Linebacker Jonas Mouton played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in 2006. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Despite the fact that the world has seemingly stopped while Michigan fans discuss and argue about who should be Michigan's next head coach, life still goes on. Usually the U.S. Army All-American Bowl arrives with more fanfare and excitement, but the uncertainty of Michigan's program has left Michigan fans in a little bit of a limbo, as participants are probably less likely to choose Michigan at this juncture.
Only one current Michigan commit will be participating in today's game (1:00 p.m. EST on NBC), but there are several players that Michigan has pursued or continues to pursue.
EAST TEAM COMMITS: CB Blake Countess
EAST TEAM OFFEREES: DT Michael Bennett (OSU), RB Mike Blakely (Clemson), DE Ray Drew (uncommitted), WR/LB Kris Frost (uncommitted), LB Curtis Grant (uncommitted), RB Demetrius Hart (Alabama), DT Timmy Jernigan (uncommitted), S Wayne Lyons (uncommitted), OL Tyler Moore (Nebrasaka), WR Charone Peake (Clemson), OL Brandon Shell (South Carolina), WR Miles Shuler (Rutgers), DT Delvon Simmons (uncommitted), OL Aundrey Walker (uncommitted), DB Avery Walls (Cal), WR Sammy Watkins (Clemson), RB James Wilder, Jr. (FSU)
WEST TEAM COMMITS: None
WEST TEAM OFFEREES: WR DeAnthony Arnett (Tennessee), LB Lamar Dawson (uncommitted), WR George Farmer (USC), OL Garrett Greenlea (Texas), CB Charles Jackson (Nebraska), OL Gregory Robinson (Auburn)
So if you root for any team, you should probably cheer for the East. Not only is Blake Countess strongly committed to the Michigan program, but potential exists for a few more of these players to choose Michigan by National Signing Day. Obviously everything is fluid, but here's a list of some kids who could possibly choose Michigan within the next month:
Defensive end Ray Drew (East #99): Drew had been interested in Michigan but was turned off by Michigan's coaching situation. If Les Miles or another big-time coach were to be hired soon, there's a chance that Michigan could get back in it for Drew.
Wide receiver/linebacker Kris Frost (East #4): Frost was almost certainly prepared to choose Michigan prior to the firing of Rich Rodriguez. He is scheduled to announce his school of choice today and has been in love with Michigan. Frost seems to be a leader and doesn't mind going out on a limb, so I expect him to still pull out a hat with a block M on it. And even if he chooses a different school today (say, Auburn), Frost will be watching Michigan's coaching situation closely.
Defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (East #8): Jernigan was initially turned off by the potential of playing nose tackle in the 3-3-5 that Michigan employed this season, but he was open to playing the 3-tech position or nose tackle in a more traditional defense. This is another player who will likely be watching Michigan's coaching situation and especially the defensive coordinator's system.
Safety Wayne Lyons (East #27): Lyons is an excellent student-athlete, and when rumors were swirling that Jim Harbaugh might come to Michigan, there seemed a good chance that Lyons could choose Michigan - both the Wolverines and the Harbaugh-led Stanford Cardinal had been in Lyons' top three. Lyons is scheduled to announce his decision today, but two of his top three teams (Michigan, Stanford) are currently coachless. The other team in the top three is UCLA, but I don't think they're really in it. I'm going to guess that Lyons chooses Stanford today, but his decision might be tentative.
Defensive end/tackle Delvon Simmons (East #55): Simmons could play end in a 3-4 or 3-tech defensive tackle in a 4-3, and if Les Miles were to be hired and bring his defensive system, I think Simmons might take a long look. Simmons is looking at a few uncertain coaching situations, so his mind ought to be open at this point.
Offensive lineman Aundrey Walker (East #70): Walker stated recently that if Rich Rodriguez were to be fired, he wouldn't be interested in Michigan anymore. He's also a longshot because he attends Glenville High School in Cleveland, OH, which has been a pipeline to Ohio State . . . or basically anywhere except Michigan. However, he doesn't currently have an OSU offer. I'm not holding out hope for Walker, but Michigan might have a chance to reel him in over the next month.
Wide receiver Sammy Watkins (East #80): Currently committed to Clemson. The ship for Watkins probably sailed when Rodriguez was fired, but Watkins' teammate Dallas Crawford is still softly committed to the Wolverines. Clemson underachieves just as much - or more - than Michigan has over the past several years, so I don't think Watkins is set on going to an elite team. If a coach is hired who has ties to Florida and who can keep Crawford committed, the possibility remains that Watkins could flip.
MagnusThunder is the author of Touch the Banner, a Michigan football blog.