Five New Offers

Submitted by Brandon Brown on January 11th, 2014 at 12:10 PM

With the season in the rearview and a new playcaller on the payroll the coaches have wasted no time in putting some new names on the offer board. Five new scholarship offers were extended within the past week, three from the 2015 class and two from 2016. Four of these young men will be recruited primarily by linebackers coach Roy Manning and from all accounts that is a positive thing. I was able to chat with each new offeree about the offer among other things.

Juval Mollette

Position: Wide Receiver
Ht/Wt: 6'4" / 187 lbs.
Location: Randleman High School (2015) – Randleman, NC
Offers: Clemson, Duke, East Carolina, Georgia Tech, Michigan, North Carolina, NC State, Ohio State, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest
Ranking: ★★★★ .9163 (247 Composite)

Juval Mollette

If the Michigan coaches had a machine that created wide receivers, one might walk out that looked like Juval Mollette. He’s built a lot like Drake Harris, Csonte’ York, Jaron Dukes, and Moe Ways. At 6’4” he’s your typical long-striding, high-pointing type of receiver. He has good straight line speed but won’t lose anyone in a phone booth. He definitely does know how to use his frame to get position and make catches in traffic.

Coach Manning was the coach to offer the junior over the phone and Juval feels like Michigan is a good offer to add to his list. “My interest in Michigan is pretty high, but I really have the same interest in all of the schools that have offered me at this point.” Growing up in North Carolina, a state without much college football success, Juval didn’t really have a favorite team growing up and admits to not even really watching football until his freshman year. Because of that, and as you might expect he doesn’t know much about Michigan just yet. “I honestly don’t know too much. I know they have a great tradition of winning. I’m sure I’ll start to learn more.” Juval said Coach Manning made it a point to emphasize how important he was and that they don’t offer just anybody.

Based on his lack of interest in watching football and not really being a fan of anyone I’d say his recruitment is wide open. He has a solid offer list already with Michigan and Ohio State being the only non-ACC/SEC teams to show that level of interest. He’s never been to Michigan in any capacity and until he visits I think there’s a low probability of him becoming a Wolverine. 

Minkah Fitzpatrick

Position: Cornerback
Ht/Wt: 6'0" / 185 lbs.
Location: St. Peters Prep (2015) – Jersey City, NJ
Offers: Alabama, Boston College, UConn, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, LSU, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Mississippi State, Nebraska, North Carolina, NC State, Ohio State, Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers, South Carolina, Stanford, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Wisconsin
Ranking: ★★★★★ .9859 (247 Composite)Minkah Fitzpatrick 2

Jabrill Peppers 2.0? Like Peppers, Minkah Fitzpatrick hails from New Jersey, plays a myriad of positions, looks far better than almost everyone else on the field, and is just a special athlete. I first made contact with him during my M Block days and honestly wonder why it took so long for the coaches to offer this kid.

From Fitzpatrick himself he says he already draws comparisons to Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks and prides himself on his Sherman-like physicality. Completely different from Sherman, Minkah thinks he needs to be more vocal on the field with communication and leadership.

Coach Manning once again was on the job and spoke to Minkah and his coach deciding to extend an offer to play at Michigan. I have heard great things from many recruits about Coach Manning and Minkah was no different. “Yeah I talked to him a lot. he seems like he would be a great leader and a great coach.”

Coach Manning won’t be the only person trying to bring Fitzpatrick to Ann Arbor as the aforementioned Jabrill Peppers reached out to Minkah immediately following his tweet about the Michigan offer.

Jabrill and Minkah do have a bit of a relationship, he explained to me with a laugh. “We communicate a little bit but not too often. He’s tried recruiting me before though. I might ask him a few questions about Michigan but that’s about it. Or we’ll see how much he tries to recruit me.” And all Michigan fans rejoice.

With a look at his offer list Fitzpatrick has Michigan among many others to choose from and I asked him how the Maize and Blue stack up against the rest. “It’s a great program and I always liked the way they play. I’m really excited about the offer! I always try and do my research with every school and now that I have an offer I can start learning a lot more.” Part of that learning process will involve a first visit to Ann Arbor that Fitzpatrick hopes to take in the spring.

