Oh, Right ... That
There hasn't been a recruiting roundup since Jabrill Peppers tweeted his intention to take official visits after the season, catching not only Michigan fans off-guard, but also his fellow commits and even his own coach, Paramus Catholic's Chris Partridge—notably, the man who sets up all of Peppers' visits. After the tweet set fire to this corner of the internet, Peppers released a statement through Partrige:
I am still 100% committed to the University of Michigan and that is the place where I want to go to college. With the rumors about Coach Hoke possibly not being there I need to make sure that I have options and have seen other places in case the University of Michigan decides to go in a different direction. For the sake of my future I need to make sure I have other options. No need to look into it any further! Go Blue and beat TDS
Peppers reiterated that he's not decommiting and just wants to use any potential visits as a "security blanket," to Scout (via Sam Webb's latest column in the Detroit News).
Michigan has already begun efforts to assuage Peppers' fears, certainly with an eye on keeping him from taking any visits, which would put Brady Hoke in quite the bind as he balances the massive need to keep Peppers in the fold with the possibility of angering other commits—and displaying what could easily be interpreted as hypocricy by Michigan targets and their coaches—by not enforcing his no-visit policy. Dave Brandon's statement in support of Hoke specifically mentioned Michigan's national recruiting "from New Jersey to California, from Michigan to Florida." I don't believe New Jersey is in there by accident; in fact, the whole statement seems to be as much a response to the Peppers situation as it is to any fan discontent.
There are a few things working in Michigan's favor. Peppers and his Paramus Catholic squad play in the state championship game this weekend; the following weekend he's set to take his official visit to Michigan. Peppers didn't talk to Hoke when he made his statement last week—Hoke had a few other things to worry about—but he'll definitely find out where things stand when he's in Ann Arbor; if the coaches (and Brandon) can convince him that the program is on stable ground, it's entirely possible that this whole thing blows over without him ever setting foot on another school's campus.
Even if Peppers still wants to explore other schools after his Michigan official, the timing is tough; an NCAA-mandated recruiting dead period goes into effect after next week's visit, so he wouldn't be able to visit any school until mid-January, just a couple weeks before Signing Day.
For his part, Peppers certainly seemed committed to Michigan during The Game on Saturday, tweeting out his support multiple times during the game and indicating afterward that he'd be taking part in it next season, and not as a Buckeye. While the fact that Peppers even needs reassurance that Hoke will still be at Michigan next year isn't a good sign regarding his recruitment or the program, I don't think there's a lot to worry about here unless Peppers actually goes on other visits—for now, only his trip to Ann Arbor is set to go.
[After THE JUMP, Michigan drops the 'grey shirt' distinction for Brady Pallante, visit reactions from The Game, and a roundup of the latest on Michigan's commits who are still alive in the playoffs.]
Pallante Gets A Full Ride
After Michigan missed out on Da'Shawn Hand and Jhonny Williams eliminated the Wolverines and eventually flipped his commitment to Notre Dame, Brady Hoke informed FL DL commit Brady Pallante that he'll be on full scholarship next season, removing the "grey shirt" distinction and making him a full-blown member of the 2014 class, per Tim Sullivan ($). I think it's safe to assume that Michigan is turning their focus solely to Malik McDowell to round out defensive line recruiting for the '14 class.
In other commit-related news, the Daily has a feature on Wilton Speight's injury-delayed journey to becoming Michigan's quarterback of the future. Meanwhile, Scout's Dave Berk evaluated Noah Furbush in Kenton's state semifinal defeat; he's another potential replacement along the defensive line ($):
We’ve seen Furbush grow over the past couple of seasons and during the summer camp and 7x7 circuits. Friday night the Michigan pledge did not disappoint playing with an injury to his hand that forced him to wear a club like device, Furbush still caused problems during the game and recorded a couple of sacks. While listed as a linebacker, we still feel he’ll grow physically and become a defensive end at the next level.
At 6'4" and around 240 pounds, Furbush certainly has the frame to become a weakside defensive end if the need arises.
Moe Ways released his senior highlight tape on YouTube; he's improved a great deal in the last year, and it's evident on film.
