Monday Recruitin' Is Just Two Days Away

Monday Recruitin' Is Just Two Days Away

Submitted by Brian on January 30th, 2017 at 1:34 PM

The board is narrow and looks set to stay that way. Let's get to it.

Oliver Martin: In The Boat?

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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:

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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

  1. Mississippi State
  2. Michigan
  3. LSU

PREFERENCES OF GAY

  1. LSU
  2. Michigan
  3. 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:

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.

Etc.

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.

Tuesday Recruitin' Is Dropping Bananas

Tuesday Recruitin' Is Dropping Bananas

Submitted by Brian on January 17th, 2017 at 12:33 PM

Offseason Harbaugh is a go

The long desert before football season resumes is among us, so it's time for Jim Harbaugh Antics to provide us succor. Here he is with a small child in a tiger-themed go-kart:

Yeah, that's the stuff.

As Webb mentions above, this was part of Harbaugh's in-home visit with 5* GA DT Aubrey Solomon. It appears to have gone well:

“Just finished such an awesome in home visit where we bowled, raced cars & finished a pre-k project celebrating 100 days of school for Lee County Pre-K, Solomon’s mother Sabrina Caldwell told The Michigan Insider. “He brought his daughter and it was the best visit ever.”

Or very well:

To say Jim Harbaugh and Chris Partridge crushed their in-home visit with five-star defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon may be an understatement.

That's what 247Sports was told Tuesday morning.

Yep, Harbaugh brought his daughter on a recruiting visit, which is no doubt causing the inmates of the RCMB to splutter in impotent rage. (Also targets of their impotent rage: women, people who don't drink Faygo, algebra.) Webb says he doesn't have a gut feeling on Solomon, but that he fits many of the criteria. It's usually a good sign when Webb starts getting a ton from the parents.

A couple of 247 guys have joined Barton Simmons with Michigan predictions, and they're both guys covering UGA. Both flipped from Alabama predictions, and while opinion on Solomon has blown like the wind since his decommit there's not much time for things to swing back—Solomon now says he's done with visits after he heads out to USC. Rusty Mansell, one of the Georgia guys who CBed Solomon to Michigan, is hearing that Nick Saban and Kirby Smart might not even get in-homes. That would be game over.

Solomon is obviously the top target left on Michigan's board and would almost certainly be in the two deep as a freshman; as the First Look post from last week noted, Michigan's interior line depth is nonexistent.

The other major targets

Georgia is buzzing for 4* AL WR Nico Collins, which would be deeply irritating after they swooped on Isaiah Wilson out of nowhere. At least Alabama is "no longer considered a factor" for Collins, per Lorenz. Webb says it's "become more of a toss up" since Fisch departed; Pep Hamilton will have to build a relationship in a short period of time. He still gives Michigan the edge.

Wiltfong reports that Michigan is getting back in the game with IA WR Oliver Martin, who most were projecting in this class until Brad Hawkins suddenly re-emerged. Martin has two officials left and Michigan could get one of them—his October visit was an unofficial. Wiltfong is still riding with ND.

4.5* MS LB Willie Gay fielded an in-home visit from Chris Partridge on Thursday that didn't generate much content in the aftermath. Mississippi State firing its defensive coordinator probably doesn't help the Bulldogs, but LSU is looming.

Lorenz reports that *4.5 UT DT Jay Tufele is now expected by most to stick close to home. Michigan isn't expecting much there.

Wobblers still wobbling

4* FL OL commit Kai-Leon Herbert took a visit to Auburn this weekend, and had a very crootin' quote in the aftermath:

"I'm definitely going to commit before National Singing Day or re-afffirm my commitment if I happen to choose Michigan," Herbert said. "I'm not that guy who does the hats."

Herbert is more of a Walking Dead parody video kind of guy. Herbert's commit is obviously butter soft at this point, potentially opening the door for Thorpe. Lorenz reports that Michigan is going to try to solidify him with an in-home after he visits Miami and UF the next two weekends; he doesn't see it happening.

4* NM RB commit O'Maury Samuels is the recruit most affected by Ty Wheatley's departure and has been somewhat soft for several months now. Michigan has an official remaining, which is good, and Sameul's father told Webb that there's only one other school in contention:

“I think (Arizona is the only other school being considered).  I think he narrowed it down to Michigan and Arizona.  There were other schools, but it’s Michigan and Arizona. If I had to bet on it.”

Much easier fending off one school, especially one coming off a tough year, than a full-court press from most of the SEC. Webb says it's "not a slam dunk"; Isaiah Hole reported that Samuels is "fully expected to qualify and to be part of the class."

2.5* GA RB commit Kurt Taylor landed a Michigan State offer and says he'll officially visit MSU on the 27th.

Weird guys watch

Happy trails to 3* CT CB Brandon Sebastian, who abruptly cancelled his upcoming visit and is now set to stick with BC. Brice Marich says it was a "mutual" decision—unlikely. This is made even weirder by another weird thing: 4* ND commit Elijah Hicks decommitted from ND... so he could immediately enroll at Cal, which did not have a head coach at that juncture.

Michigan now has zero realistic targets* at defensive back. Reports that Michigan is getting back in with IA WR Oliver Martin may not be entirely Collins related; it's possible the fifth DB is going to be a wide receiver they convert, probably NJ WR Brad Hawkins.

*[Definition of "realistic target": someone who has been on campus or scheduled a visit.]