Fitzpatrick is going to have scads of options to weigh before he makes his decision but he really doesn’t want it to drag out if he can help it. “I would like to get it done before my senior season but if I don’t find the school that fits me best before then, I would probably have to wait until signing day.”

Fitzpatrick seemed genuinely interested in Michigan. He did admit to me that he also likes the Buckeyes quite a bit. I couldn’t help but notice him tweeting about them during their bowl loss. That being said I think Michigan has a real shot with him. He’s going to be able to go wherever he wants but the coaches have done well in New Jersey as of late and with Peppers in his ear that can’t hurt. Coach Manning appears to have made a great early impression and if he makes that visit in the spring I expect Michigan to be in it until the end.

 Jalen Dalton

Position: Weakside Defensive End
Ht/Wt: 6'6" / 235 lbs.
Location: West Forsyth High School (2015) – Clemmons, NC
Offers: Clemson, Duke, East Carolina, Florida State, North Carolina, NC State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, West Virginia
Ranking: ★★★★ .9553 (247 Composite)Jalen Dalton

Born and raised in North Carolina, defensive end Jalen Dalton was a name I was not very familiar with. After seeing his name attached to an offer I watched his film and liked what I saw. He has a fantastic frame for growing into a beast of an edge rusher and uses it to perfection against much lesser competition in high school. Dalton describes himself as a physical, pure pass-rusher with a knack for deflections.

In his area of Winston-Salem he’s often compared to local star Kareem Martin, a first team All-ACC’er that just finished his senior season at North Carolina with 20 TFL and 11 sacks. After looking at Martin a little bit I can definitely see it. Dalton does a lot of things very well for a young pass rusher.

Coach Manning has made another solid impression on a recruit and Dalton couldn’t say enough about him. “My coach called me on my way to school and told me that Michigan had offered. Later that day I had PE so we called Coach Roy and we talked for a little while. He is a good man, really down to Earth. He seems really cool and laid back. That’s what I like in a coach. I really don’t know a lot about Michigan but I know I like Coach Roy.”

Dalton really wants to take a trip to Michigan and hopes to do that as soon as plans can be made. He said he’s big on the “vibes” that he feels when he visits a school. “Schools in my top list just have to give me that good vibe. I’m not sure how my recruitment will really play out but I’m going to start working on a bit of a timeline and ideas for visits soon and might know some by Tuesday.”

Dalton kept things pretty short and sweet but it was clear that Roy Manning did a very good job with him. He seemed to be quite proud about being born and raised in North Carolina which makes me feel like he might be tough to pull away from ACC country, especially when you look at his offer list containing both in-state schools, Clemson, and Florida State. We’ll see just how much magic Coach Manning has as Dalton’s recruitment progresses. 

Thiyo Lukusa

Position: Offensive Tackle
Ht/Wt: 6'6" / 310 lbs.
Location: Traverse City West High School (2016) – Traverse City, MI
Offers: Akron, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin
Ranking: NAThiyo Lukusa

I almost always approve of Michigan following suit when Michigan State and Wisconsin offer offensive linemen and that’s exactly the case with in-state product Thiyo Lukusa. At 6’6” and 310 lbs. he figures to be a future tackle prospect and has performed well in that arena at several camps to date.

Lukusa has been open about how much he wanted an offer from the Wolverines, telling me that it was indeed a big time offer for him. He was informed of his offer by a phone call from Coach Hoke and almost all of the rest of the staff.

He wouldn’t call Michigan his leader but he did say, “they’re at the top though.” To me that sounds like the same thing, but I digress. I mentioned to him that 100% of the Crystal Ball picks at 247 think he’s a future Wolverine and he responded with, “MSU had a great season though, so I can’t say anything.” Seconds later he admitted to growing up a huge Michigan fan, “for sure!”. He said growing up a big Michigan fan will factor in to his decision….but not as much as roses. “Roses smell so good.”

