Two 2015 commits are officially in: QB Alex Malzone and ATH Brian Cole enrolled at Michigan this week.. Given what should be an open, heated competition for the starting quarterback job next season, it's especially nice to get Malzone on campus early; while he won't be the favorite to land atop the depth chart, he's got the talent to make a run for it.
I've failed to mention this in the past couple roundups, but as you might expect, the recruits who stuck with Michigan through the turmoil of the last several months are very solid in their pledges now that Jim Harbaugh is in place. 2015 four-star S Tyree Kinnel, for instance, is back to recruiting for the Wolverines after previously considering a flip to Notre Dame, per MLive's Nick Baumgardner:
"Oh yeah I'm recruiting," Kinnel said. "I'm talking to (five-star corner) Marcus Lewis, (five-star corner) Iman Marshall, I've been texting four-star safety Shaun Crawford (a former Michigan pledge, currently a Notre Dame commit) a bit.
"And I'm still talking with Alex (Malzone), he's staying on top of everyone. He's giving me more names to keep texting. He's on top of everybody. We're trying to get this whole thing together, and I know (Michigan commit) Brian Cole has been recruiting like crazy, too. We're trying to finish this class strong."
Marshall is reportedly setting up an official visit, while Lewis is considering the same; unfortunately, there hasn't been much to indicate Crawford will reconsider Michigan.
In other news, Kinnel's senior highlight reel just posted on Hudl.
Several To Go
Surprise! Four-star CT TE Chris Clark's recruitment remains bizarre as all hell. Clark is down to Michigan and UCLA, and he's scheduled officials to Ann Arbor for January 16th and LA the following weekend, per 247's Steve Wiltfong.
Which program will land Clark is anybody's guess. He told 247's Tom Loy there's "a part of me that feels UCLA is going to be the place for me," naming UCLA as his leader even though he's never been to their campus. He's also yet to meet Jim Harbaugh in person, which could swing things the other way, and... well, you try to figure out the quotes he gave GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz ($):
Based on his previous verbal commitment to Michigan under Brady Hoke, Clark did admit that gives the Wolverines a slight edge down the stretch in his recruitment.
“I would say I think UCLA, right now, in terms of the opportunity, it’s better there,” Clark said. “But I’d say in terms of my comfort level and in terms of where I know more about, it would definitely be Michigan.
“But I think the opportunity is a little greater at UCLA from all the stuff I know now but I think in terms of where I probably feel more at home or where I feel more comfortable with, Michigan would have that advantage right now.”
Bogenschutz took that to mean Michigan holds the edge. I am the shrug emoticon.
Three-star MI ATH John Kelly spoke to Harbaugh last week; he told Scout's Josh Newkirk that the new Michigan coach is "a real cool guy," and he's being recruiting as an athlete who can pick his position when he gets to campus ($). Kelly set up official visits to Tennessee and Minnesota later this month and plans to do the same for Michigan and Michigan State before a signing day decision.
[Hit THE JUMP for updates on several top 2015 targets as well as Harbaugh hire reactions from a handful of the best 2016 prospects in the country.]
Five-star CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South spoke to Harbaugh as well last week, but it's going to take a big shakeup at UCLA—where KLS is currently committed—for Michigan to have a shot, per 247's Steve Lorenz ($):
"I was just in shock because he called me," Lucier-South said. "Especially with me being a big Michigan fan growing up and it was actually a big deal, but I'm still 100% UCLA. I told him I am committed to UCLA, but he can continue to recruit me if he wants to. The only way I would decommit is if something happened with Coach Mora or if something bad happened with the program."
This isn't out of the question; several NFL teams have reportedly reached out to Mora recently, and when asked about his job status he left some room for interpretation. A pair of three-star UCLA CB commits, Octavius Spencer and Colin Samuel, would also be recruits to keep an eye on should Mora depart for an NFL gig; both have shown interest in Michigan.
Per Scout's Sam Webb and Amy Campbell, four-star WR Auden Tate certainly seems open to flipping from his current FSU commitment ($):
“I’m still committed to Florida State,” Tate said. “I talk to the coaches all of the time. I’m just real interested (in) Coach Harbaugh.”
