Yesterday I was driving home and a deer leapt a gosh dang guard rail and bounded across the road and I hadn’t been that surprised since, well, you know. So Saturday night got ugly in a hurry. Not only did Michigan hockey lose to Minnesota at home in a game they desperately needed to get points out of, but they lost on an even-strength goal with under two minutes to play. That same night, OK S Daxton Hill dropped the Thanos Snap of recruit tweets, flipping his seemingly rock-solid commitment from Michigan to Alabama. Judging by the texts I got and twitter and message boards and every other available piece of evidence, this went over poorly.
If you were surprised, you weren’t alone. According to 247’s Steve Lorenz, not only was Michigan’s staff caught off guard, Alabama’s staff was surprised to learn of the flip. Michigan visited Hill at home last Wednesday. Alabama visited Hill’s home the next day, but no crystal balls were flipped. Lorenz says that the Alabama staff felt better about flipping FL S and current Ohio State commit Jordan Battle and thought that, if anything, they might get an unofficial visit from Hill. The Michigan Insider’s Sam Webb reiterated that Michigan’s staff found out when the public did and, though they wanted him to sign during the early signing period and he had apparently let them know he wanted to wait until February, there were no red flags presaging a decomitment.
The main point of Webb’s post centers around a quote from Hill’s father Webb obtained when he visited the family this fall. The family said they liked that Michigan was about winning all areas of life and not just winning at any cost, and Webb points out that Alabama was Alabama when Hill committed to Michigan, which was coming off a loss to Notre Dame that had people down for weeks. Webb went on to say that he feels Hill isn’t done grappling with whatever might have shifted his hierarchy of decision factors; when a poster on their message board asked if this wasn’t over, Webb responded with a clip from Rocky V of Mickey as a Force ghost or something that ends with Rocky yelling ‘Yo, Tommy! I didn’t hear no bell.” Now Lorenz checks in with a notes post in which he says he was also able to confirm that there's some optimism on Michigan's end that this recruitment may not be over. With Hill's decision horizon apparently extended two months, that makes some sense.
[After THE JUMP: Ann Arbor in December is a hot vacation destination]
OH DE and Michigan’s top remaining target Zach Harrison has a decision date. He’s set to announce his school of choice via twitter and then fax in his LOI on December 19th. This seems encouraging for someone who would want to pull a prospect version of the Colts leaving Baltimore, but it’s not safe to assume anything considering the report from Sam Webb that the loss to Ohio State impacted his thinking. The Wolverine’s Chris Balas reports that some people they’d spoken with who assumed he was going to Michigan now think he’ll end up at Ohio State.
The nearest decision, though, is that of IL OL Trevor Keegan, who will announce whether he has chosen Michigan, Georgia, or Penn State on Friday at 7:30. Keegan officially visited Michigan in October and wrapped his officials with a trip to Happy Valley last weekend, but Penn State won’t necessarily have the last word here; Lorenz reports that Michigan coaches Ed Warinner and Sherrone Moore visited Keegan’s home Tuesday night. 247’s Steve Wiltfong spoke with Keegan’s father and got some information about what he likes about each of his three finalists, and in that article Keegan’s father added that he didn’t expect any coaches to be visiting their house this week. That obviously has not turned out to be true for the prospect ranked #163 in the composite, who has been at the top of Michigan’s OL board for some time.
While we’re talking about offensive linemen, Michigan hosted the plurality of their already-committed linemen this weekend, along with one Tennessee commit: FL OL Chris Akporoghene. I originally thought this might be Keegan insurance but Akporoghene is listed at 6’4” and 290 pounds, placing him in guard territory; Tennessee’s 247 site notes that’s where the Vols plan to use him. Then again 247 has the IMG product, #841 in the composite, listed as a tackle. I’ve seen nothing written about Akporoghene since his visit, so there’s probably not much brewing here.
There does appear to be something brewing with CT WR Cornelius Johnson. He officially visited Penn State last weekend and will officially visit Michigan this weekend, his last visit before his newly-decided decision date of December 19 (he was originally going to wait until February, according to Steve Wiltfong). Johnson was hosted by former Michigan target and still-my-favorite-nickname winner, Speedy Eaglet himself, KJ Hamler. The composite four-star announced five finalists when announcing his decision date: Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State, and Stanford. The CBs are all over the place for Johnson, with the two most recent, one from Wiltfong and a day later one from Tom Loy, cast cloudy and in favor or Michigan, respectively. The Loy one is especially interesting because Johnson officially visited Notre Dame earlier in the season, and two of Johnson’s early CBs are ND. With the tide apparently shifting here, Michigan has an excellent chance to close this weekend.
