BBQ Visitors: McGrone Ready To Commit
The annual BBQ at the Big House takes place this weekend; in fact, some visitors are already on campus. As usual, it's one of the biggest visit weekends of the year, and it should produce at least one commitment. Four-star IN LB Cameron McGrone, who recently shot into the top 50 in 247's rankings, is visiting and will then announce his decision on Monday at noon between Michigan, Notre Dame, and Indiana, per TMI's Evan Petzold.
The Irish were seen as Michigan's biggest competition but the Wolverines have all the momentum; they have the last 19 picks on McGrone's Crystal Ball, including those from Steve Wiltfong, Allen Trieu, and (most tellingly) Irish247's Tom Loy. It'd be a shock if McGrone went elsewhere, so expect a lot more on him in this space come Monday.
- Top-100 MO DT Michael Thompson, who has Michigan in his top five but looks to be leaning towards in-state Mizzou at the moment.
- Four-star CA S Bryan Addison, who Lorenz believes is M's top safety target in the cycle. USC is the favorite but this is his first visit to campus.
- Four-star TX OT Rafiti Ghirmai, a longtime target despite being somewhat off the radar who may be a tough pull from Texas.
- Three-star FL CB Sammy Faustin, who Lorenz says M "quietly lead" his recruitment with Don Brown spearheading the effort.
- I usually don't take much note of visits by current commits, but in the case of Emil Ekiyor, who's coming off a visit to Alabama, his is worth mentioning.
- Four-star MO DE Ronnie Perkins, an Oklahoma lean and perhaps M's top defensive end target, is a maybe as he's looking for transportation to Ann Arbor, per Lorenz.
- Lorenz reports that Michigan is also expecting top-100 MD DE Eyabi Anoma, who plays for Biff Poggi at St. Frances, to be on campus this weekend. TomVH subsequently reported, however, that Anoma plans to visit Maryland. Crootin!
Michigan may not add to the 2018 class this weekend beyond McGrone, but if they can make progress towards solidifying Ekiyor's pledge it'd be a successful BBQ. A big visit for Thompson is high on the wish list, too.
Meanwhile, there's a star-studded group visiting from the 2019 class, which I'll cover after the...
BBQ Visitors: 2019's #1 QB, RB In Ann Arbor
Quavaris Couch (center) helping coach the youths. [Isaiah Hole/247]
Five-star 2019 NC RB Quavaris Crouch, the nation's top-ranked 2019 back, isn't just already on campus; he's already coached a youth camp at Wide World with Chris Evans, David Long, Quinn Nordin, and Josh Uche, per 247's Isaiah Hole, who has a full gallery of photos posted plus a rare mid-visit interview with Crouch:
"I didn't even expect to be around all the kids and being with the players, but I'm really glad that it's turned out to be more than a visit," Crouch said. "Actually getting to collaborate with all of the kids and getting to know them. I was here one day, and just knowing that this is how it all starts. Just getting to be a part of their lives, and getting to know the players, Chris (Evans and Josh Uche), just getting to know everybody. So it's been a fun experience already."
The #1 QB in the class, California prospect JT Daniels, has arrived in Michigan as well, and Lorenz says that if Michigan feels they're in a good position for him they'll hold off on taking a second QB for 2018. The good news: Daniels is only looking at schools that run a pro-style offense. The bad news: in-state powers Stanford and USC run pro-style offenses, and both are hot after Daniels, too. We'll get a feel for M's chances coming out of the weekend, and the picture will be clearer if they pick up pursuit of more 2018 QBs.
The list doesn't end there. Some more notable 2019 visitors:
- Top-100 KY DE Stephen Herron. Ohio State is the Crystal Ball leader for him, the last three picks are for Michigan, and Steve Wiltfong is hearing from a source that Stanford is the team to beat. This is obviously an important trip.
- The coveted St. Louis Trinity Catholic trio of ATH Isaiah Williams, WR Marcus Washington, and LB Shammond Cooper.
- Top-100 OH WR David Bell, who Steve Wiltfong thinks M could make a move for if they offer; Ohio State hasn't yet.
- Four-star IN DE George Karlaftis, who told Scout's Allen Trieu that Michigan is "on top" along with Miami (YTM).
- Four-star KY DT Jacob Lacey, who has Michigan in his top six and told Brandon Brown he "loved" his first visit to campus. He plans to make a commitment in the near future. Notre Dame is also a major player here.
- Four-star OH OT Nolan Rumler, a guy who's been seen as a Michigan lock seemingly forever, still seems like a Michigan lock.
- Four-star East Kentwood duo OT Logan Brown and DT Mazi Smith.
- Four-star Detroit King S Marvin Grant.
If there are multiple BBQ commitments, it looks likely at least one of them could come from this class. Either way, this is a really impressive group of visitors.