Which begs the question, will the four-star pass-catcher be thinking about his options a little bit more.
“Yeah, you could say that,” Tate replied.
The biggest obstacle here may be logistical. Tate already took an official visit to Michigan, so he'd have to pay his way to Ann Arbor for an unofficial visit—something he hasn't said for sure he'll be doing—if he wants to meet the new coaching staff in person before the dead period ends January 15th. (At that point, the coaching staff could do an in-home with Tate.) A commitment switch seems unlikely if he doesn't make it to campus, but at least he's seen it before.
As recently as New Year's Day, Tyrone Wheatley Jr. still hadn't spoken with Harbaugh, and it sounds like Michigan's chances are fading, per 247's Alex Gleitman ($):
"I don't really know Coach Harbaugh," he explained. "I know he played there too, the whole Michigan Man thing and all that. But he hasn't recruited me nor have I spoken to anyone from his staff. We'll see what happens. I think it might be hard for them to get back in there. It's late in the game. They have a month. I know guys like Chris Clark and Mike Weber, and they're gone, so we'll see what happens."
Michigan could make a move if they hired the elder Tyrone Wheatley; otherwise, it might be too late for them to get back into the mix.
Per Scout's Anna Hickey, four-star Cass Tech RB and Ohio State commit Mike Weber is going to give Harbaugh a call soon ($). The door is open a crack, at least.
Four-star 2016 IL RB Kentrail Moran flat-out stated he'd "probably commit" if Jim Harbaugh became Michigan's coach, and while he told The Wolverine's Brandon Brown he's backed off that stance a bit... ($):
"I think I overreacted a little bit," he said with a laugh. "Michigan is still my leader though for sure. I hope that I can visit within the next month but I won't be committing while I'm there. My family doesn't want it that way but I really don't know. I've always liked Michigan a lot just because of the program, the tradition, and of course the academics. With Coach Harbaugh there it's just that much better."
...it also seems like Michigan will land him sooner or later:
"I really like Michigan," Moran said. "I'm not really feeling anybody else."
Other 2016 Updates
Michigan has focused almost entirely on the 2015 class for now—quite understandable, given the recruiting timetable—but that hasn't stopped several elite 2016 prospects from showing heightened interest in the Wolverines. One such player is five-star LA QB Shea Patterson, who told Maize n Brew he's "very interested," and added:
I was definitely excited. I mean, what quarterback wouldn't wanna play for a guy like Harbaugh?
The #1 QB in the 2016 class, Georgia commit Jacob Eason, also may be a target who would listen to Harbaugh's overtures; same goes for uncommitted high four-star KJ Costello. Even with Messiah deWeaver in the fold, it wouldn't surprise at all if Michigan went after another top quarterback in the class.
The hire of Harbaugh put Michigan back in the mix for a couple big-time prospects whose interest has faded of late. Four-star GA TE Isaac Nauta, an FSU commit, told Lorenz he'll consider Michigan again after speaking to Greg Mattison; in the same article, four-star WI OT Ben Bredeson said he's looking to set up a visit "as soon as possible," after talking to Mattison ($).
The Wolverines could also be a factor with the very best prospects in the class. According to Lorenz, Michigan could have a shot with the #1 and #2 overall prospects in the class, TX OL Greg Little and NJ DT Rashan Gary, now that Harbaugh is in place ($). Little made an early commitment to Texas A&M that a source says he may be rethinking, while Gary transferred to Paramus Catholic, high school of current Wolverines Jabrill Peppers and Juwann Bushell-Beatty.
Five-star RB Kareem Walker, who'd had past interest in the Wolverines, told Scout's Jacquie Franciulli in a video interview that Harbaugh is a "great pickup" before naming Michigan among a handful of schools standing out to him ($).
So many other 2016 prospects have discussed increased Michigan interest that it's impossible to run them all down in one post, and probably unnecessary until the new staff starts recruiting that class in earnest. Needless to say, it's setting up to be a special one.