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Brooks

4* VA LB Ellis Brooks tells Rivals he will "probably" take a visit next weekend; he's currently at LSU and Oregon is on the docket this weekend. Michigan bumped ND, so there's that. Brooks is a big dude at 240; any Michigan pursuit should not be interpreted as pessimism regarding Gay. Brooks just took an official to Northwestern, so he's got a super weird top five: NW, Oregon, LSU, Michigan, and Maryland.

A couple of OL prospects now seem like somewhat reasonable possibilities. Bradon Justice reports that 4* PA OL CJ Thorpe will take an official next week. This space has mentioned Thorpe in passing after Michigan started poking around, but this is is the first indication this pursuit is anything serious. Thorpe is a legacy—thus that quote from his dad about how Urban Meyer can't recruit him—but a late January visit is always a threat.

Clemson OL Jake Fruhmorgen is transferring; Michigan and Florida are the schools most prominently mentioned for him at this early stage. Fruhmorgen played in 11 games as a true freshman and started the first eight games of Clemson's national championship season before getting knocked out with a shoulder injury. PFF reports that he didn't grade out well, but he's a true sophomore who has eight starts; probably some potential there.

Lorenz reports that Michigan is interested enough to check him out; in his opinion Michigan was second for Fruhmorgen during his initial recruitment. He'd have to sit out next year and then would have two to play; if Michigan has some extra spots, as it looks like they might, Fruhmorgen would be an opportunity to patch some holes in the upperclass OL.

Finally, Marich reports that Michigan has been in contact with 4* TN RB Cordarrian Richardson, a Clemson decommit. Jay Harbaugh is going to make an in-home with him, no doubt in the hopes of securing an official from him. Richardson has just three crystal balls, two of which are foggy—this is a potential Alpaca Out Of Nowhere recruitment if things go well.

Rivals finalizes top 100

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Ruiz is the top rated center in a minute

The post-All Star rankings are generally the last ones, and Rivals is first out of the gate with a finalized top 100. Michigan commits:

  • #12 Donovan Peoples-Jones
  • #26 Jordan Anthony
  • #41 Cesar Ruiz (up from 77)
  • #52 Drew Singleton
  • #74 Luiji Vilain (up from 181)
  • #76 Tarik Black

Dylan McCaffrey was the only dropper; he's now outside the top 100 after being #52. TTB points out that everyone except McCaffrey took big upward leaps since the initial Rivals 100 for this class, so maybe not so much with the tinfoil hats this year.

User Indonacious collected relevant scouting. On Ruiz:

“The rare polished high school center, Ruiz is a natural fit for the position. He shined at this year's Under Armour All-America Game, where he displayed impressive extension and solid power. The fact that he's spent his high school career snapping the ball from the center spot is a bonus for Michigan, which could use him at both guard and center early in his time in Ann Arbor.” – Rob Cassidy, Rivals.com Southeast Recruiting Analyst

And Vilain:

“Vilain will be a great pass rusher at Michigan, but at the Under Armour All-America Game he showed that he's not a one-trick pony. He played with more power than ever before and had lots of success in practices. Vilain's presence in the backfield during the game showed he will have success against elite competition.” - Friedman

Etc.

Lorenz reports that Michigan is really high on OH DT commit James Hudson. Same.

2018 stuff

Names to keep an eye out for:

Michigan will be heavy after tight ends in 2018 after taking a pass on the position this year.

Monday Recruitin' Says Iuck Fllinois

Monday Recruitin' Says Iuck Fllinois

Submitted by Brian on January 9th, 2017 at 12:43 PM

Happy trails, #1

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let's keep O'Maury Samuels plz

By now I don't have to tell you that 5* CA RB Najee Harris stuck with Alabama after the world's highest low-profile recruitment. While it would have been real nice to get the #1 recruit in the country in back-to-back years, Michigan is well stocked at running back for the next few years with Chris Evans, Karan Higdon, and redshirt freshmen Kareem Walker and Kingston Davis already on campus.

Losing AJ Dillon stings a bit more now; getting the slightly wobbly O'Maury Samuels to cease wobbling is a January key.

Ultimate crootin' comes to Aubrey Solomon

5* GA DT Aubrey Solomon arrived at the Army game proclaiming that Alabama had a "huge" lead; later he popped up on Periscope saying things that you usually read on people's shirts at away games. (Especially Illinois, for reasons that remain obscure.) Thus ended Michigan's long, strange recruitment of—

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Er. That is a Ryan Bartow crystal ball in favor of Michigan entered on the seventh, which he explained thusly:

Per a source, Solomon reached out to his high school staff following the bowl game in San Antonio indicating he’s planning to commit to the Wolverines.

Solomon, per a source, indicated a similar message to Michigan’s staff later in the evening.

Bartow is a national 247 guy with the excellent track record you can see above. Most recently he was ahead of the curve on Isaiah Wilson's late shift to Georgia.

More detail? Sam Webb has extensive interviews with Solomon and his mother after The Periscope Event. Solomon himself was contrite...

“(Michigan is) one of my top schools,” he replied. “Bama is top, but Michigan is up there with Georgia too. So you never know.”

...and said that an upcoming official to USC was the last trip he'd take. Solomon's mother, meanwhile, has seemingly memorized everything about the official she and her son took this fall, and lists an If Momma Decided top three of Michigan, Georgia Tech(!), and Alabama. Lorenz, meanwhile, reports that he's been told Michigan "truly made progress" with Mrs. Caldwell on the official, which the interview confirms. Also that certain people in his camp aren't big fans of Alabama.

