In this week's Thursday Recruitin', effusive praise of the Under the Lights experience abounds, Danny O'Brien nears a decision, the 2013 Scout 100 is released, and there's even some basketball recruiting news. Please let me know if you have any comments, criticism, suggestions, etc.—as always, I'll be reading the comments, and you can also reach me on Twitter or via email, where I'll also encourage you to send any recruiting articles of interest that you think I should include for the next week's edition.
If You Weren't In Ann Arbor, You Were Wrong
So sayeth Shane Morris:
It's tough to find a recruit who was in attendance that would disagree with that sentiment. From the non-paywalled articles, here are quotes from Devin Funchess...
"That was a live game," he said. "I got down when Notre Dame scored the wide open touchdown, but Michigan did a lot with 30 seconds. It was a great game and a great comeback and I want to be a part of it next year."
“It was fantastic,” Gant said of the atmosphere. “Especially being in the biggest stadium in college football, there’s no greater feeling then that. Especially being the first night game at Michigan Stadium, it was fantastic. Listening to all the music going on between the plays… it made me want to go out there and play right away.”
...and Terry Richardson:
"This is why I committed," he said. "This is why I set my plans to Michigan. It's a great university. We have to come here and try to carry on the big time tradition."
The incredible game and atmosphere had an impact on the uncommitted visitors, as well. Gant sat next to WA OL Zach Banner and CA WR Jordan Payton, and he thinks the experience gave Michigan a big leg up in each of their recruitments [emphasis mine]:
“I actually sat right next to them. We built a pretty good relationship and it was a good experience being with them. I think that Zach and Jordan think this is a great atmosphere to be in and playing in front of 114,000 people is just an unbelievable experience. I feel like at the end of the day, Ann Arbor is where they want to be.”
Even from the premium articles, it's easy to get a sense of how well the visits went for, well, everyone. [Note: All of these should come with a ($), but it seemed ridiculous to insert that after every single link for the rest of this section.] Banner was "blown away," by the Big House, telling 24/7 that Michigan "definitely moved up my board." Danny O'Brien (more on him later) called the experience "electric." Jordan Payton deemed the trip "amazing," and said Michigan is his leader—he might even move up his announcement, though he won't reveal a date yet. Erik Magnuson quipped "there's nothing like it." Caleb Stacey? Simply speechless.
Of course, the Wolverines didn't play host to just the seniors. 2013 DB Shaquille Wiggins tweeted after the game, "I can't wait to go to Michigan I jus want those new uniforms.." The Tyrone (GA) Sandy Creek standout, who holds a U-M offer, named a new leader this week ($). I'll give you zero guesses, because duh.
The visit set the bar ($) for Pickerington (OH) Central DE Taco Charlton, who also earned an offer from the coaches this week and now has the Wolverines among his leaders. For Wheaton (IL) St. Francis OT Kyle Bosch, the trip exceeded his expectations ($). Toledo (OH) St. John's DE Matt Miller, younger brother of Michigan offensive lineman Jack, appears to have enjoyed himself as well:
All that, and I've yet to mention that Dymonte Thomas, one of the top juniors in Ohio and a blue-chip recruit at both running back and safety, committed on the spot Saturday. This "night game" concept just might catch on, guys.
Danny O'Brien Sets a Date and More 2012 News
Flint Powers defensive tackle Danny O'Brien will make his much-anticipated announcement during his school's homecoming rally on October 7th, choosing between Michigan, Tennessee, Alabama, and Michigan State ($, info in header). As Scout's Sam Webb notes on his new Twitter page, that announcement comes before planned official visits to Tennessee and Michigan State, the two schools that seem to have the best shot at him outside of Michigan. Having a "Hello" post prepared by the first week in October seems like it would be a good idea.
Our good friend TomVH reports that wideout Amara Darboh will take an official visit to Michigan on either November 19th or 26th, coinciding with the Nebraska and Ohio State games, respectively ($, info in header). Darboh initially planned on visiting for the Western Michigan game, but wasn't able to make it in that weekend—I wouldn't read much into that, especially with the rescheduled visit, and I think Michigan is in good position with Darboh.