While one recruitment draws to a close, another is just beginning in the case of OH RB Kay’Ron Adams. Lorenz reports that Michigan has gotten in contact with the three-star twice in the past week, and he believes the interest is legitimate. You may remember that Michigan recently lost the commitment of TN RB Eric Gray, a move that seemed to be months in the making. Michigan is looking to add a second RB to the class, and Adams appears to be a leading candidate. He’s currently committed to Rutgers, so the “always take Rutgers running back decommits” rule should hold despite having to flip him. (For background, see Barkely, Saquan.) Iowa also is interested in Adams, which just adds to the pile of evidence that he would be a good pickup. Adams’ national rank has surged in tandem with the boost in interest, as he has moved up 282 spots in the composite to #879 in the last week and a half.
There's one last item that bears mention from Lorenz's most recent notes post, and it involved two linebackers. There's reason to believe Michigan is in good position certainly with GA LB Kalen DeLoach's family, though there's some question about whether he himself prefers Michigan or Florida State, where he's currently committed. You also may remember FL LB Anthony Solomon's name popping up seemingly out of nowhere as a flip candidate before falling off the radar again. Lorenz says that there's a good chance he ends up at Michigan, with the Temple head coaching search having a big impact on this one; at the time of publishing, it seems that Miami DC Manny Diaz will get the job, which should boost Michigan's odds.
Kind Of Both Classes Update:
Michigan added a grayshirt commitment from OH ATH (but probably S) Caden Kolesar. Here’s WolverinesWire’s Isaiah Hole with some grayshirt details:
As a grayshirt, Kolesar will not enroll in classes (or at least won’t as part of the football team in official capacity) until the Winter 2020 semester, and his scholarship will count in the 2020 class, even though he’s a 2019 prospect coming out of high school.
Kolesar is teammates with current 2019 commit WR Quintel Kent, with whom he just won a DI state title. He’s a bit on the smallish side at 5’9.5” but has a very good verified 4.18 second shuttle time from last May. He had interest from a couple of MAC schools and Army, but he opted to follow a dream and continue a legacy; his dad is John Kolesar and his grandfather is Bill Kolesar.
Alabama may have flipped Michigan’ highest-rated recruit with shocking, almost accidental, ease, but it looks like Michigan will get a chance to poach one of their highly regarded commits. AL DL Jayson Jones tweeted that he’s planning to officially visit Michigan, Nebraska, and Florida. The #41 player in the nation is, as Lorenz writes, not often brought up when discussing Michigan’s defensive line recruiting, so it’s a pretty big surprise that he’s deciding to visit. It sort of looks like he just wants to get some free travel in, as he was on twitter last night trying to get guys to commit to Alabama. He also quote-tweeted *cough*bama*cough* in response to a tweet about things being great in Gainesville after announcing the day before that he would take an official to Florida, so yeah, seeming pretty free travel-y. We shall see.
Things said by MI WR Rashawn Williams at the recent Rising Stars 250 showcase provide decidedly more optimism from the Michigan perspective than in the case of Jones. Williams, who impressed early this season while being scouted for Future Blue Originals, spoke with The Michigan Insider’s Brice Marich and said he’d like to wrap up his recruitment by February or March. Though he mentioned dropping a top eight, it’s clear that Michigan and Ohio State will make the cut. He told Marich that he’s “kind of feeling” Michigan, and it helps that they already have a few players he’s comfortable around, including Ambry Thomas and 2020 commits MI CB Andre Seldon and MI LB Cornell Wheeler. It also didn’t bother Williams that Michigan lost receivers coach Jim McElwain, as he’s mostly been communicating with Harbaugh. FWIW, crystal balls were split 50/50 between Michigan and Ohio State when the article was published two days ago, but two Michigan CBs from SpartanTailgate’s Stephen Brooks and OMSpirit’s Derrel Hart have swung things.
Another prospect close with Seldon and Wheeler is MI DB Makari Paige. Safeties coach Chris Partridge has taken the lead with Paige, and he’s let Paige know that he’s their top safety target in the 2020 class; Ohio State has apparently done the same. Paige told TMI’s Marich that Wheeler is recruiting him, telling him he should stay home. Aside from a visit to Ann Arbor to watch practice this weekend, Paige doesn’t have any other trips planned. There doesn’t seem to be a timeline for his recruitment, but he talked to Marich about having a certain level of comfort not only in knowing players at Michigan, but knowing that his high school runs the same defense as Michigan. The four-star told The Wolverine’s Brandon Brown that Urban Meyer retiring doesn’t impact his thoughts on Ohio State, as his primary recruiters are still on staff and have been telling him things won’t change without Meyer. Michigan may hold a big crystal ball lead, but Paige’s offer list and quotes (he also told Brown he would like to take his officials and see schools further from home) make it appear that this recruitment could go on for quite some time.