Extensive parental interviews with Sam are a good thing. So are Serious 247 Analyst crystal balls. Offsetting that good thing are some less than good things, but if you told me I'd be fairly optimistic about landing Solomon after last week I'd take that and run.

The stretch run

With the Army decisions out of the way, Michigan has 25 solid commits and approximately seven spots left in the class. The situation for everyone who's still on the board, has an offer, and has bothered to visit or schedule one:

  • NM RB O'Maury Samuels is scheduled for a mid-January official. If that comes off it's likely he sticks in the class. No other visits scheduled at this instant. WAG: 90% to stick.
  • UT RB Sione Heimuli-Lund has said he'll take an official sometime this month. He's said he'll official for months now and hasn't; he's definitely a Harbaugh guy. WAG: 2%.
  • GA WR Nico Collins has had Michigan at the top of his recruitment for months now, and visited on his own dime repeatedly. That's a recipe for getting a bit talent out of the South but Michigan has to dodge some officials. Wiltfong heard from a "source close to Clay-Chalkville" that Georgia is Michigan's biggest competition and that that source "thinks" it will eventually be UGA. That would be a kick in the nuts, not least because... (WAG: 50%)
  • ...IA WR Oliver Martin isn't mentioning Michigan any more in interviews, seemingly because Michigan ceased their pursuit. Webb and Lorenz were predicting Michigan removing itself before articles like the above started popping up, so that's probably what happened here. That only makes sense if they're extremely confident in Collins. We'll see. Martin only has one official set in January, that to MSU. Michigan could pop back up here. WAG: 10%
  • FL OL Kai-Leon Herbert has officials set up to Auburn, Miami, and Florida. He's been circumspect in interviews to the point where he doesn't seem like a commit, and Michigan's already had their shot. WAG: 30%.
  • FL OL/DT Tedarrell Slaton has named Florida his leader and Michigan is drifting away. Slaton told Josh Newkirk that he talks to Michigan "sometimes." He's been on campus but without a 180 this isn't happening; step one in that process is scheduling a January official. WAG: 0% without official, 30% with one.
  • GA DT Aubrey Solomon was extensively discussed above. WAG: lol don't even ask.
  • UT DT Jay Tufele is one of those guys who nobody has a good read on. He recently asserted to Scout that location doesn't matter, which means "recruit has been asked about location and given the standard answer." WAG: 33%.
  • MS LB Willie Gay may or may not have been screwin' around when he said he was headed to LSU; buzz there is "real" per Lorenz, but Michigan thinks they're very much in it. Per Sam, mom and aunt—who were with him on his official—are in Michigan's corner and pushing. Playing time seems to be key. Gay told Lorenz that it was "50/50" he would take an unofficial to Michigan in January. That would echo Rashan Gary and make everyone feel much better that one-time Michigan lead was going to stick. WAG: 40%.
  • CT CB Brandon Sebastian will take an official in January and a flip is on the table. WAG: 80%.
  • CA CB Elijah Hicks is going to stick with ND, I guess? Because Brian Kelly seems like a good idea right now? WAG: 10%.

I project 3 or 4 weird guy spots available.

Army bowl scouting

MI CB Ambry Thomas popped up periodically. He made Scout's East top five on Day two largely because he was able to contend with Peoples-Jones and "his length and speed makes him a tough defender for receivers to separate from."

MI WR Donovan Peoples-Jones "explodes off the ball" per Brandon Brown—I haven't seen much national scouting from Rivals yet—and beat UGA commit Richard LeCounte deep because he had "no chance of running with Peoples-Jones." Scout put him in a top five because he "regularly showed the ability to stretch the field vertically." Lorenz reported that he "did what he was supposed to do" to maintain his spot as the #1 WR on the composite.

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CT WR Tarik Black "flashed a bunch" per 247 and made the East top 5 on Scout because he's a "smooth athlete with a big catch radius" who "really stood out in a strong receiver group." Brown reported that he is the "most consistently effective receiver" on his team because he's not just a big body:

His ability to quickly get downfield at the snap allowed him to easily eat up the cushion of the East cornerbacks, who spent much of the day playing off coverage. Black showed off an advanced understanding of how to use his stem and body movements to manipulate defenders. ...

What was most impressive during today’s practice was Black’s speed, which does not show up on film as well as it did during today’s practice. Black was able to run by several defenders on vertical routes, often gaining several steps on corners. He made a number of impressive plays, but one of his best was blowing past Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech cornerback Donovan Johnson on a go route.

We've been talking about how fast Johnson is for a couple months here, usually when we're wondering why MSU didn't bother offering him. For a 6'4" guy to blow by him is maybe a bit of a fluke but also impressive. Sam thought he was "the revelation" for Michigan fans at the Army game; Lorenz thought he was "really good" and had an argument to move up.

MI DT Deron Irving-Bey didn't come in for much notice nationally; Brown noted that after some early success against an ND commit Irving-Bey started to get predictable and lose reps. He was playing end, which I don't think is going to be his spot at Michigan. One dollar says he's a three tech, and his performance there is in "ask again later" territory. OTOH, he nearly earned a starting spot on his team per Sam because of his "speed off the edge."

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for some reason this picture makes me think Willie Gay is in a Coen brothers movie

In guys we hope are future commits, Solomon was praised for a "twitchy first step" and his strength by 247; after day one they named him the #2 guy on his team since he "split double teams with ease ... showing elite quickness and high energy." Scout talked up his "excellent get-off and close-quarters quickness".

