Michigan’s 2019 class is more or less wrapped up with the exception of one position: running back. The Michigan staff has entertained the idea of bringing in one more running back after TN RB Eric Gray decommitted from the class, and the player they’ve set their sights on is similar to Gray in that he’s adept at catching the ball out of the backfield, shifty in the open field, and seems to have good acceleration and balance (though balance through contact, as important a trait for RBs as there is, wasn’t on film); he seems like a good fit for new OC Josh Gattis’ #SpeedInSpace philosophy. Washington DC RB Keilan Robinson should have been somewhat familiar with Michigan if for no other reason because his teammate, S Quinten Johnson, is a 2019 signee. He’ll be even more familiar with the program this week, as 247’s Steve Lorenz reports that Michigan’s staff was expected to stop in and see him this week after staying in communication with him the past few months. Robinson, a four-star ranked #362 overall and the #20 RB per the 247 composite, is currently committed to Alabama but has yet to sign.
With 2019 recruiting dwindling, attention from recruiting sites has turned to postseason all-star games and the re-ranks they birth. 247’s analysts sat down and re-watched the Under Armour All-America Game, then offered their take on Michigan’s signees. 247’s John Garcia has seen FL LB Anthony Solomon often in camps and wrote that his coverage skills were never in question. He was more interested in seeing what Solomon could do in a game setting. Garcia:
Looking back he actually closed downhill and finished much better than maybe his height and weight would suggest.
Allen Trieu believes that OH OL Nolan Rumler could play either center or guard in college. Trieu on Rumler going from good in practice to great in the game:
I know that on two of the touchdowns they ran right behind him, and on one he flat pancaked the guy. There was one play where he just drove Mazi (Smith) and nobody had done that all week. I though Nolan lived up to his billing, that whenever the lights are on, he is going to be a mauler.
Garcia noted that Rumler played high at times but was able to sustain blocks once he got his hands on a guy even if his pads were up. Rumler’s future linemate Trente Jones drew rave reviews during the week, and Garcia compared the two:
If Rumler is going to flash, it’ll be with power or maybe a pancake. But Trente will flash with running the defensive end way around a pocket and allowing his quarterback to step up. It will be his ability to get to the second level, to reach block, and get over TWO gaps, to lead the way on stretch plays, and things like that. His movement and skill will allow for so many different types of looks.
Garcia’s takes are some of the most interesting in this piece because he hasn’t seen much of the midwest guys until the week of UA practices and the game. For example, on MI DT Mazi Smith:
You know, the few times I was introduced to him came when we were cutting up top ten plays. Allen would send the film and I would ask “who is this guy?” It was always this ridiculous leverage guy. A leverage monster. If he got under you, he was going to be a problem even for the most physically gifted offensive linemen.
I start these posts with “[Insert day here] Recruitin’” and add the rest of the title as I read articles and start pulling things together and I don’t think I’ve ever scrolled up faster to insert the rest of the title. Garcia and Trieu closed their piece with a discussion of DC S Quinten Johnson’s daily improvement, but I wrote about that in the last recruiting roundup and didn’t find a great ARRRG TECHNIQUE GODZILLA RARR-type (sound effects mine) quote.
[After THE JUMP: Rivals' re-rank, reactions to staff additions and departures, and a number of new offers]
Rivals analysts saw a number of Michigan prospects live at San Antonio’s All-American Bowl and saw fit to give them the stars they seemingly deserved. GA DT Chris Hinton was one of four players to get bumped to five stars and is finally rated as a defensive tackle, a position he’s far more likely to play in college than SDE. Rivals analyst Mike Farrell said that Hinton showed increased aggressiveness as well as power and agility; both he and Rivals’ Chad Simmons mentioned that Hinton was once viewed as a better offensive line prospect than DL, so I guess they were still working through that. The star bump moved him from #43 overall in Rivals’ rankings to #15. The Wolverine’s Austin Fox broke down all things numerical surround the new Rivals100 as it pertains to Michigan and noted that Hinton is now ranked higher than Daxton Hill, whose ranking remained static at #24 overall.
GA OT Trente Jones may have been at the UA game, but he still got a bump and a blurb from Farrell. Jones shot up 108 spots to crack the Rivals100, moving from #198 to #90 in Rivals’ rankings. Another player who made a big move in the final Rivals250 is CT WR Cornelius Johnson, who parlayed his facetime (gametime?) with Rivals analysts into a fourth star and a move up to #171 overall. One player fell, though he stayed in the Rivals100. CA RB Zach Charbonnet dropped from #39 to #60, but he didn’t practice or play in the Under Armour game due to injury, so…yeah. All told, the big jumps and additional stars were cause for Rivals’ Rob Cassidy to rank Michigan #2 on his list of five teams that should be pleased with the new Rivals250.
Michigan’s hire of Josh Gattis has drawn positive reviews from most corners of the football world, and it only makes sense to ask prospective players what they think about the move. MI WR Devell Washington spoke to Brice Marich about the new offensive coordinator and sounds like he’s already in the class:
"To throw the ball at a school like that, it’ll be great,” Washington said. “Cornelius Johnson and I, holy, that’ll be crazy!!!”