I am 99.9% sure this will be a Wolverine/Sparty battle all the way. He’s got just the four offers right now but the way he spoke about both in-state schools it just seemed obvious at this early stage of his recruitment. Michigan State’s on-field success has clearly impacted the big lineman prospect but if Michigan can right the ship over the next two seasons, I believe Lukusa will be joining fellow tackle prospect Erik Swenson in the trenches in Ann Arbor.

Kareem Walker

Position: Running Back
Ht/Wt: 6'1" / 193 lbs.
Location: DePaul Catholic High School (2016) – Irvington, NJ
Offers: Michigan, Penn State, Rutgers, Temple
Ranking: NAphoto(3)

Another New Jersey product, Kareem Walker is the first running back to receive an offer in the 2016 class. This kid came off to me as incredibly humble and genuinely grateful for an offer from Michigan. From Jersey, he also has a connection with Jabrill Peppers and already relates to him. “I’m from Irvington, New Jersey, it’s not a good neighborhood at all, kind of like Jabrill. As it comes closer to me getting ready to commit it will be helpful to know Jabrill because he will already be there and he will be able to tell me certain things.”

Ok, don’t freak out but on the field Walker actually reminds me of Denard with how he runs the ball. It’s not just because he has dreads, although that helps, but he does a lot of the same insane cuts, displays similarly quick feet, and like Denard, when there’s an opening he’s to it and through it before the defense knows what happened. This is how he describes himself. “I’m a person who you can’t take your eye off or you will miss out. I won’t quit no matter what the score is. It can be 100-0 and I still won’t give up on a play. I will continue to play with intensity and try to make big plays.” His high school coach compares him to Eric Dickerson, but I’m going to stick with Denard.

Like a lot of kids, from Michigan or not, their Wolverine knowledge begins and ends with Charles Woodson and The Big House. “I know a little about Michigan, mainly Charles Woodson. He kind of changed the face of college football by playing both ways and just going crazy in The Big House. I know that stadium is live and I hear the atmosphere is like no other.”

It’s obviously very early in the process for Kareem and he plans to take as much time as he needs to make the right decision. “I don’t really have a set time frame. I plan on taking my official visits and then talking it over with my parents and family before deciding. It really could be at any point after that.”


I had already had limited contact with each of these young men in the past except for Jalen Dalton, but after some in depth conversation with them I wouldn’t mind if they all committed today. On film they look great, they all seem to be grounded guys, and some of their best qualities seem to be off the field.

I’ve also learned more about how good of a recruiter Roy Manning seems to be. First impressions aren’t everything but he appears to be a pro at them. Maintaining a solid relationship and closing with some of these guys will bring his skillset full circle and solidify him as a quality recruiter in my mind.


UM Fan in Nashville

January 11th, 2014 at 12:28 PM ^

Thanks Brandon.

Sounds like all these guys would be a perfect fit at Michigan.  I reallly really really want Minkah!  To even think of him and Jabrill in the same backfield makes me gitty!

It's crazy to think 2016 kids are already starting to get attention.  Sounds like 2 solid kids though.   Hopefully they all Go Blue!


January 11th, 2014 at 12:36 PM ^

Kareem's stride looks just like Denard's. And you are definitely right, his quickness in short areas and ability to knife through a hole are similar, too. It would be awesome to have another weapon like that.


January 11th, 2014 at 12:38 PM ^

No way is Minkah Jabrill 2.0, but he will be a very good corner wherever he ends up. Brandon, if you don't mind me asking, why are you so confident with Thiyo? When I made the thread on the board, I mentioned yours among others crystal ball predictions, but he seems really high on the Spartans. So any insight as to why the experts seem to think he'll end up at Michigan?

In fact, he likes the Spartans so much, he said something about committing at Breslin soon. So I am just honestly wondering why so much confidence with the Michigan guys that he comes here?

Thanks as always Brandon. Good stuff.


January 11th, 2014 at 12:56 PM ^

I'm sorry but there is literally no way he grew up a die-hard Michigan fan. I'm not saying that you're wrong or that he didn't tell you that, but no die-hard Michigan fan would be all over Michigan State like he is. Maybe a "Michigan fan" growing up, but die hard? No way. I guess unless of course he is trolling them harder than I've ever seen a recruit.