Tufele was also one of the most-praised defensive linemen. 247: "the one defensive lineman that can beat you with quickness and power ... consistently the toughest West defender to slow down." A top performers take: "great quickness in interior one-on-ones and he shows big-time power in defeating run blocks." Scout: "most dominant interior defensive lineman in practice ... step is as quick as any one in this class and his got great strength to push his blockers off the ball."

Gay was named the "best pass game linebacker" by 247 because he's a "flash to the football" and is "the perfect nickel linebacker." In another of those top performers articles they asserted he is "maybe the most athletic linebacker in the country." A third 247 take: "outstanding first-move twitch, very fluid, great speed, rangy, has courage to stick his nose in against the run, made plays in the alley, was sound in drills, performed like a five-star." Lorenz further hinted he would get that bump in an Inside Michigan Recruiting.

Non-Army scouting

Brandon Brown talked with a Detroit King coach about Cass star and MI S Jaylen Kelly-Powell, who sounds like another one of those hybrid types that are so critical for defending the spread:

"He’s ferocious against the run and can really tackle but he’s really good in coverage too. He’s a really strong kid. It’s great when you can have a guy who can cover in man, play in the zone, and tackle in the box and Kelly-Powell is that guy. Even at a place like Michigan he should be able to stay on the field all the time."

Cass's coaches confirmed that coverage take when they matched JKP up on one Ambry Thomas in the city championship game:

"...we didn’t think he was going to be on Ambry. He did a good job on Bry and that’s tough to do. We were looking at him as a true safety but they did a good job switching that up and putting him on Bry like that."

There's talk that Kelly-Powell will be given a look at VIPER(!!!) as Michigan seeks to maintain the flexibility Peppers offered the 2016 defense. Willie Gay is the ideal fit there, but Michigan has some options if he ends up in the South.

Allen Trieu had a Q&A session which is worth the trip behind the paywall. This is the opinion I liked the most because I happen to agree with it:

Of the current commits, in your opinion, who in 4 years do Michigan fans look back at and say "wow he was undervalued coming in".

James Hudson recently earned a fourth star, but I could see that kid really blossoming further in college and out-performing his ranking. We ranked Taco Charlton somewhat cautiously as a lower four-star based on his outstanding physical traits, but also his rawness. He has developed into a potential first-round pick. We are at the same point with Hudson where he really came on as a senior and has great size and ability, but still has some parts of his game to improve.

Hudson's senior film is Willie Henry-esque. Dude is crazy strong and explosive. Might take a year; afterwards, look out.

Scout evaluated PA DE/DT Donovan Jeter's senior film and made him sound a bit like Ryan Glasgow:

...quick with his hands, and he uses several moves instead of just relying on his physical ability to overwhelm his opponent. ...gets up the field well from the defensive end position. He uses a swim move and also will club the offensive lineman. He also has a spin move, and he will use strength, led by a solid initial punch. ... body can easily handle 290 pounds, and keeping his quickness is not a concern. His hand speed will also allow him to be successful on the interior of the defensive line.

Three-tech is all set in this class and Michigan can turn one of Jeter, DIB, or Hudson into a nose if that turns out to be necessary. Having a pure NT like Tufele or Solomon is the one way they can seriously upgrade in January.

Etc.

FWIW, I had MI DT Phil Paea and NJ WR Brad Hawkins listed as early enrollees. Per Isaiah Hole those guys aren't actually EEs. Everyone else expected to arrive has done so.

In "Aubrey Solomon does something that is not surprising": he praises 2018 GA LB commit Otis Reese, a teammate, as "the best in the country."

Michigan is recruiting 2018 TX TE Malcolm Epps, a Bama commit. Hooray!

Tuesday Recruitin' Is Trying To Get Finished Before The Next Guy Drops

Tuesday Recruitin' Is Trying To Get Finished Before The Next Guy Drops

Submitted by Brian on December 20th, 2016 at 12:24 PM

DUCK

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Next up

With the commitments of FL C Cesar Ruiz and MI DE Deron Irving-Bey Michigan has picked up four touted recruits in the past week. Do not be deceived. Just when you think you can poke your head out of the foxhole without getting conked by a four-star recruit, here come some linebackers. FL LB Jordan Anthony announces Thursday and there are rumors that NJ LB Drew Singleton may announce in the near future. In both recruitments it is unclear who is currently running second.

Commit aftermath

As per usual there were a bunch of scouting articles posted for Ruiz and Irving-Bey that did not make it into Ace's Hello posts. Here's a gross story about Ruiz!

Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy coach Kevin Wright saw Cesar Ruiz’s finger as he ran to the sideline and it was bent sideways.

For the first time in two years, Wright thought the nation’s No. 1 center recruit per 247Sports would have to sit for a snap or two.

Ruiz had other plans.

A trainer popped Ruiz's finger back into place in the 2016 season finale, and the blue-chip recruit hustled back on the field to finish out IMG’s 16-6 victory over Bishop Sullivan Catholic.

Ruiz is naturally described as a "warrior". Scout's more in-depth take on Ruiz:

...true center prospect with a lot of experience and the ability to play early on the next level.  He checks a lot of boxes when going down the list on prospects at his position.  He has a great frame.  He is very strong.  His punch is a real asset.  He has shown the ability to get to the second level.  He is very smart.  He has great awareness.  He likes to compete and finish.  Michigan is getting one of the top offensive linemen in the country and Ruiz will give the Wolverines an anchor in the middle in the years to come.

