Update 7/28: Added LA DT Dequinta Jones as a commit. Linked to articles on OH OL Marcus Hall, FL QB Eugene Smith, VA QB Kevin Newsome (another), notes on MN WR Bryce McNeal and Newsome, CA QB Tate Forcier, AR CB Darius Winston, SC DEs Chris Bonds and Sam Montgomery, NV DE Keenan Graham, TN CB Marsalis Teague, SC DE Chris Bonds, TX K Anthony Fera (Some links via VB).
Removed NC WR Jheranie Boyd (dropped us), TX OL Nick Ash (Nebraska).
Also: Jim Stefani's got some thoughts on Michigan's class to date.
Editorial Opinion: Recruiting board lives here.
As per usual: quarterbacks. This hit the front page late last week, but it's worth repeating: VA QB Kevin Newsome said something other than "no comment" about his recruiting and it was reassuring:
"I'm committed to Michigan," Newsome said. "Me and Bryce McNeal were going around bragging how we're going to beat Randall Carroll, who's going to USC, Cierre Wood, who's going to Notre Dame. We were bragging about things like that."
Doubly reassuring was the wave of praise that followed Newsome's appearance. Newsome, of course, started the recruiting year in the top 20 players at both sites and has dropped steadily since. Josh Helmholdt's operative theory on why Newsome's performance dipped after the Army All American junior combine that got him rated a five-star player:
In January, at the U.S. Army combine in San Antonio, the 6-foot-3, 217-pound Newsome was sensational throwing the football. He showed off his strong arm and displayed exceptional accuracy while throwing a very catchable ball. The one question that lingered after his performance in San Antonio, however, was the length of his delivery.
Newsome worked on shorten his delivery about the same time he started running track for his high school this spring (Newsome won the 2008 Virginia Class AAA state title in the 110-meter hurdles for Western Branch with a time of 14.15 seconds). For a few weekends, he was able to get away from his track team to compete at two Elite 11 camp qualifiers, but the rust in his arm showed.
The adjustment period appears to be over. Rivals guy Jeremy Crabtree (same article):
"Kevin was dramatically improved from what we saw of him in our events this spring and summer," Crabtree noted. "He talked about being able to be more focused on football and not worried about track and he started working on a lot of the little things on his own.
"He just showed great work ethic and it was impressive to watch as you left the field on Sunday and he was still out there throwing balls at targets by himself. The kid wants to get better and already has gotten better. It's going to be interesting to see where he will be when he's able to get focused on football 24/7."
Meanwhile, CA QB Tate Forcier continues to narrow his focus, eliminating schools as they pick up quarterback commitments:
"I've got a solid six," Forcier said. "Right now it is Michigan, Oregon, Penn State, Florida, Washington State and New Mexico."
(I've got ten bucks that says New Mexico is not the choice.) There's no leader, technically, but which school on the list has two QB commits and a seemingly impervious spot in his top five?
"That's possible, but I think I might take a few officials. It could get done within the first few weeks of the season, maybe even before," Forcier said. "I know one of my officials will definitely be Michigan. One's probably going to be a Florida one and probably Penn State."
The timing here is bad. The above article indicates that Forcier, like Newsome, plans a January enrollment at the school of his choice; this space had previously asserted that Forcier's apparent willingness to wait provided Michigan an excellent backup plan in the event of a Newsome decommit. If he's enrolling early that's off the table.
Would Michigan even take a commit from Forcier at this point? They're clearly still recruiting him. Whether that's as a precaution or as a potential third quarterback in the class is murky. I've made my position clear: no offense to Forcier, but Newsome is a linebacker-sized honor roll student, class president, and state hurdles champion who's had little if any quality coaching thus far and is transferring to a prep school, then enrolling early. He has massive upside and is working feverishly to make that upside come to fruition. He's okay with Shavodrick Beaver coming in with him, which will give Michigan at least four viable options next fall.
If I'm choosing between Newsome and Forcier with the slight possibility Newsome doesn't decommit, give me Newsome. Michigan shouldn't risk his commitment.
Oh, and: FL QB Eugene Smith had us in his top five recently, though he's backed off of the idea of a top five altogether now. Whee!
As for MN WR Bryce McNeal, The Top Gun camp giveth security and the Top Gun camp taketh it away:
McNeal says he's still "100 percent committed" to the Wolverines, but he plans to keep a close eye on how first-year coach Rich Rodriguez runs his version of the spread offense. McNeal also said he plans to take his official visits just to be sure.
"I can't wait (to see Michigan's offense)," McNeal said. "It's going to be a big deal for me. I'm 100 percent on my commitment and everything, but I'm still going to take my officials to make sure I'm certain. If they come out and just pound that ball, I'm going to have to think about some things."
Florida, Oklahoma, Clemson, and Louisville are hypothetically on the docket. McNeal also showed well at the Top Gun camp, landing in Crabtree's top 11 players at the camp:
McNeal spent most of the camp on the sideline with a tweaked hamstring, but when he was out there Saturday and Sunday, he showed more than enough to explain why he's ranked among the nation's elite receivers. A tall and athletic prospect, McNeal - a Michigan commitment - had some of the softest hands in the camp. He also ran crisp routes. He was having a heck of a camp before the injury, and Michigan fans should be excited about his progress.
Sounds like his ranking is secure.
Kickers are about to or have actually gotten offers, depending on who you listen to. The Old Coach put out a story indicating TX K Anthony Fera had picked up a Michigan offer; there's also this kid in Florida named Brendan Gibbons. Sounds like Michigan is going to offer both and take the first one to commit, which should yield a kicker by mid-August.
Michigan is set this year with Kicking Competency Lopata returning for a final year, but after his departure they'll have only an assortment of walkons and recruited kicker Bryan Wright. Michigan's willingness to offer a scholarship kicker when he's got two years of eligibility left should tell you all you need to know about their opinion of his performance to date. Assuming Michigan picks up either Fera or Gibbons and the new guy ends up starting, Wright's unlikely to get a fifth year.
Defensive ends. With Lousiana defensive linemen DeQuinta Jones hitting the LSU camp at 305 and seemingly establishing himself a defensive tackle, Michigan needs them, and how.
It looks like you can scratch off NV DE Keenan Graham, who the LA Times reports will take an official to UCLA and that "Virginia Tech could end up being one of the only other schools that Graham visits" before he commits. SC DE Sam Montgomery is "expected to stay in state" according to ESPN, but Michigan will get an official.
More happily, SC DE Chris Bonds will set an official visit to Michigan; his other trips will be to Alabama, USC, Notre Dame, and Tennessee. He's a big fish.
AR CB Darius Winston decommitted from Arkansas a few weeks ago and named Michigan his leader. Unfortunately, he's backed off that assertion:
"I have been just quiet about everything," Winston said. "I just don't really have a top school right now. I'm just open and focusing on my season."
Despite his decommit from the Razorbacks, Winston attended the most recent Arkansas camp; he also plans stops at Ole Miss and LSU. Michigan should still get an official.
I'm not too excited about anyone from Glenville listing Michigan, but this on OH OL Marcus Hall might be worth mentioning:
For some time, Ohio State, Illinois and USC were atop Hall's list. That has changed. "Illinois, Ohio State, Florida State and Michigan, those four are all pretty even at top right now."
Ohio State was the prohibitive favorite, but with 24 commitments and a few guys in a holding pattern the Buckeyes may run out of slots; Hall may also look at the depth chart and decide to go somewhere he won't be stuck behind a couple five stars.