Maybe I'm reading too much into twitter, which I am not a big fan of anyways. But this certainly doesn't look like a die-hard Michigan fan to me.


By the way multiple MSU mentions down through the twitter timeline, and nothing on Michigan all the way back to August at least. Again, doesn't seem like a die-hard Michigan guy to me. I know some die-hard Michigan guys.

Brandon Brown

January 11th, 2014 at 1:02 PM ^

I did say with 99.9% confidence that it would be a Michigan/Sparty battle. I think in his heart he likes Michigan but facts are facts and Michigan State has been a lot better recently. I didn't say he was leaning Michigan or that he was Michigan's to lose, I just think he really wants to pick Michigan, but not if they are wallowing in mediocrity.

It's different for recruits that are actually going to be playing football as opposed to watching it on TV. They have their favorites but the factors are obviously much different.


January 11th, 2014 at 1:22 PM ^

Understood, it just seems that for a "battle" you guys really seem to think Michigan is it. As evidenced by his crystal ball predictions of Michigan 100%. And I understand it's different for recruits, but going from die-hard Michigan fan to Spartan fan that fast tells me he wasn't "die-hard." Unless die-hard has become flop between teams when one is better than the other. It is just one guys opinion though. I don't think his definition of die-hard is mine, recruit or not. Die-hards don't flop like that. 


January 11th, 2014 at 1:53 PM ^

I totally get what you're saying, but what is "die-hard" for a 15 year old is different than what is die-hard for you or me.  I also think a lot of recruits are able (and often do) but their fandom aside and look at schools more objectively.  MSU just had a great season and ours was underwhelming, so that's in the forefront of his mind.  

Kyle Kalis and Tom Strobel were die-hard Buckeye fans, but they felt the situation at Michigan was better when they committed.  Derrick Green was reportedly a huge OSU fan growing up.  There are literally hundreds of examples of this over the years.  

One could argue that someone can't really be a "die-hard" fan at 15 or 16, which I would accept.  But just because he's considering MSU doesn't mean he's not a very big Michigan fan.


January 11th, 2014 at 9:50 PM ^

Yeah but I think you are missing my point. None of those guys went from OSU fans to Michigan fans after OSU started losing. My point is, for a guy who says he's a Michigan fan, he seems pretty favorable towards MSU without being committed. I'll try to spell it out. He is not even committed to the school and he's already acting like he is a bigger fan of them over Michigan. How does that equal die-hard fan of one of their rivals? 

I understand looking at all of your options and also even selecting a school that is a better fit. But before ever committing to either school he claims to be a die-hard fan of one school, while talking up the other one a ton and saying he wants to commit. He isn't just talking them up like they could be a good fit, he is clearly a fan of them. 

Strobel didn't go around his sophomore year claiming to be a die-hard OSU fan while wearing Michigan stuff and saying he was going to Michigan. He was a fan of OSU growing up and after looking at both schools he decided Michigan was a better fit and selected them. That's usually how something like that works when a player commits to a team he didn't grow up as a fan. See my point?

Thiyo didn't look at both schools and decide which was a better fit yet. Thus he is much more of a fair weather fan than a die-hard. It's fine if he wants to be an MSU fan and tweet about them and also going to Breslin and committing, just don't then claim to be a die-hard fan of the rival. You can be neutral, technically a fan of both as you look to see which is a better fit, but you can't be die-hard of one and a fan of the other. That is not what die-hard means. I'm not trying to dog him or Brandon, I just don't think die-hard means what either of them seem to think it means. As you pointed out above and that is all I am saying.



January 11th, 2014 at 5:35 PM ^

Let me chime in here. I hope these chumps who are "die-hard" Michigan fans and choose Sparty over us, truly eat misery when Michigan gets back to being Michigan and they are stuck in EL. Seriously. For a guy to choose them as a proclaimed Mich fan, truly wasnt a Michigan fan.

This feels like what Urban used to do to deflate FSU by when he had the recruit in the bag, he'd have them claim he was a lifelong fan of the rival school only to then diss that team. Brandon you may want to see this. This may be a Sparty setup.


January 12th, 2014 at 8:41 AM ^

Let's face it, fandom is important, but it's secondary to choosing a school to play ball.