TTB gave Ruiz a 99(!), which I don't think I've seen before from Magnus:

Ruiz also does a very good job of staying low out of his stance, and he moves his feet well to down block or reach block defenders to either side of him. IMG Academy plays a rather difficult schedule, so he’s playing some of the best competition in the country, and he’s having success. As a pass blocker, he anchors well without getting driven into the backfield, and his low center of gravity makes him a good match for any really technical nose tackles who try to use leverage.

Ruiz is unique amongst Michigan center prospects in recent memory in that he actually plays the position in high school. Most college-level OL end up at left tackle for obvious reasons; Ruiz was afforded the ability to play center since he's surrounded by fellow college-level OL at IMG.

That gives Ruiz a shot at playing early—even very early—at a spot that usually sees a veteran deployed to make the call. ESPN says he can "at least" make the two deep as a freshman, and Sam broached the idea he could play in year one if Speight was able to make the line calls a la Andrew Luck. In a normal year there's no way he starts, but with the rather looming hole at tackle and Cole's ability to play there you might see some odd things.

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per @NaptownJazz12, we have a successor to the Ludicrously Oversized Ben Braden photo

Meanwhile, Irving-Bey is an interesting prospect who came from nowhere to be a near-unanimous four star (Rivals is the outlier). The MSU spin that Irving-Bey isn't much of a loss because of an indifferent senior season has nothing backing it. 247 just moved him up about 100 spots—I did not see an explanation as to why, but it happened just a couple weeks ago, so "senior film evaluated" is the most likely explanation. Meanwhile Trieu specifically debunks the spin:

...has turned in two dominant seasons at Flint Southwestern. That is not always against the best competition, but it evens out as he has not always been on the best team either. Even in situations where his team has been down in games, he gives consistent effort and shows motor.

Trieu thinks he's a bit raw but that some folks are exaggerating just how much, FWIW.  In the same article, Sam Webb says he's "quick twitch" and uses Maurice Hurst as a comparison. Isaiah Hole caught up with his coach and you can see a bit of Hurst in his description as well:

"He's a kid that plays well with his hands. He's good on either side of the ball -- offense or defense. He's a kid that's very explosive. He comes off the ball pretty fast. He had to be a two-way player for us this year, so he's got good stamina. Able to go the distance. Those are the things I like most about him. He's able to shed offensive guys pretty quick. He plays a lot on the other side of the ball, meaning he has a lot of tackles for loss."

Ditto ESPN:

possesses very good first-step quickness and can be disruptive presence. With a quick first-step he can develop into a handful as a pass rusher, though needs to better use his hands and refine his arsenal.

Interestingly, Irving-Bey has the longest arms of anyone in the class, which would help him either at DE if he sticks there or OT if that's the way it works out. (Given the OL class, it probably won't.)

Touch The Banner is not so much about Irving-Bey:

Irving-Bey isn’t particularly athletic or physical, and he does not play with a non-stop motor that might overcome other deficiencies. He reminds me of Columbus (OH) St. Francis DeSales defensive lineman Chris Rock from the class of 2011.

That is pretty harsh.

Also commit aftermath

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this is a very silly picture

I also have some tabs about 5* MI WR Donovan Peoples-Jones open that I'm sure you'll enjoy. Steve Lorenz:

Michigan is getting about as sure a star prospect as you will see at the high school level. Immense athleticism, but he's somebody who worked hard in the weight room and bulked up too to match his physical stature with that athleticism. A true instant impact prospect who not just could, but should be a guy who will see the field and make plays from day one in Ann Arbor.

Allen Trieu:

He has great ball skills. He can make acrobatic catches and has good overall athleticism and body control. As a route-runner, he can still be polished. At Cass, he ran a lot of go-routes and screens which allowed him to use his run after the catch ability, but he still has room to grow and get better which should be exciting for Michigan fans given his talent.

ESPN:

Peoples-Jones has tremendous length and range to be an acrobatic playmaker when the ball is in the air. He brings the height and arm length that coaches covet, but he moves like a smaller receiver with the ball in his hands. He can accelerate, tempo his routes, and take the top off the defense with a combination of size and speed.

FWIW, I went over the last three years of WR recruits. Amongst the top five guys in the country there were 4 players I would describe as immediate stars: Christian Kirk (A&M), KD Cannon (Baylor), Demetris Robinson (Cal), and Cameron Ridley (Alabama). There were a couple other guys who got 20 or so catches and Speedy Noil, who got 43 on what I assume were a bunch of screens. It's not easy for a WR to be an instant star.

DPJ probably needs a year to polish up his routes. As Ace mentioned in the Hello post, Cass mostly sends him deep and cackles at the results.

Obligatory Najee section

There is no announcement scheduled for 5* CA RB Najee Harris and there may not be one. Scout's John Garcia Jr:

A separate source near him says he's not expecting a formal announcement or anything in terms of his final decision, whether it's been made or not. It goes along with Najee's personality, as he may not sign any FAAs and simply enroll somewhere in three weeks. That would be the most Najee thing ever in terms of ending the process.

I wouldn't believe anything you hear about a date unless it comes from an established reporter. Also in this vein: I have seen some Najee threads around the internet that talk about his latest follows being Michigan players. Najee Harris does not have a twitter account, so nope.

In terms of actual news, there is none. The closest to it are rumblings that Cal or Florida might hire Tosh Lupoi, Harris's primary recruiter, as their defensive coordinator. This would obviously be very good for Michigan. When Harris talks about his recruitment, he mostly talks about Jim Harbaugh and Tosh Lupoi.

