The 2013 class is 2-3 spots away from being full. Once again Michigan is looking at taking at least one more receiver, and possibly two if they can't reel in a big-time running back or defensive lineman. There have been rumors of an offensive lineman decommitting and although I'm no established insider I can say that things happen in recruiting that even Brady Hoke and company can't control. Grades slip, family issues arise, or sometimes kids just get plain homesick and realize they can't move too far away from home. I still believe all of the offensive lineman stick it out, but if someone drops off of the list Hoke will surely have a way to pick up another legitimate prospect. Offensive lineman seem to love what the University currently offers.
From there it's all about the class of 2014. Depth and talent will obviously be built across the roster at every spot every year, but Michigan's biggest needs will be at the offensive skill positions (including QB) and on the defensive line. Although the offensive line is loaded the skill on that side of the ball could use an infusion of elite talent, and the defensive line rotation will still need help across the board.
So, on to the news...
Jourdan Lewis Does It Again
Do yourself a favor and watch Jourdan Lewis lock down some of the nation's elite receivers. On the first play Lewis is running downfield defending the outside receiver with help over the top from his free safety. He's playing with outside leverage the entire time, anticipating a handoff to the safety.
What happened next was extremely impressive. He plays the switch well, handing his man off to the safety while eying his new man, but he turns and runs inside as if the receiver won't break outside. Right when it looks as if Lewis is beat on a deep corner route he flips his head around and flashes some elite speed. You've heard of the term "recovery speed" before, and you just witnessed it in action. Lewis finishes the play off by quickly locating the ball and securing it with a reaching catch before running out of bounds.
In the rest of the video provided Lewis shows his acceleration and agility well while occasionally being caught giving up too much of a cushion. He comes off as a risk-taking corner who will make quarterbacks pay given the opportunity, mostly because he has the physical tools to pull it off. There's always that one kid in backyard football who leaves just enough of a gap to dare a QB into throwing the ball only to accelerate and force a turnover. Lewis is one of those kids, except he'll do it in Michigan Stadium as well. Not bad.
More 2013 Commitments Continue to Shine, and More Offers Come Out
Shane Morris and one of his tight end commitments have really bonded in the camp circuit, and it might not be the one you were expecting:
Morris to K. Hill all day for MAXEX— SB Nation Recruiting (@SBNRecruiting) July 1, 2012
Hill isn't explosive or freakishly large but he's showing the ability to get open and make plays on the ball when called upon, so don't count him out when he arrives on campus. Morris and Hill would go on to lose to fellow Michigan targets Alvin Bailey and Leon McQuay.
Bailey recently visited Ann Arbor and looked like he had a decent time:
Just an FYI Alvin: most recruits who appear in that type of photo can't resist committing sooner or later. I'm not saying, I'm just saying.
Michigan has offered 2013 DE Gaius Vaenuku. The staff would love to add a another SDE, and at 6'6", 260 Vaenuku is just that. He holds mid-level BCS offers according to his Rivals page, so Michigan's offer should definitely stand out.
The Wolverines will hold their annual BBQ in the Big House in July and the nation's top running back Derrick Green will be there. Michigan could make a move up his list if all goes well, but let's keep the optimism in check for now.
Michigan's other major RB target visited and had this to say about the trip:
RB Jordan Wilkins RT @jordanwilkins2 Just got done visiting Michigan... Great school. Liked it a lot.— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) June 26, 2012
A translation of the Wilkins quote: "She has a good personality" #NotHappening— Anthony Frederick (@AnthonyFMammel) June 26, 2012
Don't expect Wilkins to commit to anyone except the Auburn Tigers.
Finally, the main reason for the OL decommitment speculation is the talks between Michigan and OL Khaliel Rodgers. He has bonded with Wolverine David Dawson and thinks the two would be a monster combination on the inside of Michigan's offensive front. They definitely would be, but they might not ever get the chance to play together unless the speculation becomes fact. Unlikely, but still a possibility.
New 2014 Happenings, Offers
Michigan has also extended offers to LB Hoza Scott, DL Joe Henderson, OL Tommy Doles, TE Tyler Luatua, DT Khairi Clark, and OL Alex Bars (all via Touch the Banner). Yes, he's the younger brother of the older, equally massive Bars family member.
Scouting Tyler Luatua
As stated above Michigan recently offered this California tight end. His film is 11 minutes of proof of why he holds offers from Alabama, USC, MIchigan and many other programs:
Luatua is listed at 6'4", 230 in his Rivals profile. In Michigan recruiting terms this means he's somewhere between Hill and Butt. They're all about the same weight, but Luatua might already be the most college-ready player in the group.
Why? Tight ends who can truly block and catch are more rare than one might think, but Luatua has the complete tool set. In order to be an elite tight end you need the height and athleticism to be a mismatch for any defensive back, and the combination of bulk and strength to be a legitimate force in the run game.
Hill has the bulk, but his athleticism is lacking and his height could be an issue. Butt is 6'6" and can already intimidate a safety on the back end, but he needs to add muscle before he's going to intimidate any linebacker or defensive end. By the time Luatua reaches the college level he could be pushing 6'5", 240, and he's the best athlete of the bunch. Let's hope that Michigan makes a strong push for him because he's going to be a great tight end.
Scouting Michael Ferns
Ferns is an inside linebacker prospect out of Saint Clairsville, Ohio. If you follow Michigan recruiting at an unhealthy rate then you probably know that he's a 2014 prospect who already holds an offer from Michigan and recently listed a top three of Michigan, Penn State and Notre Dame. His longer tape can be found here, but don't try to embed it because it just won't work. His short tape can be seen right here:
Ferns is an interesting prospect. He just finished his sophomore year of school and is commonly listed at 6'3", 230, which means he's already as big or bigger than Joe Bolden and could very easily outgrow him. The difference between Bolden and Ferns is subtle but can make a major difference come game time.
When watching his film the first thing that jumps out is obvious: his size. He already has the body to play at the collegiate level and isn't exactly lacking strength, often dragging defenders as a running back or planting opposing carriers when playing defense.
The second thing might not be so obvious but I pointed it out in a previous edition of the roundup. His defensive film is limited but you can tell that he's going to struggle in space when you see him on offense. He's obviously fast for his size - high school linebackers don't field Michigan offers if they don't move well. But his straight-line speed isn't the issue, it's his hips. Whenever he runs a route or carries the ball he's either moving in a straight line or putting the breaks on heavily before turning to catch the ball as a receiver. This isn't a major issue when asking him to plug holes or smash carriers between the tackles, but if he's ever asked to cover on long downs or flood the edge he could be exposed.
Although I'm confident that he's going to receive a fourth star when all of the '14 rankings come out I doubt he'll receive as much praise as Bolden did. He definitely has the size, speed and strength to deal with Big Ten lineman and running backs, but his lack of lateral agility could keep him from reaching a truly elite level. It's hard to judge his football IQ from the tape because the variance in play types is so small. Still, I'll be ecstatic if Michigan gets his signature because he's going to be a great run-stopping linebacker in college and already has the frame to play on Sundays.
As an extra bonus for anyone who believes in the Michigan Man attribute there's this:
Classy RT @M_Ferns10 Plan to call coaches tomorrow from all the schools that didn't make my cut just to thank them for the opportunity— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) June 28, 2012
You Have Questions, I Probably Have Answers
I've been mulling over the idea of answering recruiting questions in the recruiting roundups and this will be the first step toward doing just that. If you have a question regarding Michigan's recruiting efforts or just recruiting in general go to my Twitter feed and ask away, or leave one in the comment section below. All sources will be kept anonymous unless told otherwise.