Hello Addendum: Luke Schoonmaker
Nobody else had a scouting report published when CT TE Luke Schoonmaker committed on Tuesday night—full Hello post here—but they've flooded in since. ESPN has given him a three-star rating and placed him 19th among in-line TEs:
STRENGTHS: Excellent height with some physical upside. Displays good initial burst and enough speed to make plays down the seam. Displays good hands and can extend for the ball. Can do a good job with hand placement as blocker...WEAKNESSES: Needs to continue to develop frame and add mass. Shows some upside, but can further develop as route runner. While can be effective still room to improve as a blocker...BOTTOM LINE: Prospect that plays both TE and QB and more focus on TE should aid his development at the position. Prospect with good ability and some upside as a TE.
As for his physical skills, it starts with his acceleration. There are times he covers a lot of ground quickly when he sees an open area and bursts to it, whether he is scrambling as a quarterback or running a route. As a route runner, he is able to get clean releases off the line of scrimmage, but he rounds his breaks. He needs to tighten them up, and show he can get into and out of a break with fluidity and so he can pull away from the defender.
As a pass catcher, despite not doing a ton of it, he is comfortable and does not fight the ball. He has a large catch radius. He needs to add the strength to be able to beat jams and be physical in the middle of the field, both before and after the catch.
As a blocker, Schoonmaker is strong with his technique. He is flexible and gets under the defensive player. Again, he will have to gain strength to be able to block consistently on the college level.
The more I watched Schoonmaker's film, the more I really can vibe with the "Sean McKeon part two" feel that was relayed to me on Monday night. He's a plus-athlete who has a long ways to go in the blocking aspect of the game and will have to do work in the weight room to make an impact at Michigan. Like McKeon, his film shows a player who is likely under-recruited because they play in a state and area where the competition is not strong. Like McKeon, his testing numbers blew Michigan away and were a major reason why the staff decided to follow through and pursue.
Michigan and Jim Harbaugh have identified and pursued under-recruited tight ends for years now. They know what to look for. He fits the high-ceiling mold that they've recruited in the past. His development will really come down to learning how to become a good blocker at the college level; it's not always easy, but he has the frame to bulk up enough to get there.
The Wolverine's Austin Fox caught up with Schoonmaker's coach, who said his staff "never broadcast" Schoonmaker to the recruiting sites and compared him favorably to a higher-ranked East Coast tight end:
“He’s under the radar from that standpoint, simply because he wasn’t broadcasted. He’s certainly in the top five at his position in the country though. We played against the No. 2 tight end last year in our playoff game – [North Andover (Mass.) Brooks School four-star Patrick Freiermuth] – who has offers all over the place and is going to Penn State, and I’d take Luke over him any day of the week. You just can’t find Luke’s kind of speed – he ran a 4.54 and doesn’t even train or anything. Heck, guys go to the NFL combine and do laboratory training for this sort of thing – I know this because I work in the NFL for a living.”
Notably, he added that Schoonmaker will exclusively play tight end (in-line, H-back, and split out wide) after spending the vast majority of his time at quarterback last year.
Schoonmaker is now on the 247 Composite at #871 overall, higher than six of Michigan State's 14 commits. I'd only expect him to move up from there. The comments of his commitment post may soon be seen in the same light as those on Josh Metellus and Benjamin St-Juste. I know "trust the coaches" can wear thin, but this is a Harbaugh tight end recruit from an area of the country where Don Brown has made a career unearthing gems, fergodsakes.
Michigan also looks to be in good shape with another top tight end target, four-star IL TE Luke Ford, who told Wiltfong that M jumped into his top group after his recent visit:
"Big Blue just jumped into a tie with the rest of the crowd," Ford's father Tim told 247Sports.
"It was really awesome and Jim Harbaugh is just fantastic."
Harbaugh really made impression on the younger Ford.
"It was amazing," Ford said. "Me and Jim hit it off. I got to talk with him for two hours and could've talked more. Greg Frey was awesome to hangout with. Facilities were nice and loved the campus."
He plans to stretch out his recruitment and Michigan is in line to get an official.
AN ACTUAL BIG DAN FAALELE UPDATE OF SUBSTANCE
On Thursday, Bud Elliott of SBNation Recruiting released the results of a player-driven poll on where IMG players will end up. Every player outside of one predicted Michigan for Faalele.
After doing some digging on Thursday morning, I'm told that this development is not necessarily a surprise on Michigan's end.
Lorenz adds that Michigan is looking for a more polished tackle prospect to finish out the class, but at the moment they aren't in great shape for their main targets, Nick Petit-Frere (top Bama target) and William Barnes (just released a top seven with no M). More targets could emerge, of course, but I may be rooting for Plan B here.
Happy trails to four-star OLB Shayne Simon, who committed to Notre Dame, and three-star S Jamien Sherwood, who committed to Auburn. Lorenz still believes Michigan has a shot at flipping Simon.
Following his recent trip to Alabama, Emil Ekiyor plans to take official visits to both Michigan and Bama this fall, per TMI's Evan Petzold. Lorenz is hearing that Bama will be a real factor, though FSU has at least fallen off the radar after adding an OL commit.
Congratulations to a program in New Jersey for landing a four-star quarterback commit.