Don Bosco Prep (NJ) defensive back Yuri Wright has one official visit set ($, info in header), and since this is a Michigan site, you can probably guess where that visit is going to be. He hasn't decided on a date yet, but it looks like he'll be in Ann Arbor within the next month. He has a final six of Michigan, Rutgers, Georgia, Notre Dame, Cal, and Michigan State.
The Wolverines may be in line for a surprise visit from five-star Sacramento (CA) Grant safety Shaq Thompson ($, info in header). Thompson has the ability to play multiple positions, has fantastic size (6'2", 210), and is the type of prospect you don't really say no to, so it will be very interesting to see what happens if Michigan gets him on campus—I doubt the coaches would turn him away because of a numbers crunch.
Quickly: Michael Rothstein profiles Greg Mattison and his recruiting prowess at WolverineNation. Also at WN, TomVH counts down Michigan's top ten most important commits in the class, with Caleb Stacey the No. 10 most important commit ($), Devin Funchess No. 9 ($), and Terry Richardson No. 8 (free). MLive's Kyle Warber caught up with Mario Ojemudia for an interview last week. Good Cousel (MD) five-star receiver Stefon Diggs will trim his list down to eight on October 1st, and is looking at Auburn, Miami, Florida, and possibly Clemson for official visits—he'll be a tough pull, and Michigan needs to find a way to get him on campus if they want a shot. Fullback commit Sione Houma's ankle injury, suffered during his game last week, is not serious, and he should be back on the field within two weeks.
Dymonte Thomas Commits, 2013 Scout 100 Released
As mentioned above, Alliance (OH) Marlington S/RB Dymonte Thomas committed to Michigan after the Notre Dame game. You can find much more in my "Hello" post, but here's some delicious bitterness from the Duane Long Report's Jerry Beeson [emphasis mine]:
Friday night I had the opportunity to get a first hand look at the Marlington Dukes and star junior Dymonte Thomas as they traveled to Mahoning county to take on Poland. I was hoping to witness a future Buckeye, but after watching Michigan's come from behind win over the Irish of Notre Dame, word has come down that Thomas has verbally committed to Michigan. Key word being verbal, but I'll leave that at that.
Um, Jerry? All commitments are "verbal" until signing day. That's how this whole thing works. Deal with it. Making that statement even more ridiculous is the fact that, a few weeks ago, DUANE LONG wrote on the very same site that Ohio State wasn't showing enough interest in Thomas, and he was a "baffling non-offer." That same article also proclaims Michigan's newest commit both the best running back and the best safety in Ohio's class of '13, which is nice. Thomas will play safety when he takes the field for the Wolverines.
Speaking of Thomas, he earned a four-star rating in the newly-released Scout 100, which gives players star ratings but no rankings yet—the full list is simply ordered by stars and then position. Thomas is among the top seven safeties in the country, while fellow commit Shane Morris is one of just 12 players (and two quarterbacks) to earn a five-star rating. Here's a list of Michigan targets who made the list (all are four-stars except Jalin Marshall and Michael Hutchings; positions are what's listed on Scout, not necessarily what they'd play at Michigan):
Middletown (OH) RB Jalin Marshall
Concord (CA) De La Salle OLB Michael Hutchings
Sammamish (WA) Skyline QB Max Browne
Wayne (NJ) Hills QB Kevin Olsen
Joliet (IL) Catholic RB Ty Isaac
Destrehan (LA) WR Rickey Jefferson
Camp Hill (PA) Cedar Cliff TE Adam Breneman
Midland (MI) OT Steven Elmer
Dallas (TX) Lake Highlands OT Kent Perkins
Huber Heights (OH) Wayne OT Lovell Peterson
Lemont (IL) Township OT Ethan Pocic
Lake City (FL) Columbia OT Laremy Tunsil
Parker (CO) Ponderosa OG Christopher Fox
Avon (IN) DE Elijah Daniel
Detroit Catholic Central DE Wyatt Shallman (offered by U-M as a tailback)
Hudson (OH) OLB Ben Gedeon
Woodbridge (VA) C.D. Hylton OLB E.J. Levenberry
Bloomfield (MI) Brother Rice OLB Jon Reschke
Fort Wayne (IN) Biship Luers OLB Jaylon Smith
Matthews (NC) Butler MLB Peter Kalambayi
Indianapolis (IN) Warren Central MLB Tim Kimbrough
Murrieta (CA) Vista S Su'a Cravens
Trotwood (OH) Madison CB Cameron Burrows
Michigan has at least some interest from a full 25% of next year's Scout 100, and with the 2013 class shaping up to be much smaller (probably 18-20 players, depending on attrition) than 2012, the Wolverines will be able to pick and choose from among the nation's elite.