Getting to 32: maybe, maybe not

We've been projecting a 32-man class since the season started, but that might be difficult to pull off without some weird guys showing up. Michigan has 24 commits. We have 12 guys listed in "top group" or "leader" on the recruiting board, and we're not sure if IA WR Oliver Martin and FL OG Tedarrell Slaton are takes right now. Let's assume Michigan holds out for AL WR Nico Collins, leading Martin to commit elsewhere, and Slaton's testing doesn't go sufficiently well to get Michigan back in the game; let us further assume that both of those upcoming LB announcements go well.

To hit 32 without going off the board Michigan would have to get six of the following eight recruits: Harris, Collins, TX OT Chuck Filiaga, VA OT Mekhi Becton, UT DT Jay Tufele, AL DT Aubrey Solomon, MS LB Willie Gay, and CA CB Elijah Hicks. And that's without any decommits.

Possible. Maybe not probable, and with Michigan's board so restricted right now it's hard to see where a potential hole gets filled. There's nobody outside of the aforementioned 12 who seems at all likely at this instant. Now, you may recall Michigan's recruitment of Nick Eubanks last year, which went like this:

  1. Nick Eubanks is on campus
  2. who is Nick Eu—
  3. he committed
  4. <furious googling>

But those are uncommon. Weird guys who pop up late have usually been on the radar at least somewhat.

A listing of potential weird guys

I do have a few names in this category:

  • 4* AZ S Isaiah Pola-Mao. Currently ticketed to Washington by the Crystal Ball, Pola-Mao is a ninja type who could follow the Eubanks script. Hyphenated last name so it's a surprise he's not already committed.
  • 4* UT RB Sione Lund. Lund recently told Brice Marich he still plans an official to Michigan in January.
  • 3.5* CA OT Jalen McKenzie. McKenzie's popped up from time to time in articles where he's pining for offers from USC and Michigan, and he just did so again on Scout. Two, in fact. If Michigan offers he will at least take a visit.
  • 3.5* MI CB Donovan Johnson. He's small but he's not that small, right? One of the enduring oddities of this recruiting cycle is the lack of M and MSU interest for Johnson—especially the latter given how things are going for MSU right now. If Michigan does not get Hicks they might throw an offer Johnson's way, and since he's at Cass you never know.
  • 3* CT CB Brandon Sebastian. Michigan kicked the tires on the BC commit earlier this year but withdrew.

In addition there will be random guys Michigan offers if they think they have spots to fill.

Honigford details

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3.5* OH OL Joel Honigford is a bit of a forgotten man in the class what with all the five star types Michigan's been chasing. Matt Wenzel profiles him and gets some more detail. His coach:

"I think they're getting a hell of a ballplayer," Wallick said. "Obviously, with that length - 6-6, 280 - that much bend and athleticism. He's got a lot of room to grow, a great frame to build on. They're not going to get anyone that's going to work harder in the weight room and on his footwork than he is. He has put a lot of extra time and effort into becoming the best football player he can become."

Fairly generic coach quote but the bit about "that much bend" is interesting. Compare that to this evaluation of Aaron Banks's "areas for improvement":

Needs to polish some areas in his game like first step explosiveness, reactionary quickness, and a more consistent pad level. A focus on range of motion exercises will improve new bend, and allow him to better his setup prior to the snap.

I was led to believe that "bend"—the ability to play in a somewhat crouched position so that you can explode on contact—is largely a you-have-it-or-you-don't kind of thing. Michigan has prioritized that with their tackle recruits, and that's the most likely reason they didn't put a full court press on Banks

Etc.

If you'd like to read Lorenz extensively quoted about Michigan locking down the state, this Matt Wenzel article is for you.

Nico Collins got recruited by a bunch of Bama guys at that All Star game they have against Mississippi; while our bet is on Michigan here, Collins is more in the DPJ boat than the Ruiz one—it wouldn't be a total shock if he decided on somewhere else. It would be a surprise, gotta dodge some visits, etc.

Harbaugh acolyte on Harbaugh violence as Oregon offers 2018 NV QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Robinson plans to decide over the summer after a suite of unofficials including M, Oregon, UCLA, and a couple Florida schools.

Friday Recruitin' Gets All The Hyphens

Friday Recruitin' Gets All The Hyphens

Submitted by Ace on November 18th, 2016 at 2:30 PM

This is going to be short because I'm on enough cold medication that I can barely spell my own name. You've been forewarned.

Weekend Visitors: Wilson, Reitmaier Headline IU Game

247's Steve Lorenz has graciously posted this weekend's visitor list for free. Official visits of note:

Top-100 NY OT Isaiah Wilson is already on campus. Lorenz says there is "considerable optimism" on the Michigan end of things from a source close to his recruitment.

Three-star TN DT Rutger Reitmaier is an Oregon commit, which should make Michigan look enticing by comparison. His father didn't downplay the chance of a flip at all when talking to 247's Steve Wiltfong:

Reitmaier's father Rik was recently on the Michigan campus and says the Maize and Blue have a shot here.

"Now Oregon is the leader but I think once he sees Michigan and the coaches, he really likes (Greg) Mattison, They have an opportunity to showcase their program" the elder Reitmaier said. "I was up there a couple of weeks ago, my youngest son plays travel hockey, and (Jim) Harbaugh invited me to meet with him. I was impressed with him and the coaches I met."

Three-star GA FB Tory Carter, an LSU commit, will take his long-awaited official along with high school teammate and 2018 Michigan commit Otis Reese. Michigan also hosts three-star Notre Dame CB commit Elijah Hicks, though his coach makes it sound like a change of heart is exceedingly unlikely.

