications he wanted to commit to Michigan, but he finally came out and said he probably might have a kinda sorta leader($):

He confirmed all four were still high on his list, though one was the current team to beat.

"It's Michigan, probably … that's home," McDowell said. "They are kind of normal … they hang out at regular places. You think they would be all uppity, but they are down-to-earth."

Thanks, I think?

McDowell has tentative plans to visit FSU, UF, and USC. Probably. A decision doesn't seem to be coming in the near future.

Furbush return

OH LB Noah Furbush made a return trip to Michigan's campus last week, a sign of serious-serious interest that combines with Furbush's offer list—MSU, Mizzou, Northwestern, Tennessee, etc.—to suggest Michigan is in the driver's seat with him. Unless Northwestern gets all up in there, I guess.

Allen Trieu caught up with Furbush, who also recently hit up Purdue, and he had some weird things to say about his recruitment, specifically where colleges are projecting him($):

[At] Purdue, it's more of an outside linebacker. At Michigan, it's more of an inside linebacker. In our defense, we do a package where I line up to the inside a little bit, so I've experienced it a little bit."

I would be shocked to see Michigan sporting a 6'4" MLB. Either Furbush is a bit shorter than that and won't end up in that 250-260 range or he shouldn't be a generic three star. Or he's a SAM/WDE. Those are our options.

Trieu asked flat out whether Chase Winovich's commitment affected Michigan's pursuit of him and Furbush said he still had a spot. While Michigan's in on a couple more remote kids who are higher-rated*, I'd peg Furbush as the third LB in this class all. He would provide some drama in the MGoBlog Sleeper Of The Year competition, which is currently between Moe Ways and… Moe Ways because no one else meets the criteria. Hoke uber alles.

*[Namely Dwight Williams, a WLB type out of CA, and Darrion Owens, who could play any of the LB spots depending on how much weight he adds.]

The distant future the year 2000 (and fifteen)

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FUTURE'S SO BRIGHHHHHHT I GIVE IT SIX SWAG MATTISONS

Yeah, we're talking about it. Michigan's camp is coming up soon, and these days that's an opportunity for juniors and sophomores to draw notice. A number of guys will come in looking for offers, and there's a nonzero chance Michigan picks up its first 2015 commit at the camp. I mean, KY RB Damien Harris is just itching to drop.

247's Clint Brewster has five more 2015 campers to keep an eye on for possible offers:

  • VA CB/WR Garrett Taylor—Big time prospect with Stanford offer amongst others that aren't like whoah academics.
  • GA OL Chuma Edoga—half dozen good Southern offers already.
  • OH LB Justin Hilliard—brother of recent Hawkeye RB commit CJ, which might give the Hawkeyes a leg up except CJ is an Iowa running back and will be having a hand grafted onto his knee so he can keep playing at UW-Whitewater in two weeks. Looking like a big time prospect.
  • OH S Tyree Kinnel—a strong lean if offered; would be a guy Ace and I would add to our Crystal Ball if he picks up an M offer. Just Ark/UK offer at the moment.
  • MI LB/S Tyriq Thompson—son of Clarence.

Cleveland-area running back Andrew Dowell is also planning on attending($) after an impressive NFTC performance. He missed most of his sophomore year and is thus a little under the radar. Dowell has a twin brother David, a wideout.

We've already got five guys ticketed to M in what should be a small class, so as early as next week we could have a rough outline for what half of the Team 136 class looks like.

Elsewhere in 2015 guys, six-foot-eight PA OL Sterling Jenkins has emerged into a primo left tackle prospect in the 2015 class. He picked up a Michigan offer recently, competed in Chicago—an indicator he will be a top 100 prospect at the very least next year—and it sounds like he'll be a Midwest fight($):

"I plan to go to Ohio State and Penn State, then Michigan," he said. "Ohio State for the 19th [of June], Penn State the 26th, and Michigan around the end of July for their barbecue."

Jenkins isn't quite sure what the difference is between an unofficial visit and an official one… he's a ways from a decision. I wish his last name was Archer.

CA DE Keisean Lucier-South, a Crable-sized defensive end at 6'6", 215, has some nice early offers (Texas, Miami, Tennessee) and grew up a Michigan fan($):

“The school that I really want an offer from is the University of Michigan. That’s one of my favorite schools since I was a little kid and I’d watch them all the time. They have some of the top talent out there and the way they treat football is insane, like the Big House, or the rivalry with Ohio State. That might be the best rivalry in sports. It’s amazing there and that’s what I like about Michigan.”