Quickly: Tom has a feature article on Steve Elmer ($), and while the article is paywalled, you can see his video interview with Elmer for free here. To quote the great Keith Jackson, if Elmer keeps eating his cornbread, he'll be man-sized some day. According to the 24/7 message boards, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Wisconsin are in a lead group for Elmer over Michigan State.
Yes, basketball. Sam Webb's latest DetNews article focused on five-star 2012 big man Mitch McGary, and extensively quotes his AAU coach, who is definitely a fan of John Beilein:
"The post player is intimately and intricately involved in John Beilein's system," [AAU coach Wayne] Brumm explained. "I don't know anybody who runs a better offensive system for a post player than Michigan. So I have to say, why not (Michigan as a possible destination)? Everybody else is (analyzing McGary's recruitment) like they're a friggin fan. We're trying to pick a school that is in Mitch's best interest."
Brumm added: "John Beilein can flat-out coach. The people I talk to and the coaches I talk to, I'll flat-out tell you — they are scared of John Beilein. They are worried about the day he starts getting the talent that they've got (at their schools). He's been at a bunch of places that he couldn't recruit high-major talent. Now he's at Michigan and it looks like he is making some headway there. When he starts with an even slate in terms of talent, look out! Look what he did last year. Look what he did with Darius Morris, Timmy Hardaway, and look what he has done with Jordan Morgan. My goodness, isn't anybody paying attention?"
[raises hand] The article also quotes a Scout national hoops recruiting analyst who says that Michigan "is certainly right there, if not at the top, very close to it," in terms of McGary's recruitment. McGary himself has a blog on ESPN Rise, and he recapped his recent visits to Michigan, North Carolina, and Duke:
I would say that the part that stood out most about the visit was the fans and just how much love they showed me. I really wasn’t expecting all of that. People talk about the Cameron Crazies at Duke, but that’s how it was at Michigan too. Those fans showed me the most love of the three visits.
Fans chanted "Mitch Mc-Ga-ry" during the Western Michigan game, and that caught the big man's attention. In the blog, he also debunks rumors he committed to both UNC and Duke while also saying that he'd like to check out Kentucky, Maryland, and Florida, but he's "not sure" he'll make it to those schools. The Wolverines have turned into a serious player—perhaps even the favorite?—in a recruitment that felt like a pipe dream not very long ago.
Joe Eberhardt of UMHoops caught up with 2013 commit Glenn Robinson III for an interview, and they discussed Robinson's AAU teammate... Mitch McGary:
This summer, I was recruiting [McGary] hard and I know Michigan is in his top 5. I know he had a great time on his visit to Michigan. He’s my best friend and we are really like brothers. I want him to do what is best for him, but I’ll try to do what I can do to recruit him to Michigan. I really don’t know know where he is going to end up, but I hope he comes to Michigan. I know he’s still taking visits and making a decision, but I don’t think it will be too much longer before he decides.
According to UMHoops, Michigan now has a new target in the 2013 class in rising Texas big man Dominic Woodson, who now claims a Wolverine offer:
New England recruiting expert Adam Finkelstein describes Woodson as “a poor man’s Dejuan Blair, a power player and space eater inside the lane who bullies his opponents on both ends of the floor.” Most importantly, Woodson lists an offer from Michigan as well as Oklahoma, Michigan State and Baylor with interest from Louisville, Florida, UConn and Texas. An offer would likely have to be made official by a visit to campus but the Michigan interest appears sincere with Beilein and Bacari attending open gym.
He sounds like a contingency plan if Beilein and Co. can't land McGary, especially given the limited number of available scholarships in the next couple classes.
Finally, Dylan posts his own recruiting class rankings for 2013, and the Wolverines currently sit atop the list, though it's still very early in the process (half the conference, including Michigan State, has yet to land a commit).