The board is narrow and looks set to stay that way. Let's get to it.
Oliver Martin: In The Boat?
4* IA WR Oliver Martin did make his official to Ann Arbor. That knocks out a host of schools trying to get in last minute and restricts available options to the places he's been. It also probably means he's in the boat. Wiltfong is at the point where he would be "shocked" if it wasn't Michigan; Lorenz says it would be a "significant surprise"; Webb issued a gut feeling.
Most likely scenario: Martin is already committed and just waiting to announce. Silent verbals and all that, sure, but two days before Signing Day I like Michigan's chances to make that stand up.
Nico Collins: Uh, Same?
My operative theory on the way wide receiver recruiting went this year was: they wanted four. They had three guys who were committed, two silently, after Brad Hawkins re-emerged. They held a spot for Donovan Peoples-Jones no matter what. Thus those couple months where it looked like Martin would head to Notre Dame. Once noise about AL WR Nico Collins and Georgia started up, Michigan re-engaged Martin to get back to four.
Soooo then about this:
Those are the main 24/7 Georgia writers pegging Collins to Michigan after an official to Athens on the last available weekend of the cycle. As far as crystal balls go that's pretty definitive: bad-news picks from plugged in folks late in the game are almost certainly on point. Mansell's explanation is pretty wishy-washy, unfortunately:
truthfully this is starting to feel that ends up somewhere else. That guess from me right now would be Michigan.
Nonetheless a flood of Michigan picks has triggered, including Wiltfong. Collins hasn't said much about his recruitment in forever, so it appears that nobody will be getting clarity until he announces on NSD. Wiltfong related that the Georgia crystal ball run was initiated by Collins's coach at Chalkville telling people that Georgia had surged when everyone was in San Antonio for the Army game; nobody appears to have talked to Collins himself.
That may be the crux of the swings here, with people around Collins saying things that don't actually reflect his mindset. Brown quotes a source:
"We are beginning to hear that the Georgia staff doesn't think they're going to land him," our source said. "I don't really know what happened but he looked miserable at the basketball game this weekend."
It was always odd that Collins, who had taken not just an official but three(!) unofficials despite living in Alabama, would be genuinely in play. Maybe he never was, but there were reasons to pretend like there were? Only thing that makes sense at this juncture.
Side note: What's the deal with five receivers? Michigan has the space, with 26 current commits and a class that can get up to 31 or 32 per reports earlier in the year. They're seriously chasing just six guys, all of whom get section headers in this post. A clean sweep of the five guys not named Collins is extremely unlikely, so the question is "do you want a 6'5" WR with offers from Alabama and Georgia or air?" That's not tough to answer.
[Update: Sam's latest update says Michigan has four slots left, but "could push it to five." A sweep of the offered guys other than Tufele would apparently shut Melifonwu out.]
Aubrey Solomon: status quo is good
Signs still point to Michigan for 5* GA DT Aubrey Solomon. Michigan fans are in a state of panicky anticipation about his recruitment—and to be fair it is that kind of recruitment—so occasionally someone must hold the fanbase's collective hand and reassure them. Sam did that last night, saying the word from down south was "still Michigan." He won't put the ol' gut feel on it because it's that kind of recruitment; it sounds like he's got a ton pointing the right way here.
Wiltfong's in much the same boat, telling the Michigan 247 board that Solomon's "always loved Michigan" and that he continues to hear Michigan is where he's leaning; Alabama and USC lurk. Georgia appears to be out. Brandon Brown reports that word out of Lee County was still M as of a couple days ago.
Willie Gay: status quo is not good, sayin' there's a chance
LSU remains the tentative favorite for 4.5* MS LB Willie Gay. Wiltfong currently has Michigan in third; Sam did clarify that a "VERY" well-placed source asserts that Michigan is #2 to Willie. The Compromise Pick scenario is thus in play since this is believed to be the situation:
PREFERENCES OF GAY'S MOTHER
- Mississippi State
PREFERENCES OF GAY
- Mississippi State
That's obviously a long shot. I would get your fists ready to shake at the Mississippi black hole.
FWIW, LSU's recent flip of 4* TN LB Jacob Phillips from Oklahoma is one that should help, not hurt, LSU. Phillips and Gay were on campus at the same time and reportedly hit it off; Phillips is 6'4" and 230 and projects to MLB. Gay is emphatically an OLB.
Mekhi Becton: cumong man look at the depth chart
Conflicting signals on 3.5* VA OL Mekhi Becton. Scout's Michael B Clark reported that Michigan had "gained momentum" after their in-home, which focused heavily on the depth chart and chance to play early. Michigan has been recruiting Becton hardest per a proverbial source close to Becton; VT and Michigan are supposed to be his top two.
That's hopeful for a badly needed option at tackle. The rest of it not so much. Wiltfong hears that VT and Louisville are the top two; with that previous report from a Louisville commit that UL and Michigan were the top two, folks reporting on Becton have hit for the cycle.
Ifeatu Melifonwu: I think I can pronounce it now
MA S Ifeatu Melifonwu did not immediately flip from Syracuse after his official; in fact, Wiltfong reports that he returned to Syracuse this weekend. It's unclear whether Michigan has offered at this point or if they're waiting to see how things work out with the non-weird guys on the board.
Either way, Melifonwu has decided to do a hat thing on NSD:
I will be at Grafton High on National Signing Day when Ifeatu Melifonwu makes his big announcement where he'll play college football pic.twitter.com/Akp6eBFSq7
— Carl Setterlund (@CarlSetterlund) January 28, 2017
It's odd, but Melifonwu is a guy I'd really like Michigan to add. They don't have a lot of safeties, is brother is headed for the early rounds of the NFL draft, and Don Brown is familiar with the area and the family. I'd be more bummed about missing out on him than one of the WRs despite the WRs being highly touted folks.
MI DT commit Deron Irving-Bey profiled and hoo man:
Sitting in Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio’s office a year ago, Deron Irving-Bey couldn’t hold it back.
It seemed like the seminal moment in his journey.
“He surprised me with it,” Irving-Bey said of MSU’s scholarship offer. “We were on a little academic tour. He called me in his office and said he was going to offer me. That’s when I just started crying. I always thought I would have to go to a JUCO because I never thought I was good enough for that.
“Just the thought of Michigan State, one of the top colleges, I’m like, ‘This is a dream come true.’ ”
Been a rough crootin' year for our friends in East Lansing. Did you hear the one about the guy they flipped from Temple who took under a week to be like "nah, I'm going to Rutgers"?
Michigan is "heavily" pursuing FL OL/mountain Daniel Faalele, which is what I like to hear.
Walk-on commitments are beginning to roll in. Amongst them are former Air Force commit Sean Fitzgerald, an instate OG/DT with respectable size already. A college coach told Trieu that he "will play there at some point." Michigan also flipped Columbia commit Jack Young, a safety out of Pennsylvania. MI LB Adam Fakih announced a commit, as did FL TE Chris Hanlon.
FWIW, former Michigan TE commit
Jack Carter Dunaway landed at Princeton.