Lucier-South is just outside the top 100 in 247's extremely preliminary rankings.

Oh and there's Minkah Fitzpatrick, a NJ CB who seems to be on the verge of a Michigan offer.

Clarkson Camp Scouting

That Webb article also touches on Wilton Speight and Drake Harris, who went out to Steve Clarkson's "quarterback retreat" in San Diego. Biggins gives both guys good reviews. Speight:

When I watched him this year and saw the physical way he carried himself, the confidence that he carried was crazy. He was literally like a different person. Now he’s a very confident guy. He kind of carries himself with a certain swagger. Not arrogance, but definitely very confident in everything he does. He’s more decisive in his throws. …  I definitely like the progression. He has made huge strides.

And Harris:

He exploded out of his cut, the ball was overthrown, he jumps up, grabs it, and you’re like, ‘Who the heck is that?!’ Everything about the guy, just the way he moves -- you’re either born like that, or you’re not. He’s so fluid in his movement, and it’s so natural, where he doesn’t fight anything. I love the size, and he’s going to put weight on. He’s just a super athletic kid. A lot of times with those athletic kids, they’re not going to be super polished or catch the ball well, but he’s already pretty advanced. He’s an instant impact guy.

Harris is one slot away from five stars, and while Scout has evidently changed their policy of giving everyone in the top 50 the fifth star they went up to 42 last year (Adam Breneman), which is considerably less stingy than some other sites. Harris should get there eventually. Speight sounds like he'll stick as a well-regarded three-star.

Miscellaneous

Happy trails to VA DT Andrew Brown, who named a top eight in Chicago that did not include M.

Here's a DaShawn Hand vs Damian Prince vine. FL WR Artavis Scott says he'll "definitely" visit Clemson, Michigan and OSU this summer($), plans an Army game decision. We'll see if it gets that far. NJ CB commit Jabrill Peppers wins the 100 and 200 in NJ.

Thursday Recruitin' Makes A Face

Thursday Recruitin' Makes A Face

Submitted by Ace on June 6th, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Not A Good Look

At this point, anyone reading this post is pretty familiar with Da'Shawn Hand, the nation's top overall prospect. Michigan and Virginia Tech are presumed to lead the other three schools in his top five—Alabama, Florida, and South Carolina—while LSU and USC are on the outside looking in. Even further on the outside is Ohio State, where Hand reportedly had a poor visit experience the first time around, and despite a decent trip there last weekend—he swung by while in town for the Columbus NFTC—the Buckeyes won't be a factor in his recruitment going forward.

If you believe Eleven Warriors [ed-S: ...''s recruiting guy Jeremy Birmingham, not Ramzy] , this is because the Ohio State coaches suddenly decided they weren't very interested in the top player in the country—for reasons, you see—and here begins the fisking:

For some reason, my contention that Ohio State would not be aggressively attempting to get back into the Hand sweepstakes set off an internet wildfire with people.

This contention is reasonable; it's become clear that Ohio State is a longshot at best to get Hand, and the coaching staff could better spend their time targeting prospects with more interest in the Buckeyes. This would be a good place to stop, but...

As I have said a few times, it's a simple matter of personality. Ohio State wants people who are going to go 1000 miles per hour, every day, on and off the field. They want people who fight for each other, for their university and for their own improvement. They want people who are challenging themselves to improve every day and do so without the need to proclaim their own greatness for people to see, read, or hear. They want competitors and they want fighters.

...then there's this load of crap, as if the above doesn't fit what every football coach in America is trying to find in a recruit. Which leads us to the really stupid thing:

As far as Da'Shawn Hand? I've never said he was not a competitor, just that things with Ohio State and Hand did not see eye-to-eye from the start of his visit in November because he was not being treated any differently than any of the other recruits on hand, 90-minutes before kick-off of the biggest game of the year. The Buckeyes could not give Hand the attention they would have liked to, and the day was a bit too hectic for him to get "comfortable" at Ohio State.

This is a remarkably shitty thing to write about a high school kid without anything approaching first-hand evidence. The "I've never said..." hedging is just that, hedging, because discussing OSU's supposed lack of interest in reconnecting with Hand after everything in the previous paragraph is either a case of really unfortunate juxtaposition or the type of insinuation that unfairly impugns the character of a 17-year-old — one who, by all other accounts, is a kid of extremely high character.