Some great quotes from Swen Swenson, father of Michigan's latest commit, 2016 OL Erik Swenson, can be found in this CSNChicago article. Simply put, the younger Swenson couldn't see himself at any other school, and neither could his parents.
High School Playoffs Roundup: Campbell Dominates
Campbell highlights: first two clips, 0:55 mark, 3:34, 6:27
George Campbell was the primary beneficiary of a brutally efficient East Lake passing attack, catching six passes for 132 yards and three scores, to help the Eagles to a 49-15 win over Port Charlotte and a spot in the state semifinals.
The rest of Michigan's commits—aside from the Eastern Christian Academy duo, whose stats aren't available from another big win—didn't fare so well. Noah Furbush and Kenton's perfect season ended in the state semis, as covered above. While Shaun Crawford rushed for 119 yards, top-seeded and undefeated St. Edward fell in their state semifinal matchup against Mentor, home of current Wolverine DL Tom Strobel.
That leaves Campbell and his teammate Mason Cole, the ECA duo of Freddy Canteen and Brandon Watson, and of course Peppers and PC teammate Juwann Bushell-Beatty as the only Wolverine commits still playing in the 2013 season.
Early OSU Visit Reactions
I'm sure more of these will come out as the week goes on; for now, a few early reactions from visitors to The Game, starting with a great roundup by The M Block that includes a new name for the 2015 Quarterback Offer Watch, IL QB Jimmy Fitzgerald:
Fitzgerald spoke highly of his most recent visit. "It was awesome," said Fitzgerald. "I loved Michigan! The atmosphere of the Big House and the time I spent with the coaches [stood out] on Saturday." Fitzgerald shed some light on the 2015 quarterback situation and how the staff, including coach Mallory, is approaching the topic of offering another signal caller. "He told me the[y] will be recruiting 4-6 kids in my class and I'm one of them. He either wants to come to school or he wants me to come up and visit every 2 weeks." Fitzgerald said that he still has to figure out when to schedule a throwing session with offensive coordinator Al Borges, but he looks to be a priority for the Michigan staff. [Brother Rice QB Alex] Malzone and Fitzgerald both appear to be in the 4-6 man group for Michigan in 2015, and I would venture that Kyle Kearns, Riley Neal and Nick Johns are also in this group as well.
Much like with the 2014 class, it appears Michigan will evaluate each quarterback they're considering in person before putting out any offers; with the regular season over, I'd expect that process to begin soon.
Another quarterback in attendance was 2016 OH QB Messiah deWeaver; based on this quote he gave to Scout's Bill Greene, it appears the Wolverines are at or near the top of his list ($):
"I spoke with Coach (Al) Borges and Coach (Mark) Smith, and they impressed me with how they handled themselves," deWeaver added. "I saw them after they beat Notre Dame, but everybody is cool when they win. I wouldn't say Michigan is my favorite, but I think a lot of the program and being there Saturday only made it better. They've mentioned a possible offer before, and I'd love to have one from them."
Michigan also hosted 2015 OH TE CJ Conrad, who came away from the visit with the Wolverines among a small group of schools he'd like to offer him, per Greene ($):
With eight offers to his credit, including Duke, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Pittsburgh, Conrad has already hit the recruiting radar.
"Recruiting has gone great for me and I'm thrilled with my offers," he admitted. "The way I see it now is there are four schools really sticking out to me, and they would be Penn State, Michigan State, Ohio State and Michigan. Those are the offers I want most."
I'm sure more visit reactions will be in Thursday's roundup.
Late-Breaking Happy Trails
While I was writing this post, 247 broke the news that Michigan has missed out on their top DT target in the 2015 class, Denmark native Hjalte Froholdt. Making this even more painful is the program he chose over the Wolverines:
— Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) December 2, 2013
Based on the infallible theory of Recruiting Means Everything, this means Michigan is in worse shape than Arkansas (3-9, 0-8 SEC) ... but they're on level footing with top-ranked, undefeated Florida State! I'm assuming the BCS bowl invite is in the mail.