Five-star MS RB Cam Akers, who's always been considered a longshot, cancelled his planned visit. Unless Michigan makes an unexpected move for USC commit Stephen Carr, it's Najee Harris or stand pat at running back.

Several commits and a handful of 2018 prospects will also be in Ann Arbor. Check out Steve's post for the full list.

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

Tuesday Recruitin' Has Pros And Cons

Tuesday Recruitin' Has Pros And Cons

Submitted by Ace on November 8th, 2016 at 4:08 PM

Visit Reactions: M Winning Solomon Back?

yeah, still want

After gaining a commitment, losing it, looking out of the picture, and then crawing their way back in, Michigan made their latest push for four-star GA DT Aubrey Solomon on his official visit for the Maryland game. Solomon was accompanied by his mother, who came very prepared, and the most critical aspect of the visit from M's perspective was winning over—Solomon's interest in Michigan has always been very strong while his mom has been a skeptic. According to Sam Webb, they pulled out all the stops:

Front and center for most of the visit were Gwen Bush and Devin Bush Sr.  They were with mom a ton with one observer offering, “Gwen hardly left his mom’s side.”  And as we speculated heading into the visit… “Momma Gwen” having sent her own questionnaire out during her son Wayne Lyons’ recruitment before deciding to send him to school on the other side of the country (from Florida to Stanford) really appeared to help forge a connection. For good measure Wayne was also on hand for the Solomons to meet.

The vibe between Mom and Bush Sr. was noticeable.  One observer said, "they went back and forth like they've known each other for years."

Rashan Gary and his mother, who was visiting for the weekend, hosted Solomon, though his mom wasn't able to get together with Gary's; she did, however, have lunch with Greg Harden, Michigan's director of academic counseling—he played a big role in landing Gary.

Both Sam and Steve Lorenz believe Aubrey himself wants to go to Michigan, but they still have work to do to win over his mother. Lorenz:

If the choice was 100% his, there would likely be some 247Sports Crystal Ball predictions coming back the Wolverines' way. However, it appears to not be fully his decision. We reported on Sunday that mom was impressed with what Michigan had to offer. That remains the case in the grand scheme of things, but according to a second source we spoke with on Monday, the visit reportedly could have gone better from Michigan's standpoint regarding impressing Solomon's mother. 

Also of note: Sam is getting the "distinct impression" that Clemson, not Alabama or Georgia, is the school closer to home with the best shot at Solomon. I'm not sure how to take that: on one hand, that looks like some tough competition is taking a step back; on the other, well, head-to-head recruiting against Clemson can be quite the experience. Michigan made progress this weekend; we'll see if it sticks after more visits.

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

Friday Recruitin' Fills Out Questionnaire

Friday Recruitin' Fills Out Questionnaire

Submitted by Ace on November 4th, 2016 at 3:55 PM

Solomon, Collins Headline Weekend Visitors List

You may be wondering why there's a document and not, say, a highlight video embedded above. That's because it's the official visit questionnaire created by Sabrina Caldwell, the mother of four-star GA DT Aubrey Solomon, and after some twists and turns Caldwell and Solomon will get those questions answered in Ann Arbor this weekend. While Michigan has an uphill climb to get Solomon back in the fold, getting his mom on campus with him is a significant development; Solomon's initial Michigan commitment didn't stick in large part because Caldwell hadn't accompanied him on his unofficial visit, and winner her over may be more difficult than her son.

Three other uncommitted recruits will take official visits this weekend, per The Wolverine's Brandon Brown:

  • Four-star AL WR Nico Collins paid his way for multiple unofficial visits over the summer, and now he'll return on Michigan's dime for an offical. While Alabama and Georgia have made this closer than once thought, Michigan is in great position to get Collins.
  • Four-star CA OT Aaron Banks had high praise for the program after visiting for the BBQ. He's often omitted in discussions of the potential O-line haul; he shouldn't be, especially since many other programs pushing for him—Notre Dame, Oregon, UCLA, and USC chief among them—are having down years.
  • Three-star VA OT Mekhi Becton holds a Michigan offer, but he's almost certainly not a take right now with all the blue-chip linemen still on the board. Virginia looks to be his top option, so the Wolverines should be able to slow-play him and still have a shot if their board empties out a bit.

It's also worth noting that safety commit J'Marick Woods will take his official visit. He took an official to Arkansas last month and had a positive reaction; this weekend provides M a chance to solidify his pledge.

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

Friday Recruitin' Has Open-Door Policy

Friday Recruitin' Has Open-Door Policy

Submitted by Ace on October 28th, 2016 at 4:30 PM

Here's A New Video You Shouldn't Watch

Yes, it's time for more guarded optimism about #1 overall recruit Najee Harris. The Alabama commit didn't make his scheduled official visit to Tuscaloosa last weekend because he couldn't leave his high school game early enough to catch his flight. Today, the San Francisco Chronicle continued their series on Harris with a feature focused on Harbaugh's bye week visit to Antioch; while there are many more factors to this recruitment, Michigan has a clear edge in relationship with the head coach:

Harris, though, was flattered by Harbaugh’s decision to attend his game and amused by the way he mingled with fans.

“Not many head coaches go out there and take pictures with everybody,” Harris said. “Everything he’s doing is cool.”

...

Harris will make it to Tuscaloosa eventually. He doesn’t have the same fondness for Tide head coach Nick Saban as he does for Harbaugh, but he does have a relationship with [Alabama assistant Tosh] Lupoi, the recruiter.