The timing—when it's become blindingly obvious that Hand doesn't want to go to Ohio State—makes this come off as some seriously sour grapes. I'm sorry, Buckeye faithful, that Hand's reaction to being asked about Ohio State in the above video was this:

But, no, I'm not actually sorry. A high-profile player isn't interested in your school and may very well end up at a rival school. These things happen. Responding to this by suggesting that a player doesn't work hard enough, or is afraid to compete against the best, or isn't motivated enough to improve ... even if the implication is merely by context, that's a bad look. Nearly as bad as the one Hand gave when asked about Ohio State.

I think Eleven Warriors does a fantastic job, and that includes their recruiting coverage, but seeing this—and the wild speculation that it inevitably led to in such a forum—was disappointing. Perhaps, next time, just say that the kid isn't interested and move on.

[Hit THE JUMP for camp highlights of Ian Bunting, the latest on the Malik McDowell transfer rumors, and more.]

Recruitin' Mailbag: "Saving" Spots, D-Line Numbers, Second '14 Quarterback?

Recruitin' Mailbag: "Saving" Spots, D-Line Numbers, Second '14 Quarterback?

Submitted by Ace on May 10th, 2013 at 2:27 PM

Most of the recent recruiting content has centered on the nation's #2 overall prospect, Jabrill Peppers. Today's mailbag, in contrast, focuses on the nation's #1 overall prospect, Da'Shawn Hand.

Michigan football recruiting: not doing too bad these days. On to your questions...

My question concerns "saving spots" for higher ranked prospects. We've seen with other (less ethical) coaches, that they will take a commitment from a lower ranked prospect and then abruptly take that scholarship promise away to give to a higher ranked prospect before signing day. Since our coaching staff seems unwilling to do that (thankfully), how do we see this staff balancing between saving room for the higher ranked prospects while also not leaving themselves in a position to be completely hosed on signing day if a bunch of those prospects choose to go another way? This question occurred to me in relation to Marshall's visit this weekend, and how a commitment from him might prevent one (or both) from McDowell or Hand further down the road.

Thanks for your articles on MGoBlog!

Best,
Stephen

I'll address the "saving spots" issue here, and move on to Michigan's 2014 D-line situation below (as you'll see, this is a pressing question for those following recruiting). Last year's recruiting class gave a lot of insight into how the coaches handle a potential numbers crunch at a position. For the 2013 class, the coaches stopped recruiting two position groups with highly interested four-stars after filling up early: offensive line and linebacker. In both cases, they approached the number they wanted early on in the process, informed the remaining recruits in each group that they'd have to commit soon or potentially lose their spot in the class, and filled the final spot quickly.

Ben Gedeon's commitment effectively ended the recruitments of Dorian O'Daniel and E.J. Levenberry at linebacker. Patrick Kugler's commitment did the same on the offensive line until David Dawson briefly looked around; Michigan stopped targeting Ethan Pocic (eventual LSU commit), and by the time the coaches realized they could take a sixth lineman, he was off the board. In both of those cases, however, the current commits in the class—and the recruits that took the final spots—were of comparable talent to the available uncommitted prospects.*

The situation with this year's defensive line is a bit different, and apparently of some concern to you guys...

[Hit THE JUMP for my attempt to sort out the D-line situation and answers to a couple questions about quarterback recruiting.]

Thursday Recruitin' Recognize Real

Thursday Recruitin' Recognize Real

Submitted by Ace on May 2nd, 2013 at 2:00 PM

J-Reall Recognize Real, That Is

Jabrill Peppers is doing pretty well for himself. The five-star recruit is one of the most sought-after prospects in the country. His highlight tape is 12 minutes of filth, in a good way. Before too long he'll likely choose whether he wants to attend Michigan or Stanford, two of the finest schools—not to mention football programs—in the country.

It's no surprise, then, that USA Today chose Peppers to pen a blog detailing his recruitment and personal life, and some kids have such an overabundance of talent that the rest of us feel bad:

Most people don't know that I'm a music artist. They only know that I play football, but I've been singing and rapping as long as I've been playing football; since the age of 4 or 5.

...