To be clear, that’s uncommitted prospect Devell Washington. He told WolverinesWire’s Evan Petzold that the hire boosted Michigan’s already-high status with him; they gave him his first P5 offer.
Another prospect who got his first offer from Michigan is PA WR Julian Fleming, the nation’s #5 overall player. Lorenz spoke with him about Gattis, a move which Fleming seems pretty big on.
"It's a program changer for me," he said. "I am really excited to get up there and see what's going on at Michigan."
So yeah, probably gonna get a visit from the nation’s top 2020 WR. Another big visitor is OK WR Javian Hester, who is currently ranked #80 on the composite. He spoke with Marich about the relationship he’s building with coaches Roy Roundtree and Sherrone Moore, former teammate Dax Hill (whom he said he was “kind of close” with), as well as a trip to Ann Arbor, which he said he will not only be making but will be doing so in an official capacity, though no date has been set for the visit
MI ATH Cameron Martinez, whom Michigan is recruiting as a slot receiver and safety according to WolverinesWire, had similar things to say to Petzold about the Gattis hire. He plans to visit campus sometime during basketball season, a visit during which he told TMI’s Brice Marich he hopes to learn more about where he stands with the staff and how he’ll be deployed schematically. He also told Marich that though Greg Mattison had visited him at school, his departure from the staff doesn’t lessen Martinez’s interest in Michigan as he is also frequently talking with Sherrone Moore and Jim Harbaugh.
In extremely New Jersey news, newly hired defensive assistant Anthony Campanile apparently has a brother named Vito who happens to be the head coach at Bergen Catholic, home of NJ S Jordan Morant, the #8 safety and #178 overall player in the country per the 247 composite. 247’s Steve Lorenz reports that Morant is almost assuredly the first player Campanile stopped to see once he started officially recruiting for Michigan. Their interest is serious.
As of right now, I can say that Michigan will see Morant on Monday (Partridge/Campanile) and are also expected back out to see him the week after. The second visit is likely to include offensive coordinator Josh Gattis, who was Morant's primary for Alabama before taking a job on the staff earlier this week.
Lorenz writes that Morant is at or near the top of Michigan’s board at safety, along with MI S Makari Paige and AZ S Lathan Ransom.
Another player who has been on Michigan’s radar for a while is FL OT Miller Merriweather-Lewis. He said all the right things in this article by The Michigan Insider’s Josh Newkirk, then admitted that LSU has a pretty big lead in his recruitment. Seems unlikely that he ends up at Michigan, but Lorenz included him in his list of 10 OL recruits to keep an eye on. In that piece he says that Merriweather-Lewis is expected to visit in the spring or summer and that Michigan has “heavy, heavy interest” in him, so maybe this one takes a turn.
Michigan is also reportedly showing increased interest in FL RB Lawrance Toafili. Lorenz reports that members of Michigan’s staff were planning to stop at Toafili’s school at some point this week. Lorenz notes that there’s some uncertainty in who or how many backs Michigan will take in 2020 as they haven’t wrapped up recruiting the position for 2019, but Toafili was included on his list of five 2020 RBs to watch along with familiar names like AZ RB Bijan Robinson (who visited unofficially last fall) and OH RB Michael Drennen. Despite the familiarity and the increased communication with Toafili, Lorenz says that Michigan might have the best chance at getting 107th-ranked, four-star CA RB Daniyel Ngata. Lorenz writes that Ngata is expected to visit in the near future and is open to leaving California for a school far from home.
The staff hasn't offered as many 2020 prospects as 2021s in the last couple of weeks, but they have offered a couple of top in-state prospects. Two Detroit-area players with new offers are MI RB (#340 overall, #29 RB, #7 MI) Peny Boone, who said his whole family likes Michigan, and QB (#789 overall, #28 dual, #27 MI) Anthony Romphf, who was offered as a quarterback, not as an athlete as some other schools have offered, and will be on campus later this month according to 247’s Allen Trieu.
Michigan's coaches have been on the road and active in handing out potential scholarships. Recent offers include: MI CB (unranked) Kalen King, who grew up watching Michigan and has some great reps on his film jamming guys into oblivion; OH RB (unranked in composite, 247’s #101 overall player and #8 RB) Corey Kiner, who doesn’t have a date set but wants to visit M; NC RB (247’s #67 overall, #3 RB) Evan Pryor says he hasn’t cut his list of schools down yet, but Michigan has a guaranteed spot in the top 10; FL ATH Xavian Sorey, currently unranked but with Florida and Florida State offers already, thought his coach was lying about getting an offer from Michigan; CA ATH (unranked) Ethan Calvert, whose brothers were both Under Armour All-Americans playing at West Coast schools, says distance isn’t a factor in where he ends up; AZ OL Bram Walden, who seems pretty floored by a Michigan offer in this piece by The Michigan Insider’s Brice Marich;
Happy trails, 2020 OL Myles Hinton. Lorenz on 2020 recruiting needs. Michigan makes the top 11 for VA WR KeAndre Lambert. Five-star QB Spencer Rattler on former teammate and 2020 Michigan commit JD Johnson. CT WR Cornelius Johnson’s coach breaks down his game for The Wolverine’s Brandon Brown.