There's another telling passage in there: Harris's main recruiter at Alabama, Tosh Lupoi, called him after Harbaugh's visit and "belittled Michigan’s schedule in the Big Ten" in comparison to Bama's. As a general rule, you don't negative recruit another school unless you perceive it as a threat.

While the date hasn't been set, Michigan's coaches still fully expect Harris to make it to campus for an official visit. Harris plans to enroll early, so this recruitment will move quickly once OVs start happening, and it'll be fascinating to follow.

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

Recruiting Mailbag With Steve Lorenz: Poaching, Appeal Of Harbauffense, WR Haul

Recruiting Mailbag With Steve Lorenz: Poaching, Appeal Of Harbauffense, WR Haul

Submitted by Steve Lorenz on October 4th, 2016 at 3:20 PM

Ed-Ace: Recruitnik extraordinaire, regular podcast guest, and noted darts enthusiast Steve Lorenz of Wolverine247, aka The Artist Formerly Known As Aquaman, is back with his weekly recruiting mailbag. If you aren't subscribed to 247 and want to read more from Steve and the gang, they're running a buy one month, get two months free promotion.

OwenGoBlue asks: Where can Michigan capitalize with so many traditional powers having terrible seasons/job speculations? 

There are a handful of schools that fit the bill here. 

The biggest thing to consider is not only where a coaching change may take place, but who is truly available to replace those open spots. For instance, there's only one Tom Herman available right now, and it's hard to see any other names out there that would TRULY move the recruiting needle right off the bat. Guys like Larry Fedora may end up being great coaches elsewhere, but it's not a name I think recruits are going to immediately. 

LSU is an obvious one here, and I think we've discussed them already, with five-star offensive lineman Austin Deculus and Top100 safety Grant Delpit as big-timers that could end up taking officials to Michigan. 

Another one is USC. Clay Helton hasn't been fired, and who knows if he will, but the Trojans aren't an attractive option right now for kids who don't want to invest their future in a staff that may not make it through a four-year time period. They're a program that is always going to get some guys, but there is enough talent in the Pac-12 footprint to where Michigan can possibly snag a guy who is either committed there or was considered a heavy lean throughout. They may actually be the situation Michigan can capitalize on most with 2017 and 2018 prospects. 

Notre Dame is another one that comes to mind. Michigan hosted one of their commitments over the weekend in 2018 four-star running back Markese Stepp. Like USC, their schedule is tough, and while Brian Kelly's job doesn't appear to be in jeopardy yet, it could be if they continue to struggle. They will still do well on the recruiting trail because of their academic prestige, but Michigan is one of the few schools that can offer something close along with a tangibly bright future under their current coaching staff. 

One prospect I would point to right now regarding where wins/certainty may be paying off is Aledo (TX) four-star tackle Chuck Filiaga. I labeled him as Michigan's most intriguing visitor heading into last weekend because most of the schools he was really high on (Oklahoma, Oregon, USC) are struggling mightily to begin the season. While the coaching situations there haven't heated up to a Texas/LSU level yet, they could, and Michigan has stability, NFL production and wins to stand behind under Harbaugh right now. 

This is one of the bigger reasons why some of what goes on in the off-season recruiting-wise is mostly noise-based. You're going to see schools like Washington, Louisville and Nebraska potentially capitalize on strong 2016 seasons under staffs that have only been in place for a couple seasons. That's because they're winning, and their coaching staffs can recruit without looking over their shoulder. Michigan is in the same situation, and could be able to capitalize more than anybody.

[Hit THE JUMP for Steve on how Harbaugh's offense draws in recruits, his guess at the WR class, and more.]

Friday Recruitin' Is A College Program

Friday Recruitin' Is A College Program

Submitted by Ace on September 30th, 2016 at 3:25 PM

M's Biggest Recruiting Weekend Is Here

Michigan has stacked this weekend with visits, many of the official variety, and it's shaping up to be their most important recruiting weekend of the fall. TMI's Brice Marich has a free rundown of the top visitors on campus, and 247's Steve Wiltfong has an overview of the major recruiting storylines. Here's a quick runthrough with some additional notes where applicable.

OFFICIAL VISITORS

Five-star TX OLB Baron Browning: Notre Dame, Ohio State, Texas, and UCLA appear to be Michigan's primary competition, and while the Wovlerines have been regarded as a fringe contender for much of Browning's recruitment, 247's Steve Wiltfong said this week his summer visit put M in better position than ND and OSU. Browning's brother played for Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, which can't hurt M's chances.

FIve-star FL OT Alex Leatherwood (Alabama commit): Michigan and Florida are trying to pry Leatherwood away from Bama, but Steve Lorenz has mentioned on our podcast that this is quite a long shot unless Bama OL coach Mario Cristobal leaves the staff after the season.

Four-star KY OT Jedrick Wills: Wills looked like he'd drop to Alabama before ever making it to Ann Arbor. While that didn't occur, Bama remains the favorite.

Four-star NJ OLB Drew Singleton: There's still a lot of optimism from Michigan insiders about Singleton—who's here for his second game this season—despite the buzz surrounding Clemson.

Four-star IMG OLB Jordan Anthony: Another linebacker prospect long considered a Michigan lean.

Four-star IMG OC Cesar Ruiz: As Lorenz said in this week's recruiting mailbag, Ruiz is arguably the most important target left on the board, and with Alabama seemingly out of the picture this is a race Michigan expects to win.

[This list is long enough to JUMP mid-section. As I said, it's a huge visit weekend.]