Being the type of guy that I am I really take rap as a challenge. I'm from the hood, but I'm very well educated and I keep my verses clean. At the same time I appeal to the guys that I grew up with. I don't degrade women or rap dirty or anything like that I'm just real about my experiences.

This is what I really do. That's why my name is J-Reall. My cousin, Tiyahnn Bryant, gave me that name in third grade and it kinda stuck.

Normally, when I read about a high school kid's burgeoning music career, I move along before clicking on anything that could cause permanent hearing damage or complete loss of faith in the next generation*. This time, though, I clicked on the link to Peppers' song (the YouTube video above), and... it's pretty solid. Great beat selection (MF DOOM), solid flow—he sounds like a sober Curren$y, which does not exist in nature—and surprisingly polished lyrics ("I had it restless/during my adolescence/not having my pops mad depressin'"); I gave it two listens and didn't regret it, which I can't say about 85% of newly-released rap.

Oh, right, the part you really care about:

I do feel like I'm gonna be coming to a decision soon though. I just want it all to be over and done with.

Peppers further clarified that point to Sam Webb, saying he hopes to move up his Stanford visit so he can make a decision in June ($). When asked what made such a strong impact on him during his visit to Michigan, Peppers summed it up in the best possible way [emphasis mine]:

It wasn’t the “red carpet treatment” that allowed the Wolverines to set the visit standard by which others are now being measured.  Turns out, it was exact opposite.

Real recognize real,” Peppers said matter-of-factly.  “That’s the shortest and sweetest way you can say it.  Real recognize real.  They didn’t put on a show and they just kept it 100.  Basically who they are -- they remind me of my coaches right now.  That’s how comfortable we felt there.  It was like wow, it was like we were still at (Paramus Catholic).  That was the main thing, just the comfort level and just how down-to-earth those guys are.  How they are with their players.  They coach you hard and just everything.  It was a great visit.”

Peppers also has plenty of good things to say about Michigan in a free interview over at The M Block. His recent interviews, as we've gleefully pointed out at every opportunity, point strongly towards Michigan being in command of his recruitment; I've heard very promising things that haven't been printed (and won't), as well. How do you feel about all this, Stanford coach David Shaw?

He took it personal, I guess.

--------------
*I say this as a former member of a high school ska band. I've self-inflicted enough damage.

[For the latest on K.J. Williams, Alex Bars, Kalen Ballage, Kyron Watson, and much more, hit THE JUMP.]

Friday Recruitin' Catches Them All, Avoids Detection

Friday Recruitin' Catches Them All, Avoids Detection

Submitted by Ace on March 29th, 2013 at 2:27 PM

Today's recruiting roundup covers today's spring practice visitors, new 2014 offers, and updates on several top targets.

Michael Ferns, Rebel With A Cause


(via)

Michael Ferns: star high school football player, Michigan commit, GameBoy aficionado, leader of the air traveler resistance movement.

Also, wearer of silly hats.

Spring Practice Visitors

Michigan is hosting several recruits for today's spring practice. Here's a list of the top targets on campus today, culled from several outlets:

  • TN OT Alex Bars — The four-star younger brother of U-M OL Blake Bars is one of the early favorites to fill a spot in this class, though a decision is not imminent.
  • MI CB Jalen Embry — The Detroit King product does not hold an offer and probably won't get a chance to until he camps at Michigan this summer. If he earns one, however, the Wolverines are the likely favorite to land him.
  • MI DE Malik McDowell — McDowell is still largely quiet about his recruitment, with the early consensus that it'll come down to Michigan and Notre Dame not really changing yet. Though I don't expect his recruitment to end any time soon, another trip to Ann Arbor can't hurt Michigan's standing.
  • MI WR Maurice Ways — Detroit Country Day's Ways, much like Embry, is an intriguing in-state prospect who could earn bigger offers (including Michigan) down the road with a strong summer.
  • 2015 RB Mike Weber, 2015 DE Joshua Alabi, 2015 QB Jayru Campbell — The Cass Tech rising junior contingent will once again make their way to campus. Weber and Alabi hold offers and regard Michigan among their leaders; Campbell, as a quarterback, will have to wait until the coaches get around to narrowing down their 2015 prospects at the position.

Southfield DE Lawrence Marshall was expected to be on campus today, but according to 247's Clint Brewster he was unable to make the trip.

[After THE JUMP, updates on new offers, some big-time potential visitors, and more.]