As someone who played ball in college, fit with the school and coaches and on the field opportunity is what matters.

Your kidding yourself if you think kids should choose a school based on their favorite team growing up.

El Jeffe

January 11th, 2014 at 12:46 PM ^

This "Charles Woodson" fella seems mighty popular amongst the younger generation. Anyone have any idea as to his whereabouts? We might think about getting him on staff.


January 11th, 2014 at 12:54 PM ^

He owns a house in Ann Arbor. But he also intends to finish his career with Oakland next season. So maybe it is for the best if Curt sticks around one more year, Charles does his thing in the NFL, and then Curt takes a head coaching job somewhere next year. Charles retires and returns to Michigan to coach Peppers and Minkah.


January 11th, 2014 at 1:02 PM ^

If Manning keeps this up, that could fast-track him for someone trying to pluck him away to be their recruiting coordinator.  It's still early in his career, but I think Manning has loads of potential as a possible future HC somewhere.

Brian likes to harp on coaching trees, and obviously Nuss will never be considered part of Hoke's tree, but it is nice to see up-and-coming coaches on the staff to leaven out all the experienced coaches we also have.  If nothing else, it creates a broader pool of coaches who might have particular interest in UM whenever we have future HC searches.


January 11th, 2014 at 9:07 PM ^

I was probably wrong to say 'never.'  If Nuss is at Michigan for a long time, he might get counted as part of Hoke's tree.  But given that he's already been in the running for HC jobs, if he only stays at UM for, say 2-3 years like a lot of people have been suggesting, then, no, I don't think anyone will consider him to be part of Hoke's tree.  Probably not Saban's either, for that matter.  

Maybe it's just a semantic argument we're having (semantics nitpicking? On mgoblog?  Never!), but I think to be part of someone's tree you need to have 'grown' while under the coach.  Nuss is coming in as an experienced OC from a top program already getting HC interest at 'BCS' schools.  I hope he does great things at Michigan, so great he gets poached so quickly that he doesn't have time to grow.   Carr came in as an assistant at lower tier programs and then spent 15 years under Bo.  Not the same thing in my opinion.

Similarly, if Manning works his way up to HC somewhere (or DC or Recruiting Coordinator first) after spending a few more years at Michigan, then he'll be part of Hoke's tree even though he started at Cincinatti.


January 11th, 2014 at 10:58 PM ^

There has been some interest in Nuss as a HC, but he settled on a lateral transfer, and you hope that he does so great at Michigan that he's poached (to be a HC) before he can grow?  I don't follow.  He is not a HC now, but you anticipate he'll do such great things at Michigan that he'll immediately be hired as HC elsewhere.  Why do you say that will happen if he hasn't grown at all?  In other words if he hasn't grown in two or three years of coaching at Michigan, what makes his potential value as a HC greater then than it is now?


January 11th, 2014 at 11:50 PM ^

Based on your username and picture, this is clearly one of your passions, but that's just not how it works in football.  Essentially, every assistant who coaches under Hoke is part of his coaching tree.  Jerry Montgomery is, even though he was only here for two years.  It still counts.  

If Michigan is Nuss's last job before he becomes a HC, then that is an even bigger deal for Hoke's coaching tree.  I suppose you can define things any way you like, but in the common use of the term, this is how it works.


January 12th, 2014 at 10:06 AM ^

Bill Belichik spent two years (1979-1980) as an assistant for the Lions under Monte Clark.  Does anyone consider him part of Clark's tree?  No, he's universally thought part of Parcell's tree.

Seifert spent three years under Frei at Orgeon and a number of years under Jack Christensen at Stanford, but no one considers him as anything but a member of the Bill Walsh tree.

Charlie Weis spent a year under Haley at KC and a year under Muschamp at UF.  Does anyone think of him as part of Muschamp's tree?  Or as anything but a Belichick assistant?

Technically, you're correct: spending one day as an assistant on a HCs staff makes you part of his tree.  But when thinking about coaching trees, people usually talk about which HCs influenced you and helped you develop as a coach, not just who you happened to serve under briefly at one point in your career.